§ [SECOND NIGHT.]
§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [26th April], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," for Committee on the Bill.
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 declines to proceed further with a measure for strengthening the Criminal Law against combinations of tenants until it has before it the full measure for their relief against excessive rents in the shape in which it may pass the other House of Parliament,"—(Mr. Robert Reid,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
said, he classified the supporters of the Bill into four—the old Tory Party, who, opposing all remedial legislation for Ireland, held that all misery could be redressed by coercion; the growing section of the Tory Party who were in touch with the democracy, and were not indisposed to homoeopathic doses of remedial legislation along with coercion; those Liberal Unionists who believed in the same mixture more largely composed of remedial measures; and the section who followed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), and who believed in remedial legislation in equal quantities with coercion. To the first class of those he mentioned he made no appeal, and would briefly say that the history of the world was strewn with the wrecks of Empires whose Governments depended wholly upon force. He appealed to the noble Marquess the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) and those who 106 were sincere in their declarations to use pressure upon the Government in favour of remedial legislation should support the Amendment, for if this Bill once passed from the control of the House, all power of pressure on the Government was gone. All the Amendment asked was that the progress of the Bill should be suspended until the House had before it those remedial measures without which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and others had declared they would not support a Coercion Bill. He would watch with great interest to see whether the right hon. Gentleman would put his old principle of Radicalism in practice by supporting this Amendment. Then he would expect the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), who belonged to the Radical section of the Tory Party, to vote for this Amendment also. The Amendment put into words that which Liberal Unionists and moderate Conservatives had expressed as their desire. The object of this Bill was to prevent combination among the tenants of Ireland. By the Amendment the right of the tenants to combine was claimed, and in the name of common sense, justice, and fair play, why should they not combine for common interest, just as workmen in this country and elsewhere also combined for a common and lawful purpose? He was a large employer of labour, and he never objected to the workmen of this country combining to obtain the best wages they could get. The landowners of this country had combined, to a very large extent, for the promotion of rack-rents. The House of Lords, he might say, was a large landlord combination for the promotion of their own interests. There was combination amongst lawyers and parsons, and if they and the landlords and workmen were allowed to combine for the promotion of their own interests, why not the tenants of Ireland also? This kind of legislation had always been dangerous; but it was more dangerous now than ever. In the plainest way and compelled by evidence, they could not ignore Lord Cowper's Commission had declared that Irish rents wore 20 per cent too high, and how could Liberal Unionists support a Bill that would put into the landlord's hands the power of enforcing rents their own Commission had de- 107 clared unjustifiable. Believing in Government by and for the people he had always opposed coercion, and had he sat in the House should have voted against the Bill of 1882. In the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) there was the ever-recurring phrase "Law and order." It would not do to force a measure of this kind on Ireland without giving reasons for it, and he asserted that the Government were not only treating their Liberal Unionist Friends, but the House at large, with scant courtesy when they refused to answer the arguments urged against the passing of the measure by Opposition speakers. He did not believe in the efficacy of this legislation. He was in favour of the principle, "Government by the people for the people." Coercion of Ireland now would be as disappointing as it had been in the past, because we were attempting to govern the country against the will of the people. Why was it that the Irish people were not so loyal and law-abiding as the population in other parts of the Kingdom? Because the people of Ireland did not believe in the laws under which they lived, and in the making of which they had no part. Their laws were made for the rich against the poor, according to Sir Redvers Buller. Give the people of Ireland a voice in their legislation, and the people would be as loyal as any other; but their patriotism demanded opposition to laws forced upon them against their will. Personally, he believed in the men who tried to reform the world, not in the men who tried to crush it; and he reminded right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Founder of Christianity was put to death under what was called "law and order" in those days for opposing the laws under which He lived. Would a Tory Government never learn from history? Let them look back on the Tory policy of a century ago, which lost the American Colonies and saddled this country with an expenditure of £180,000,000. Let them also remember how the same policy of coercion in recent history drove Canada to the verge of rebellion and farther from law and order than Ireland was now. That same policy of force was defeated when it was applied to Canada, else had the Dominion been also lost to us. No lack of illustrations were there 108 in history of the disastrous results of force. The only danger to the Union in Ireland was the danger of carrying that Coercion Bill. In his opinion, the only danger to the union between this country and Ireland was the carrying of that Coercion Bill and for the English Government to continue governing the Irish people against their will. He trusted that the Liberal Unionists would check the Government in the course they were pursuing, and he invited that section of the Liberal Party and the House generally to reconsider their position with regard to coercion, which the Amendment now before it gave them the opportunity of so doing. For every £1 of rent which was collected for the landlords of Ireland the British taxpayers had to pay £2 or £3; and as soon as the democracy came to understand that they would make short work of the present Government and their coercion.
§ MR. J. W. PLUNKETT (Gloucestershire, Thornbury)
said, as a new Member, he claimed the indulgence of the House. He did not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Mr. Handel Cossham) in the speech which he had read to the House from beginning to end.
§ MR. J. W. PLUNKETT, said, he apologized to the hon. Member. He had been going to add that he had the corresponding advantage of knowing the hon. Member's speech by heart. He did not believe that the time had come when the English people, whose flag waved over territories in every part of the world, should have to confess that they were not able to rule their oldest and nearest Possession. He hoped once for all they had got rid of Ministers who had given way to intimidation. On Monday last the hon. Member for East Bristol made a speech in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was compared to a huge rock. He (Mr. J. W. Plunkett) had compared the right hon. Gentleman to a quarry, because there were persons who thought they could get nothing out of him except by blasting and explosions. The explosion at Clerkenwell had led to the Disestablishment of the Irish Church; and who then could say what might not be got out of 109 the right hon. Gentleman by making use of the resources of modern civilization? It was difficult to understand what were Liberal opinions, because if he during the Elections of 1885 had suggested that the Liberal Party was in favour of Home Rule for Ireland he would not have been allowed to say anything more until he had withdrawn such a glaringly improbable accusation; but since that time Liberal opinions had changed. The hon. Member for the Auckland Division of Durham (Mr. Paulton), who had spoken strongly against this Bill, knew nothing of that country—indeed, he believed that the hon. Member was never there. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had undertaken on more than one occasion to give peace to Ireland, but while doing so he had to be guarded by policemen, until he came to the conclusion that there ought to be an amputation—or Home Rule. The remedies of the right hon. Gentleman had failed because there were persons interested in keeping the sore open, and no one could have suspected that while applying them the doctor was contemplating the possibility of amputation being ultimately necessary. Lord Russell had almost anticipated the present Bill, because he said that juries were fit only for countries in which the people were friends of the law, that in Ireland it was difficult to find a jury which dared to do its duty, that he would adopt the Scotch plan, and make it penal to reveal how jurymen voted. And Lord Russell added that the Irish people were under two different and repugnant systems of law, one enacted by Parliament and enforced by the Courts, and the other concocted in the whisky shop and enforced by the assassin. When hon. Members opposite called this Crimes Bill coercion, he ventured to say that if they could bring over to England the system against which this measure was directed there was not an Englishman who would not go down upon his knees and pray for such a Bill as this. It had been alleged that a great number of Conservative candidates had got into Parliament at the late General Election because they promised not to vote for coercion. He denied that he had been returned because he had declared against coercion at the last Election. On the contrary, 110 he owed his return to his declaration that he would support the Party of no surrender to crime and outrage. He had stated himself on that occasion that the coercion referred to would affect no honest man, but only criminals, but that there was another coercion, that of the National League against those who wished to carry on their honest pursuits, and that England would not have done her duty until the lives, liberty, and property of every man, woman, and child in Ireland were secure under the authority of the Queen. The Dissentient Liberals had been accused of ratting. Well, the interesting rodent referred to in this allusion was supposed to desert a sinking ship, and he thought if a man had been sailing under the Union Jack and suddenly found that the skull and cross bones of the pirate had been hoisted instead, he had a perfect right to desert the ship, and the sooner it sank the better. A right hon. Gentleman who might have been on the Woolsack—but fortunately he and his friends had got the sack without the wool—had said that it was not our first duty to enforce a law if that law was unjust. But who was to decide whether a law was just or unjust? When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) issued an edict as to the flogging of little boys, it was not enforced, not because it was unjust, but because it was against the law of England. When the right hon. Gentleman passed his own Coercion Act, it was not a just law in the opinion of those against whom it was to be applied. The right hon. Gentleman had not given us any means of defining who were to be the arbiters as to whether a law was just or unjust. The Parnell Manifesto issued in November, 1885, was most venomously directed against the Liberal Party. A more crushing condemnation of Liberal policy could not have been written than was then issued by the Nationalist Party. Yet now those two Parties were allies. Doubtless, to some extent, dates had to be considered; but there must have been a great and radical change on one side or the other to bring about this alliance. Then, which Party had changed, which had swung round? It was very important that the fact should be known. Had the Irish Nationalists modified their demands and course of action; or, rather, had the Liberal Leaders suddenly changed their 111 views? When hon. Members below the Gangway opposite pretended to call for justice and freedom for Ireland, the English people had a right to inquire what justice and freedom they themselves allowed to their countrymen who differed from them, and upon whom they had placed their heel. The result of such inquiries showed that there were the hardest tyranny and the most crushing system of terrorism for all those who refused to obey the dictates, or dared to oppose the National League; and he was confident that the English people, with this knowledge, would never consent to the lives, liberties, and property of the Irish people being handed over to the inventors of Boycotting and the wire-pullers of the National League. The object of the Bill was to prevent such an undesirable consummation, and, under those circumstances, it would receive his hearty and cordial support.
§ MR. A. E. PEASE (York)
The speech to which we have just listened is one advocating the measure now before the House, and we might naturally expect the hon. Member, being the heir to a large estate in Ireland, to take the landlord's view of that measure. In the remarks I have to make, I shall take somewhat an opposite view to that which he has taken. It is as evident in the face of this proposed measure as it has been made clear in the course of this debate, that the objects of the Bill are not merely the repression of crime, but the suppression of a political association called the National League and the prevention of combination amongst tenants to defend themselves against the exactions of rack-renting landlords. During the whole course of the debate Members opposite have tried to strengthen their case and prejudice that of the Opposition to this Bill by alleging a connection between Members on this side of the House with criminal associations, and illegal conspiracies in America and elsewhere. If it can be shown not only that this alleged connection is founded on the flimsiest evidence, but also that hon. Members opposite are endeavouring to protect by this measure a class of men who are responsible for more numerous outrages and more serious crimes than the Fenians or the dynamitards, then the case of the Government will be correspondingly weakened. We maintain that this measure will be 112 used to prevent the use of those weapons by which alone the Irish tenants can protect themselves against the exactions of unjust landlords; and I wish to point out that during the last 50 years the Irish landlords, or rather a section of Irish landlords, have been responsible for atrocities before which the deeds of the worst Fenian conspirators pale. I agree entirely with what was said by a noble Lord last night that that section of the Irish landlords have been a curse to the Empire, to their country, and to their class; but if the Irish people are prejudiced by the existence of a body of men who take violent courses in America, and, perhaps, also in Ireland, on the same ground we cannot be surprised that the Irish landlords are compromised by the doings of a section of their body, I should like to point out this difference between the horrible crimes committed by the Fenian and other illegal associations, and the crimes committed by a section of the Irish landlords. I suppose that the most extreme denunciator of these conspirators will admit that there might have been some small ground of provocation on their side; but the Irish landlords who have acted cruelly towards their tenants have acted wantonly against their own tenantry—a class of people whom it was their duty to protect—against the helpless and wretched people who were unable to look to other protectors, and should have had a claim on their sympathy and humanity. It is by such Acts as the one before the House that we have supported the Irish landlords in their acts of cruelty and power, and we believe that these Acts will encourage them, as some of the expressions that have fallen from hon. Gentlemen in this Parliament must encourage them, in their exacting courses. I should like to remind the House of a sentence that fell from a Member of this Government during the Session of last autumn, which, I think, was a direct encouragement to Irish landlords to evict their tenants. I know that the late Chief Secretary for Ireland was active, but not in conformity with the policy here laid down—he did his best to protect the Irish tenants. The sentence to which I allude was this—If there are any persons in this House who think that there should be any interference by the Government with the right of landlords to 113 recover land in the event of the non-payment of rent they fall into a grave and serious error.Now we believe this Bill to be a new penal law intended to brand the Irish people permanently as a subject race, and we believe identification is the policy we should pursue with respect to Ireland. But there can, as Mr. Grattan said, be no identification between the oppressor and the oppressed, the conqueror and the conquered, and we believe it is by very different means that we must attach the Irish people to the Imperial Government. I am about to deal with the behaviour of a section of the Irish landlords during the present generation. I think it is only by bringing before the public in this House the actual facts of what may be termed the land law in Ireland that has come down to this day, that the people of this country can understand how the whole body of Irish landlords are compromised in the eyes of the Irish people, I shall have to trouble the House with a considerable number of extracts with regard to the conduct of the Irish landlords during the last 50 years. I shall remind the House of the condition of the Irish people during the famine, how the Irish people were then plunged into distress such as never afflicted any other country in the world, and I shall ask what, when the Irish were suffering in this manner, was the conduct of the Irish landowners? I am aware that there were many bright and noble exceptions to the general behaviour of this class to their tenantry. But if we read the Reports of the Government Inspectors during the years 1847 to 1852, and if we read the evidence of the Relief Commissioners and the Select Committee on the Poor Laws, we shall see what was the conduct of the landlords towards their tenants, and I think I am justified in dwelling on the conduct of the landlords during the famine, because it is in times of national distress and when the nation is in extremities that we can rightly judge of the qualities of those who should have influence for good with the people. During 1849 there were 90,440 evictions, and in 1850 there were 104,163 evictions. I mean by "evictions" evicted persons rendered homeless. Here is a Report from the Ballina Union, on the 5th of February, 1848. 114 Sir Robert Hamilton, the Inspector, wrote—The cabins of the people are miserable. Had as they are, the proprietors and lessees are rapidly depriving them even of this shelter. One proprietor lately unroofed upwards of 80 cabins at Mullaghroe in one day. The village of Cornboy, in the Belmullet Division, in which 150 persons were relieved last winter, has also been unroofed, and everywhere the demolition of homes is steadily going forward. Upwards of one-third of the cabins in the district are unroofed…. The people are miserably clothed, their appearance is frightful, especially the children, many of whom are little better than living skeletons. I found five out of one family which had been ejected out of Mullaghroe lying on the roadside last Wednesday near the workhouse; they were carried into it by my orders, but, I fear, only to die.Then Mr. W. J. Hamilton, another Government Inspector, writes in March of the same year—In some localities it is to be feared that the heartless conduct of Mr. Walsh has brought many persons to a premature grave…. The same system of evictions is still going on, and I cannot be an eye-witness to the terrible results of it without expressing my horror of the barbarous manner in which many poor persons have been treated…. Mr. Lyons is following Mr. Walsh's example.As to the position of some of these landlords I will quote from one report of Sir R—Routh to Mr. Trevelyan, in 1847, in reply to an enquiry as to the incomes of the landowners from land in the Skibbereen Union—
and so on; and he asks—
"Lord Carbery £15,000 per year; R. H. H. Becher 4,000 per year; Mr. Newman 4,000 per year; Rev. S. Townsend 8,000 per year; Sir W. R. Becher 10,000 per year; The O'Donovan 2,500 per year;Ought such destitution to prevail with such resources?Commissary General Hewetson reported for his district—Too many places similarly situated; landlords cither absent, or, though present, as well as committees, not sufficiently active. It is not right I should be called upon to urge what is their duty to perform, but so it is.Then, Captain Kennedy, writing in July, 1848, says—I frequently travel 15 miles without seeing five stacks of grain of any kind—all threshed and sold. Rent has seldom or ever been looked for more sharply or levied more unsparingly than this year. Of the proprietors there are but few resident. I cannot speak of their means. I only know that there has not been any amount of poor rate levied in their Union seriously to injure them, no more than any man of common 115 humanity ought voluntarily to bestow in disastrous times.From Castlerea, Mr. Auchmuty wrote to a similar effect; while Captain Kennedy, on May 7th, 1849, wrote—As soon as one horde of houseless and all but naked paupers are dead, or provided for in the workhouse, another wholesale eviction doubles the number, who, in their turn, pass through the same ordeal, wandering from house to house or burrowing in bogs or behind ditches, till, broken down by privation or exposure to the elements, they seek the workhouse or die by the roadside. The state of some districts in this Union baffles description. Sixteen houses, containing 21 families, have been levelled in one small village in Killard Division, and a vast number in the rural parts of it. Notwithstanding that fearful, and, I believe, unparalleled numbers have been unhoused in this district within the year, probably 15,000, it seems hardly credible that 1,200 more have had their dwellings levelled within a fortnight.In his Report on King's County, Mr. Fitzgerald says—I do not know any landlords, with the exception of Lord Rosse, and another small proprietor, who have taken any means to enable their poor tenants to sow their lands. There are other proprietors who act like the besiegers of a town in starving them out—" cant "their cows to-day and get the tenants on the relief list to-morrow.Captain Kennedy, in June, 1848, says—The misery attendant on these wholesale and simultaneous evictions is frequently aggravated by hunting these ignorant, helpless, creatures off the property from which they, perhaps, have before wandered five miles. It is not an unusual occurrence to see 40 or 50 houses levelled in one day, and orders given that no remaining tenant or occupier should give them even a night's shelter. I have known some ruthless acts committed by drivers and sub-agents, but no doubt according to law however repulsive to humanity: wretched hovels pulled down where the inmates were in a helpless state of fever and nakedness, kept by the roadside for days. As many as 300 souls—creatures of the most helpless class—have been left houseless in one day.Colonel Clarke, replying in regard to the Kenmare Union, said—And yet it cannot be doubted that upwards of 1,000 dwellings have been levelled to the ground in this Union within the last 12 months, and the unfortunate, starving inmates thrown on the cold world with no shelter.Mr. McKie, reporting on the Galway Union, said—The encouragement given to people to locate themselves in these wretched districts, so long as they could pay rent without a thought as to their moral or physical condition, has led to a mass of destitution.I have extracts of other Reports all to a like effect, but I will not weary the 116 House by reading them. Here is the evidence given before the Select Committee on Poor Law in 1849, by Captain Douglas Labalmondiere. In answer to a question he said—"There has been a great number of houses thrown down in the Union." "By whom?" he was asked. "By the landlords, the proprietors." "After the inmates left them?" "Some after they had gone to the workhouse, and others previously." Colonel Vandeleur, giving evidence with respect to another Union, after stating that there had been a large number of evictions in his district, said—In fact, the evictions extended to all classes, from the smallest to the largest occupiers. In that Union a very small proportion left their houses voluntarily; the houses were generally levelled.Asked—" Is that a modern practice in your neighbourhood?" he replied, "The practice has been invariable." Captain Lang, in his evidence before the same Committee, said—Independent of the failure of the potato crops, the first most prominent cause is that which must strike any observer long and intimately acquainted with the state of Ireland in general—namely, the reckless and improvident mismanagement of landed property, the imprudence and want of foresight of the proprietors.Captain Gordon reported respecting the 40s. freeholders that they had been created for a political purpose—And when the encouragement of the class of tenants ceased to be an object, they were gradually evicted.Captain Kennedy said—It is beyond a doubt that 12,000 to 13,000 persons have been evicted within the year.He was speaking of the Kilrush Union only; and asked to state the precise causes of the destitution, he said—Simply want of employment and wholesale evictions. The destitution in this Union is a mighty and fearful reality. A great portion of the people are all but naked.I should like to dwell for a moment on the question as to what number of landlords have acted in this way towards their tenants. I find that in respect to the Kilrush Union the following is the official Return concerning evictions:—During the first quarter of 1848, on Sir John Reed's property, 17 or 19 houses were tumbled on one day; on Mr. McDonnell's property, 22 houses; since January 1st, Mr. Roughan's property, 8 houses; since January 1st, Mr. O'Dwyer's property, 14; Mr. Carew's 117 property, 11; Mr. Stackpole's property, 14; Mr. Crowe's property, 24; in Moryarter, more than 220 houses.And I find it reported that "30 or 40 cabins are frequently levelled in a single day. The inmates crowd into neighbouring ones till disease is generated, and they are then thrown out without consideration or mercy. The relieving officers thus find them and send them to the hospital when beyond medical aid." Mr. Hamilton, reporting in 1848 to the Commissioners, said—Colonel Kirkwood's estate in Binghamstown is held by a middleman (Mr. Lyons), who has removed nearly all the occupying tenants holding under him. I understand Mr. Lyons is a wealthy man, but I believe he does not purpose cultivating his lands this year.As to the manner in which evictions are carried out, I will read an extract from the sworn deposition of Pat Broderick. Broderick said—After which, Mr. Walsh's son directed that we should not leave a single house without levelling, and that he did not care one damn where the people went to. The next day we accordingly went and levelled as many houses as we could. We were occupied in the same manner for three or four succeeding days.Sir Thomas Ross, referring to the eviction of 30 families from Lord Ventry's property, in the Dingle Union, said—And the unfortunate people, amounting in all to 150 persons, were exposed for several nights on the roadside.Mr. St. George, one of the proprietors in the Galway Union, was asked to explain the evictions on his estate, when he said—Several persons have been dispossessed, but I am informed no act of inhumanity has been perpetrated in the removal, unless in the most urgent cases.He seemed to think that in what he considered urgent cases it was quite justifiable to resort to inhuman treatment. Now, as to the way the people were employed, Captain Haynes, of Tipperary, reported that—There is a disinclination on the part of landlords and farmers to employ the people, except on their own terms—1s. and 1s. 2d. a week.And it was considered justifiable to refuse the people relief if they refused to accept such wages. I must apologize for wearying the House with references to the condition of the tenantry, and the action of the landlords during the Irish famine. I will pass to more recent 118 times; but first of all let me road what the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) said as to the conduct of the Irish landlords and their agents at the time of the famine. The right hon. Gentleman, in 1849, said—When law refuses its duty, when Government denies the right of the people, when competition is so fierce for the little land which the monopolists grant to cultivation in Ireland, when, in fact, millions are scrambling for the potato, these people are driven back from law, and from the usages of civilization, to that which is termed the 'law of Nature,' and if not the strongest, the laws of the vindictive; and in this case the people of Ireland believe, to my certain knowledge, that it is only by these acts of vengeance, periodically committed, that they can hold in suspense the arm of the proprietor, of the landlord, and the agent, who, in too many cases, would, if he dared, exterminate them.But The Times is an authority to which hon. Gentleman opposite look for a confirmation of their political views, and, perhaps, they would like to know what this authority said in 1852, in 1860, and at a later date, in regard to the conduct of the Irish landlords. In 1852, The Times said— "The name of an Irish landlord stinked in the nostrils of Christendom." In 1860, The Times, referring to the evictions on the part of Lord Plunkett, the Protestant Bishop of Tuam, said—There remains a hideous scandal. A Bishop had better sit down and die or cast himself on the charity of his diocese than figure to the world in the unseemly character of a wholesale evictor, collecting red armies and black armies, and pulling down houses over the heads of their aged and long-settled occupants. We hedge round the Bishop with a propriety which makes large demands upon us, and make some demands upon him. We cannot help feeling that the crowbar comes under this class of restrictions. We may not always bear in our minds the imaginary crozier, but at least we expect an open palm and a gentle pressure, not a heave at the crowbar, followed by falling thatch and crumbling masonry, out of which some poor old couple escape into the vast around.The hon. Member read the description given of an eviction in the county of Westmeath by Dr. Nulty, now Catholic Bishop of Meath:—Seven hundred human beings wore driven from their homes on this one day. There was not a shilling of rent duo on the estate at the time, except by one man. The Sheriff's assistants, employed on the occasion to extinguish the hearths and homes of those honest, industrious men, worked away with a will at their awful calling until evening fell. At length an incident occurred that varied the monotony of the grim and ghastly ruin which they were 119 spreading all round. They stopped suddenly and recoiled—panic-stricken with terror—from two dwellings, which they were directed to destroy with the rest. They had just learned that typhus fever held those houses in its grasp, and had already brought death to some of their inmates. They therefore supplicated the agent to spare these houses a little longer; but he was inexorable, and insisted that they should come down. He ordered a large winnowing-sheet to be secured over the beds in which the fever victims lay—fortunately they happened to be delirious at the time—and then directed the houses to be unroofed cautiously and slowly. I administered the last Sacrament of the Church to four of these fever victims next day, and—save the above-mentioned winnowing-sheet, there was not then a roof nearer to me than the canopy of heaven. The scene of that eviction day I must remember all my life long. The wailing of women, the screams, the terror, the consternation of children, the speechless agony of men, wrung tears of grief from all who saw them. I saw the officers and men of a large police force who were obliged to attend on the occasion, cry like children. The heavy rains that usually attend the autumnal equinoxes descended in cold, copious torrents throughout the night, and at once revealed to the houseless sufferers the awful realities of their condition. I visited them next morning, and rode from place to place, administering to them all the comfort and consolation I could. The landed proprietors in a circle all round, and for many miles in every direction, warned their tenantry against admitting them to even a single night's shelter. Many of these poor people were unable to emigrate. After battling in vain with privation and pestilence, they at last graduated from the workhouse to the tomb, and in little more than three years nearly a fourth of them lay quietly in their graves.In 1882 Sir George Trevelyan said—At this moment, in one part of the country, men are being turned out of their houses actually by battalions, who are no more able to pay the arrears of these bad years than they are to pay the National Debt. In three days (in Connemara) 150 families were turned out, numbering 750 persons. It was not the case that these poor people belonged to the class of extravagant tenants. They were not whisky drinkers; they were not in terror of the Land League.[The hon. Member also quoted from Irish newspapers of 1883.] Hon. Members opposite sometimes appeal in order to strengthen their political case against our side to General Gordon. Now, this gentleman, writing to The Times, in December, 1880, said—I call your attention to the pamphlets', letters, and speeches of the landlord class as a proof of how little sympathy or kindness there exists among them for the tenantry. No half-measure Acts, which left the landlord with any say to the tenantry of these portions of Ireland, will be of any use. They would be rendered, as past Land Acts in Ireland have been, quite abortive, for the landlords will insert clauses to do away 120 with their force. Any half-measures will only place the Government face to face with the people of Ireland as the champions of the landlord interest.We maintain that that is exactly what the present measure is doing. The Government would be bound to enforce their decision, and with a result which none can foresee, but which certainly would be disastrous to the common weal. In January last The Times said—The evictions at Glenbeigh, County Kerry, are still being carried out from day to day. Yesterday, after a tenant named Reardon was evicted, it was represented to the agent that the tenant's infant child was dying, and its mother begged a shelter for it for the night; but the agent refused, and ordered the bailiffs to nail up the door. The poor woman cried bitterly, and laid the dying child in the pigstye in the yard, and tried to procure straw for a bed there.I shall not take up the time of the House by referring to the eviction scenes which have been more or less strikingly brought before the country during the last 12 months. We know that the cases of which details have been given are only samples of hundreds and thousands of similar cases that have taken place in Ireland. During the last quarter 1,042 families, including 5,190 people, have been evicted, that is at the rate of 20,000 people a-year, or 400 a-week. We maintain that this measure will encourage the Irish landlords in these courses. This measure is, on the face of it, for the suppression of the National League, that League which Sir Redvers Buller has said is the only thing the Irish people have to look to for help. While these horrible evictions are being enacted year after year, very few expressions of sympathy have escaped the lips of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I know hon. Gentlemen upon Government Benches do feel the iniquity of many of the evictions and wish to stop them. I wish they could see that a Bill like this will only encourage the worst class of Irish landlords in the evil courses they have hitherto pursued. I should like, whilst upon this point, to state what I regard as the worst part of the measure before the House. To whom is the administration of this Bill to be intrusted? The present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who is a member of a secret society—I refer to the Orange Society. [Lord ARTHUR HILL: No, no.] I believe the Lord Lieutenant is a member of the Orange Society? [Lord ARTHUR HILL; 121 No.] Well, I will withdraw the statement if it is incorrect. [Mr. M. KENNY: The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) is.] Certainly, the Lord Lieutenant is associated, both politically and socially, with those who are members of that secret society, and who are supporting this measure for the suppression of an association, the National League, which is opposed to the Orange Society, and a measure for the taking from the hands of the Irish tenantry one of the few weapons they have for defending themselves. I do not know whether the rumour is correct or not, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland is about to be raised to the Judicial Bench in Ireland. I do not for a moment wish to say anything that would cast a shadow on the character of the right hon. and learned Gentleman as an impartial and honourable Member of this House; but I say that his appointment to the Bench will be as unfortunate be fore the people of Ireland as the appointment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel King-Harman) to the Office of Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. The present Lord Grey, writing the other day to The Times, described the coercion of 1881 as cruel, unjust, and useless. The noble Lord did not say that at the time. However, I believe that many Liberals who, like Lord Grey, are supporting this measure, will in seven years' time denounce it as one useless, cruel, and unjust. When charges of a most serious nature are brought against hon. Members on this side of the House with regard to their connection with illegal and criminal associations, we have a right to see what sort of men have associated with the Party on the other aide of the House. I think I have shown that a section of the Irish landlords have been morally as criminal in their dealings with the Irish tenants as any society of conspirators or tenants have been to them. The connection between hon. Members opposite and the landlord class has been far more close than any connection between hon. Members on this side of the House and criminal associations. I agree with Mr. Sismondi, the great historian and political economist, when he said that the Irish landlords had shaken the very foundations of society by making the laws of pro- 122 perty in the country unendurable. I also agree with Mr. Burke who said that—When men are kept as being no better than half-citizens for any length of time, they will be made whole Jacobins.If this measure is passed into law, you will take away the privileges of citizenship from a large number of Irishmen, and thereby drive them into courses of revolution and anarchy. I have great pleasure in supporting the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
said, the Amendment before the House was founded on the action of the Liberal Government in 1882, when they introduced their Bill for the repression of crime in Ireland, accompanied with a Bill wiping out arrears of rent, which was the question believed to be the cause of the disturbances at the time in Ireland. The precedent established by the Liberal Government in 1882 was this—the Crimea Bill was introduced on the 11th May, and was read a first time on Monday, and on the following Thursday the Arrears of Rent Bill was introduced by the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, now Sir George Trevelyan. The stages of these Bills were taken successively, so that the Bill for wiping out arrears of rent in Ireland became law practically at the same time that the Bill for the repression of crime became law. If that was the case in 1882, how much stronger, he asked, was the reason why remedial measures should, if not precede, at least accompany in the different stages any measure for the repression of crime. The Crimes Bill of 1882 was a panic-stricken piece of legislation. It immediately followed the Phoenix Park assassinations, and consequently the temper of the House and of the country was so aroused that coercion was deemed an absolute necessity, and any attempt to govern Ireland at the time, without the aid of these extreme criminal laws, would have been met with the greatest opposition by the Tory Party. Not only did that repressive legislation immediately follow the Phoenix Park assassinations, but at the time the condition of Ireland was, in comparison with the condition of Ireland now, excessively disturbed. There were in that year a great number of outrages of many kinds in Ireland, many times 123 more numerous than the outrages attributed to Ireland within the past 12 months, and the circumstances of the case were eminently favourable to a policy of coercion, while he contended that there was nothing in the condition of Ireland to-day to justify for a moment the introduction of such a stringent Coercion Bill as they were now considering. Turning to the remedial measures of the Government, he might remind the House that there was no distinct assurance, notwithstanding Lord Salisbury's recent statement, that the Government would resign if their remedial Bill was not accepted, inasmuch as the Government had not stated that they would reject vital amendments. Then there was no guarantee as to the condition in which that Bill would leave the other House of Parliament. This was the first time that any great Bill dealing with the agrarian system in Ireland had not been introduced into the House of Commons in the first instance. The only exception was the Land Purchase Bill of Lord Ashbourne; but that measure was limited in scope by Parliament, and it had been still more limited in operation; so that it could hardly be called an exception. He claimed that any legislation dealing with the Land Question should have been originated in the House of Commons. After the rejection of the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork last year, the Government appointed a Commission, consisting of two landlords, one Irish and the other English, an eminent political economist and agriculturist, and an Irish County Court Judge, who was himself also a landlord and a "shoneen," or impecunious landlord. The Commission was to act as a jury on the condition of affairs with regard to laud in Ireland; but he asked could any fair-minded man describe it as a fair jury when throe of its members wore partizans of one party, and only one a partizan of the opposite party? That was a packed jury if ever there was one. Yet this packed Commission, in spite of their prejudices, and in spite of the evident reluctance of Lord Milltown and other Members, issued a report distinctly in favour of the tenants' case, and altogether against the landlord party in Ireland. He attached the greatest weight to the Report of Mr. Knipe, the only member of the 124 Commission who had anything like personal or practical acquaintance with the condition of the tenant farmers in Ireland. Mr. Knipe gave very instructive figures from the return of Dr. Grimshaw, the Registrar-General, showing that the value of grain had fallen from 63,000,000 in 1855, to 31,000,000 in 1886, and that the value of live stock had fallen within the last five years—from 1881 to 1886— from 50,000,000 to 41,000,000. The depreciation in the value of farm produce was more than double the rent in Ireland, and yet, in spite of this extraordinary collapse, the farmers were expected to pay now the rents they had contracted for in prosperous times. In 1881 the reductions made in Ulster rents averaged 25 per cent, and in the other parts of Ireland 17 or 18 per cent. But now the Sub-Commissioners felt constrained to make reductions of 50 per cent, and in some cases even more. The Chief Secretary, displaying an ignorance which absolutely unfitted him for the post he held, asked why tenants did not go into the Land Courts. One reason was, that owing to enormous rack-rents, the tenants were in arrears, and if they went into the Court, the landlord would turn them out on the roadside for the arrears. Then there was the question of turbary, which in Ulster had become a burning question. Immediately after the assessment landlords almost universally began to charge rent for rights of turbary which had hitherto been rent free, and in this way raised rents to their former level. An ex-Sub-Commissioner, in his evidence before Lord Cowper's Commission, stated that in Ulster the only illegal combination was that of the landlords to defeat the operation of the Land Act of 1881. Then Mr. Knipe, who was a Conservative and had been an ardent supporter of the hon. and and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), basing his opinion not only on his own knowledge, but also on the evidence of General Buller, had pronounced strongly against any measure of coercion. Declaring the opinions of many Protestants of Ulster, he warned the Government that coercion would only aggravate existing evils. The coercion which General Buller advised was a court of equity which would have "a certain amount of coercive power on a bad tenant and a very strong coercive power on a bad landlord." The fact was that the Bill 125 was not directed against crime—there was not a single clause which would tend to put down or assist in the detection of crime—but to repress political associations. The Bill also incorporated and revived the odious Whiteboy Acts of former generations, which were passed when there was tenfold more violence and turbulence in the country than existed at the present day, and it gave the Lord Lieutenant an even greater power of suppressing meetings than was given by those Acts, inasmuch as they contained definitions of what constituted an illegal meeting, whereas, in this Bill there were no such definitions; but the Lord Lieutenant was empowered to proclaim any meetings he chose, and could imprison with hard labour for three months anyone who offended against such a proclamation. There was one very ingenious clause which provided that any person who knowingly and voluntarily supplied horses, arms, and ammunition, for the purpose of assisting at a meeting of any persons assembling for an unlawful purpose would be liable under this Bill to six months' hard labour. And how could that be construed? It could be construed that any man who supplied a horse and cart to convey persons to an eviction would be liable to imprisonment even although, he were not present himself. Who were the men who would administer this Act— an Act, be it remembered, that would be put into operation mainly in disputes between landlord and tenant? He did not wish to refer to the extraordinary, anomalous, and unprecedented appointment of the Under Secretary for Ireland (Colonel King-Harman), who was bound by every tie personal, family, and otherwise to the landlord party. He had heard of a Minister without a portfolio, but he had never hoard of a Minister without a salary. The Under Secretary, besides being Under Secretary, was an Irish landlord owning a large property, and he had been getting rents paid to him far in excess of what he was entitled to—the average reduction on his rents, as was shown by the Blue Book, amounted to something like 38 per cent. Whereas this gentleman was entitled to only 62s. on the average he had, under the terror of eviction, got 100s. from his unfortunate tenantry. In some cases, the reduction was 70 per cent. Was it fair or proper that such a 126 man—a man who might be in conflict with his own tenants—should be appointed to advise the Chief Secretary, who would advise the Lord Lieutenant when to put this Act into operation? Similar reductions had been made all over Ireland. Hon. Members who were connected with the land in Ireland were apt to talk about dishonesty on the part of tenants; but he wanted to know whether there were not many instances on the other side in which cases of restitution might not fairly be raised? Within the last three months there had been only one case of murder in County Kerry, and no other case of homicide. Yet during that time 5,000 persons had been turned out of their homes on the highway, and that fact, he thought, constituted a much greater moral offence than the one murder of which the other side had made so much. He maintained, although he would not palliate for a moment the enormity and heinousness of wilful murder, that the person who was responsible for turning out those men on the highway was an infinitely worse criminal than the man who took one human life. Fully half of those 5,000 persons belonged to the County Kerry. Was it a mere accidental occurrence that the most disturbed county in Ireland should be the County of Kerry? It was on the lines of the amendment that the House ought to proceed, and not on the lines sketched out by the Government. If the Government sot itself to try their remedial measures, and if the remedial measures were suitable and sufficient, they would find that that would be enough in itself to put an end to outrage, and that there would not be the slightest necessity for the practical suspension of the Constitution in Ireland. The continuance of the Liberal Unionists in their present course would, he believed, insure the extinction of so-called Unionism, and secure at the next Election an overwhelming declaration in favour of the policy of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian.
§ SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
said, the House was so kind to him, on the occasion of the second reading of that Bill, in listening to what he had to say against the measure, that he should only trouble it that afternoon with a very few figures, which he desired to lay before the House, and, if possible, by the means of the Press, 127 before the country. It did seem to him that the House had been singularly destitute of any practical information as to why they should pass that Bill. He must also say, he did not think the House, at that moment, was being very handsomely treated by Her Majesty's Government, for he never recollected any previous instance in which, when an important measure brought forward by the Government was under discussion, that, even on a Wednesday afternoon, the House was left without a single Representative of that Government on the Front Government Bench. For one Cabinet Minister to appear on that Bench for a few moments that afternoon, had been the one honourable exception to the scant courtesy with which the House had been treated. He desired to call the attention of the House to the Return which had been laid on the Table at the instance of his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. John Morley), and which purported to give the aggregate number of the agrarian offences during the last six or seven years. In 1880, according to that Return, there were 2,585 of these offences; in 1881, 4,439; 1882, 3,433; in 1883, 870; in 1884, 762; in 1885, 914; and in 1886, 1,056; while up to March, 1887, they were 241, being on a lower average than previous years. These figures showed how small was the amount of agrarian crime upon which the Bill was based. The Home Secretary referred lately to the Return for March, and in doing so had made the most he could of it. He (Sir Joseph Pease) wanted to call particular attention to the fact that the Bill could not be based on the March Return. Leave was given to introduce the Bill on the 21st of March last, when, of course, the March Return could not have been in the hands of the Government. The Bill must have been before the Cabinet even before the Return of crime for February of this year was complete; and, therefore, January crime of this year could only have been considered when the Bill was framed. What was the state of the country, according to the Return of crime for the quarter ending December of last year? In the Quarter ending December last, there were 11 offences against life and limb—namely, three of firing at the person, one of aggravated assault, four of assault on life, and three 128 of assault on bailiffs—and there was no murder, manslaughter, assault with intent to murder, poisoning, conspiring to murder, or assault on the police. In the previous Quarter, ending September, there were 306 offences compared with 264 in the Quarter ending September, 1885. But it was not right to consider the Returns without excluding the threatening letters. That reduced the number of offences from 264 to 122 in the Quarter ending September, 1885; from 279 to 143 in the Quarter ending December; from 256 to 115 in the Quarter ending March, 1886; from 297 to 146 in the Juno Quarter; from 306 to 177 in the September Quarter; from 166 to 80 in the December Quarter; and from 241 to 118 in the last March Quarter. In the face of these figures, how could the Government ask for this penal legislation? The figures were lowest in the December Quarter, on the Returns for which this Bill must be mainly founded; and the next lowest Returns were those for March last. He maintained that there was hardly ever a Return which had come out of Ireland during the time he had been in Parliament which was so satisfactory as regarded crime. These were strong, but strange facts, and he presented them to the House as conclusive against any need for the Bill so far as statistics could possibly prove. He did not know how it was, when the Government found those tremendous facts against them, that they came to the House and asked for such severe penalties to be put upon the people of Ireland. He desired now to call the attention of the House to the evictions which had taken place in Ireland in the December Quarter of 1885; 369 families, representing 1,818 persons, were evicted when the crimes other than threatening letters were 143. In the corresponding Quarter of 1886, 666 families, representing 3,458 people, were evicted and turned destitute into the roads and streets; and yet the crimes only numbered 80—this renewed evictions and crime of the last Quarter of 1885, from when there was no coercion and no attempt at coercion, to the last Quarter of 1886, when there was the strongest possible reason to believe coercion would be attempted. He thought the condition of things in the latter period showed wonderful forbearance on the part of the people of Ireland. He did not say they were not 129 right and just in so acting; but he thought the fact ought to be generally known. Now, he came to the first quarter of the present year, when crime had risen to 115 cases, independent of threatening letters. In the quarter of this year ending March 31st, one of the worst, coldest, and most inclement winter quarters we had had in this country for many years, the Irish landlords had evicted, and turned out into the roads and streets, 1,042 families, representing 5,190 people. Under such circumstances, an increase of crime could not be surprising; but it had been very slight, and taking the whole of the last seven Quarterly Returns, he found that crime was lowest at the end of the last quarter of 1886. Those were facts which he wanted the country to understand, although, when hon. Gentlemen who supported the Government said they did not rely upon criminal statistics, but on the general state of the country, he thought it was right that they should turn to these facts to see what was the general state of the country. In the face of them, he repeated, why should they put such terrible penalties upon the people of Ireland? Conspiracy, too, was often no crime. He was not an advocate of Boycotting; but he had known others besides the Irish resort to that practice. He could recollect the time when the whole of the anti-slavery Party in this country Boycotted the West India planter; and when no West Indian grown sugar was allowed to enter his father's house. It was the same at Manchester and other places, where strong anti-slavery feeling prevailed. He no w came to some figures which were still more curious. When he was told that people would not prosecute in Ireland, and that juries would not convict in that country, he wanted to know what evidence there was of this? In England and Wales, according to the Return for the year 1885, there were in that year 43,962 indictable offences committed. In those cases, 19,207 persons were apprehended, or 43.6 per cent. In London alone in that year there were 14,502 indictable offences, for which only 4,993 offenders were brought to justice. These were striking figures; but what was the case in Ireland, where it was said the Queen's writ did not run, and persons were not brought to justice? Why, in the year 1885, in 130 Ireland, in 52 per cent of the indictable offences committed, persons were apprehended. That was a very important fact, and upset a great deal which had been said about the non-detection of crime in Ireland. In England, of the 43 per cent apprehended for indictable offences, 26 per cent were discharged before trial, and of those tried by juries 77 per cent were convicted, and 22 per cent were acquitted. What was the state of Ireland in 1885? There were 6,961 indictable offences, 43,594 persons apprehended; 1,394 discharged; 2,155 tried; 73.5 per cent convicted, and 26.5 per cent discharged. The figures showed, in the long run, that the difference in Irish as compared with English crime which was not convicted, was only 1.76 per cent, as in England only 24 per cent of the indictable offences committed reached punishment, and in Ireland 22.75 per cent of those offences wore punished. Those were the facts which he wished to emphasize to the House and the country, if he could. He had waited in vain to hear some of the facts concerning cases in which juries had refused to convict, and in which people had refused to prosecute. Yet he had shown, from the criminal statistics of England and Ireland, that the number of cases in which juries had convicted were nearly the same, the only difference being between the two countries that in England 77 of those tried wore convicted, and in Ireland 73½ per cent; but when they came to the total of crime committed, and the convicted and punished, they found there was only a difference of 1.76 percent against Ireland. He had already expressed his views on the Bill, so far as he desired to do so; and he had not risen for the purpose of delaying the Bill, but he was very anxious that the facts which necessarily had a bearing upon the measure should be put before the House and the country.
§ COLONEL HUGHES-HALLETT (Rochester)
said, that nothing new had been introduced respecting the Bill in the debate that afternoon. He did not expect to introduce anything new himself after so many nights' debate; for the House had reached the stage of weariness of which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had spoken last night, and which an English poet had described as— 131A weariness beyond what asses feelWho tread the circuit of the cistern wheel.He thought the hem. Gentleman who had just spoken (Sir Joseph Pease) had given them some interesting statistics; but he had mentioned no practical reasons why the Government should not have introduced the measure. He had added no new arguments; but that was not surprising. There was, however, one thing which would not be controverted. Amid the conflict of argument between both sides of the House on that question one fact had come out into bold prominence, and that was that the condition of Ireland at the present moment required the immediate and earnest consideration of Her Majesty's Government. ['' Hear, hear!" from the Opposition.] The crucial point, no doubt, was in what direction that consideration should tend. Whatever was the cause of the discontent in Ireland he did not believe that the question of reductions of rent or evictions was the real and legitimate reason. Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought that what were called "remedial measures" should receive their first attention; but if it were conceded that it was manifest, on the one hand, that discontent and distress existed in Ireland, it must be admitted, on the other hand, that, to a certain extent, crime, disorder, and lawlessness were dominant there; and hon. Members who advocated the application of remedial measures in the first place appeared to forget that it was absolutely necessary, before they could apply remedies to a disease, that the disease should have arrived at a stage at which the remedies could be efficacious. In his humble judgment remedial legislation was the natural consequence of the legislation that was first required to restore a civilized country to the condition of civilized life. The cancer of disorder having broken out in the body politic of Ireland, that cancer had to be cut out before they could usefully apply the remedies which would restore health and soundness to the National Constitution. The first condition of any true cure for the ills of Ireland was the re-establishment of order and respect for the law, so that honest, industrious, and peaceable citizens should be able to pursue their daily avocations without fear of injury to their lives and property. It was in order to re-establish 132 and enforce in Ireland the elementary conditions of every civilized community that the Government had brought in the present Bill. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite could not fairly complain if the Government took a leaf out of their book. Imitation was the sincerest flattery; and even hon. Members —Home Rulers—must concede this— that the National League coerced— [Home Rule cries of "No!"]—well, hon. Members might take a different view of Boycotting and the proceeedings of Captain Moonlight to that which was held in this country; but it was none the less the fact. They talked of the Bill as a drastic Coercion Bill; but the principles of the National League, it must be conceded, were principles of coercion. ["No, no!"] When, for example, the tenant who could pay was not allowed to pay the judicial rent fixed by the Land Act of 1881, on pain of being Boycotted or outraged, he asked, was that not coercion of the worst kind? To his mind, the question for the House and the country to decide was which form of coercion should be in force—the coercion of the National League and its forms of intimidation and outrage, or the coercion necessary to enforce order and obedience to the law of the land. That Bill only proposed the coercion, or in other words the punishment, of criminals in Ireland, whether they were guilty of Boycotting, intimidation, outrage, or assassination, precisely as they were coerced or punished in England, Scotland, and every other civilized country. That Bill had been denounced as a most cruel and tyrannical measure; but it was not one whit more harsh or more severe than the Crimes Act of 1882. The Act of 1882 contained powers of arrest, of imprisonment without trial, and of suppression of newspapers, and other powers which either did not exist at all in the present Bill, or only existed in a modified form. It had been argued that Her Majesty's Government had shown no sufficient reason for the introduction of this measure, and that they had only put forward a few isolated cases of crime. He ventured, however, to say that the foundation for this measure was not merely isolated cases of crime, but the broad and general system of intimidation, terrorism, and outrage which, had prevailed so long in Ireland, which no Government could per- 133 mit to go on, and which was the outcome of the National League, the apostolic successor of the Land League, with reference to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had said that crime dogged its steps with fatal precision, and that, for the first time in the history of Christendom, a body of men had arisen in Ireland who were not ashamed to preach the doctrine of public plunder. He (Colonel Hughes-Hallett) was surprised at the extraordinary change which had taken place in the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and Lord Spencer. He was not surprised at the changes in the views of the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), because they were only consistent with his character. To his mind the land agitation in Ireland had sprung from a sort of hatred not against landlords quâ landlords, but was due really to hatred of England, and thus the Irish landlords were attacked for the reason that they were at one and the same time the existing owners of the soil and the supporters of the Union. Under the cloak of that hatred an attack was made upon the landlords because they were the friends of England, and, to use the words of the hon. Member for Cork, the props of English power in that country. He had been surprised to hear two ex-Chancellors of the Exchequer speak of hon. Members below the Gangway as representing five-sixths of the Irish people. It was true that if they divided 86 by 103, they would arrive at about that proportion; but if they took the figures of the number of voters at the Election of November, 1885, they would see that out of 741, 913 electors only 296,960 voted for the hon. Member for Cork and his supporters. [Mr. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Londonderry); How many were unopposed?] In the face of these figures he was amazed that it should be asserted that hon. Members below the Gangway represented five-sixths of the people of Ireland, when, in fact, they represented little more than one-third. Her Majesty's Government refused to allow the remaining two-thirds in Ireland to be coerced by that third part; they simply asked for protection for Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland against terrorism of various kinds, and on the ground that Courts of Justice were paralyzed and juries did 134 not dare to convict on account of the intimidation that was being exercised. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had, on one occasion, alluded to the Crimes Act of 1882 as a Protection Bill. So was the Bill of 1887. It sought to protect the honest, the loyal, and the true from injury and from interference with their rightful business, and to bring to justice the outrage-monger and the assassin, with whom he could hardly suppose that hon. Members opposite would sympathize. But it was argued that crime and outrage would not diminish under this Bill. They had diminished under the Act of 1882. In the half-year ending in June, 1882, the number of crimes had been 2,567, and in the half-year ending on December 30, 1882, they had dropped to 836. Why should there not be a similar diminution now? The Bill would give that individual freedom which all were entitled to enjoy who were true to Queen, Government, and country.
§ MR. THEODORE FRY (Darlington)
Sir, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down (Colonel Hughes-Hallett) has found fault with the figures that have been quoted in the course of this debate, and he added that he did not see much in those figures. Well, it strikes me that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is one of those who thinks very little of statistics, and I believe that if the Angel Gabriel came down and declared that they were true the hon. and gallant Gentleman would still adhere to the opinion that they proved nothing. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that he has not changed his mind since he was before the electors of Rochester. That may be so. But I doubt very much if he promised that he would vote for a Coercion Bill like that now before the House. If he did make such a promise, he is almost an unique Member of his Party, for from Lord Salisbury, even down to the humblest of his followers in this House, the country was told that the Conservative Party was against coercion, and that they had not the slightest intention of voting for coercion for Ireland.
If the hon. Member will do me the honour to look over my speeches some pleasant Sunday afternoon, he will find that I never made any such promise. On the contrary, I said that suppression of the 135 National League was one of the first things that the Government ought to undertake in the settlement of the Irish Question.
§ MR. THEODORE FRY
I accept the statement of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, which shows that he is a speckled bird among his friends, for he is almost the only one among them who has not given promises against coercion. I believe that the minority and not the majority who voted on the second reading of the Coercion Bill represented the highest percentage of public feeling out-of-doors on the subject. Having had no opportunity hitherto of giving more than silent opposition to the measure now before the House, I wish, on the present occasion, to support most strongly the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid). Her Majesty's Government have admitted most fully the need of remedial measures, and the overwhelming case made out on behalf of the tenants against unjust rents and barbarous evictions, and the demand that the second measure shall be laid before us before the first is passed, is only consistent with the most simple rule of justice. I may remind the House that the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had dealt with coercion and remedial measures at the same time. Lord Salisbury's Administration, however, does not adopt this course. There can be but one reason why the Amendment is objected to, and it is because the Government know well the Bill now under discussion in "another place" will utterly fail to satisfy the wishes of those who sit on this side of the House. One great fallacy pervades the argument presented in favour of the Coercion Bill, and that is that those who support it are the only Members of this House who wish that law and order should prevail in Ireland. They take the whole credit for this pious wish, and choose to stigmatize us with desiring a very different state of affiairs. Every Member, whether belonging to the Liberal Party or representing Irish constituencies, is as anxious as the Chief Secretary that law and order should prevail, and that crime should cease from one end of the land to the other, not only in Kerry, but in Belfast as well. The only question is how this object can be best attained, whether by Coercion Bills of the deepest hue, or by giving to 136 Ireland such a system of government as will win respect and sympathy. The difference between us is this, that Her Majesty's Government profess that by some magical influence which they possess their measure will succeed in making Ireland contented and happy, whilst 85 or 86 similar measures have failed already to effect that object; but do they really believe that now, when Irish sentiment in favour of Home Rule is stronger than ever it was, and constitutionally expressed as it has never been before, and is growing day by day—do they think that they are going to succeed? They know as well as we do, and probably they say so in sealed houses, that this measure will be a hopeless and ignominious failure. I do not mean that it will fail to fill the prisons of Ireland, that it will still further tend to exasperate the Irish nation; but it will fail, as all its predecessors have failed, to produce happiness and contentment, and to make a lasting friendship and peace between the two nations. The only new feature connected with it, as compared with its forerunners, is that it is to last for ever. Those who arranged the Union in 1800 thought it would last for ever; but there is no "forever" in politics. This Bill carries its death-warrant in itself. It cannot last, because it is the offspring of injustice and despair. It is a child born of fears, and nourished by distrust. The simplest axioms of true liberty and Constitutional government are still, as they have been, at variance with Tory principles, which never change, though they at times do attempt to alter the reforms of Liberal Governments. The promoters of this measure may rest assured that at the next General Election, come when it may, the death-knell of this measure will be rung, and this idol which they are about to set up will be shattered into a thousand pieces. The only vote I ever gave in this House which I regret was the one in favour of the last Coercion Bill. I gave it because crime then was very much greater than it is now, and the remedial measures promised by our great Leader were very different. But, besides this, we have grown wiser, and some of us have studied more closely this great Irish Question, and, aided by the expression of the wishes of the Irish people, have determined to try a more excellent way, a way which those who refuse to take accept a responsibility 137 which they will one day find has been not only useless, but mischievous. Some of us, too, have seen the poverty-stricken tenants turned out of their homes in the bitterest of weather, and mothers and children turned out on the roadside. We have seen houses destroyed by the torch or the crowbar; we have seen the deeds which tend to cause crime, and to make that crime undiscovered; and we are determined, so far as we can, to assist in the passing of laws in the future which shall contribute to promote friendship between the two nations, laws which, founded upon justice, may last for ever.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, the dreariness of the debate was accounted for by the fact that the Government proposed coercive legislation without showing that there was any ground for it in the increase of crime in Ireland; and the weakness of the case for the Bill was shown by the irrelevant topics introduced into the speeches made in support of it. It was absurd to say, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Rochester (Colonel Hughes-Hallett) had said, that the Irish Nationalist Members did not represent the feelings of the people of Ireland. It could not be honestly asserted that the four seats of Dublin held by Members of the Nationalist party, and the share which they had in representing Belfast, had been secured by means of intimidation. A great deal had been said about the Report of that majority of the Royal Commission, and he submitted that if that Report had had the weight which it ought to have carried with it in that House no Coercion Bill would have been introduced, because it showed that there was no justification for such a measure. But there was another Report, which the Government appeared to have lost sight of. The Government themselves appointed to a seat on the Commission a gentleman—Mr. Knipe— who was a practical man, so far as the case of the tenant farmers was concerned, and who had some knowledge of the condition of things which the Commission had to investigate. Mr. Knipe made a separate Report, in which he stated that rents were not being paid out of earnings, but out of sums which tenants had accumulated to meet emergencies in their families and to provide for their declining years; and he further 138 contended that the Report of the majority did not represent the severity of the situation, and that coercive legislation would not only fail to secure tranquillity, but would seriously aggravate present difficulties. He complained that the Government had disregarded that Report, but he promised them that the country should know all about it. It had been said that the Whiteboy Acts were after all not so very drastic. They were, however, so drastic that if they were enforced in England every organization in the country could he swept away. As one who believed strongly in the advantages of organization, he objected to placing in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant the power of suppressing all organizations; and he should do his utmost to oppose this Bill. Reference had been made to the alleged letter of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), which The Times had recently published. The noble Lord the Member for Hampshire (Viscount Wolmer) asserted that the hon. Member for Cork had no course open to him other than to commence legal proceedings against The Times. But every man should he deemed innocent until those who had made a charge proved it, and he protested, as a poor man, against the theory that it was the duty of a Member of Parliament to embark on the expense of legal proceedings to rebut charges that might be made against him. There were poor men in that House against whom slanders might be hurled, and were they to be held to lie under the stigma of them unless they were prepared to enter upon an expensive action in order to defend their character? It was an entire reversal of what had always been understood as legal justice in this country. It was for the people who made a charge, whatever it might be, to prove it. With regard to the Bill, he hoped that the Government would give some further justification for it before the House was asked to proceed to the Committee stage. Those who opposed the Bill believed that it was most ill-advised, and that the only plan was to take the Irish people into our confidence, and give up attempting to govern Ireland as a conquered country.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
said, it might be as well to remind the Tory Members of their alliance with the Parnellite Members 139 when the Liberal Government, in 1885, proposed to re-enact certain provisions of the Crimes Act of 1882. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had not been careful to read all that had then fallen from the Leaders of their own Party, or they would have been aware that the Bill which was now before the House had been severely criticized by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), who, until recently, has held a responsible position in that Party. In 1885, the noble Lord, addressing a meeting at Bromley-by-Bow, criticized the provisions of the Act which was then in operation, especially the provision for the change of venue. The noble Lord, on that occasion, told his hearers that the position which the Liberal Party had taken up in their proposal to renew the Crimes Act amounted to this, that the peasantry of Galway were so ignorant and brutal, and sympathized so much with crime, that none of them could be tried in Galway, but must be taken away to Dublin and Belfast. He (Mr. Fen-wick) admitted that if the noble Lord had also added the Old Bailey, London, he would very justly and accurately have described the provisions in this Bill for the change of venue. Those peasants were not to be tried now by a jury selected from the peasant class, but by a jury drawn from the upper classes, and composed of Protestants. That speech was made by the noble Lord a few days before the fall of the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. The more carefully the provisions of the present Bill were considered by hon. Members, and by the country generally, and the more those hon. Gentlemen who supported the Bill were induced to make speeches in its favour, the more clearly and distinctly would its real character be revealed. The Government, so far as he understood, had entirely abandoned the plea of excessive crime in Ireland, and for the simple reason that there was not in Ireland such excessive crime as to warrant such a measure as was now proposed for the acceptance of the House. If the Government had been more honest, they would have distinctly told the House at first what they and their supporters had since stated—that the Bill was not intended to deal with crime and outrage, but was intended to strengthen a certain political faction in Ireland, to strike at 140 a political organization, and to suppress the National League. He would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that the National League was an organization created by the free and spontaneous wish of five-sixths of the Irish people. The Liberal Unionists, who had undertaken to keep the Government in power until they had passed such a Bill as this, ought, he thought, to impress on the Government the necessity of extending their Bill, not only to the National League, but also to the Primrose League, and the Orange organization in Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Gentleman on the Ministerial side of the House said "hear, hear," to that; but the Primrose League, in his (Mr. Fenwick's) opinion, was as gigantic an organization for Boycotting and intimidation as ever the National League was. On the principle that "he takes from me my life who takes from me the means by which I live," hon. Gentlemen opposite, and those associated with the Primrose League, were as guilty as those who were said to be associated with the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) in the perpetration of outrages. Perhaps the House would permit him to give an example of what he meant— an incident which he thought would be within the memory of some hon. Gentlemen in this House. This was a case of Boycotting which came under his own observation, and for the authenticity of which he was prepared to vouch. A gentleman of middle age, intelligent, and industrious, at the Election of 1885 took the chair at a meeting held in support of the Liberal candidate in his Division. His employer at that time was the Tory candidate; and without any other reason being assigned than the fact that he had the courage of his convictions, and had come forward to speak out those convictions on a public platform, and urged his fellow-workmen to support the Liberal candidate, he received notice to leave his employment, and for three long months he was Boycotted in that district, and not a single employer would give him an hour's work. He would now turn for a few minutes to a speech that was delivered last night by the noble Lord (Viscount Wolmer). He (Mr. Fenwick) had read somewhere of "the courage that shuts its eyes, and blindly rushes on to its own destruction." The speech of the noble Lord 141 evidently showed the courage of despair. The noble Lord said that the real point at issue was whether Ireland should be governed by the National League or against and in spite of the League. "We," said the noble Lord—meaning the Liberal Unionists, for they were really the Party who were in power, though the Conservatives were in receipt of the emoluments of Office—"intend to best the National League." More resolute men than the noble Lord had endeavoured to rule Ireland by repression and coercion, and their efforts had proved futile, and it would yet be found that this attempt to govern Ireland by coercion would fail. The policy of the Government stood condemned before the country. ["No, no!"] There was not a single town of any importance in the country where a free spontaneous meeting could be held in favour of the policy that was now proposed by the Government. ["Oh, oh!"] he was surprised that hon. Gentlemen op-site seemed to question that statement. Why, the Government had already been compelled to manufacture resolutions at headquarters, and to send them down to the branches of the Primrose League in the country, suggesting that meetings should be held in a hole-and-corner fashion, and that resolutions of support and sympathy should be sent to Lord Salisbury. He would read to the House the copy of the Circular sent round to the members of the Primrose League in the country. The Circular was as follows:—Dear Sir or Madame, — I am desired to request that you will, without delay, suggest to your Habitation to pass a resolution expressing confidence in Lord Salisbury, and approval of his Irish policy. Such resolution should be forwarded to the Grand Council at the earliest possible moment, and it is important that the resolution should be noted in the local press. I append a form which has been approved— 'That this meeting views with indignation the systematic obstruction which the Government is receiving in its endeavours to carry out its fundamental duties of securing the lives, liberties, and property of Her Majesty's subjects, and begs to assure Lord Salisbury of its unabated confidence in his policy, and its entire approval of the proposed amendment to the Criminal Law, by which the system of intimidation and illegal conspiracy now rampant in Ireland can be crushed.'He (Mr. Fenwick) would venture to repeat that the Tory Party could not, in any town of importance in this country, secure a majority of votes in favour of 142 such a resolution as that. The noble Lord the Member for Petersfield (Viscount Wolmer) said that the Government had declared that the land war in Ireland must cease; but how was it to be brought to an end? By the suppression of the National League? By enacting laws in favour of the rich against the poor? By making it illegal for the tenants in Ireland to combine in order to secure just reduction of excessive rents? It was in this way that the Government intended to put down the land war in Ireland. the noble Lord also went on to say that the Judges in Ireland had pronounced against the system, of terrorism that reigned in Ireland; but he (Mr. Fenwick) held in his hand a resolution that was passed by the Grand Jury of the County of Cork, representing the division of Bantry and Skibbereen. This was the declaration of the Grand Jury after Judge Fergusson had congratulated them on the present state of the division. The Grand Jury spontaneously psssed a resolution condemning the Coercion Bill as unnecessary and un-Constitutional; so that if, on the one hand, there were Irish Judges who declared that a state of terrorism existed in Ireland, there were, on the other hand, other Judges who had spoken strongly and directly as to the peaceful condition of the country. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) had stated that Ireland, at present, was particularly free from exceptional crime. The absence of crime seemed to be the reason why the Government had brought in their Coercion Bill. The Government had appointed a Royal Commission to ascertain whether unjust rents were charged in Ireland or not. That Commission, which had been selected by the Government itself, had now reported unfavourably as to the excessive rents that were being charged; yet now the Government were, in reality, throwing away the Report of their own Commission. They refused to act upon the recommendations of the Commissioners. It was in keeping with the whole policy and traditions of the Tory Party to undertake to enact laws that would suppress the poor in favour of the rich. In the face of this, it was an insult to the Irish people for the Government to talk of bringing in remedial measures for the tenants. The noble Lord the Mem- 143 ber for Petersfield (Viscount Wolmer) resented the charge that was being brought against those Liberal Unionists who were supporting a Bill for Coercion, and immediately proceeded to lay down this principle, that the Home Rule Liberals in the House of Commons had entered into a partnership with the National League, and that it was impossible for the Liberal Home Rulers to dissociate themselves from the deeds of the League; on the same principle it might be said the Liberal Unionists had entered into a partnership with the Tory Government in order to suppress the liberties of the Irish people, and it would be impossible for the Liberal Unionists to dissociate themselves from the evil consequences that might follow from such a mad policy as the Government were now bent on pursuing. He had no hesitation in saying that this Bill would prove as complete a failure as the coercion policy that had been pursued in the past. The only just and proper way to restore law and order in Ireland, and to make the Irish people respect the law, was by the Government setting itself immediately to repeal unjust laws, and bring in sound remedial measures. They could only permanently restore law and order in Ireland when they had brought the law into harmony with the desires of the Irish people. Until that was done, he maintained the task undertaken by the Government was hopeless; and they would never succeed until they had removed the repression under which the Irish people was now compelled to live.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said, he was able to controvert the statement made by the hon. Member who had just spoken, that there was not an important town in England in which a spontaneous public meeting could be held in favour of the Irish policy of the Government. So far from that being the case, he would state that on Easter Monday, in the City of Liverpool, there was a large open-air meeting got up and spoken to by working men strongly endorsing the present action of Her Majesty's Government. A great deal had been said making comparisons between the action of Boycotting in Ireland and the action of the Primrose League. He would only say in regard to that, that whatever Boycotting the Primrose League might have been guilty 144 of, it had never had the sanction of crime to support it. That was the difference between Boycotting and the action of the Primrose League. He thought such Amendments as they were now discussing were merely red herrings drawn across the track to divert them from the true question, which was the question of the Union and the integrity of the country. Hon. Members below the Gangway were fond of talking about protecting the agricultural interest, but their Leader had stated in a historic phrase that he would never "have taken his coat off" to promote the interests of the Land Question, but it was for a very different purpose he was working. The real question before the House was who should govern Ireland —the responsible and Constitutional Government of the country or the National League? And how were they to best govern Ireland, united as the two countries were, and yet unequal in their circumstances? What they wished was, to govern Ireland with the minimum of friction and to give her equal liberty and equal justice with England. A great deal had been said about the increase in the number of evictions since last November; but what about the Plan of Campaign? Had that not caused the increased evictions? ["No, no!"] He was sure that it was as certain as it could possibly be that the initiation of the Plan of Campaign had been the cause of much increased eviction. With regard to the depreciation in the value of land which had been referred to, that was hardly to be wondered at when the attention of the cultivators was distracted from their land to political agitation and Moonlighting; and as for the scarcity of money, its cause might be traced to the pockets of the promoters of that agitation. It had been said that the Government were going to reduce the Irish people to a state of half-citizenship. He did not think the Bill would have that effect; but it certainly would restrict some of the liberties they at present enjoyed— for instance, that of maiming and torturing dumb animals. But he had yet to learn that such cruelty was consistent with the rights and duties of whole citizenship. The right hon. Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) said the day before that the Government were more intent on 145 trying measures which were consonant with the English conscience, but had less regard to justice to Ireland. He was quite content that any measure which the Government brought in should harmonize with the conscience of the English people, because he was sure the conscience of the English people would never go wrong; but justice to Ireland could not be separated from justice to England. The conscience of the English people saw that the safety of the mass of the people was the highest law, and they said that the majority of the people of these islands were entitled to say how these islands were to be governed. The first duty of the Government was the maintenance of law and order, and nobody had held up that duty more strongly in the past than the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). It was said that we ought to be guided by the opinion of the majority in Ireland; but could that be carried to its full extent? Would it be said that if the majority in Ireland demanded separation or to be united with the American Republic we should give way? For his part, he would do his utmost to discourage all such vain hopes. The Whiteboy Acts had been described as monstrous; but they were at present in force, and yet the country could not be governed even with them, and the reason was that the juries of the country had been demoralized by the amenities of the Land League. Lord Macaulay had been quoted to prove that the Union had been supported by Coercion Acts, and it had been said that there had been 85 Acts passed since the Union. That, he believed, was not true; only 40 had been passed, the other 45 being passed by the so-called independent Irish Parliament. During the time of the Irish Parliament the relations of the two Parliaments were very much strained by such a subject even as a Regency Bill. Hon. Members seemed to lose sight of the fact that England and Ireland must remain united, and that the only question which concerned thinking men was which process would keep them together with the least friction to both of them. Something had been said about the enlightened and intelligent opinion of America being against the Government on the question. He did not attach much importance to that state- 146 ment, because he did not think the opinion of America had very often been on the side of the Mother Country. Was it not the fact that the intelligent and enlightened opinion of America was also in favour of driving a coach and six through the Treaty of 1818. He also bore in mind the Alabama Claims, and as long as the surplus amount paid for those claims remained in the pockets of Americans he did not attach much importance to that intelligent and enlightened opinion. He thought the less attention England paid to the opinions expressed outside the better she would get on.
§ MR. MAHONY (Meath, N.)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) has said that it was necessary to pass this Bill in order to secure the fair working of a Land Purchase Bill for Ireland. That appeared on the face of it to be an extraordinary statement. It amounted to this—that a Land Purchase Bill was to be passed on behalf of the Irish tenants, which was to be of such a character as to require a Coercion Bill to ram it down the throats of the Irish people. They had already a Land Purchase Act in Ireland, and they were told that the National League were doing their best to prevent its working. He denied that in toto. If hon. Members would turn to the evidence of a large land agent in the County Kerry (Mr. George Sands), given before the Cowper Commission, they would see that he stated that the prominent Nationalists in his locality did everything they could to bring about a settlement between landlord and tenant on a property with which he was connected, and that the result was that the estate was sold. There was no opposition to the sale on the part of the National League. On the contrary, they did everything they could to assist in carrying it out. And why? Because the terms which the landlord was willing to accept were fair terms. What the National League had been trying to do, and had done, was to prevent the tenants, under pressure from the landlords, agreeing to purchase upon terms they could not possibly carry out in the future. He thought that they wanted some Bill to prevent the landlords bringing unfair pressure upon the tenants to make them purchase. General Buller had referred to the land- 147 lords' pressure, and had said that some counteracting pressure was required. But the Government did not propose to give them that. But landlords in Ireland had been able to bring pressure to bear in order to make their tenants agree to purchase their holdings on unfair terms; and the Land Commissioners had, in 434 cases, involving the amount of £317,000, refused to sanction the terms agreed on between the landlord and the tenants under the Land Act. What did that mean? It meant that, in the present state of Ireland, before open combination amongst the tenants was put down by the Bill, the landlords in Ireland had been able to force their terms of purchase on the tenants. In 67 other cases, the Land Commissioners had reduced the total amounts of purchase from £61,000 to £50,000, a reduction of 22 per cent. These facts showed that, even without the Coercion Acts, the landlords had powers to compel tenants to accept their terms, and that in these cases there was not sufficient security, taking the joint interest of the landlord and the tenant together. What they wanted was a Bill to prevent the landlords from bringing unfair pressure to bear on the tenants; but the Government only proposed to put down the legitimate combination among the tenants in Ireland, and they told them that that was necessary in order to allow their remedial measures to work. All he could say was, that if, in the face of the cases which he had brought forward, they brought in a Purchase Bill, and rammed it down the throats of the Irish people with a Coercion Act, the Irish people would be justified in repudiating it at the first opportunity, and he should certainly advise them to do so. If people were forced to accept certain terms, they would repudiate them whenever they got the opportunity. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had asserted that tenants were able to pay in many cases of evictions, and that these evictions had been got up by the National League. He thought it was a disgraceful thing that that assertion should be made, after it had been absolutely denied and after the evidence given by General Buller. There was one clause permitting tenants to make application to the Court for their own bankruptcy. That clause was an utter sham; but there were other clauses in the Bill which were not shams, and 148 were not meant to be shams, and those were clauses for the relief of the landlords. The Bankruptcy Clause enabled the landlord to make all his tenants bankrupt, and then there was the clause to render evictions easy. The Chief Secretary told the House that he did not press his case of statistics. He (Mr. Mahony) should think not, indeed. Then the Chief Secretary gave them a number of Judges' charges—extra-judicial utterances of which they in Ireland knew very well the worth. Last night, the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) tore that portion of the case into rags. With regard to the system of abuse to which their opponents were now having recourse, The Times was only at its old work. In 1843 it had attacked Mr. Cobden, with regard to the supposed attempt to murder Sir Robert Peel; and there was a strange similarity between the article in which that attack had been made and those which they had seen in that paper lately, and he thought the result would be the same. The great movement in which Mr. Cobden was then engaged was not in the slightest degree impeded by the action of The Times, and neither would the movement which the Parnellites were engaged in. Theirs was the cause of justice, and as such it was certain to succeed.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. T. P. C Connor,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.