§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [5th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
And which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words" this House, being of opinion that the Bill, if it should become Law, will tend to increase disorder in Ireland, and to endanger the Union between that Country and the other parts of the Empire, declines to proceed further with the said Bill,"—(Sir Bernhard Samuelson,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
said, that, in the course of the debate, they had heard statements as to the history of Ireland, past and present, about Home Rule, about the Irish Land Question, and the relations between Irish landlords and tenants; about the 85 Coercion Bills said to have been passed, and about the events of the years 1882 and 1869, and 1846 and 1833; in fact, it would be impossible to imagine almost any subject connected with Ireland that had not been brought forward in some shape or form in the present debate, and yet it must strike anyone that there had been one remarkable omission from the topics treated of by hon. Members in the discussion of the Bill, and that was any distinct reference to the provisions of the Bill itself, or the character of the proposals which the Government had submitted to the House. No doubt, there had been, in the course of the discussion, a great many adjectives and epithets applied to the Bill. They had heard it called hateful, infamous, and tyrannical; that it would crush out in Ireland everything like Constitutional liberty; and that, if it were passed, the people would suffer greater despotism than the despotism of Warsaw. Those adjectives and epithets were, no doubt, very strong; but if they excepted two speeches at the very outside made in the course of the debate, he could not find in the observations made by hon. Members opposite any evidence that they had read, much less carefully considered, the provisions of the Bill. It seemed to him that when the House was asked to affirm an Amendment of this character, nothing would be more relevant, nothing would be more important, than to look carefully at the provisions of the measure against which it was directed, in order to see whether these provisions wore of that terrible and un-Constitutional character which had been described by successive speakers. It was probably some such idea as this which was in the mind of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Hackney (Sir Charles Russell) when he addressed 711 the House. He told the House, in the course of his very able speech, that he had refrained from taking part in the debate until he had had an opportunity of looking at what he called the textual provisions of the Bill. Having studied the Bill, his hon. and learned Friend had come to the conclusion that it exceeded in stringency all former Coercion Bills submitted to the House, and he based his opposition to the Bill, to a great extent, upon the character which he gave it. In the few observations which he intended to make, he thought he would be contributing in the best way he could to the debate by taking into consideration the actual proposals the Government were making to the House, and to see how far those proposals justified the general language which had been applied to it by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the specific language which had been applied to it by his hon. and learned Friend. So far from accepting that description, he thought he would be able to satisfy the House that the provisions which they asked Parliament to make law were in themselves equitable and just; that the Amendments sought to be made in the Criminal Law in Ireland were fair and reasonable; that the Government had introduced ample safeguards to protect any person from injustice and oppression; and that there was no reason why the Bill might not be extended or made law in any portion of Her Majesty's Dominions, without interfering in the slightest degree with Constitutional rights, or without infringing in any way public liberty. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), in introducing the Bill, explained that the Government considered that the Criminal Law in Ireland required to be amended in three directions and for three purposes. Her Majesty's Government thought, in the first place, that it was necessary to make better provision for the detection of crime; secondly, for the punishment of crime when detected; and, thirdly, to so amend the Criminal Law as to check, and, if possible, put an end altogether to that system of intimidation which admittedly existed in many parts of Ireland at the present time. Before referring to these three separate classes of amendments of the Criminal Law he would ask the 712 attention of the House to some observations of his right hon. Friend which seemed to him to be very much overlooked by hon. Members who had criticized the Bill. At the opening of his speech the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary announced that it was not the view of the Government that those Amendments were required for the purpose of maintaining law and order in all Ireland. The Government pointed out that the state of Ireland in many parts was fairly satisfactory, but they called attention at the same time to the fact that a part of the country was very far from satisfactory, and that this was the reason why they introduced the Bill. He specified particular counties in Ireland—Galway, Mayo, Limerick, Clare, Kerry, and Cork; and his right hon. Friend said that as far as those counties were concerned they would be able to demonstrate to the House that there was such a disorganization of society, that law and order was so entirely set aside, that it was absolutely necessary, if the Government were to perform its first duty, to introduce some amendment in the existing law to remedy that state of affairs. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary relied, and the Government relied, most strongly upon the expressions of opinion by Her Majesty's Judges delivered by them in those counties he had specified during the last Spring Circuit. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said the Government took the charges of four Judges in these particular counties, but that they had entirely omitted the charges delivered by other Judges in other counties. The answer of the Government to that argument was that it was perfectly useless to refer to the charges of Judges delivered in other counties, of the state of crime or disorder in which they did not complain; but when the Government pointed to the particular portions of Ireland which were disturbed, and when they called attention to the statements of all the Judges who had visited those portions of the country, it seemed to him that the ease was an immensely strong one, and he had not heard an answer made to it. He did not mean to say that he had not heard an answer attempted. Hon. Members from Ireland had dealt with this matter in a characteristic fashion. When testimony was brought forward in connection with Ire- 713 land, hon. Gentlemen opposite had a simple way of dealing with it. They divided such testimony into two classes. One class was the testimony which in any way supported or tended in favour of the National League, its action, or its objects; and the person who bore that testimony was to receive the highest character. The other class of testimony was that which reflected on the National League and its objects. But this testimony was to be dealt with in another way; it was to be rejected, and the House was told that the witness was unworthy of belief in any circumstances. That was a very easy method to adopt in a matter of this kind. But it sometimes led to contradictory and unsatisfactory results; for it sometimes happened that the same witness would on different or even on the same occasion make statements, some of which would rather favour the views of the National League, and others which would be antagonistic to them. In the course of the debate the House had had an instance of this. One of the most important witnesses examined before the Cowper Commission was Sir Redvers Buller. That officer gave some evidence with regard to the relations of landlord and tenant, and his view of those relations had been seized upon by hon. Members opposite; but, at the same time, they found answers given by the same witness, in which he spoke in the strongest way regarding the intimidation exercised by the National League and the illegitimate character of that intimidation. In the one case the statements of this witness were received by hon. Gentlemen opposite with perfect reliance, while in the other they declared that the evidence was to be rejected entirely, or only the smallest attention was to be paid to it. He suggested, on the other hand, that in dealing with the evidence of the same witness they ought to consider that it was equally worthy of credit when it pointed in one direction or in the other. Then with regard to the action of the Irish Judges. The Irish Judges were placed in rather a peculiar position, for there was hardly one of them who had not been praised in one way or another by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and not one of them who had not been blamed. When Lord Chief Baron Palles went down to Sligo and held Assizes there, he found some irregularities in the constitution of the jury 714 panel, and declined to proceed with the trial of the prisoners with the panel so constituted. The Nationalist Press were loud in their praise of the Judge's action, and declared that he was the one just Judge in Ireland. When, however, he directed a new panel to be struck, and when it was found that the prisoners who were tried before jurors taken from that panel were convicted, what was the result? The Nationalist Press turned round and attacked the Judge as severely as any Judge in Ireland had ever been attacked. He (Mr. Holmes) was, therefore, not at all surprised to hear Justices Johnson, O'Brien, Murphy, and Lawson attacked by hon. Members as persons whoso statements on this subject could not be received. Because those matters have been reiterated again and again in that House there was some danger that it might be supposed by some persons not acquainted with Irish affairs that Irish Judges differ in some extraordinary way from English Judges—that they were political Judges or political partizans. Now, he had had the opportunity of hearing and seeing the Irish Judges for the last 20 or 25 years while engaged in the performance of their duty as administrators of the law, and he challenged any hon. Member, not by making a general allegation, but by adducing specific facts, to show that any particular Irish Judge had indulged in a political or partizan harangue from the Bench. He asked any hon. Member to call attention to any particular passages in support of any imputation.
§ Ms. HOLMES
The Irish Judges performed their duty as honourably, as honestly, and as fairly as the Judges of this country. Five of them who had been mentioned were promoted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). He had no doubt that in selecting those Judges the right hon. Gentleman took care to select men of honour, of integrity, and of learning; and having himself had the honour of practising before them, he could say that each of them answered to that description. Each of those Judges had been chosen by the right hon. Gentleman opposite from his own political followers. He was not blaming the 715 right hon. Gentleman for that; but each of those Judges, as far as they were politicians, had been supporters of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and there was no reason to suppose that they had changed their opinions. But what object could men—placed in the position which those Judges occupied—have in misrepresenting the facts, or giving a false colour to the matters which came before them? They were men placed beyond fear. They held their offices by the same tenure as the Judges in England, and they had the same freedom from all inducement to mis-state facts. As far as hon. and right hon. Members opposite were concerned, they had not made any charge of that character against the Irish Judges. He did not expect them to do so. The hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), indeed, said that the charges delivered by those Judges were not judicial utterances, but rhetorical or oratorical utterances. Well, what were the circumstances under which they were delivered? The Judges had, under Her Majesty's Commission, to go to the various counties of Ireland to deliver the gaols, and to inquire into the peace and order of those counties; for it was well known that the Commission under which they acted was wide in its terms. The Judges had the opportunity of hearing from every official of the county, who was bound to attend them, full information connected with the peace and order of that county. Not merely the Government officials, but the local officials attended the Courts, and supplied the Judges with such statistics as they required; and if any persons had an opportunity of judging fully, fairly, and impartially as to the state of the county in regard to law and order, the Judges who went on their Circuits had that opportunity. They addressed there the Grand Inquest of the county, who might not only find a bill of indictment against a particular criminal; but by ancient usage make a presentment in reference to any matter that affected the peace and order of the county; and, therefore, there was nothing more legitimate than for the Judge in his charge to refer not only to the calendar before him, but to the peace and order of the county. Accordingly they always found that in that House those utterances of the Judges were received 716 with the most perfect confidence by any Government, and were relied upon by them in arriving at their conclusions. It had been pointed out that in 1881 the right hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to similar statements made by the Irish Judges, and especially by Lord Fitzgerald, in regard to the peace of parts of the South of Ireland, and had relied on them as grounds upon which to base the demand for legislation. The Judges had a large amount of information placed before them, and also an opportunity of carefully considering it before their charges were delivered. When Mr. Justice O'Brien delivered his charge to the Grand Jury at the last Kerry Grand Assizes he had a document before him which was not prepared by an official of the Crown; but it was a most important document, prepared by one of the officials of the county—the secretary of the Grand Jury—and it embodied a plain statement of facts of a very startling and serious character. It purported to contain the list of applications for compensation for malicious injuries which were to be brought before the Kerry Grand Jury at the Spring Assizes of 1887. Those applications for compensation for malicious injuries were matters which received very careful consideration. They were considered at Presentment Sessions and also by the Grand Jury, and any ratepayer who complained could bring his complaint by way of appeal before the Judge himself, who heard it either with or without the assistance of a jury. Well, in the County of Kerry there were those applications for compensation for malicious injuries to the number of 86, and although they all knew that Ireland had been in a bad state in times past, and that Kerry had not been free from crime, he was informed that in the memory of the oldest inhabitants of County Kerry no such list of applications for compensation for malicious injuries had ever been presented to the Grand Jury, or come before the Presentment Sessions, as that to which he was now referring. Most of those applications passed through the three ordeals which he had mentioned. If that entire document were published it would be seen that there was hardly any form of malicious injury for which compensation could be claimed under Act of Parliament which was not to be found in that list. But he did not in- 717 tend to go through it fully. He found, for instance, that there were cases of a kind of crime which he supposed everyone would consider as about as foul a crime as could be committed—he meant the slaughter and mutilation of animals. He found in one township—Kilshenane—that Michael Ryan, on behalf of the Land Corporation of Ireland, claimed compensation by reason of a bullock, the property of that Corporation, having been maliciously driven off the lands of Cloughboola, and killed or otherwise destroyed, some time between the hours of half-past 6 on the evening of Sunday, the 22nd, and 5 o'clock on the morning of Monday, the 23rd of August, 1886. The same man had a bullock and a cow, the property of the same Corporation, maliciously killed, injured, or otherwise made away with or disposed of at the same place on the morning of Sunday, July 11th, 1886. Again, the same man had another bullock maliciously or wantonly driven off the lands of Cloughboola, and killed or otherwise destroyed, between 7 o'clock on Saturday evening and 5 in the morning of Sunday, September 18th and 19th, 1885. Again, Thomas Hurley claimed condensation, on behalf of the Land Corporation of Ireland, for two black bullocks, maliciously killed, destroyed, or otherwise made away with at Dromadabeg, some time between 6 o'clock in the evening of Saturday, the 9th, and about 8 o'clock on the morning of Sunday, October 10th, 1886. In another case about 400 acres of game cover were maliciously or wantonly set fire to, burnt, and wholly destroyed at Glashnacree and Knockalough between 10 and 11 o'clock in the morning of Wednesday, May 5, 1886. On looking through the list he found that some men, whom he should judge to be very poor men and in a humble position—had had their property injured in much the same way. John Keane had one ass, his property, maliciously stabbed and wholly destroyed at Ballinglanna on the night of Tuesday, October 12, 1886. James Keane had one cow (in calf) maliciously wounded and houghed at Aughacasla on the night of Saturday, the 22nd of May, 1886.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Then, how is it that a case occurring in May 718 last came to be dealt with at the recent Spring Assizes?
§ MR. HOLMES
In these cases, it is necessary to take some preliminary proceedings. That list did not run down to the commencement of the March Assizes. There must be a preliminary application, and the period necessary for that inquiry covered, roughly speaking, about six weeks or two months.
§ MR. HOLMES
Some wore included, but others—such as the burning of furze—were not. The houghing of cattle would be reported. Robert Knightley had a milch cow maliciously injured by having her foreleg broken at Killelton between 10 o'clock on Tuesday night, the 20th, and 8 in the morning of Wednesday, July 21, 1886. The same man had a sow pig maliciously injured by having her thigh broken between 9 and 10 o'clock on the night of May 19 last. James Leary had a bull maliciously killed by being beaten over the heart with some blunt instrument at Meelick on Thursday, July 8, 1886. He submitted that it was perfectly impossible to conceive stronger evidence in support of any Bill than that on which the Government based this measure. What could be stronger than the charges delivered by the Judges to the Grand Juries? So far as he could find, no attempt had been made seriously to meet that argument. He (Mr. Holmes) now came to the only part of the ease on the other side which he really desired to deal with. He referred to the comments which had been made as to the remedy which the Government proposed for the evils which confronted them, and he intended to show that all the propositions which were embodied in their Bill were fair, reasonable, and moderate, and could not in the slightest degree interfere with Constitutional rights, or infringe public or individual liberty. The first matter was the necessity for the bettor provision for the detection of crime. Would any hon. Member say that there was not some necessity to amend the law in that respect? Certainly, if any hon. Member entertained that view, he had not yet heard it expressed. The hon. and learned Member for South Hackney admitted the necessity. He referred to the six counties 719 which were mentioned as specially disturbed, and in which, in 536 cases out of 765 outrages reported, no persons were made amenable. The hon. and learned Member for South Hackney stated that no doubt this did seem to show that some provision for the better detection of crime was desirable, but that it was impossible to judge unless they knew the circumstances of the cases in which the persons were not made amenable. Well, he would add another figure. Of the cases not made amenable, in 422 instances the persons who were injured positively declined to make any information on oath or give any information whatever to enable the police to detect the guilty parties. His right hon. Friend called attention to that, and he referred to it now to impress on the House the startling fact that in the majority of the outrages the persons injured would not take the initial steps to bring the guilty persons to justice. When such a state of things existed, he held that it was absolutely necessary that some change must be made in the law for the purpose of obliging these persons to give the information which was required for the purpose of punishing crime. There could not be any fairer provision than that which they had inserted in the Bill for the purpose of enabling an inquiry to be held where a crime was committed, but where no specific individual was charged with the crime. They had not heard from the hon. and learned Member for South Hackney any objection to that. The only objection he had heard to this provision was that taken by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), who said that a provision of this kind might be valuable when the state of the country was normal; but that in the present condition of Ireland it would cause all kinds of dissatisfaction and repugnance among the people, and would bring no benefit along with it. He stated that the detection of the Phœnix Park murderers was not due to this provision, but to the Manifesto denouncing it issued by himself and Ms friends. The Phoenix Park murder was committed early in May by the Invincibles, but the murderers did not leave Dublin. The hon. Member for Cork referred to the Manifesto which he issued; but, while acquitting him of any desire to mislead the House, they knew very well that crime went on after it, 720 and that fresh crimes were plotted and executed. The conspirators went about as usual after the Manifesto, and they acted as openly as before, and it was not until the Crimes Act was put in force and evidence was taken in private that the criminals were brought to justice; and if that Act of 1882 did nothing more than that—if it contained only the clause which enabled the evidence to be taken which brought the criminals to justice—then he said it rendered invaluable service, as everyone in that House would admit. Having found in Ireland that crime was not detected, and that evidence was not given by those who could give evidence, he thought nothing could be more reasonable than for the Government to ask the House to enact provisions of this kind; and to say that such provisions would interfere with liberty and Constitutional rights was utterly and perfectly absurd. The first time he heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in that House was in July, 1885, when he recommended a provision of this kind. But the clause in this Bill contained precautions which were not in the Crimes Act. In regard to the provision for prior investigation, the Government were introducing greater safeguards than were introduced into former Bills. This provision could not be put in force except in the districts that would be proclaimed by the Lord Lieutenant, acting on the advice of his Chief Secretary. The evidence taken would be reduced to writing; a public record would be kept, and as for any-improper questions which were put, the persons putting them would be held responsible. No person giving evidence would have that evidence brought up against them, and for everything that was done the Attorney General would be directly responsible to that House. That was the first provision. He came next to the provision for the change of venue. The Government said that in certain parts of Ireland society was so disorganized that trial by jury had practically broken down. Was this denied? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] He did not understand that it was denied by any hon. Member of that House. [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] It certainly was not denied by the hon. and learned Member for South Hackney, who criticized it, but did not dispute it. It had been said that cases had been quoted from counties 721 which were not disturbed—that the difficulties arose in districts which were not in an unsatisfactory state. Had the House forgotten this pregnant fact, that at the Spring Assizes in three counties—Clare, Limerick, and Kerry—after several cases had been tried or attempted to be tried, application was made to the Judges to postpone the remaining trials on the ground that the juries would not convict, and the Judges postponed the trials upon the ground that sufficient proof was forthcoming that it was impossible to obtain just verdicts from the jury? It was said that when the business at the Assizes for one county had been too great to be disposed of in the time allowed for those Assizes, the Judge had been so anxious to got to the adjoining county at the appointed time that in defiance of law and justice he had adjourned the cases. But this statement of the case was really too much for anyone to accept; for if the ordinary period of the Assizes were not sufficient for the business, it was the duty of the Judge to adjourn the Assizes, so as to dispose of the remaining undisposed cases. The real grounds for the adjournment were stated in open Court, and it would be impossible to lay a stronger foundation for the proceeding. He admitted that there were many juries who wore not in sympathy with law, but were in sympathy with criminals, and who would prefer that they should escape apart from any difficulty in the law. But what law was it that these juries were not in sympathy with? This Bill did not deal with the law of landlord and tenant, with the law of contracts or of civil rights, but it dealt with the Criminal Law, which was identical in every particular with the Criminal Law of Great Britain—and, indeed, of every civilized country. What an absurdity it was to say that crime had not been punished because men were not in sympathy with the Criminal Law, when that law was such as was found to be suitable to the condition of every civilized country. If there was this want of sympathy on the part of jurors with the ordinary Criminal Law, then an effort must be made, if trial by jury was to be continued, to get juries who were in sympathy with the law. While admitting that a great number of jurors were not in sympathy with the law, and even that some were in sympathy with 722 crime, he must affirm that many wore actuated not so much by sympathy as by fear of consequences. If you found that in parts of Ireland juries would not do their duty, whether it was from sympathy or from fear, was it not bettor to make provision for trying cases where juries would be free from sympathy with the accused or the fear of consequences? The hon. and learned Member for Hackney said that it might be necessary to change the venue, and that that could be done now. But if the ordinary law were sufficient for the purpose why did not the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) in 1882 have recourse to it, instead of introducing special provisions for the change of venue? The answer was that the ordinary provisions by which the venue could be changed were so cumbersome and so intricate as to be practically useless. The laws of England and of Ireland were the same in this respect, except that in Ireland there was no law corresponding to Palmer's Act in England, and change of venue under the ordinary existing provisions was out of the question. Therefore the right hon. Member for Derby found in 1882, as the present Government found now, that the law must be amended in some particulars. Scotland would always bear comparison as regarded the lawfulness and the well-ordered and law-abiding conduct of its inhabitants with the rest of the United Kingdom, and from time immemorial the Lord Advocate had had power to order that criminal cases arising in any part of Scotland should be tried in Edinburgh by an Edinburgh jury. Then in civil actions in this country, while it had been held from early times that it was necessary that they should be tried where the cause of action arose, when that requirement was not convenient it had been got rid of and a plaintiff had been allowed to lay the venue where he liked, and a defendant to change it if he desired to do so and could show any reasonable grounds for suggesting that the action would not be fairly and properly tried at the place chosen by the plaintiff. Recognizing the fairness of these analogies, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby suggested that the changes he made in 1882 would be valuable as permanent provisions for Ireland. The hon. and learned Member 723 for Hackney did not challenge in anyway the provision of the Bill that, if application were made, the High Court might order trials by special juries, thus securing a certain amount of education and intelligence in the jury. Accordingly the Government, mitigating the provisions of the Act of 1882, proposed that the Attorney General should have the right to nominate the county where a trial should take place, but if the accused could show just cause why the trial should not take place where the Attorney General elected, it lay with the Court to decide where the trial should take place. Could any provision be more fair? If it were not fair, what adjective could be applied to the Act of 1882? The other provision, to which he failed to see how exception could be taken, had reference to special jurors. This provision was not only fair, but such that if it were not what was called a "Coercion Bill," hon. Gentlemen discussing it in a private room would admit its reasonableness. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, writing on the 30th of October, 1886, said what his Government proposed when the Crimes Act expired was, not absolutely to re-enact the clauses with reference to special jurors, change of venue, and Boycotting, but that the Viceroy should have the power to put them in force together or separately, as he saw fit. The present Bill adopted the suggestion that the Viceroy should put those provisions in force, but the Government had introduced safeguards not in the Act of 1882, rendering it impossible for anyone to suggest that they could be used oppressively by any Minister, as the Court could take the matter out of the Attorney General's hands if it thought fit. He was aware that the provision for the change of venue out of Ireland altogether had been criticized on all sides of the House; but, whatever other objections might have been raised to it, he had not heard any objection based upon the allegation that it would be unfair or unjust to a prisoner. English Members were satisfied with the administration, of criminal justice in England, and hon. Members for Irish constituencies had often said they wished that prisoners should be tried in Ireland, exactly as they were in England. Well, in a certain class of cases which could not be considered political it was pro- 724 vided by the Bill—subject to the control of the Court and the certificate of the two principal Law Officers—that such cases might be brought to some part of England for trial if there were grounds for believing that they would be more fairly, justly, and equitably tried in this country. Only one objection had been made to this proposal. It was that it would excite for the criminals—[Mr. M. J. KENNY: Why criminals?—prisoners.]—well, prisoners charged with crimes—a degree of sympathy—
§ MR. HOLMES
And that this sympathy would raise them to the position of political martyrs. He doubted that, but if it were so, surely that would not be unfair to the prisoners themselves, because it would tell in their favour, and they would have a better chance of escaping. He believed that Englishmen would try these cases justly and fairly. Personally, he hoped it would not be necessary to have frequent resort to the provision for removing cases to England; still he believed there were cases in which it would be absolutely necessary in order to secure a fair trial. He (Mr. Holmes) believed himself that the other provisions in the Bill would probably be sufficient, but he considered the power taken in the Bill to be absolutely necessary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby in 1882, when proposing special juries and change of venue, also submitted as an alternative proposal trial by three Judges. Some of the Irish Judges had been denounced by Irish Members below the Gangway as political Judges, and therefore trial by Judges might not be acceptable to them. Still, it seemed necessary to the Government that they should have an alternative proposal for cases in which Irish juries could not be trusted to do justice, and that proposal was to remove the trials to England. Her Majesty's Government thought better not to deprive the prisoners of trial by jury, but to enable the trial to take place where there would be no fear on the part of the jurors or any sympathy with crime, and where it was admitted by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite that justice would be done. What was there in that provision which could remind any hon. Member of Russian despotism in Warsaw? 725 From the criticisms made upon the provisions of the Bill relating to summary jurisdiction it might be supposed that summary jurisdiction had never been heard of in England or Ireland at all. Surely hon. Members must be aware that a vast number of crimes were punishable summarily both in Ireland and in England; and the tendency of modern legislation had been greatly to increase the number of offences that could be summarily disposed of by fine or imprisonment. As far as he could gather from hon. Gentlemen below the Gang-way opposite, they did not object so much to summary jurisdiction as to the character of the men who were to exercise it. But he would ask hon. Members to bear in mind who were the magistrates that at present exercised summary jurisdiction in Ireland. According to his recollection, in every single measure which had given summary jurisdiction that jurisdiction had been given to the ordinary Justices of Peace, men whom hon. Members opposite had denounced as belonging to the landlord class and as being against the people. Now the Government, in this Bill, had made a change in this respect; and the change they had made was that they had not left it to unpaid men, who might allow their feelings and prejudices to carry them away, but that, following the example given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in his Bill, they had vested the power in the Resident Magistrates, who were directly responsible to the Government, as the Government were directly responsible to this House. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] It was the custom of hon. Members opposite to denounce these Resident Magistrates; but there were in the House several very distinguished Members who had been directly connected with the government of Ireland, including the right hon. Members for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley), and none of the attacks that had been made upon the Resident Magistrates had come from them, and none would come from them, because they knew the characters of those men and the manner of their selection and appointment. The hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. C. Harrington) amused the House very much by reading a number of letters which he said he had 726 bought at an auction, containing applications to the Lord Lieutenant of the day for the place of Resident Magistrate. The Government had made inquiries into every one of those cases, and not in one single instance did the applicant whose letter was read by the hon. Member obtain an appointment.
§ MR. HOLMES
He was not appointed. He (Mr. Holmes) had with regret heard it stated in the House that the Resident Magistrates in Ireland were ordered and directed and interfered with in the discharge of their official duties by the Castle. He emphatically denied the truth of the statement. He appealed to right hon. Gentlemen opposite who had held office in Ireland to confirm him when he said—as he did with confidence—that such a thing as a direction given from Dublin Castle to a Resident Magistrate in reference to a judicial decision was wholly unknown, and also that the dismissal of a Resident Magistrate because of judicial decisions was also wholly unknown. On the contrary, the greatest care had always been taken to keep the judicial duties of the Resident Magistrate distinct from the duties of the Executive, and to insure that the magistrates should not be interfered with in any way or in the smallest degree in the discharge of their judicial functions. With regard to the extension of summary jurisdiction given by the Bill, he contended that it was a reasonable extension, and said that every reasonable safeguard had been taken against abuse or unfairness in the exercise of the power. Among the offences to be dealt with under those provisions was unlawful assembly, which was now of frequent occurrence. It was well that that class of offence should be dealt with summarily, probably by short sentences, and a similar provision was to be found in the Act of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. Assaulting a constable or obstructing a Sheriff or his officer was another offence to be dealt with summarily. Obstructing a constable in England was punishable by summary jurisdiction, and he maintained that it was only reasonable to apply the provision to the case of obstructing a Sheriff's officer in Ireland as well as to assaulting a constable. With reference 727 to the provisions which dealt with intimidation and Boycotting, he might point out that the principal one had been taken from the Bill of 1882. He would now say a word or two about the provisions of the Bill relating to dangerous societies or associations. [An hon. MEMBER: The Whiteboy Acts.] With regard to the Whiteboy Acts, the provisions would be laid upon the Table of the House to-night by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and hon. Members would have an opportunity of reading them, and they would find that there was not one of the Whiteboy offences dealt with by thorn which was not at present a crime in England. He admitted that in times past very serious punishments were attached to them in Ireland, but a great many of those punishments had been repealed. What the Government had done was simply to take the offences referred to, which were offences not only in Ireland, but in England also, and. include them under the Summary Jurisdiction Clauses, and the House would see when it read the Acts that those offences were most reasonable cases for summary jurisdiction. As to the power given by the Bill for the proclamation of dangerous societies, he admitted that there was no precedent for their provision regarding the proclamation of dangerous associations, but there was a precedent for far more stringent powers in the measure introduced in 1881, and in that introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. Under the former measure the Lord Lieutenant could by a warrant under his hand direct any man to be arrested, whether he belonged to a dangerous society or not, and the 9th section of the latter Act declared that every person who was known to be a member of an unlawful association or took part in it would be guilty of an offence against the Act and should be amenable to summary punishment. The proclamation of a dangerous society by the Lord Lieutenant under this Bill would be subject to a double provision for the protection of the subject, for after it was issued it would be placed before the House, and hon. Members would have the opportunity of fully examining it, and the responsible officer of the Government in this House would have to defend it. The hon. and learned Member for 728 South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) suggested that the Government should describe by name in the Bill the dangerous association, and should declare that association to be unlawful. But there was one objection to that. A name could be very easily changed in a day; and if they proclaimed an association to-day they would find in apostolical succession another association following it. Moreover, a particular association might be harmless in one part of the country, while in other parts it might be used for the purposes described in the Bill. It was only where an association acted in the way indicated in the Bill that it would become the subject of proclamation, and the proclamation itself would be subject to the control of Parliament. As he had trespassed so long on the attention of the House there was only one subject more to which he would refer. A charge was brought against the Bill that it differed from other Bills of the kind in being a perpetual measure. In his opinion—and, he believed, in the opinion of many—the great misfortune of past measures for reforming the Criminal Law in Ireland was that those measures were not what was termed perpetual. What was the justification of such a measure? It was that it was necessary for amending the Criminal Law, and therefore it ought to continue in force as long as the necessity for the measure existed. Did any man possess such gifts of prophecy as to be able to say how long such an Act might be necessary? But there was no such thing, in the proper sense of the word, as a perpetual Act of Parliament. Every Act of Parliament should continue as long as the necessity for it existed, and every Act of Parliament could be repealed, and ought to be repealed, when the necessity for it existed no longer. That was the measure of the continuance of a Statute. This Bill would be perpetual as long as Parliament wished it to continue in force; it would cease to be perpetual as soon as Parliament wished to repeal it. Although it might suit the exigencies of Party to apply an offensive term to this Bill and call it a measure of coercion, he thought when it was looked at carefully and properly it would be found that such an epithet was not applicable; and if that were so, what became of the strictures made upon the measure in the course of the debate? Those strictures 729 had certainly not been properly directed against the measure and the remedy which the Government had brought forward, and the more the matter was considered by the people of this country and by the House, the more it would be seen that what the Government proposed was a fair, just, and reasonable method in the circumstances of the case in Ireland.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, he intended to oppose the second reading of the Bill, and to support the Amendment of his hon. Friend. But he thought he ought to make three admissions. The first admission was that some of the minor clauses of the Bill, provided the measure was to become part of the general law of the country, wore not objectionable. His second admission was that he agreed with many who thought that there was much in the state of Ireland for some time past which they ought to deplore; and, for his part, he could not assent to a great deal which had been done in connection with the Plan of Campaign. But in making that admission he was bound to remind the House that the state of things in Ireland to which objection was taken arose, in his judgment, and in the judgment of many others, out of the unfortunate and peremptory rejection of the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) last Session—a Bill rejected on grounds now to a great extent admitted to be worthless, and which, if it had been read a second time and allowed to go into Committee, would have prevented many of the unfortunate results which they had seen during the last few months. Therefore, although two blacks did not make a white, he could not assent to the doctrine that all which had happened in Ireland during the last year in opposition to the law was due to the Irish themselves, for much of it was owing to the unwise action of that House. Then, thirdly, he would admit that there had been in Ireland a certain, although inconsiderable, increase of crime during the last year which was to be deplored. But, he would ask, what increase of crime had the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland shown, to the House to-night which justified the provisions of this Bill? The right hon. and learned Gentleman produced a great effect by showing the number of 730 applications for compensation which had been made in Kerry at the last Spring Assizes, stating that, especially as regarded the damage done to cattle, they amounted to 86. The House, however, had on the Table a Return which gave some information on that subject. He held in his hand the Return of the number of outrages reported to the Constabulary during the last two quarters of the year, not for Kerry only, but for the whole of Ireland. The total number of injuries to cattle for all Ireland during the third quarter of last year was 27, and in the fourth quarter 9; so that in the six mouths from July to December the total number in all Ireland of cases of killing, cutting, or maiming cattle was 36. But how many of these were in Kerry? In the third quarter, from July to the end of September, the number was 5, and in the fourth quarter it was "nil." Those were the Returns which he had to set against the formidable figures quoted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would, of course, lay before the House the Paper he had road, and would enable them, he (Mr. Childers) hoped, before the Division, to verify his remarkable figures. They would then be able to ascertain how the Constabulary had been so entirely at fault as to report only five cases.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
said, he did not wish to convey to the House that the whole of the 86 cases referred to outrages on cattle. What he intended to say was that there were 86 malicious outrages, but he would only quote the cases which referred to cattle. He would, however, lay the Paper upon the Table, and he thought it would show that he had been correct.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's explanation was quite fair as far as it went; but he would remind him that he had quoted no ease except that of cattle.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he had a further admission to make, and that was that in former Parliaments he had supported, not, he thought, by speech, but by vote, Coercion Bills for Ireland; and therefore he was open to the charge of inconsistency in opposing, as he meant to 731 do, this Bill as a whole. But he was hound to say that of those Gentlemen whom he saw sitting opposite on the Front Bench, he did not think anyone could throw that charge in his teeth, unless it were the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). He believed, also, that no loss than 90 Gentlemen now sitting on the opposite side of the House had, at the General Ejection of 1885, and a good many in 1886, gone to their constituents with the cry of ''No coercion." "No coercion" was the principal plank in their platform at that time, and, having regard to this fact, it certainly did not lie with the Party opposite to speak of inconsistency. Lord Salisbury himself, shortly before the Election, made a clear statement of his views. Speaking in October, 1885, he said—You have passed an Act of Parliament, giving, with unexampled abundance and freedom, supreme power to the great mass of the Irish people. To my mind, the renewal of exceptional legislation against a population whom you had treated legislatively with this marked confidence would be a gross inconsistency. The only result would be to produce so intense an exasperation among the Irish people as would have caused ten times more evil, ten times more resistance to the law, than your Crimes Act could possibly have availed to check.The noble Marquess was not the only Member of the Party opposite who gave very clear reasons for refusing to reenact the Coercion Bill. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) said that his policy would be to "conciliate by equal laws our Irish brethren." The right hon. Baronet, whose absence they all regretted—the late Chief Secretary for Ireland—said he was in favour of "equal laws steadfastly uphold in Ireland by a just and sympathetic Government." Some days later, in November, 1885, Lord Salisbury declared that "the experiment of relying in Ireland on the ordinary law has been decidedly a success," and the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington about the same time said that "the decision had been abundantly justified," and that the "Boycotting which had occurred would not warrant the abridgment of Constitutional liberty." While referring to those statements, he should like to point out a very pointed contradiction between 732 the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Salisbury. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had recently stated that Boycotting increased threefold immediately on the expiration of the Crimes Act in August, 1885; and he said that that was proved by the figures of the quarter to the end of September, 1885; but that was diametrically opposed to what Lord Salisbury said on the 7th of October, 1885—namely—I have seen it stated that the Crimes Act diminished Boycotting. It is not true. I have had a Return of all the outrages in September, during which the Act was not in existence, and outrages were considerably fewer than in August, when the Act was in existence.He hoped, sooner or later, that that curious and grave difference of opinion between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister upon the same statistics would be cleared up. But there were other grounds for opposition to this Bill besides the inconsistency of the supporters of the Government. The present Bill differed from all previous Bills of the kind in this—that it was opposed by five-sixths of the Representatives of Ireland. He doubted whether, on the occasion of any previous Crimes Bill, half the Irish Members had opposed it. In fact, he could find no Division in which above 45 out of 105 were in the minority. It was also practically admitted that there was no great increase of crime. There was a third objection which, to his mind, was very strong indeed, and that was that this Bill made a permanent change in the law. This was not a temporary expedient to meet an exceptional state of things. There had been cases in which it had been possible to justify temporarily extreme remedies for extreme diseases; but this was a Bill to permanently alter the Criminal Law of Ireland, and make it essentially different from the Criminal Law administered in England. The doctrine which had been put forward as specially justifying the Union was that there ought to be identity of laws with England. One of Mr. Pitt's chief arguments in favour of the Act of Union, besides its military necessity, was that it would insure the same laws for the two countries. He urged this not once but frequently, and it had great influence on the Parliament of England. He had often heard, when he was a young Member, Mr. Whiteside point 733 out that those who wished to maintain the Union ought to insist on identical laws for the two countries. In 1819, when Lord Sidmouth introduced the Six Acts, notwithstanding that he had an enormous Tory majority, he told the House of Commons that though he should like to mate the two principal Acts permanent, yet that it would be so inconsistent with Constitutional principles that Acts levelled at a special outburst of crime and violence should be permanent that he dared not propose this. Lord Grey, in 1833, introduced in the House of Lords a Coercion Bill which, in some particulars, was even more stringent than the present measure, and he supported it by saying that "a free Government might, when the safety of the State was concerned, suspend for a time, but only for a time, the ordinary law." The proposal to make this Bill permanent was, therefore, an infraction of Constitutional principles which he hoped the House would not countenance. But even if this were only to be a temporary measure, there were very grave objections to parts of it, as an examination of its details would show. In the first place, power was given to any single magistrate to examine witnesses as to any offence committed, although no person stood charged. The justification advanced for this provision was that it existed in a certain sense in the Scottish law, and also in the French law and the law of other countries. Presuming there was some argument for this proposal, let them see who the magistrate was who was to have this power. The result of the Bill really was that any Resident Magistrate, however ignorant of law he might be, would have this power of taking evidence, for the Resident Magistrate, under this section, was not bound to satisfy the Lord Lieutenant of his legal knowledge, as under Section 12. In Scotland the only persons who had this power were trained lawyers, who had experience in the Law of Evidence. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR dissented.] He observed the Chief Secretary shako his head. Probably he referred to the examination of Mr. Butler in The Heart of Mid Lothian—an examination which certainly was not very favourable, if it was a fair specimen of the practice, to this provision. That may have been a fair sample of the proceedings of that time; but at present it was not so, and 734 those who conducted those examinations in Scotland were trained and experienced lawyers. The same was the ease in foreign countries, as any reader of causes célèbres would know. In France the magistrate who made these inquiries was undoubtedly one of the most experienced and trained officials, and these examinations were conducted with extraordinary care. There was no such provision in this Bill, under which the inquiry might be conducted by a person who was absolutely ignorant of the law; and, in contradistinction to the Scotch practice, any such witness might be charged afterwards, although his own evidence could not be used against him. There was another special objection to this provision, urged by Lord Carnarvon, who said in the House of Lords in 1885 that if such a provision wore permanent it would be necessary to make it of general and universal application, and not confine it to certain districts. He passed to the proposals for summary jurisdiction. He admitted that some classes of assault now going to a Judge and jury might, perhaps, go to two magistrates if this change were made for the whole Kingdom. But from what they knew of the Whiteboy Acts, it seemed to him it would be a most monstrous thing that a person should be convicted under the provisions of those Acts by two magistrates. Those Acts contained most tyrannical and extreme provisions. Again, there was one particular class of offences as to which the fullest reasons should be given before they entrusted two magistrates with jurisdiction in regard to them. That was the class of offences comprised in the word "conspiracy." He never heard two lawyers agree as to what conspiracy really was. All lawyers admitted that it denoted an offence to which it was impossible to ascribe any but the vaguest limits, and that the right definition, in many instances, must depend, to a very great extent, on the acumen and care of the learned Judge who tried the case. Fancy giving magistrates power to deal with so shadowy an offence! There was another provision which would require great care on the part of the House. Summary jurisdiction was to be granted to a magistrate in casesWhere any person by word or act incites, solicits, encourages, or persuades any other person to do any of the offences before mentioned.735 That covered almost every possible writing in a newspaper, or a letter in favour of combination against excessive rents. He could not conceive anything more dangerous than that the liberties of the people should depend on the interpretation which two magistrates might put upon such words; and on that point he thought they were bound to have, sooner or later, explanations from the Government. He would pass to another important provision of the Bill. It was curious that the words of the Bill as to the change of venue from one county in Ireland to another were not the same as the words in the Act of 1882. Under the clause now proposed, it would be competent for the Attorney General to bring a Catholic peasant from Cork or Kerry before a jury of Protestants in Ulster, on the ground not that he would not have in Kerry or Cork a "fair and impartial" trial, but that a "fairer and more impartial" trial would thus be secured. What did these words mean? Could anyone doubt that they meant a trial by a larger proportion of Protestants? He should much prefer the re-enactment of the words of the Change of Venue (Ireland) Act, 1833—It shall be lawful for His Majesty's Court of King's Beach, upon the application of His Majesty's Attorney General, or upon the petition of any prosecutor, prisoner, or traverser, such application or petition being verified by affidavits showing that an impartial trial cannot be had in the county, to make order that the person named in the indictment shall be tried by the jury of any adjoining county or by a jury of the City of Dublin.The clause dealing with the change of venue to England was, in his opinion, a most extraordinary one. Imagine any Irish Roman Catholic prisoner being brought to Liverpool, and tried by a jury of Lancashire Orangemen? Where had the Chief Secretary found a precedent for this proposal? Had he found it in the unfortunate attempt which was made before the American War of Independence to remove cases from America into English Courts?—an enactment denounced by Burke with all the force of his eloquence. Was the origin to be found in Cromwell's Act of Union with Scotland, under which he sent English Judges in 1552 o go Circuit in Scotland? Or was it in Mr. Grenville's Act, which took 736 away, in America, the trial of Revenue cases from a Judge and jury, and gave it to a British Court of Vice Admiralty, one of the first causes, according to Mr. O'Connell, of the loss of the Colonies? But, whatever its origin, he strongly protested against it as being the very worst provision in the Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had said that the Bill was so good that it might be applied with advantage to any part of Her Majesty's Dominions. But he (Mr. Childers) asked any hon. Member of the House what would be the effect of a Bill which should enable the Government to send English prisoners for trial wherever they thought fit? What would have been the effect, in the days when certain of our Possessions in France returned Members to that House, of a proposal to try in England prisoners from our Possessions in France, or English prisoners in France? About 30 or 40 years ago, even in the case of a small Possession, when it was attempted to try a Jersey-man in this country, there was such an outcry that the Government had to abandon the idea ignominiously, and the Jerseyman was sent back to be tried in his own island. In this clause the Government seemed entirely to have ignored the existence of national feeling; for if he read Clause 15 aright they actually desired to enact that the Lord Lieutenant and the Irish Privy Council—they knew what sort of a body that was—should have power to regulate the proceedings of the English Courts in the trial of prisoners from Ireland. He earnestly hoped the Government did not intend to be guilty of so flagrant a disregard of first principles as to insist on these proposals. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. R. D. Elliot) was conscious of the unpopularity of these proposals, and suggested that in cases of disagreement by the jury the prisoner should be tried by a Commission of three Judges. The effect of such a course would obviously be that in grave cases juries, anxious to give a prisoner another chance, always would disagree, and in capital and other heavy offences jury trial would thus virtually be abolished. That was a result which no one could desire. The Attorney General for Ireland had given the strongest reason against the change of venue which had yet been suggested— 737 —namely, that it would make martyrs of the prisoners so tried.
§ MR. HOLMES
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had misunderstood him. What he did say was that this was the argument used by the other side with which he did not agree.
§ MR. CHILDERS
reminded the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he had said it would not be a bad thing.
§ MR. HOLMES
said, in answer to the objection, that he had pointed out that it would be no disadvantage to the prisoner to be considered a martyr.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he hoped that neither the proposal of the Government nor that of the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh would be accepted by the House; and he had a suspicion that so much had already been said against the provision that it was not unlikely that it would be dropped. The next part of the Bill was that which dealt with dangerous associations. He was quite prepared to admit that if there existed associations of a distinctly criminal character it might be reasonable in times of great excitement to make temporary provisions against such associations. But this Bill was to be permanent and give the Lord Lieutenant power to suppress "any associations which he might believe to be dangerous." But he would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider the words of Sections 6 and 19. Those sections included under the term "dangerous associations" any which "promoted acts calculated to put any person in fear of loss of business." Why, a railway was very much "calculated" to put all stage coaches in fear of of loss of business, and according to the words of this clause an association to promote the construction of a new railway would be liable to be suppressed. Undoubtedly the Primrose League was an association likely to put some persons in fear of losing their business, and it had, to his personal knowledge, in many cases produced this result. In fact, the net was thrown too wide, for it was obvious that the words he had quoted would include a great deal more than was contemplated. These were, however, points that could be discussed in Committee, and he warned the Government that they would be very narrowly watched. He would not deal with the clauses relating to the Whiteboy offences, because a promise had been 738 made to lay on the Table an exact description of the intended application of the Bill. But he would remark that the Whiteboy Acts on their face included provisions which were entirely unsuitable to the circumstances of the present day. Summing up, then, his objections to and criticisms of the Bill, he would say that it undoubtedly contained provisions which might properly be allowed to pass into law if they were made applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom. But experience taught that the severe and drastic legislation which was contained in the Bill would prove absolutely futile. This was proved to be the case by the absolute failure of Lord Sidmouth's Six Acts in 1819. Then the Catholic Association was put down in 1825, and three or four years afterwards the Duke of Wellington himself was compelled to grant Catholic Emancipation by the force of Irish agitation. Again, it could not be pretended for a moment that the state of things now was at all similar to that which existed in 1833, when Lord Grey thus described the condition of Ireland—A spirit of insubordination and violence has risen to the most fearful height, rendering life and property insecure, and threatening the most fatal consequences …. In one year 9,002 crimes have been committed in Ireland, and the number is rapidly increasing.At that time, in the House of Commons, Mr. Stanley said that, in the last three months of 1832, crime was five-fold that of 1829; and Sir Robert Peel enumerated the chief offences in one year as follows:—196 murders, 194 burnings, and 1,287 burglaries. What was the condition of Ireland now? On the 31st of January last, the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) said—Ireland is now practically free from crime, which has been reduced to, and even below, a normal level.And in 1885 the noble Lord said—The best plan was to conciliate by equal laws our Irish brethren rather than to coerce them.About the same time, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) said—The pacification of Ireland depends, in my belief, on the concession to Ireland of the right to govern itself in the matter of its purely domestic business,739 —words with which he (Mr. Childers) quite agreed. To go a good deal further back, Lord Bacon had laid down the axiom that "the sure way to prevent sedition is to take away the matter of it." How was it, then, possible to justify a Bill like this? For his own part, he was not in favour of the repeal of the Union. On the contrary, he believed that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament must be maintained, and he was altogether opposed to the disruption of the Empire. But all experience told us that, whether in a great Colonial Empire, or in a compact State containing divers Nationalities, centralization only tended to peril. It was the concussion of local liberties which was the safeguard against disorder. Such a concession had proved successful in former days in Holland, and in the present century in Hungary and in Canada. He supported a moderate and well-considered plan of Home Rule—the right of Ireland to govern itself in regard to purely domestic matters; and he much preferred such a plan to the alternate doses of flattery and coercion which have been the rule during the present century. Firmly believing that this concession would be justified by its results, he earnestly recommended it as the best policy for Parliament to adopt.
§ MR. SHAW-STEWART (Renfrew, E.)
said, he would ask for that indulgence which was always accorded to a Member addressing the House for the first time. He hoped to be able to reply to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) with the respect which was due from a new Member to one who had been so long in the House as the right hen. Gentleman. At the commencement of his speech the right hon. Gentleman said that a certain number of Members of the Conservative Party went to the country on a cry of "No Coercion!" but he hoped, whatever certain Members of the Party might have said, to be able to show what Lord Salisbury and the Leaders of the Party said at the Election with regard to coercion. One of the objections which were taken to this Bill, and had been urged by the last speaker, was that there was not sufficient crime in Ireland to justify this Bill. But the case of the Government was that the crime which did exist could not be punished by the laws as they at 740 present stood. The right hon. Gentleman had also alluded shortly to certain provisions in the Scotch Law, and he (Mr. Shaw-Stewart) ventured to address the House as a Representative from that part of the United Kingdom, where some of the provisions of the law were very similar to some of the provisions in this Bill. He did not venture to expound the details of the Scotch Law; there were two Members of the Government who were far better qualified than a layman like himself to point out the similarity of these provisions of the Bill to the law under which they in Scotland lived, or, if hon. Members preferred it, were coerced; but as to the first clause of the Bill, which provided for a preliminary inquiry previous to trial, exactly the same thing existed in Scotland. ["No, no!"] Yes, yes; not in a proclaimed district, but over the whole country; not on the initiative of the Lord Advocate, but on the initiative of a local public officer, whom they called the Procurator-Fiscal. The Procurators-Fiscal could, upon information obtained from the police, or even from private individuals, conduct a preliminary inquiry, and, if necessary, the attendance of witnesses at that inquiry was enforced by the Sheriff. If the circumstances required it, they could be examined on oath. He had never heard any objection to the working of that law, although he had no doubt a good many criminals had found it, to say the least, inconvenient. He believed this provision was admirably adapted to the detection of crime, and that was one of the objects which it was most desirable to secure in Ireland at the present time. The list of agrarian offences from January to December last year amounted to a total of 1,056. Out of this total there were only 64 convicted and 87 made amenable, while 899 were neither convicted nor made amenable. That showed the necessity for increased detection of crime; and if such a provision as he had referred to became law in Ireland, detection of crime would become much more rapid and efficacious. They had also change of venue in Scotland. In cases of breaking into houses, or rioting, or assault, the Crown Counsel could, if he thought fit, have the panel tried in another district. [An hon. MEMBER: Not in London.] No; not in London, but in Edinburgh. He dared say they 741 would not be afraid to come to London to be tried. Of course, no one could deny that the present Bill went beyond the provisions of the Scottish law. But who was to blame for that? He maintained that it was those who stirred up Ireland to resist the law. The real creators of the Bill were not the Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench, but those who had stirred up Ireland during the winter. Our quarrel was not with the people of Ireland, but with criminals and instigators to crime. The stringency of this Bill was in proportion to the strength of the organization that existed in Ireland. The Government must be stronger than that organization. They must be stronger than the National League. We could not afford in Ireland or anywhere else to make terms with crime. He did not wonder that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite felt a certain amount of pride in having forced the Government to bring forward this Bill; but at the same time they must have some misgivings that the Bill would prove too strong for them. For his part, if he were an Irish agitator, he should hate the sight of this Bill, because the moment the Queen's Law prevailed in Ireland peace would prevail, and the agitator's occupation would be gone. They were told that the Government had no business to bring in this Bill; but were Parliamentary pledges to go for nothing? He maintained that the Government had absolutely no choice in the matter. At the commencement of the present Parliament the Government most distinctly pledged themselves to try to govern Ireland by the ordinary law, and declared that if they failed in the endeavour they would come to Parliament for further powers. That was stated by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill) on the 19th of August, 1886. They were not only pledged to Parliament, but they were acting consistently with the case as it stood before the country at the last General Election. At Leeds, on the 19th of June, very soon after Parliament was dissolved, Lord Salisbury spoke on this very question. He said they had not recommended that anybody should be punishable except for a proved breach of the Criminal Law. This was in answer to the charge that he had recommended coercion. "Whoever," Lord Salisbury asked, "heard of pur- 742 suing an anti-coercion policy with burglars?" And he added—All we desire is that the law should be sufficiently businesslike and efficacious to carry out its own behests.The late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had also, in his Election address, said—We are told that the adoption of the policy now offered to the country is but the concession to Ireland of her just rights, and that the only alternative is coercion. I hold that the rights of Ireland in this matter are neither more nor less than those of Great Britain. The Irishmen are endowed as largely with political rights and are as free to use them as Englishmen or Scotchmen; but neither in Great Britain nor Ireland can political organizations be permitted to gain their ends through intimidation backed by outrage and crime. To prevent this is the plain duty of any Government, for it is not coercion, but the necessary vindication of constitutional freedom.He contended that the Government were acting consistently in this matter. They had given the ordinary law in Ireland a fair trial. They had tried to govern Ireland by the ordinary law for eight months, honestly and consistently, and with forbearance. They had failed, and who was to blame but those who had stirred up Ireland during the winter against the law? In the face of these facts, he believed it was the duty of the Government to bring in this Bill; and notwithstanding what they sometimes heard in the House about the attachment of Scotsmen to the Separatist cause, he believed he spoke for large numbers of his countrymen when he said that notwithstanding their dislike to the necessity for a Bill of this kind, they believed that the Bill should be passed with the smallest possible delay. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. J. Redmond) the other night said—"What have we in Ireland to be loyal to?" What had they in England and Scotland to be loyal to? Speaking generally, he should say they were loyal to the Crown; but loyalty to the Crown went deeper than personal attachment to the Sovereign. They were loyal to the Crown because they looked to the Crown as the representative of, and the guarantee for, civilized law. Very few hon. Members would gainsay that civilized law was at a discount in Ireland, and he believed this Bill would go far to restore it. When once civilized law was established in Ireland, then Irishmen could dare to be loyal, the Crown would have no 743 more loyal subjects in its Dominions than the Irish. They heard a great deal about the national aspirations of the Irish. He did not think his countrymen had ever been charged with a want of national aspirations; on the contrary, they were very sensitive in their national feelings, and very jealous of their national rights; but they were not so foolish as to be blind to the immense advantage of forming a part of the Imperial Parliament, and they seized every opportunity of bringing before Parliament their grievances, and seeking useful and wise legislation in a quiet and practical manner. Why could not Irish Members do the same? Let them abandon dangerous agitation, and there would be no Coercion Bills. Let them use their undoubted talents in promoting the interests of their own country in a lawful and peaceable manner, so that the three countries bound together so closely by nature would become bound together still more closely in the promotion of the real welfare of mankind. He would only add, in conclusion, that they in Scotland desired to see the Irish enjoy the same rights and privileges as themselves; but that could not be so long as the cruel and selfish law of the National League was allowed to exist in Ireland. He should vote for this Bill, because he believed it would break the power of the National League, and so clear the way for many wise and useful measures for the whole United Kingdom—measures which were postponed now, but which all the Three Kingdoms were anxious to see passed by that House.
§ MR. MUNRO - FERGUSON (, &c.) Leith
said, he agreed with what had been said by the hon. Member opposite as to the Scottish people having sympathy with national aspirations, because at the General Election the Scottish people returned a majority of Members favourable to the aspirations of the people of Ireland. The hon. Member had also informed the House as to some of the provisions of the Scottish law. He was not a lawyer; but he ventured to say that if anyone examined the Scottish law, they would not find very much wrong in it; and that what was in the Scottish law could be applied to England and Ireland, probably with advantage to both. But there was very little in the Crimes Bill which was found in Scottish 744 law at all; and if the Crimes Bill were to be applied to Scotland, he ventured to say there would be very considerable disturbance in that country. There had been agrarian disturbances in the Highlands: but what would occur in the North of Scotland if crofters were brought to London for trial, or if such summary powers were given to the magistrates there as were contained in this Bill? The only power Scottish Sheriffs had was to sentence to two months' imprisonment, and their power was intended not for the suppression of political associations, but for the trial of petty offenders. He was a believer in the enforcing of the law; but the question was what kind of law did the Government propose to enforce? He could not think that the change of venue of prisoners to England would be tamely submitted to in Ireland. The weakness of the position of the Government was not the stringency of the Bill, but it lay in the weakness of the case which the Government brought forward in support of the Bill. The more protracted the debate was, the more it became clear that the Bill before the House was a bad Bill, and no serious attempt had yet been made to justify it. Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought to justify their case by quotations. The speeches of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had been literally quarried for quotations; and hon. Members opposite seemed to imagine that by quoting a few paragraphs from speeches made between 1831 and 1881, and by a few extracts from Law Reports in Ireland, that the case for the Bill was established and the Opposition policy was condemned; but signs were not wanting already that the same ignominious policy of scuttle was being adopted with regard to this Coercion Bill as they witnessed with regard to the policy of 20 years' resolute government. As had been said by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian—"A good, strong Coercion Bill might be effective; but no sooner was it introduced than it seemed to melt away." The Government sought to demolish the Opposition ease by bringing countercharges against them. They said that the Opposition encouraged obstruction in the House by an alliance with the Nationalist Members from Ireland, and 745 they accused them also of changing their; attitude. He frankly admitted that there had been considerable modifications of the views he had held upon the Irish Question; but to justify such a change, one had to prove that the new position was a right one, and everything had tended towards Home Rule in Ireland since 1885. They had only to remember the attitude of the Tory Party towards coercion in the autumn of that year, and in the Election of 1885, and the return of 86 Irish Nationalist Members. Unless they had thrown overboard their belief in Representative Institutions, he failed to see how they could adopt any other course with regard to the Irish Question. They thought it was their duty to concede, and they formulated their concession. If the concession was larger than they should like, it was because of the injudicious coercion in the past; and they hold that now the Government were making it more difficult for the two nations to come together. As to their so-called alliance with the Nationalist Members from Ireland—which, after the events of 1885, might be described almost as accidental—so long as the Irish Members pursued a policy which was not incompatible with the interests of the Empire, why should there be no understanding between hon. Members from one part of the United Kingdom and hon. Members from another part? The policy of the Opposition was at least as honourable as was the policy of the Conservative Party in 1885. Was it a more honourable understanding under which the policy of Lord Spencer was repudiated by hon. Members opposite? Should they not rather endeavour to draw Nationalist Members from Ireland within the pale of British politics? He believed, as the result of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, a great and favourable change of feeling had occurred; that, by a clear and honest understanding between hon. Members from Ireland and hon. Members on that side of the House, much had been done to bring them, in fact as well as in name, within the bonds of the Union of the Empire. Hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches seemed to think that it was by such Bills as these that the affections of the people would be gained. The Solicitor General had said that if they looked deep enough into the question of the administration of the 746 law in Ireland, they would find that Boycotting had something to do with the difficulties experienced in that direction; but he submitted that was not enough, and that they should look deeper still, and find out what was the origin of Boycotting. The cause of Boycotting was misrule, broken promises after the Union, and the maintenance of a land system which was utterly unsuited to the social state of Ireland. It was to these that they must attribute the growth of the evils which now oppressed Ireland. It was not by the suppression of discontent, but by the freeing of existing institutions, that the cure would be found; and they could not govern a country by continually recurring to coercion. Something might be said for an autocratic Government in the right place, but that place was certainly not Ireland, where the people had the same desire for free institutions as they had. Perhaps the question of land purchase was one more interlaced with the Coercion Bill than any other; but he did not believe that land purchase could be egged on by coercion. He believed coercion would be fatal to that transfer of the land from the owner to the occupier which alone would bring about a permanent settlement of the social and agrarian difficulties in Ireland. The landlords might find out that they missed their chance last year of a fair and equitable settlement; and he felt sure that without any intermediate authority in Ireland, without some sound guarantee, no land purchase could be carried out in Ireland. The case of the Government and of the Unionists was a hopeless case. The time of the House, which in former years had been used with the best intentions, though not with the good results they had hoped for, would this year be given up to a barren Session. He did not think the people of Great Britain would long submit to the Parliamentary machine being reduced to a state of impotence. He believed it would be found before long that the people of Scotland were far from satisfied with the share of legislation which they were enabled to receive from that House. The Members of the Unionist Party, in supporting this Bill, no longer considered the connection between remedial and coercive measures. Those Members of the Unionist Party who imagined that they could exhaust the demands of the Irish 747 people without any resort to force were in a position which could only be compared to that of some members of the Peace Society, who, in the present unfortunate state of the world, would find their opinions equally impracticable and valueless. The principle of Home Rule had been approved in Scotland. Scotland and the Scottish people knew how advantageous it would be, not to Ireland only, but to the interests of the Empire at large, as well as of benefit in promoting a wholesome feeling among the English-speaking race everywhere. By the attitude of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, the Members for Ireland had a hope that their reasonable desires might obtain the ear of the House. Scottish Members held very strong ground in opposing the measures which the Government had introduced. Scotsmen knew the value both of time and money, and they knew that both were being wasted in that House by the introduction of these measures for Ireland and by the impossibility of society settling down on any solid or permanent basis. The struggle which was now going on was disastrous to Parliamentary institutions and to Ireland, and it was disastrous to the whole English-speaking race. The introduction of American gold into Ireland had been objected to by the Tories; but they never objected to it so long as it was used for purposes of emigration. It was surely a high aim to seek to consolidate the English-speaking race throughout the world; and it was a parochial view of the case to assert that the granting of local institutions to Ireland would upset the British Empire. He spoke as an Imperialist as well as a Liberal, and, holding these views, he voted for Home Rule. That might seem singular to Members who opposed Home Rule; but the policy of the Tory Party had been a singular one, when they sat like a set of dummies, and allowed the Australian and American Colonies to pass away from them. The Empire should be maintained, not as a rotten body that required to be lashed up, but it should be maintained by mutual interests and mutual devotion. As it was, the present unhappy contest might end in loss of strength and influence, and in the lowering of national credit and prosperity, which it was the duty of every patriot to create and maintain.
§ MR. COCHRANE-BAILLIE (St. Pancras, N.)
It has been stated by those who hold the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) that at the last Election many Conservative candidates pledged themselves to vote against coercion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) has also brought to-night, as his chief charge against the Government, that they are falsifying their Election pledges by the introduction of this Criminal Law Amendment Bill. A similar accusation was made yesterday by the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Stuart) at the meeting in Hyde Park, of which he was Chairman, and which, by all accounts, seems to have fallen rather flat. If it is a true fact that we, on this side of the House, repudiated the idea of coercion at the last Election, how do hon. Members opposite account for their Election speeches being a constant reiteration, that our only policy was one of coercion? If they are speaking the truth now, they must have been guilty of the grossest misrepresentation, and of a desire to mislead the people at the Elections. Their case is stronger when they say we declared that we wished to have equal laws for the Three Kingdoms. So we do now. We want the spirit, the intention of our laws to have equal effect in the Three Kingdoms. The sought-for change at the present time arises from the working of our laws being checked in one of the Three Kingdoms, owing to some untoward circumstances hampering the machinery. Our endeavours are towards removing this friction. Amongst these untoward circumstances, which is the most important? It is the influence of of the National League. For my part, so great do I consider that influence, that I believe once the actions of that body are restrained or nullified by the provisions of the Bill, the remaining provisions will hardly require to be put into operation. I know the power of the League hon. Members opposite now find it convenient to deny. For instance, in Boycotting, in intimidation, or in the starting of the Plan of Campaign, we are told not to look for the National League. I think that its members are too modest. I give them much greater credit. If they were so ineffective as they choose now to represent them- 749 selves, they have been guilty of obtaining their money from America under false pretences, and should be charged by their subscribers for misappropriation of funds. But this is not the case; they are too powerful in Ireland, and though the state of terrorism they have originated may be denied, I believe that which the right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) laughed at as an absurdity—namely, that the priests themselves are, in many cases, amongst those who are terrorized—to be a fact. They headed this movement originally, unconscious of the length they would be forced to go; they are now driven and coerced by the National League to be supporters of their actions. Again, in the matter of juries, the power of the League has been felt, and a system which works well in this country is, in Ireland, rendered a farce. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, in his speech during the first stage of the Bill, when referring to the proposed change of venue, remarked how dangerous it was, when dealing with the jury system, to retain the form whilst sacrificing the substance of the system. Is not that danger fully shown in the present action of juries in Ireland, where you do, indeed, have the form, but not the substance or essence? This surely justifies the Government in proposing some remedy to get rid of a mockery of justice. Intimidation depends upon the amount of force behind it, and the likelihood of that force being used. The National League have that force, and are not slow to use it. When the Bill is passed, Boycotting, though it may be impossible to entirely suppress it, will certainly not be able to be set in motion by direct and open incitement in the manner as reported in to-day's papers, the hon. Member for County Cork (Mr. Parnell) is endeavouring to do. The Boycotting in Ireland has been foolishly compared with Boycotting by the Primrose League. For my part, I have never heard of a single authenticated case by the latter; and, secondly, do not see what good it could do when you have the Ballot used properly, and in its entirety in this country. Boycotting is carried on not only by threats at election time, but against men who are only anxious to obtain a livelihood. The Plan of Campaign was due solely to incitement, in proof of which there is evidence of ten- 750 ants being ready to pay rents, till the originators of the Plan came to disturb them. In December last, the hon. Member for North Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) boasted of their having forced the Government to lay aside the ordinary law, and resort to coercion. Again, the right hon. Member for New-castle-on-Tyne, in a speech made this Session, said that the tenants in the South and West of Ireland, who adopted the Plan of Campaign, were fighting not only their own battle, but also that of the tenants in the North, as the latter were really in as bad circumstances as themselves. I should say that rather proved that agitators did not go to the North, as they knew their efforts there would be unavailing in producing an illegal conspiracy. It has been said in the past how these agrarian outrages are the outcome of a long preconcerted plan of agitation carried out to such a state of perfection that a murder would shake a Ministry, or a blank calendar be the triumph of an Administration. If that was the case some years ago, how much truer is the statement now! Too many outrages in Ireland now are guarded against, lest the consciences of hon. Members above the Gangway should be disturbed. And I assert that the present comparatively peaceful state of Ireland is because the National League have thought it unfit that there should be any general incitement, and consequently the people are at once ready to be law-abiding. No doubt, hon. Gentleman opposite will ascribe this absence of crime to the hopes of the people of the near approach of Home Rule. Logical reasoning would point rather to agitation being temporarily laid aside; for, in those instances where it is resorted to, it is at once followed by illegal actions. Hon. Members opposite have a varied armoury of weapons, and not the least powerful is their tongue, whether in inciting or in cajoling the people to believe in a store of imaginary wealth as they represent Home Rule to be; or, when they are blarneying hon. Members above the Gangway that all their acts are Constitutional. The smooth tongue, though, is being laid aside, and threats substituted as to what shall occur if this Bill passes. Are we to have no progress in bringing Ireland to a better state? It is complained 751 that sufficient evidence of crime is not forthcoming. Are we to wait till anarchy over the whole of Ireland takes place, before we try to govern the country according to the meaning of our laws? The Act of 1882 did good. Over 2,500 crimes in the first half-year of 1882; only 800 in the first half-year of 1883. The whole question is whether there shall be Home Rule or not. And the Opposition do not say that Home Rule is now necessary, but that they will make our government so impossible that it shall be necessary. How far will hon. Members above the Gangway go with the Irish Members? Will they agree to all their demands and actions? There is no liberty without protection, no protection without the help of law. This Bill seeks to give that protection; and, therefore, instead of liberty, it imposes restraint only on the factious and seditious. Hon. Members below the Gangway, at the present moment in this House, speak in a manner which shows their anxiety that the consciences of other hon. Members opposite shall not be shocked; and that they shall not be reminded that those with whom they are now hand-in-hand have been the leaders in all the terrible state of things that have gone on in Ireland. They boasted that theirs was a Constitutional agitation. But, as a matter of fact, its object is, if possible, to make the Government of Great Britain and Ireland powerless and impotent in Ireland.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
The hon. Member who has just sat down has alluded to the moderation of language which hon. Members from Ireland observe in this House, as compared with the licence in which they indulge themselves when addressing, he says, their constituencies. We listened the other night to the remarks of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Whitmore), who spoke with a restrained conviction, which, I think, must have impressed all his hearers, and who addressed us with a moderation of language which, I think, might have served as a model for all of us. It was while remembering that fact that I was surprised to have placed in my hands a copy of a newspaper, called The Indicator, of March the 29th, which contains a speech of the hon. Member for Chelsea, from which I will ask the 752 permission of the House to read a single sentence. The hon. Member said—The more he saw of the conduct of Irish Members the more he felt convinced of the absolute folly and wickedness of handing over the government of Ireland to that disloyal, ignorant, and insolent crew.There can be no doubt, therefore, that there are Members on the other side of the House who speak one way inside the House, and another way out of it; and, therefore, they have no right so freely to take to task hon. Members below the Gangway. There is another point I wish to refer to in the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I think I am right in saying that the hon. Member for East Renfrew (Mr. Shaw - Stewart), who preceded the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Cochrane-Baillie), on that side of the House, as well as the hon. Member for North St. Pancras himself, both hon. Members seem to suffer from the delusion—or what I venture to believe to be a delusion—from which so many other persons suffer at this moment on the Tory Benches, and that is that the discontent of Ireland is the result of agitation. That is the position which was taken up by the hon. Member for North St. Pancras and the hon. Member for East Renfrew—namely, that discontent is the result of agitation in Ireland. On this side of the House we entirely reverse that proposition. We consider that the agitation is the result of discontent. We bear from the other side of the House that if we could only get rid of the National League everything would go on as merrily as a marriage bell. The same thing was said of Henry Grattan, and of Daniel O'Connell—namely, that if you could only get rid of them Ireland would be at peace. The same thing is said now of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), and I verily believe that those who make the assertion honestly entertain the opinion that if the hon. Member could only be kept quiet, or got out of the way, Ireland would be at peace. They have been very slow to learn the lessons of history; and they remind one of that historic class of people who thought that when they had broken the Æolian harp, they might, with justice, write an epitaph on the wind. I have listened with attention to the speeches winch have been made in the course of 753 this debate. I have been present during most of them, and I have been in the constant expectation of hearing from someone what the lines are on which this Bill is pressed upon the acceptance of the House. I maintain that the Bill has no claim to exist unless it can be shown by hon. Members opposite that there is some unusual and abnormal state of crime in Ireland which requires an exceptional law to be enforced. I have listened during the whole of the debate to the speeches which have been delivered from the Government Benches; but I confess that I have found nothing in the arguments adduced in respect of the necessity for the Bill which is of an intelligible character. It is very much like a page out of one of the books written by the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, where the knave of hearts was prosecuted for an offence he had, I believe, not committed, and the evidence against him consisted of a letter, which had been picked up, relating to some perfectly trivial matter, which referred in no way to any offence whatever, and which letter was not in the handwriting of the accused, nor had his signature attached to it. I did expect when the hon. and learned Solicitor General for England (Sir Edward Clarke) rose to address the House that we should have heard something intelligible upon this point. I listened attentively to what he said, and I think that the whole case may be summed up in one of the hon. and learned Gentleman's sentences, in which, speaking on behalf of the Government, he characterized statistics as "unintelligible details."
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CLARKE) (Plymouth)
The hon. Member is mistaken—I did not speak of statistics in general as being "unintelligible details." What I did say was this—that if you were to take 40 or 50 cases which have occurred in Ireland, and were to enter fully into them, with the view of testing the correctness of the conclusions arrived at by the Judges, you would be engaged in a discussion of unintelligible details,
§ MR. JAMES STUART
I am glad that "the unintelligible details" the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of are so restricted, and I accept his explanation; but I am bound to say, at the same time, that I should like to have heard 754 the details he referred to, and I do not think they would have been quite as unintelligible as he endeavours to make out. So much for that point. Up to the present we have had no authoritative statement whatever as to the real character, nature, and amount of crime, so far as I can judge, on which the existence of this Bill is based. What, then, is the ground which hon. Gentlemen on the other side have really fallen back upon? That on which the Government have introduced the Bill, as far as I can gather from the speech of the right hon. Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire, is put in a single sentence—namely, "The only alternative left us is that of Her Majesty's Government." That, I presume, is about true; because I cannot see that there is any alternative between giving Ireland the management of its own affairs, which it so ardently desires, and governing it precisely as we desire it to be governed. The hon. Member who spoke last assorted that hon. Members on that side have not violated their pledges. It is hard to say what their pledges may have been; but the hon. Member said that that was not the case, because at the last Election we asserted that their policy must be a policy of coercion. I admit that, so far as I am concerned, I endeavoured to say that during the whole of the Election Campaign, when our opponents, all the time, were engaged in saying that such was not the case. What they said, and led the people to believe, was that coercion was not the Conservative alternative. There is no doubt whatever that a large number of persons, to whom Home Rule was a new idea, and who did not like it much, fell back either upon voting for a Conservative, or not voting for a Liberal, because they really believed what the Conservatives said—namely, that Ireland was to receive henceforth from them equal measures with England and Scotland. That was the promise held out in Pitt's time, and a promise to the same effect has continued until now. It has always been what was just going to be done in Ireland, but it never has been done hitherto. The only case in which equal justice has been meted out to Ireland along with England and Scotland was in the last extension of the franchise; and the result of that extended franchise has been that the Irish people 755 have been more clear and pronounced in their demand for Home Rule, and that the English people have more appreciated and agreed with that demand than they had ever done before. The hon. Member who has just sat down referred to something which was stated by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) about making an attempt to confer equal justice upon Ireland with England and Scotland; and that if they found it impossible to do that, then they must fall back upon coercion. The hon. Member quoted that as a matter to prove that Members on that side of the House certainly had coercion in their mind at the Election as, at any rate, an ultimate, although a partially concealed, policy. The hon. Member ought to have remembered that the statement he quoted was made on the 19th of August, some time after the Election. But the other day, in speaking on the same subject, the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington confessed that he had wholly adopted the policy of coercion. Here are the words he used—I say, from what I know of Ireland, and from what I know of the present position, my belief is, that before a month or six weeks shall have passed, if that Bill becomes law, Ireland will be, as far as law and order and the protection of life and property are concerned, quiet and tranquil. I believe that within a couple of months of the passing of that Bill peace and order will reign in that country. Then will be the moment for pushing on boldly with remedial legislation.I am glad that the noble Lord is ready to push on more boldly than the Marquess of Salisbury, who fixed a limit of 20 years, whereas the noble Lord only gives a month or six weeks. But what I want to come to is the further statement which was made by the noble Lord. He says—You must use the plough and harrow of strong Executive government before you can attempt to sow the seed of remedial legislation.I think that was a most unfortunate phrase, and with respect to that I will ask how does it agree with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), who strongly supports coercion, because it is to be carried on along with remedial measures? The noble Lord now tells us that not only is 756 coercion to precede remedial measures, but that it must, in the nature of things, precede them, just as the harrowing and ploughing of a field must precede the sowing of the seed. There was to be a sequence, but not simultaneity; and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, in dealing with our attitude towards the Coercion Bill, said that it would be an unworthy quibble to assert that the Government are not prepared to introduce remedial measures. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that the introduction of remedial measures is tantamount to the carrying of them, and especially when he has regard to the place in which they are introduced? A remedial measure has been introduced in the House of Lords on the subject of the Irish land. Everyone is familiar with the fact that a multitude of measures for remedial legislation have been introduced in the House in which we sit. The measures introduced between 1830 and 1870 alone were multitudinous, to say nothing of the number since introduced by hon. Members below the Gangway; but out of the whole of them only two succeeded in passing this House, in addition to the great measures of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and both of them—namely, the Tenants' Improvement Compensation Bill of 1852, and the Compensation for Disturbances Bill of 1880, were rejected by the House of Lords. There has never yet been any measure whatever passed by the House of Lords for the relief of the Irish tenants. The only Bills they have passed have been Bills for the relief of the landlords; and I cannot help expressing wonder and astonishment that, after such an experience as we have had, and after expressing views such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has expressed, he can have such an amount of confidence in the land-reforming tendencies of the House of Lords. I should like to refer the House and the right hon. Gentleman to the words of John Milton in a similar case. He says, in the preface to his great prose work—I change a word in the quotation—namely, the question to which it applies:Indeed, my Lords, are ye at last become the gracious guardians of these principles which in your hearts you despise? Or has the spirit 757 at length becomed in light upon your souls where light never shone before? For shame, my Lords, will ye never forsake inconsistence? Demons have trembled and Jews have been converted; but when the cause of land reform is echoed from the House of Lords perfidy is at hand, and we ought to look about us.So much for the argument by which this Coercion Bill is supported—namely, that it is accompanied by remedial legislation. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke made a statement to which I feel bound to refer. He spoke of the machinery of the law, and he said that the essence of the present Bill is, that it only changes the machinery by which the law is to be worked. Now, I entirely dissent from that proposition; and, on the contrary, I believe that there is a great alteration in respect, not only of the machinery by which the Bill is to be worked, but also a considerable change in the essence of the law itself. The Bill has been summarized by more than one hon. Gentleman in this House; but that is not my notion of a summary of its details in any sense whatever. The stroke of the Bill is to fail upon any person who, by words or acts, shall incite, solicit, or persuade any person to commit any of the offences hereinbefore mentioned; and one of those offences is taking part in any riot or unlawful assembly. I am far from thinking that that is a law which is worded in exactly the same way both for England and Ireland; and, therefore, I think that, in that respect the essence of the law is in some respects changed. I noticed the other morning in a Tory newspaper a strong diatribe against the meeting which took place yesterday in Hyde Park, in which the writer used these words—It can only be by some unfortunate technicality that these proceedings can escape being called treasonable.Now, such an "unfortunate technicality" is removed by such provisions as those I have referred to, which are contained in this Bill? I can only rejoice that in this country this "unfortunate technicality," as it is called, should still exist. I do say, however, that if this Bill becomes an Act, and is to be enforced by persons who take the same view as the writer in this newspaper of what is a treasonable assembly, there would, I think, be very little chance of popular government in this country; and the House must also remember that which has been abundantly established 758 —namely, that the Gentlemen in whose hands the carrying out of the government of Ireland is placed are persons who assume towards the political aspirations, the demonstrations, and the political action of the Irish people generally, precisely the same view as the editor of that newspaper takes respecting the action of the common people of this country. There is another clause which, if it does not enact, at least re-introduces in an operative form a great difference between the law in Ireland and that which exists in England and Scotland. I refer to offences tinder the White-boy Acts. Now, a reprint of the Whiteboy Acts has been promised to the House; but we have not yet had them laid on the Table, and they are not accessible generally to newspaper editors and the common people of the country. Therefore, it has not yet transpired what is involved in that clause The Whiteboy Acts are about the most far reaching, and the most terrible Acts that were ever passed in a Christian country. Let me give one or two quotations from them. The first of these Whiteboy Acts was passed in 1775–6, and it contained this clause—And whereas, notwithstanding the laws now being for the better securing the Government by disarming Papists, there is good reason to suspect that several persons contrary to the true intent and meaning of the said laws have arms and ammunition in their custody and power by means of which many of the mischiefs hereinbefore mentioned have happened, be it enacted that it shall be lawful for any one or more Justices" to do so and so.This was an Act of the then Irish Parliament which was necessarily subservient to the Government of the day. I want to know definitely whether the offence referred to in this clause of the Whiteboy Acts is continued in the present Bill? [Mr. HOLMES: Not at all.] I am glad to hear it. Clause 2 of that Act is as follows:—If any person or persons being armed with fire-arms, firelock, pistol, or any offensive weapon or weapons whatsoever, or having his, her or their face or faces, body or bodies disguised in any manner whatsoever, or wearing any particular badge, dress, or uniform not usually worn by him, her, or them upon his, her, or their lawful occasions, or assuming any particular name or denomination not usually assumed by His Majesty's subjects upon their lawful occasions, shall rise, assemble or appear by day or by night to the terror of His Majesty's subjects every person so offending," &c.I wish to ask whether that clause is to 759 be enforced? [Mr. HOLMES: Yes, Sir.] Then I wish to know if it is to be applicable to the Salvation Army? How are we to discriminate between the Salvation Army and other bodies? I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he cannot insert words into the clause to exempt in some sort of way the Salvation Army from the operation of the measure, in the same way as the Trades Unions have been exempted? I now come to the next Whiteboy Act, which was passed in 1787. Clause 1 says—If any persons to the number of 12 or more being unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled, to the disturbance of the public peace, and being required or commanded in the King's name by one or more Justice or Justices of the Peace.… where any such rising or assembly shall be by proclamation made in the King's name in the form hereinafter directed to disperse themselves and retire to their habitations shall to the number of 12 or more, notwithstanding such proclamation made as aforesaid unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously remain or continue together as aforesaid for the space of one hour after such proclamation made as aforesaid, then such continuing together as aforesaid to the number of 12 or more after such proclamation shall be adjudged felony without benefit of clergy, and the offenders therein being by due course of law thereof convicted shall be adjudged felons and shall suffer death, as in cases of felony without benefit of clergy.…Then I come to Clause 11 of the same Act—And be it enacted that if any person shall print, write, post, publish, or knowingly circulate or deliver, or shall cause or procure to be printed, written, posted, published, circulated or delivered any notice, letter or message inciting or tending to incite to any riot, tumultuous meeting, or unlawful combination or confederacy, any such person being by due course of law thereof convicted shall be adjudged a felon and shall suffer death.May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman who is to be the Judge as to whether the assembly is a tumultuous one or not?
§ MR. HOLMES
I have already answered that Question. The hon. Mem-surely knows that is to be decided by the summary jurisdiction of the magistrates—by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction.
§ MR. JAMES STUART
That means then that the decision is to rest with the two Resident Magistrates. Therefore I come back to the point that we are giving the power of dealing with tumultuous meetings, so far as the Irish 760 people are concerned, to the judgment of two persons, who are, from the nature of their surroundings, in identically the same position as the editor of the London newspaper, from whose article I read an extract a short time ago. My point is that, so far as tumultuous meetings are concerned, the judgment is not left to the Judge or jury, but to the Resident Magistrates appointed by the Crown; and the Crown, therefore, will hold firmly the reins of every public meeting that may be held in Ireland. As to the point that these Acts were passed by the Irish Government, I am quite prepared to admit that that was so, and that one of them was passed by Grattan's Parliament; but on the 15th of October, 1831, an Act was passed to amend those Acts. The Act of 1831 was, on the whole, a merciful Act, inasmuch as it repealed the death penalties and substituted transportation for life, and for seven years; but, in doing so, the Act extended the number and multitude of the crimes, and introduced one remarkable and altogether new crime. I, therefore, propose to read to the House Clause 3 of the Act of 1831. I ask the pardon of the House for doing so, but it must be remembered that we have not yet had placed before us, even on the Table of the House, the details of the Whiteboy Acts. Clause 3 is as follows:—And be it enacted that if any person or persons shall knowingly print, write, post, publish, circulate, send or deliver, or cause or procure to be printed, posted, circulated, sent or delivered any notice or letter or message exciting, or tending to excite any riot, tumultuous or unlawful meeting, or assembly, or unlawful combination or confederacy, or threatening any violence, injury, or damage upon any condition or in any event or otherwise to the person or property real or personal of any person whatever, or demanding any money, arms, weapons or weapon, ammunition, or other matter or thing whatsoever, or directing or requiring any person to do or not to do any act, or to quit the service or employment of any person, or to set or to give out any land, every person so offending shall be liable to be transported beyond seas for the term of seven years….The House will see that the words of this clause are not demanding money for any particular specified civil purpose, but demanding any money, arms, weapons or weapon, ammunition, or any matter or thing whatsoever, or directing or requiring to do or not to do any act. That, Sir, is a most sweeping clause. 761 I would ask the House to look at the provisions I have read, and especially this one which relates to demanding money, without assigning any purpose for the demand, or directing or requiring any person to do or not to do any particular act. Any person so offending is liable by the Act of 1831, on conviction by a jury, to the punishment of seven years' transportation. The Act of 1831, therefore, while diminishing the death penalty, materially extended the number and character of the offences. This Act still exists in Ireland. Much attention has not been paid to it, simply because it is impossible to enforce it, and rightly so, because these Acts are contrary to all the ideas which now exist in regard to the Criminal Law since the reforms initiated by Sir Samuel Romilly and others. It is quite obvious, I think, why the Government got rid of the death penalty, and, while reducing the punishment, enlarged the number of offences. I have read to the House some of the provisions of the Whiteboy Acts, and I will now read what Grattan said about the Acts themselves. The same thing may certainly be said of the Bill now before the House. Grattan spoke as follows:—Such Acts of tyranny are the weakness of the times, the tyranny of one side and the feebleness of the other.… Do not, then, tolerate a power which has no foundation in utility or in necessity, or in the laws of England; or the laws of Ireland; or the laws of nature; or the laws of God.I cannot help thinking that these words are applicable to the provisions of the present Bill. There is only one other provision in the Bill to which I desire to refer, and that is the Trades Union Clause. It has been said that this provision of the Bill is not directed to offences similar to those which have been attributed to trades unions. If that is so, why put in a clause excluding trades unions? Was it because Her Majesty's Government felt that but for this clause, their Bill would strike at trades unions? If so, then I would infer that the offence of tenants in Ireland at which the Bill strikes is of a similar character to the Trades Union Clause—the power of combination clause, and it strikes at every act in social life, and more especially at combination of tenants. This is, in fact, a landlords' Bill for enforcing rents, and 762 it is aimed at the National League—that National League which has been the saviour of tenants, and which has roused the ire of the Party opposite. We have heard a great deal from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham about secret societies, but the National League is not a secret society. It stands between tenants and bad landlords. It also stands between the English taxpayer and bad bargains. That is clear from the evidence before the late Commission of Captain Hamilton, a member of the Property Defence Association. He says—It is clearly the object of the National League to interfere with the working of the Land Purchase Act (1885), by forcing the landlords to make reductions in the judicial rents; to prevent the tenants who would otherwise avail themselves of the provisions of the Act from doing so, under the impression that in a short time they will be able to purchase at far butter terms than at present. My experience, both as an honorary director of this Association and as a land agent, leads me to believe that if the payment of judicial rents were vigorously enforced, the Land Act (1881) and Land Purchase Act (1885), if extended in its operations, would settle the Land Question in Ireland in a very short time.Of course it would settle the Land Question so far as the landlords are concerned, but not so far as the English taxpayer is concerned, for he would take over a bargain the tenant could not fulfil. The National League is protecting the English taxpayer against such a state of things. I should like to commend that point to the English public. The Bill also proposes the abolition of trial by jury. In a certain number—and they are a very large number indeed—in a certain number of offences trial by jury is practically abolished, and abolished for ever. Of course, we know that nothing can be for over in this world; but, as far as we can make out, the Bill is to be as permanent as anything can be. The right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland said, as a sort of apology for the Bill, that there is a tendency to increase the number of offences even in this country to which summary jurisdiction should be applied, and that these maybe put in the same category. Now, I deny that they are in the same category at all. The Irish offences are largely political offences; at any rate, they are committed for a political 763 object. Nobody denies that; and this is an endeavour to deal with political offences by summary jurisdiction. There can be no doubt that the alleged offence of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) was a political offence. The offence for which the hon. Member was tried was obviously, and understood to be—as far as it was an offence at all, for it was not proved to be one—for a political object. Therefore, I cannot see the sequitur in the reasoning of hon. Members opposite. I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland to turn back to the commencement of the extension of summary jurisdiction. It took place largely in connection with the Excise Laws, and one of the great debates which took place in 1736 occurred upon the Smuggling Bill—and I would ask hon. Members to read the speeches which were delivered on that occasion by Lord Hardwicke and the Lord Chancellor Talbot. They explained that the letting in of summary jurisdiction for such offences would induce Parliament to extend it to political offences, and now the realization of their fears has come. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have taken solemn pledges that they will treat England and Ireland alike. We see then what we have to fear in England. Allow me to read a few words from Blackstone. They are not very long, but they show what he thought of the transcendent privileges enjoyed by the subjects of this Realm in possessing the right of trial by jury. Speaking in a passage which will be familiar to some hon. Gentlemen opposite of jury trial, Blackstone calls it—A Constitution which I may venture to affirm has, under Providence, secured the just liberties of this nation for a long succession of years.He goes on to say—It preserves in the hands of the people that share which they ought to have in the administration of public justice, and prevents the encroachments of the more powerful and wealthy citizens.Is it for the purpose of preventing these encroachments that Her Majesty's Government propose to abolish jury trial in Ireland? In another familiar quotation from Blackstone there are these words—It is, therefore, above all, a duty which every man owes to his country, his friends, his 764 posterity, and himself.… to guard with the most jealous circumspection against the introduction of new and arbitrary methods of trial which under a variety of plausible pretences may in time imperceptibly undermine this best preservative of English liberty.Now, nobody ever attempted to undermine liberty for the sake of undermining it. Everybody who has endeavoured to sweep away a great popular protection has done it for some purpose which he believed to be a good one; to accomplish some end, may be, in the interest of some class with which he was connected. It may be said that Blackstone refers to the preservation of English liberty, and that Ireland is in an entirely different position; and I wish the House to bear in mind that it is not possible to hold on by, and to continue to enjoy, the blessings of liberty and legitimate government at home, while in Ireland and elsewhere we are guilty of acts of violence and fraud. Blackstons continues—Every new tribunal created for the decision of facts without the intervention of a jury is a step towards establishing aristocracy, the most oppressive of absolute governments.Mr. Justice Warren says—It is a matter of supreme concern to the country to be beware of shaking the confidence of the humble classes of society in the administration of criminal justice, by infringing their right to an open and formal trial by their equals and placing them at the mercy of, it may be, an interested and prejudiced superior.Could any words be more directly applicable to the proposal now before us? What the Government propose that the House of Commons should do is to abolish trial by jury for a large number of offences, and especially offences of a political character or tinge. I do not deny the right of Parliament to do what it likes, and to pass this Bill; but I do deny the moral right of Parliament to pass this Bill. Let me refer the House to a passage which sums up the whole position in regard to this matter. It is contained in the following words of Lord Chatham:—No Court of Justice can have a power inconsistent with or paramount to the known law of the land"—thereby he means the provisions of Magna Charta—and the people"—to these words I would direct particular attention— 765when they choose, their representatives never mean to convey to them a power of invading the rights or trampling upon the liberties of those whom they represent.This Parliament was elected without any question having been raised of the abrogation of trial by jury, and it commences its legislation by trampling on the liberties of those whom it represents. That this Parliament does represent Ireland is one of the things which hon. Members on the other side of the House are strong in insisting upon.
The Government have brought in a political Bill. They say—"Abolish trial by jury, because juries will not convict for certain offences." These offences are political or of a political tinge. An eminent French writer—De Tocqueville—whose opinion is worth having on such a matter—says of trial by jury—To look upon the jury as a mere judicial institution"—recollect this is written by a Frenchman who was well acquainted with the criminal jurisdiction of the United States and of this country—is to confine our attention to a very narrow view of it, for however great its influence may be upon the decisions of the Law Courts, that influence is very subordinate to the powerful effects which it produces on the destinies of the community at large. The jury is, above all, a political institution, and it must be regarded in this light to be fully appreciated. The institution of the jury may be aristocratic or democratic, according to the class of society from which the jurors are selected; but it always preserves its republican character, inasmuch as it places the real direction of society in the hands of the governed.…. The true sanction of political laws is to be found in penal legislation, and if that sanction be wanting the law will sooner or later lose its cogency. He who punishes infractions of the law is the real master of society. Now, the institution of the jury invests the people with the direction of society.Let me say that the non-agreement of juries is the ultimate political weapon of the people; it has been a political weapon in England, as in the case of Horne Tooke and the Blasphemy Laws. And it may be so again. We have the spirit of repression abroad among us, as is shown by the remark in the newspaper article which I have already quoted—namely, that the demonstration of the preceding day only, by an unfortunate technicality, escaped being dealt with as treasonable. It is a miserable state of things that a country should have to defend itself by means of its 766 juries; but it is a solemn warning from the nation—not from its Representatives or its delegates, but from the whole mass of the whole nation—that its laws must be changed, and that they are on a false basis, unjust and wrong. To this solemn warning the Government reply in Ireland by coercion, which has often failed, and by a policy of savage repression which the English people will, I believe, recoil from adopting.
§ MR. KNOWLES (Salford, W.)
said, the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Munro-Fergusson) had charged Conservative Members with delighting to figure in the Division List, rather than in debate—in other words, with a conspiracy of silence. Their answer to that taunt was, that they intended, if they could, to prevent the work of the Parliamentary machine this Session being barren. There were many hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial Benches who had not taken part in any debate, either during last Session or during the present Session. What they had felt was, that if they were silent, they would not impede Her Majesty's Government; and that, if they had not observed silence, they would have added fuel to the fire of Obstruction which, in their opinion, had raged incessantly within the four walls of the House. But now, however, that the policy of Her Majesty's Government had been put forward, they felt that it was their duty to say some words in support of that policy as it affected Ireland. That policy dealt with social order and with the Land Question, with remedial legislation, and by these means they hoped to remove that discontent to which the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Stuart) had referred. The Bill had been described as an insult to Ireland, and a policy of provocation to outrage. He (Mr. Knowles) did not agree with that statement. From that point of view, the Ten Commandments wore quite as much an insult to Ireland and a provocation to outrage. It had been stated in the debate that, since the Union, there had been 86 Coercion Acts, and that the present one, if it became law, would make the 87th. He did not know on what authority that statement was made; but it had at once been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) without confirmation, simply for the sake of political alliteration, to 767 induce political memory, and also for the sake of giving it prominence as a political cry. On the contrary, he (Mr. Knowles) believed—and he had authority for the statement—that only some 46 or 47 Coercion Acts had been passed since the Union, and within this century; while from 1782 up to 1800 (the year of the Union) more than 50 Coercion Acts were passed by an Irish Parliament, in the Irish capital, and directed against the Irish people. They were passed to suppress murder, outrage, unlawful assemblies, conspiracies, and riots; to restrict the importation of arms, to prevent the entry of aliens, and for similar objects. When a complaint was raised, therefore, that the policy of Her Majesty's Government was an everlasting one of coercion, he would remind the House that one of the last measures passed by an Irish Parliament made three Coercion Acts permanent, and extended five others for seven years. As to the Coercion Acts passed since the Union, he submitted that most of them were directed against the Whiteboys, the Ribbonmen, and the Fenians, while many of them were merely Continuance Acts, and were passed with the assent of the Irish Members, and most of them were passed by Liberal Governments. All these Acts had been successful, having put down the crimes and extinguished the societies against which they were directed, though possibly these crimes and societies had revived in new forms and tinder new names. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, or the hon. Member for Shoreditch, or anyone else, to point out a single one of these Acts, passed since the Union, as one which ought not to have been passed; and he would remind the House that probably the most stringent of these measures was that of 1882 (the Prevention of Crime Act, 1882) passed by the irony of fate under the auspices of a Liberal Government, of which the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian himself was the head. That Act, which had been described by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) as "mild as milk," provided for the trial of prisoners charged with treason, murder, manslaughter, arson, and the like, by a Special Commission of three Judges; it also provided for a change of venue in criminal cases, which was worthy of 768 notice, and it contained stringent provisions making membership of any unlawful society, intimidation, and rioting, punishable with six months' imprisonment. It authorized the Lord Lieutenant to prohibit meetings. It authorized the arrest of persons found at night under suspicious circumstances, and of suspected strangers. It authorized the examination of witnesses, although no particular person was in custody charged with an offence; it provided also for the confiscation of seditious newspapers, and for a search for arms and illegal documents by night as well as by day. It increased the number of police in disturbed districts, and charged upon each district the cost of its extra police, and the compensation paid to the relations of persons murdered, and to persons injured within it, and so on. If it was said that that Act ought not to have been passed, at least it was a fact that, after it came into operation, agrarian outrages fell from 4,439 in 1881, and 3,433 in 1882, to 870 in 1883, and 762 in 1884. It was unnecessary for him to remind the House of the condition of Ireland during the last five years of the late Liberal Government, of the 10,000 agrarian outrages which were committed, when the cost of governing the country was increased by £80,000 a-year, when it was brought to the verge of civil war, and when the right hon. Gentleman put in prison nearly 1,000 persons at once merely upon suspicion. The right hon. Gentleman relied on their forgetfulness. He had said himself—No memory is so short as a political memory. A Party that can count on forgetfulness need not trouble itself with repentance or conversion.Those words he had not spoken in the excitement of the Hyde Park gathering yesterday, not in the heat of Parliamentary debate, nor in the whirl of a railway journey, nor in the warmth of post-prandial conviviality. Those words were deliberately thought out, and as deliberately were they penned, and they were penned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian himself. Those words were the key-note of the right hon. Gentleman, and of his policy. He appealed to their forgetfulness; but Her Majesty's Government appealed to their memories. With regard to the provision in the Bill as to the change of venue, that was not new. In the time 769 of Henry VIII. an Act was passed, by which persons charged with murder, whether the crime was committed abroad or in England, might be tried in any shire or place in the Kingdom; and that Act was extended in the time of George III. to the trial of accessories before the fact, and to cases of manslaughter. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) had also alluded to the law by which a change of venue might be made in Scotland from any part of that country to Edinburgh; but he (Mr. Knowles) wished to draw attention to a precedent in the case of the Canadian political prisoners. In 18.38 Lord Durham went out to Canada at the time of the Rebellion, and granted a general amnesty, excepting certain persons to the number of 24. He ordered some of these to be banished to Bermuda, and those abroad were to stay there. Unfortunately, he exceeded his powers. The prisoners were sent to Quebec, thence to Liverpool, and thence to London. The change of venue was legal; but his Ordinance banishing the prisoners to the Bermudas was illegal, and that view was subsequently taken by Lord Abinger, before whom the case was argued, and on the 16th of May, 1839, judgment was given to that effect; and although the prisoners had pleaded guilty to the crime of high treason in Upper Canada, the Ordinance of Lord Durham was quashed; and Monsieur Garneau, in his Histoire du Canada, Vol. iii., p. 340, says—The Ministry were in great embarrassment. Nevertheless, the Ordinance was illegal, and the Sovereign was advised to disavow it.Not only was there a change of venue from one country to another, but the prisoners received justice. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) himself had no objection to this clause, which provided for change of venue, for, on the 6th instant, at Birmingham, he said so, and gave as his reason that if the Bill passed in its pre-sent form he should have no objection to being tried in England—indeed, that he would prefer being tried at the Old Bailey to being tried by a packed jury in Dublin. The charge of jury-packing in Dublin was baseless; but, after tills declaration on the part of the hon. Member for East Mayo, he hoped that the Government would stick to their 770 guns and insist on the clause providing for the change of venue. He did not believe there was any more jury-packing in Ireland than in England, although the Irish talked about it. The law in both countries was, in effect, the same on the subject; in both countries the aim was to get a fair trial for the prisoner. To go to another subject—crime in connection with evictions. It had been said that crime followed evictions. To that he took exception; because, if that were the case, one would expect to find more crime in London than in all Ireland. With respect to malicious offences against property in England, Scotland, and Ireland, such as the setting fire to houses, killing and maiming cattle, sending threatening letters, and the like, the latest statistics which he could obtain for the three countries were for the year 1885. In Scotland, in 1885, there were 63 of those offences, with a population of 4,000,000; England and Wales, with a population of 26,000,000, 628; in Ireland, with a population of 5,000,000, 755. When he compared the evictions in London with those in Ireland, he had in his mind the Statute 1&2 Vict. c. 74—An Act to facilitate the recovery of the possession of tenements after the determination of the tenancy,which did not apply to Scotland or Ireland. The landlord could recover possession of house or land after a 21-days' notice. At the end of three weeks the police—not the Sheriff, as in Ireland—could enter, using force, if necessary, and remove the tenant and his effects, and this was the case where the term did not exceed seven years or the rent £20. All that he had to do after the legal notice to quit had expired was to apply to a magistrate for an ejectment warrant. In the Quarter ending 31st December, 1886, in Ireland there were 666 families evicted; 21 of those families, including 90 persons, were re-admitted as tenants; and 396 families, including 3,973 persons, were re-admitted as caretakers. In that quarter, therefore, 249 families were thrust bag and baggage out-of-doors in Ireland. In the Metropolitan Police district, from a Return he had obtained privately from headquarters, he found that in the quarter ending 31st December, 1886, the number of eject- 771 ment orders, or judgments under the Acts 1&2 Vict. c. 74, were 349, and in 26 cases force had to be used, and in only one case had that force been resisted. In one case the tenant had been re-admitted as tenant. So that, in round numbers, it might be taken that in the same quarter, as against 250 turned out bag and baggage in Ireland, there were 350 in London. Therefore, that did not bear out the assertion that crime followed evictions. In England there was no re-admission as caretaker, and no six months' notice as in Ireland, and yet we did not hear the same amount of murmuring and grumbling against tyrannical coercion or summary jurisdiction with respect to evictions in England as we did in Ireland. There must be some other cause than evictions for the crime in Ireland, and that cause was not far to seek. He thought the cause was the National League. They had it upon the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that crime dogged their steps, and there had not been heard, since he uttered those words, any statement to the contrary. They had had lately a No Rent Manifesto from Irish Archbishops. The hon. Member for Shoreditch said the National League stood between the tenants and bad bargains. He (Mr. Knowles), on the contrary, said it stood between the landlords and their just rents—rents fixed judicially by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. He had in his hand a quotation from Archbishop Croke, in which he said in effect that a Government which spent Government money in collecting rack-rents was worse than the landlord who imposed rack-rents. If it was right, therefore, to starve landlords, à fortiori it was right to starve out a Government which upheld landlords. Who, then, would pay the taxes for the Irish people? That did not bear out the statement of the hon. Member for Shoreditch that the National League protected the British taxpayer. The National League compelled people to join its ranks and to subscribe to its funds. It fixed the amount of rents; it interfered with the tenants who were willing and able to pay their rents, between brother and brother, and between father and son. He had extracts from Na- 772 tionalist papers, issued within the last month or two, to prove those statements. The English people were a passive people. They had stood by and seen the National League and the crime which dogged its steps a long time. They had seen a No Rent Manifesto; but when the League touched the pocket of the British taxpayers they would cry out. It was also said that the Bill was aimed, not at putting down crime, but at putting down the National League. Well, if the Bill did no other good than crush the National League, he considered it would have done some good, because the National League was at the bottom of the trouble and disturbance which was in Ireland. Another complaint which had been made against the Bill was, that it did not extend to England, Scotland, and Wales. For his part, he should be quite willing to have it so extended. The people of England lived under the Ten Commandments, and he believed that true liberty would be restored to the people of Ireland by this Bill. Ireland was a beautiful country—a country of green valleys and rushing streams—a country which ought rather to be the subject of the poet's theme than the scone of civil strife. Her people were warm-hearted, generous, impulsive, and truly loyal. From their impulsive nature they were easily led; but they were as easily led for good as for evil. It was not political change that Ireland wanted, but social amalgamation. If the Government dealt with them justly, firmly, and consistently, as he believed they would, that was the Government which he would support.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND (Wexford, N.)
said, he accepted the invitation of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) to discuss the details of the Bill. It differed in one respect from every other coercive proposal that had ever been made or passed. That was the first time that repressive legislation had been proposed, not as an extreme expedient to enable the Government to cope with a special emergency, but as a permanent surrender of all their Constitutional rights, and as a disability under which 5,000,000 of the inhabitants of one portion of the so-called United Kingdom were expected to live at all times in loyalty and contentment. It was not very difficult to see the reason 773 why the Government proposed to make this a permanent Act. It was true that, since the passing of the ill-starred Act of Union, Irishmen had at no time enjoyed equal rights with Englishmen. Yet, hitherto, every Coercion Act had been introduced to meet a supposed emergency. The fundamental principle of all repressive legislation in the past had been that it could only be justified on the ground of emergency; but now, however, that had been discarded, and the miserable habit of periodical relapse into exceptional legislation—to use the expression of Lord Carnarvon—was no longer to be regarded as an evil. They had to do that, for the very simple reason that they had conclusively shown by their own speeches that no such emergency existed; and so, with magnificent audacity, they had actually informed the House of Commons that they did not propose that Bill on account of the amount of crime in Ireland, but as a valuable permanent amendment of the ordinary law. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), while making some altogether inconclusive references to the amount of crime in Ireland, did not attempt to justify his measure by the published statistics of agrarian offences. The right hon. Gentleman had very good reason for not attempting such a justification, for the country was as tranquil as it had been in any period during the last 50 years, and was as free from crime and intimidation as it was in 1885, when the Party to whom he belonged abandoned the Crimes Act. Of ordinary crime Ireland was freer to-day in proportion to her population than was either England or Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman had made much of the fact, and they were asked to believe, because some 800 persons were Boycotted wholly or partially, that, therefore, this Act was necessary. They had not been given figures for past years; but in September, 1885, when Lord Salisbury abandoned the Crimes Act, when he declared that the country was sufficiently tranquil to justify a return to the ordinary law, there were 885 persons Boycotted; and in the last month of the same year 891 persons were in the same difficulty. Boycotting, therefore, was at this moment loss prevalent than it was when the Tory Party declared in 1885 that coercive legislation was no longer possi- 774 ble. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, not being able to rely on statistics, had fallen back on individual cases, some of which were so vaguely given that it was impossible to trace them; but he (Mr. Redmond) begged the House to remember that the only cases which the right hon. Gentleman had specifically given had been proved by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) to be inaccurate and misleading. In support of his case the Chief Secretary had quoted the charges of four Judges at recent Assizes; but he had deliberately suppressed a score of charges made by Judges in other parts of the country, which showed that over the greater part of Ireland absolute tranquillity reigned. If the Bill before the House were passed as it stood, all personal freedom, all right to free speech, all right of public meeting, all freedom of the Press, would be absolutely at an end in Ireland, and the law would be administered for the future by the officials of the Executive Government. These officials would be empowered to try, without juries, all cases of so-called conspiracy, and the Law of Conspiracy was so wide-reaching and elastic that it might be held to apply to almost all innocent actions of ordinary life. Those who were eager to abolish trial by jury in Ireland ought to weigh the words of Erskine, who affirmed, in one of his speeches on the rights of juries, that if the administration of criminal justice should ever be left in the hands of the Crown and its servants, no more freedom would be enjoyed than the Executive Government of the day might choose to sanction and approve. They were told that the Bill was not directed against agitation; but what right of agitation or of public meeting would exist, save such as mot with the sanction or approval of the Executive Government? It was no answer to say that trial by jury had failed in Ireland; because patriotic juries in England had time after time refused to convict in days gone by, and some of the most cherished liberties of the English people were won by the patriotic action of English juries in refusing to find verdicts of guilty. Blackstone had been quoted in that debate, but he would remind the House that Blackstone had said—The liberties of England cannot but subsist so long as this palladium (trial by jury) remains 775 sacred from any inviolation—not only from open attacks, but also from machinations which may undermine it by introducing new and arbitrary methods of trial by Justices of the Peace, Commissioners of the Revenue, and other tribunals similarly constituted, however convenient these may appear at first, as doubtless all arbitrary powers well executed are most convenient. But let it be again remembered that delays and inconveniences in the forms of justice are the price all free nations pay for their liberty in more substantial matters.Under the Bill trial by jury was abolished in Ireland, and what was substituted for it? Under the Crimes Act of 1882 a Commission of Judges was substituted for trial by jury; but that provision was never acted upon. The Irish Judges met, and unanimously declared that that provision would throw upon their shoulders a burden greater than they could bear; that it would tend to undermine the position of the Irish Justiciary, and that it would be an open and a gross violation of the Constitution. Now, the Judges in Ireland, no matter what their past careers had been, were like the Judges in England, independent of the Executive. The independence of the English Judges was won by the Act of Settlement; but the independence of Judges in Ireland was only obtained under the great International Act of Settlement of 1782. The Irish Judges were, therefore, beyond the power of the Government. They could only be removed by Addresses from both Houses of Parliament, and they could afford to be independent and impartial. Then, if the proposal to invest these men with powers such as the Crimes Bill contained was an open and gross violation of the Constitution, what, he would ask, would be an adequate description of the provision in the Bill now before the House, which invested these powers, not in independent Judges, but in Resident Magistrates, who were the mere tools of the Executive Government, who could be removed by the scratch of a pen, and who only held their appointments so long as they gave satisfaction to their masters in Dublin Castle? The provision would be nothing short of placing all personal liberty and freedom of speech in Ireland at the mercy of the Executive Government of the day. But it was not alone cases of conspiracy that would come under the jurisdiction of these Resident Magistrates. They were to administer the Whiteboy Acts, those relics of bar- 776 barism, which wore a disgrace to the Statute Book on which they were inscribed. The 1& 2 Will. IV. enacted that—If any person shall knowingly print, write, publish, circulate, send, deliver, or cause or procure to be printed, written, posted, published, circulated, sent, or delivered, any notice, letter, or message, exciting, or tending to excite, breaches of the peace, they shall be liable to be transported beyond the seas.''Perhaps, they should be thankful for the small mercy that, under the Coercion Act, the Resident Magistrates had power to sentence to six months' imprisonment only, instead of transporting beyond the seas. He called attention to this section of the Whiteboy Act for the reason that, a few months ago, a newspaper proprietor in Ireland was prosecuted under it, because a resolution adopted at a public mooting in his neighbourhood was published in the news columns of his paper. His newspaper was a bitter and troublesome enemy of the landlord faction in his neighbourhood; and, for that reason, it was thought advisable to strike a blow at him. But the blow did not reach him, for the jury refused—and he (Mr. Redmond) said deliberately rightly refused—to convict. If that section was held to apply to newspapers, then every newspaper in Ireland would be absolutely at the mercy of the Government of the day. It might be said that the Press in Ireland was licentious, and should be curbed. They answered that the way to bring about a moderate and reasonable Press was not to destroy the liberty of the Press. He would also reply to that argument in the words of a distinguished Irishman, a descendant of whom he regretted to see on the Front Bench opposite, William Cunningham Plunket, who, speaking of a Coercion Bill of his day, said—The licentiousness of the Press has been complained of. I will tell the Government a better remedy against it than this Bill affords them. Let them act in such a manner as to be above its obloquy. Let them restore the Constitution; let them reform the abuses which pollute every Department; let them mitigate their system of coercion; let them conciliate the people. Then they may laugh at the slanders of a licentious Press; they will have a better defence against its malice than this unconstitutional measure can afford them.If the Bill would do harm to law-abiding persons, why was it not made applicable 777 to the whole of the United Kingdom? The provisions of the Coercion Bill wore to be perpetual. It would be extremely interesting if the House could learn at what particular period the Conservative Leaders and their supporters on the Opposition side of the House arrived at the conclusion that permanent coercion was desirable. They happened to know the opinions of some of the Conservative Leaders in the summer of 1885 when they were hoping to climb into Office with the aid of the Irish votes. Lord Carnarvon was particularly emphatic in July, 1885, in quoting the well-known dictum of Cavour, which said that to conduct government permanently on the principles of a state of siege was utterly impossible, and, therefore, that it was equally impossible to govern Ireland by coercion if it was to be indefinitely re-enacted. It would also be interesting to know now whether Lord Carnarvon was in favour of the perpetual clause of the Coercion Bill. About the same time the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) said—Parliament has granted to Ireland complete political freedom in Parliamentary elections by the Ballot and the extension of the franchise, and it is absolutely inconsistent with that political freedom to continue permanently the old-fashioned government of Ireland by a system of coercion.The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) had announced that he was in favour of the Bill and the whole of it. He (Mr. Redmond) hoped the noble Lord would speak in that debate. But the noble Lord, in the summer of 1885, expressed his belief in the Constitutional doctrine that special legislation ought not to be resorted to except in times of great emergency, and that no such emergency existed in 1885. In October of last year the noble Lord said that no emergency had arisen. But he (Mr. Redmond) would ask how could it be said that a great emergency had now arisen, in view of the fact that crime and intimidation were admittedly less now than they had been in the summer of 1885, and not greater than they had been in October of last year? But it was not the inconsistency of right hon. Gentlemen opposite that was most marked. In going back to a policy of coercion they were only going back to their traditional policy; but the right hon. Gentleman 778 the Member for West Birmingham, and those who voted with him in supporting a Bill of that character, were turning their backs upon the most cherished principles of their political creed. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham supported the Bill he would be deliberately sacrificing the liberty of 5,000,000 of the inhabitants of one portion of the United Kingdom in order to assist in keeping a Tory Government in power. He (Mr. Redmond) should say that he did not believe the fellow-countrymen of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham of to-day or the verdict of history in future years would entirely acquit him of the guilt if the result of this measure should be to revive in Ireland scenes of bloodshed and disturbance. Irish Members had, however, to face the probability that this Bill would pass into law. Hon. Gentlemen opposite reminded him of the celebrated French Minister who went to war with a light heart. He doubted, however, whether their cheers would be so loud after six months' experience of the working of the Bill. He almost shuddered when he thought what the consequences might be; but he was not without hope that many of those consequences might be avoided. One good result had already followed the introduction of this measure. It had cemented the union of the democracies of the two nations. [Laughter.] He would not do hon. Members opposite the injustice of interpreting that laugh to mean that they desired the peoples of the two countries to remain asunder. The democracies of the two countries were drawing closer together, and the introduction of this Bill would unite them still more closely. The attitude of the Liberal Party in the House, and the outburst of sympathy with Ireland by the people out-of-doors, would rob this Bill of much of its bitterness and many of its dangers. It was true that the Bill would entail many sufferings on his fellow-countrymen; but if those sufferings were borne, as he fervently prayed they might be, with patience and with fortitude, he believed that, in the end, the result of the measure would be to hasten the arrival of the day when Ireland would be united to the Empire which her sons had so greatly helped to build up, by a Union based, not as the present Union was now upon force, but upon 779 the willing assent of a free and a self-governing1 people.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
I am somewhat reluctant to take part in this debate, because I feel that the subject has been exhausted by speakers on one side or the other. Certainly, arguments of a somewhat conflicting character have been urged against the Bill. Some hon. Members opposite have asserted that there is no case for the introduction of the Bill, and that the condition of Ireland is so satisfactory that no change in the Criminal Law and no improvement in the administration of the law are needed. On the other hand, the bulk of the speeches delivered by hon. Members opposite below the Gangway have underlying them this assumption—that the state of Ireland is such that a measure more or less resembling the late Home Rule Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) is essential before the aspirations of Ireland can be satisfied. It seems to me that these two lines of argument are wholly inconsistent with each other. I leave it, however, to hon. Members opposite to reconcile these inconsistent arguments, as I prefer a less ambitious line, and to deal with the case of this very Bill which is now before us. Now, it has been said more than once that we do not base this Bill upon any extraordinary or abnormal amount of agrarian crime at this moment, and yet I do not think that that argument should be pressed too far. Outrages, it is said, are not numerous enough to demand the energies and complete administration of the law for the protection of persons and property. Yet I should have thought that a gradual rise of agrarian outrages was enough to attract the attention and awaken the solicitude of those who are responsible for the public peace. In 1884 there were 762 agrarian outrages; in 1885 there were 916; and last year there were 1,025. There are two versions of the figures, but I take the lowest. Well, that is not an inconsiderable rise, and it is not unworthy the attention of the House. Now, let us compare the months. In October, November, and December last year, the numbers were respectively 54, 55, and 57. In January, February, and March this year, the numbers of outrages were 65, 77, and 99.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
It will be in the hands of hon. Members in the course of a day or two. There have been 241 agrarian outrages in the last quarter—from January to March, 1887. Since October, 1886, outrages in Ireland have risen 83 per cent per month. These are figures which cannot be neglected; but we prefer to rest our case upon this broader ground. We say that nobody who knows the state of Ireland can fail to see that throughout large districts in Ireland there are in active operation Societies which call themselves Local Committees of the National League, and which consist of a set of busybodies and petty tyrants, who pry into every transaction of trade and business, in order to constrain and coerce the liberties of decent men to carry on their business in an honest way. These Local Committees interfere between man and man with a minuteness and pettiness of tyranny which I do not think has ever been equalled in the annals of any civilized country. They exact from men apologies because they have earned an honest wage from some harmless neighbour who happens to have fallen under the ban of these local tyrants. They exact apologies from men doing what they have a right to do, and if obedience is not given to their decrees they Boycott those who have disobeyed them, publishing their names in the newspapers and holding them up to execration. We all know what follows that. We all know that from step to step life is made intolerable. The person who has offended is denied food when he is in health, medicine when he is ill, and decent burial when he is dead. ["No, no!"] Yes; and if these means have not been successful there have come then the midnight outrages and the noonday deeds of violence, which we have heard described in the evidence given before the Royal Commission, and which are rampant in many parts of Ireland. Those facts have not been denied by those who have spoken candidly on this question on the opposite side. Is it to be said that the Government are to ignore these 781 facts; and can it be suggested that there are not enough of these outrages; that the existence of a sufficient amount of crime has not been made out; and that a sufficient number of girls have not been thrown out upon the highway? [A laugh.] An hon. Member sneers at these things. How many of them are we to stand idly by and witness and tolerate with folded arms before we interfere and see that the law is enforced? We take the liberty of saying that it is our duty, whatever the number may be, and although the tale may not have been increased—we say that it is our duty at once, as the responsible Government, to interfere and stop these things. Will the ordinary law stop them in Ireland? Sir, Her Majesty's Government have, I think, conscientiously and patiently tried the experiment since last August of seeing whether the ordinary law would stop the existing state of things, and introduce greater security for law and order in Ireland, and with great regret and reluctance they have come to the conclusion that the institution of trial by jury has broken down in that country. Sir, the whole course of this debate has proved it—hon. Members below the Gangway opposite are never tired of telling us that the people of Ulster are not a people to be trusted with the lives and liberties of their Catholic fellow-countrymen. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) gave us special facts which were enough to make our blood run cold. He told us that jurors from motives of private spite or malice were prepared, against the evidence and against their oaths, to convict men of crimes of which they knew them to be innocent, and of which the Government knew they were innocent. Can we imagine a more terrible indictment brought against the jurors of any country than that which is charged against the jurors of Ireland by the hon. Member for the City of Cork? And yet the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. J. Redmond), who has just sat down, whose speeches are always interesting and worth listening to, claims the administration of justice by such jurors as the palladium of justice in Ireland, and of the liberties of the Irish people, without which the whole Constitution would be imperilled. The jurors of the North and South are attacked, and I should like to know 782 what jury you would entrust with the trial of the man who caused the unfortunate death of the man Hanlon. A great deal has been said about jury-packing in Ireland; but let me remind the House that the right of Crown challenge which goes by that name is as old as the right of trial by jury itself. Do you suppose that that right is not as hateful to the Government as to anybody else, and that the officials of any Government have recourse to it without reluctance and regret? Consider what the exercise of that right means. It means that out of every panel of jurors which is returned in Ireland, one-half or more are distrusted by the Crown. [An IRISH MEMBER: Catholics.] Well, Catholic, if you please, so be it; more than one-half are persons whom the agents of the Crown dare not trust to return a fair verdict. And what happens in regard to the remaining half? They are denounced by hon. Members opposite below the Gangway as "Castle machines and Castle hacks," who are ready to imbrue themselves in innocent blood. Therefore, so far as the jury panel is concerned, which you regard as the palladium of justice and of the liberties of Ireland, one-half is distrusted by the Crown, and the other half execrated by the friends of the traversers. What I believe an Irishman means by a fair jury is a jury of 12 of his relations and friends. It is sufficient, therefore, for the Government to say that in these partizan or so-called popular cases the Government cannot rely upon a jury in Ireland to act impartially between the Crown and the accused. I am the last man to set little store by trial by jury. I have spent many years of my life in addressing juries in this country, where we have happily passed the age of those vehement passions which still exist in Ireland, and where trial by jury is one of the most precious safeguards of our institutions, and one which Englishmen value most. But there were times, and not so long ago, when even in this country trial by jury was corrupt and put to bad uses and bad purposes, and when it was not so free from blame as it is at the present time. That will be always so when juries are influenced by fear or favour, because you place in the hands of 12 silent and irresponsible judges a power so tremendous that they are liable to become the instruments of 783 injustice. When you can select jurors of the right sort—[Home Rule laughter]—do not let me be met by a sneer—when I say the right sort, I mean men who are above favour and above fear, men who have neither passion nor faction in their minds—when you can choose men of the right sort trial by jury is a most valuable institution; but your jurors are, according to your own showing, impassioned partizans either on one side or on the other. Can anybody who knows Ireland say that terrorism is not exorcised in the jury-box—that the names of jurors who give unpopular verdicts are not advertised, and the people told that if they do not Boycott those men they will be coerced into doing so? I hold in my hand a copy of a letter which appeared in The Kerry Evening Post on the 29th of January last, which is headed "Boycotting Cork Butter Merchants," and is as follows:—To the farmers of Kerry.—At the late Cork Winter Assizes a large number of men "were convicted on charges of Moonlighting on the notoriously false evidence of police witnesses. Amongst the pliant jurors who did the work of the Crown were to be found two Kerry men—namely, Dominick Cronin and Terence M'Mahon, with whom the people of Kerry have had extensive dealings in the butter trade, farmers of Kerry, will you continue, during the coming season, to send your butter to these worse than Belfast Orangemen? You have other men in the Cork Butter Exchange from your own country who would disdain to do the dirty work which Cronin and M'Mahon have done, and why not patronize them instead? If you do not do as requested, and Boycott these tools of the Crown, you will be coerced into doing so. Do it voluntarily, or severe measures will be taken to compel you. There are plenty of men still in Kerry prepared to follow in the footsteps of those whom Cronin and M'Mahon have helped to send to a convict cell, and who will not stick at trifles to obtain revenge.—(Signed) CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT.A Common Jury in this country, at least, would find no difficulty in determining whether a conspiracy has been a criminal one or a lawful one; but these are the sort of arguments that are addressed to jurymen in Ireland, and Her Majesty's Government think that it is neither reasonable nor fair to expect from men who are exposed not merely to the sympathies of kindred or neighbours, but also to terrorism of this kind, that they should return unbiassed verdicts. Trial by jury is not absolutely withdrawn, because the power of trial by jury exists unaltered under the Bill. 784 ["Oh!"] Is that denied? If so, hon. Gentlemen have not made themselves acquainted with the Bill. If they had, they would have found that there is in the Bill a clause expressly saving the concurrent jurisdiction of magistrates, and it is only to certain offences which are selected and minutely described in the Bill that the summary jurisdiction is applied. One feature is that it deals only with offences which are already crimes under the existing law, and for certain of those offences it creates a summary jurisdiction, thus relieving Irish juries from tasks they have proved themselves unable to bear. This Bill is not directed at combinations among tenants to pay only a reduced rent, provided they do not have recourse to violence or unlawful means. It aims only at criminal conspiracies. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) tells us that criminal conspiracy is a very difficult offence to define and to try, and that it is too difficult for a Resident Magistrate to try. But, if that is so, is it not also too difficult for a jury to try? The education and the knowledge of the law possessed by the Resident Magistrates is surely equal to that of a Common Jury, and Common Juries have not found such cases too difficult to decide, in this country at least. All the exaggerated talk, therefore, by many Members against this Bill seems to me to fall flat when we bear in mind that this summary jurisdiction is limited to the particular class of offences which is described in this 2nd section, and in regard to which the fairness and courage of a jury may well be doubted. Whatever the tribunal may be, you will have some difficulties to contend with in the application of the Criminal Law of Conspiracy. But the point of this Bill is that you are not making or altering offences, or enlarging the scope of offences. On the contrary, you are picking out some particular classes of criminal conspiracy which certainly are not the most difficult to deal with in a summary manner. The insuperable difficulties of administering the Law of Conspiracy are not avoided altogether by this clause, but certainly they are not aggravated. The cases that are intended to be dealt with by this clause are, of course, the petty cases. Some hon. Gentlemen have spoken as if seditious 785 libel was to be dealt with, but seditious libel does not come under this clause at all. Nothing savouring of sedition, treason, or any political offence comes within this clause, which only strikes at that class of Boycotting which is a pestilent, mischievous, tyrannical, and heinous interference which is aimed at the liberty of private life and contract and personal dealing. Those are the things which are struck at by this Bill, and also riot, unlawful assembly, assaulting Sheriffs' officers, bailiffs, and police constables, and they are matters which a Resident Magistrate in Ireland is able to deal with at the present moment. The summary jurisdiction conferred by the Bill deals with a class of offences which are mischievous in the highest degree, and destructive of social order and individual happiness, but which are not deserving of being magnified by the pomp of an Assize trial by jury. These offences are properly dealt with by swift and immediate punishment of small amount, not exceeding six months' imprisonment. [An hon. MEMBER: And hard labour.] Certainly hard labour for an assault on a constable in the execution of his duty. This is known to the English law. Here, in London, where we are not, certainly, living in the atmosphere of Warsaw, any person who assaults a police constable in the execution of his duty is liable to receive a sentence of six months' hard labour, and I see no reason why, in the latitude of Kerry, offences of that sort should not be dealt with in the same way. Then the Resident Magistrates are made the subject of attack. Ono hon. Member—I think the hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce)—has stated that Resident Magistrates are irremovable, and, therefore, that they are necessarily corrupt and time-serving officials and Castle hacks. Can a case be cited where they have been removed except on account of infirmity? [Mr. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour): Yes; Mr. Butler.] He was removed because it was considered that he was not equal to the discharge of his duty. As far as I know, no case can be cited where a Resident Magistrate has been removed because he has not done the bidding of the Castle. I should like to hear of an Irish Secretary who had the courage to remove a Resident Magistrate because he failed to convict where the Castle wanted conviction, in a 786 case where the evidence did not justify conviction. No such case has been alleged, and I do not believe that one can be alleged, or that one exists. Thus the case stands, as far as summary procedure is concerned. This section applies to eases which admit of light treatment—that is, of punishment not exceeding six months' imprisonment with hard labour, which is a punishment applied to similar offences in this country. This summary jurisdiction supersedes, it is true, trial by jury, but simply because trial by jury has turned out to be unfit for these cases. An hon. Member has pointed out how largely summary jurisdiction has been carried out in this country. Within the last eight or 10 years half-a-dozen Statutes have been passed extending summary jurisdiction in England. In many cases, the option is given to the prisoner to be dealt with summarily if he so prefers. [An hon. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] I expected that cheer; but, surely, if this alternative is given by the law of England, it cannot be such abominable legislation as hon. Members below the Gangway endeavour to make out. If in England the law allows summary jurisdiction to the magistrates, with the power of imposing a sentence of six months' imprisonment with hard labour, it does not lie in the mouths of hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that the jurisdiction we propose to confer upon the Resident Magistrates in Ireland, together with the power of inflicting punishment, is so monstrous as to imperil the whole of the Constitution. Then there are, of course, the graver offences; and now I come to that part of the Bill which has been most severely criticized—offences of murder, attempts at murder, aggravated assaults with violence, and firing into houses—which are mentioned in the 4th section of the Bill. If the Government are right in coming to the conclusion that juries in Ireland are either influenced or terrorized in partisan cases of the kind to which I have referred, and that it is not expedient to trust them with the higher class of offences, surely the conclusion applies with much greater strength to the graver class of offences. Does anybody suppose that it would be easy in Kerry to get an impartial jury to try such a case as that of Byers or Murphy? Byers was murdered within a few yards of a railway station, with 787 policemen in front of him and policemen behind him, by half-a-dozen men firing over a stone wall, and yet not one single person interfered to assist him, or even to pick up his dead body, still less to take one step towards discovering the murderers. Do you suppose that in Kerry it would be easy to find a jury who would impartially deal with such a case. Do you suppose that prejudice, and passion, and fear would not have operated upon them? Then how are you going to try a case such as the murder of Byers? It is beyond the utmost ingenuity of man, unless you adopt the scheme proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) in 1882, and try the prisoner before a Commission of three Judges—or unless you try him by a jury in England. There is much to be said for both systems. Far be it from me to be enthusiastic in favour of the suggestion of the Government; but it is, at all events, less of a departure from the ordinary course of things than the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby in 1882. He, at least, kept his criminal in Ireland, frying him by Irish Judges; but I think it is only fair to say that that system failed in the sense that it was only applied once or twice. [Cries of "Never!"] I thought that it was applied in one or two cases, but that it failed, whether from reluctance on the part of the Judges to undertake a task which was uncongenial to them, or whether because the machinery was cumbrous, I am unable to say. At all events, it is the only other device. If you think that Irish juries are not fit to try these grave cases, the ingenuity of man can suggest nothing else than either the trial by Judges or trial by an English jury. Her Majesty's Government have selected trial by a jury in England as most fair and most in accordance with the Constitution, and I venture to express my sincere conviction that an English jury will be chivalrously fair to a prisoner under these circumstances, and that, in addition to giving effect in their minds to any doubt that may arise in favour of the prisoner, they will give him, in ample measure, the full benefit of their sympathy, whether as coming from a distance and being away from his country and his kindred, or lost he should be in some embarrassment as to the conduct 788 of his defence I believe that all these elements will be of great advantage to him, and that such considerations will avail him in his defence. If you amend this clause so as to make it an alternative one, and if you give the prisoner the option of choosing whether he will be tried according to the method suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, or by a jury in England, I believe that nine out of ten Irishmen will choose to be tried by an English jury, and will prefer, under the equitable and fair provisions of this Bill, to come over here to be tried in England rather than remain in Ireland to be tried by the Irish Judges. That is the object of the Government in this part of the Bill. If you cannot find an unbiassed, impartial, unprejudiced, and fearless jury in Ireland, you must seek it in England. We prefer this course as the most Constitutional one, and we remove these cases from Ireland, where they cannot be tried impartially, to England. Where the issues are those of life or death, or involve sentences of penal servitude for many years, and are not merely petty violations of the law to be punished with a short term of imprisonment, we prefer that trial by jury should be retained, and that it should be held in a place where jurors are uninfluenced either by favour or by fear, and where they are always inclined on the side of the criminal and very rarely in favour of the Crown. I think that there is no one who will venture to impeach the fairness of an English jury, and least of all of an Old Bailey jury; and I think that oven hon. Members below the Gangway will hardly suggest that a "Castle hack" is likely to find his way into an English jury-box. I do not intend to dwell upon any other detail of the Bill. These are its broad outlines. The jury system has failed in Ireland, and we have, therefore, introduced these provisions. The cruelty, the severity, and the harshness of this measure have been dilated upon by hon. Members below the Gangway; but one hon. Member—I think it was one who spoke from this side of the House—but it is not necessary that I should follow him—pointed out how much more severe were the Acts of 1870 and 1882. Those measures were full of enactments which introduced arbitrary powers contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. Do not let me be under- 789 stood to say that the abolition of trial by jury is not a curtailment of liberty, and that the jury system is not part of the Constitution; but it is impossible, for a moment, to compare the introduction of summary trial for petty classes of offences with the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, or the Curfew Clauses of the Act of 1882, or the arrest of strangers found in suspicious circumstances, or the power of the Lord Lieutenant to suspend newspapers introduced into the earlier Coercion Acts. It is clear, I think, to any man who approaches the subject with a candid mind, that the clauses which we propose are far more in conformity with both the letter and the spirit of the law and the Constitution than those which I have mentioned, because the latter gave to officials and to the Executive a large amount of arbitrary power to interfere with both liberty and property, such as the power of searching for arms and requiring licences, all of which are wanting in the Bill which is now before the House, and all of which have been deliberately omitted by Her Majesty's Government. It is the mildest Act of Coercion that has been seen in the last 17 years. I challenge disproof of that statement by anyone who impartially compares it with the other Acts passed in that time. But there are other arguments used against us. We are told that it is a wretched expedient which has failed before. I do not think that it is possible to maintain this, when we consider how complete and absolute was the success which attended the Act of 1882. The figures in their full significance have not hitherto been laid before the House. In the 12 months before the Act there were altogether 5,237 agrarian offences—that is to say, from July, 1881, to the end of June, 1882. I am unable to give the figures of the six months of 1882 which followed immediately after the passing of the Act, because the figures for January are not given separately; but, taking the total of offences in 1883, we find that they had fallen to 870. Murders had fallen from 24 in the 12 months preceding the Act to one in 1883; firing at the person from 86 in the 12 months preceding the Act to 9 in 1883; firing into dwelling houses from 199 to 19; killing and maiming cattle from 171 to 65; and threatening letters from 1,422 to 420. 790 That, I say, was an extraordinary and a complete success, and it showed that the Act of 1882 was an Act much more skilfully and wisely conceived than the Act of 1881; because the Act of 1882, although it contained a vast number of arbitary powers, which, I am happy to say, were not extensively acted upon, except, perhaps, in the case of searching for arms—I do not think there was more than one exercise of the power of seizing newspapers—that Act, in its summary clauses, which dealt with petty mischiefs in the manner they deserved—namely, by swift and certain punishment, not waiting for the pomp of the Assizes and the three months' delay, during which sympathy gathers round the criminal—that Act, I say, dealt in the right way with those social mischiefs, and the results will, I think, redound for many a year to the credit of the right hon. Gentleman who introduced it. Just lot us look at the results. Agrarian crime, which stood in 1882 at 944, gradually dropped off till the Act ceased to operate, when again it began to rise. In 1883 agrarian offences numbered 870; in 1884, 762; in 1885, 916; and in 1886, 1,025. And if you will look at the details you will find that threatening letters were the only offences less numerous in 1886 than in 1885, whereas firing at the person increased from 12 to 16 cases; killing and maiming cattle from 59 to 73; and firing into dwellings from 53 to 143. These statistics illustrate the complete success of that form of coercion. I know that persons who appear in this House for the purpose of defending the cause of law and order are habitually mot with a sneer; but I deny that a measure under which persons receive a punishment which they deserve is properly called a measure of coercion. I say that that is the healthy and right regimen of every well-ordered society, and the best proof of it is shown in the fact that it instantly operated in Ireland. I am not one of those who believe that the Irish people are more inclined to crime than ourselves; on the contrary, they are not so. It is true that crimes of violence to the person have for several years been more numerous in Ireland in proportion to the population than in England; but ordinary crime, to the honour of Ireland, has always been much less frequent and much more rare. Agrarian offences are 791 the special plague-spot of Ireland. It is a minute section of the people who allow themselves to commit these offences, and when you mete out to those persons the treatment and punishment they deserve the effect is instantaneous. Notwithstanding, as I said at starting, it is with regret and reluctance that Her Majesty's Government have introduced an exceptional measure. We did hope, for many months, that the ordinary law would be sufficient; and we made attempts to introduce in Ireland a better feeling, and a swifter and more certain administration of the law. When Sir Redvers Buller was sent to Kerry, I am sure the House has not forgotten the howl of execration with which that officer's name was greeted by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. He was described as a General fit only to cope with savages, and it was said he was going to administer in Kerry some brutal system of military law, of which no man had ever seen the like; but now that distinguished officer has grown almost to be an idol. He was sent to inquire into the real condition of things in Ireland, so as to apply the best remedy in the surest way. These efforts of ours were, however, every one of them abused and vilified. Then followed the agitation of November and the Plan of Campaign, which certainly, despite what hon. Members opposite contend, has not done vast good in Ireland. There have since then been failures of justice, for I must call them so; and among others I will cite the trial of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), in which, upon admitted facts, and upon a state of the law that cannot be contested, the jury, who were reviled beforehand as being a packed jury, against whom no language was too strong, disagreed, although the facts were not in dispute. Is that a duo and proper administration of the law? It may be said the law should be altered; that it should be lawful for a man to enter into conspiracy to defraud—it may be that these things should not be in the Criminal Law; but as long as the law is as it is, the result of that trial was a scandal to the administration of justice in Ireland. I say, also, that since November lawlessness has spread in Ireland to an extraordinary and alarming extent, and resistance to the officers of the law has become more common. The hon. Member for East Mayo, 792 who I do not now see in his place, said once that Mayo and those parts of Ireland were something like Surrey; but do you suppose that if in Surrey an eviction were taking place the people would tolerate for one moment the barricading of houses; a state of regular siege; the pouring of boiling water and the throwing of brick-bats on the Sheriff's officers? Do you suppose that in Surrey armed bands would be allowed to go about shooting into the legs of men because they paid their rent? Do you suppose that Englishmen would look on unmoved when lawlessness of that sort spreads and becomes daily more audacious and more defiant? Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that they cannot. We are told by hon. Members opposite that we ought to begin by redressing grievances. I will make two answers to that. We say that the very first thing that calls for redress is these midnight outrages and this daily tyranny. That is the first social want of Ireland, and the first thing that we have to redress. The second answer that we make is, that it does not lie in the mouths of those who do not content themselves with Constitutional agitation, but who have recourse to violence and outrage, to talk about redress preceding repression. We say—"Use Constitutional agitation yourselves, and not violence or outrage." It has been urged upon us by more than one Member of the Opposition that the measure is opposed by a majority of the Irish Members for the first time. I doubted that statement when I first heard it, and I have looked at the authentic records of the House for 1882. Here is an analysis of two Divisions on the Bill of that year—the second reading stage, and on the Motion for going into Committee. On the second reading I find that 36 Irish Members voted against the Bill, and 23 Irish Members voted for it. On going into Committee I find that the figures are even more marked—38 Irish Members voted against going into Committee, and 20 Irish Members voted in favour. Therefore a majority of those who voted were against the Bill. And am I to be told that those who abstained from voting were in favour of the Bill? If they belonged to that class which is in favour of the preservation of law and order, what possible motive could they have in abstaining from voting? Those who abstained were 793 Members of the Party opposite who did not like to vote against their Party, and who did not dare to vote for them on account of their constituents. Therefore I say it is not true to say that this is the first time when a majority of the Irish Members have voted against what they are pleased to call a Coercion Bill. Another point made against the Government is that Her Majesty's Opposition are against the Bill. That is most true; it is the first time that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have refused to support the Government in a Bill which they consider necessary for repressing crime and upholding the law. But they do more than that. Not only do they refuse us their support in that matter, but they use language in this House which is as unprecedented as their conduct in opposing this Bill. They have used language which I, as a plain man, can only understand as being a palliation of the outrages under which Ireland is suffering. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), of whom I desire to speak with the greatest respect, told us that outrages in Ireland were the excusable consequence of moral wrong without a legal remedy, and that outrages were illegal acts to secure something like moral rights. That was the language which the right hon. Gentleman used in this House. What are the moral wrongs alluded to, and for which there is no legal remedy in Ireland except violence and outrage? It is this—that some landlords in Ireland insist on the fulfilment of contracts that have been made against them by the State under the Land Act of 1881, and because, forsooth, it is alleged that some rents which were fixed under the Act of 1881 have become too high by reason of the fall in prices! This is what the right hon. Gentleman is pleased to style a moral wrong. If the landlord says,—"Pay those rents or go; abide by the bargain made against me, and in your interest by the State." That is what is called a moral wrong. The right hon. Gentleman says it is a moral wrong where a man simply insists on the rights left to him as the wreck of what was the fuller property and fuller right taken by the State under an Act of Parliament of which Her Majesty's Opposition were the authors. It appears to mo that language of that sort is calculated to encourage 794 lawlessness in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was somewhat more cautious. He contented himself by quoting Sir Redvers Buller, without saying whether he assented or dissented from him; and he insinuated in the quotation made from General Buller's evidence that the law in Ireland was against the poor and in favour of the rich. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby cheers that phrase; but whose law is it in Ireland but the law of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian? What has he been doing since 1870 except tampering with the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland, and altering it according to his views? He has passed Act after Act, announcing each as the final measure of justice, all of them in favour of the tenant, all of them against the landlord; and yet he is to be allowed to insinuate rather than to say it—and the right hon. Member cheers the sentiment—that this law which they themselves have created is a law all in favour of the rich and all against the poor. I repeat that it is unprecedented on an occasion like this, when men's passions are roused, even without such language, that language of this kind, encouraging lawlessness and palliating outrage, should be uttered in this House. And I cannot forget that this language is explained by this circumstance—that the victory of lawlessness over order in Ireland would now constitute a Party advantage for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. If lawlessness can only win the day their argument against us that we cannot govern Ireland will be clinched and will be successful. A right hon. Gentleman told us a night or two ago that there was nothing between the Government and civil war in Ireland but the attitude of the Liberal Party, because it was counselling moderation in order to prevent any outbreak of violent resistance in spite of this dreadful Bill of ours. One distinguished Member of the Liberal Party is the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and I see he announced yesterday that he hoped the Irish people were going to resist the Bill. Those are the counsels of moderation which the hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) says the Liberal Party are going to promulgate. The 795 hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) told us the other night that he was prepared, if the Bill passed, to lead his countrymen to battle if they are able and willing. ["No!"] Those are the very words he used—["No!"]—if his countrymen were able and willing, he was willing to lead them to battle. ["No, no!"] It was a sort of conditional civil war, a sort of conditional high treason. Luckily for the hon. Member, it was hedged in with conditions which cannot be fulfilled. His countrymen—the Irishmen—are not willing. But these are the counsels of moderation which the hon. Member for South Aberdeen tells us are interposed between us and the Irish people. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) told us that there would be no room for politicians when this Bill passed, and an hon. Member has said he sincerely hoped that there will be nobody to take the place of the politicians. We know what these hints mean. The hon. Member for the City of Cork told us on one occasion that it was his denunciation that broke up the conspiracy of the Invincibles. He prides himself, therefore, on the fact that he is able to check acts such as those which characterized that remarkable conspiracy; and when he and his lieutenants tell us of the dangers that will meet us—we shall not call these threats, but we understand what these hints mean—we heartily despise them, and we say that they will not alter any course we are prepared to take in the slightest degree. We appeal, not to Hyde Park demonstrations, but to the judgment of the House of Commons—the proper tribunal to deal with questions of this kind. We appeal to the sober judgment of the House of Commons, and we ask them to support us in upholding in Ireland the authority of the Queen and the authority of the law.
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
The speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down is sufficient of itself to show the breadth and depth of the political differences that divide us. I hold with the strongest expressions of disapprobation which have been uttered in this House against the measure we are now considering. It seems to be supposed by some hon. Members that it is enough to say that this is a mild measure, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secre- 796 tary has said, and to argue that more stringent measures have before been placed upon the Statute Book. But, in my opinion, we must judge of a Coercion Bill of this sort, not merely with reference to its contents, but with refer-once to the circumstances of the time, and to a consideration to which no Member of the Government has yet—so far as I have noticed—addressed his mind and his speech, and that is the prospect and the probability of the Bill fulfilling the very purposes of its authors. Now, the Home Secretary, I must remind the House, commenced his speech by the declaration that he did not base this Bill on statistics of the amount of crime. In that respect the right hon. Gentleman followed closely in the footsteps of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but, in that case, I fail to see either the reason or the justification of that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in which he compared this measure with the measure of 1882, which, he said, had been a brilliant success. What justification can there be, on the score of the repression or diminution of crime, for a Coercion Bill if one of the advocates of that Bill begins his statement by saying that he has no case founded on the statistics of the increase of crime. And I ought also to say this—that although the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland and other Members of the Government have been exceedingly ready to compare this Bill and this occasion with the occasion and the Bill of 1882 of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), they have not reminded the House of the fundamental and essential difference in the circumstances of the two cases. They have forgotten to inform the House that the measure of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby was introduced immediately after the perpetration of those foul and brutal murders in the Phoenix Park, which aroused the indignation of the United Kingdom, and of the Nationalist Party no less than any other Party in this House. And he forgot also, and they have also forgotten, to make the admission that the Bill of 1882 was also founded on the statements advanced by the right hon. Gentleman of the existence and multiplication of secret societies in the Sister Isle. Sir, there are no secret societies now. 797 [Ministerial laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen may laugh. Perhaps they will have the goodness to reply to me, and to offer some proof of their denial. I say that the facts at present are that you have, as the Government know, a National League which is not a secret society, and I have not yet heard from any Member of the Government the statement that secret societies exist as they existed in the year 1882, though I am hero, for one, to say that one of the first consequences of this Bill, should it become an Act, will be the revival of secret societies. Then the Attorney General for Ireland—and if I may go back for a moment to his speech—challenged us on this side of the House because we had not gone into the discussion of the provisions of the Bill itself. He seemed to think that some of us had not read it, and he thought we ought to discuss it more seriously and in greater detail. Well, if the House will allow mo to occupy a small portion of its time I propose to go through two or throe clauses of the Bill which I hold to be of the most essential importance, and to say what I think of them, and what I believe to be their purport and their legal effect. I would say, in the first instance, that I noted that the Attorney General for Ireland in his speech passed somewhat rapidly and lightly over the 2nd, the 6th, and the 7th clauses—that is to say, over the 2nd clause, relating to the summary jurisdiction of the Resident Magistrates, and the 6th and 7th clauses, which give the power which is to be exercised for the suppression of the National League; and the Attorney General for Ireland discussed at far greater length other and, in my opinion, far loss important clauses and portions of this Bill. There was another omission in the speech of the Attorney General for Ireland which struck me, and which must have struck other Members of the House, and that was that in expounding the 2nd clause,—the Summary Jurisdiction Clause—he entirely omitted any reference to the crime of conspiracy with which that clause commences. The Attorney General for Ireland knows well enough, I take leave to think, the great objection which both lawyers and laymen have to that doctrine, that dangerous doctrine, of criminal conspiracy, and the still greater objection they have to its extension by a Bill of this description. The 798 right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary has said that no new offences are created, and that there is no extension of the Law of Conspiracy by this Bill. Well, that is a matter of legal interpretation, to be discussed, probably, with greater advantage in Committee on the Bill; but I must express a serious doubt whether, when we come to discuss all the sub-sections of the 2nd clause, we shall not find that the doctrine of criminal conspiracy has received a decided extension by that section. In referring to the 1st sub-section, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said it would not apply to any combination of tenants where there was not intimidation—
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I may explain that any combination of tenants in which they agree between themselves to pay a lower rent, without using any means of coercion on the landlord, would be a lawful and not a criminal combination.
§ MR. STANSFELD
Then, what I say in reply is this. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will look at the 1st sub-section, he will find these words—Any person who shall take part in any criminal conspiracy to compel or induce any person or persons either not to fulfil his or their legal obligations, or not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land,and so on. So that, therefore, the combination of two or more tenants who invite other tenants to join them for the purpose of resisting the payment of an unjust or exorbitant rent will be a "criminal conspiracy" under this subsection. That, at any rate, is my interpretation of it. ["No, no!"] The right hon. and learned Gentleman tolls me I am wrong. I must bow for the moment to his superior legal knowledge. On coming to deal with these clauses, lot me first of all state a subject of agreement amongst us. I believe we are all agreed that this Coercion Bill is an entirely new departure in one respect. In all former Coercion Bills, the case of the Government has been founded on the amount of crime and the increase of crime; but now we have the distinct statement of the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Home Secretary that their Bill is not based either on the amount, or the present or possible future increase, of crime. [Mr. MATTHEWS: Not mainly.] Well, not mainly. The Chief Secretary told us 799 that the main objects of the Bill were not the punishment of crime; but, as I understood him, that the sufficient reason for the Bill—the main, and, therefore, the sufficient reason for the Bill—was based on these two considerations—the break-down of the jury system, and the existence of the operations of the National League. But though that was the case of the Chief Secretary, he did say that there had been a decided increase of crime during the last three years. Well, I have looked into some of the figures, and I cannot agree with the Chief Secretary. The words he used, I think, were "a steady increase of crime during the last three years." I have here some of the official figures, and their effect is somewhat curious as well as instructive. The figures relate to the years 1885 and 1886—and I beg the House to remember that it was in the summer of 1885 that the Marquess of Salisbury's Government determined and avowed their conclusion that there was not sufficient crime in Ireland to justify the enactment or continuance of a Bill of this description. Now, what has taken place since then? I have hero all the figures of agrarian crime—excluding threatening letters, which, it is generally admitted, are not of first importance. I find that in the quarter ending March, 1885, there were 73 cases; in the June quarter, 105; September, 139; and December, 172. So far the figures are not great, considering the population of Ireland, but they justify the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to a constant increase of crime. Then I come to 1886. In 1886 the numbers were—for the March quarter, 135; June, 179; September, 199; and December—the last completed quarter before this Bill was conceived—the number had dropped down from 199 to no greater a number than 94. I have also taken out a comparison between the figures for the year 1880 and those for 1886, because reference has been made to the Bill of my late lamented friend Mr. W. E. Forster of 1880. I find that in the quarter ending September, 1880, the number of agrarian crimes, including threatening letters, was 361, and in the quarter ending on the last day of December that number had risen to no less than 1,675. Contrasting those figures with similar figures for 1886, I find that in that year, in the quarter 800 ending September 30, the number of these offences was 306, and that in the quarter ending December 31, 1886, the number had fallen to no greater a number than 166. I think that these figures are very remarkable, and that they ought to be borne in mind. They prove the statement of the Chief Secretary that the Bill is not founded on the amount of crime, or the possible increase of crime, and that its main object is not the repression of crime. The main object of the measure, without question, is to defeat the combination of the tenants against the landlords, who, whatever the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary may say to-night, have been condemned by their own Commission, because their own Commission has reported to them that rents ought to be reduced, many of them being extortionate and impossible. Perhaps the most remarkable thing in the policy of Her Majesty's Government is that they have turned round on their own Commission, and have determined not to carry out the principal recommendation that they have made. I should like to make this remark here. I have pointed out the remarkable fall in the number of cases of crime in the quarter ending December last. To what is that fall to be attributed? Is it not to be attributed to the action of the late Chief Secretary, to the action of Sir Redvers Buller, to the action of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon)? So far as I can judge, it is to be attributed to the reduction of the demands of the landlords. The fact that the landlords have been induced to come to reasonable terms with the tenantry has tended to the reduction of these agrarian offences; and, if so, I say, in the second place, that this decrease not only shows that there is no ground for asking for coercion, but it points out a better mode of action—which was pointed out by their own Commission—that is to say, compelling landlords to reduce extortionate demands, and procuring something like equity and justice for the unfortunate tenants. Well, the main case, as I understand it, of the Government—putting the question of the amount of crime on one side—is this, they base their claim to legislation of this character on the ground of what they call paralyzation of law. The jury system, they say, is unworkable. They 801 declare that jurymen and witnesses are intimidated, that the National League and the Plan of Campaign have usurped the place of law, and have debauched and terrorized the people. They say the object of the Government is to restore law and order, and to give their remedial measures fair play. Well, Sir, we are of opinion that this Bill will have precisely the contrary effect, and that is, perhaps, the greatest difference between us. It is not enough to say that there sire certain evils existing—that the jury system has broken down, that tenants will not pay the rents they are liable to pay, and so forth. What you have to do in proposing to Parliament a measure of this exceptional kind, interfering altogether with ordinary Constitutional principles, and with the liberty of the subject—what you have, at least, to show is not only that there is a case for some remedy, but that this is the true remedy, and the best remedy, and the one most likely to succeed. we are of the firm opinion that the Bill will have precisely the contrary effect. We believe that it will intensify the malady and drive it in. We believe that under it secret societies will multiply, and disaffection will increase. We hold the Bill to be tyrannous and monstrous, and I will justify those terms, if the House will allow me, before I sit down; but what I now say is that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is radically and fundamentally wrong, because we hold that it is certain to fail to secure those objects which its promoters claim to have in view. Now I come to the Bill itself. We are told that it creates no new offences. Well, but by the 2nd clause, first of all, if two tenants—as I have already said—combine to resist an unjust rent, and invite others to join them in that combination, they, according to my reading of the clause, become criminal conspirators. They not only do an illegal act, but they are brought within that law of criminal conspiracy which all liberal jurists are disinclined to extend, and about which so much has been said. In like manner, if they combine to refuse all dealings with others who are not with them in their struggle, again they come under the law of criminal conspiracy. The same clause deals with intimidation, making it an offence; and I should like to draw the attention of the House to the definition 802 of intimidation in the 19th clause of the Bill. It is defined as follows:—The expression 'intimidation' includes any words or acts intended and calculated to put any person in fear of any injury or danger to himself, or to any member of his family, or to any person in his employment, or in fear of any injury to or loss of property, business, employment, or means of living.Therefore, I say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), under that definition, was justified in his statement that if there were a Primrose League in Ire-land, and its members followed their usual course of proceeding, they would come under this law, and the punishment is six months' imprisonment with hard labour, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary considers a light and trivial punishment. Who are the judges? I have heard a great deal about the Resident Magistrates but I do not undertake to pronounce any opinion upon them, or to say more about them than I gather from the pages of the Bill itself. I turn to Clause 11, and what I find is this—The court of summary jurisdiction shall, within the police districts of Dublin Metropolis, be a, divisional justice of that district, and elsewhere be two Resident Magistrates in petty sessions, one of whom shall be a person of the sufficiency of whose legal knowledge the Lord Lieutenant shall be satisfied,and so on. I infer from that that the other of the two will be a person of the sufficiency of whose legal knowledge the Lord Lieutenant will not be satisfied. I think that is a very fair inference for me to draw; and I would point out this—that if you put the most favourable construction on the way in which these men are likely to act, and if you assume that the one of admittedly insufficient legal knowledge bows to the decision of the other more capable of giving a legal opinion as to the construction of this difficult and delicate law of criminal conspiracy, it will come to this in Ireland—that the law which in this country is never administered or acted upon except by the combined action of some eminent Judge and a British jury, will be administered practically by one Resident Magistrate, supposing him to have satisfied the Lord Lieutenant of the sufficiency of his legal knowledge. At the end of the 2nd clause there is a subsection—Sub-section 5—which says— 803Any person who, by words or acts, shall incite, solicit, encourage, or persuade any other person to commit any of the offences hereinbefore mentioned.There can be no doubt whatsoever that this sub-section will place every platform speaker, every newspaper writer, and, therefore, every newspaper, absolutely at the mercy of the Lord Lieutenant for the time being, and of his executive instruments, the Resident Magistrates of the country. But I would mention what is worse than that. The Attorney General for Ireland—I am not sure whether the Home Secretary followed his lead; but I know that the Attorney General for Ireland talked of the fact that the Bill is only to be applied according to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant, as if that were a feature which would recommend it to persons who cared for liberty and for law. To my mind, it makes it far worse. I can understand a Coercion Bill which defines the parts of Ireland to which a coercive measure might to be applied, and which applies that coercive measure. That would be a law; but I say this is no law. It is not a law until the Lord Lieutenant makes it a law. He can suspend its operation; he can deal with it almost as he chooses. He can apply the whole of the Bill to the whole of Ireland; he can apply the whole of it to a part of Ireland; he can vary the application from one part to another; he can apply part of the measure to the whole of the country, or part of it to isolated portions. There is no limit to the way he can shuffle the cards of the measure if he is to apply it according to his discretion. As I say, provisions of this kind are not law, and do not become law when the Bill becomes an Act. The measure is, in fact, merely a catalogue of arbitrary powers vested in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant which he may use or not use according to his discretion; and I say, and we say on this side of the House, that it does not possess the necessary elements and characteristics of law or legality. I confess that when I heard the Attorney General, I had a feeling of amazement that a man so eminent—and deservedly eminent—in his Profession, a man caring, I presume, for the noble science of the profession to which he belongs, should have so readily and eagerly 804 jumped at this measure—should have spoken of it as something which might be applied with great advantage to the whole of the United Kingdom, "a reasonable and a moderate measure;" and yet that it should never have entered into his head, as a lawyer and jurist, that the consideration I have just pointed out should have made it obnoxious to a man who cares for the principles of law as they ought to be applied in a free country. Two other clauses to which the Home Secretary has referred are Clauses 6 and 7. What is their operation? Clause 6 states that the Lord Lieutenant—May from time to time by proclamation declare that the enactments of this Act relating to dangerous associations,—which I suppose means the National League under whatever name it may operate—"shall come into force;" and Clause 7 says, the Lord Lieutenant may from time to timeProhibit or suppress in any district specified in the order, any association which he believes to be a dangerous association. From and after the date of such order, and during the continuance thereof, every assembly or meeting- of such association, or of the members of it as such members,—and that means the bulk of the people of Ireland—In the specified district, shall be an unlawful assembly, and the association itself shall be an unlawful association.Any person connected with such association becomes an offender, and is liable to the punishment stated in the Bill. Now, I ask the House to mark this fact, that the National League is a League extending throughout the greater part of Ireland. The great bulk of the people of Ireland are, as I say, more or loss in connection with that association, therefore, the vast majority of the people may be brought by the Proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant under the operations of the measure, and be made amenable to the punishment it enacts under the jurisdiction of the Resident Magistrates. Her Majesty's Government have staked their existence on this Bill, and they talk of the mandate they received at the last General Election on this subject. Sir, they received no mandate in favour of any such measure. Many supporters of the Government on both sides of the House secured their election by protesting against further coercion for Ire- 805 land. I do not believe that any one of their supporters ever dreamed at the Election of the passing of such a measure as this we are now discussing. But, I dispute this doctrine of the mandate entirely. There is no such thing known to our Constitution as a final mandate. There can be no such mandate. Any Act that is passed can be repealed. It is the right of any Party in this House—it is the right of any single Member—to appeal to this House and to Parliament against any particular Act, and to procure its repeal if possible, and in the last resort a Member can go even beyond the House, and appeal to public opinion; and if he can carry public opinion with him, the moment will come when the law or mandate of which he complains will be reversed. There is only one possible final answer to this question. A Coercion Bill passed into an Act and then repealed will be the last Coercion Act—as this, if passed, will be the last Coercion Act—and self-government once accorded to the Irish people will be, in our view, so safe, so satisfying, and so just, that once granted it will never be recalled. This would be a final Act, not because any mandate is final, but because of its nature and justification. The Government say—"You must maintain law and order." We have heard a great deal about the maintenance of law and order. Of course, you must maintain law and order; but the question is how best to maintain them, and that question has hardly been argued in this House at all. You must maintain law and order, but if your difficulty lies and rests in this fact, that you have refused to amend unjust laws, or have refused to give to the people that right of self-government which will set them on the side of the law, and make them respect it, and bring them into harmony with it—then I say that your duty is to amend those unjust laws and to give the people that right of self-government. With regard to the alleged failure of the jury system of which the Home Secretary has spoken, the Prime Minister said that it was not that the judicial system as a machine had broken down, but that there was one part of it where a wheel was out of order, and that was the jury system, and that that being out of order it must either be refitted or dispensed with. That very curt and official mode 806 of thinking out the question, and of dealing with it, seems to have been adopted by the Home Secretary; but to us the jury system is a very different thing to what it appears to be in the mind of the Marquess of Salisbury. It is to us very much more than a part of a mechanical contrivance. The jury system, to our mind is, in the first place, a Constitutional right, though the Home Secretary has not shown the slightest sign that he has any sympathy with that question of Constitutional right. It appeared to him to be quite sufficient to show that the jury system, as he thought, had broken down to justify him in proposing to replace it by the proposal in this Bill—namely, of granting summary jurisdiction in such serious cases as criminal conspiracy. Our view, on the contrary, is this—that a Government which cannot rule without abolishing trial by jury is not fit to rule at all. We say that a Government which cannot rule Ireland without abolishing trial by jury is certain to fail egregiously in trying to govern her. They may appear to succeed, as Governments before have seemed for a time to succeed, with Coercion Bills; but this is not a Coercion Bill for a time. This is a Coercion Bill, so far as the Government can make it, for all time. They cannot alter the real character of a Coercion Bill. This Bill is essentially a temporary expedient, and it is one which, if passed into law, will last only as long as the Government, and its factitious majority, lasts in this House. I ask this question.—What can be more fatal than the alienation of a whole people from the law? The failure of the jury system points out the dangerous fact of that alienation, and the only remedy you suggest is to abolish the system. That course is about as wise as if a man were to hide from his view the index of a boiler pointing to danger, sit upon the safety-valve, and then complain of the consequences. The proper course is not to deal with the symptoms, not to deal with that which points out the danger, but to deal with the danger and its cause. We do not say—"Redress grievances before you apply the Criminal Law." That is not the way in which we express our opinion. What we say is this—that the grievances of Ireland, the evil condition of Ireland, and the maladies of Ireland, are of such a nature that you 807 cannot remedy them without going deep down into their causes; and that if you attempt and pretend to deal with them merely by suppression and repression, you are certain to fail. The theory is, I believe, that the National League is the cause of all the mischief, and the Government say that they want to suppress the National League. They regard it as a body of men—I suppose as a small body of men—paid from abroad, who debauch and tyrannize over the people, and they want to put it down in order to free the country from this debauching and tyrannizing influence. Well, to our minds that is not only an incorrect view to take, but it is an absolute inversion of the truth. The National League could not have the power which it exercises if it did not spring from the people, and did not represent their wants, wishes, and desires. In the mind of the Government the Irish people are always wrong. This is common with despotic Governments. They are always going to free the people from the leaders who have debauched them. If you want to know the opinions of the Irish people, free from terrorism, appeal to the Irish Representatives. [Laughter.] Yes; these Gentlemen are the freely chosen Representatives of the Irish people. Who can say that that is not the case, and who can say that they were not chosen in a vast number of cases without any attempt to oppose their election, and that where they were opposed they were not elected by overwhelming majorities? The Chief Secretary has said that the great need of Ireland is a stable system of law. I thought that was a very happy expression; I absolutely agree with that proposition, which could not be more happily or correctly stated; but a Coercion Bill is not a stable system of law. It is something which cannot have eternal life conferred upon it. You can only attain to a stable system of law by making conquest of the minds and hearts of the people themselves, and to do that you must make them feel that they themselves are the very source of the law which is around them on every side. You must make it their desire, as well as their duty, to maintain and enforce the law, if you wish to succeed. You are, therefore, bound to turn to remedial measures, which will bring the people of Ireland into harmony with the law, 808 and in favour of its support and maintenance. Can anyone deny that these coercion expedients have always failed? The whole history of Ireland shows that they have. We have heard about successful Coercion Bills; but their success has only been for a short time. Can any politician look back upon the 87 years of the Union and say that coercive legislation has been a success? Has it quenched the ardour of the Irish people for self-government? Has it satisfied them with our rule? If not, what chance is there that the present coercive policy will succeed now that all the conditions are more unfavourable than they ever wore before? Our past policy has invariably failed to subdue the Irish people. It has always been as fuel to the flame of their unquenchable patriotism. The history and the literature of Ireland are full of the records and evidences of that inextinguishable spirit. It grew whilst the people despaired; and I want to ask this House how can they dream that they will succeed in this policy of theirs when the Irish people feel that they are assured of a certain, and not very distant, success? In the past we starved the Irish people; we crushed them by penal laws; we decimated them by famine, and drove them to emigrate across the Atlantic. ["Oh, oh!"] Do hon. Gentlemen question that that is the history of Ireland? [Laughter.] That is not easy to understand. It is not always easy to interpret a laugh. It is not articulate. But I have always understood that, in the early history of Ireland, we did all we could in this country to cramp her trade, to destroy her manufactures and her demand for labour, and that are succeeded in our endeavours. I have always understood that it was the policy of this country and of landlordism in this House which brought famine on the Irish people, which was followed by emigration; and now England is confronted by a Nemesis, because this emigrated population has multiplied in numbers, in wealth, in power, and courage. You have created another and greater Ireland in the West, the sister and ally of the Ireland at home. The Nationalist Party of Ireland is represented in this House by 85 out of 103 Members, and I want to put a practical question to Her Majesty's Government. What will you do with these 85 809 Nationalist Members? I defy you to carry out the drastic provisions of this Bill, if it becomes an Act, and to retain these Gentlemen here. It is, as the Marquess of Salisbury himself declared, absolutely inconsistent to impose a Coercion Bill like this on the Irish people, and to grant them the free, full, and equal representation which at present they enjoy in this House. The Liberal Party have been taunted with their alliance with the Irish people and the Irish Nationalist Party. I, for one, am proud of that alliance. I am proud of an alliance which we have taken up with those who represent the great mass of the Irish people, who claim that right of self-government which the English people have attained and maintained for themselves. We are told sometimes that our action is a mere Party move; we are told sometimes that we are but the blind followers of one man; and we know who is pointed at when that is said. Well, Sir, I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), in the pages of history, will not stand so high in any part of his life as he will in regard to the action he has taken in connection with Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to the double credit and honour of being, on the one hand, the first to see that the time was ripe for the conferring of this right on the Irish people; and, on the other hand, of being incomparably above any other man, in ability and willingness, to force this question to the front. He saw these things; but it does not follow that we did not see them too. It seems to be assumed that we had no faculty of perception, or, I suppose, of thought. I maintain that we have shown our faculty of perception and of thought by the attitude we have taken up—we have shown that we have become convinced of the rectitude of the proposals of my right hon. Friend and of the demands of the Irish people. We have shown that we are convinced that there is no other method by which we can rule Ireland in harmony with the union and the welfare of the United Kingdom, except that which we propose; and there is no chance of our varying that opinion, or of our deserting that object or alliance. This, I hold, will be a people's question. No majority in this House can settle it without a fresh appeal to the country. 810 When the time comes for that fresh appeal to be made, it is our conviction that the people will not back a policy of coercion, and that the alternative will be the concession of Home Rule to the Irish people. We are perfectly confident in our own minds that that appeal will result as I have said. We will abide by this opinion, and by this policy, and by this alliance, even if we unhappily lose the enormous services and help of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian before our object is accomplished. We believe that when this appeal is made it will result in the repeal of the present Bill, if it is passed into an Act. Having regard, not only to the contents of the Bill, but to the circumstances of the time, we hold this to be one of the worst Coercion Bills ever presented to Parliament; and we believe that if it is passed into law it will before long be repealed, and will result in the conferring upon the Irish people of that right of self-government which is the only basis and the only hope of Constitutional freedom and of a system of stable government.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Lord Henry Bruce,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.