§ ADJOURNED DEBATE. [SIXTH NIGHT.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [5th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
And which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, being of opinion that the Bill, if it should become Law, will tend to increase disorder in Ireland, and to endanger the Union, between that Country and the other parts of the Empire, declines to proceed further with the said Bill,"—(Sir Bernhard Samuelson,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
Sir, the Crimes Act of 1882, for the conduct of which I was responsible in this House, has been so repeatedly referred to in these debates that I perhaps need make no apology, even after the length to which this debate has been extended, for asking leave to say something on this subject, and its connection with the proposals now before the House. In speaking of the Act of 1882, I think I ought to make my acknowledgments to the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) for the compliment he was pleased to make me regarding that measure, and what he called its brilliant success. There was one element of success, however, which, was wanting to it. I did not feel sure until a very recent period that that measure recommended itself to the Home 1007 Secretary, or to the Gentlemen who sit around him. I should like to know whether those encomiums on the Act of 1882 formed part of the Election Address of the Home Secretary in November, 1885, when, in concert with the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), he was contesting Birmingham? I think the view taken at that time of coercion and of the Crimes Act was somewhat different from that which we have heard recently stated by those two distinguished persons. The Act of 183:2 expired, we all know, in the autumn of 1885, and a good deal has happened since then. There is one remarkable feature in the subject of coercion which is deserving, I think, of the attention of the House, because it has a very important bearing on the future policy regarding Ireland. Since that period both the great Parties in the State have declared against the employment of Coercion Bills for the government of Ireland. What was the course that was taken by the Party opposite on that occasion? It was known that that Bill was about to expire, It was known that the Government of that day intended to propose the re-enactment of some of the clauses of that Bill—clauses which were not at all of the stringent character of those now proposed in the Government Bill. There was a change of venue; there was not a change of venue to bring the prisoners to England. There was a summary jurisdiction, confined, if I remember rightly, exclusively to intimidation, which was not at all of the character of these clauses embodying the Whiteboy Acts in this Bill. It was a Bill, as Gentlemen opposite knew very well, which was not to be proposed in perpetuity, but which was to be proposed for a single year only. Now, that was the character of the measure which it was known the Government of that time intended to introduce. What was the condition of Ireland at that time? Was it very different from what it is now? The National League then existed as it does now. Boycotting was in full force; and I do not know any reason to say that Boycotting is more extensive now than in 1885. From all my knowledge I shall say that is not the case. That being the condition of Ireland at that time—it being known perfectly well that it had been announced that the Government were 1008 about to propose clauses of that character—I hear it said this is the first occasion on which the responsible Opposition have opposed a responsible Government when proposing a Coercion Bill for Ireland. What was the course of the Gentlemen now sitting on the Bench opposite, who were the responsible Opposition of that day? They did not even wait for the proposals of the Government. A very important statement on this subject was made in September, I think, of that year by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. He said that weeks before the fall of the Liberal Government the Leaders of the Tory Party had met together, and they had come to a resolution on this subject of coercion. I possess a copy of the noble Lord's collected works, and a curious circumstance occurred the other day in reference to those works. I observed that the noble Lord, at Paddington, claimed a character for statesmanlike prescience and political foresight, and referred to a speech that he had delivered in Edinburgh in the year 1883. Well, I desired to refresh my recollection of that speech, and to refer to the eloquent and vigorous passages in it, and I looked into the collected works of the noble Lord, but I found that the whole passage relating to Ireland had been expunged. But then the editio princeps of the noble Lord's works was published just about the time of the Election of 1885, and it was not convenient at that time that this prophetic denunciation should present itself to the minds of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Well, the Leaders of the Tory Party met together, according to the noble Lord, and he says that some weeks before the late Government fell it was obvious to any ordinary political observer that the late Government were likely to fall, and the consequences of the fall of the late Government were a subject of the most serious consideration to Lord Salisbury and his immediate political friends. He then goes on to describe how they took a decision on the subject of coercion at that time. He says that that decision was taken long before the late Government came to grief.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will read the exact 1009 words. I think he will find that the decision which I described as having been come to by Lord Salisbury and his Friends was qualified by the amount of information that was then at their command.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
What an extraordinary thing it was that Leaders of a great Party, without the official information, should meet together and come to a decision for the purpose of overthrowing a Government which had the official information! Well, the noble Lord said that was a decision taken long before the late Government came to grief. What was the foundation of that decision?—Never," said he, "was there a decision on a grave question of policy more deliberately and anxiously considered; and further, I believe, never was there one that was more guided by the light of Constitutional practice, because we, as Englishmen, must remember, for the sake of our own liberties and for the sake of the liberties of our sons and those who come after us, that the Constitution of England absolutely prohibits the imposition of exceptional restraints on liberty except in times of great disorder.I am coming to inquire whether there is any greater social disorder now than there was in 1885. Well, fortified by this decision of the Tory Opposition, the noble Lord wont about the country denouncing the intention of the Government to pass those clauses which we are now told are quite a matter of course— clauses that might perfectly well be applied to England, and be made perpetual here or anywhere else. That is what we are told now. What was said then? The noble Lord denounced the Government for a great many things, but, among others, principally for this. he said—The Government intends to apply to Parliament for a renewal of the Acts which are called the Coercion Acts.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The speech is one either about the decline of Britain or the Tory programme, or something of that sort. It was delivered at Bow in June, 1885, when the noble Lord knew that these clauses—these innocent clauses now, but those wicked clauses then—were about to be renewed. He said—The Government intends to apply to Parliament for a renewal of the Acts which are 1010 called the Coercion Acts. I do not think that for the purpose of the consideration of this topic it is of much moment whether the demand made by the Government is for great or for smaller powers. It is sufficient to remember that to the Irish people these powers, whether large or small, come under the name of coercive, exceptional, and peculiar legislation.Let the House mark this. The noble Lord says—The published Returns presented to Parliament show no abnormal amount of crime.It is said there is an increase of crime now, but the rise in the barometer of crime compared with what it was in the previous year was much greater in 1885 as compared with 1884 than it was in 1886 as compared with 1885. The reason, I believe, is the cause with which we are all familiar now—namely, that crime decreased in 1883 from the assessment of fair rents, but increased in 1885 because, owing to a fall in prices, the rents had again become excessive. The noble Lord said—The published Returns presented to Parliament show no abnormal amount of crime…. Irish politics are always turbulent, and Irish affairs will always be attended with difficulty and anxiety. Her Majesty's Government must have terrible facts and terrible evidence to adduce in support of their demands.Then again, in his speech at Bow on the 3rd of June, 1885, one of the great indictments which the noble Lord brought against the Government of the day was this—The Government are about to renew the Crimes Act and the Coercion Act for one year, and they are going to buy for the tenants of Ireland, with the money of the British taxpayers, the remaining rights of the people of Ireland.Well, Sir, the noble Lord and his Friend succeeded. They got the support of the Irish Nationalist Party by these declarations that they would resist a Coercion Bill if it were introduced by the responsible Government of the day—
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
And that if in power they would not themselves introduce coercion. That is not all. There is another important incident to be noted. They came into Office; they had declared against coercion in Ireland. We are told sometimes that we are great criminals on account of communications with the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his Friends. [Colonel SAUNDERSON: Hear, hear!] I 1011 assure the hon. and gallant Member that I am not going to impute anything of the kind to him. I have seen a great deal of rubbish in The Times as to the duty of politically Boycotting the hon. Member for Cork and his friends on account of their supposed association with crime. Well, was that the view taken by the Government that was then ardently supported by the hon. and gallant Member who cheered just now? What, Sir, was the first act of the Tory Lord Lieutenant of Ireland? I will do him the justice of describing it in his own words. He said—The political position was, to say the least, a very peculiar one.That is true. Nobody will venture to deny that—Lord Salisbury had just formed a Government. I had just gone to Ireland, and I had before me as difficult a task as could well have fallen upon the shoulders of any man. At that moment there was no one who could precisely say what the wishes and the desires of the Irish Parliamentary Party were. There was only one man who was in any way qualified to speak. He was the chosen Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, and his power was singularly and exceptionally large. It was notorious that when the new Parliament should be elected his strength would be at least doubled.These were the reasons which induced Lord Carnarvon to seek an interview with the hon. Member for Cork. he has not told us, nor has the hon. Member for Cork told us, what passed on that occasion; but I will undertake to say of that interview that it took place with the knowledge and approval of the Prime Minister. How could it be otherwise? I do not ask what passed at that interview, or what was the result of it; but at all events pout hoc, if not propter hoc, the Government of Lord Salisbury had the whole support of the Irish Parliamentary Party at the Election. I say, then, that first of all there is this remarkable fact—that within the last] 8 months both of the great Parties in the State have disavowed the application of coercion, as a method for the government of Ireland. I do not know whether the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) who sits near the hon. and gallant Member opposite who cheered when I said it was attributed to us as a crime that we have communicated with the hon. Member for Cork agrees in that, but we did not hear the noble Lord cheer that. Does the noble Lord say that in reference 1012 to the government of Ireland he think a it wrong that the Leader of the great majority of the Representatives of Ireland should be consulted in regard to the measures and the policy to be pursued towards Ireland? Has he himself never done anything of the kind? I venture to say that he has; let him deny it if he can. There is another distinguished friend of mine who is very great now on the subject of the Chicago Convention. I refer to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). Will he denounce on the foundation of "Parnellism and Crime," all communications with the hon. Member for Cork on Irish affairs? Will he get up in this House or in Edinburgh and say that he never held consultations—that he never took sweet counsel together—with the hon. Member for Cork with reference to the government of Ireland? And, therefore, I say that this rubbish may be dispensed with on such high authorities. Do you really believe that it is possible to govern absolutely and entirely without reference to the opinions and wishes of the persons who are here to represent Ireland? If that is your view I do not comprehend what your theory of the Union is. I thought your theory of the Union was that the Irish Members were here for the purpose of expressing the views of the Irish people, and that those wishes and views ought to be taken into account and ought not to be treated as something absolutely to be set aside. Now, that is the course of the Conservative Party with reference to the far milder proposals which it was understood were to be made by the Liberal Government in 1885; and you have it announced—deliberately announced—that it is your design to turn round and charge us with insincerity. And the Party who won the Election of 1885 by their close friendship with the Nationalist Party have the effrontery to accuse us of inconsistency! Our proposals, as contemplated at that time, were totally different from those you now make. If you want any witnesses to that assertion of mine I will refer you to the letter of Sir George Trevelyan. He was a Member of that Government. He knew what was proposed, and he has given you his opinion as to the difference in the character of the proposals. Well, as to the case which you 1013 mate out now as contrasted with the year 1885. I wish to speak with ail respect for the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) in the arduous task which is imposed upon him, but I cannot say that I thought that the case presented for this Bill was a strong one, and every day since these discussions commenced it has been apparent that the case has grown weaker and weaker. He gave us a few examples which reminded me of the celebrated remark of Mr. Disraeli about "coffee-house babble," but that was all torn to shreds by the hon. Member for Cork. The right hon. Gentleman gave a few examples of crime, but as it turned out those examples broke down altogether. In one of the cases on which he relied has sowing that trial by jury broke down the Judge directed an acquittal. Is that one of your examples? I never heard any reply given to that. It is admitted that there is no material increase of crime. That is conceded. There is no doubt about it. The right hon. Gentleman is in fact obliged to say that he does not rest his case on any material increase of crime. I think the Returns give us 700 agrarian crimes in 1884. They rose to 900 in 1885, when the Party opposite said there was no need for coercion, and since that time they have risen 100 more, to 1,000. You, of course, do not rest your case on figures like these. Then the right hon. Gentleman falls back on this curious theory; he says it is the smallness of crime that proves his case. He reminds me of the lines—My wound is great because it is so small.Then it were greater if 'twere none at all."If that be so, when crime absolutely ceases to exist in Ireland you will contend that the case for coercion is stronger than ever. We were told that when we got the Returns of crime then the case for coercion would be conclusive, but in default of any evidence you can produce you bring forward the opinion of the Judges. If the opinion of the Judges had been upon anything that had taken place before them —if it dealt with cases which were brought before them—then that would be evidence. But that is not the case with regard to the Judges. As to the facts of which they spoke they knew nothing at all. Here is what one of the Judges said—one of the very Gentlemen quoted by the Chief Secretary 1014 for Ireland, Mr. Justice Johnson. He said—I have no other means of information whatever than that based on the Returns presented to me. I have no personal knowledge of these matters, except in these returns. There they are; it is no business of mine to explore the cases in these reports.That is the sort of knowledge possessed by the Judges. Mr. Justice O'Brien says—I defer any observations I shall make to you in order that I may have an opportunity of examining certain Returns contained in these materials which would enable me to form a judgment upon the state of things existing in this county.He had no knowledge except these returns. Why have we not had these returns, so that we might form our own opinion upon them? Then Mr. Justice O'Brien goes on to refer to an increase in the offence of intoxication. I do not know whether the National League is responsible for that, but the learned Judge says that it is—that is, the intoxication—the cause of the continued demoralization of the country.A great many conclusions," we are told, "are founded on that circumstance, and to that cause is to be ascribed the spread of lawlessness and resistance to the fulfilment of legal obligations.Therefore the lawlessness is due to intoxication. I wish to speak with the greatest respect of the Judges acting in their judicial capacities, and performing their high duties, but as to relying on them for an opinion on the political or social condition of the country or the remedies applicable I entirely decline to do anything of the kind. I do not believe that a worse authority could possibly be appealed to. What is the history of the Criminal Law of this country? It has been reformed in spite of the Judges. There has been no mitigation of the cruelty of the Criminal Law which has not been resisted by the unanimous voice of the Judges. [A laugh.] I state that distinctly, in spite of the laugh from the Under Secretary for India, and I recommend him to read the unanimous representation of the Judges presented by Lord Ellenborough against the Bill of Sir Samuel Romilly, afterwards carried by Sir Robert Peel, where they said that no property would be safe in this country if you remove the capital punishment for stealing from a shop to the amount of 5s. Now, that is notorious 1015 to anybody who knows the history of the Criminal Law Reform has not been made at the instance of the Judges. They naturally from their occupations think that it is only by the utmost severity of the law that society can be preserved. Happily, that is not the view of Parliament. Parliament is not to be influenced by judgments of that character. It is said by Gentlemen opposite that the jury system has broken down. What proof have they given of that? You have heard two or three examples alleged by the Chief Secretary for Ireland where it is said they have broken down. But the Home Secretary had the courage at last to refer to one trial in Ireland which had been carefully avoided by the Chief Secretary. I mean the trial of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). No doubt that trial broke down; but it was a political trial. But have trials of a political character never broken down in England? Well, it is very happy for this country that they did break down more often than they succeeded, and that verdict after verdict was given in the direct teeth of the direction of the Judges. Why, who does not recollect Hone's case? Lord Ellenborough thought the failure was due to a weak Judge, and he said, "I will go down," and he went down and failed. He went down a second time, and the jury returned a verdict against the direction of the Judge. Is it to be said, because there has been a failure a few times, that, therefore, trial by jury is to be abandoned? What would have been thought in England if the Government proposed to suspend trial by jury on that ground? The truth is that one main foundation of the liberties of England has been the stout refusal of the juries to find verdicts of the pressure of the Judges in political cases. Then, is it contended that the jury is bound to take the direction of the Judge and give a verdict in accordance with that direction in a criminal trial? What man who knows anything of the law would undertake to make such an assertion as that? and yet I hear it over and over again as proof that trial by jury has broken down in Ireland because the Judge summed up for a conviction and the jury acquitted. What was the whole history of Erskine's struggle with Lord Mansfield and the Judges but the right of the jury to find a verdict, not only upon the 1016 facts, but upon the criminal character of those facts? In all the cases you have established the right of the jury to find not only the facts, but also the felonious character of the facts; and this principle does not only apply to the Law of Libel, but it is of the essence of the general issue of "Not Guilty "in criminal cases. Endeavours have been made to punish juries for not finding according to the directions of Judges upon questions of law. In Bushel's case, more than a century ago, Chief Justice Vaughan, speaking of the complaint "that the jury did acquit against the direction of the Court in a matter of law," said—If the meaning of the words be that—if the Judge, having heard the evidence given in Court (for he knows no other), tells the jury on this evidence that the law is for the plaintiff or the defendant, and they, under pain of fine and imprisonment, are to find accordingly—everyone sees that the jury is hut a troublesome delay, great charge, and of no use in determining right and wrong, which seems a strange and new-found conclusion after a trial so celebrated for many hundreds of years.Yet we hear men getting up and saying that trial by jury has failed because there has been an instance in which a jury has found a verdict against the direction of a Judge. To talk of taking away the right of trial by jury on such a ground seems to me to be intolerable. I say you have made no case whatever upon anything you have laid before us for the annihilation of trial by jury in Ireland. It seems to be almost a waste of time to argue the proposed change of venue to England. I do not know whether we shall ever reach the discussion of the proposal in Committee. I see signs that the gorge of even Liberal Unionism is rising against it, and I will wait until it becomes a practical question. I think you will not carry it; but I will venture to prophesy, even against the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, that if you do carry it you will never dare to put it into operation. There is another part of the Bill which I think is still more important. In the Act of 1882 there is a clause referring to Boycotting, but it is under the heading of intimidation. If the Government had proposed remedial measures, and, with reference to Boycotting, had introduced a clause addressed to intimidation, and intimidation alone, I, for one, would not have opposed such a proposal. But the clause 1017 in the Bill is a totally different thing. In the Summary Jurisdiction Clause the 2nd sub-section applies to imtimidation; but the 1st sub-section has no application to intimidation at all. The Chief Secretary for Ireland challenged anyone to show that anything in the Bill would facilitate the exaction of exorbitant rents. I tell him that it is in this sub-section of the clause. The tenant in Ireland is weak and defenceless by himself, and if the landlord can only secure that he shall deal with the tenant alone, then he has him at his mercy. The only protection against the abominable transactions by which the landlords have oppressed their tenants in Ireland, and of which we have evidence in the latest Blue Book, is that the tenants shall have the right of combination which belongs to the working men of England, and which has placed them in a position of independence and of comparative comfort by then-resistance of the oppression resorted to in England by employers of labour. I say that by that clause of the Bill, and still more by the Whiteboy Clauses, it is intended to make it impossible for any men in Ireland to enter into these combinations, which they ought to have a right to enter into, apart from intimidation. This is a most important matter, and, in my opinion, it is the very pith and marrow of this Bill. The question of the Law of Conspiracy is one which is not so familiar he Members of this House, as it was when the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) and I debated it in this House, and when we laboured to overthrow the Judge-made law which rendered combinations of working men illegal. That was the Judge-made law which you profess to appreciate so highly, and the House of Commons destroyed it as regards trade disputes. I will put this as a case that may occur under the Bill. Three or four men desire to agree not to take a particular farm at the excessive rent which, as they think, is asked for it; it may be that £2 an acre is asked, and they say, "We will not give more than 30s.;" and every one of these men may, under this Bill, be sent to prison. The words used are "criminal conspiracy;" but as "gross negligence" is negligence with a vituperative epithet, so ''criminal'' before "conspiracy" is only bad drafting. "Conspiracy" means "criminal com- 1018 bination," and if it is not "criminal" it is nothing at all. What is it that Judges have held to be conspiracy? It does not involve intimidation, because intimidation is dealt with in another part of the Bill. As is well known, under the Law of Conspiracy, apart from the Trade Union Act, an act perfectly lawful in a single individual may become a criminal proceeding if it be done by two or throe individuals. I remember arguing the case once in this House, and Mr. Disraeli, with the admirable humour which distinguished him, said, "a conspiracy to count out the House, for instance "—not a bad illustration of a charge of conspiracy. In his admirable history of the Criminal Law Mr. Justice Stephen, after referring to some of the decided cases, makes this observation—If this is the Law of Conspiracy, then it is an indictable conspiracy for two brothers having a sister who is going to marry an undesirable man to say to her—'If you make that marriage then we will cease to associate with you.'This gives an idea of what is or may be conspiracy. Yet this is the jurisdiction you are going to give, not to Judges of wisdom, weight, and skill, but to half-pay captains. They, for sooth, are to decide what is criminal conspiracy under the words "or not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land." I will put this case. Suppose some tyrannical landlord has committed some very brutal act of eviction, and the tenants upon the estate agree together and say, "We will not take that farm." There is no breach of legal obligation, because there is no legal obligation; there is no refusal to pay rent, because it is not due; but it is a criminal conspiracy under the clause to induce a person "not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land." Ministers shake their heads; but I do not rely upon my own judgment alone. I wrote a few days ago to a gentleman who will be admitted to be probably the highest authority on the Law of Conspiracy, the man who did more than anyone else to carry the change of law I have referred to. I asked him whether I was right, and he said that my view was absolutely correct. This is the real meaning of the Bill, and of the inclusion of the White-boy Acts using the still more dangerous term, "illegal combination." And, mark, the Bill is not confined only to 1019 the letting of land. The words that follow are "or not to deal with, work for, or hire any person." You say that that does not touch the principle of trade unionism. Of course, it would not affect persons within the protection of the Trade Union Act; this is avoided by the saving clause of the Bill; but the provision attacks the whole principle, and it strikes at every man who is not absolutely within the protection of the Trade Union Act. This part of the Bill is absolutely new; it is not to be found in any Coercion Bill ever introduced before. It is not to be found in any Act since the abominable Acts passed with respect to trade combinations a century ago. In order to give spice to their Bill the Government seem to have raked up all the worst precedents that can be found in former times, and they have got this out of the Statute of Labourers. They have got the change of venue out of Lord North's Act against the State of Massachusetts, and, as if that were not enough, they have shovelled in wholesale the infamous Whiteboy Acts, of which Lord Chesterfield when Lord Lieutenant said that if the military had only put them in force against the landlords instead of against the Whiteboys they would have done a great deal more good. I say, then, that the object of this Bill is apparent in this clause. It is to prevent legitimate combinations by the tenants of Ireland in order to protect themselves against oppressive landlords. The Chancellor of the Exchequer really let the cat out of the bag-, because ha said that what they wanted this Bill for was to enable them to get on with their land legislation. What does it mean then? Why, it means that the Bill is intended to enable the Government to carry out the policy which they seem to have adopted of maintaining judicial rents at their present height, in spite of their own Royal Commission having declared that those rents are higher than they ought to be, and the object is to bring in a Purchase Bill founded upon those rents. That, Sir, is the keystone of the whole policy. The Bill is to be preliminary to a Purchase Bill, and to keep up the rents in order that the purchase money may be higher than it would otherwise be. That has been avowed. A witness before the Commission—I think he was an agent of Lord Clancarty or Lord Gosford, 1020 I am not sure which—was asked whether the judicial rents were too high. He said they were. He was then asked why they are not lowered, and he replied—"Because there is a Purchase Bill coming." That, then, is the secret of this Bill. You may say that even if these are bad laws they will be administered with moderation. Sir, that is a very old apology for a bad law. But by whom are those laws to be administered? Sir George Trevelyan knows something of Ireland, and he knows something of what is the meaning of this Bill, and of what its real effect will be in Ireland. He says in the letter he has just written—The full weight of this terrible hut onesided measure is intended to fall and will fall upon the politicians of one Party alone, and every Literal who votes for it will be as neglectful of the well-established Liberal doctrine that you can suppress crime, but that you cannot suppress opinion, as he will he untrue to those traditions of impartial justice in obedience to which his old historical Party has always, however fitfully and imperfectly, attempted to govern Ireland.Then Sir George Trevelyan goes on to refer to the men by whom this Bill is to be administered. Sir, the Government have given to Ireland and also to England an indication of the spirit in which it is going to be administered by their most recent appointment in Ireland. The old Orange landlord flag has been hoisted on the Castle. It is under that flag that this law is to be carried out. Sir George Trevelyan refers to this point in his letter, and speaking of the Attorney General for Ireland he says—This gentleman and the recently-nominated Under Secretary for Ireland, Colonel King-Harman, took a prominent part in the defence of these unwarrantable proceedings, by which it was attempted, at any risk to the public peace and to human life, to defeat the resolution of seeing fair play all round, which Her Majesty's representative had adopted. I have no ill-will, and much the opposite, towards Colonel King-Harman, but I cannot refrain from saying in the most emphatic terms which I can command that he and the Attorney General for Ireland are not the proper men to he counsellors of the Lord Lieutenant, and to have themselves an amount of power over the liberties of their countrymen which far exceeds anything that can be imagined or believed by those who have not been behind the scenes of Irish administration. It is a Government so advised and so manned to which Liberals are asked to commit this new and cruel weapon, which, in such hands, cannot be a sword of justice, and at the absolute and uncontrolled disposal of which they are invited to place every politician, Press 1021 writer, and Press worker in Ireland…. The real defect of this measure is that it is a Coercion Bill directed against the written and spoken expression of opinion, and which will be worked by administrators who have proved beyond all question that they are actuated by the strongest Orange sympathies.That, Sir, is the opinion of a man who knows Ireland well, and who has been responsible for the government of Ireland. This is the Government's mission of peace to Ireland! By this appointment you have declared yourselves, in respect to this Bill, the partizans of a section of the people of Ireland. You are going to administer the Bill as the agents of the Irish landlords. By this appointment—you have told it to all the world—you are going to become the instruments of the worst passions of religious prejudices and class privileges in Ireland. You could not have selected a man in all Ireland by whose appointment you could have made more clear to everybody what are the intention and the spirit of the Bill. You dismissed Sir Robert Hamilton. The landlords of Ireland would not stand Sir Robert Hamilton. You are going to got rid of Sir Redvers Buller, whom the landlords of Ireland have not forgiven; and you have appointed in his place a landlord, a Member of this House, who is not even an Irish Member, for he sits for the Thanet Division of Kent, as Parliamentary Under Secretary for Ireland. Sir Redvers Buller was sent to Ireland, as Lord Salisbury describes it, as a "fresh eye." He is an officer and a gentleman, and in his evidence he expressed his disgust at what he saw there, and at the manner in which the Irish tenants were oppressed. You are tired of the "fresh eye." He has not seen what you intended him to see. You are going back to the old eye with your new Under Secretary—the old eye with which, for so many generations past, the English Government has alone consented to look at Irish affairs. I shall be asked, perhaps, whether I contend that the existing state of Ireland is satisfactory. I say nothing of the kind. You referred to the Act of 1882, and the Home Secretary said that that Act succeeded in putting down crime in Ireland. In concert with the operation of the Land Bill, and with the removal of excessive rents, it did, to a great extent, succeed in putting down crime, and I am glad that it did so succeed. But in 1022 one respect it did not succeed. After crime was put down, it had not put an end to disaffection in Ireland; it had not put an end to the quarrel between the English and Irish peoples; it had not reconciled the Irish people to their government by England; when the Bill expired the chasm was as broad as it had ever been before. You say that the National League is supreme in Ireland, that it is obeyed rather than the law of the land. Why is the National League supreme? It has no army, no police. ["Yes!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Where, then, does it get its army and police from? [An hon. MEMBER: America.] I shall have something to say on the subject of America. Sir Redvers Buller has told you why the National League is powerful in Ireland. It is because the Irish believe that it protects, and has protected, them from unjust landlords, and therefore they trust it. The English Government is not powerful in Ireland because the people do not believe—and your recent appointment will not have the effect of making thorn believe—that it intends to protect them; but that, on the contrary, it does the very opposite. the Irish Government is weak and the National League is strong because the League is trusted by the Irish nation and the British Government is not trusted. Do you think that this Bill will make the English Government more liked by the Irish people and that it will make that Government stronger? Do you think it will make the League less trusted by the people? You say you are prepared with remedial measures. What are they? How are they prepared? You have proceeded upon the extraordinary principle of refusing to take into account the opinion and the judgment of the Leaders of the Irish nation. You have introduced a Land Bill for Ireland in the House of Lords. Is that a Bill which is suitable for Ireland? Is it a Bill which commends itself to any class of people in Ireland? As far as I have seen, the Bill has been condemned by both the landlords and the tenants of Ireland. It seems to have been drawn up in absolute ignorance of the wishes and wants of the Irish nation. What is it that you propose by the Bill? Are you going to revise the rents as the Royal Commission has recommended you to do? Not at all. You are going to 1023 keep up the rents and make the tenant insolvent. But what the Irish people want is to have reasonable rent and be solvent. You are going to set Ireland straight by a Coercion Bill and a National Bankruptcy Bill; that is the remedial policy of the Government. Now, I have some sympathy with the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I do not attribute to him this extraordinary and ridiculous Bankruptcy Bill. The fact is it is one of those political bargains which sometimes have to be made. There are equivalents to be given on both sides. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) is to vote for coercion, and the Government have taken his Bankruptcy Bill. A very bad bargain it is for both—for the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who has to swallow coercion much to his own great damage, and for the Government, who have taken his Bankruptcy Bill, which has landed them in a ridiculous mess. That is your remedial measure, and so you will go on to the end of the chapter, as long as you choose to take your Irish legislation from Birmingham entirely regardless of the opinions and wishes of the Irish people, and will not consult the Irish Representatives because you say they look to America. A great deal has been said about American gold. The people who ought to be the last in the world to say anything about American gold are the Irish landlords. It is by American gold and from American gold that they have got the greater portion of their exorbitant rents. They have screwed and wrung tho3e exorbitant rents out of their unfortunate tenants, who have been able to satisfy their excessive demands only by labour elsewhere or by the charity of their relations who had been driven from the shores of Ireland to America. The new Under Secretary, I should say, has as much American gold in his pocket as any Irish Land Leaguer. So much for American gold. But you say the Irish look to America. That is not a new statement, and on that subject I should like to refer to the view taken by a man of great authority upon Irisk affairs—at least he was once —the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). That right hon. Gentleman went to Dublin at a very critical period in 1860 in the midst of the Fenian insurrection, and there was a great deal of communication with America at that time. 1024 He said at the beginning of his speech that the Habeas Corpus Act was then suspended in Ireland, and that he only spoke by leave of the Government. With regard to Irishmen looking to America he used very eloquent and remarkable words. he stated that he had had a letter from an Irishman, and he went on to say—He told me that he believed a very large portion of what he called the poor among Irishmen sympathized with any scheme that was adverse to the Imperial Government. But the people here are rather in the country than of it, and that they are looking more to America than they are looking to England. When we consider how many Irishmen have found refuge in America, I do not know how we can wonder at that statement. You will recollect that when the ancient Hebrew prophet prayed in his captivity he prayed with the window opened towards Jerusalem. You know that the followers of Mahomet, when they pray, turn their faces towards Mecca. When the Irish peasant asks for food and blessing his eye follows the setting sun; the aspirations of his heart reach beyond the wide Atlantic, and in spirit he grasps hands with the great Republic of the West. I say that the disease is not only serious, but it is even desperate.Now this is so important a matter, and it has been so often referred to, that I will quote another authority, a great writer, about a people looking to a foreign land. Lord Macaulay says—The feeling of patriotism when society is in a healthful state springs up by a natural and inevitable association in the minds of citizens who know that they owe all their comforts and pleasures to the bond which unites them in one community. But under a powerful and oppressive Government these associations cannot acquire that strength which they have in a better state of things. Men are compelled to seek from their Party that protection which they ought to receive from their country. Nothing is so offensive to a man who knows anything of history or human nature as to hear those who exercise the powers of government accuse any sect of foreign attachments. If there be any proposition universally true in politics it is this —that foreign attachments are the fruit of domestic misrule. It has always been the trick of bigots to make their subjects miserable at home, and then to complain that they look for relief abroad; to divide society, and then to wonder that it is not united: to govern as if a section of the State were the whole, and to censure the other sections of the State for their want of patriotic spirit.What can more truly describe the cause of the differences of feeling in Ulster and the rest of Ireland than those words? Why does the difference exist? Because England has always governed Ireland for Ulster and the landlords 1025 and against the rest of Ireland. Lord Macaulay goes on to say—There is no feeling which more certainly develops itself in the minds of men living under tolerably good government than the feeling of patriotism. Since the beginning of the world there never was any nation, not cruelly oppressed, which was wholly destitute of that feeling. To make it, therefore, ground of accusation against a class of men that they are not patriotic is the most vulgar of legerdemain sophistry. It is the logic which the wolf employs against the lamb. It is to accuse the mouth of the stream of poisoning the source.The whole philosophy and the whole history of the Irish, looking to America is to be found in the passages I have quoted; and if you want to cure them of looking to America give them reason to look at home, make them look to the British Government—which they have never done—as their friends and their allies. I am sorry to have detained the House so long, but there are yet a few points which I wish to touch upon. With reference to your remedial measures, how do you start them? You start your Land Purchase Bill, and you say—"This Bill is to be the means of getting rid of the demand for national self-government for Ireland." By that very assertion you give the Irish people a distaste for your Land Purchase Bill. It is to be an obstacle to another thing which they desire and cherish; and, therefore, you destroy the chances of your Land Purchase Bill in the eyes of the Irish people by the very argument by which you seek to recommend it. There is one feature in the Bill before the House which distinguishes it from every other Bill of the same character ever proposed to the British Parliament. There never has been, I am confident, until now, a Coercion Bill of any kind proposed to Parliament which did not fix a limit to its operation. Even in the bad times of Castlereagh and Sidmouth the Six Acts had their limit. There never before was a Government which dared to propose a perpetual Coercion Bill. We have been told that it is not perpetual, because it can be repealed. Why do you not give the House of Commons an opportunity of saying whether it is right and proper that at some future time this Coercion Bill should be renewed? Just conceive the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act being made perpetual. Do you think the House of 1026 Lords would consent to repeal it? I say that the object of this Bill is to place it in the power of a House of Landlords to make it and keep it perpetual; and that is a feature of no other Coercion Bill. I charge against this Coercion Bill that it is a breach of the fundamental conditions of the Union, which you pretend to reverence. What is the fundamental principle of the Union? It is that England and Ireland should live under the same equal laws and privileges. You may say that circumstances arise at certain times which compel you to suspend the operation of the regular law for a limited period. But if you say, "We suspend the privileges of Irish citizens for ever," then you violate the fundamental principle of the Union. I venture to say that by fixing this as a perpetual law without any limit of time, you strike a heavier blow at the Union than has yet been struck. What might the Government have done instead? They might have introduced a Land Bill more in accordance with the wishes of the Irish people. They might have introduced a measure of self-government for Ireland—not our measure, because they disapprove of that; but I do not know that they intend to carry on the government of Ireland just as it is for ever. Why did they not introduce their plan of self-government? Then they would have come to the Irish people, at all events, with proposals which would have been deserving of consideration and of friendly consultation; and, as my right hon. Friend has said, there is no man on this side who would not have been delighted to assist in the discussion of some proposal which, though it did not go the length of our Bill, might have had some chance of settling the question. If you had done that you would have disarmed the National League; you would have removed to a great extent both its agrarian and its political object; and if coercion had been necessary you would have been in a very different position in coming forward to propose it. It seems to me that that would have been a conciliatory and statesmanlike policy. I cannot conceive why you did not do so. The only reason I can find is that which I have already given—that you were determined above and before all things to keep up Irish rents in view of the 1027 intended Purchase Bill. This is a policy of pure force. You are going to carry-it out for the most unjust objects and in the most obnoxious manner. In my opinion this Bill will not remove, but will aggravate the evil in Ireland. The great evil in Ireland is that British rule is hated and distrusted there. This Bill will make it more hated and more distrusted. You will have against you in working this Bill forces which no English Government has ever had to contend with in administering a Coercion Act—you will have against you the opinion of the majority of the people of Scotland. ["No, no!"] Well, wait till we see the Division List. You will have almost the unanimous voice of the people of Wales against you, and you will have a great and growing voice among the people of England—it will be under these influences that you will have to administer this coercion. I observed what I thought a remarkable example of taste and judgment in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington which he delivered last night at Birmingham. He said that this policy of coercion would be a suitable monument for the year of Jubilee. I should have thought that this was a topic which every man would have desired to pass over in silence. If there is anything to be regretted it is that after the 50 years of her Majesty's auspicious reign the condition of Ireland is no better than when Her Majesty ascended the throne. Of no other part of this United Empire can that be said, and it is because I believe that this Bill in its tendency will not diminish but will aggravate the evil—that it will poison still more the relations between England and Ireland—that I shall cordially vote against its second reading.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WOERS (Mr. PLUNKET) (Dublin University)
In making some reply to the remarkable speech which has just been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman, I will not refer to him as he referred to my hon. and learned Friend on my left (Sir John Gorst), by saying that he was once Solicitor General for England, but I do not know what he is now.
SIR WILLIAM HAECOUET
I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I meant nothing derogatory by that remark. I simply did not know what Office the hon. and learned Gentleman at pre- 1028 sent holds. If what I said was offensive in the slightest degree, I at once withdraw it.
§ MR. PLUNKET
Then, of course, I also withdraw my remark. However, I may say that, even for the moment, I had not forgotten what the right hon. Gentleman had been politically engaged in during the last few years. His speech, as far as I could assign any meaning to it, appeared to me to have as its principal object the vindication of himself, by anticipation from charges which he expected would be made against him on the ground of political inconsistency, and also from what he called communication with the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his Party. Well, the right hon. Gentleman might have saved himself the trouble; for I should never dream, have never dreamt, of occupying the valuable time of the House in preferring such an idle accusation as that. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to denounce what he styled ''the rubbish in The Times." I have read the articles in The Times—"Parnellism and Crime" —which I presume he referred to. They struck me as being of a serious and weighty character—[Cries of "No!"]— unless they can be disproved. Neither have I any intention of making such charges against hon. Members from Ireland who sit below the Gangway opposite. Their conduct is their own affair, and so is their responsibility; and I would only say that it would be worth their while to contradict those articles if they can. But since the right hon. Gentleman denounces as rubbish the charges against the hon. Member for Cork and his Party, of having been connected with Fenianism and other secret associations, I should like to call his attention to certain language which he himself once used on this subject—not for the purpose of showing his inconsistency, but for the purpose of throwing some light upon "the rubbish in The Times." On the 11th of March, 1881, he said—Am I right or wrong in saying that this Land League organization is really Fenian, and Fenian in its character? I say exactly what I believe about the matter. It is perfectly true, as the hon. Member stated, that the Fenian organization endeavoured in former times to attack the English Government by open force; but, having found that that force could not be successful, it is my firm conviction that exactly the same object has been, and is being, prosecuted by other and more indirect methods.1029 And later on, in the same speech, the right hon. Gentleman said—When we see men seeking the support of arms to assist their purposes, and find members of the Land League in communication with Communism in Paris and Fenianism in America, then I say the maxim applies—Noscitur ex sociis."—(3 Hansard,  842–3.)The right hon. Gentleman devoted some portion of his speech to a consideration of the reliability of the evidence afforded as to the condition of Ireland by the charges of the Judges—the very same Judges upon whom he himself relied when bringing forward the Crimes Bill a few years ago. And then the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to a minute examination of Clause 2, Subsection 1, and argued that it constituted an attack on associations which corresponded with trades unions—that if three men agreed not to take land, that would be a criminal conspiracy within the meaning of the section, and that it was aimed at the legitimate combination of the tenants of Ireland. I most emphatically deny that. The right hon. Gentleman founded himself upon a letter he received from some person whom he described as of high authority. But we do not know who this person is; therefore, we cannot be expected to admit Ms "high authority." If we wore told what was the case presented to him, and what was his exact answer, his authority would also have more weight with us. But I am not going to endeavour to enter upon this minute matter now.
§ MR. PLUNKET
the right hon. Gentleman ironically cheers; but I do not think he was in the House when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby made the observations to which I refer.
§ MR. PLUNKET
At any rate, I do not think that this is a matter for debate on the second reading. As the right hon. Gentleman, however, has quoted high authority, I will tell the right hon. Gentleman that the words "any criminal conspiracy" to which he referred were inserted for the express purpose of guarding against the very construction which he alleges the sec- 1030 tion bears; and I can state on the authority of my right hon. and hon. and learned Friends the Attorney General and Solicitor General for England, as well as on that of the Irish Law Officers, that the section does not bear the interpretation that the right hon. Gentleman has placed upon it. In Committee they will be prepared to establish that view. I am sure that nothing can be further from the intention of the promoters of the Bill than that the section should bear the interpretation put upon it; and, in Committee, there can be no objection to using words which may be unsusceptible of the interpretation put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. But I deny that the present words do bear that interpretation. It is, no doubt, very convenient to represent to public opinion that this Bill is aimed at such combinations as correspond to trade unions in England; but the other night the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey), who does not sit on this side of the House, eloquently pointed out the distinction between trade unions and combinations in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman also said that it was the intention of the Government to administer this Bill in the interests of the Irish landlords—that the Government was getting rid of General Buller and appointing the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) to his place, and that all was to be left to the latter and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland. There is no ground whatever for imputing to my right hon. and learned Friend any sort of undue sympathy with landlordism. It is very easy for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby to make that charge, and for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian to cheer it; but—
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The only charge I made was contained in Sir George Trevelyan's letter which I read.
§ MR. PLUNKET
I am glad to be able to inform the right hon. Gentleman that, so far as that gallant gentleman is concerned, we have every hope and confidence that the Irish Government will not be obliged to lose the services of Sir Redvers Buller. It is by him, and by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who is 1031 responsible to this House, that the Act will be administered. The right hon. Member for Derby criticized the Government very severely on the point that, in dealing with the Land Question, they have not followed exactly the recommendations of the Royal Commission appointed by themselves. They have, however, done so to a very great extent; and I will ask, did the right hon. Gentleman, having obtained their Report, deem it necessary to follow every recommendation of the Crofters Commission? No; he threw overboard a great many of their recommendations. The right hon. Gentleman then said—"You should have introduced your Land Bill first." As he has said that, I should like, upon that point, to recall to his mind the following extract from the Report of Lord Cowper's Commission, upon which he relies so greatly:—But, while recommending certain changes in the law, which circumstances have rendered necessary for the present relief of the tenants, it is right that we should also press in the interests of all classes the maintenance of law and order, which has in several parts of the country been grievously outraged. In the absence of that security which ought to be enjoyed in every civilized community, capital is discouraged, enterprize and industry are checked, and it is impossible that any country can thrive or any healing measures he devised which will add much to its prosperity.Besides that, we have already received an intimation of the spirit in which the hon. Member for Cork will receive our remedial legislation. Before I proceed further, I should like to say that it is no pleasure to me, standing here as an Irishman, to take any part in the enactment of any measure which is to apply to Ireland, and which can possibly be characterized as coercive, however slight and mild in its nature it may be; but when I heard the right hon. Gentleman vehemently attacking this "Tory Coercion" Bill, as he called it, I could not help recalling the fact that during the 17 years since I first had the honour of a seat in this House I have taken part in six or seven Bills of a more or less coercive character. One of them was introduced by the Tory Government at the time when I was Solicitor General for Ireland, and I have always looked back with pleasure to the fact that we were then enabled to substitute, for a very severe measure, which we found upon the Statute Book, one of the mildest that has ever been passed. 1032 All the other Bills in which I have taken part have been proposed, not by a Tory Government, but by Liberal Governments, and they culminated in the most severe measure of them all, that of 1882, which was, I may say, personally conducted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby himself. Now, I have felt all through this debate that, in the line followed in opposition to this Bill by right hon. Members and hon. Members opposite, there has been a certain amount—I will not say of insincerity, but certainly of inconsistency. What is the situation? The present Government have been placed in power for the express purpose of maintaining the integrity of this Imperial Parliament, and to administer the Queen's Government, and they have been placed in power by an overwhelming majority of the electors of all the Three Kingdoms. [Cries of "No!" from the Opposition and Home Rule Benches.] The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, I know, draws a distinction between different Nationalities; but, for myself, I am quite unable to understand why the view of Scotland, or Wales, or Ireland, should count for more in the matter than the view of England. To the Government also has been confided the trust of maintaining the administration of the law in Ireland. Well, the Government come to Parliament and frankly declare that, to the best of their ability, they have endeavoured hitherto to carry on the government of Ireland and to administer the Criminal Law without any exceptional powers. But they say that they have failed to do so owing to the fact that there is in Ireland a combination, calling itself a Constitutional combination—it is Constitutional on one side, but it is criminal on the other; and they say that this combination is supported throughout the country by a veritable network of conspiracies in its branches, which take upon themselves to interfere with the everyday acts of everyday social life, and which have, in a great part of the country, usurped the authority and functions of the Government. Knowing this, the Government have come to the House, and asked for such alterations in the system of administering the Criminal Law as will enable them to cope with these conspiracies, and to fulfil the trusts imposed upon them by the nation. Now, what is the 1033 answer that has come from the Opposition—at all events, from that portion of it which is led by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian? The defence is twofold; it advances on two separate lines, which are not only inconsistent, but mutually destructive. There is, first, a feeble attempt to show that the grounds on which it is maintained that there has been a breakdown of law and order are not sufficiently strong to justify exceptional legislation, and that the measures proposed go beyond what the case entitles the Government to ask for. It is not denied that, to a great extent, there has been a breakdown of the Criminal Law in Ireland. It is admitted that, in many parts of the country, intimidation is rampant. But what is the use of arguing with them on these questions when they have a second line of defence? Supposing the Government were able to establish, to the utmost extent, both the breakdown of law and order, and the necessity of the provisions which we ask for in this Bill, then we are met by the answer—"All the more reason for adopting the true remedy, which is Home Rule, and not the amendment of the Criminal Law." These two lines of argument are, in my judgment, wholly inconsistent and mutually destructive. I believe the Government have fully satisfied the public opinion of the country that this Bill is necessary, and that its provisions we are asking for will be found adequate for the purpose of restoring law and order in Ireland, and for enabling those remedial measures to work which the Government are pledged to bring in and press forward as soon as the present Bill is disposed of. But the attitude of hon. Members opposite being such as I have shown, it is a waste of time to argue with them, and to attempt to satisfy them that this Bill is needed in consequence of the breakdown of law and order. What is the use of forcing that argument home, when hon. Members opposite tell you that, no matter what you may prove, they must, in any case, bow to the will of the 85 Members from Ireland who sit below the Gangway? The right hon. Member for Derby strove to show that we had not established our case as to the breakdown of the jury system in Ireland. The truth is that, whenever there is any degree of political or agrarian excitement in Ireland, it is 1034 difficult to work the jury system, and when that excitement increases to a great extent it becomes impossible to work it. This is from the Report of Lord Lansdowne's Committee in 1881—In cases where the disturbing element enters, though the criminal may have been detected having upon his person traces which would leave no doubt as to his guilt, though his identity may have been clearly established, the jury have again and again disagreed, and found a verdict of acquittal.Among the recommendations, which were numerous, were these—(1) Proposals to facilitate changes of venue, and for obtaining special juries; (2) summary jurisdiction in cases of rioting, aggravated assaults, forcible possession, assaults on process servers and agents of the law, threatening letters, and intimidation. There is one other authority which I should like to cite to the House. It is the authority of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and I quote from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in introducing his Home Rule Bill, and when he was speaking in opposition to coercion. I do not, therefore, quote it at all as supporting a Coercion Bill, but in support of our contention as to the nature and operation of jury trial in Ireland. This is what the right hon. Gentleman says—With certain exceptions for the case of winter juries, it is impossible to depend in Ireland upon the finding of a jury in a case of agrarian crime according to the facts as they are viewed by the Government, by the Judges, and by the public, I think, at largo. This is a most serious mischief, passing down deep into the very groundwork of civil society."—(3 Hansard,  1046.)Well, Sir; but what we say is that the very case has arisen when this weakness of the jury system in Ireland has been developed to its fullest extent. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby said that the whole case of the Government had been disposed of by the hon. Member for Cork; but he said nothing at all about the statement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, that at the last Munster Assizes, in three counties, the Assizes had to be adjourned on the very ground, which was assented to by the Judge, that it was impossible to get verdicts from the juries. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian objected to the permanent character of the Bill, and said it was the 1035 object of the Government to deprive the House of Commons of the power of criticizing the continued operation of the Bill in Ireland. Now, I should like to know what is to prevent the House of Commons, if it thinks fit, from challenging the Government of the day at any time upon that very point? But the right hon. Gentleman says—"Ah! the Lords;" and, displaying a tremendous antagonism to the House of Lords, says that they will fasten the fetters upon Ireland for all time, and that there might be a Government in power who wished to repeal the Act, and the Lords would not lot them. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must be driven to the most amazing shifts when he puts forward such a proposition in support of his argument. But I wish to put this to the House, if the right hon. Gentleman urges that seriously as a case that can occur. Suppose there were a Government in power with every desire to repeal this Act, and the House of Lords kept the Government in a condition of suspended animation with reference to its sanction to the repeal of the Act, I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that every clause of the Bill, from beginning to end, is governed by this—that the acts done must be done in districts which have been proclaimed by the Lord Lieutenant, and the moment a Viceroy sent over by the right hon. Gentleman, if he were in power, sets his foot on the soil of Ireland, he would have nothing to do but to cancel the Proclamations which his Predecessor had made, and then the operation of the Act would collapse and fall like a house of cards. I have not the smallest expectation that this explanation will prevent the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends, when they are stumping the country, from denouncing this measure in pathetic language as coercion for ever and ever; but I challenge them to deny the accuracy of the statement which I have made. In denouncing this measure as one of coercion for ever and ever, the right hon. Gentleman forgets that if he had a House of Commons, and a Government in power which were checked by this infamous House of Lords, that it would be in the power of the Lord Lieutenant, by a single stroke of his pen, to put an end to the operation of the Act. Our case is that the present state of things is one that cannot be tolerated by a Government 1036 responsible for peace and order in Ireland. Is that true or not? It is just now the cue of Irish Members to minimize the breakdown of law and order, and to show that the Government is in possession of sufficient authority in Ireland. What did they say a short time ago? I shall content myself on the present occasion with one or two quotations, not from magistrates, or police inspectors, or landlords, or Judges, or any other class who are denounced by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and by some right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The quotations I shall make are from Representatives of Irish constituencies sitting opposite, who wish now to minimize, as much as possible, the breakdown of law and order. I will not now refer to the well-known language used by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), when he was in Ireland; but I wish to point out that the words which I am about to quote were spoken when they could not be contradicted, when the force and weight of them could not be impugned, and when, consequently, they had an enormous effect in spreading the demoralization which exists among certain classes in Ireland. These are the words of the hon. Member for North Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), who, after saying that the Government had been confronted and beaten by the Irish people, went on to say—Their decrees are literally danced upon by the Irish people; their Proclamations from Dublin Castle are treated as waste paper.Then Mr. William O'Brien, at Roscommon, at a meeting in February last, held in relation to the Bagot estate, said—we have nailed our colours to the mast in this business, and our flag to-day—the flag of the Campaign—floats bravely over all the land.And he added—It is our enemies who are beaten and broken; from shore to shore of this island the law of the League is the law of the land.I beg leave, however, to say that this is a considerable exaggeration; but, to a great extent, in parts of the country it is unfortunately true. I ask the House and the country—Is it possible, then, for any Government, intrusted by the country and by an overwhelming majority of the Representatives of the United Kingdom, to admit the truth of that statement, and not to ask the House for assistance to prevent this anarchy 1037 from proceeding still further until the authority of the Government in Ireland is completely overthrown? Sir, I am astonished at the extraordinary zeal and energy with which the agitation against the provisions of this Bill has been sot on foot; and as I trace, as I think, throughout the skill, the ability, and the fire of the old electioneering Parliamentary hand, I cannot help thinking—Oh! if they only had their own Bill of 1882 to denounce instead of ours—if they only had the Curfew Clauses, and the visitings at night, the breaking into the homos of the tenantry, the intrusions into the secret recesses of newspaper offices, and the confiscation of these valuable newspapers; and, above all, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, which is the foundation of our liberty—if only they had those to denounce, how they would have made the welkin ring. Yet it is not so very long since these very measures were passed, and vigorously administered under the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. There is another point to which I should like to call attention. It is said that this is a political Bill—that it is an insult to the 5,000,000 of the Irish people. I deny that; I say this Bill is not a Coercion Bill. It is aimed at crime, and I deny that any man who obeys the law in Ireland will ever have reason to know that the Bill, which is so denounced, is law at all. Those who will have reason to know that it has passed into law are the petty tyrants "who work the conspiracy by which this so-called agitation is kept up. And others also will have reason to know, and those are the men who are oppressed under the existing system of tyranny in many parts of the country. Those only are the persons who will have reason to know of the existence of this Act. If there is one thing brought out more than another in the Report of Lord Cowper's Commission, it is the desire of people who are suffering from it to be delivered from the Boycotting system in various parts of the country, and the conspiracies which are at work to enforce it. I will take one witness whose evidence struck me as being very forcible. The Rev. John O'Leary, parish priest of Ballymacelligot, near Tralee, said, in answer to a question— 1038And I know a man who had purchased aid who went into the purchase matter greatly against the prospect of his own success—a man who was an idle man and given to drinking, spending a good deal of his time in town, knocking about, and who did not do much to improve his farm. That man became a purchaser, and is working like a nigger ever since.Further on, in reply to Lord Cowper, who asked—You think if you were enabled to purchase to any largo extent it would make them desirous to uphold law and order for their own sakes?Father O'Leary said—Ah! my Lord, the people are anxious for law and order; the people are anxious for it. They are tired of agitation.After relating a painful case of Boycotting in answer to Mr. Neligan, who inquired—What is the feeling of the people at the committal of a horrible, cowardly outrage like- that (the ease of Boycotting)?Father O'Leary said —It is condemned universally.Mr. Neligan asked—Do you think that they would hand over the perpetrator of such an outrage to the authorities?Father O'Leary replied—That is quite another thing. They condemn these outrages and disapprove of them; but they are afraid to give any sort of evidence, or any sort of indication whatsoever, that might lead to the detection of crime, because they are afraid that the criminals so detected would retaliate upon themselves.Mr. Neligan asked—You think it is more terrorism than sympathy?Father O'Leary said, in reply—I do not believe that there is a particle of sympathy among the older members of the family. I do not think there is a particle of sympathy existing, and I know, furthermore, from being pretty well acquainted with the young men of the parish—I know there is a vast number of young men in my parish who have no sympathy, and never had, with crime.Speaking for myself, that is just what I should expect as far as my own knowledge goes. It was my lot formerly, in earlier and pleasanter times, to travel much through these counties where the disorder exists with which we are now unhappily obliged to deal with by this Bill, when I went the Munster Circuit as a barrister. At that time I was well acquainted with the people at that time. They were then an orderly and, as I am sure they are still. 1039 a generous and warm-hearted people, who obeyed the law and were faithful to their contracts. That was, however, before this baneful conspiracy was set on foot and before this terrorism was exercised over them. What we ask of the House of Commons is to assist us in doing that which is necessary, we ask this Imperial Parliament to give us such powers as will enable us to break down so much of this agitation as is really criminal in its character. We do not ask the House to give us power to deal with Constitutional or purely political agitation, but to give us power by this Bill to deal with these criminal combinations, to put down crime and lawlessness, and to enable those parts of the country which are now unhappily in such a disordered state to return to peace and tranquillity, to the happiness and freedom of former times.
MR. E. R. BUSSELL (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Plunket) has made some reference to the Crimes Bill of 1882. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quite appreciates the extent to which hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House are indifferent to the credit of that Bill. We are very glad that it is done with. We are well satisfied that the Leaders who are concerned to defend it can establish some distinction between that Bill and the Bill now before the House; but our whole Party, including in it our new Irish allies— of whom we are not ashamed—hope to count on the entire avoidance of coercion for the future. I deprecate what I think is a real waste of the time of the House in recurring to these questions of individual or Party consistency. I desire, however, to refer to one point of the kind, because the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) has repeated in this debate a statement that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in Edinburgh appealed to the country to place him in a majority, because he wished to be left free to disregard the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the 85 Members coming from Ireland. There is no possible misrepresentation which can be more extreme than that. It is often my duty, in the exercise of my profession, to form prompt conclusions as to the meaning of important public 1040 declarations; and I distinctly remember, having been myself a convinced Home Ruler before the time, that I welcomed the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, because I interpreted it to mean that he wished for such a majority as might enable him to extend justice to Ireland, and give effect to the wishes of the people of Ireland, without being exposed to the suspicion of doing so under the compulsion of the Irish Members. I think it rather significant that the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has accepted the proposition that the Bill is to be perpetual unless the Liberal Party come into Office.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET) (Dublin University)
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I said nothing of the kind.
§ MR. E. R. RUSSELL
I am glad to accept the withdrawal of the statement; but the inference I have drawn from his language—no doubt incorrectly—is that the right hon. Gentleman looks forward with philosophic calm to the perpetual retention of this measure on the Statute Book. Now I desire to say that it is not sufficient that the Liberal Party may have an opportunity of getting rid of the measure when their Friends come into Office. A Tory Opposition may give a great deal of trouble to a Liberal Administration in reference to what they may want to do, to say nothing of the resisting power of the House of Lords. It is not to the advantage of the country that the Tory Party should always be in the possession of coercion laws without the responsibility of coming to Parliament to propose them. I, for one, object altogether to have the liberties of any part of the Three Kingdoms dependent upon the fortunes of any Party. The best protection for the liberties of a people is the laws of the country, and we wish the administration of the laws of the country to be free from the influence of any political section of the country. One of the most gratifying parts of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is that in which he declines to follow the analysis to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) has subjected the 2nd clause. My feeling, when I heard that statement, was that, as the hon. Member 1041 for Cork had demolished the facts for this Bill, so the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has riddled the law of the Bill. I am also rejoiced to hear that Sir Redvers Buller, like the Bill, is to be perpetual in Ireland, for I willingly acknowledge that Sir Redvers Buller has agreeably disappointed the apprehensions which were entertained on the Opposition side of the House at his appointment. The right hon. Gentleman remarked that the arguments against the Bill are mutually destructive— namely, that there is no case; and, secondly, that if there is a case, we allege that Home Rule is the remedy. I do not see that these two statements are mutually destructive. The dilemma of coercion is this—that if it is applied only to crime, properly so-called, the very necessity of doing so condemns your existing system of government; if, on the other hand, the coercion is directed against political offences, we must condemn the people to a paralysis of their social liberty— we condemn them permanently to institutions under which it is impossible for them to arrive at a better condition of things, and under which everything that at present is blameable and bad among them must be aggravated. Hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House, with the greatest cheerfulness, assert that by this Bill we are only aiming at crime. I want to know what they mean by crime? Was it a criminal charge which was brought lately against the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon); or was that a criminal charge on which the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. C. Harrington) was actually sent to prison and a plank bed? And, if so—whether we agree with the hon. Member for East Mayo or not in the plan of operations which, he adopted— we hold that such are fair cases for submission to a jury, and that they ought not to be left to the decision of Resident Magistrates. I heartily congratulate Sir George Trevelyan upon the letter which he has written upon the subject of this Bill; and I will read to the House an extract from the letter, in which the right hon. Gentleman points out the distinction which Earl Spencer was careful to maintain, in carrying out the Crimes Act of 1042 1882, between politics and crime. Sir George Trevelyan says—I have the greatest possible objections to the proposals of the Government to enact penal clauses which could he used for the suppression of the National League and the Nationalist Press. The Government to which I belonged between 1882 and 1885 openly declared and advocated their determination to dispense with such clauses, and the policy which I helped to administer in Ireland, and advocated in Parliament, was to draw a clear distinction between politics and crime, "which, in my opinion, this Bill does not do.Sir, it appears to me that, while the fault of Mr. Forster's rule was that it mixed up criminals and politicians, the fault of this Bill is that it make no distinction between crime and social combinations. This distinction, which the present Bill ignores, will be still more conspicuously ignored by the kind of men who will be intrusted with the duty of administering it. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) has spoken of the requirement that one of the two persons appointed to administer the Act in each district must be learned in the law, and has said that the lawyer would prove sharper than his lay colleague, and that he would probably make the inquiry more searching than it would otherwise be. Are we, then, to believe that this provision has been introduced to aggravate the severity of the Bill? Manifestly not, and I believe that the people of Ireland would rather be dealt with by trained lawyers than by anyone who exercises simply a police sway. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews) said that the right of trial by jury was not to be absolutely withdrawn; but what will it matter to those brought under the law that persons guilty of other offences, or that the people in other districts, are not placed under the summary jurisdiction of Resident Magistrates, but are still allowed the right of trial by jury? I say that if we get rid of the jury system in any part of Ireland we lose that touch with the community which it has been the advantage of the jury system always to secure. We may, perhaps, succeed too much. If the decisions the magistrates arrive at are just, the mind of the people will, nevertheless, be poisoned against justice by the character of the tribunal; 1043 and if they are unjust, grave social wrongs will be inflicted upon the people. the fact is, that the verdicts of juries have always been valuable indications for statesmen who have derived sound estimates of the social condition and opinion of the country from these verdicts. If we trifle with this matter, moreover, we shall encourage both the governed and the governing to interfere more and more with that liberty of private action which it ought to be the aim of all lovers of liberty to secure. Sir, liberty is more intimately bound up than many people believe with adherence to and dependence upon the ordinary law. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Scotland asked what liberty is withdrawn by this Bill from the Irish people—"liberty to do what?" Sir, liberty is not altogether a question of what a man may do. It is often equally material how he is to be brought to book if he does something which he thinks himself entitled to do, but which the authorities declare they are entitled to prevent him from doing. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said that it is not political offences, but criminal offences, that will be dealt with by this Bill. Whose word have we for that? The right hon. Gentleman, takes a very easy view of these things now. He pronounces that the Bill will deal with nothing savouring of sedition, treason, or any political offence. He would hardly have said that if he had been in the practice of his old profession and not his new one; but he is now quite cool and easy in reference to any sort of repressive law. He has got Becky Sharpe's £5,000 a-year, and he feels it very easy to be good. It has always been held that it is less heinous to conduct a social agitation than to conduct a political and seditious agitation. the effect of the Bill, if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary's interpretation is right, will be just to reverse this belief in the popular mind. The people will naturally infer that it is less criminal to resort to seditious combinations than to those which have hitherto been considered of a less serious character. I now pass for a moment to the vague and dangerous provision which will expose persons engaged in agitation to the penalties of the Law of Conspiracy, from which, in similar circumstances in this 1044 country, industrial agitators are exempted. I think the House and country have been laid under a great debt of obligation to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby for his admirable exposition of the Law of Conspiracy. It is the fashion now to speak fulsomely of trades unions, and nothing excites hon. Gentlemen opposite more than to suggest that there is any analogy between the powers under this Bill and those from which trades unions used to suffer. But some of us are too old to accept this view. The trades unions have only been relieved of the injustice of the conspiracy theories of the Judges by statute. We remember how long and how hard the struggle was, and how entirely it was then the belief of the Tory Party and of many Liberals that the demands of the trades unions were incompatible with the good of society and with the maintenance of law and order. The labours of such men as Frederick Harrison and Henry Compton, aided in this House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), and others, wrought a salutary change, and the wise endeavours of Mr. Justice Stephen have since tended to discredit and prepare for the abandonment of that view of the Law of Conspiracy which enables the Bench to condemn and punish at pleasure almost any action in life that can be objected to by anybody. I protest, Sir, against the retrograde effect which the present measure must have, coming at this stage of a most important transition in the settlement of the doctrine of conspiracy, which all reasonable men hoped would result in practically getting rid of this Judge-made opprobrium of our law. The Home Secretary confesses the "insuperable difficulties" of this conspiracy question, but says they will "not be aggravated'' by the Bill. They had not need be; but it will be a strange affair if they are not aggravated by the sudden incursion of these Resident Magistrates. The operations of a mischievous monkey in a photographer's studio will afford a fair resemblance to the havoc likely to be made on legal and Constitutional principles if the 2nd clause of this Bill is carried out. I cannot accept the easy theories of the comparative valuelessness of the jury privilege 1045 which have been advanced in the debate. The right to be tried by one's peers, so far from being a mere expedient for carrying out justice, and "not a Constitutional right," comes down to us with much more historical significance. It has been the main instrument of our liberties. It has liberalized jurisprudence; it has corrected the Bench, and the whole system of judicature has derived its best inspiration from it. Looking back upon the past with an historical conscience, we can see plainly enough that it was often less a question whether jurors were finding men guilty or innocent according to the then law, than whether they were by their action asserting and establishing as citizens rights which the progress of the community required to be vindicated. I cannot pass from the Bill without speaking of the perils into which my own profession will undoubtedly be plunged by it. There are hon. Gentlemen oppositite who think the Irish Press quite as "pestilent, mischievous, tyrannical, and heinous" as the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary thinks Boycotting. The hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Baggallay) said yesterday that no paper would be in danger, under this Bill, which was properly conducted. Well, Sir, a properly conducted paper is one that does not come under this Bill, and a paper that does not come under this Bill is properly conducted. That does not help us much. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary is not likely to share these loose views, and I do not accuse him of personal inhumanity; but he regards it as a matter of small moment that hard labour shall be imposed for Press offences under the 2nd clause of the Bill, and says that, even in England, hard labour is imposed on anyone who attacks a police constable in the execution of his duty. Now, we are, unfortunately, left in no doubt that it is the intention of the Government to use this clause against the Press. The Chief Secretary said—We do not propose to interfere with the liberty of the Press. We entertain the hope that by giving magistrates the power of summary jurisdiction for inciting to those offences we may be able to prevent the Press from being sharers in these crimes.Considering how general the wording of the clause is, and that the sole judges of Press conduct will be Resident Magis- 1046 trates, I am entitled to say that in the circumstances which, under this Bill, will attend journalism in Ireland, it will be almost impossible for the functions of a journalist to be exercised without very serious additions being made to the difficulties of the profession; and when we consider how much this country owes to the influence of the Press, I contend that I am entitled to claim that its members shall be left free from the operation of summary jurisdiction, which, as yet, has never been applied to them, and which is a most unfit method of correcting any excesses into which the Press may be betrayed. A writer of an article in a newspaper discussing the propriety of any combination or any occurrence in a district to enable the people of the district to secure their rights is not assaulting a constable—he is not even assaulting, in theory or principle, the institutions of the country. He is performing a duty which is thrust daily and nightly upon every journalist, a responsibility which is sometimes too great for the conscientious man to bear, and which becomes additionally onerous and poignant when the journalist exercises his functions in the midst of a society honeycombed with difficulty and social misery and anxiety. A more monstrous proposal than this of placing the liberty of the Press—even in the smallest town in Ireland—at the mercy of a couple of Resident Magistrates under the Summary Jurisdiction Clause of the Coercion Bill has never been brought before the House, and I hope that it will either be scouted from the Bill, or that the exercise of the duties of the Press will in same way be protected and guarded by the insertion of a Proviso. The truth is, that if the Government carries out the provisions of the Bill in the spirit indicated in the drawing of the measure, they will lock up the leaders and spokesmen of the Irish people, while they allow the landlords to exact rents which will make them comfortable, whether they retain their estates or sell them. This is wholly unfit statesmanship for Ireland. It cannot heal any of Ireland's sufferings. It must aggravate the distrust of the people. It will take from them all hope as long as the Act exists, and it will go hard; but it will drive them to resort to practices which all deplore, in the despair of obtaining otherwise any remedies. I cannot 1047 believe that, if passed into law, the Bill will last long; and I can assure hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches that it will be the enduring effort of the Liberal Party to get rid of it, and banish it, as a blot and a scandal in our legislative system. Of course, we shall have little assistance from the Party opposite; and what am I to say of the Liberal Unionists, from whom I might naturally have expected more? I have never been a believer in judicious mixture. I like to have remedy neat. I remember hearing an Irish Member say of a good, but very voluminous witness before a Committee upstairs—"He forgets that we cannot strain the whisky out of the punch." I am afraid that out of judicious mixtures there never has yet been strained enough remedy to do much good to the people of Ireland. But the Liberal Unionists on their own principle are bound, above all others, to make their first effort to remove grievances in the hope of avoiding coercion. So long as the Government continue the policy they are now proposing, so long the people of Ireland will be condemned to a miserable exist-ence—to a state of constant disaffection and mistrust—to a condition of demoralization which can only sink them lower and lower in the scale of nations. From, that danger the Liberal Party are most anxious to deliver them, and it will be their constant endeavour to rescue the Irish nation from the deplorable condition into which such legislation as this will plunge them. I believe that national wrongs are redressed, national grievances are assuaged, and national good achieved by the natural action of freedom. But you are placing the Irish people in such a position that they can hope for nothing except from actual re-volt. So long as this law lasts the whole system of your government lies under condemnation. So long as it lasts you will go on more and more demoralizing the Irish people. You do not altogether deny the existence of social and agrarian injustice. I suppose your theory is that social wrong may be trusted, even under the most repressive laws, to drag itself to light like some wounded creature in a deadly swamp, and to force itself on the attention of the world. That is not ray belief. Free institutions need to be maintained, in order that we may know where and why social injustice exists. Quiet that is arrived at by repressive 1048 laws is damnified by the consideration that in the process social wrong will be strengthened, and evils will be concealed that ought to be brought into the blaze of publicity. The sympathies, and affections, and hopes of the two nations can never, in such conditions, be brought into happy harmony, or devoted to the achievement of those aims which should be the aims of every civilized nation.
§ MR. GEDGE (Stockport)
Sir, about a fortnight ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) told us, in tones of jubilation, that this Bill was already "aborted." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) has expressed, in a letter to which I will call attention presently, his expectation that the meeting in Hyde Park on Monday would ring its death knell. All the same, the measure appears to me, at the present moment, to be in a very lively condition, and to look as if it would survive the post-mortem examination which the House is holding over it. I propose to call attention to two speeches made by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian—not for the purpose of proving his inconsistency— for with regard to him, and to the other right hon. Member, I should consider it quite superfluous to take any pains to point out their political gyrations—but because I find, in the first of those speeches, that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian laid down the lines upon which the introduction of such a measure as this may be justified; and I hope to prove, from the second, that there is ample justification for it, at the present time, upon those very lines. But I will first call attention to the letter which the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian has recently addressed to The North Eastern Daily Gazette, and, through that paper, to the world at large. In it he states—and what, in his case, is a very great wonder, he states clearly and in unmistakable language—his objections to the passing of this Bill. In the first place, he objects, upon the ground that it will be carried by England against Wales, Scotland, and Ireland! What an un-Constitutional idea. One really would suppose that this was a House of Convocation, in which we voted by Orders! It is about 600 or 700 years since Wales was a separate Principality; and, there- 1049 fore, if Wales is now to be regarded as a separate portion of the Empire, entitled to vote independently, why should not the people of Yorkshire, or of Devonshire, set up a claim to be distinct nationalities on their own account? It would be about as sensible to insist upon smokers and non-smokers voting separately, and to require a majority of each set, to the passing of a Bill. I contend, Sir, that Members of this House, when once elected, represent not their own constituencies only, but the whole country. It is the will of the whole country that is to be regarded, and not the will of the separate constituent parts; and I see no reason why the will of England, which contains three fourths of the population, and far more than three-fourths of the wealth, of the United Kingdom, should be set aside in favor of that of the smaller Divisions of the Kingdom. The population of the Metropolis alone exceeds that of the whole of Ireland; and are the Representatives of London, who, as it is, are far too few in proportion to those of Ireland, not to be allowed even that weight which these fewer numbers give them? The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian next remarks that this Bill ought not to pass, because it will only be carried by the votes of a body of householders who have never before enjoyed the franchise; but, surely, such an objection as that might be raised with equal force against the passing of any Bill that is presented to this Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman did not scruple to pass, in 1881 and 1882, very stringent coercion measures by the aid of a Parliament in which the householders were only partially represented; and does he, who himself extended the franchise to the others, pretend that they are less competent to pass any measure which they believe to be necessary? He next objects that the Bill is presented without any attempt on the part of the Ministry to show exceptional, flagrant, or growing crime. As that objection has already been refuted over and over again in the course of the debate, I will not now trouble the House with any remarks upon it, but proceed to the next extraordinary statement of the right hon. Gentleman. He alleges that this is "the worst, and most insulting, and the most causeless Coercion Bill ever submitted to the House;" and in a 1050 letter which appears in this morning's paper he calls it "unexampled." I challenge the right hon. Gentleman, when he speaks on Monday night, to show that the measure of coercion which he himself brought in and carried in the year 1881, under the euphemism of a "Protection of Persons Act," was not far more stringent than the Bill before the House, inasmuch as it suspended the Habeas Corpus Act, and gave the Lord Lieutenant the power-—upon which he acted—of imprisoning hundreds of persons, without trial, for an indefinite period; and I also challenge him to show that the Act which he brought in and carried in the year 1882 did not contain provisions which were far more stringent and severe than those contained in this measure, with only two exceptions, upon which I will remark presently. In explaining his reasons for proposing the Bill of 1882, the right hon. Gentleman made the first speech from which I propose to quote. He said—The main basis for the Bill is nut the recent murders, but the regard which we have for the misery that has been scattered far and wide among the body of the population. Our legislation is for the sake of the people of Ireland themselves.That is the present state of things. It has been abundantly shown, in the course of this debate, by the evidence given before Lord Cowper's Commission, by the Report of that Commission, and by other proofs, that there is widespread misery in Ireland occasioned by the tyranny of the National League; and this Bill is designed, amongst other purposes, to put an end to the oppression of that League, for the sake of the people of Ireland themselves. The right hon. Gentleman went on—He admitted that then the jury system had failed only with regard to agrarian crimes.The same state of things exists now. With regard to breaches of the ordinary law, convictions are obtainable—with regard to agrarian crimes they are not; and here, again, the Government follow the lines laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. Next, he described his Bill as—A measure intended to put down all intimidation arising out of the action of bodies of men joined together to ruin their fellow-countrymen, for the fulfilment of their legal duties and obligations. This alone will recommend the passing of the Bill to the vast majority of the House.I doubt whether the right hon. Gentle- 1051 man himself can deny, at the present moment, that similar intimidation exists in various parts of Ireland. On his own showing, that intimidation alone is a sufficient reason for passing this measure. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) had stated in the course of the debate "that not coercion, but justice to Ireland, was wanted." "Yes," said the right lion. Member for Mid Lothian; "but justice must be justice to all—justice to everyone; and, unfortunately, this includes the us9 of force for the punishment of evil-doers and the praise of all who do well." We, Sir, aim by this Bill at doing justice to all in Ireland by putting them under the protection of Her Majesty's Government, and freeing them from the irresponsible government of the National League. I will now turn to the second speech to which I promised to refer. Just in this month of April last year the Home Rule Bill of the late Government was introduced to the House. The right hon. Gentleman gave three main reasons why he considered it to be necessary to give Home Rule to Ireland. The question, he said, was one of social order in Ireland. He declared that agrarian crime was then almost at low-water mark, though it had increased since the expiration of the Crimes Bill in the previous September. He pointed out that agrarian crime was not so much a cause as a symptom—a symptom of bitter mischief—of which the manifestation was threefold. First, it was impossible to obtain the finding of a jury in the case of agrarian crime according to the facts; next, he pointed out that evictions, however just or unjust, stood alike discredited, and became the occasion of lamentable transactions—by which euphemistic term he described Boycotting, outrages, and murders; and, thirdly, he stated that it was not to be denied that there was great interference in Ireland with private liberty in the shape of intimidation, which he called "a rude and unjustifiable remedy; "and this intimidation prevailed to a material and painful extent, and the result was to weaken generally the respect for law and the respect for contract. These three things formed the bases for the introduction of the Home Rule Bill. Will the right hon. Gentleman, on Monday night, venture to deny that these three 1052 things exist still, to at least as great an extent as they did in April last? Why, since then, the Plan of Campaign has been invented, with all its attendant mischiefs; and it must be pointed out, although the hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. E. R. Russell) failed to understand the argument of my right hon. and learned Friend below me (Mr. Plunket), which obliges me to explain it, that if it be contended that this condition of things in these three particulars no longer exists, then there is no longer any ground for the introduction of a Home Rule Bill, though that remedy for the afflictions of Ireland, having been rejected conclusively by the country, is still pertinaciously pressed upon us by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. Member urged strongly that something must be done—that something was imperatively demanded. Well, we agree with him, but contend that, as his own plan was rejected by the country, it is necessary that something else be done; and that something else consists, Sir, in this measure and the remedial measures introduced by the Government in the other House. You may object to our remedy as wrong; but you cannot, at the same time, recommend your own remedy and call ours causeless. The country, at the last General Election, decided that Ireland must be governed, not by Home Rule, but by Imperial Rule, and the Government are bound to carry that decision into effect; and it is the duty of the House, therefore, to give the Government sufficient power to enforce the judgment of the constituencies on this question. There are only two points upon which this Bill is stronger than that which was carried by the right hon. Gentleman in 1882. The first point is, that this Bill is to be permanent—that is to say, it is to be as permanent as any other law which is passed by Parliament. Ours are no laws of the Medes and Persians. With regard to this Bill, as with regard to other Bills, if ever the time arrives when Parliament shall deem that the measure is unnecessary, it will be in their power to repeal it. It has been said that the House of Lords will not enable them to do so. Sir, I give no weight to that argument. I cannot believe for a moment that if ever 1053 this House, representing the country, considers it wise to repeal an Act of this kind, the House of Lords will insist upon maintaining it in force; and if they do, why even then, as has been so ably shown by my right hon. and learned Friend below me (Mr. Plunket), this House alone can practically put an end to the Bill, because it only comes in force when the Lord Lieutenant has issued a Proclamation, and his Proclamations are liable to a veto by either House of Parliament, and must be brought before them within a limited number of days. To talk, therefore, about coercion "for ever and ever," is really nonsense, and it comes with an ill grace from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who objected to the expression "a fundamental law," when applied to the Act of Union, on the ground that even that Act and any other Act might be repealed whenever Parliament thought fit. The next point, of greater stringency, is the provision in the Bill that the venue may be changed to England. Well, Sir, it has been admitted on all sides that juries in the case of agrarian crimes cannot be depended upon to give a verdict according to the evidence; and that trial by jury has failed in Ireland. The very name of jury— from "jurare, to swear"—means that juries are men who have sworn to return a verdict according to the evidence; and the moment they fail to do so, whether through fear or through favour, they cease to be jurors as contemplated by the law. Something, therefore, must be done to secure a fair trial; and this provision, so much objected to, is in accordance with the whole principle of the Union. We Unionists contend that the Irish, the English, the Welsh, and the Scotch are all one people, and that, due provision being made for the payment of counsel and witnesses, there is no reason why an Irishman should not be tried by English jurors, or an Englishman by Irish jurors. If Irishmen are tried in England, they will still be tried by their fellow-citizens, and the most ardent reverencers of trial by jury would surely prefer a trial by jury to a trial by Judges, who are not, in any sense, the peers of the accused. But if any hon. Member will move in Committee 1054 to give to the prisoner the choice of being tried, either in England by a jury or in Ireland by Judges, I should not object to such a clause, Again, although it is true that in the Act of 1882 the venue could only be changed to a different part in Ireland, that could be done on the mere motion of the Attorney General; but under the Bill now under discussion, if the Attorney General desires to change the venue to another part of Ireland, or the two Attorney Generals desire to change it to England, the prisoner has a right of appeal to the Court, which, on cause being shown, will reverse the decision, of the Attorney Generals, and try the prisoner where he desires; and I have no doubt that any Court of Justice will hear the case fairly and decide in accordance with what is right. And now, Sir, without going over ground already occupied by previous speakers, let me show briefly one or two principal points in which this Bill is milder than the Act of 1882, and much less insulting. I will take the case of "dangerous associations." Under the Act of 1882, as soon as the Bill passed, any person in any part of Ireland who was a member of any unlawful association was guilty of an offence, and might be brought up, convicted, and punished, at once; but under this Bill the district must first be proclaimed, and then the dangerous association must be proclaimed by the Lord Lieutenant. These Proclamations will give due warning, and no one can be accused, or convicted, of an offence against the law unless he shall, after warning, continue to take part in the dangerous association; and these Proclamations are all to be subject to the control of each House of Parliament, and, therefore, each House of Parliament will be implicated in every Proclamation. But the Bill is called coercion, and that term to some people condemns it without trial. I object, Sir, to the term coercion. Every law expresses the will of the majority, imposed upon those who dislike it, and every law of a restraining character is coercion. There is nothing between the policeman and politeness. If there were no policeman and no Sheriff's officer, any man could laugh at and break the law. Laws without force behind them are futile. Every change making the Criminal Law stricter is coercive, and all such changes are as perpetual as this 1055 Act is to be; and yet who ever talks, when such changes are made, of the liberties of the people being interfered with for ever and ever? I turn now to the right hon. Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair). He objects to this Bill on the ground that it crushes out the aspirations of the Irish people. I, Sir, am proud to have Irish blood in my veins. I have Irish relatives, and many Irish friends, and I should be most sorry if their aspirations were to be crushed out; and, after hearing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I read the Bill again to see what aspirations it does crush out. I found that all that the Bill crushes out are aspirations to intimidate; aspirations to got another man's property without paying for it; aspirations to murder; aspirations to commit crime fatal to the interest of the country; aspirations to prevent their fellow-subjects from living their own lives, going about their own business, and keeping their own contracts without let or hindrance. Those are the aspirations which the Bill crushes out; and in saying that they are those of the Irish people, the right hon. Gentleman libels the whole nation. Next, he challenges us thus—Differentiate, if you can, between the action of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland towards the landlords and the Plan of Campaign towards the tenants—the result being the same, a reduction of 15 or 20 per cent from the rents. Sir, I do not think the differentiation so very difficult. The difference is just the difference between giving or taking; between the conduct of a man who persuades you to give a sovereign to a poor honest fellow whoso wife is sick or whose cow is dead, and the action of a scoundrel who meets you in a dark place, and, blunderbuss in hand, demands that sovereign from you under pain of knocking you down. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Leeds went on to speak of the unrighteous and cruel agrarian laws in Ireland. I wonder whether the right hon. Member knows anything about the agrarian laws in England? In agricultural matters, the law in Ireland has been, for many years, far more favourable to the tenant than it is in England; and yet, until the last few years, under that law, agriculture in England has been prosperous. All the points on which the Irish agricultural law differs 1056 from the English are in favour of the tenant: They have been altered in his interests several times by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and his Party; and if they are unrighteous and cruel, they are unrighteous and cruel against the landlord —which I do not deny—and not against the tenant. Then it is objected by hon. Members opposite, as an argument against the Bill, that it has been brought forward in the interests of the landlords to make evictions easier. This is not the case; but, if it wore, it would, in my judgment, form no objection, for a long experience has taught me that it is to the interest of a defendant, even more than of a plaintiff, that the law should enable the latter to ascertain and obtain his just rights in the easiest and most inexpensive manner. The cost of involved or protracted proceedings falls upon the defendant. Now, under the existing law in Ireland, evictions can be obtained on very few grounds, and the principal of these is the non-payment of rent; and I assert, without fear of contradiction, that no man who is capable of discriminating between right and wrong can deny that the non-payment of rent due for land is, unless in exceptional circumstances, a sufficient and proper ground for the tenants being allowed no longer to remain in possession of that land. I do not say this on my own authority only. An Irish Member, much respected in his time (The O'Donoghue), laid down the same doctrine in 1870 in the debate upon the Land Bill; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, in speaking on that Bill, quoted with approval his "admirable language." It must be further borne in mind that, for the most part, rents in Ireland now have been settled either under the Act of 1870, on the passing of which the right hon. Gentleman declared that every tenant in Ireland would be answerable for his contracts, or under the Act of 1881, which has lowered the rents in the interests of the tenant. That Act of 1881 was passed by the late Prime Minister, as a panacea for all the ills of Ireland. It gave the tenants the "three F's "for which they had clamoured in 1881, but which he then refused and denounced as ruinous to the best interests of the country. And now, six years after he conceded them, it is brought as 1057 a grave charge against the Government that they do not alter the fair rent then fixed, or diminish the fixity of tenure. Lastly, it is objected to this Bill, that the law in Ireland, which it aims to enforce, ought not to be enforced, because it comes from a foreign source. It seems to me, Sir, that if a law be right in itself, the source from which it comes matters little. The Ten Commandments themselves come from a foreign source. ["Oh! oh!"] What! was not Arabia a foreign country, and are not the Jews foreigners? But the law does not come from a foreign source. It is passed by an Imperial Parliament, in which Ireland is more fully represented than either England or Scotland; and as this Bill is intended to prevent breaches of that law, and of the Sixth and Eighth Commandments which it embodies, I intend to give my cordial support to it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby considers the Bill dead, and as he certainly did not come hero to praise it, I suppose he came to bury it. But it will be found on Monday night that it is alive; and I look forward confidently, when this Bill and the concurrent remedial measures have been passed, to a better state of things in Ireland than we have seen for many years past.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
said, that the passing of the Bill now before the House would tend to create disorder and to endanger that unity and integrity of the Empire which its advocates professed to be so anxious to maintain unimpaired. If the Irish people believed that it was the deliberate will of the English people to make them perpetual serfs in their own country, their Representatives would watch for every opportunity of resisting the attempt by legislation of this kind to enslave them, even though the consequences might be fatal to themselves. But there was such a vitality in the Irish race that they were always able to foil the efforts of those who sought to subjugate or oppress them. The Irish Members had no desire to nurture crime or to stand between the Government and the punishment of criminals. They had constantly denounced the perpetration of crime; but, although the English Press was ever ready to give prominence to intemperate remarks, it failed to give any prominence to their denunciation. If, as was sometimes erroneously alleged, 1058 they were disposed to foster or encourage crime in Ireland, they would themselves be the first victims of such an evil practice under that future system for the government of their country to which they were looking forward so hopefully. the present Bill was not aimed at the repression of crime, but at the maintenance of excessive rent, together with the domination of the landlords, while it would repress the voice of those who spoke a word upon behalf of the poor and the oppressed. the rack-renting landlords, who had for many long years been impoverishing their unfortunate tenants, and who did not disdain to take American dollars as well as English coins, now that their exorbitant rents had been cut down to some extent by a tribunal set up by Parliament, asked for some compensation or solatium. Therefore it was that the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) received the appointment of Parliamentary Under Secretary, while another rack-renting landlord of County Kerry, as he understood, had been lately hovering about that House in hopes of obtaining the post of Permanent Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. the Divisional Resident Magistrates were at the bock and call of the landlords. They often dined with them, and got their fishing and shooting from them, and, in fact, were little better than the water bailiffs and game preservers of the landlords. Who received the magistrates at the railway station? Why, the district inspector, who was a friend of the landlord. What chance of escape would a prisoner have who was brought before such men under this Bill? As to the recent appointment of the Under Secretary, he said that was most suggestive. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, in a speech he made some years ago, advocated Home Rule and a higher patriotism than even the welding together of Catholic and Protestant, and in which he comprised Nationalists, Home Rulers, and the Repealers in the one term "lovers of our common country," said that each one should cast aside personal ambition, and work for the common weal—that he had fought hard already, and was prepared to fight again in any capacity—even he (Mr. E. Harrington) supposed in that of Under Secretary. Allusion had been made to the abnormal state of crime in Kerry, a Division of 1059 which county he had the honour to represent. He had never hesitated to denounce violence and crime, while he was always an uncompromising opponent of injustice and wrong. But if hon. Members considered that in Kerry, since 1880, under the baneful operation of eviction clauses, 14,000 persons had been rendered homeless, every one of whom was more or less nearly connected with men still living in that county, they would easily understand what provocation to crime existed among a people once the most peaceful in Ireland. He sincerely wished that crime would cease in the country; but he also wished that the Government would address themselves to the roots of the cause of their crime. Let them pull up those roots and the crime would certainly disappear. The course the Government were taking by this Bill would, however, have a contrary effect, and it was the bounden duty of the Irish Members, in those circumstances, to protest against this last and fatal mistake in the government of their country. They knew enough of their fellow-countrymen to be able to confidently assert that if the Irish people were given a fair chance, —if they were given such a measure of self-government as was consistent with their dignity as a nation and, at the same time, with the safety, honour, and integrity of the Empire— if, in short, they were freely and fully trusted, the British people would never regret it; for by adopting such a course they would secure the gratitude and goodwill of the Irish people at home and abroad, and would make yet more solid, compact, powerful, and prosperous this great Empire, which Ireland had helped to build up.
§ MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helen's)
said, he thought the House might congratulate the hon. Member for West Kerry, who had just sat down, as to what he had said about denouncing crime. He could not have said anything more calculated to enlist the sympathy of hon. Members on the Government side of the House. He only wished that the Irish Members would express their opinions upon this question in their own country in language similar to that just used by the hon. Member, for, if they did so, it would go a long way towards making such a measure as that proposed unnecessary. 1060 It appeared to him that the hon. Member and those who preceded him drew a somewhat gloomy picture of the present Bill. The hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Mr. E. R. Russell) drew a most highly-coloured picture of it when he said if it received the Royal Assent not only would the Irish Press be muzzled, but all the Irish Members would be locked up. He (Mr. Seton-Karr) did not know what would happen in a case of that kind; but, as he read the Bill, he did not share these apprehensions. He desired, in a few words, to express his own feelings, as one of the English Members who had been appealed to by hon. Members of the Opposition to give their reasons for supporting this Bill. They had also been appealed to by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, who, in the first stage of this debate, desired hon. Members to consider the responsibility of recording their votes. He had no desire to under-rate the responsibility which every individual Member incurred when called upon to record his vote at every stage of the Bill, for he did not think it was possible for anyone to over-rate that responsibility. But he did not think that when they considered the position of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian they could accept the force of his appeal, for it was impossible for them to forget that the right hon. Gentleman himself had no freedom of choice. He himself by his action a year ago in joining the forces of the Leader of the Irish National Party, the hon. Member for Cork, had actually burned his bridge behind him, and was now left without a means of retreat. That being so, in spite of the weight and position of the right hon. Gentleman, he did not think much of his blandishments, nor did he suppose that hon. Members of this—the Ministerial—side of the House would get rid of their responsibility by joining the Followers of the right hon. Gentleman. But there was one special reason why he had ventured to address the House on the subject before it. He represented a constituency in a county (Lancashire) which had a particular interest in Bills affecting the welfare of Ireland. Prom the geographical position of Lancashire it was of the utmost importance to the working men of that county whether we had on our western shores an Ireland 1061 which was orderly and prosperous, or disorderly and under the baneful influence of the National League. There were thousands of Irish working men who did not care two straws about Home Rule, and had no sympathy whatever with the League or with what was termed Irish nationality. But what those Irishmen did care about was that they should be left free to obtain honest employment and to earn the best wages they could for the support of themselves and their families. He would like to remark that Lancashire Members on the Government side of the House had been returned in a great measure by Lancashire operatives and artizans. The senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was very fond of taunting Members on the Government side of the House with the phrase that they were the Representatives of Class and Privilege. He did not know whether the senior Member for Northampton desired to be taken as a serious politician; he indulged more in the romance of politics, but it could not be denied for a moment that the Lancashire Members on the Government side represented a very great and important section of national industry; and he would ask the House whether it did not consider that Lancashire operatives and artizans had as great a right to be considered as a portion of those engaged in the management of the country, as the shoemakers of Northampton or the miners of Cornwall? These unemployed Irishmen now found themselves, by the operations of the National League, destitute, and the first place they came to was the county of Lancaster, where were the Lancashire operatives and artizans, and ran down the rate of wages. He did not complain for a moment of the Irish working men doing this, but he did complain of the operation of the National League, which, by coercing the people, endangering individual liberty, and by driving capital out of the country, drove these people to England, who might otherwise have been happy and prosperous and obtained employment in their own country. Sir Redvers Buller in his evidence stated that in a district of Killarney there were 1,685 acres of farm land on which grass was growing to waste, from 950 acres of which tenants had been evicted. This was only one instance out of many in which land was thrown out 1062 of cultivation and men deprived of legitimate employment by the operations of the National League. Therefore, Lancashire Members, three-fourths of whom sat on the Ministerial side of the House, had a special responsibility in the matter of Irish legislation. He believed this Bill would tend to paralyze political agitation and to draw capital back to Ireland. He was at a loss to understand how the Bill would coerce any law-abiding subject. Nor did he see how the Government could have introduced such a measure at au earlier date. They were bound to allow certain time after their accession to Office to elapse before they could assert the insufficiency of the ordinary law and apply for special powers. If extraordinary powers had been asked for earlier, they would not have been granted by the House of Commons. The Bill was said to be an infringement of the liberties of the Irish people; but no one who listened to the speech of the Solicitor General for Scotland on Wednesday, could have the slightest doubt in his mind that the only liberty which the Bill would infringe was the liberty of committing crimes with impunity. True, the present Bill did not propose to remedy Irish grievances; but that there were Irish grievances was conceded, and remedial measures would follow. The speeches of Opposition Members seemed, to betray a confusion between the spheres of penal and remedial legislation; these were necessarily distinct; still he, for his part, would have had considerable hesitation in voting for the Bill if it had not been accompanied by remedial legislation. [Cries of "Oh;"from Irish Members.] He trusted that hon. Members opposite would give those on this (the Ministerial) side of the House credit for the same sincerity in their convictions that they claimed for their own. Macaulay, in the debate of the Repeal of the Union in 1832, said—On what occasion did I ever refuse to support any Government in repressing disturbances? It is perfectly true that, in the debates on the Reform Bill, I imputed the tumults and outrages of 1830 to misrule. But did I ever say that those tumults and outrages ought to be tolerated? I did attribute the Kentish riots, the Hampshire riots, the burning of corn-stacks, the destruction of threshing machines to the obstinacy with which the Ministers of the Crown had refused to listen to the demands of the people. But did I ever say that the rioters ought not to be imprisoned, that the incendiaries ought not to be hanged? I did ascribe 1063 the disorders of Nottingham and the fearful sacking of Bristol to the unwise rejection of the Reform Bill by the Lords. But did I ever say that such excesses as were committed at Nottingham ought not to be put down, if necessary, by the sword?Lord Macaulay continues in these words—I would act towards Ireland on the same principle on which I acted towards England. In Ireland as well as in England, I would remove every just cause of complaint; and in Ireland, as in England, I would support the Government in preserving public peace.It seemed to him that these few words contained a principle which hon. Members opposite often forgot. The question really resolved itself into a question as to the sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament and the Crown. Mr. Austin, a great authority upon the subject, held that "a sovereignty only exist3 where the subjects render habitual obedience to the Sovereign." Could any rational man contend that at the present moment the Irish people were rendering habitual obedience to the Imperial Parliament and the Crown? A great many facts had been laid before the House in support of the Bill. There wore two instances of the state of thing8 going on in the sister island which had made a deep impression upon him. Those were the refusal of the jury to convict the au thorns of the Plan of Campaign, and such continued outrages as the persecution of the Curtin family. This refusal of the Jury to convict in the face of the clearest evidence, and in the face of the declaration by the highest legal authorities in the land that the Plan of Campaign was an illegal conspiracy—was, to his mind, the clearest possible proof that the Jury System in Ireland had hopelessly broken down. The brutal and continued persecution of the Curtin family was an example of the lengths to which Boycotting was carried in Ireland. Reference had been made to Boycotting on the part of the Primrose League, and this was compared to Boycotting in Ireland. Now, the most that was alleged was that there was exclusive dealing in some agricultural districts of England. He denied that this was so; but admitting for the sake of argument that there was, yet such Boycotting on the part of the Primrose League, supposing it to exist at all, was at any rate not supported by murder and outrage as a sanction, and in this respect it differed entirely from 1064 Boycotting in Ireland. If the Government could not maintain law and order in Ireland what was the use of remedial legislation? Remedial legislation would in that case be rendered a farce, and political agitators would be the arbitrators of whether a law was right or wrong. The Liberal Unionists had been referred to as casuists; but he believed that the other portion of the Liberal Party must look nearer home for the modern school of casuists—to the men who used all their sophistry and arguments in order to persuade the House and the country that anarchy and rebellion could be excused by the existence of grievances. Mr. Henry Maine, in the following words has recorded the fate of the original School of Casuists. He tells us—All that philosophy of right and wrong which has become famous or infamous under the name of Casuistry had its origin in the distinction between mortal and venial sin.He then goes on to say—Casuistry went on with its dexterous refinements till it ended in so attenuating the moral features of actions, and so belying the moral instincts of our being, that at length the conscience of mankind rose suddenly in revolt against it, and consigned to one common ruin the system and its doctors.If history is to teach us anything, these words are a prophetic warning of the fate likely to overtake the modern school of Political Casuists. They had been told that the Nationalist Members represented the voice of Ireland; but he could not admit this if, as was said, they were to "judge people by their friends." Who were the friends and who the opponents of that body of Nationalist Members? Their friends were the members of the American Fenian organization whose headquarters were at Chicago, and whose high priests were Egan and Ford. This was the organization from whom the Irish Members drew their pay, and whose orders they obeyed. Their opponents were the men bound to this country by every tie of race, religion, and interest which made the true union of a nation, and they were men who represented to a great extent the commerce, intelligence, and industry of the country. He alluded, of course, to the Representatives of loyal and prosperous Ulster. If that was so, then the Nationalist Members could not be said to represent the voice of Ireland. 1065 It was idle to say the Bill infringed the liberties of the subject. That was already the case. It was idle for hon. Members from Ireland to threaten rebellion and civil war; they had that already. He, therefore, intended to support the Bill by all means in his power, because he believed it would prepare the way for remedial legislation, and it was the only alternative to the repeal of the Union and the ruin of Ireland.
§ MR. HOYLE (Lancashire, S.E. Heywood)
said that if the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had had experience of the business of Lancashire he would not have made the observation she did with reference to the employment of Irishmen in Lancashire. Not many years ago there was an organization specially got up to obtain and bring over Irish people to Lancashire, and it would be impossible to-day to carry on the industries of that county if the Irish people were banished from it. When standing as a candidate for his constituency, which contained a population of nearly 60,000 persons, he, in 1885, told his constituents that having regard to the declarations of Lord Salisbury, the then Prime Minister, in his (Mr. Hoyle's) opinion "coercion in Ireland was a thing of the past," and he was re-elected in 1886 upon the same policy of governing Ireland without coercion. "No coercion" was the policy they endorsed and approved, and every day he now received undoubted proof that his constituents were still of the same mind. He would ask hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House who had transferred their sympathies to the other side whether they were in touch with their constituents? He was an elector of the Rosendale Division. He knew Rosendale well. The men born and bred on those hill sides had clearly defined opinions, and they had never learned to conceal them. The noble Marquess the Member for Rosendale would not say the men of that Division gave him a mandate to vote for coercion. And the same thing might be said with regard to other constituencies. Nobody would say the precedent set by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General in resigning his seat for Brighton was a precedent to be always followed. Every hon. Member was the keeper of his own conscience, the guardian of his own honour. He could only say for himself, that if he should happen to find 1066 himself out of sympathy with the views of his constituents he should feel himself bound to return to them the trust they had reposed in him. After all that had been said and written on the Irish Question, there were a few prominent facts which plain people would remember when able and ingenious speeches were forgotten. What was the condition of Ireland at the time of the Union? Of every 100 persons in the United Kingdom 67 were in Great Britain and 33 in Ireland—whereas now 86 out of every 100 were in Great Britain and 14 only in Ireland; or, to state it in another way, the population of Great Britain had increased threefold, while that of Ireland had actually diminished. There were fewer people in Ireland to-day than there were 86 years ago. Great Britain was increasing in wealth and in all that accompanied wealth, while Ireland was sinking deeper and deeper in poverty. Of the whole population of Ireland at that moment 1 in 11 was a pauper. It is in these circumstances the Government introduce the Coercion Bill before the House. Ireland is, in fact, bleeding to death, and the Government are seeking to load her with chains and provide her with handcuffs and prison cells, that her population may be further depleted by the deportation of 1,000,000 more to Manitoba or elsewhere. The people of Great Britain were now beginning to see, and to say, that no change consistent with the integrity of the Empire could be worse than the system which has nothing better to show than these miserable results of 86 years of Union. On the one hand were seen the rent-payers sunk in hopeless and helpless poverty, and on the other the rent-receivers living in luxury at the West End of London or in Paris or elsewhere. In the short span of one generation more than 3,000,000 of people emigrated from Ireland, seeking that bread in other lands which was denied them in their own. We honoured Englishmen who declined rank and wealth in foreign lands rather than forswear allegiance to the Crown and Government of this country; should we be less generous, less just, to Irishmen and Irishwomen in America? They thought of the homes of their childhood, where they first learnt the elements of that religion which is their stay in this life and their 1067 hope for that which is to come. Ireland holds, and shall hold till the Resurrection morn, the remains of their honoured dead. Can we wonder that people with such memories and such hopes should deny themselves, and send money to help their own kith and kin to a brighter future in the land of their birth? What was the object of this Bill? It had many objects. One of them was to smash the Plan of Campaign. He felt it his duty to say now what he had said in the country—that he could not defend that Plan. It might be legal, or it might be illegal—that was a question for the Courts; but there were features in the Plan to which he could not give his assent and consent. But then he was not an Irish tenant. He had never been compelled to make bricks without straw. It was idle for the Government to say that the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork last year would not have met the worst cases, as that amounted to an admission that the hon. Member was too moderate in his demands. The Government and the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale were in the seat of power, and they could have made the Bill one to do justice to tenants of all sorts without working injustice to landlords. Some such Act would have done much to alleviate the situation, and he could only account for the Government's inaction by the dual control: one Cabinet sitting in Downing Street and another in Devonshire House. But, in his judgment, the Plan of Campaign was a mistake in tactics on the part of Irish Members. If the people had paid what they could, and a series of evictions had been the consequence, they could then have told the story of wrong from Land's End to John o' Great's House in all its fulness and fidelity to detail, but without exaggeration. The story, so told, would have enlisted the hearty sympathy of the English people, and in that way attained the object of their desires. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, by his Bill of last year, had opened a new Court of Appeal where Irish grievances could be heard as they had never been heard before. The householders of Great Britain formed that Court of Appeal. Hon. Members opposite might not like that Court, but they were bound to respect it, for the Court had power to enforce its decisions. 1068 There was only one thing that would prejudice that Court against Ireland, and that would be violence in word or deed, spoken or done, by Irish Nationalists. Every angry word, every ebullition of temper, hindered justice to Ireland. Violence was the stock-in-trade of hon. Members opposite, and if that ceased their occupation would be gone. The delight of the Tory Party was violence by Nationalists in action or in word. If violence were to cease there would not be a shadow of a pretence for the Bill now before the House. That was his candid opinion. The Government might smash the Plan of Campaign, and even secure outward quiet; but what of the hearts of the people? From that Table Prayer is offered every day at the opening of our proceedings, for—The public wealth, peace, and tranquillity of the Realm, and the uniting and knitting together of the hearts of all persons and estates within the same in true Christian love and charity one towards another.Will this Bill unite and knit hearts together? Not so; hearts are not won that way. the government of Ireland could never be a success until the hearts of the people were won. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had done a greater work by uniting the people of Great Britain and Ireland in bonds of mutual trust and confidence, than had been effected by the great Frenchman who had united the East and the West in closer bonds by the cutting of the Suez Canal. The Government had other objects in view in the preparation of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire said, in an. earlier part of this debate—The hon. Baronet who seconded the Amendment had spoken of the fall of prices. If the tenants were pour and houseless, it was the duty of all classes of the community, and not the landlords or one class alone, to bear the burden of their relief. [An Irish MEMBER: Protection.] Well, I have no objection to that.When he heard those words fall from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman, he was filled with amazement. Was it intended, then, by this Bill to lay burdens on the whole community that landlords might be eased? The right hon. Gentleman even has no objection to Protection, if so his class may be relieved. He could not have believed it if it had not been so plainly admitted by one holding a 1069 prominent position on the other side of the House; but then he remembered a speech made by the Prime Minister. Lord Salisbury had said, in "another place," speaking with reference to the alleged fall in prices—as the right hon. Member for Lincolnshire did—If it should turn out that the Courts have made blunders, and that it is impossible to pay the rents, I think it is not the landlords who should hear the loss. I think this would be one of the cases for the application of the principle of purchase by the State.The noble Marquess, therefore, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire appeared to be ready to burden the community at large in order to secure the landlords' profits. Read in the light of utterances like this, the legislation of the Government, it was plain, had for its object the extraction of impossible rents for the benefit of the landlords. He believed the Government and their supporters were fighting against nature—that legislation of that kind could not endure, but whatever the future of that Bill might be, he and the constituency which he represented, had made up their minds they would have no share in the responsibility attaching to the enactment of the measure before the House. They would let the guilt and the shame of passing it rest on its supporters only.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
In looking back at the past history of Ireland, one of the most unfortunate of the circumstances that have attended the dealings of this House with my country has been, that in the legislation that has been prepared by successive Governments, the influence that legislation will have upon Party has generally to my mind exceeded the desire to succeed in passing legislation that would be beneficial not merely to Party but to Ireland. On these matters hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite and myself take entirely different views, but perhaps they will admit this—in fact they are bound to admit this—that I am just as much an Irishman as many of them are, and therefore the welfare of my country may possibly be as much to me as to any of them. Therefore when I hear hon. and right hon. Gentlemen pointing to various inconsistencies in the past, I confess that that is a course of debate that has very little interest to me. I believe both Parties in the past 1070 have been inconsistent, and both have made very great mistakes; but what we have to confront now is what Ireland is at the present moment, and how the dangers and difficulties of the situation may be successfully encountered. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) was at one time a great stickler for law and order, he was once Home Secretary, and brought in a very strong Coercion Bill, and at that time he vented all the vials of his wrath on his present allies who sit below the Gangway. His love for law and order, his respect for law and order, might have been estimated easily by a visit to Grafton Street, which at that time was full of policemen for the protection of the right hon. Gentleman from the country he desired to benefit and was about to emancipate; but now the right hon. Gentleman pours out all the vials of his wrath upon that unfortunate class to which I have more the misfortune than the honour to belong. In his speech to-night he talked of the abominable transactions that characterize the dealings between Irish landlords and their tenants. Now, I consider it an act of unparalleled injustice on the part of the right hon. Gentleman thus to assail Irish landlords because they attempted to carry out the bargain that he himself helped to make. It may be that the plan he helped to form is defective, probably it is, but the House must remember that the bargain made by Her Majesty's Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, binds us, whether we wished it or not, to a certain agreement binding on either side, and now because certain landlords carrying out this agreement ask their tenants, and try to force their tenants, to abide by the agreement, the right hon. Gentleman gets up in his place and calls this action of Irish landlords "abominable transactions." I Say this is most unfair; I say it is most unjust. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby did not always hold the views he has put forward to-night; there was a time when he held views of a very different description, and that in the immediate past. The right hon. Gentleman is not here, but perhaps he may read a report of my speech. I do not quote for the purpose simply of annoying him, but for the purpose of self-defence; when we are attacked we 1071 are bound to hit back. In and out of this House, I have made many speeches against Home Rule, and probably I shall make many more. It follows, therefore, that I have devoted some time and attention to the best method of making anti-Home Rule speeches. I have come to the conclusion, after mature study, that the very best, the most effective means of making a speech against the Home Rule Party is to study the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen who now sit on the Front Opposition Bench. They have spoken with infinitely more eloquence, with infinitely more ability, than I can hope to attain; and no man has distinguished himself more in that line than has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, and he has particularly distinguished himself lately by making more speeches than any of his Colleagues on that Bench. Now, I will only make this quotation—from which I cannot refrain; it is so appropriate to the present occasion—from, a speech of the right hon. Gentleman delivered at Blandford on September 28, 1885. This is not ancient history. Listen to what he says—The Tory Government are tenants at will of Mr. Parnell, and he is a hard task-master. One of the leading Irish Members (Mr. Healy) said he thought both the English Parties were dishonest, and that the Irish Party should consider which of the rogues it would be their interest to deal with. I am happy to say he has come to the conclusion that it is not the Liberal Party.
I have already said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, at Bland-ford, in the County of Dorset. It was delivered in September, 1885. We are now in 1887. Two years have elapsed, say a year and a-half; and after mature consideration, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have come to the final conclusion that they will pin their faith to and adopt the permanent association of the "Radical rogues." I wish the right hon. Gentleman joy of his present associates. He appears to rne to be in an interesting situation. He has divested himself of his Unionist garments, and he does not appear to be at all comfortable in his Home Rule clothes. But I will venture to say this, that the Liberal Party will not finally come to the conclusion that permanent association with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will 1072 be the best course for them to pursue to elicit in future the final and permanent support of the English people. I do not intend to remark further upon the speech of the right hon. Gentleman except to say this, that I think his speech resembles—had a family resemblance—to most of the speeches that have been made in attacking the Bill of Her Majesty's Government. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite in attacking the Bill find themselves under two difficulties. They must attack the Bill upon some principle or other. If they attacked the details of the Bill, it might lead one to suppose that if those details were altered or changed they might be induced to support the Bill. But we learn from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) that nothing can induce him to support the Bill, that no change or alteration will satisfy them, but that his Party will use every form of the House to oppose every clause, every word of the clause, and to destroy the Bill if possible. Then, on the other hand, if they attack the Bill on principle, they are met with this difficulty, that the country has already decided the point—[Cries of "When?"] —at the last Election, in July. I shall put it as fairly as I can from my point of view. The great point in urging the question of vital importance that undoubtedly attaches to the measure now before the House, the great thing to do is to try and find some common point of agreement on which both sides can take their stand. I believe there is a common ground—and only one—on which we can all meet, and that is that the present condition of Ireland cannot be permitted to continue. We all agree as to that. Hon. Members below the Gangway have said again and again that the present condition of the country cannot continue. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has said it over and overagain and so have all his Colleagues. In order to meet the difficulty two policies have been submitted to the country—the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and the policy of the Unionist Party. It is a very simple question, and it was put to the country in the plainest, clearest manner last July. The solution proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and his followers was this, that Ireland should be 1073 handed over to the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the National League. I do not say the proposal was made in these words, but practically that was what it meant. It was repeatedly stated. Lord Spencer, for instance, placed it very clearly when he said at Newcastle that the National League prevented the Irish people from receiving remedial legislation provided by this House, that they will always prevent it; and that for this reason, as the League had proved stronger than the English Government, Ireland should be handed over to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. And remember this, that in support of this handing-over policy, the hon. Member for Cork had this great advantage that he can never have again—he had the immense power, influence, and the eloquence we all admit of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian at his back. With all his influence, all the power of his great name, the right hon. Gentleman went over England with unparalleled assiduity and with incredible power—I admit that—proclaimed right, left, and centre his Home Rule doctrine. He applied to it every argument he could imagine, yet with all these advantages the English people decided that this was not the settlement they would have. But there is only one other alternative. I admit that. Either you must give up Ireland to the National League, or you must put the National League down. I am speaking now simply from the point of view in which the Party with which I act in Ireland regard this question. We thoroughly understand this question in Ireland, and hon. Members opposite understand it too if only they would speak as they think—they know that this question is a stand-up fight between the Parliament of England and the National League. [An hon. MEMBER: "Poor Parliament!"] I think the hon. Member who interrupts me with the exclamation "Poor Parliament," will find that the Parliament of England is still sufficiently strong to crush the National League. Well, the policy of Her Majesty's Government has been violently assailed; but I think perhaps the two most powerful attacks made upon it—and I think right hon. Gentlemen opposite have that opinion—were in the speeches of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and the hon. 1074 Member for Cork. Now, the hon. Member for East Mayo made a very eloquent, and an almost incredibly—a supernaturally—long speech, which lasted, I think, for three hours and a quarter. In that speech he examined in detail and with great care the relations between landlords and tenants in Ireland, as set forth in the Report of the Royal Commission. But I did not so much pay attention to that portion of the speech; the part of the speech that struck me most was that in which the hon. Member informed the House what he intended to do if this Bill passed, because there is a certainty about it, there is no doubt whatever that this Bill will pass. Therefore, to me, as an Irishman living in Ireland, it is a matter of some importance the course the hon. Member for East Mayo and those who follow him will take when the Bill does pass. What does he say? "I for one would rather abandon"—[An hon. MEMBER: Read from the beginning."] Nay, I cannot be expected to read through a three hours and a-quarter speech. This is the part of the speech that touches the point I am referring to, and, subject to correction, I assume the report is correct—I, for one, would rather abandon all public agitation, and leave the country, or if the people were brave and willing, I would lead them to battle.In fact, the hon. Member intends to stand up and confront the Irish people and to say when this Bill passes—"If you will not follow me to battle, I'm off." This is exactly what he says. He is, no doubt, a brave man—he makes very eloquent speeches in this House. I have great respect for the entire sincerity of the hon. Member for East Mayo. I believe he is just as sincere in supporting his view as I hope hon. Members will believe I am in supporting mine. The hon. Member is accustomed to make observations of that kind. On a previous occasion the hon. Gentleman made a speech of wonderful eloquence; and I remember that towards the end of that speech he insinuated that he was going over to Ireland to arouse the Irish people, and to urge them to take up the gauntlet which England had thrown down. What did that result in? It resulted in the hon. Member going over to Ireland and appropriating the moneys of other people. I do not say that the 1075 hon. Gentleman kept it in a dishonest way.
MR. W. EEDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
I rise to Order. I want to know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman is in Order in saying, as he has just said, that a certain Member of this House went over to Ireland and appropriated money which did not belong to himself?
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I think the hon. Member's oars are sharp enough and long enough to have caught what I said. No one can conceive that I ever intended to convey that the hon. Member for East Mayo went over to Ireland actuated by dishonest motives. But undoubtedly—and nobody can deny it—the hon. Member for East Mayo did intercept rents which were supposed by the law of the land to belong to the landlords. He now informs us that he intends to go over to Ireland, and urge the Irish people to take up the challenge which has been thrown down to them. I very much doubt whether, with the knowledge we have of his followers, the hon. Member for East Mayo will adopt the course referred to in his speech. The hon. Member has certain grounds to go upon in order to estimate the fighting powers of the Party with which he acts. In the Fenian rising—the rising of the Patriotic Party in 1867—a body of 87 patriots, who were engaged in waging war upon England, were surrounded, captured, and marched into town by three policemen. That is not the kind of army I should like to lead. The Patriotic Party, however, had their revenge, for, by a sort of Nemesis of fate, after a lapse of years, 85 patriotic Irishmen very nearly succeeded in capturing the House of Commons, and it was only by a majority of 30 that they were defeated in their attempt. With that remark I will dismiss the threat of the hon. Member for East Mayo. I do not think it will ever come to that. With regard to the Bill of Her Majesty's Government, I do not intend to deal with those details which have already engaged the attention of the House; but I will say something with regard to the clauses which I think render the Bill really worth something, and will make it a greater success in Ireland. I do not 1076 believe that if the Government had only been able to show the House and the country the amount of crime in Ireland, it would have justified them in bringing forward a measure of this description. Although, unfortunately, crime has increased, it has not increased to such an alarming extent as would, to my mind, have justified Her Majesty's Government in introducing so stringent a measure. But the social condition of Ireland at the present moment is a question which does not depend altogether upon the amount of crime in the calendar. The clauses to which I refer are Nos. 6 and 7 of the Bill, which deal with the special proclamation of certain associations; and that is the part of the Bill which, I believe, will ultimately be found efficacious in restoring law and order in Ireland, and in making her a credit instead of a disgrace to the Empire. Sir, Her Majesty's Government have brought in this Bill to restore the law of the land to its proper place; and I consider the proper place for the law of the land is that it should be absolutely supreme in all parts of Her Majesty's Dominions. Unfortunately, the law of the land is not supreme in a great part of Ireland. In a great many parts of that country—over, I should say, at least one-half of it—the law of the Land League is far more powerful, far more feared, and far more obeyed than the law of the Crown. It is with that that the House must deal. We have in Ireland an organization known by the name of the Land League. [An hon. MEMBER: The National League.] Well, the National League, which holds its courts and which has a network of organization all over the country. It holds its courts, it issues its decrees, and it admits of no appeal whatever against its decisions; it summons before it those who offend against its laws, and it inflicts pains and penalties to which the Irish people have to submit at the present moment, because the law of the land is not sufficiently strong to defend the subjects of the Queen against that unauthorized law which has welded a yoke round their necks which this Bill seeks to break. I am perfectly well aware that that statement has been denied. The hon. Member for the Dock Division of Dublin—[An hon. MEMBEE: The Harbour Division]—I beg pardon; the hon. Member for the Harbour Di- 1077 vision of Dublin (Mr. T. C. Harrington), who is the Secretary of the National League, has denied the accuracy of that statement. He wrote a letter to The Times on the 26th of February, 1886; and in that letter the hon. Member said—During the past three years I have been in charge of the central office of the National League, and the management of and responsibility of that organization have chiefly devolved upon me. Under those circumstances, I hope I may be permitted to give the most unqualified contradiction to the statements made with such authority in the House of Lords that branches of that organization hold courts, inflict fines, and have a procedure and appeal system of their own.That was the statement of the Secretary of the National League and the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin. I will relate to the House a circumstance which occurred in Ireland the year before. The account of it appeared, on the 12th of September, 1885, in a paper which probably hon. Members opposite will recognize—The Cork Weekly Herald—a good staunch Nationalist paper. It was the case of a Mrs. Hudson, the owner of an hotel— the Pigott Arms, at Rathkeale. She was Boycotted in a very rigid manner. She had supplied goods to emergency men and had supplied cars to Sheriffs' officers. Mrs. Hudson gave the following pledge on the recommendation of Father Liston—I hereby promise that in future I will not, either directly or indirectly, supply emergency men with any goods whatever, and will not give my car to the Sheriff, Furthermore, D regret having done so in the past.—(Signed), ELIIA HUDSON. Witness, THOMAS LISTON, Catholic curate; witness, WILLIAM O'SEEA, Catholic curate.All perfectly legal and correct, as hon. Members will see. Then a letter was addressed to the local branch of the League by the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin, after the hon. Member had the case submitted to him, and after this lady had made the amende honrrable. This is what he said—I think your branch should be satisfied with the pledge given by Mrs. Hudson in the presence of Father Liston and Father O'Shea, and that the guarantee of the former should be received with the respect which Father Liston has entitled himself to in connection with the League.—THOMAS HARRINGTON, Secretary.The result of that reply was to reinstate the hotel in public favour, and there is 1078 no longer any prohibition against staying there or against trading with the establishment belonging to it. People are now allowed to go to the hotel quite freely. This occurred in a part of Her Majesty's Dominions which is supposed to be subject to the law of the land. Yet we see that such is the state of fear which exists in Ireland, that an organization of this kind can prohibit ordinary trading with an hotel, and ruin an unfortunate woman unless she comes forward and declares that she will never offend again, and expresses he are greet that she should ever have offended at all. Now I contend that this Bill will crush that organization. I am sorry to have to trouble the House with so many quotations, but facts are coming to light which have never reached the imagination of some hon. Gentlemen, and especially the hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. Seton-Karr); and I am convinced that if. the Radicals of this country who follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian realized the condition of affairs in Ireland, their manliness and their sense of right and justice would prevent them from forging a yoke for the necks of the Irish people. Here is another case. Here is the case of a man named O'Connor. This unfortunate man took a farm from a man named Walsh in 1879. I ask the House to pay particular attention to this case. Walsh was evicted from a farm on the estate of Lord Egmont, and O'Connor paid £600 for it. A part of the £600 went to pay arrears of rent, and about £200 went into the pocket of the man Walsh. [Laughter.] Well, why should not arrears of rent be paid? The man O'Connor went into the farm, and immediately a public meeting of the Land League—as the organization was then called—for it was before the National League was started, was held, at which Father Sheehy, a gentleman whose name is now well known, presided. O'Connor had offered £150 down as compensation to Walsh, besides the £600 which he had already paid. Walsh was not personally approved to the offer—I am now quoting from United Ireland—but the Committee of the League considered it insufficient, and the offer was refused. Now mark what followed. In one week afterwards, when the Land League was threatened with suppression, the offer would have been 1079 accepted by Father Sheehy, but the money would not then be given. The Committee decided that the sum of £600 should be paid by O'Connor to Walsh, under the penalty that he surrendered the farm. Five weeks later it was announced that Walsh had been handed the sum of £600, being the amount of money awarded by the Committee as compensation to Walsh, and the Chairman was afterwards made the temporary custodian of the money. Is it not an incredible thing that in any part of this country a man like O'Connor, a Catholic farmer—for, as far as religion is concerned, I am bound to admit that the League dispense their justice with perfect equality on both sides—that this man should be summoned in this way, and fined £600 without any rhyme or reason whatever? I have been reading from reports in United Ireland in 1885— four years after the Land League had been suppressed. The National League had then been constituted, and it practically endorsed the Acts of its predecessor, the Land League. In point of fact the National League and the Land League have a continuous existence. It is one organization and one society—the only difference having been to drop the word "Land" and substitute "National." It has the same leaders, the same objects, the same organization, the same officers, and it derives its support from the same quarter. This is a pretty strong case. I will give another case which I consider to be of immense importance. I am sorry to trouble the House, but it is absolutely necessary that I should quote these cases in order to make out my own case, which is also that of 2,000,000 Irishmen who sympathize with me. The National League—which I desire to see suppressed, and which I believe I shall see suppressed—is not an organization which, as has been euphemistically stated, supports the oppressed tenants against rapacious landlords; but it is an organization which crushes down the very name of liberty in Ireland. I will now refer to the evidence given by two brothers who were examined before the Royal Commission.
They are anonymous, and are called in the Report of the Commission Brothers No. 1 and No. 2. But as Her Majesty's Govern- 1080 ment have brought in the Bill now before the House, these brothers have sent to me to say that they are willing that I should give their names. I now, therefore, propose to give the names of all the parties concerned in the transaction, and I hope that this will satisfy the hon. Member for Longford. The names of these brothers are Patrick and Robert Troy, and they reside at Shandrum, in the County of Cork, where there exists a very active branch of the National League. They purchased a farm adjoining their own holding from a man named Burke, and paid him £180 for it. Burke was a very old man, and as he had been in the habit of working his own land, he was glad, no doubt, to get the money. The farm consisted of 17 Irish acres, and was let at £2 per acre. The brothers Troy left the man Burke in this house and gave him a certain amount of garden ground around it. After they had paid him the £180 Burke thought he would like the farm as well, and he and his family thereupon offered opposition to the occupation of the land by the Troys, and built up fences upon the farm with the view of making the occupation objectionable. The brothers brought an action against him, and obtained in the Superior Court a writ of eviction. The Troys thus came to loggerheads with the National League. The National League decided that these men Troys should give up the land, which they had then occupied for five or six years before these extremities were resorted to. The National League decided that the brothers Troy should not only give up the land, but that they should pay, in addition to the £180 they had already paid, a further sum of £150 as a fine for having occupied the holding during that time. They were asked by the Commissioner why they did not make a stand against this form of oppression, and their answer was—How could you expect us to do what the Government of England could not do?The President having asked what the witness meant, the latter replied—How could we stand up against Boycotting, and against public opinion, when the Government would not protect us any longer.Now, I say that when this Bill becomes law the tenant in Ireland, however weak he may be, will find that the law of the land is able to protect him 1081 against such monstrous oppression as this. Those brothers Troy were not satisfied with the decision of the National League, and they did not like to lose the money they had earned by the sweat of their brows. Well, these brothers Troy brought their case before a meeting of the National League held in the town of Liskeel, and they got up at the meeting to appeal to their fellow farmers against the monstrous tyranny to which they had been subjected at the hands of the League. Well, what happened? The chairman of the meeting took one of the Troys by the scruff of the neck and thrust him into the mud. That is a good indication of what would happen in an Irish House of Commons on College Green. In order to show the minuteness with which the National League enters into these matters of Boycotting, I will now refer to the case of a Mr. Macnamara, who was himself a member of the National League, and was on its committee, but who was accused of having spoken to one of the Troys. Mr. Macnamara explained that the occasion on which he had committed the offence was the close of a transaction with one of the Troys, with whom he was a partner in the ownership of a bull, one-half of which had been Boycotted, while the other half was free. In question 19,464 in the Commissioners' Report one of the Troys was asked if he went into Court; and his answer was —Yes; I think there were three cases before mine, in each of which there had been an infringement of the law of the League.Those cases were disposed of, and then one of the brothers Troy stated that he had asked the members of the League what they were going to do, and whether they intended to rob him entirely of his hard-earned money. The reply was that there was a rule against him for £100, and he was asked to give up the land, being told that if he gave it up he would not have to pay anything. Troy said that it was a cruel shame, and that he had no money that he had not earned honestly by the sweat of his brow. And now let me ask hon. Members to listen to this—They said that I must give up the land— that I was in an iron cage, and that they would squeeze it upon me.According to the right hon. Member for Derby to-night, if this Bill passes it will not be men like the Troys who will be in 1082 an iron cage. The right hon. Gentleman told us that this is a Bill simply to enable landlords to enforce the payment of their rents to the utmost farthing; but I wish to show that this measure, when law, will break the fetters and chains which have been binding the Troys and thousands of men like them. It has been often said out-of-doors, and even in this House, that if the Irish tenants wore free to vote as they please it is very much to be doubted whether many of them who now vote for hon. Members who sit below the Gangway opposite would vote for them in future. What I maintain is that if this Bill passes the Troys, and thousands of men like them, would be able hereafter to record an unfettered vote, and votes which would in reality have regard to the welfare and happiness of the country. And now I come to another part of the subject. It is time, I think, that the people of this country and this House should clearly understand what the position of the National League is. It must not be supposed that the National League is altogether on the side of the tenants in their fight against the landlords. I have shown that the National League interferes with the tenants themselves in the exorcise of the rights to which they are entitled by law. Now, I want to know what the National League really is, whence it derives its power, and what is its history? In the name of all those who think with me in Ireland, I accuse this National League of being a criminal conspiracy, established for the purpose of carrying out criminal objects and aims, and of being mainly supported by traitors, murderers, dynamiters and criminals on the other side of the Atlantic. I am aware that this is a very serious charge to bring against any organization, especially when we know that the National League includes among its members Representatives sitting in this House. Therefore, in making a charge against this organization it is necessary that the House should fully understand against whom the charge is directed. The National League was originally devised by John Devoy and Michael Davitt in 1879, and was furnished with funds collected by Patrick Ford for the purpose of carrying on the Fenian war. The hon. Member for Cork was—as the scheme was originally devised—to carry on a 1083 Constitutional movement on Constitutional lines in Ireland. He accepted the presidency of the League, and went over to America from Ireland in 1880 to explain to his friends there what the Constitutional movement meant. He was met, on his arrival in America, by Patrick Ford, the advocate of dynamite and murder; and, for my own part, I will say of Ford that he has never changed. Ford met the hon. Member for Cork, and the hon. Member made a speech at Brooklyn on the 19th of February, 1880, which has been largely quoted since, and in which he referred to a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian at Dalkeith in the winter of 1879. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman said that it was not until a great gaol had been broken open in Clerkenwell, and policemen murdered in the execution of their duty at Manchester, that the attention of the English people had been drawn to the state of Ireland, and that the question of the Irish Church had been brought within the range of practical politics. The hon. Member for Cork, in his address, called attention to these words, and told his audience that they admitted that it was necessary to act in some extraordinary and unusual manner before any question could be brought within the range of practical English politics. He went on to say that they would be obliged therefore to make the situation a very hot one indeed; that they desired to enforce the movement between the strict lines of the law, and to prevent the people from resorting to bloodshed; but it was impossible to suppose that a great cause like theirs could be won without shedding a drop of blood. Now, I will leave it to the House to decide what that language meant. The hon. Member for Cork, in that speech, deliberately stated that it was his intention to come over to this country and make the situation a very hot one indeed, arguing that the murder of the Manchester policeman and similar acts were justifiable. After that speech the hon. Member for Cork went to Washington, and a committee was appointed to meet him there, one of whom was a person named Coghlan, who had been condemned to death at Manchester, but whose sentence had been commuted to penal servitude, and who was afterwards, unfortunately, let loose. Another was 1084 a Colonel Burke, who was inside the Clerkenwell Gaol when the explosion there occurred. Soon afterwards the hon. Member went to Toronto, and in a speech which he delivered there he repeated the words about the necessity of acting in an extraordinary manner before this country could be made alive to the real wants of Ireland. He then returned to Ireland, and an executive committee was formed in Dublin. Among them were seven shining lights—the hon. Member for Cork himself, the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), and, later on, the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor), and then there were—and I ask the special attention of the House to these names—Mr. Patrick Egan, Mr. Thomas Brennan, Mr. Michael Boyton, and Mr. P. J. Sheridan. If hon. Members have pieces of paper and will write opposite the names M for murder and T for treason, they will be able to understand the character of those who were the associates of the hon. Member for Cork on the executive council. I do not accuse the hon. Member for Cork and his friends, who sit opposite to me, in this House with ever having imbrued their hands in blood, but I do accuse them, in the House of Commons, of having associated with men whom they knew to be murderers.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to a point of Order. I wish to ask if the hon. and gallant Gentleman is entitled to say, of any Members of this House, that they have been associates of men whom they knew to be murderers?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is making now very serious charges. I have nothing to do with the nature of the charges which the hon. and gallant Gentleman chooses to make, providing that he makes those charges in a manner which does not contravene Parliamentary rules. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has not said anything yet which would call for my interference. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made charges, the gravity of which I cannot conceal from myself, but of course it will be competent for hon. Members to answer those charges in debate, and it is not my duty to interfere.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to ask, then, if it is competent for a hon. Member in this House to charge other hon. 1085 Members with being associated with men whom they know to be murderers provided that he does it on his own responsibility. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The charges the hon. and gallant Gentleman is now bringing are in connection with the Bill before the House. They are not made at random in the course of debate; they are supposed to be in some way connected with the subject-matter which is now before the House. That being so it is not my duty to interfere, however grave I consider the charges to be.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I wish to say that if the hon. and gallant Gentleman persists in the statement that I have associated with men whom I know to be murderers, I shall tell him across the floor of the House what I think of him, no matter what the consequences may be. [Cries of "Order" and "Name!"]
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I have no hesitation in telling the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite that if he refers to me, he is a liar. [Loud cries of "Name!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
Of course it is impossible for me to overlook an expression of that sort. The hon. and learned Gentleman is perfectly entitled to meet and refute the charges that have been brought against him; but for an hon. Gentleman to use across this House the expression which the hon. and learned Member has just used towards an hon. Member on the opposite side, is conduct which I am bound to notice unless the hon. Gentleman withdraws the expression. [Cries of "Withdraw!"] Does the hon. and learned Gentleman withdraw the expression?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (seated and speaking with his hat on)
I am not entitled to rise, Sir, until you have sat down.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
If, Sir, you rule that the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite is entitled to say of me in my place in this House, that I associate with men whom I know to be murderers, I can only meet it in one way. If you rule, Sir, that charge to be in Order, my expression is, in my opinion, equally in Order. If you rule the hon. Member to be out of Order, naturally my expression will fall to the ground.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is not so. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made a distinct charge—a charge which I repeat is of the very gravest nature, and which entirely rests upon the responsibility of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has made it; and it is his duty, having made it, to try and substantiate it, if he can. I say it is his duty, having made it, to try and substantiate it. But I cannot allow the hon. Member for North Longford in the course of debate to make use of the expression which he has used across the floor of the House. It is competent to him to meet the charge, and, if he can, to prove the unsubstantiality of the charge so made; but the expression which the hon. and learned Member has used is one which offends against the Rules of Debate, and I must ask him to withdraw it, or I shall have but one course to take. Does the hon. and learned Gentleman withdraw the expression he has used?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
As I understand, I am accused of associating with murderers, knowing them to be such. [Cries of "Order!" and "Withdraw!"] You, I understand, Sir, rule that I can be called an associate of murderers, and you further rule that I am not entitled to deny that expression. You rule that I am not entitled to say that if the hon. and gallant Member persists in making that accusation, he is a liar.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. and learned Member has again used the expression. He is entitled to deny the charge with all the earnestness in his power; but he is not entitled, in denying it, to make use of an expression which contravenes the Rules of this House. The question I ask the hon. and learned gentleman is—Does he withdraw?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
There is only one way of meeting that accusation, and I decline to withdraw. [Loud Home Rule cheers, many Irish Members rising from their seats and waving their hats.]
§ MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)
I protest, Sir, against the language of the hon. and gallant gentleman opposite, and against the Naming of my hon. and learned friend.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I have only one duty to discharge after the intimation you, Sir, have made to the House, and that is to move—''That Mr. Healy be suspended from the Service of the House."
§ MR. SPEAKER
''That Mr. Timothy Michael Healy be suspended from the Service of the House." All who are of that opinion say "Aye" [Ministerial cries of "Aye"]; the contrary, "No." [Cries of ''No," from the Home Rule Members.] The "Ayes" have it.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 52: Majority 66.1088
|Addison, J. E. W.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Ambrose, W.||Folkestone, right hon.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Viscount|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Gent-Davis, R.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Goldsworthy, Major-|
|Baumaun, A. A.||General W. T.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Beckett, E. W.||Gray, G. W.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer||Halsey, T. F.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards.|
|Edwards-Bruce, Lord H.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Campbell, Sir A.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Holloway, G.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Holmes, right hon. H.|
|Colomb, Capt. J. C. R.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Cooke, C. W. K.||Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.|
|Courtney, L. H.||Hunt, F. S.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hunter, Sir W. G.|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.||James, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Johnston, W.|
|Do Cobain, E. S. W.||Kelly, J. E.|
|Do Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Ker, R. W. B.|
|Kerans, F. H.|
|Do Worms, Baron H.||King-Harman, Colonel E. R.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.|
|Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.||Knowles, L.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Legh, T. W.|
|Egerton, hon. A. J. F.||Lewisham, right hon.|
|Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.||Llewellyn, E. H.|
|Long, W. H.|
|Field, Admiral E.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Fielden, T.||Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Fisher, W. H.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. J. R.|
|Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Matthews, rt. hon. H.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Tapling, T. K.|
|Mulholland, H. L.||Taylor, F.|
|Noble, W.||Temple, Sir R.|
|O'Neill, hon. R. T.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Parker, hon. F.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Pearce, W.||Verdin, R.|
|Plunket, right hon. D. R.||Walsh, hon. A. H. J.|
|Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Plunkett, hon. J. W.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Pomfret, W. P.||Wharton, J. L.|
|Powell, P. S.||White, J. B.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.||Whitley, E.|
|Reed, H. B.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.||Wood, N.|
|Robertson, J. P. B.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Round, J.||Wright, H. S.|
|Saunderson, Col. E. J.||Wroughton, P.|
|Sellar, A. C.||Yerburgh, R. A.|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Sinclair, W. P.||TELLERS.|
|Smith, rt. hon. W. H.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Stanley, E. J.||Walrond, Col. W. K.|
|Blane, A.||Nolan, J.|
|Channing, F. A.||O'Brien, P.|
|Claney, J. J.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Commins, A.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Conway, M.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Cox, J. R.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Pugh, D.|
|Ellis, J. E.||Quinn, T.|
|Ellis, T. E.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Fenwick, C.||Reed, Sir E. J.|
|Foley, P. J.||Reynolds, W. J.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Rowntree, J.|
|Graham, R. C.||Russell, E. R.|
|Harrington, E.||Sexton, T.|
|Hayden, L. P.||Smith, S.|
|Hayne, C. Seale-||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Healy, T. M.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|Hooper, J.||Sullivan, D.|
|Hunter, W. A.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Illingworth, A.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Joicey, J.||Tuite, J.|
|Labouchere, H.||Wallace, R.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Watt, H.|
|Leake, R.||Wilson, H. J.|
|M'Donald, P.||Biggar, J. G.|
|Morgan, O. V.||Redmond, J. E.|
§ An hon. MEMBER: You are afraid to hear the truth.
§ An hon. MEMBER: Why do you not call upon the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh to withdraw also?
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
rose from his seat on the third Bench below the Gangway on the Opposition side, and, bowing to the Chair, withdrew from the House, amid loud cheering from the Irish Mem- 1089 bers who again stood up and waved their hats.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
rose to resume his speech amid Home Rule cries of "Withdraw!" The hon. and gallant Member said: I must say, Sir, I feel very considerable surprise, not at the temper displayed by some hon. Members opposite, but at the temper displayed by certain hon. Members. [An hon. MEMBER: Who are they? and cries of "Order!"] I did not apply the term to all hon. Members opposite.
§ MR. SEXTON
The hon. and gallant Member said that I was a member of the Executive Council of the League, and in that capacity I associated with persons whom I knew to be murderers. Does he persist in that statement, or does he withdraw it?
P. J. Sheridan was a murderer, and he was a member of the Executive Committee of which the hon. Member for West Belfast was also a member. [Cries of "Withdraw!" and great interruption]
§ MR. SEXTON
Did I know him to be a murderer? Did I ever associate with any man whom I knew to be a murderer? [An hon. MEMBER: "Withdraw, you coward!"] [Cries of "Order!"]
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (who rose amid cries of '' Withdraw, withdraw!")
I have made a statement that a known murderer belonged to the Executive Committee, against whom a true bill was found for complicity in the Phoenix Park murders, and that Committee must have known that this man was a murderer. [Much interruption, and renewed cries of "Withdraw!"]
§ MR. SEXTON
Then I say you are a wilful and a cowardly liar. [Home Rule cheers and great disorder, the Irish Members again rising and leaving their hats.] If I had you outside the doors of this House I would dash your statement down your throat, and thrash you within an inch of your life. [Loud and continued Home Rule cheering, and cries of "You coward, withdraw! "]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have a duty—and a very painful one it is—to perform. If the hon. Member for West Belfast does not withdraw the expression he has just used, I must take the same course with 1090 him that I have just taken with the hon. and learned Member for North Longford. [An hon. MEMBER: Do it; and cries of "Order!"] I must ask hon. Gentlemen to keep order while I am endeavouring to do my duty. If I can do anything to allay the feeling which exists, I am sure I would willingly do so. I did not understand that the hon. and gallant Gentleman charged the hon. Member for West Belfast directly or indirectly—[Cries of "Oh!"] It is for the hon. and gallant Member to say whether he did so or not.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I ask the hon. and gallant Member to speak first, and to say whether he did so? [An Irish MEMBER: Withdraw, you blackguard!]
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Again I say that it is perfectly indifferent to me, and I do not care what hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite say of me. [Cries of Answer the Chair!"] With regard to the question which the hon. Member for West Belfast asks me, and which I understand was this, whether I stated that he personally knew a man at a certain time to be a murderer— [Renewed cries of "Answer the Chair!" and "No, no! "]
§ MR. SEXTON
The question I asked was whether I ever wilfully or knowingly associated with any murderer. [Cries of"Answer a plain question!" "Answer the Speaker!"]
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
The House will see, evidently, that it is perfectly impossible that I could have made that accusation. [Cries of "You did!"] Mr. P. J. Sheridan was a man against whom an accusation of murder was made, and against whom a true bill for murder was found. [Loud cries of "Order!" "Answer the question!" and interruption.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he charges the hon. Member for West Belfast with associating with a man whom he knew at the time to be a murderer? That is the expression which originally gave offence, and I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to repeat it. I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he makes that accusation?
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Certainly I do not wish to make an accusation against the hon. Member for West Bel- 1091 fast which I cannot substantiate. [Cries of "Withdraw!"] If I said so, all I can say is that it was an expression unhappily worded. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" "Withdraw!" "That won't do!"] I did not wish to accuse the hon. Member of associating with a man whom he knew to be a murderer at the time.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Then I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that he withdraws the expression as affecting the hon. Member for West Belfast. The hon. Member for West Belfast, I must say, has used in repelling the charge a very offensive and un-Parliamentary expression; but I cannot conceal, of course, that the provocation he received was a very strong one. As the right hon. and gallant Member withdraws his expression, the right hon. Member for West Belfast will, I hope, withdraw the un-Parliamentary expression which he used.
§ MR. SEXTON
Sir, I shall withdraw the expression, reserving to myself the right to act, if such an accusation is repeated against myself or any of my Colleagues.
§ MR. LEAKE (Lancashire, S. E., Radcliffe)
Sir, I rise to Order. I wish to ask whether, in these distressing circumstances, the result that has been attained with reference to the hon. Member for West Belfast would not also cover the case of the hon. Member for North Longford who has been suspended?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The question just put by the hon. Member is not a question of Order. The House has already come to a vote on the subject, and it is out of my bounds. Of course, it is for the House to act, in the matter, as it thinks right, and it can take any course it may deem to be expedient. [Calls for the "First Lord "from the Home Rule Members.] The rescission of the vote cannot be taken now, but it may be taken at the next Sitting of the House, if the House thinks proper.
§ MR. SEXTON
Then, Sir, I beg to give Notice that, considering the withdrawal which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has made, I will, at the next Sitting of the House, move that the vote of the House excluding my hon. Friend the Member for North Longford be rescinded.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON,
continuing his speech, said: When the interruption occurred I had arrived at this point, that an executive committee of the National League was formed in Dublin, of which seven gentlemen whoso names I have mentioned were the chief officers, and among them a certain gentleman was prominent—Mr. P. J. Sheridan, who was a notorious murderer. He was an intimate associate, at that time, of the hon. Member for West Belfast, of the hon. Member for Cork, and, at the end of the operations of that committee, of the Member for East Donegal. They ought to have known that he was a murderer. It was made pretty plain; a true bill was found against him for complicity in the Phcenix Park murders, and he had to fly for his life. Patrick Egan and Thomas Brennan, the secretary of the hon. Member for Cork were also implicated in the Phœnix Park murders. Mr. Egan was the treasurer of the Land League, and he also absconded. After that the hon. Member for Cork, and some of his Colleagues were pat in gaol, and the Land League was suppressed.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
But the papers of the Lard League were never inspected by Her Majesty's Government. What revelations they might have made we have never been able to know, and it is not for me to discuss; but some of the deficit which was over £100,000, might have been accounted for. I will not weary the House further by continuing the history of the Land League. It was after that, in the year 1882, that the National League was started, and again hon. Members opposite, as delegates of the National League, went across the Atlantic—I find no fault with them for that—in order to establish a connection between the newly-formed organization and their American supporters. I find that on the other side of the Atlantic Mr. Patrick Egan, Mr. Patrick Ford, the notorious advocate of dynamite and murder, and Mr. P. J. Sheridan, the confessed murderer and former associate of the hon. Member for West Belfast and the hon. Member for Cork, were present; and I find also that the gentlemen sent over from the National League to represent the National League had a habit, in America, of meeting with 1093 those gentlemen and taking part with them in public meetings and private re-unions. I find, for instance, that the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) was one of the delegates. That hon. Member wont over there and met some of the advanced patriots, and the hon. Member for West Belfast also went over to America and had the felicity of seeing My. Patrick Egan, the former treasurer of the Land League, elected as president of the Clan-na-Gael, a murderous association in America.
§ MR. SEXTON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is now repeating his calumny in another form. I saw Mr. Patrick Egan elected President of the Land League Association of America, which has nothing to do with any murderous association. I must ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to withdraw that expression.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Certainly; but I do not know exactly what I have said that is contrary to the Rules of the House.
§ MR. SEXTON
The hon. and gallant Member said that I was present when Mr. Egan was elected President of a murder society in America. Why does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman, like a man, withdraw the offensive expression?
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The inference derived from the hon. and gallant Gentleman's remarks, no doubt, gave offence, and just offence, to the hon. Member for West Belfast. It is that expression which I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to withdraw.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I have no desire to say anything offensive to the hon. Member. [Cries of "Withdraw!"] I do not know what I am asked to withdraw. I want to arrive at a fair understanding. [An hon. MEMBER: "You coward!"] I made a statement, which appeared in The Irish World, that Mr. Patrick Egan was elected President of the Clan-na-Gael Society, and that the hon. Member for West Belfast was present. If the hon. Member says that is untrue I will withdraw.
§ MR. SEXTON
I know nothing whatever of the Clan-na-Gael Society. I am entirely ignorant of it. I do not know whether Mr. Egan is connected with, it or not.
§ DR. FOX (King's Co., Tullamore)
I rise to Order. Sir. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has alluded to the election of Mr. Egan as President of the National League in America. I was a Member of the National League of America for five years. [Ministerial cries of "Oh"] Yes, and I am very proud of it. I was present at the convention with Mr. Egan and the hon. Member for West Belfast, and I beg to tell the hon. and gallant Member that when he makes that statement I brand him as a liar. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I understood when the hon. Member rose that it was to a point of Order. He cannot interrupt the debate by entering into any personal explanation now. The remarks he is making may be the subject for a speech in reply, but they are not to a point of Order.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
again rose and was received with loud cries from the Home Rule Benches of "Withdraw!" The hon. and gallant Gentleman said, I do not know what I am to withdraw.
§ MR. SEXTON
Mr. Speaker, I feel, sir, the great difficulty of the position in which you are placed, and personally I am thankful for your intervention; but I must ask you to direct the hon. and gallant Member to withdraw the statement he has made.
§ MR. SEXTON
The statement that I was present when a gentleman was elected President of a murder association.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
again rose amid cries of "Withdraw!" and "Name!" He said: What I stated was that the hon. Member for West Belfast was present when Mr. Patrick Egan was elected President of the Clan-na-Gael Association, and that that is an association which advocates murder.
§ MR. SEXTON
Then I must repeat my expression that the bon. and gallant Gentleman is again a liar. [Much interruption and disorder, and cries from the Home Rule Benches of" Withdraw, you coward!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I trust the hon. and gallant Member will withdraw; that some respect will be shown to the House of Commons, and that these disgraceful proceedings will immediately close. I must call on the 1095 hon. and gallant Gentleman to withdraw the expression he made use of, that the hon. Member for West Belfast was present when a President was elected of a murder society. That is the expression which I understand the hon. member for West Belfast to complain of, and I do hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will at once withdraw it.
§ MR. SEXTON
The charge of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was, Sir, that a President of a murder society was elected and that I was present. I say that he is an infernal liar.
Certainly, Sir. In obedience to your ruling, I withdraw any expression you think I ought not to have used.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I rise to Order, Sir. The hon. Member for West Belfast has not withdrawn the expression he used.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said: I am sure the hon. Member will regret the expression and withdraw it, now that the provocative expression has been withdrawn. I trust that he will withdraw and allow the matter to end.
§ MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
I rise, Sir, to a point of Order. I wish to ask whether it is competent to say of any association that it is a murderous association, and to imply in so doing that an hon. Member of this House is either directly or indirectly connected with such an association? Is it right to say of any foreign association that it is a murderous association? May I venture to add that in connection with this statement I have been singled out by a Catholic newspaper in New York as a worthy object for assassination.
§ An hon. MEMBER: You would not be worth shooting.1096
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The question raised by the hon. Member is not a point of Order. An assertion that a foreign society is a murderous society is not a question of Order which arises now.
resuming: I come now to another point—to another link in the chain by which I desire to connect particular individuals who stand branded with the crime of murder—to a circumstance which occurred in America in reference to Mr. Patrick Egan. I am very loath to make these statements; but I think it is absolutely imperative that the eyes of this House and of this country should be opened to these things; and whatever it may cost me, as long as I have breath, I shall brand this League as it deserves. Mr. Patrick Egan assisted at a supper in America; this supper was hold to celebrate a day which is now observed in that part of the world—the 6th of May—on which day the fiendish murders were committed in Phoenix Park. Although some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen may have forgotten those murders, the blood of the victims still cries for vengeance. Although the perpetrators of the murders are now in their graves, yet those who hounded them on have still to receive justice, and I believe they ultimately will receive it. This Patrick Egan sat down at a supper with John Walsh, A. E. Ford, W. E. Ford, B. Roe, and T. Macarty. I have taken this statement from The Irish World of May the 24th, 1884. The object of the supper party was to present a purse to the woman who was supposed to have supplied the knives by which the Phœnix Park murders were committed. I wonder that hon. Members who went to America after that did not wash their hands of Patrick Egan. A supper to celebrate such a deed as this should have been sufficient to brand with eternal infamy all who partook of it? But what do I find? Afterwards, in 1886— last year—it was decided to present this Mr. Patrick Egan with a service of plate. The man who had thus celebrated the Phœnix Park murders was presented with a service of plate. Who were those who subscribed to it? The Irish World gave the names of those who subscribed to this service of plate as Charles Stewart Parnell, Justin 1097 M'Carthy, Thomas Sexton, Edward Dawson, John Dillon, Dwyer Gray, and William O'Brien. The subscribers presented Mr. Egan with this service of plate as a tribute to his many virtues. Surely I am entitled to say that those who presented this tribute to the man who celebrated the Phœnix Park murders could not help associating themselves, more or less, with his misdeeds. All this ought to have been perfectly known to hon. Gentlemen opposite, for it was recorded in full in their own paper in America.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I come now to the end of the chain. Mr. Davitt, the other day, just before he left America, made a speech in which he alluded to the Bill which the Government have now produced. He doe3 not approve of the Bill; and he informs us candidly, fairly, and openly, as the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has done, what he intends to do when it is passed. And this is what he said—It coercion be attempted, thousands of men will be called upon and compelled by their manhood, their consciences, and their pledges to the sacred cause of Irish liberty, to sacrifice their lives, if necessary, to show the world, by one supreme act of desperation, that, mighty as Enggland's power may be, there are means by which justice can be vindicated and cherished rights asserted even against a culprit so great as the Government of the British Empire.There was cheering at this point of his speech which lasted fully four minutes, and United Ireland says that "the scone beggared description." The last time I saw Mr. Davitt was at a meeting at Hyde Park. I formed part of the audience addressed by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), with whose speech I do not find any fault; but I want to point out that Mr. Davitt, who made this savage speech in America, has come over here and is now one of the principal supporters of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). I do not know what Englishmen think of that; but I believe the constituencies will have their eyes opened by it, and by scenes which have sometimes occurred in this House. I arraign the National League, as far as my weak voice is able, before the Bar of this House, and before public opinion in England, as a criminal organization 1098 which has been founded on bloodshed and murder, as I have shown, and which derives the main part of its supplies from the notoriously avowed enemies of the British Empire—and I shall prove every word I have said. I am perfectly well aware that this has been denied. The hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. Harrington) the other night stated that since the establishment of the National League it had not got, and had not used, £4,000 of American money. Now, Sir, there never was made in the history of this House a more utterly fallacious statement than that. I deliberately assert this because the hon. Member is Secretary to the National League, and in the month of January this year he attended a meeting of the League in Dublin in that capacity, and I find it recorded in that excellent newspaper United Ireland that—"On the motion of Mr. T. Harrington, Mr. Arthur O'Connor was unanimously voted to the chair; that the secretary read a report to the effect that on the previous night, at a meeting of the committee, Mr. Healy in the chair, and the minutes having been read, the treasurer reported that the receipts since last meeting from Irish sources were £333 17s. 1d., and from the Irish National League in America £5,000." I regret that the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin is not in the House, because I cannot conceive how this discrepancy arises.
I have read the report in The Times, and the report of the proceedings in United Ireland; and in one case the hon. Member states that the National League had not got, and had not used, £4,000 of American money; and in the other case the report is that at the meeting at Dublin the treasurer stated that £5,000 of American money had been received in the previous fortnight.
§ MR. EDWAED HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
There were two funds, one for political purposes and the other on account of evictions. Most of the money received was for the latter, and my brother was referring to the League. I am sure the hon. and gallant Member would not wilfully misrepresent the statement.
It is impossible for me to say how this money is spent. I only judge from the newspapers, and from, the newspapers of the National League especially. When I see it stated that they have not received £4,000 from America—[An hon. MEMBER: It was never stated.] The report in The Times is that, "Mr. Harrington stated that the National League had not got or used £4,000 of this money."
MR. E. HAEEINGTON
The words "for this purpose" are left out. He was referring to the Parliamentary purposes under discussion at the time.
It is perfectly indifferent to me how the money is allocated. These statements are made, and upon them I form my opinion. I find, at a meeting held at New York on the 7th of December, 1886, a motion was brought forward to give a banquet to Mr. Davitt; and a Mr. Jeremiah Murphy delivered himself thus—The men who live on banquets are the Irish Members of Parliament, who are squandering on themselves the hard-earned money which we collect and send to them.I do not say this is true, bat it is stated of them. What I am anxious to impress on the House and the country is, that the greater portion of the money which enables hon. Members who sit below the Gangway opposite to become and to remain Members of this House comes from the avowed foes of the British Empire in America—foes who hate England with a worse and more deadly hatred than ever the Russians did; and that in order to place them in the position which they occupy the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has adopted a foreign policy. Hon. Members opposite will find it a difficult thing to cut themselves clear of Patrick Ford, who is identified with murder and assassination, and who—I defy them to contradict it—collects money for them. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) and the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) have in this House, tried to disclaim all connection with Ford. They were at once answered by Mr. Davitt, who immediately afterwards wrote a letter to The Freeman's Journal, in which he said that the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Longford might lead to the forming of erroneous opinions in Ireland as to the part which 1100 The Irish World had played in the movement of the last seven years. It is not correct to say that for years and years The Irish World has never ceased to attack us, because it has been our most persistent enemy. Davitt went on to say that Ford, abandoning the dynamite policy, had largely assisted the League, and that he believed that three-fourths of the enormous sum received by the Land League from America was subscribed through the appeals made by Patrick Ford in his paper; and through the instrumentality of hundreds of auxiliary branches of the League which were organized by The Irish World. But has Ford, who sends over thousands of pounds to the League, given up dynamite? Not at all. Since the letter of Davitt, and since the speech delivered in this House by the hon. and learned Member for Longford, Patrick Ford has written an article on dynamite, in which he says that dynamite was never intended to be employed in a war for anarchical purposes, bat that this was a war between two nations, one of which had plundered and ruined the other for centuries, and the other was waging a war of extermination. This is the man who sends over money to destroy the Empire, if possible, by murder, by out-rage and dynamite. To my mind, the most serious part of the question is this —We, the Irish Loyalists, have gone through dangers for England in difficult times. We confronted her foes in 1641. We confronted them in 1689 and in 1798, and, although they were critical times, we had not British statesmen against us then. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has many foes in this country; but I do not believe his worst enemies could have wished a more bitter ending of his great career than that he should be dragged at the wheels of the blood-stained chariot of the National League while consenting to sacrifice the best interests of his country, which it was his bounden duty to uphold, to maintain, and never to betray. I do not believe that the country will ratify the policy which the right hon. Gentleman proposes as an alternative to that of Her Majesty's Government; and I have no doubt whatever that, when the country is appealed to, the answer to our appeal will be the same as it was at the last Election— that Ireland shall never be handed over 1101 to the blood-stained authority of the National League, but ever remain an integral portion of the British Empire.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —[Mr. Sexton.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Monday next.