§ (Mr. Arthur Balfour, Mr. Secretary Matthews, Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ SECOND READING.
§ ADJOURNED DEBATE. [FIFTH NIGHT.]
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,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. BAGGALLAY (Lambeth, Brixton)
Mr. Speaker, at the commencement of the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sir Henry Holland), he made a statement which was received with great satisfaction by hon. Members on this side of the House—namely, that Her Majesty's Government have made no change in their view of this question, and there is not at this moment the shadow of a difference in their mind and opinion with regard to the necessity of pushing forward this measure with all reasonable despatch. Not only was that statement received with satisfaction by hon. Members on this side of the House, but I believe that it will be received with satisfaction when it becomes known throughout the country. Perhaps it was an unnecessary statement to make as far as we are concerned; but there are others in the country who listen to what is said by hon. Members on the other side of the House, and very often to statements of a threatening character. Let me allude particularly to some observations which were made in this House only yesterday afternoon. The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James) referred to the debates which took place on the first reading of this Bill, and he told us that, bearing in mind that the first rule of Procedure ocupied five or six weeks, it was impossible to say how long the discussion of the 20 clauses of the Bill would take in Committee. Sir, I see no reason why, if hon. Members on the other side of the House will treat the matter fairly and honestly, and from a due sense of the responsibility which is attached to them, there should be any delay in considering the clauses of the 894 measure and in finally passing the Bill. Of course, I am aware that it is always possible for a Party to use every available means for obstructing the passing of a Bill by employing the rules and Forms of this House for that purpose. I think, however, that hon. Members opposite would be very foolish if they attempted to put in force the very unnecessary threat which the hon. Member for Gateshead has made use of in this early stage of the proceedings. It certainly looks as if he were prepared personally to support some such course if it be inaugurated by hon. Members sitting below the Gangway on the other side. The hon. Member also told us that the course which the Government have determined upon taking is a perilous one and full of danger. We do not disguise from ourselves the fact that our position is a difficult one. We do not disguise from ourselves that any resort to coercive measures in dealing with a neighbouring country is a perilous and highly dangerous course; but that makes it all the more important that we on this side of the House should be firm in our resolution, and that the Government who lead us should let the country know that they have decided upon the policy which they intend to pursue, and that they will pursue it and carry it through to the best of their ability. Now, Sir, this Bill has been denounced in all parts of the country. In particular it was denounced, and not in very choice language, in Hyde Park on Monday last. I imagine that no Bill has ever been brought into this House which has received so many adjectives as this unfortunate measure for the Amendment of the Criminal Law in Ireland. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) called it "brutal" and "infamous;" another gentleman, who is not a Member of this House— Dr. O'Connor— called it "a swindle," and its supporters "swindlers." Those expressions, however, were very mode-rate compared with those which have been used by others. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace) was also moderate, but he was more voluminous. He called the Bill "tyrannical, cruel, needless, revolutionary, anti-English and anti-Scotch." Of course, Sir, such epithets are very easily strung together, and their utterance from a platform is an extremely 895 simple matter—especially in Hyde Park. We have, however, to understand what they mean, and to receive our acceptation they must be supported by arguments which commend themselves to hon. Members in this House. I see the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) in his place. I am glad to see him back again after his short holiday—a holiday which I was sorry to see that he himself cut short by unnecessarily making his appearance upon a waggon in Hyde Park. May I be allowed to tell him that I was in Hyde Park also, although I was not in a waggon. I am prepared to admit that the crowd assembled there was orderly. It has been asserted that there were a great many rowdies present. No doubt, there were; but for a Bank Holiday, and for Hyde Park on a fine day, I think the congregation assembled there was fairly respectable. But, Sir, what did they go there for? A great many were out for a holiday, but I believe that a very large number wont there in order to see the Leader of the Liberal Party, or, rather, the real Leader of the Radical Party. I was myself asked over and over again—"Where's Labby?" And there can be no doubt that the point of attraction on Monday was the platform at which the hon. Member for Northampton presided. The hon. Member for Northampton was, perhaps, not so moderate in the language he used in regard to this Bill. He told his audience that the policy of the Government was like the ruffianism of Bill Sykes; and he added that if the Bill ever became law he hoped Irishmen would resist it. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: Hear, hear!] I do not know whether the hon. Member is prepared to repeat those words in the House?
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
Then I am very sorry to hear it. I think that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton was one of the first to denounce the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) when he made use of strong language at Belfast, yet the hon. Member for Northampton now deems it consistent with his position as a Member of Parliament, and the real Leader of the Radical Party, to tell Irishmen that if this Bill is passed and become the law 896 of the land it is the duty of the Irish people to break it. I am very sorry that that should be a doctrine taught by any hon. Member, either in this House or out of it, and I think it is high time that the Bill should be passed. I am of opinion that the course taken by the hon. Member proves only too conclusively the absolute necessity of putting greater powers in the hands of the Executive, in order to enable them to enforce the law in these cases. Other hon. Members have used language with regard to the Bill quite as strong. They have called it insulting and un-Constitutional, and one point which has been specially urged against it is that it is more stringent than any other Bill that was ever passed. Now, Sir, I beg to deny that assertion most emphatically. There is not a single clause in the Bill which has not appeared in some previous Bill. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Yes; that is practically the case; and I would ask hon. Gentlemen to point out how this Bill is more stringent? It is certainly no more stringent than the Bill of 1882; and if hon. Members will refer back to Lord Grey's Bill, which was passed into an Act of Parliament in 1833, they will find, to use the expression of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), that this measure is as "mild as milk" compared with the Bill of 1833. Lord Grey's Bill gave power to the Lord Lieutenant to prohibit any meeting whatever; it is not proposed by this Bill to do anything of the sort. Under Lord Grey's Bill courts martial might be appointed to try, not merely minor offences, but even the most serious offences; such, for instance, as murder—a court martial consisting of nine, or, it might be, of seven officers, the only qualification being that the officers should be of the rank of captain, with a barrister of five years' standing to assist them in their deliberations. A court martial so constituted could try a man for murder. Hon. Members opposite have spoken, in the course of this debate and also in the country, as if trial by jury had never been suspended before. Why, Sir, in that instance the deliberations of a court martial superseded trial by jury, and the court martial itself had power by the votes of a majority to sentence a man to transportation for life. But there were other clauses contained in that Bill. There was the Curfew Clause, which in a 897 proclaimed district required all persons to be in their houses within one hour after sunset. There were other clauses which required householders to give a list of every male person in their houses, and, if necessary, to post up the list on the door, and if a magistrate, accompanied by a police sergeant, chose to go round at any time, he had power to call upon these people to show themselves in order to prove that they were living there, and were then in the house. All these stringent powers were contained in the Act of 1833, and they far exceeded in their stringency any provision of the present Bill. Moreover, there was no appeal of any sort or kind, and, in addition, the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended. Will any hon. Member say that, after considering the clauses and the provisions of the Act of Lord Grey, he is prepared to come to this House, and speak of the present measure as being the most cruel, the most unconstitutional, and the most stringent against Ireland that was ever brought into the House of Commons? The hon. Member for North Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), who has to night for the first time explained, or rather amended, the speech he made at Chicago—
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
The hon. Member, speaking the other night in this House, told us that Boycotting was the same in the autumn of 1885 as it is now. The hon. Member said practically that the state of the country is now just as it was then.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND
I said, that in January, 1886, there were 900 persons Boycotted. That was what I was alluding to.
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
I understood the hon. Member's argument to be this, that there is no more ground for a Coercion Bill now than there was in 1885, and that, practically, Boycotting was not greater in the early part of the present year than it was in the autumn of 1885. His contention was that if we— the Conservative Party— did not bring in a Bill for the amendment of the law, then, why should we do so now? I understood that to be his argument; but I maintain that the fact of the country being in no better position now is the very reason why, so far as Boycotting is concerned, we should amend the law. 898 Can the hon. Member say that it is a satisfactory thing that the Boycotting which existed in 1885 should exist now, and that we should not bring in a Bill to amend the law and put down these grave and serious offences against the laws of society? The point is this— at that time the extension of the franchise had then been given. The Elections were coming on in the month of November, 1885. [Cheers.] Hon. Members opposite cheer. At that time we did not disguise the fact that it would have been an insult to the Irish people, at the moment when the Elections were coming on, to attempt to influence those Elections by proposing a Coercion Bill. We thought it was better to wait until an expression of opinion had been given throughout the country after the franchise had been extended and the Elections had taken place. We left the people to the unfettered expression of their opinion at the polling booth. The Government stated then, as they state now, that they were anxious and willing if they could, to govern Ireland according to the ordinary law. We are anxious, at this moment, to govern Ireland according to the ordinary law; but we find that it is impossible. In 1886 a great change took place. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), finding that he was not in the position which he had sought for of being independent of hon. Members from Ireland, took the course which is only too well known now, and which probably he himself regrets. The course he took was to secure to himself a majority in this House by an alliance with the Irish Party. He secured a majority for a few months until he brought in the Bill which ruined his Government, and led to another Election in July, 1886. The right hon. Gentleman broke up his Party when he looked below the Gangway for the Irish Members to help him. Having broken up his Party they defeated him in this House. He then went to the country, and the country confirmed the verdict of the House, in July, 1886, and declared in favour of the Union. It is to maintain that Union that we are now here. The mandate we have received from the constituencies, is the mandate to maintain the Union of the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland. That is the mandate which we have, and I 899 maintain that we violate no Election pledges in supporting this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) has recently been in the south of London; but the only South of London Member who appeared on his platform was, I think, the hon. Gentleman who occupied the chair. There are a great number of other Members for South London, but they were not there. The right hon. Gentleman did not find much company on that occasion from the Metropolitan Members, but the right hon. Gentleman, although he knew perfectly well that there are South London Members sitting on this side of the House, and although he took occasion to call attention to the fact that the Metropolitan Members do not act up to the pledges they had made to their constituencies, did not allude to any of us or to any South London Representative. I am not here to speak on behalf of the South London Members generally, I can only speak for myself. I made no pledge to the constituents I have the honour to represent which I am not ready to support in this House. In voting for this Bill, I maintain, emphatically, that I am carrying out the pledges which I gave during the Election, and which I know many hon. Gentleman sitting near me also gave upon their different platforms. In my Election address I stated, and perhaps I may be allowed to quote the words I used—We must give justice to Ireland. It is our duty to govern her as we govern ourselves; to pass good and just laws, and to take care that such laws are enforced.[An hon. MEMBER: Read on.] I have not got the rest of the address by me; but the hon. Gentleman can read on for himself. I am not afraid of anything that follows. I think I went on to say that I looked forward to great improvements in the Local Government system.
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
But what I maintain is that we have first of all to enforce the law, and that is the sole proposal of the present Bill. We hope that it will be effectual for that purpose. If I did not entertain that hope I should not vote for the Bill. I should not vote for it if I did not feel satisfied—that if it is carried, and if it is resolutely and 900 firmly enforced, it will, in conjunction with the remedial measures which the Government have already brought in, and which will come before this House in due course of time—I would not vote for it unless I felt satisfied that we are doing our best, and I believe we shall be successful in so doing, to restore peace, order, and happiness to Ireland, Now, Sir, a consideration I wish to put before the House with regard to the case for the Bill is—that, in the first place, the Government have before them the Report of their own Royal Commission, and the Report of that Royal Commission is founded upon no small amount of evidence. The Royal Commissioners examined—I do not know how many witnesses in all— but they examined 170 tenant farmers, and I believe that no pains were spared to get really at the bottom of the Land Question, and the causes which affect the happiness and the prosperity of Ireland. The words in which the Royal Commissioners reported upon Boycotting have already been read to the House; but no words could be stronger or more emphatic than the language employed by those who have thoroughly investigated the question. I maintain that Her Majesty's Government are entitled, on that Report alone, to say that the evil requires some immediate action on their part in order that the influence of the Executive may be strengthened. I will not deal further with the Report of the Royal Commission which has already been frequently quoted; but I will pass on to the statistics of crime. Returns have been recently placed in our hands, and from those Returns I find that agrarian outrages, taking the two provinces with which we are practically dealing— namely, the provinces of Munster and Connaught, are as follows:—In Munster in 1884, there were 429 agrarian outrages, and in 1886 they rose to 631, or nearly 50 per cent. In Connaught the agrarian outrages in 1884 were 117, and in 1886 they increased to 223, or very nearly 100 per cent. But, Sir, the most remarkable fact in regard to these statistics is this— although the increase in the number of offences was, in the one case, 50 per cent, and in the other 100 per cent, the proportion of persons brought to justice to the number of cases reported was exceedingly small. In Munster, out of 631 cases, there were only 18 convictions. In 536 cases no 901 one at all was brought to trial. Amongst the cases I find that there were six murders with only one conviction, while in three cases of murder nobody whatever was brought to trial. There were 16 cases of firing at the person, and only one conviction; there were 70 cases of incendiary fires, and not a single person was brought to trial; there were 45 cases of maiming cattle, but no one was convicted, and only one person was brought to trial; there were 67 cases of injury to property, six were brought to trial, and one convicted. In Connaught the figures were very similar. Last night the right hon. Baronet the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) quoted some statistics in reference to the Irish prisons, and he told us that crime must be going down in Ireland, because there are so few convicted prisoners to be found in those prisons. Why, Sir, that is our case; it is because the prisons are so empty— not that we wish to fill them—but because the people who deserve to be there are not there, that Her Majesty's Government have introduced this Bill. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Members who derisively cheer that remark are probably glad to hear that among these murders, these outrages upon cattle, this firing at persons—the large number of persons who have been guilty of such offences should still remain at large, not only unconvicted and unpunished, but even without having been brought to trial. I can only understand the derisive cheer of hon. Members opposite in that way; otherwise, why do they cheer at all? We have to deal now with the position of affairs which arises from this undetected crime. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, on the 28th of January, 1881, in bringing in one of his numerous Bills for the prevention of crime, used these words—But we have never said that the amount of this crime, taken by itself, was the basis of our propositions…. You must consider the amount of crime in conjunction with its source, with its character…. What we have founded ourselves upon has been, above all things, the failure of the administration of justice. It is the administration of justice which constitutes the safety of the individual, and which is the true guarantee both of rights and liberties."— (3 Hansard,  1,697.)Sir, that is the position we now take up— namely, that although it is true that there is an increasing amount of crime, 902 still that fact might not alone justify a great and stringent measure. What we say is, that we find an immense amount of undetected crime, and we find, also, that the administration of justice has failed. In the words of the right hon. Gentleman we find, above all things, that there has been a failure in the administration of justice, and that it is the administration of justice which constitutes the safety of the individual, and which is the true guarantee both of rights and liberties. But, Sir, there is a further point to which I desire to call the attention of the House, and it is this —the statements which have been made in this House with regard to the National League. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), in the course of the able speech he made when he introduced this Bill, alluded to the National League, and said that Irishmen were Boycotted for not joining it. The Secretary of the National League, the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. C. Harrington), at once jumped up in his place and challenged the right hon. Gentleman to name a single instance in which the National League had Boycotted anybody for not joining it. That challenge was subsequently taken up by the hon. Member for Cork himself. Speaking either that night, or shortly afterwards, the hon. Member for Cork said—The Chief Secretary was challenged on the spot to give a single instance of pressure being brought to bear on anybody to join the National League throughout the whole of Ireland, but he could not do so. If any such case had occurred that branch would have been dissolved on the spot.Sir, since that statement was made I have had an opportunity of seeing a large number of paragraphs in newspapers published by the National League in Ireland. Those newspaper paragraphs deal with instances of Boycotting on the part of the National League, and I am in a position to give hon. Members opposite plenty of quotations in reference to cases in which branches of the National League have passed resolutions which amount to Boycotting, and even worse. I propose to read to the House one or two quotations which entirely support the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Mullinavat Branch of the 903 National League, at a meeting held on the 9th of January last, and presided over by the Rev. P. Meany, passed this resolution—'He who is not with me is against me.' Applying this test to our organization, we are forced to believe that every man who stands aloof, and assists not morally and materially the National League, is an enemy of that Association. 'Go mark him well.' By the first of next month a list of the members will be printed and published for the information of every person interested. If it he not too much, we invite the attention of merchants and shopkeepers gene-rally to the list.Let me give another quotation, which relates to the Birr branch—There are a few who have not yet joined the ranks of the League, hut who are expected to do so on or before Sunday next. There is now no time for the apathetic. The man who hangs fire this year in in secret alliance with the people's enemies, and the people will know how to deal with him when their ranks are closed in.I do not know if hon. Members opposite are prepared to say that that is not Boycotting or inciting to Boycott? [Cries of "No!"] It is not? Allow me then to give another.
§ An hon. MEMBER: Those two cases were read yesterday.
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
I have no wish to read anything which has been read already. I prefer to read others; and I assure hon. Members opposite that I have plenty more. Here is one—Persons not joining before the 15th proximo, will have the questionable honour of seeing their names in print and posted up in conspicuous places throughout this, and neighbouring districts.
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
At Bunninaddin on Sunday, March the 6th, 1887, at a meeting presided over by the Very Rev. Canon Stenson. I have read the passage from The Sligo Champion of March the 12th, this year. I have another here from the Ardee Branch—That the Secretary be instructed to prepare a list of those farmers, traders, and shopkeepers who have, and who have not, joined the branch; the letter to be hung up in the League office, and the former to be placarded through the neighbourhood.Is that Boycotting? [Cries of "No!"] It is not? Then here is another from Aughamore in the County of Mayo— 904Resolved— 'That all subscriptions to this branch he paid in before Sunday, March the 6th, as no cards of membership will be supplied to any person after that date. That we approve of and adopt the resolution put forward by the Bekan branch— namely, That no tradesman work for any person not producing his card of membership.'What does that mean? Unless a man can show that he is a member of the League he is not to be dealt with, or to have any work done for him. Is that Boycotting or not? The next one I take from a leading article in The Sligo Champion. Perhaps hon. Members will say that the National League is not responsible for any leading article, but this is what the writer says—In Achonry, on Sunday last, printed notices were posted up at Chapel and at other places throughout the parish, setting forth the names of those who in the past year refused to join the local branch of the Irish National League. Great excitement prevailed when some of the shoneens saw their names in the black list. Two individuals in particular, one of whom is known as 'Little Mark,' made themselves conspicuous by their eagerness to become members for the ensuing year, and thereby secure themselves from a similar exposure in future. They made the best of their way to the League Rooms, handed in their subscriptions, and retired. They were, however, not a little surprised later on to learn that their money had been refused, and that before it is accepted an apology for past apathy must be made. We commend the action of the Achonry branch to the people of Tubbercurry and the neighbouring parishes.There is another class of Boycotting which I should like to allude to—Boycotting for a different purpose. I do not know what the "Pay the Members Fund" is. Does it refer to Members of Parliament?
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
The New Ross Standard of February the 6th, says—The collection for the 'Pay the Members Fund' will be made at the Chapel gates, on Sunday, February the 20th, at the rate of 1d. in the pound on the valuation—exactly half of what was given last year.In point of fact, the National Land League are actually rating persons on their valuation for the purpose of paying Members of Parliament.
§ An HON. MEMBER: No; it is a fund to pay election expenses.
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
If the subscription is not paid, are those who refrain from paying to continue members of the National League, or are they to be put on a list and be posted on the chapel 905 doors, and are the people around to be told that these persons are Boycotted, and that tradespeople and shopkeepers are not to deal with them? There seems to have been another collection made, according to The Sligo Champion, towards another fund. At a meeting at Gurteen, held on Sunday, the 27th of February last, with the Very Rev. Canon O'Donohoe in the chair, it was—Resolved— 'That a collection for the defence of Messrs. Dillon, O'Brien, &c, be made, during the ensuing week, in this locality, and that not less than 6d. be accepted from any person. Anyone not subscribing will be considered not in sympathy with the branch.'Are hon. Members still prepared to support what the Secretary of the National League asserted when he got up and interrupted the Chief Secretary, and declared, in this House, that if the right hon. Gentleman would give him a case he would prove that it was not true?
§ MR. SEXTON
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to point out to him that he has not yet given a solitary instance of any case of Boycotting that resulted from these publications?
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
The hon. Member seems to think that we are as simple as the Irish people. What is the meaning of a resolution passed declaring that those who have not done a particular thing will have their names posted up at the church doors? What is that done for? Why are the names to be posted up? Why is a resolution passed that trades people and shopkeepers are not to deal with certain individuals? If the hon. Member remains in any state of doubt I will give him another case, which I take from The Carlow Nationalist of February 26th—At Newbridge, the chairman said a man named John Barnes had just apologised for doing some work—[A VOICE: Dirty work]—for some objectionable parties. The man had a family, and was only earning 1s 10d. a-day, when he was tempted with 7s. 6d. a-day, which he had not strength enough to resist. However, he now apologised, and sought re-admission to their ranks and favour. It was decided to re-admit him to membership, and the meeting adjourned,I contend that that quotation proves my case up to the hilt. It shows that persons who have been Boycotted have been compelled to pay high prices in order to induce persons to work for them; and in this case, when a man with a large family, earning only 1s. 10d. a-day, was 906 tempted by the offer of 7s. 6d. a-day to work for a person who had been Boycotted by the National League, a resolution was passed directing him to appear before the League, to apologize and to ask for the favour of the League in future. Do hon. Members opposite still deny that Boycotting has not been carried out by the National League?
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
The hon. Member denies it still. Here is another case which I take from The Leinster Leader of Saturday, February the 19th, at a meeting of the Killasmeestia and Knockaroe Branch, presided over by Father Cahill—Joseph Farrell came before the meeting to get the work of two years' Boycotting erased off his shoulders. He explained his conduct, and apologised to the satisfaction of the Committee. The Committee are highly delighted at his restoration into the ranks of nationality, and considers it another victory for the old campaigning plan of Boycotting.What does that mean? In so many words we are told that by Boycotting this unfortunate man for two years the League at length were able to achieve a victory over him. Does the hon. Member still deny that this branch, at any rate, Boycotted the man Farrell?
§ MR. SEXTON
Surely, any branch has just as good a right to exclude a man from membership as a club in Pall Mall.
§ An hon. MEMBER: I should like to ask what is the course taken by the Primrose League?
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
I will not trouble the House with any further quotations. I have only read these passages in order to prove what the real character of the National League is. Be it remembered that that League is supported by an executive, including many hon. Members who sit below the Gangway in this House. They know perfectly well that these things are going on, and I believe that the passages I have read prove the offence of Boycotting up to the hilt. With regard to the Bill now before the House, I contend that it has been grossly misrepresented. The object of the Bill is simply to strengthen the law and not to create new offences. If it did I should not be prepared to support it. The Government have no desire to interfere with public meetings legally held, nor to interfere with the Press properly carried 907 on. The object of the Bill is to enforce the law as it now exists. No one under the Bill will be prohibited from doing anything which he may now legally do either in England or Scotland. Many hon. Members complain— and I admit that it is a fair argument to use— of the provision of the Bill which takes a way trial by jury; but I would remind the House that trial by jury is only taken away under exceptional circumstances. As was ably pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) last night, trial by jury has been proved for many generations, and many hundreds of years, to be the best mode of trying questions of fact; but when we find that trial by jury has failed—that it is impossible to obtain verdicts in cases where the evidence is conclusive, because the jurors are afraid to do their duty when they get into the jury-box—then I think we are entitled to support the Bill which has been brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Trial by jury has been done away with before in exceptional cases, and there is no reason why it should not be done away with now if the necessity is proved. I submit to the House that the necessity has been proved, and that there is ample evidence, not only from the report of the Royal Commission, from the charges of the Judges, from the resolutions of the Grand Juries in answer to those charges, from the statistics of crime, and from the evidence which has been abundantly taken in Ireland with regard to the conduct of the National League—I say that there is ample evidence to establish that case for this Bill, and that it is the duty of the Government to press it forward, and when it shall have been passed to put it in force. With regard to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, the policy of the Irish Members is to oppose everything and everybody until they get separation. The policy of the Radicals, or some of them, is to support anything and anybody who will help to bring them back into Office; but the policy of this side of the House arises out of the mandate we have received, and the pledges we have made, to see that justice is done to Ireland as well as to ourselves, and above all to see that we maintain the Union between Great Britain and Ireland, giving the Irish people just and good laws, but re- 908 solutely insisting on the enforcement of those laws by the Executive Government of the country.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
The hon. and learned Member for the Brixton Division of Lambeth (Mr. Baggallay) has chiefly devoted his remarks to Boycotting; but he has failed to tell us how this improper and wicked practice can be dealt with by the Bill before the House. Lord Salisbury has said it is too subtle in its nature to be reached by any form of law. I concur in that opinion, and regret it, because Boycotting, whether practised by the National League or the Primrose League, is a dastardly weapon to use in political warfare. The hon. and learned Gentleman then went on to allude to other Crimes Bills in order to carry out the tu quoque argument which has so often been used. He referred especially to the Crimes Act of 1833, which included martial law. That was of a very serious character; but the amount of crime was enormous, amounting to 9,003 cases. If I recollect rightly, the clauses authorizing courts-martial were not brought into operation. The hon. and learned Member coincides with the Government in contending that there is no difference in the conditions under which this Crimes Bill has been brought in and in those of similar Acts which have preceded it, and in some of which the Liberal Governments took the initiative. There is, at least, this one great difference—that Crimes Acts formerly were introduced in years when crime was at a maximum; and that, on the present occasion, this Bill was introduced when crime in Ireland was at a minimum. The Coercion Bill of 1871 was passed when criminal convictions amounted to 2,565 annually; that of 1873 when they were 2,542; that of 1881 when they were 2,698; but now, when this Bill is urged upon the House and the country, the last record of criminal convictions is only 1,573. It is an essential difference that, whereas former Coercive Acts were intended to meet a sudden and alarming outburst of crime, this Bill is to deal with a state of crime the lowest on record since the year 1871, with the single exception of 1878. But this is not the only difference between the conditions under which former Bills were introduced. Parliament has deliberately consulted the people of Ireland by an 909 enlargement of the franchise, and the Constitutional answer of 85 per cent of the constituencies in Ireland is that yon cannot govern Ireland by Coercive Acts. This makes a vast difference in the situation, and I refer to it chiefly with the view of reminding the Conservative Party in this House of the wise words of their former Leader, the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), in a speech of the 3rd January, 1885—You have declared that the Irish people are perfectly capable of exercising the highest rights and privileges of citizenship, while the renewal of a Crimes Act would declare that the Irish people are perfectly incapable of the lowest and most ordinary duties of citizenship. …. All I can say is, that if such an incoherent, such a ridiculous combination of Acts, can he called a policy, then, thank God, the Conservatives have no policy.The noble Lord, however, in a recent speech at Paddington, gets over this well-expressed opinion by saying that this is not a Coercion Bill, but only a Bill "to carry on the elementary—what I call the alphabetical duties—of government." In 1885 the noble Lord thought that ordinary law—and that is pretty strong in Ireland—was quite sufficient for the alphabetical duties of government; but now he seeks for a much sharper rod to teach the enfranchised Irish people the alphabet of law and order. The noble Lord was not so happy as usual in the reasons for his changed opinions. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) has provided the Conservatives with a better euphemistic name for this offensive Bill, when he called it "an emancipating Bill." To his logical mind, a Crimes Bill requires a large amount of crime for its justification, and as this does not exist in abnormal amount, he feels bound to give the Bill some other name. But as several clauses of the Bill forge new fetters in restraint of liberty, we prefer, on this side of the House, to consider and deal with it as a Coercion Bill. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) is too candid and outspoken to call his Bill by any other name than a Bill for the repression of crime. His case is that ordinary law is not sufficient to deal with crime in Ireland. He does not demand, as on former occasions, for temporary powers to suppress temporary crime; but he 910 asks us to believe that Ireland is so permanently and hopelessly lawless that you must give to the Government of that country exceptional and permanent suppressive laws. Well, that is an indictment of a nation to which you have but lately given the franchise of a free people. Burke said that no man had ever been so clever as to draw an indictment against a whole nation, and with all my respect for the abilities of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, he has not succeeded whore others have failed. His indictment against Ireland in favour of permanent coercion law is an indictment by anecdote of special cases of crime. Very wisely he said that he would not rest his case on statistics, which the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) described as "mere unintelligible details." But let me recommend to the attention of the House, not a detailed statement of crime in Ireland, but a general plain account of it in the last published Report of the Judicial Statistics, issued on the authority of the Government. It is very short but very instructive. It will be found at page 15—The improvement as regards the most serious offences (those not determined summarily), noted in the Reports for the last five years, has been more than maintained, the number of offences coming under this category not amounting to 60 per cent of the corresponding number for the year ending 1881, since which year there has been an uninterrupted decline.This is not an "unintelligible detail," neither is it one to state that so far from Ireland being hopelessly lawless, that a single generation, from 1855 to 1885, has been sufficient to reduce the convicts in the prisons in Ireland by 80 per cent. These facts do not show a lawless population, and, certainly, the continuous progress in the lessening of crime for a whole generation, cannot be attributed to the sporadic action of the League. All this may be, and is true in regard to crime in Ireland, nevertheless it may be so rampant as compared with other parts of the United Kingdom that exceptional coercive laws may be justified for Ireland which would not be tolerated in Great Britain. I have beside me complete Returns of convicted crimes for the whole of the United Kingdom since 1871; but I will only state the relative position of crime in England, Scotland, and Ireland for 1885. In that year, which is a 911 fair sample of the whole—Ireland had 38 per cent less convicted crimes than England, and 47 per cent less than law-abiding Scotland. [An hon. MEMBER: Juries will not convict!] Of course, I expected that interruption. It is quite true that comparisons between Great Britain and Ireland are not conclusive, if, in the latter, there is a large amount of undetected crime or a small proportion of convictions to indictable offences. No doubt, there is much undetected crime in Ireland owing to two causes: the inefficiency of an armed Constabulary as a detective police, and the indisposition of the people to give information in regard to agrarian crime. The 1st clause of the Bill deals with the latter difficulty, and appears to me to be a useful addition to existing law. The difficulties of securing convictions from juries are certainly serious obstacles to the maintenance of law and order. Even in cases of revolting crimes, the juries have sometimes refused to convict. If this state of things existed to any large extent, I admit that there would be a strong argument for the amendment of the criminal law. But to what extent does this failure of justice occur? To a very trifling extent as compared with crime generally. In Great Britain, the convictions for indictable offences are 77 per cent; in Ireland they are 73 per cent. It is not many years since the convictions of Great Britain were only 68 per cent; but they have gradually risen, and, even now, Ireland only lags 4 per cent behind the highest point which we have attained in this country. There is nothing in this difference of a magnitude to justify Parliament to alter the whole jury system, and to deport criminals from Ireland to England. I have used the statistics of crime which the Chief Secretary for Ireland declined to use, and I contend that they give no support to his indictment, that Ireland is so permanently and hopelessly lawless that you are bound to pass permanent coercive laws. As it is impossible to quote the crime of Ireland as a whole in justification of any exceptional measures, the Government fall back on one single section of crime, and base their justification on agrarian outrages, the outcome of bad agrarian laws. The right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) even limited this charge, and said that he applied the ac- 912 cusation to only a few parts of Ireland, and he instanced the County of Kerry as a justification for the Bill. Kerry is unhappily a county with many agrarian outrages; but it affords no justification whatever for the Bill introduced early this year; because, in the half-year ending 31st December, 1886, there were 75 outrages; whereas in the half-year of 1885, when the Government thought coercion unnecessary, Kerry had 120 outrages, or nearly double the number. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary has a stronger case when he tells us that in the first quarter of this year, agrarian outrages all over Ireland showed a marked increase. That is a very unhappy outcome of the action of a resolute Government. The Liberal Government holding out the hand of conciliation to Ireland, left the Conservative Government with a rapidly declining calendar of agrarian outrage. In the last quarter of the year, there was not one case of murder or manslaughter; and of all kinds of agrarian outrages there were only 94 cases, excluding threatening letters. Now, the right hon. and learned Gentleman tells us that in a single quarter agrarian outrages have increased more than 80 per cent. If that be true, should it produce no misgivings in the mind of the Irish Government? Instead of a message of peace, you have sent one of defiance to Ireland by the measure of coercion, and the result is a very melancholy one; but it is not a justification for coercion. If the threat of coercion manufactures crime, it is far better to depend upon the conciliation which extinguishes it. The state of crime in Ireland is not, then, the justification, and perhaps not even the motive for this Bill. What is, then, the motive of the Government in introducing it? That was explained to us some nights since, in the clear language of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for England. As usual with the hon. and learned Member, his language is lucid and unmistakeable. I urge the House to listen to his explanation. He was speaking of the influences exercised by the National League, and proceeded to say—Those influences are using the undoubtedly real sufferings and troubles of the Irish people as an excuse for agitation, and as a weapon with which they may obtain their own ends; and it is with those influences that the Government are endeavouring to cope by means of this 913 Bill. [Cheers and counter cheers.] I am very glad that the definition of the issue which is raised "between us is accepted by both sides of the House.That, then, is the main motive of the Bill. The Government must accept this simple issue, because it was reiterated only yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sir Henry Holland) in equally clear language. He said—The Government announced clearly at the General Election that they felt it their duty to suppress the National League and to put an end to the existing state of disorganization in Ireland; so that, on the one hand, the present policy of the Government, and, on the other, the granting of Home Rule were plainly before the country, and the country decided against Home Rule …The object of this Bill and of the remedial measures of the Government was to convince the people of England that Ireland was not ungovernable without a separate Parliament and Executive.That is plain speaking, and we, on this side, accept the issue. At the last Election, we also told the constituencies that there was only one alternative to Home Rule, and that was coercion. The 6th and 7th clauses are the main object and purpose of this Bill to crush that national association which exists for the purpose of obtaining Home Rule for Ireland, and which you believe will conquer your policy unless you suppress it. The Bill means—"Home Rule, never—Coercion for ever." The Attorney General for Ireland wishes us to read "for ever" the words, "as long as it is necessary." That means, I presume, that if you succeed by coercion in stamping out the national aspirations of Ireland, coercion will be no longer necessary. The whole pith, purpose, and strength of the Bill rest in two clauses which deal with dangerous association, and in the 2nd clause, which attacks combination. The 6th clause certainly limits dangerous associations to those which have some taint of crime; but the next clause enables a high political officer—the Lord Lieutenant—to be the only judge whether an association interferes with the administration of law or the disturbance of order. No need to wait for the Proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant to tell us that the National League is a dangerous association aimed at by this clause, for the Secretary of State for the Colonies has told us that already. The Attorney General for Ireland told us that no names of assotions 914 were used, because they might change their names; and the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) yesterday gave us a definition of the object of this clause in saying, "That Irish politics had become corrupt, and that they must become purged of crime." That is all very well, when you really mean crime which a Court of Law and a jury declare to be crime; but that term is to be interpreted by a political Lord Lieutenant, an executive officer who creates and proclaims the crime as one which interferes with his administration of law. No political associations for Home Rule could exist under such a clause in Ireland. It all comes back to the two alternatives—Coercion or Home Rule. Though I believe that the repression of a political organization under the name of a dangerous association is the chief object of this Bill, there is another purpose also—the repression of combinations which, whether legal or illegal now, will be made illegal by the 2nd clause of the Bill. Combinations of tenants under any form to obtain reduction of rents could scarcely escape from the close meshes of this net. Such combinations have produced results which, in themselves, were not unreasonable, and which were in other cases attained by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) by a process which he defined, as taken by the Government, "in putting pressure upon the landlords within the law." The Plan of Campaign has been declared to be outside the law; but still the results obtained from it were reasonable and not oppressive, unless you choose to say that reductions of 15 to 20 per cent in rack-rents in these bad times are unreasonable and oppressive. What the tenants had to fight against by such combinations is well described by Mr. McCarthy, who acted in a judicial capacity under the Act of 1881, and who is one of the two Commissioners under Lord Ashbourne's Purchase Act of 1885. I quote two answers only from the evidence given by him before the Cowper Commission. In answer to Question 2,268, he says—Looking at the matter as a Judge administering the Land Act in Mayo, in Kerry, and in Clare, I found rack-renting to prevail to an extent that I confess was simply shocking;and, in a few questions afterwards, he 915 is asked, by Lord Milltown, in regard to the combinations promoted by the National League—But, generally speaking, you do not apprehend that there is any serious combination? Quite the contrary. So far as I can gather, the operations of the Act have been fairly facilitated by organizations on both sides. … Any interference that occurred appears to me to be reasonable and proper.And yet, with, such evidence as this, we are asked to give powers to a Government, supported by and under the influence of landlords, which may enable them to suppress ail combinations for the reduction of rents. I, for one, am not prepared to give the Government powers which would enable thorn to put the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) in prison, with six months' hard labour, for doing that by combination which the Government itself did against landlords through the pressure of its agents. How can you expect the ignorant tenants of Ireland to differentiate between the action of the Government in mitigating the injustice of a bad agrarian law, and the action of the hon. Member for East Mayo in effecting the same result? Do you think that the tenants of Ireland will love law more because you imprison men who are looked upon as their real benefactors? You denounce the Plan of Campaign as being both illegal and immoral, and I do not deny that it is illegal, and I think it could readily lapse into immorality. Though the Plan of Campaign in its results has hitherto caused little pressure upon landlords which could be deemed excessive, that has wholly depended upon the manner of working it. The Plan has been pronounced illegal, and in its very essence it contains, as I think, what scientificmen would call the potency of immorality. If by this Bill you prevent that combination from being headed by men of prudence and sagacity, it will go on in secret and dangerous courses, which will defy a much stronger Bill even than this to put down. Trade combinations, you say, are not stopped by this Bill; but I do not see how they could survive in open day under it. But secret combinations will continue, and the banding of tenants to exact their own conditions of rent, under no restraint of prudent leaders, will convert the potential energy of immorality involved in the Plan of Campaign into actual energy of 916 a very dangerous character. The Bill will, no doubt, cope with the Plan of Campaign; but it will simply do so by converting an open war into a secret irresponsible war against the Government. We have ample experience of the working of Coercion Acts. In the last 100 years there have been upwards of 130 Acts of this kind, 86 of them since the Union, and Ireland is not pacified. It does not require this long list of melancholy failures to convince us that laws which are not supported by the loyalty and consent of a people cannot command permanent obedience. Laws to be permanent and secure must rest upon a sense of right and justice. You do not claim these attributes for the agrarian laws of Ireland; because you toll us that your desire for this Coercion Bill is that you may be able to introduce new measures for making these laws more equitable and humane. Since 1845 we have been constantly endeavouring to amend these laws, and the unvarying result of our legislation has been either partial or complete failure. The cause of failure is that we attempt to legislate for Ireland according to English ideas, under a cloud of English ignorance in regard to Irish wants and Irish sentiment. Our measures are often framed in a spirit of conciliation and benevolence. Thus when the Irish were starving in the Potatoe Famine of 1846, we gave the starving tenants a right to relief from the poor rates. And what was the consequence of our benevolent ignorance? That 160,000 persons were evicted, and that the deaths in Irish workhouses alone, week for week, equalled the mortality of the whole of London. The memories of these evictions when so many owners of land renounced the duties attendant on possession, and disregarded the claims of humanity, cling to Ireland still, and are the cause of our present difficulties. Undeterred by our terrible failure, this House passed the Encumbered Estates Act, most wise and benevolent also in its purpose. But here again we forgot' to protect tenants' improvements, or rather we passed them over without any consideration to the new purchaser; and we took no steps to prevent increase of rent, and so our wise and benevolent Act aggravated the evils which it intended to remove. All our recent land legislation has suffered from our ignorance of Irish wants, 917 and from our refusal to be guided by the Representatives of the people. And now the Government which has introduced a new Land Bill into "another place" are between the devil and the deep sea. The landlords dislike it, and the tenants distrust it, even though you are following in part the advice which we, on this side, neglected, when the Irish Nationalists desired us to include leaseholders in our Land Bill, and when you are now trying to mitigate the cruelties of evictions which you denied altogether last autumn; yet all past experience points to your measure as another in the long list of failures. All the Unionist writers—Dr. Beaumont, Lecky, Froude, and even Dicey—agree on two points—first, that English legislation and English government have resulted in incessant failure as regards Ireland; and, secondly, that there has been long-continued misery among the Irish people governed by our laws. Still, the present Government believe that they can continue with success on the old weary treadmill. The Liberal Party have abandoned this belief, and are animated by convictions as earnest and conscientious as your own. They see in the Union, as it exists, no unity —I mean such unity as is described by Milton—In unity defective; which requiresCollateral love and dearest amity.It is in this belief that we support the Amendment against the Bill which we think will increase disorder in Ireland. We believe that true Union can only be attained by allowing the Irish to govern themselves under institutions suitable to their national aspirations, their habits— their prejudices if you will—but in close Union with Great Britain as an integral part of the Empire, so that we may aid them in the process of their development, and protect them in the hour of danger.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, there was nothing more remarkable than the greatness and the extent of the change which had taken place in the opinions of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on that subject, and the short time that had elapsed since they expressed views altogether at variance with those which they now entertained. How long ago was it when those whom right hon. 918 Gentlemen now called "leaders prudent and wise" were denounced by them as "rebels steeped to the lips in treason?" The issue before the House had been referred to by the last speaker. That issue was between the preservation of law and order, accompanied by an attempt to remedy the grievances which Ireland suffered under, and Home Rule. He denied that the issue was between coercion alone and Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair), who had just sat down, appeared to think that if a separate Parliament were granted to Ireland there would never be any further need for coercion; yet the right hon. Gentleman's own figures proved the futility of his argument, for he had shown that when Ireland did possess a Parliament of her own a number of Coercion Bills were passed. He utterly denied that the Home Rule scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) would in any way have put an end to the difficulties with which they had to contend now; on the contrary, he maintained it would have aggravated them tenfold. His own opinion was that the scheme itself would not be accepted even by the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, except as a step towards that separation and complete independence which their Leaders had again and again stated was the ultimate goal of all their aims. While it was quite possible that no Bill might have been rendered necessary under those circumstances directed against the policy of the Party led by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), one thing he (Mr. Ritchie) was very certain about—namely, that under it coercion would have had to be applied in a most drastic form, directed not against the law-breaking or disloyal people of Ireland, but against the law-abiding and the loyal. But however that might be, he was quite content to know that the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was put in all its entirety before the constituencies and by them rejected. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) demanded a further appeal to the constituencies on the ground that the alternative of coercion was not put before the constituencies at the last Election. He (Mr. Ritchie) had, how- 919 ever, a vivid recollection of seeing, in his own constituency at least, the bills of his opponent placarded about the walls of the place, in which it was prominently held up that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian desired to extend to Ireland the hand of peace instead of the chain of coercion. Still, if it were necessary now to appeal to the constituencies—which he did not at all anticipate it would be—ho should not have the slightest hesitation about it, and would have the greatest confidence that the result would be quite as good, so far as the Conservative Government was concerned, as it was at the last Election. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was quite sure of what the result of his appeal to the constituencies would be. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Never.] Did the right hon. Gentleman not tell the House of Commons, prior to the last General Election, in tones of the most magnificent eloquence, that the ebbing tide was with his opponents, and the flowing tide with him? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax said that the people would not back the policy of the Government; but his own conviction was that the only policy the constituencies would back would be a policy of firmness and determination in asserting the supremacy of law and order in Ireland. It would not back any policy which showed a weak and vacillating front to those who were endeavouring to make Ireland ungovernable. The policy of the Government, aiming as it did at the restoration of law and order, and the remedying of genuine grievances, was a policy of conciliation; it was in no sense a policy of coercion. [Cries of "Oh!" and laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen who laughed were past masters in the art of coercion. If it was coercion it was the coercion of the law-breaking, not of the law-abiding population. There had been a good deal of misrepresentation as to the scope of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) made a speech the other night in South London. For his (Mr. Ritchie's) part, he was one of the admirers of the right hon. Gen-man. He stood in an altogether different position from most of his Colleagues, and terms that might freely be applied to right hon. Gentlemen beside him would not be justifiable as applied to him. But 920 the right hon. Gentleman was hardly fair in some of his observations in South London as to the scope of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, speaking of 1819, quoted Tierney in the House of Commons as follows:—I see on the part of the Government an evident determination to resort to nothing but force, they think of nothing else; they dream of nothing else; they will try no means of conciliation, they will make no attempt to pacify and reconcile; force, force, force, and nothing hut force.Then the right hon. Gentleman said—I commend these words to you because they exactly describe the policy now about to be pursued in Ireland.The right hon. Gentleman did not tell his audience that those words did not apply to Ireland at all, and it might have been as well if he had done so, seeing that he was using an illustration of what occurred some years ago with reference to coercion.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that the audience the right hon. Gentleman was addressing was probable hardly capable of realizing what the exact reference was. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] At any rate, it was true that the words did not apply to Ireland; and at that time it was stated in the House of Commons that Ireland had never experienced a greater degree of tranquillity and, he might add, prosperity, than at that moment. Tierney's main objection when he was making that speech in reference to seditious meetings in England was, that the policy of the Government was simply a policy of coercion, unaccompanied by any attempt to remedy evils. He said—When the noble Lord mentioned that he should open a whole system, he had flattered himself that part of the system would be conciliation. It was now seen, however, that nothing but rigour and coercion were to he resorted to. … New laws were to be invented to put them down, and none of their grievances, whether real or imaginary, should receive a moment's attention. … Attention ought to be paid to this point—whether some course of conciliation might not he adopted, whether steps ought not to be taken to satisfy the people, and to prove that while the House was willing to repress sedition, it had a fixed determination to listen to their grievances, and, as far as possible, to apply a remedy.Tierney's whole objection to coercion, 921 therefore, was because it was unaccompanied by any attempt to remedy grievances. The right hon. Gentleman could not fairly and properly say that with reference to the Government's proposals. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) say, with reference to the Government's remedial legislation? He said, speaking of the Land Bill, that—It is a Bill that will make an unjust eviction impossible. It is the most generous offer that has yet been made by any Government, Tory or Liberal.But perhaps he could give an authority of more weight with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. Mr. O'Brien, the proprietor of United Ireland, said, with reference to the same Bill—If I were a landlord, I should look upon this Bill with greater terror than the tenants could possibly regard the Coercion Bill. It is a greater blow at the landlords than the Plan of Campaign.He (Mr. Ritchie) did not at all endorse that view, but it was a very striking remark for a gentleman of the political opinions of Mr. O'Brien to make, and showed that he, at any rate, regarded it as a very large been to the tenants. He knew quite well that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite did not want remedial legislation. They did not want to have grievances removed. They wanted Home Rule. Ireland peaceful and contented under an Imperial Parliament was the last thing they wanted. They wanted—and he was sorry that they were supported by right hon. Gentlemen opposite—it to be said that Ireland was ungovernable by an English Parliament. The greatest misfortune that could befall them would be that the present Government should show that they could so legislate as to put an end to the grievances of the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had alluded to trade unions. There was nothing the working men were more sensitive about than their trades unions, and trades unionism did a great deal for this country. The interest of their unions were very dear to the hearts of working men, and the right hon. Gentleman could not have touched on a point that more closely affected working men. That ought to have made the right hon. Gentleman extremely careful in what he said. The 922 right hon. Gentleman alluded to trade unionism in the following terms—Depend upon it that though the Bill says that no provision in it is to affect the freedom of trade unions, or any trade union in operation, the Bill will exceedingly affect the principles of trade unionism. And I say, how would you like to have, legislation of that kind applied in London? If this Bill were extended to the Metropolis it would be in the power of somebody corresponding to the Lord Lieutenant —(A voice, 'The Lord Mayor.')—The Lord Mayor, think of that, gentlemen, think of the Lord Mayor having it in his power to suppress a trade union and to declare it an illegal combination, because he thought it fatal to law and order and to the maintenance of the administration. (A voice.—' Let them try it on.') But they will not try it.If he were a working man he should regard this analogy between the combinations against which this Bill was directed and trade unionism, as one of the greatest of insults that could be offered to him. A trade union was placed upon a legal basis. [An hon. MEMBER: Since when?] Since when, and by whom? It was placed upon that basis by Mr. (now Lord) Cross in 1875. There was nothing the working classes were more grateful for than for their unions being placed on a firm and sound basis. Trades unions were for strictly legal purposes, and to compare these legal organizations for trade purposes to the illegal combinations against which this Bill was directed, was a gross insult to the trades unions of the country. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to point to the clauses of the Bill that would affect trades unions. The right hon. Gentleman knew there was not a single one. But over and above that, it did not lie within the unrestricted power of the Lord Lieutenant to proclaim a dangerous association, even if it fell under one of the categories named in the Bill. If he thought that an association came within that term and proclaimed it, the Proclamation must be at once laid on the Table of the House, and if Parliament was not sitting it must be summoned for the purpose of considering it. If Parliament refused to assent to it, of course the Proclamation would lapse and the power cease to exist. He maintained, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman did not exhibit his usual fairness when he appealed to a working class audience in South London, and aroused their passions against the Bill by making a comparison between, and 923 saying that these dangerous associations and trades unions might be treated in the same way. There was no shadow of foundation for such a statement. Another statement made by the right hon. Gentleman was as follows:—We say to them that Ireland has never been for many years more free from crime than today. 'Oh! but,' they say, 'there is a terrible latent malady.' It is as though a doctor should visit somebody, and the patient should say to him, 'Well, my temperature is perfectly normal, my pulse is regular, my appetite is excellent, and I sleep perfectly'; and the doctor should reply, 'Ah! but you have a deep-rooted latent malady, and I insist upon your taking my drug.'It might be true, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said, "wherever, in 1881 agitation went, want and crime dogged the footsteps of the League," and that "it is not so now." Well, it was quite true that when the hon. Member for East Galway (Mr. Harris) visited Ireland and addressed meetings of Irish tenant farmers now, he did not leave behind him the bloody trail which once followed in his footsteps. Formerly, the hon. Member said—If the tenant farmers of Ireland shot down the landlords like partridges in September Matt Harris would never say a word against them.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he rose to Order. He wished to ask the Speaker whether the right hon. Gentleman was in Order in attributing to a Member of the House that '' he left a bloody trail behind him."
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he understood that the right hon. Gentleman was quoting some expression which was used by the hon. Member for East Galway.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that that was so; at the moment of the interruption he was quoting the hon. Member for East Galway's own words. The hon. Member for West Cavan (Mr. Biggar) no longer told the tenantry of Ireland that "the Land League does not recommend the shooting of landlords for a great variety of reasons." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian told them that Ireland was so free from crime in consequence of the alliance between the hon. Member for Cork and his Party and the Liberal Party. The right hon. Member for Halifax said on Tuesday that he was proud of that alliance. He was bound to say he saw very little 924 to be proud of in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and those who followed him, surrendering their opinions and throwing themselves into the arms of the hon. Member for Cork and his Followers. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and his Followers were now prepared to call patriots those whom they had regarded as being little less than rebels. Was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle's account of the state of Ireland justified, and had Ireland never been more free from crime for many years than to-day? Was the temperature of Ireland normal? The Government had never denied that as far as ordinary crime was concerned Ireland had a record of which she had every reason to be proud. But what were the facts with reference to agrarian crime? Yesterday a Return was presented which was moved for by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle himself. It showed that in Connaught in 1886 the amount of agrarian crime was 50 per cent greater than in 1883, 100 per cent greater than in 1884, and 50 per cent greater than in 1885; while in Munster it was 50 per cent greater than in 1883, 50 per cent greater than in 1884, and 20 per cent greater than in 1885. No doubt threatening letters were included in these Returns; but, looking to the fact that there had been a constant decline in the number of threatening letters, the result followed that the excess of aggravated agrarian crime in 1886 over the years he had quoted was not sufficiently stated by the figures he had given. It was not, however, the mere increase of outrages on which the Government based their Bill. There had been an absolute breakdown of the machinery of law and order in Ireland. The law of the land had been supplanted by the law of the National League. The League tried and punished those who offended against their law—by paying their rents, by giving evidence for the Crown, by being on a jury which convicted a prisoner, or by refusing to join the League—those were the "criminals" whom the League punished. The punishment was Boycotting, and very few people in this country could at all realize what the life of a Boycotted individual was. After the illustrations given by his hon. Friend who had spoken earlier in the evening, some idea might be 925 formed, of the position of such persons. Again and again resolutions of local branches of the League were published, stating that those who did not join the League would have their names placarded all over the district. The object of such notices was very plain; the persons whose names were published would be Boycotted; they were deprived of earning their bread; if they had money they were deprived of the opportunity of buying bread; their children could not go to school, and they were not spoken to by former associates. Such sentences as those inflicted by the Land League under the name of Boycotting were absolutely intolerable, and almost impossible to realize. It was that kind of thing, and not outrage altogether, that paralyzed the law. It was the supremacy of the Land League that the Bill of the Government was levelled at, and they were determined, if possible, to alter the existing state of things. Another argument against the Bill was one which was used the other day by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. He said—Is it your intention to invite Parliament deliberately and systematically, under a representative system and in a free country, to govern Ireland in defiance of the sentiments of the vast majority of those whom she sends to represent her?The Government recognized the enormous difficulty which lay in their path in consequence of the alliance of a number of English and Scotch Liberals with the Party of disorder; but the Government were not dismayed. The Opposition could be weighed as well as counted; and he would like to know how many of those 170 English and Scotch Members who were now following the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, would not have cheerfully followed him if he proposed legislating in an exactly opposite direction to that he now favoured. The right hon. Member for Halifax said there was no reason why the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian should not see the error of his ways, and then he added plaintively— "But it does not follow that we did not see it too." Of course, he would have been ready to see anything the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian pointed out to him. The House would remember a well-known passage between Hamlet and Polonius, which seemed, not 926 inaptly, to illustrate the situation he had referred to—Hamlet.—Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in shape of a camel?Polonius.—By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.Hamlet.—Methinks, it is like a weasel.Polonius.—It is backed like a weasel.Hamlet.—Or, like a whale?Polonius.—Very like a whale.That seemed to him to be the position of the great majority of the 170 right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who were prepared to follow the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian—they were prepared to see anything which the right hon. Gentleman showed them. One matter ought to be considered in connection with the change in the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman and his Followers. Under what circumstances did it take place? In 1886 the right hon. Gentleman did not see anything wrong in proposing measures in defiance of the opinions of the vast majority of the Representatives of the Irish people, because he told the House that he had prepared a Bill re-enacting the principal clauses of the Coercion Bill which was about to expire when he left Office. At that time the franchise was extended to Ireland, and it was perfectly well known that the hon. Member for Cork would at the next General Election have at least 80 followers. Yet those clauses were to be re-enacted—In defiance of the sentiments of the vast majority of those whom Ireland sends to represent her, in defiance of her representative system.Not only did the Liberals propose to re-enact those clauses, but they denounced the Conservative Government for not doing so. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian did not have very much respect at one time for the Representatives who came from Ireland, or for the opinions they expressed, for at Leeds on October 7, 1881, he said—Mr. Parnell's doctrines are not such as really need any considerable ability to recommend thorn. If you go forth upon a mission to demoralize a people by teaching them to make the property of their neighbours the objects of their covetous desire, it does not require superhuman gifts to find a certain number of followers and adherents for a doctrine such as that.What was true of the followers of the hon. Member for Cork in 1881 was equally true of them now, for the doctrine preached by the hon. Member for 927 Cork in 1881 was precisely the same as he had preached ever since. Again, in 1885, the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian appealed to the people of England and Scotland to give him such a majority as would enable him to set at nought the views of the Irish majority, which he then knew would be eight-tenths of the Irish Representatives. They had further warning as to what was likely to happen if a preponderating number of Irish Members were to be returned to Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), speaking at Lowestoft on December 7, 1885, said—The Tories had won a few boroughs by the help of their Fenian allies in Lancashire.Mark the word "Fenians" before the General Election, afterwards it was "patriots"—What would be the future course of public affairs? It was possible that if the Tories got every Parnellite vote in every division they might have a majority of something under a dozen. But was the country likely to tolerate such a combination as that? It was utterly impossible that it could do so. For his part, he desired that for a few months the Tories should stew in their Parnellite juice until they stunk in the nostrils of the country. Upon this combination the Tories still counted to enable them to remain a few months in Office, but even if they did continue in Office, their Government would not be the Government of Lord Salisbury, but the Government of Mr. Parnell. The Tories would have to consult Mr. Parnell upon every question of administration at home and abroad; they would have to ask him what was to he done in Ireland—for the Executive Government of Ireland was now, in fact, in the hands of Mr. Parnell. It was upon such lines as these that Lord Salisbury was going to conduct the affairs of the British Empire; but it was impossible that such a course could long receive the approval of the British people.If they now used the word Liberal instead of Tory, and Gladstone instead of Salisbury, they would have an exact description of the position. The Liberal Opposition was absolutely and entirely in the hands of hon. Members below the Gangway. When anything had to be done they had to consult the hon. Member for Cork. It was very easy to see how it was that "rebels" before the Election became "patriots" after it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian bad ceased to be Prime Minister. Now the Followers of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had to pay the penalty of their alliance with the hon. Member for Cork. With the 928 facts staring them in the face, what weight should they give to the change of opinion on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and of hon. Members opposite who followed him? It was not a change from conviction; they had not arrived by slow and painful argument to the conclusion they had. They had been brought to that conclusion simply and solely because they knew that without the help of hon. Members below the Gangway, whom they at one time denounced as "traitors," and now called "patriots," it was impossible for them to hope to again wield the reins of power. Under those circumstances they were quite justified in putting aside, for the purposes of argument, their change of opinion. This question, after all, was a question between Home Rule and the maintenance of the Union. The Party headed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian desired to prove that the government of Ireland by the Imperial Parliament was impossible, and their main object was to attempt by all means in their power to frustrate the legislation which the Government were proposing for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite who followed him had had the opportunity of endeavouring to persuade the English people that Home Rule, as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, was the true remedy for the grievances of Ireland; and, notwithstanding the commanding eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman, they had ignominiously failed to persuade the country of any such thing. As they had failed with the country, so they would fail with Parliament. The Government believed that the legislation which they had proposed would be approved of by Parliament, and that by this measure, coupled with the remedial legislation which would enable the tenants to accept the been which was offered them, they were, if they had fair play, far more likely to restore peace and prosperity to Ireland than by the scheme which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian proposed. That was the firm and deliberate opinion of the Government. The opinion of the constituencies at the last Election was the same. The Government, therefore, determined at all costs and at all hazards to persevere with their proposal, and to carry out the 929 mandate which the constituencies gave them. For the first time in the history of England the Government of the day were opposed by the Opposition in their endeavours to restore law and order. If they were not supported by hon. Members opposite in their endeavours to restore law and order they were glad to think that they were supported by some of the most honoured names amongst the former Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian —men who once owed allegiance to the Liberal Party. With their help, and with public approval, the Government were determined to press forward their legislation, firmly believing as they did that in the path which they had made for themselves lay the surest hope of restoring to Ireland once more the blessings of peace, happiness, and prosperity. MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.) said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Ritchie) charged the Irish Members with having declared themselves in favour of separation. The Irish Members had, again and again in that House, declared the opposite. They had done the same in Ireland; and when the right hon. Gentleman brought forward charges like that he should have some proof. The right hon. Gentleman also charged the Irish Members with not desiring remedial legislation for Ireland. That charge came very badly from the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Clancy) would point out that within the last 10 years about 100 Bills had been introduced of a remedial character for Ireland, and every one had been kicked out, largely by the help of the right hon. Gentleman and Gentlemen who sat behind him. The right hon. Gentleman had further stated that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was in the hands of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). He (Mr. Clancy) did not think that that was the case. He believed that in the action which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had taken there was something more than a desire to conciliate the Irish Party, and Irish Members were inclined to credit the right hon. Gentleman with the higher aim of endeavouring at last to do real justice to Ireland. It seemed to be the idea of hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches that it was a disgraceful thing 930 to consult the views of the Constitutional Representatives of Ireland. They seemed to think that it was wrong for a Government to take into consideration the views of five-sixths of the Representatives of Ireland. Such a view of the matter might be a good Tory view, but it was not a view that ought to be countenanced by a Constitutional House of Commons. He was sorry the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) had thought fit to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for East Galway (Mr. Harris), which had been quoted so often in that House. The expression about partridges used by the hon. Member was withdrawn by him the very day he made it; and, in consequence of that withdrawal not having been reported in the papers, he deliberately went on the following Sunday to another Land League meeting for the purpose of repeating that withdrawal. The right hon. Gentleman had access to the official reports of all these speeches, and he must have known of this withdrawal, and should, therefore, have quoted it when he quoted the hon. Member's speech. The Government had been very unfortunate in their selection of defenders of their measure. Those defenders of the Bill were, for the most part, convicted rack-renters, like the newly-appointed Under Secretary (Colonel King-Harman), or the sons of absentee landlords, like the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Brodrick). Another defender of the Bill was an hon. Member for some part of Scotland who had been kicked out of Ireland. Then they had the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), who would be known to posterity as the author of the "no name series of letters." Then they had the noble Lord the Member for the Baling Division of Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), whose speech was chiefly a family history, and a defence of the relations between his brother the Duke of Abercorn and his tenants. Next they had the hon. Member for North Derry (Mr. Mulholland), whose father was an Irish landlord who had been in the Land Court with his tenants, and the latter, having got large reductions, were compelled, before getting the benefit of the Land Act, to pay up the hanging gale, which had never been demanded for 100 years. The right hon. and learned 931 Gentleman the Home Secretary also spoke in defence of the Bill, the right hon. and learned Gentleman being an ardent Home Ruler and a contributor to the Home Rule funds until he failed to get an Irish seat. The hon. Member for Mid Leicestershire (Mr. De Lisle) also supported the Bill and attacked the Irish priests, and he (Mr. Clancy) was glad to find that this attack had not been made by a Protestant, but by a so-called Catholic. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary told them that crime in Ireland had increased. According to the statistics, it had increased by a small proportion over that committed the year Before; but he (Mr. Clancy) would call attention to the fact that they had now no means of testing whether the crimes included in the statistics were real or bogus crimes. For his own part, he firmly believed that a great many of the crimes reported by the Constabulary had never taken place at all; and in this connection he would point to the fact that only a few weeks ago a series of incendiary fires which took place in the county of Limerick, and which, no doubt, figured in the Returns of the past quarter, were afterwards proved to have been the act of a lunatic. He had no confidence in an Administration which denounced crime in the South of Ireland and winked at it in the North. Under the provisions of the Coercion Act of 1883 they had hanged at one Assizes at Maryborough 40 people. At the General Election of 1885 the Nationalist vote in the Queen's County amounted to 7,699, and the anti-Nationalist vote to 800. That was the way they had burned into the hearts of the Irish people a hatred of their rule, and he trusted that that hatred would never die out until the curse of Castle rule was driven from Ireland. For the quarter ending in September, 1885, when coercion was pronounced to be unnecessary, the crimes in Ireland amounted to 269; and in the quarter ending in September, 1886, they were only about 49, threatening letters included. During the whole time that the Plan of Campaign was in operation crime had decreased from 306 down to 165. Then they were told that a Coercion Bill was only directed against criminals; but if they looked at the history of coercion in Ireland, he thought that they would see that it had been used for the purpose of putting honest men 932 who were political opponents of the Government into prison. So much was this the ease that if one had not been imprisoned in Ireland, it was difficult to persuade the people there that one was an honest man, and he had himself apologized to his constituents by assuring them that it was not his own fault. They had put these Coercion Acts into force, and they had, in doing so, perpetrated thousands of crimes against human liberty. The statements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the statistics of crime in Ireland were as dark and mysterious as those issued by the Cork Defence Union. Such of them as Irish Nationalist Members had been able to investigate had been proved to be utterly baseless. These inventions were numerous; but they were the only things the Government could rely upon in the debate, and he would ask, was it on inventions of that kind the Government were to take away every vestige of liberty from the Irish people? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for England, the Solicitor General for England, and the Solicitor General for Scotland all rested their case mainly on the declarations of the majority of the Cowper Commission upon the subjects of Boycotting, intimidation, and crime; but he would like to know whether it was fair or just to take the recommendations of that body as evidence against the Irish Nationalist Party? Who were the Members of that Commission? Why, Lord Cowper, the head of the Commission, was himself a shameless partizan. He was the author of the idiotic phrase about "driving discontent under the surface in Ireland," and he gloried in his connection with the landlord rack-rent Party in Ireland. In his examination of the witnesses, he had put leading questions to them inviting the answers which he received; and on one occasion he suggested to Mr. M'Murrough Kavanagh, the head of the I.L.P.U., that certain statements should be circulated in leaflets throughout the land. Lord Cowper was not impartial; on the contrary, he was a gross partizan, and was no more to be trusted than the Irish landlords were. Then there was Lord Milltown. No one pretended that he was an impartial man. He was an avowed partizan of the 933 landlords, and yet his statements were quoted as conclusive evidence against the people of Ireland on questions which affected his own class and even himself. Then there was Sir James Caird, who wrote a famous letter to The Times. In that letter he made a remarkable statement; and when it had served the purpose of defeating the Government of the day on the question of Home rule, he immediately wrote another letter withdrawing the statement. He (Mr. Clancy) and his hon. Friends did not regard Sir James Caird as an impartial witness. As for Mr. Neligan, he was what was known in Ireland as a "shoneen," and belonged to the most worthless and most vicious class with which any country was ever cursed. They denied that this packed Commission should be quoted as evidence against them. The only man who could be said to have in any degree represented the Nationalist Party was Mr. Knipe, and he had disagreed with the recommendations of the Commission. With reference to the power contained in the Bill as to the change of venue for the trial of Irish prisoners in England, he would point out that the memory of Archbishop Plunket, of Armagh, who was tried in England on a charge which was now universally admitted to be false and absurd, and hanged and disembowelled at Tyburn, still lived in Ireland, and was one of those things which always made Irishmen hostile to British rule. At whose bidding were they going to pass this Bill, and who were calling out for measures of coercion in the sacred name of law and order? No other than the landlord Party in Ireland—a faction that was responsible for the extermination of 2,000,000 of the Irish people during the last 40 years—a faction that had filled the streets of America and other cities with thousands of the once virtuous daughters of Irish peasants, and a faction that had, by its inhuman cruelty, in the past, led thousands of men to the gallows. There was, however, one gleam of encouragement and consolation connected with the Bill, and it was in the fact that it was proposed by the Tories and renegade Liberals. They saw in that fact a fresh proof that the aristocratic classes, whatever side in politics they belonged to, were united now, as they had ever been, 934 in obstructing the path of reform and in denying the people's rights. There was also another element of consolation. If the Bill were passed, the Irish National cause would survive it; and long after that hoarse reviler of Ireland, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his Colleagues had ceased to pour forth their invectives against the Irish nation, the Irish people, by the aid, he believed, of the great majority of the British people, would be in the firm and quiet enjoyment of those rights and liberties which they would now fain deny them.
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
said, the hon. Member who had last spoken (Mr. Clancy) told them the Irish people hated their laws; but he had not made clear the grounds on which he opposed this Bill. It was an abuse of language for hon. Members opposite to describe this Bill as "cruel" and "infamous." It was a measure, not to suppress the Irish people, but to suppress crime; in fact, it was a Bill for the protection of the liberties of the Irish people. It was of the very essence of government that the people should agree to submit to the laws. He admitted there had always been a great jealousy as to the Government which might be established; but a Government which could not put down crime would deservedly sink under the ridicule it would certainly evoke. He had been interested in listening to the valuable criticism on the details of the Bill with which the hon. and learned Member for Carlisle (Mr. Gully) favoured the House yesterday; but they had now to deal, not with details, but with principles. He thought it necessary to increase the powers of the Government, which were found to be insufficient; and though he intended to support the Government in voting for the second reading of the Bill, he yielded to no hon. Member in his earnest desire to see that the powers granted to the Government were properly guarded, so that they should not be misused; and when in Committee this point would deserve and receive duo attention. A great deal had been said against the investigation clauses, which provided that an investigation might be held to inquire into the circumstances of any offence, though no one was charged with the offence. Well, Ireland was one of those rare countries in which preliminary investigations did not exist. 935 That method of procedure did however exist, and had long done so, in Scotland but it was said that there the officer who had to carry out the investigation was a skilled law officer. It was so; and might not that become the case in Ireland? It was to be found in every country on the Continent. Even in England such a thing was known, for in every case where a murder had taken place such an investigation at present took place whenever a Coroner's inquest was held. Then, as to the provisions of the Bill dealing by summary jurisdiction with certain minor offences, these, he thought, formed its great merit, as it would have the effect, in most cases, of preventing the commission of larger offences. It was far better that persons charged with riotous proceedings at evictions and other minor offences should be dealt with summarily, instead of being sent for trial after a long interval to the Assizes, and before juries. The objection was raised that the Resident Magistrates invested with these summary powers were not lawyers. That was a point which could be settled in Committee, and any hon. Member could bring forward an Amendment providing that those powers should only be conferred on magistrates who were lawyers. The Resident Magistrates were the proper persons, in his opinion, to exercise this power, especially as it must always be borne in mind that Irish criminals had an advantage even in this, for there was aright of appeal in the case of these summary convictions to the Quarter Sessions, presided over by a trained lawyer. Objection was taken to the changes which were made in the system of trial by jury. He had the highest reverence for trial by jury, and was desirous that the system should not be abolished as had been said; but in a district where crimes were committed, where persons would not give evidence to assist in the vindication of the law, where the law was hated and regarded as an enemy, it would be absurd to empanel a jury consisting of men who were in some cases privy to the very crimes they had to investigate. At any rate, it was absolutely necessary, if trial by jury was to be maintained in Ireland, that there should be power of removing a trial from a disturbed to an undisturbed district, where a jury would be free to conscientiously dis- 936 charge their duty. With regard to the change of venue, it was not to be applied all over Ireland. That fact, however, seemed to have been lost sight of. A change of venue in Ireland only was not sufficient; that was why the venue was to be changed to England. And that change of venue was only to be effected with the permission of such responsible persons as the Attorney General for England and the Attorney General for Ireland. Would hon. Members deny that that safeguard was not an efficient one? He understood, however, that the clause giving power to remove a trial from Ireland to England was intended merely as a power in reserve, to be used if necessary, and that, if the object in view could be secured by simply changing the venue in Ireland, it would not be resorted to. He believed, for his own part, that the clause would prove to be unnecessary, and would become a dead letter; and without in any degree affecting the sufficiency of the Bill for the purpose of re-establishing law and order in Ireland, he should not object to its being struck out of the Bill, because he believed the investigation clauses, the summary jurisdiction clauses, and the clauses for the change of venue in Ireland would be amply sufficient for the purposes of the Bill. As to the clauses dealing with dangerous associations, he would suggest to the Government—and the suggestion could be dealt with in Committee—that the clause should be either dropped altogether, or should be put in force simply where the Lord Lieutenant, on his own authority, issued a Proclamation to that effect, so as to avoid the necessity for coming to Parliament for approval of the proceeding. He would direct the attention of the Government to the danger that every Proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant might be made the subject of a Motion for Urgency in Parliament, and might thus lead to a renewed waste of public time. It had been said that no case had been made out for this Bill, but he held a contrary opinion. In 1882 the Irish Members said that no case was made out for the Coercion Bill then introduced. But that did not apply to hon. Members above the Gangway opposite. They were bound to admit, as the Conservative Party admitted, that there was a case. That case lasted down to 1885, when a 937 General Election was pending, and it was not convenient for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) to introduce a renewal of the Crimes Act of 1882, for the "old Parliamentary hand" desired to keep well in with the Irish vote. Notwithstanding, what did his Cabinet resolve? In a correspondence which the right hon. Gentleman had with the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), he stated that his Government had resolved to abandon all the clauses of the previous Coercion Act except those which related to change of venue, special juries, and Boycotting, and those very provisions formed the substance of the Bill now before the House. The Government had honestly attempted to govern Ireland by means of the ordinary law. They had done their best; but they had found themselves utterly incapable to so govern or cope with a power and organization that existed to counteract them, and they now claimed the special powers that had been granted to their Predecessors in government. It was for Gentlemen opposite to show that such special powers were not necessary. The onus probandi lay upon them, and that made an important difference in considering the case. Yet, he would ask, why was this Bill called extraordinary law, if, as was said by hon. Members opposite, Coercion Bills for Ireland had been passed, on an average, once a-year since the Union? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian objected to the statements of the Judges which had been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), on the ground that they were extra-judicial; but if a Judge had dealt with the general state of the country, on any particular case which came before him, the right hon. Gentleman would have said that it was most unfair to prejudice the case of the prisoner in that way, and the Judge would have been open to the severest reprobation. Another right hon. Gentleman said that it was not usual for a Judge to go outside the calendar. But anyone who had to do with Assizes must know that Judges were accustomed, and that it was their duty, to refer to the state of the country, and make observations on the subject. The hon. Member for Cork 938 (Mr. Parnell) had said that the charges of Judges in certain districts were given, while the charges of Judges in other districts were not. But the object of the Chief Secretary for Ireland was to prove that certain districts were disturbed, and to have gone out of his way to quote charges which had no bearing on the subject would have been illogical. It had been urged by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and his right hon. Friend had produced evidence of the most convincing character, based upon official statistics, which proved that nine-tenths of the agrarian crimes committed in 1885 remained undetected, and were not oven brought under investigation; but those figures were either disregarded or treated with contempt by hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House. Irish Members had affirmed that the ordinary crime of Ireland was less than that of England; but a comparison of the judicial statistics of the two countries, which he (Mr. Ambrose) had made, showed that the aggregates of the indictable offences and of offences that could be summarily dealt with amounted to 469.7 per 10,000 of the population of Ireland and only 268.79 per 10,000 of the population of England, so that the ordinary crime of Ireland was much greater than that of England, although England was under the disadvantage that its large towns afforded a protection for criminals which was not to be found in the agricultural districts of Ireland. That, he contended, proved the necessity for the measure the Government sought to introduce. He further said that whatever number of cases of crime were cited on behalf of the Government, whether 10 or 10,000 hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite should have put into their hands evidence, from some source or another, to show that they were exploded cases, the statistics of crime which had been put forward were, he held, of an important character, and fully justified the Bill. It seemed to be generally admitted that juries in Ireland would not convict; and, surely, it could not be denied, after the acquittal of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) by a Dublin jury, in spite of his avowed adhesion to the Plan of Campaign and the declaration by the highest authority that it was an illegal conspiracy. The explanation was that the Government of the Queen had been de- 939 posed by the de facto Government of the League, and it was claimed that the de facto Government should be converted into the Government de jure. It was a miserable subterfuge to compare the National League with the Primrose League; for the Primrose League did not back up its decrees by murder, and nobody ever said that crime dogged its footstep?, or that it aimed at illegal objects, or at lawful objects by illegal means. [Laughter.] He challenged anyone to produce a single piece of evidence in support of the charges made against the Primrose League. If coercion had sometimes been a failure, it was because, according to the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, it had been inadequate, and because, according to the right hon. Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), it had been fitful and not continuous. The hon. and learned Gentleman the late Attorney General (Sir Charles Russell) was surprised that anyone should reproduce what he called the exploded libel about the Kilmainham Treaty. They were told that they had no mandate to support coercion; but hon. Members opposite would admit that the mandate was to maintain the Union and the authority of Parliament, and that necessarily implied that no rival should be allowed to set itself up in opposition to the Imperial Parliament. It was said again that they ought not to pass this measure against the will of 86 Representatives of the Irish people; but, while the just claims of landlords could not be carried out, if tradesmen could not employ whom they liked, if there was a system of terrorism going on, and the National League was the de facto Government of Ireland, he refused to accept the 86 Nationalist Members as representing the voice of Ireland. The proposition that the majority of a district forming part of the United Kingdom was to govern against the majority of the whole of the Empire was untenable and unsound. They heard a great deal said about impossible rents; but, for his part, he had never seen or heard any evidence that any rents in Ireland were impossible. The Cowper Commission, certainly, had not proved that such was the case. On the contrary, the fact was that rents appeared to be impossible as regarded payment, merely because the National League had made them so. The Cowper Commission had nowhere 940 reported that rents were excessive or exorbitant; it was true that they had said that there had been a fall in the price of agricultural produce, and recommended an earlier revision of rents; but, in so doing, they were dealing rather with the inability of the tenant to pay. The tenant right of holdings in Ireland was selling at 20 and 22 years' purchase, and he thought that no tenant farmer in England would be said to be rack-rented if such were the state of things in his case. After all, they came back to the principal question in this matter before the House, which was whether the mandate which they had received from the constituencies last year should be carried out? Hon. Members opposite contended that that was merely the issue of whether there should be coercion or not; but the real question was the same, whether or not the Union of Great Britain and Ireland was to be maintained?—and as to that there could be no doubt as to what the answer of Parliament would be.
DR. FAEQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
said, that, not being a trained lawyer, and not possessing the inestimable advantage of a legal mind, he would not venture to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Harrow(Mr. Ambrose), who had just sat down, throughout his discursive and somewhat lengthy speech. He would just remark that the hon. and learned Gentleman had pronounced the most emphatic condemnation of the Bill he had yet heard, because he deliberately proposed to cut out two, if not three, of the clauses of the Bill. In fact, after the vigorous operation of the pruning knife by the hon. and learned Gentleman, little of the Bill would be left. In making a few remarks on the question before the House, he (Dr. Farquharson) did not pretend to any consistency. It was years ago since he had his attack of coercion. He had it when his political constitution was in a young and tender state. He was exposed to strong infection, and he caught the attack; but the attack of coercion on him was like the attack of small-pox or scarlet fever on other people—he was not likely to have a second attack. He had since come under infection of another kind. He did not, as he said, pretend to consistency. Consistency was sometimes mischievous. The conditions of the human mind changed and circumstances changed. They had to consider 941 the teachings of history and experience, and go with the times. He did not think that those who were now eating cheap bread would find much fault with the inconsistency of Sir Robert Peel, or that many hon. Gentlemen opposite would find fault with Lord Beaconsfield's famous "leap in the dark, "which had led to Tory democracy. He (Dr. Farquharson) supported coercion in 1881 and 1882 for reasons which he thought good at the time. There was an elaborate Blue Book of statistical evidence, and they had a powerful speech introducing the measures, and at the time he considered that a good case was made out. He was bound to confess now, with a certain amount of shame, that he often voted blindly on account of what he considered to be the irritating conduct of the Irish Members. But nations struggling against oppression were apt to be irritated. Champions of human progress were often provoked into personalities. He had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) and Mr. Cobden, when they were advocating the repeal of the Corn Laws, were sometimes provoked to personalities, and that in the great discussions on the Reform Bills there were irritating speeches. Looking back upon the old debates, he was now convinced that the Irish were perfectly right in their obstruction, and that he was frequently wrong. Besides, they were told in 1881 that they were to have a Land Act passed shortly afterwards which was to settle the Irish difficulty, and bring back peace and prosperity to the country; and therefore he was the more induced then to vote for coercion. But what had been the result of all the Coercion Acts? There had, no doubt, been a certain temporary advantage. There was an outward show of restored law and order, and no doubt the Land Act had been of great value to the Irish farmers; but there was nothing solid or permanent. Wore we any nearer the solution of this great question? Did the Irish love us or respect our rule more than they did before? Was it not a sad, a mournful, and a humiliating position for the Government to come again, and, amid the protests of the Irish Members and the jeers of foreign nations, invite the House to pass an 87th Coercion Act for a nation which had enjoyed the benefits of our rule for 942 the same number of years? A great many things had happened since the first coercive measure. The irritation of the Irish against coercion was now expressed by the vast majority of the Constitutionally-elected Representatives of the country. The Land Question had become acute. The moderate Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had been rejected, and, most important of all, the question of Home Rule had now entered the domain of practical politics. A definite scheme had been offered to and accepted by the Irish people, so that they were now able to study this question in a business-like and practical form. He remembered in 1880, when he first stood for Parliament, a "heckler" asked him—"Are you in favour of Home Rule?" His reply was that he should be very happy to answer the question if his friend would tell him what he meant by Home Rule. That was his position in 1880. There was then no practical proposal before the country. He did not know then what Home Rule meant, and was not able to study the Irish Question in the practical way he could now study it. He objected to the present coercive measure on account of the failure of the old plan, and on account of the opportunity which had been given him to study the Irish Question through the medium of Home Rule. An education had been given him— largely by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Coming to the Bill itself, he said that the original case was admittedly weak, because everyone who had followed the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), and especially the lawyers, had dwelt with an iteration which was sometimes wearisome upon the points on which the right hon. Gentleman himself laid little stress—namely, upon the statistics of crime. A good many of those who might have been expected to support the Bill had been horrified by its look. Those who wore to be its god-fathers started away in horror; and he was glad to see that the most eminent of its intended godfathers, Sir George Trevelyan, had thrown a bombshell into the Conservative and Unionist camp in Aberdeen, and had declined to have anything whatever to do with the Bill. In fact, the disaffection had become so acute and alarming that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies 943 (Sir Henry Holland) was put up yesterday to rally the forces by the announcement that by this Bill the Government meant to stand or fall. They had heard a good many excuses for the Bill. They were told that it was only a little one. That was an excuse which had been made before; but it was not the opinion of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). Then they wore told that it was to restore law and order. Really, they were hearing so much about law and order that one almost hated the term. It was the parrot cry of every dinner table and club smoking-room. Plans of varying ferocity and ingenuity were propounded to restore law and order. But what had they been doing during the last 86 years? What were those 86 Acts but attempts—which had absolutely failed—to restore law and order? No doubt they had managed to spread over the surface of things a thin veneer of law made by force, and of order made to order; but no real hold had been taken on the affections and hearts of the people. The present Bill was the 87th advertisement of our proved incapacity to rule Ireland by anything but an iron hand. They might have right law administered by the wrong people. They might have bad law mixed up with good law. We had been administering the affairs of Ireland for many years with little knowledge of their wants or sympathy with their patriotic aspirations. They had heard a good deal about the necessity of this Coercion Bill as a preliminary to the bringing in a remedial measure. Why should the way for our remedial measures for Ireland be paved with the shattered liberties of the Irish people? If these remedial measures were good he supposed that they would be accepted without compulsion. If they were bad, they could not compel the Irish people to accept what they did not want to have. They had heard one very remarkable reason given for the acceptance of this Bill—namely, that it was not coercion at all, but a remedial measure. That was a sweet balm to the conscience of those who had got to swallow what they did not like. Yet hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that the Irish people should be rather grateful for the favour that was offered them. If he might repeat the Shakespearian quotation of the right 944 hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie), he would say, "Very like a whale." He had heard some remarks from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson), whose abilities he admired— he was only sorry they were not employed in a better cause—that the liberty of being at large would not be infringed by this Bill, and asked them what liberty was taken away under this Bill. He (Dr. Farquharson) should have thought it was the liberty to do almost anything in a proclaimed district. He had no doubt that when the Bill came into operation the prisons would be crowded and the Courts would be blocked. Many of the unfortunate people who would come under the operation of the Act would be compelled to wait a considerable period before their cases would be tried. He should like to know whether, in those circumstances, bail was to be allowed or not? He had no doubt that if this Bill was to be worked by lawyers it would be properly administered according to law. But the Bill was not to be worked by lawyers. They would have informers dogging the footsteps of suspected persons, who were obnoxious to the authorities of the Castle. Spies would be working in every direction, and they would have garbled extracts from speeches, by which it was possible almost to prove anything; and under Sections 4 and 5 they would be able to include almost anything peaceful, law-abiding people might do. What was the tribunal under which these offences were to be tried? In the first place, the cases thus got up were to be brought before Resident Magistrates, who had little or no knowledge of law—half-pay captains with small means, large families, and no law. These men were to be intrusted with the most difficult and delicate duties—namely, that of deciding what was evidence and what was not. Then they came to summary jurisdiction. They were to have two magistrates, one of whom was to have as much knowledge of law as would be satisfactory to the Lord Lieutenant. He should like to know what was to be the Lord Lieutenant's standard? Was he to give a Degree in Law, as the Archbishop of Canterbury was empowered to give a Degree of Music? He would like to make it clear that the analogy of Scottish 945 criminal procedure would not hold as a defence of this Bill. In the first place, in Scotland there was an inquiry on the spot by the Procurator Fiscal; and although, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Scotland had told them, the Procurator Fiscal was not a Judge, he was a trained lawyer, and a man of experience and standing. The summary jurisdiction in Scotland was carried on by the Sheriff, who was also a trained lawyer. In Ireland it was to be granted to amateur lawyers; and, as a professional man himself, he had a great distrust of amateurs, whether lawyers, doctors, or oven clergymen. They knew that if the Crimes Act had been renewed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, the summary jurisdiction would have been taken before two stipendiary magistrates. Under this Bill, the most difficult, delicate, and intricate questions of law were to be decided by gentlemen who had no proper or systematic training whatever. They were told that under this Bill the National League might be proclaimed. He did not think that a similar policy had been very successful on a former occasion, when the Land League was proclaimed. He thought nothing could be more dangerous than to drive in the superficial appearance of disturbance, where disturbance depended upon some internal or Constitutional ailment. Medical metaphors had become popular in the House. They were generally wrong. But he would venture upon using a medical metaphor which he believed was perfectly sound. When they found on the surface of the body an eruption which depended upon internal or constitutional disease, if they applied local remedies to allay the eruption and get rid of it by driving it in, they would probably not infrequently kill the patient or ruin his constitution. That was in perfect analogy to the present condition of things in Ireland. We were treating and tinkering at the external manifestations of an internal and Constitutional malady. If we drove it in below the surface, secret societies of various classes would spring up, and we should eventually damage the Constitution of Ireland, and, perhaps, ruin it altogether. In conclusion, he wished to ask when was this work— this policy of despair—coming to an end? It was time to stop tinkering and do something 946 definite. Of course, this Bill would pass. As they knew, the Tories opposite followed their Leaders in the most docile manner, and they would go into the Lobby in favour of the measure. The Liberal Unionists would vote with them, because, though they hated coercion, they hated the late Prime Minister even more. They would swallow coercion or anything else to keep the present Government in power and keep the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian out. But they must go further. They must go on to disfranchise Ireland and govern it as a Crown Colony, and crush her for ever under the iron heel of despotism, or else give her Home Rule and the right to govern her own affairs in her own way. They had chosen their policy. But the tide was turning in favour of Irish aspirations. The Government had found it necessary to send Sir Robert Hamilton to the Antipodes in order to prevent the conversion of successive Lords Lieutenant to Home Rule. Meetings were going on all over the country. The magnificent meeting in Hyde Park, which was a great and brilliant success, was being followed up by similarly successful meetings in every part of the country. But, best of all, this Bill was working for the Irish cause. It was providing for those who advocated Home Rule the best platform from which to expound their views, because it was demonstrating the necessity of Home Rule as the only alternative. A little more education of the people of this country—a little more time—and he had not the least doubt that the result would be that the Irish cause would be won.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
The hon. Member who has just sat down (Dr. Farquharson) has spoken with the zeal of a convert, and in doing so he has followed the example of many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Front Opposition Bench. I, as a Radical Unionist, am not ashamed of my opinions or of my Leaders. On the contrary, I am proud of them. There has never been a time when two men have come forward in a great cause and showed such great self-sacrifice as the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain.) [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Mem- 947 bers below the Gangway laugh at them, and sneer at them, but they know that they are a power in the country. What other means could they have adopted in order to endeavour to carry out their views? They fought the battles of the Liberal Party long before many hon. Members below the Gangway entered upon political life. For my own part, I have fought 10 fights in the Liberal cause, and yet I am told by some new Members that I am not a Liberal. I do not accept such a reproach, but I put upon them this reproach—that they have accepted allies and adopted a policy of which many Liberals are ashamed. A short extract will show what is done and said at some of the meetings in opposition to the Government proposition. On Saturday last, at a meeting in Batter-sea Park, at which an hon. Member of this House was present, a Mr. Burns said that—Mr. Chamberlain would not get the cow, but the ball; and the amount of ground necessary for him would be 6 feet by 2 feet.Mr. Burns then proceeded to vindicate the attempted assassination of the Emperor of Russia, and expressed a hope that Lord Salisbury, the Czar, and Mr. Chamberlain would all get their quietus by means of the parcel post and a certain chemical combination which he named. When such statements are made and accepted with pleasure at public meetings, they show to a considerable extent what the object really is. The chairman who presided at the meeting protested against the observations of this gentleman, but his protest was received with marked disfavour by the whole of the meeting. My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. O. V. Morgan), who was not present at that particular platform, found it incumbent upon him to write to The Times to say that he also would have protested if he had heard those words spoken. I maintain that this is an attempt to coerce the Liberal Unionists, and to coerce them by threats; but if it has any effect at all, it rather tends to confirm them in the views they entertain. What are the measures which are being adopted by those who object to the present Bill? I have in my hand a small paper which was used widely throughout London, and which reached me in the ordinary way, for the purpose of collecting the meeting in Hyde Park, to which the hon. Member for West 948 Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson) has just referred with such satisfaction. It is headed, "What the Coercion Bill is," and then follows three notes of exclamation. It states that under the Bill of the Government trial by jury is to be abolished for almost all offences, and in its place is to be substituted trial by Resident Magistrates, generally half-pay officers appointed by the Executive Government, whose servants they are, and who will have power to inflict a sentence of six months' imprisonment with hard labour for offences many of which are of an undefined character, the probable effect of which is stated to be that the tenant will be placed at the mercy of the landlord. It is said that persons may be examined on oath, although no trial is taking place, and that they may be compelled to give evidence, even if the evidence they give may tend to criminate themselves. That is what is stated in this paper, in order to induce the country to believe that these are the objects of the Bill, though, of course, the writers of the Bill know well how untrue many of the statements are. Now, I should like to know what coercion really is? The question has been asked again and again in the course of this debate, but no answer has been given. One hon. Member of this House declared, in glowing terms upon a public platform, that the Bill will coerce 5,000,000 of his fellow-countrymen; but, for my own part, I am convinced that it will coerce nobody who abides by the ordinary law. The fact is, endeavour to blink it as you like, that coercion in this case simply means the coercion of the criminal population. It does not mean coercion of either you or me. We are endeavouring to coerce the law-breakers in order to maintain the ordinary rights of society; and if the present law is not sufficient, then it is the duty of any Government to endeavour to increase the powers they possess. Governments have duties to per-form to those who abide by the law, just as much as they have duties to perform in regard to those who break the law; and if it is, as it must be, considered necessary to repress crime and outrage either in England or Ireland, it is not only the right, but the duty, of the Government to ask for all necessary powers. What has been said on previous occasions? It has been stated, 949 over and over again, that this is the strongest Coercion Bill that has ever been brought forward in the House of Commons. I deny it altogether. Let me ask whether it contains any such power as that which enabled the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian to confine in prison in 12 months 1,200 men, as he did in the year 1881? Among those men there were several Members of Parliament, some of them much respected in this House—and they were all imprisoned without trial, on reasonable suspicion only. If such a power had been asked for by the present Government I should have done all in my power to oppose it. They have gone in a different direction—a direction which was indicated in the speeches they delivered in 1882. I should like the House to consider what that direction is. The direction in which the Government desire to go is very simple. It is found, and is nowhere denied, that of the offences which are committed in Ireland 80 per cent are committed with entire impunity, and without anybody knowing who the offenders are, or who they are suspected to be. I say that a condition of law under which such an occurrence is possible is not a right state of things. The Government, therefore, have looked into the state of the law and they perceive that the fault lies in the fact that before they can make any proper inquiry with regard to an offence they have to charge somebody with having committed it. Surely that is an absurdity, and, therefore, I think that the 1st clause of the Bill is eminently reasonable and desirable. Now, to come to the next point, I find that in the year 1882 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) used these words in regard to his own Bill—There will be power given to Justices to inquire into crime, even where the criminal has escaped; there will be power to Justices to compel the attendance of witnesses who are about to abscond; there will be power to the Lord Lieutenant to appoint such additional police as he may think necessary in any particular district at the charge of the locality. There will also be compensation for murder and maiming of cattle, which will be levied on the district in which the offence was committed. Then, what is to give vitality to these provisions is the summary jurisdiction. I have pointed out that, owing to the terrorism which has been made to operate on the minds of juries, it has been necessary to have a special tribunal for the greater classes of crime; but, with respect to 950 those offences which may he regarded as in the second category, it is equally necessary to have a speedy and certain punishment; and, therefore, we propose to make the offences in this Act, to which I have referred, punishable summarily, and the Court of Summary Jurisdiction will consist of two Stipendiary Magistrates." —(3 Hansard,  470.)I have read that passage because I wish to point out to hon. Members below the Gangway the difference between this Bill and the Bill of 1882. In the year 1882 the right hon. Member for Derby proposed to give this summary power with regard to a certain class of offences to the Stipendiary Magistrates. We have heard much about the Stipendiary Magistrates of Ireland, but there is this to be said—that when an offence, even if small in itself, is tried summarily and the offender punished, the lesson is not soon forgotten; whereas the importance which attends a great State trial has a tendency, with the delay involved, to inflame the passions of the whole population and thus do great harm. We must also remember that very important matters are now settled by the ordinary magistrates under very little control. Therefore, I am inclined to think that the evil which has been anticipated from conferring this summary jurisdiction upon the Resident Magistrates—not the Stipendiary Magistrates, as in the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby— has been greatly exaggerated. One great objection that has been raised is that Boycotting would come under the summary jurisdiction of the Resident Magistrates. I say that Boycotting ought to be put down; and I should like to ask the House to consider for a moment what has been said about Boycotting by two very high authorities on the matter. One of them says—The process called Boycotting is, according to the hon. Member, a legitimate and proper process. What is meant by Boycotting? In the first place, it is combined intimidation. In the second place, it is combined intimidation made use of for the purpose of destroying the private liberty of choice by fear of ruin and starvation. In the third place, that being what Boycotting is in itself, we must look to this—that the creed of Boycotting, like every other creed, requires a sanction; and the sanction of Boycotting— that which stands in the rear of Boycotting, and by which alone Boycotting can, in the long run, be made thoroughly effective—is the murder which is not to be denounced."—(3 Hansard,  1551,)Whose words are those? They are not 951 my words; I should not venture to use such strong language, but they were used in the House of Commons on the 24th of May, 1882, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). They show what the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to Boycotting was at that time. Let me turn now to Lord Cowper's Commission. In their Report the Commissioners say—We deem it right to call attention to the terrible ordeal that a Boycotted person has to undergo, which was by several witnesses graphically described during the progress of our inquiry. The existence of a Boycotted person becomes a burden to him, as none in town or village are allowed, under a similar penalty to themselves, to supply him or his family with the necessaries of life. He is not allowed to dispose of the produce of his farm. Instances have been brought before us in which his attendance at Divine Service was prohibited, in which his cattle have been, some killed, some barbarously mutilated; in which all his servants and labourers were ordered and obliged to leave him; in which the ordinary necessaries of life, and even medical comforts, had to be procured from long distances; in which no one would attend the funeral of, or dig a grave for, a member of a Boycotted person's family, and in which his children have been forced to discontinue attendance at the National School of the districtI have quoted these two passages to show what the opinion of two such high authorities is on the subject of Boycotting, and I cannot believe that any hon. Member will deny that if the Government can put it down by any reasonable enactment it is their duty to do so. I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) will be successful, but I think he has a duty to perform, and I have no doubt that he is prepared to perform it. Upon this point I may say that there is one provision introduced into the Bill which has not been included in any previous Bill, and that is that in addition to the right of the magistrate to punish there is a right given to the accused of appeal from the decision of the magistrates to the Quarter Sessions. That provision shows that the Government are anxious to deal fairly with the person charged, and to give him every reasonable protection under the law. In addition to that there is another provision in the Bill which lays down that, notwithstanding anything contained in the Bill, the existing law shall still run. It will, therefore, be seen that a man can 952 be tried under the existing law, but that if tried under the now law he can appeal to the Quarter Sessions. Under these circumstances, I cannot conceive that any injustice is done to anybody; but, on the contrary, it appears to me that the provisions of the Bill are such reasonable provisions as the House of Commons ought to support. I come now to a special clause of the Bill which has been strongly condemned. I think with regard to the question of trial by jury that it is an advantage to the prisoner that he should have the right to be tried by a special jury; and I know that in England some years ago, when I had the honour of having something to do with legal work, it was a not uncommon complaint in this country that while a man might have a special jury when only his property was at stake, he must be content with a common jury when his liberty or his life was in peril. The Government provide that under special circumstances a man shall be tried by a special jury, and this may be done not only at the instance of the Government, but at that of the man charged. Now I do not see why gentlemen of intelligence should not be selected to try serious offences as well as cases which merely affect property. We are told that the prisoner would by a change of venue be exposed to difficulties and dangers and to unfair treatment, and that, in particular, a change of venue to England would be grossly unjust. I have been endeavouring for some days to discover where the injustice would be of bringing over prisoners to England to be tried by an English jury, and I have failed. Hon. Members below the Gangway tell us they have no confidence in Irish Judges because they are political, and none in Irish juries because they are partizan; but no one accuses the English Judges of being political, or English juries of being partizan, and I cannot, therefore, see why hon. Members should object to the change. For my own part, I am satisfied that English juries would deal justly with all prisoners who might come before them, and in trying Irish prisoners I know that they would be inclined to lean rather to the side of the accused than to that of the Government. I am also satisfied that the Judges would take precisely the same course in criminal cases, and would endeavour to sum up fairly, and properly 953 pointing out to the jury everything that would tell in favour of the prisoner. This being the position with regard to the Bill, I cannot help remarking that a great amount of undeserved odium has been thrown upon the Liberal Unionist Members who support the Government in the undertaking they have upon their hands. It has been said that although they love Liberal principles and dislike coercion, still they dislike the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian more, and for that reason they are endeavouring to keep him out of power. Hon. Members who say that can hardly be aware of the feelings of many hon. Gentlemen, who, like myself, have sat under the right hon. Gentleman for 20 years, and have had many opportunities of admiring his great eloquence, his splendid ability and knowledge, and his great generosity towards those with whom he has had to deal. But do they not think that two men can honestly differ in opinion? For my own part, I am of opinion that the proposal submitted to the House by the right hon. Gentleman last year was not conducive to the best interests of the country. For that reason I voted against it, as I should be prepared to vote again. But this is not from any disrespect or from any want of regard for the right hon. Gentleman, and I venture to appeal to hon. Members neither to think nor to say such things as have been said in regard to the action of the Liberal Unionists. Hon. Members who make such observations should remember that it is much more agreeable to be on what is called the popular side. If you go to any meeting it is always possible to get cheap applause from the rabble. It is different when you go to a meeting where the intelligence of the country is collected; but hon. Members know that the cry of "No Coercion" is always a cheap and by far a more agreeable cry to go to the country with than the advocacy of principles which we believe to be right, although they may happen to be distasteful. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] I know it is disagreeable to hon. Members, and especially to hon. Members below the Gangway, to hear some of these observations; but I ask them to remember that I do not use them in order to spite them in any way. For many of them I have the highest regard, but, where a great cause is concerned, it 954 is not right to allow personal considerations to intervene. Whether the vote which we Liberal Unionists give in this House will conduce to our success as Parliamentary candidates in the future signifies not at all. It is our bounden duty to give our votes according to our consciences for what is best in the interests of the two countries, regardless of the consequences. It is for that reason that I despise the threats which are constantly held out to Liberal Unionists, and I shall persevere in the course which I have marked out for myself, because I believe that by so doing I am supporting a policy by which every fair grievance can be redressed. I observe that the opposition to the Bill now before the House is maintained to a great extent in order to promote the cause of Home Rule. But I am convinced that it would be better if Irish Members would meet this Question with moderate language and endeavour to dissociate it from the cause in which they are particularly interested. It is a most remarkable thing that in the first Parliament under the extended franchise the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian did not give a chance to the House to redress Irish grievances, but immediately proposed a policy of separation. When I discuss this Question with my friends on the Continent great astonishment is shown by them, because they say that while every other country is endeavouring to promote its strength by union, the Liberal Party in this country are endeavouring to strengthen the country by cutting it into two halves. I think that this is a most unnatural process. As far as we are concerned, it is our duty as Liberal Unionists to maintain the cause of law and order, and as far as we can to strengthen the hands of the Government. We trust that they will do all in their power to meet the just demands of the Irish people. We do not believe that those just demands can be met by Home Rule, such as was proposed by the measure of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I thank the House for having listened to these observations. I regret deeply to find myself divided from many hon. Gentlemen with whom I have worked cordially for many years in the promotion of many great public questions, but I consider that this question of the unity of the Empire is far greater than anything else, 955 and the first necessity of the case is to secure the maintenance of law and order. I feel bound to vote for the second reading of the Bill. The Government say that they require the powers which they now ask, and I am, therefore, unwillingly obliged to vote for them. At the same time, I know that these powers will not be exercised and cannot be exercised in any unfair way, because they are hedged around by safeguards which never existed in Ireland in connection with any previous Coercion Act. I regret that there should be so much Party feeling in the matter, and that ungenerous reproaches should have been so freely bandied about. I trust that Irish Members will admit, whether they agree with us or not, that our motives are pure. We have no personal object to serve, because, as they tell us, we are to lose our seats at the next Election. We have been told that over and over again; and whether it is true or not the future will show. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) has told us that the door of repentance is open to us, and that he is ready yet to take the whole of us to his arms. He also tells us that if we do not accept his offer we ought to know what our fate will be. Of course we are to be Boycotted in regard to our future Parliamentary life. At the same time, such threats will not deter us from doing our duty. I have only to thank the House for the indulgence it has shown in listening to me so attentively.
§ MR. WHITBREAD (Bedford)
I rise for the purpose of offering a few observations to the House upon this Bill; and, in the first place, allow me to refer to some of the words which have fallen from my hon. Friend (Sir Julian Goldsmid) who has just spoken. I am aware that he gets on very swimmingly as a Liberal who has fought 10 fights at those meetings of what he is pleased to call "the rabble." I have no doubt that he is able to get on well with them if he begs the question by describing the Home Rule measure which was presented to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) as a measure of separation. I think my hon. Friend knows that we have always stoutly denied that, and firmly believe that the course taken by the hon. Baronet and his Friends is far more 956 likely to lead to separation than the course pursued by my right hon. Friend. The hon. Baronet says that this is not a strong Bill; but I think that the strength of a Coercion Bill depends very much upon how you are going to look at it— whether you are going to apply it to somebody else, or to live under it yourselves. At all events, this Bill is strong in two points. In the first place, it is strong in this—that no other Ministry has ever ventured to bring in a Coercion Bill which is applied as part of the permanent law of the land to Ireland. That is what comes of my hon. Friend's doctrine of equal laws between the two countries. But, in the second place, the Bill is strong in another matter—that you will have to go back for more than 100 years before you will find a proposal to bring over prisoners from another country to be tried here, not necessarily in London, but in any county or place that the Government may select. I do not want to argue that question, or any of the details of the Bill upon this stage; because, for one good reason, we do not know how many will be thrown overboard; but this I will say—that if this proposal for bringing Irish prisoners to be tried in London is carried out, I believe that it will give a greater assistance to those who are organizing Liberal meetings throughout the country, and will have a greater effect than any other efforts that could be made to bring back the electorate of London to Liberal principles. Indeed, I believe that the Liberal Party themselves may rest upon their oars, for I am quite convinced that a few examples of Irish prisoners, with witnesses and counsel, brought over to be tried at the Old Bailey will do much to make the Liberal electors of London arrive at a right conclusion. I agree with my hon. Friend in deprecating the threats and the hateful language which have been used towards some of the Liberal Unionist Members. Such language is to be condemned only less than an outrage completely carried out. My hon. Friend says the only effect of such language is to pin the Liberal Unionists more firmly to the position they have taken up. Of course, that is the effect of it; but does he think that language of that kind, used by wild and intemperate men, is a reason why I and others should be driven from a cause which we think to be the cause of jus- 957 tice? My hon. Friend boasts that he has fought 10 battles in the Liberal cause. So have I; and in the course of them I have heard many wild things said and have seen many rough things done. Does my hon. Friend—or does any other good Liberal—think that because things have been said which we condemn that we are to be driven from the course of policy we had taken up, and which recommends itself to our good sense and judgment? There is no reason why we should be taunted with words for which we are not responsible, and which we condemn, and which we know instead of advancing the cause for which they are uttered, can do nothing but steadily retard it. I should not have troubled the House on this occasion but for some remarks which were made by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie). I was sorry to hear some of the observations which fell from him. They did not seem to be in unison with the usual calm fair-mindedness of my right hon. Friend. I hardly understood his sneer at those who have followed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. He imputed that some of those who have followed the right hon. Gentleman have been actuated by unworthy motives. Does the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board mean to say that a great political Party is never obliged to come to a sudden and an important decision? Have rapid conversions been so altogether absent from the political history of the Party which the right hon. Gentleman himself represents? The right hon. Gentleman selected an instance and an example which shows the value of his criticism. He chose my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) as an instance of one who would be ready at any moment, on all occasions, and at any cost, to follow the late Prime Minister. Now, my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board has not been for very many years a Member of this House; but I think he has been long enough here to know that if there is one man living who has sacrificed position, prospects, power, and fame for the sake of independent action, it is my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax. the President of the Local Government 958 Board was not content with that kind of sneer; but he went on to say that we on this side of the House did not want remedial legislation. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by that? Does he mean to impute to us that we are desirous of keeping open this contest rather than pass remedial measures with which in our own hearts we agree? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that we are not aware of the gravity of the crisis which is impending? Is his hunger and thirst for reform so great that he imagines that we on this side of the House cannot equally feel how this question impedes all the other subjects which are ripe for settlement? What we say is this—bring in your remedial legislation, and do not poison it beforehand with coercion. Luckily, we are not without witnesses on this point. On more than one occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has said—"If you will settle this question, I will help you." And we say that again now. If the Government have got remedial measures, so grave is the state of affairs that on this side of the House we are perfectly ready to help them to settle it; but your remedial legislation lags behind, and your coercion comes first. I am not going to follow my right hon. Friend into his prophecies as to what will be the result of the next Election. I have heard a good many of those prophecies on both sides of the House in my time. What we ought to turn to is history, and at the last General Election we know what lost most votes for our side. It was not the question of Home Rule; but it was the question which had been worked so skilfully and so well on the other side—namely, the question of the Land Purchase Bill. It was that which lost us so many votes, and which gained them for you. It was stated by our opponents on that occasion that there was some other course than Home Rule, and that it was not coercion. Well, now, where is the fulfilment? Your first measure is coercion, and your second or your third is to be land purchase. Now, I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would, on calm consideration, think that some of those 70,000 votes which turned the whole scale at the last Election might not have been given on the other side if the electors could have had a peep into the 959 future, and had been able to see the April of 1887. We say that Her Majesty's Government have not learned much from the history of Ireland. We say that you are applying old methods to new and altered conditions. We say that you have not considered the great events that no longer make coercion an applicable remedy for the existing state of things. We say that you do not remember that when Parliament emancipated the Catholics, you could no longer disregard the Catholic vote. We say that you have not duly learned the lesson of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, and the blow which it gave to Protestant ascendancy. We say, further, that you have not considered the result of the extension of the suffrage to the people of Ireland upon equal terms with England; and, finally—tho most potent factor of all— we say that within the last few years the conviction has been growing and deepening in the minds of the people of this country that the results of our system of rule in Ireland have been a long-standing and cruel injustice to the tenants of Ireland; and we think it is not improbable that as we have discovered through the Reports of numerous Commissions and Inquiries the real facts as to the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland, the complaints which are made with regard to the administration of justice in Ireland and other matters may not turn out to be equally well-founded. It seems to me that when you talk of surrender to those hon. Members who follow the lead of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) you are using a misnomer. Is it a surrender, a base and shameful surrender, having given the franchise to Ireland, to listen to the voice of the electorate? You say, why do you surrender now, when formerly you fought the hon. Member for Cork? We had not then learnt the wishes of five-sixths of the population of Ireland. We had not then learnt the truth, as we know it now, of the relations of the landlord and tenants of Ireland. Remember how that question has grown. Remember how, not 10 years ago, the Bill for the Compensation for Disturbance was thrown out in the House of Lords, and remember what grew from that. Since then we have had the Report of the Cowper Commission. Year after year 960 we have had the truth coming out more clearly. We did not know in old days that rent was being paid in Ireland which never came from the produce of the soil.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary disagrees with that. That was not always his opinion. As long as there was harvest work in England, and the unfortunate small Irish occupier could came over and earn his money in England, he went back and paid his rent. We did not know that that was the source from which the rent was paid. We did not know how much money came back from America to help to pay the rent. We did not know those facts; they were always stoutly denied. It was stoutly denied before the land valuers were appointed that there was rack-renting. It was as stoutly denied last year that there was any ground for the complaints and Bill of the hon. Member for Cork. What did the Cowper Commission do? They proved the case of the hon. Member up to the hilt. It is because these facts have come to light that your remedy of coercion is out of date and no longer applicable. The fact is, that you cannot put back the history of Ireland; you cannot replace her institutions as they stood; you cannot put her people where they were. If you intended not to listen to the voice of the Catholics it is far better that Parliament had never emancipated the Catholics. If you intended to take your stand on the old and despotic principle of ascendancy, backed by coercion, it would have been far better if you had never disestablished the Irish Church. If you did not intend to listen to the voice of the Irish electors it was far better that you should not have given the Irish people the suffrage, because to do those things was only to make the promise to the ear and break it to the hope. These things have been done; they are past recall; and that is why coercion is out of date. Then you complain that you are obliged to have this measure of coercion, because if you do not have it you are simply handing over the government of Ireland to the followers of the hon. Member for Cork. I believe the present measure is more cal- 961 culated to rivet the government of Ireland upon the hon. Member for Cork and those who follow him, than anything that you could possibly have done. I deny that any measure that was proposed from the side that followed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian would have had a tendency to hand the government over to the hon. Member and his followers; it would have handed the government over to the people of Ireland. The Government Followers are never tired of telling the House and the country that there is a vast minority of the people of Ireland who disapprove the policy of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and who approve of theirs. One of the greatest authorities on your side has told us that, out of less than 5,000,000 of people in Ireland, there are at least 2,000,000 who abhor the rule of the National League and long to be set free; who are loyal and clinging with devotion to the Act of Union. Well, why do not the 2,000,000 speak out? When we are told that these 2,000,000 are not the least educated section, not the least thrifty, not the least trustworthy portion of the population of Ireland—what a noble faith we must have all had in the working of free institutions when such a minority, containing the intelligence, the wealth, the good habits of the population cannot be trusted to take care of themselves against a majority of 3,000,000, who are the more ignorant, the poorer, and the least intelligent part of the community. When the great reforms which have been carried in England were started, I wonder whether there was such a minority as 2,000,000 against 3,000,000 only to contend against. What are the Government doing for those 2,000,000 which they speak of as being so loyal and devoted to their system of government? I will tell the Government what I think they were doing for them. You are preparing an evil future for them. You are teaching them not to rely upon themselves, not to learn to take their own part in politics, not to learn to find a modus vivendi with the rest of their own countrymen; but whenever things go in the direction in which they did not like them to go, they have nothing to do but to cry over to England for more coercion, more soldiers, and more police. Some hon. 962 Gentlemen opposite, at all events, know that call it by what name you like, it will not be many years before some Liberal scheme of local government in Ireland will have to be passed. How are you preparing this minority now to take their part then? Do the Government think that they will call out public spirit, independence, self-reliance, under the shadow of coercion? No, you would silence, perhaps, hon. Members from Ireland and their supporters; but you would effectually smother any growing self-reliance among those whom you look upon as your friends. Well, the Government will perhaps pass this Bill. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] Yes, I think you will; but you have not received a mandate from the country to pass it. Do the Government think this is the "end all and be all" of their coercion? Do they think they have arrived at the end of it when this Bill is passed? They will only be at the beginning of it! The Government cannot bear to hear hon. Members below the Gangway speak in Ireland; and do they think that after passing this Bill they will long tolerate their presence in the House! And what then? The Government will be driven on from one step to another of coercion until the people of this country may at last pull them up in their course. The Liberals know this tree of coercion, and they know its fruits; and they are quite sure of one thing, and that is that they will gather no grapes from that thorn. Some persons have been, as I think, rash enough to say to the Irish people that they hope they will resist this law if it is passed. I differ totally and entirely from that advice. I say to Irishmen—and particularly to Irish Members—that I think it behaves them to use every effort they can to prevent in the future any justification of an Act which has no justification now. I say to them—"I hope you will strain every nerve to prevent this Act from obtaining the sanction in the exercise which is lacking to it in the enactment." I do not believe they will have to wait very long. My belief is, that the mind of the people of this country is being quickly made up. I believe the people of this country desire peace with Ireland. It has been a long struggle and a long quarrel; but the people of this country have recog- 963 nized that there has been much injustice in the past, and they desire peace now. I would quote, as being applicable to this case, the noble words that were used upon a not dissimilar occasion, when England, to the cry of "No surrender" to the rebel American Colonists, was rushing to disaster. The peace which is desired now, and it was desired then, was—Not to he sought through the medium of war, or through the tedious labyrinth of endless negotiations; but peace, simple peace, to be sought in its ordinary course and in its accustomed haunts—peace to he sought in the interests of peace and by methods purely pacific.That is not the course which the Government are pursuing towards Ireland; these are not the methods with which they are now treating that country. I trust that the disaster which England suffered when such advice was neglected in 1775 will not be repeated now.
§ MR. FOREEST FULTON (West Ham, N.)
There is nothing more remarkable in connection with the embittered controversy which is being waged over this Bill than the demoralizing effect which it appears to have upon those who are opposed to the Government. Only the other day the hon. and learned Member for the City of York (Mr. Lockwood) denounced the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) because he had ventured to repudiate, somewhat warmly, a monstrous suggestion that he had deliberately incited the police to acts of violence in order to give colour for the introduction of this Bill. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) laid down another proposition of a most extraordinary character for a responsible statesman, and a Member of the Privy Council, to put forward. The right hon. Gentleman in the debate the other night to grant urgency for this Bill, denied in the most emphatic terms that it is the first duty of an Executive Government to enforce the law—good or bad. "The first duty of the Government," said the right hon. Gentleman, "is to amend and alter the law." Now, I venture to say that such a proposition is absolutely incapable of any defence whatever, and it shows, to my mind, an alarming incapacity on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to distinguish between the science of jurisprudence, which 964 is the science of law as it is, and the science of legislation, which is the science of law as it ought to be. The Executive Government are concerned only with the law as it is; they have nothing to do with the law as it ought to be. It is their duty to enforce the law. It is the duty of Parliament to amend and alter the law. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman is incapable of any defence whatever, and I do not think that I ought to trouble myself longer with the utterances of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has stripped himself bare of every rag of political consistency, and he stands before the House and before the country metaphorically naked and obtrusively unashamed. Perhaps the most remarkable example of the demoralization to which I referred in my opening remarks has been afforded by the speech of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread). The hon. Member said, that it was idle to suggest a minority of 2,000,000 out of 5,000,000 could not, and would not, be able to protect itself. I cannot think that the hon. Gentleman can have seriously considered the effect of his observations, because, if he had only referred to the result of the Irish Elections, he would have seen that the 2,000,000 only returned 13 Members to this House, while the 3,000,000 returned 85. I assume that no method of redistribution could possibly produce any other result in regard to an Irish Parliament than it has produced in reference to the Imperial Parliament; and I fail to see how in a House of Commons consisting of 101 Members, 13 Members can by any possibility defend their rights and interests in a Constitutional manner. It is obvious, therefore, that the minority of 2,000,000 represented by 13 Members returned by the Northern Province in a Home Rule Parliament would be absolutely at the mercy of the 85 Members returned by the majority of 3,000,000 from the East, West, and South of Ireland; and I do not see what course would be open to them, except a resort to armed force, for the protection of that wealth and property which it is very rightly said they possess. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley), at a meeting held recently in the Victoria Hall, did me the honour to refer to a speech which I delivered on the second night, I think, of the present Ses- 965 sion, and he said he was prepared to bet 100 to 1 that I would vote for the Bill. I hope that he was able to get a good many of his supporters to take the odds, because it is certainly my intention to support the Government. Not only did the right hon. Gentleman make that generous offer, but he asserted that a large number of hon. Members of this House have made statements and declarations which are not in accordance with the principles of this Bill. Now, I believe that so far as I am personally concerned, I shall be able to show that I have said nothing that is in any way inconsistent with my Election pledges. So far as the Bill itself is concerned, with one exception, every one of its provisions is contained directly or indirectly in the existing law of England or Scotland, and the only exception is the provision which relates to the change of venue and the removal of trials from Ireland to this country. It is said that this Bill is one for the abolition of trial by jury. I deny that altogether. I particularly desire to point out that it rests entirely with hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, whether the provisions of this Bill shall be put in force at all. One of the provisions of the Bill is, that not a single one of the provisions of the Bill shall take effect except by virtue of the Proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant and the Privy Council of Ireland, that a particular district in which the measure is put in force is in such a condition to warrant resort to the exceptional powers of the measure. If the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) will only turn over a new leaf; if they will do what they have never yet done— namely, commence to denounce outrage from one end of Ireland to the other; if they are willing to accept the decision of the highest Court in Ireland—the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice—that the Plan of Campaign is illegal; if they are prepared to denounce Boycotting—in a word, if they are only prepared to use the great influence which they undoubtedly possess in Ireland in the directions I have indicated, I am quite satisfied that no provision of this Bill need ever or will ever be enforced. I do not know whether that is too much to expect; but, at any rate, one feels a 966 sort of hope that the hon. Member for West Belfast, who we know is possessed of so much natural eloquence and love of his country, will possibly in the future adopt the course I have ventured to suggest to him, and which is a complete and satisfactory way of disposing of this Bill. It is quite plain that if Ireland is only peaceful and contented, Her Majesty's Government would not desire to enforce any one of the provisions of the Bill. That being so, let us consider for a moment the suggestions with regard to the powers of the magistrates. I am bound to say I feel great interest in the proposal to exclusively empower Stipendiary or Resident Magistrates with summary jurisdiction. There is absolutely nothing new in the principle of extending the powers which are vested in magistrates. On the contrary, the tendency of modern legislation has been to increase the power of magistrates to deal summarily with various classes of offences. At the same time, I feel there is some need of amendment with regard to intrusting exclusively to Resident Magistrates —the great bulk of whom have really no acquaintance with the technical previsions of the law—the power of administering the provisions of an Act of Parliament which is not more re-remarkable for clearness of expression than Acts of Parliament usually are. It appears to me that in that respect, and also with regard to the question of appeal, it will be necessary to introduce Amendments in Committee. It is certainly a safeguard for the liberty of the subject that it should not be by summary jurisdiction before two magistrates only that imprisonment should take place, but that the accused should in addition have the right of appeal. But the method of appeal, namely—to Quarter Sessions is most objectionable, for, assuming that the Bill, in its present form, should pass into law either in the month of June or July, there would be no possibility of imposing any punishment on any person, if the right of appeal was exercised in the way suggested, until the October Quarter Sessions. Looking through the provisions of the Bill, it certainly occurred to me that this is a question which will require very careful consideration. I consider there is a blot in this measure with regard to that matter; and if no more experienced Member of the House does 967 so, I shall feel it my duty to place an Amendment on the Paper for the purpose of giving the right of appeal, but not in the manner and way in which it is proposed in the Bill to give it. There is another portion of this Bill which has been very severely criticized, but which, in my judgment, forms the best provision in the whole Bill—that is the provision to remove trials for grave and serious crimes—murder, attempts to murder, arson, firing into dwellings, aggravated assaults upon the person— to this country. If I rightly understand hon. Members opposite, they complain most seriously of the system of packing juries in Ireland; in fact, I believe that an hon. Gentleman has given Notice of his intention to call attention to this system. I must say it is most revolting to my sense of justice and fairness that there can be by possibility any suggestion that in Ireland recourse is had to such an objectionable system. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews) has pointed out that as half the jurors are objected to by the Crown and the other half by the accused, the consequence is that it is absolutely impossible in Ireland to get together a proper jury. Under these circumstances, it seems to me that, of all the provision of this Bill, the one which is most deserving of the serious consideration and the general support of hon. Members of this House, is the provision to remove cases such as I have enumerated to this country, so that a fair and impartial trial may be obtained. No one can suggest for a single moment—I am sure no hon. Member from Ireland will suggest—that in this country accused persons do not receive a fair and impartial trial. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle is particularly alarmed at this provision. Speaking—I think at the Victoria Hall —the right hon. Gentleman said—Just imagine what a terrible condition of things it will be to have peasants brought from the wilds of Connemara to the Old Bailey— peasants entirely ignorant of our procedure and language—and tried for the serious offence of murder.Really, the right hon. Gentleman appears to be entirely ignorant of the fact that almost every day, in one or other of the Courts of this country, persons are tried who are perfectly ignorant of our 968 procedure and of our language; that invariably there is the strongest possible tendency on the part of jurors in this country to strain the law in favour of persons of other nationalities tried here. Over and over again in my hearing, Judges—in charging juries in cases in which such persons have been on their trial—have said, in clear and distinct terms, that the jury ought to make allowance for the fact that the prisoners may possibly have acted to some degree in ignorance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle appears to have been entirely oblivious of that fact. But there is one very remarkable instance, one which has not been mentioned in the course of this debate, but which created a great impression on my mind—the trial of O'Donnell at the Old Bailey for the murder of Carey. Hon. Members may recollect that owing to the fact of the murder of Carey having been committed on the high seas, and that part of the old Admiralty jurisdiction is vested by statute in the Central Criminal Court, the trial of O'Donnell took place at the Old Bailey. O'Donnell had the advantage of being defended by the most distinguished advocate at the English Bar, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Sir Charles Russell) who was Attorney General in the late Government. It is quite unnecessary to say that everything which could by possibility be urged in O'Donnell's favour was urged; but, after along and patient trial, a verdict of guilty was returned. Now, I do not hesitate to affirm that if that trial had taken place in Ireland, no jury would have dared to bring in a verdict of guilty. [Mr. M. J. KENNY: Why not?] If Carey had been murdered in Ireland before he set his foot on board the vessel which was to convey him to a distant part of the world, and if it had happened that the trial had taken place before an Irish jury in Dublin or any other place, so strong was the feeling against the man, so strong were the political feelings aroused in the matter, that I am perfectly satisfied there would have been a miscarriage of justice. No one detests the memory of the man Carey more than I do. He was a man deserving of no sympathy; but of the fact that he was murdered there could be no possibility of doubt, and the jury at the Central Criminal Court found 969 O'Donnell guilty of the crime. The trial created a great impression on my mind, and, seeing that the proposal of the right lion. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in the Crimes Act of 1882, that the trial of such cases should take place before two Irish Judges, and that that solution was found to be unworkable by reason of the protest of the Judges themselves, it brought home to me the strong conviction that the proper and the only solution of the difficulty was to remove the trials to this country. There is another argument which seems very strongly in favour of this portion of the Bill. There has existed for some time on the Statute Book of this country an Act which enables any prisoner to have his trial removed from any portion of England or Wales to the Old Bailey if he can show there is such a feeling in his own district that a fair trial cannot be obtained; and the Crown have the same power in all similar cases. I believe that one of the effects of this provision—this necessary provision—will be to deter people from committing the graver kinds of crime. The great difficulty in the administration of justice in Ireland has been the uncertainty which has attended trials from time to time, and the fact that criminals in Ireland can reckon that, in all probability, a jury will not find them guilty. I know Ireland well —my father was an Irishman, and I am connected with the country in many ways—and I have a strong suspicion that the very appearance of this measure upon the Statute Book will be quite sufficient for the shrewd Irish peasant, and that it will be very seldom necessary to put it into force. I do most earnestly hope Her Majesty's Government will adhere to this particular provision; that they will not be deterred by what I cannot help thinking are the sentimental objections of some hon. Members who sit around me. It is said that the adoption of this provision would create the greatest furore in Ireland, that criminals would be escorted to the deck of the vessels by cheering crowds, and that they would leave the shores of Ireland with the benedictions of disloyal priests. I do not think that result will be brought about; indeed, I should say the Executive Government in Ireland would be very greatly to blame if they 970 gave an opportunity for any such indecent displays. Mr. Speaker, I have referred to these matters at some length, because I have been exceedingly anxious to deal, if I could, with matters which have not been to any very considerable extent dealt with by hon. Members who have preceded me in debate. There is probably nothing so difficult and so wearisome as to rise in a debate which has lasted now some eight or nine days, and deal with a measure which does not seem to be seriously opposed by hon. Members from Ireland. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite seem to me to regard this Bill with favour, because they never rise to address the House. I have not noticed that such modesty has distinguished them on previous occasions. I have heard many of them on very many occasions—some of them with very great pleasure, some of them with mingled feelings of pleasure and pain. Judging from their attitude upon this Bill we can only suppose that they regard the measure, as I regard if, as a fair and reasonable solution of the question. Evidently they do not agree with hon. Members who sit upon the Front Opposition Bench; but with the shrewdness which distinguishes them they see the fallacy of all the arguments which have been addressed to the House by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is a matter of great satisfaction to me to feel that the arguments used by my hon. Friends who have preceded me have convinced the Members from Ireland of the reasonableness of the provisions of the Bill. Perhaps I may be allowed to say a few further words upon the portion of the Bill which deals with the summary jurisdiction of magistrates. It is exceedingly unfortunate, in my opinion, that two magistrates should deal with the cases contemplated. I should much prefer that there should be either one magistrate or three, to avoid the possibility of a weak man being controlled by one of stronger will. Then, again, the mysterious provision towards the end of the Bill about the Lord Lieutenant is certainly unwise. No one has a more profound respect for the Lord Lieutenant than I have, but I never heard it suggested he had any peculiar acquaintance with the law. It is said the Lord Lieutenant is to discover in each and every case a Resident Magistrate who is more or less acquainted 971 with the law. Knowing what I do of Resident Magistrates in Ireland, I feel that this is a provision which will require some consideration in Committee. Mr. Speaker, in looking through Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, I came across the following passage:—To make a Government requires no great prudence; settle the seat of power, teach obedience, and the work is done. To give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide, it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a free Government, that is to temper together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint in one consistent work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful and combining mind.It is because I feel in my soul and on my conscience that this Bill, when it receives the Royal Assent, will tend to form a free Government once more in Ireland by the re-establishment of the authority of the law, and will tend to temper together those opposite elements of liberty and restraint, that I shall give the proposals of Her Majesty's Government my unflinching and unwavering support.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
One of the reasons hon. Members sitting on these Benches have not, so far, taken a prominent part in opposing this measure in the House is that they have been engaged, and are at present engaged, in opposing it where they may do so more effectually. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton) welcomes that portion of the Bill which we very strongly object to—namely, the provision to change the venue to England. I am not at all surprised at that, seeing that the hon. and learned Gentleman must have a very pleasing vision of future celebrity as a prosecuting counsel at the Old Bailey. Now, Sir, the hon. and learned Member dwelt at some length upon the propriety of bringing Irish peasants, who have been referred to by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley), to England for trial, and he has given as one of his reasons for so doing that strangers and foreigners are more fairly dealt with by English juries than persons who belong to this country. He regards Irishmen, including himself, as foreigners. I have no particular objection to that assumption on his part; but I would only remind the hon. and learned Gentleman 972 and the House of the very latest case of anything like importance that has been decided in the English Courts—namely, the case of a filibustering expedition to Venezuela, in which a foreigner was convicted, while an Englishman was acquitted. But I will refer later to the general question of the transference of trials to England. Now, Sir, the hon. and learned Member also said there was no part of this Bill for which there could not be some parallel found either in the laws of England or Scotland. It has been stated that the examination of witnesses by private inquisition is based on the law of Scotland. As a matter of fact, the law of Scotland with regard to this inquiry is essentially different to the proposals now made by the Government. I have looked up as far as I could the law of Scotland on this point. I may, of course, be mistaken; but I have consulted what I understand to be the best authorities—namely, Bell's Digest of the Law, and McDonald's Criminal Law of Scotland. What do I find? Why, as I have said, that in many essential particulars the law of Scotland on this point is different to the law it is proposed to make. In the first place, in Scotland examination must be conducted by the Judge Ordinary or Justice of the Peace, and under the superintendence of the Procurator Fiscal. In Ireland, this inquiry will be conducted by Resident Magistrates. Investigation in Scotland is perfectly ex parte, and witnesses are not usually put upon oath. Under this Bill witnesses in Ireland are to be put on oath. Furthermore, in Scotland the accused is not admitted to the inquiry, and the accused party cannot be put on oath. It is not necessary to have an accused party under this Bill, but it is necessary to have an accused party according to the Scottish law. No person need be accused under this Bill, but you may bring up an accused person, you may put him on oath and compel him to make statements which may even criminate himself. I am informed by a Scotch lawyer that under the Scottish law witnesses need not answer any criminating question. Again, any reasonable suggestion on the part of the accused to call witnesses may be acted upon in Scotland; but there is no such provision in this Bill. It has been repeatedly dwelt upon in the course of this discussion, particularly 973 by legal Gentlemen speaking from the Front Treasury Bench, that the real value of this proposal may be judged from the effect which it had in bringing to justice certain persons who were concerned in criminal proceedings in Ireland in 1882, 1883, and 1884. I altogether deny that this clause in the Act of 1882 had that effect. It is said that it was under this clause that the Phoenix Park assassins were brought to justice. I deny that altogether. I believe I am right in stating that Joe Brady was summoned 23 times before Judge Curran in the Lower Castle Yard, and that Judge Curran could not find a single particle of evidence against him. It was By a mere accident—by an accidental description given by a servant girl to a policeman—that the discovery was brought about. Inquiries were then being made with regard to the attempted assassination of Mr. Field; and at the time there was not the slightest indication that the persons concerned in the attempt upon the life of Mr. Field had anything to do with the Phœnix Park assassinations. These private inquiries did not bring any person to justice; but they had the effect, in one or two cases, of bringing about convictions such as the Crossmaglen convictions, which we claim to be unjust. What occurred in the Crossmaglen, the Crusheen, and the Tubbercurry cases, is sufficient to account for our opposition to the clause. There were certain persons arrested under the Act of 1882 in County Clare. They were imprisoned in the Ennis gaol, kept there for a very long time—some of them for nearly three months—and the head of the Criminal Investigation Department in Dublin was sent down, and went from cell to cell endeavouring to induce the men to give evidence against each other. None of them did so, and the consequence was they had to be liberated. The Tubbercurry prisoners were kept in gaol for nearly four months, and a man was turned amongst them for the purpose of inducing them to become informers. When the men had been kept in gaol for four months, they were brought to Dublin for trial. The jury acquitted Fitzgerald, and the other cases were not proceeded with. This clause can only be used in future as in the past—namely, for the purpose of endeavouring to make out cases and 974 procuring convictions in cases whore no case whatever should be made out, and where convictions should not consequently be obtained. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Ham said that the Irish Members ought to go through Ireland and denounce outrage. Is there more outrage in Ireland than in England? Surely it is just as pertinent for me to advise the hon. Gentleman to go about England denouncing crime as it was for him to tell us to go through Ireland for such a purpose. We have always condemned outrage in Ireland; but, at the same time, we claim—and with a full show of reason on our side, because we are supported in the matter by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland—that there is not now an abnornal amount of crime in Ireland. When coercion was brought forward in former times, there had been a number of murders and other outrages, and the Government were able to make out a decent pretext for the introduction of coercive legislation. What is there at the present time? The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself considers that there is nothing exceptional exhibited by the criminal statistics. In introducing this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman said—" We do not rest our case upon statistics of agrarian crime in Ireland;" but he immediately proceeded to refer to the crime of other descriptions which has occurred in Ireland. For the first time, the general and ordinary crime of Ireland is given as a reason for bringing in a Bill of this most extraordinary and iniquitous character. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that we are not to consider the amount of crime in Ireland, but that we were to consider it with reference to its character, and the sources from which it sprung. But that is exactly what we want to do. If the right hon. Gentleman goes to the source of crime in Ireland, he will find it is due to the action of bad landlords; and, consequently, if he will study the agrarian question with a view to settling it on a fair basis, he will see that I am justified in saying that there can be no pretext for this exceptional legislation. Sir, I ask those Gentlemen who are responsible for this Bill, to give us some reason why, in the face of their own statements, and the acknowledgments made by right hon. Gentle 975 men on the Treasury Bench, they abandoned coercion in 1885. The right hon. Gentleman alleges that nothing new has been said on the question. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman who is now engaged in a Conference the object of which is to draw more closely together the outlying parts of the Empire, should come down and support this Bill, directed against a people whom it is the interest of Englishmen to pacify, by arguments which will make it absolutely impossible to bring about at the present time amity and general union. He said that in 1882 the amount of agrarian crime was in excess of anything that now prevails; but that the statistics of crime showed that there was a steady increase during the last three years. Now, I altogether deny that there has been any such increase, and I will, before sitting down, attempt to prove the contrary from the same sources as those on which the right hon. Gentleman bases his assertion. The hon. Gentleman who spoke early in the debate to-night seems to rest his support of the Bill on the exceptional prevalence of Boycotting notices in Ireland. he said that intimidation and Boycotting were had recourse to in Ireland to compel the people to join the National League; but I submit that he altogether failed tomake out a case, and that he did not bring forward a single authentic instance of a person being Boycotted in that way. We know that there were, by the admission of the Government, 800 persons Boycotted when this Bill was brought forward; and we know that, when the Conservatives were in power in 1885, at the time they relinquished the policy of governing Ireland by coercion, there were many more than 800 persons Boycotted. There are cases given with reference to Boycotting now which have absolutely no foundation in fact. It seems that nothing is thought to be more profitable than sending accounts to English newspapers of Boycotting in Ireland. There was an account sent the other day of a man named Kelly having been shot at and wounded in the hand, while on his way from Banbridge to Laurencetown. But a letter appeared in the The Northern Whig, which expressed the surprise of the inhabitants at the report, and which went on to say that the statement was absolutely untrue, and without any foundation whatever; that the man was well 976 known, and on the evening in question he was met by several persons between 6.30 and 7 o'clock p.m., when he was greatly intoxicated and scarcely able to walk. The probability is that the man fell and injured himself. Well, Sir, appended to this letter in The Northern Whig is this statement—The paragraph to which our correspondent refers was forwarded to us by the Press Association.This is one example of the way in which reports of outrages spread about, which outrages are entirely unfounded in fact. With regard to the number of indictable offences in Ireland, what is the state of affairs? In 1885 the total number of indictable offences during the three months of April, May, and June, during which the Crimes Act was in force, was 1,856, and there were 886 arrests made. The total number in October, November, and December, when the days were short, and when we might naturally consider that the number of offences would have been greater, was 1,809, and the number of arrests was 1,079. But let it be remembered that during those months the Crimes Act was not in force, and yet there was a distinct increase in the number of persons arrested, although the number of offences was less. This shows that the Bill, even if it comes into operation, will not increase the efficacy of the Criminal Law, and secure a greater number of convictions. Then, as to malicious offences against property. The total number of these in 1885 was 785, and the number of arrests 88. It is very difficult to get convictions in cases of offences against property, and there is no machinery in the Bill by which it would be possible to get a greater number of convictions for these alleged crimes. I would recommend the Government, however, to find out some means of preventing unscrupulous persons damaging their own property, and saying that they are the victims of outrage. Taking the second quarter of the year 1885, the number of offences against property was 192, and the number of arrests 11; and in the last quarter of the year there 215 offences and 40 arrests—that is to say, that the number of arrests was four times as great as when the Crimes Act was in operation. For killing and maiming cattle, included in the foregoing, only two arrests were made 977 during the time coercion was in force; whereas when the Act was not in force there were five arrests. Therefore, I say that this Bill cannot increase the number of persons brought to trial for offences against property, having regard to the fact that coercion in 1885 had no effect in bringing offenders to justice. I come now to offences against the person. Of course, the number of these is much larger than of those against property. The total number of these in 1885 was 1,276, and the number of arrests 1,564. When the Crimes Act was in force in April, May, and June there were 340 crimes committed, and the number of arrests was 404. In the last quarter, when the Act was not in force, there were 351 crimes committed, and 457 arrests. Again, we see that the number of arrests was greater when there was no coercion in operation. Well, Sir, the total number of all indictable offences for the year ending the 31st of December, 1885, was 6,961, and the number of arrests 3,594; of the latter, 998 were discharged for want of evidence, and in 396 cases there was no prosecution; the number of committals for trial being 1,241, or one committal for 5.53 offences. It was in the face of those figures that the Tory Government of the day abandoned coercion. Now, with regard to murders. Exclusive of the murders of infants, there were 18 during 1885; there being 12 arrests when the Act was in force, and 26 when it was not in force. —a fact which shows that, in the absence of coercion, the people were brought round more in favour of the law. There were discharged, for want of evidence, 29 persons, and no one for want of prosecution. In 1886 the number of murders and homicides was 7. I believe that when Lord Russell was in power his Government brought in a Coercion Bill, and it was stated at the time that there had been 200 murders in the course of the year. Therefore, I say that, comparing that time with the present, it is clear that the Government are adopting an extreme course in bringing in this Bill. From the way in which the Government speak of trial by jury, one would imagine that juries in Ireland never convict, that a man had only to be brought before a jury to be acquitted; but let us see how the result of trial by jury in Ireland compares with 978 that in England. I have looked over the figures relating to convictions by Irish juries, and I find that in 1876 there were 67.8 per cent of convictions and 32.2 per cent of acquittals; in 1880, 69.5 per cent of convictions and 30.5 per cent of acquittals; in 1885, 73.5 per cent of convictions and 26.5 per cent of acquittals. Now, in the case of English juries, I find that during the five years —1880–4—the percentage of acquittals was 22.23, as against 20.5 per cent in the case of juries in Ireland. Assuming that the number of acquittals in England was exactly that which justice required, we may infer, on account of the excessive number of convictions in Ireland, that our contention that persons have been convicted in Ireland who ought not to have been convicted, is justified. Taking the number of threatening letters—which is one of the offences cited in support of the Bill—I find there were, in 1885, 710 cases, as against 3,093 in 1881, and 2,651 in 1882, when the Crimes Bill was introduced; so that, in one of those years, there were four times, and in the other three times, as many as are cited against us. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland said that during the last three years the statistics showed a formidable list of crime and a steady increase in the number of crimes. Now, the Report of Mr. Grimshaw, the Registrar General, says that the statement I have quoted—Shows that in 1885 the total number of serious crimes was much below the average of the previous six years, and that decrease extended through all the classes of such crimes.This statement of Mr. Grimshaw, I submit, disposes of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, because he shows that the fact is exactly opposite to that which the Chief Secretary has put forward; and I lay stress upon this point, because Mr. Grimshaw is the official witness with whose evidence the right hon. Gentleman supports his case. Now, with regard to cases in which claims have been made for malicious injuries. Many of these claims are dishonest, and intended as a profitable speculation. Take the case of cattle alleged to have been stolen in Kerry. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the tattle which were removed, and in respect of which presentments were made, were found alive and well on the property of Lord Ken-mare? I will give another instance. At the 979 last Presentment Sessions in Kerry a man made a claim for compensation on account of his dwelling-house having been maliciously pulled down. Now, on the 9th of December last a terrific storm swept over that part of Ireland, which was the cause of the damage which this man alleged was maliciously done. I happened to go through a great portion of the County of Clare next day, after the storm, and I saw an enormous number of partially unroofed houses. The claim which this man made was rejected by the Presentment Sessions, and he appealed to the Grand Jury, who also, by 21 votes, again rejected it. Here, then, is a case bearing on the list quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. How are these Courts constituted? We know that the Grand Jury is invariably composed of landlords and their agents; and the Presentment Sessions, on which the right hon. Gentleman seems to place much reliance, are composed of a certain number of local magistrates and associated cess payers; out of 12 of the latter summoned six only are down, so that the number holding popular opinions can never exceed that number. I repeat that people injure their own houses and cattle and then make claims before the Grand Juries and Presentment Sessions, that these claims are allowed, and that in this way they reap a profit on their own crime and infamy. This is a practice regularly resorted to in Ireland, and it is the reason why there are so many cases of destroying and maiming cattle the perpetrators of which are undiscovered. I am not disposed to minimize the evil, or excuse persons who adopt the practice; but I say that you ought not to apply coercion for the sake of attempting to deal with this state of things, and which I contend this Bill, if it becomes law, will not be able to cope with. An hon. Gentleman who spoke in favour of the Bill said it would be limited in its operation. Of course, it will be limited. I do not suppose that the Government will ever apply its provisions in Ulster; nor do I suppose that the Irish Government will have the audacity to apply any part of it to the County of Tyrone, for the evidence taken before the Commission is sufficient to prove that there is no justification for such a course. But if the Bill is to be limited in its scope to a few discreditable proceedings in Clare and Kerry, I ask 980 whether that is a sufficient reason to justify the Government for occupying the time of the House of Commons during several months with this legislation—time which might be much more profitably employed in dealing with the Land Question? The argument that the Bill will not apply to many parts of Ireland is one which justifies us in a course of vigorous opposition to the Bill. We have heard a great deal about terrorism, intimidation, and anarchy in Ireland; but I submit that, although these words are very easily used, no proof has been given of their existence; and the same may be said with regard to the statement that the Queen's writ does not run in Ireland. I should like to know in what part of Ireland the Queen's writ does not run. We know that men occupying the most sacred position among the people have been arrested; and that such an arrest, in one case, created a ferment which gave a pretext to the police to attack the people, when a man lost his life. We have been asked to point out anything in the Report of the Royal Commissioners which would justify our opposition to this Bill; but I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite to find anything in the evidence of Sir Redvers Buller to justify that Bill itself. We altogether refuse to accept the verdict of the Commissioners as to the state of Ireland; and I strongly dissuade the House of Commons from accepting the verdict of men who are avowedly attached to the landlord interest in Ireland. When Sir Redvers Buller was examined before the Commission, he was asked whether intimidation was lessened? And he replied—I think but little….. My view of the country is this—that the majority of tenants meant to pay rents, and where they could pay them, did pay them, hut that the rents have been too high.When asked for suggestions in regard to the disturbed state of Kerry and Clare, Sir Redvers Buller said—I feel it very strongly that in this part of the country you can never have peace, unless you create some legal equipoise or legal equivalent that will supply the want of freedom of contract that now exists between the landlord and the tenant.There was nothing in the evidence of Sir Redvers Buller to justify the introduction of this atrocious Coercion Bill, although there was plenty in it to justify the passing of a Land Bill. He con- 981 cluded his evidence by using these striking words, that in the districts which are disturbed—''You have got a very ignorant, poor people, and the law should look after them; instead of which, it has only looked after the rich—that, at least, appears to me to be the case.I, Sir, as an Ulster Member, base my opposition to the Bill, not on the Report of the three landlords and Sir James Caird—who, I am sorry to say, was associated with it—but on the Report of Mr. Knipe, who is an Ulster tenant farmer, and one of the class of men who have not supported me hitherto—but who will probably see their way to do so in the future. I shall be surprised if, after the reception this gentleman's Report has received, we do not, in the future, have the Presbyterians at our back. He declares that an attempt to meet the crime and outrage that prevailed in some districts by fresh coercion would only end in seriously aggravating the present condition of things; and he wound up by saying that it will be a serious matter, with grievances unredressed, to attempt, by force, to repress the right of the tenants to assemble together for the discussion of their affairs. With regard to the Judges' Charges, upon which the Attorney General for Ireland bases his case for coercion, we have received many tributes to the peaceful state of the country from those learned gentlemen. It is true that Mr. Justice O'Brien, in Clare, said that law there seemed to have ceased to exist; but Mr. Justice O'Brien was in the district two days. Well, I was there from September until the opening of the Session of Parliament; and, therefore, ought to know more about the matter than Mr. Justice O'Brien; and when anyone says that Clare has become a lawless county, that the Queen's writ does not run there, and that intimidation and terrorism prevail, I say that that is not the fact. I have been engaged in carrying out the Plan of Campaign in Clare; and, from my experience, I assert that any disturbance that has occurred has been due to the action of the landlords, and not to the action of the tenantry, or their leaders. If you refuse to the tenants the right to combine, what will you do in regard to combination on the part of the landlords—and in Ulster landlords can combine with some effect? A gentleman named John Love, of Castle- 982 derg, an ex-Sub-Commissioner under the Land Act, was examined before the Royal Commission. He was asked by Sir James Caird—Is there a combination of any kind in this part of the country?And he replied—There is no combination except the combination on the part of the landlords to defeat the Act.I should like to know whether this Bill is to be put in force against landlords who may combine to defeat Acts 01 Parliament as the landlords in Ulster have done? Sir James Caird asked—Do you think it will come to this part of the country?And the witness replied—I do not think that amongst a Presbyterian population you will ever see anything of the sort. The Presbyterians are the beasts of burden.I see there are Members of the Unionist Party who are going to support this Bill, who were at one time opposed to coercion. There is, for instance, the Member for one of the Divisions of Scotland sitting below me (Mr. Sinclair), who was once elected by the Liberal voters of Antrim as an anti-Coercionist. He pledged himself then to oppose coercion; but now that he represents a Scotch Unionist constituency, he turns round and—
§ MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)
I beg, at once, to state that what the hon. Member has said is not in accordance with the facts. At the time of my election for Antrim, I did not pledge myself to vote against coercion. I remember I said then what I have always said—namely, that I held myself free to judge of the facts that were laid before me by the Government of the day; and that whilst I was very strongly opposed to anything in the nature of coercive legislation, yet that I would not pledge myself to any course until I knew what the facts were on which I was asked to join in that policy.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY
That is substantially what I said. He was elected at a time when it was proposed, I believe, to renew some of the provisions of the Act of 1882, and he was supported in his candidature by Mr. Thomas Dixon, a strenuous anti-Coercionist. I claim for this Bill that it is a measure not for the purpose of putting down crime, 983 because crime, substantially, does not exist in Ireland, but that it is a Bill for the purpose of keeping up rent. As to its probable effects, I listened with pleasure, almost with reverence, to the words which fell from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) to-night. He told hon. Members on these Benches to exercise what control we possess over the people of Ireland to prevent them from losing their temper under the operation of this measure. In reply, Sir, I will say this—that so far as we are concerned we will spare no effort for the purpose of keeping the people of Ireland as quiet as we possibly can, even under the application of coercion. The Irish people are conscious of the fact that this measure can only subsist so long as the present Government subsists, and they are beginning to recognize, and most of them have already recognized, not only in the North, but also in the South of Ireland, that a better time is coming, and that they can well afford to suffer for a few months, or even for a few years, under a coercion régime, rather than do anything which, in the future, could justify the existence of this measure. In conclusion, I would remind the House of the simile of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley). Dean Swift once wrote that—Oppression maketh a wise man mad. The reason some people are not mad is because they are not wise.There is some truth in that phrase; but we will be warned and will endeavour to keep the people from that madness which would result in disorder, and would delay the remedies for Irish discontent, and postpone the day that we know to be near at hand when the Irish people will be free in the enjoyment of their own government.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Sir William Harcourt,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.