§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
Mr. Speaker: In stating the reasons for the vote which I propose to give on the Amendment before the House, I shall not travel over those minute details of recent history which have made very proper matter for some hon. Gentlemen who have previously addressed the House. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) points to future policy, as well as to past administration, and in the observations with which I shall venture to trouble the House I shall rather look to the past with a view of getting any light, such as it is, that it may shed on future policy. The pith of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork, in my judgment, lies in the proposition that the remedy for the existing crisis in Irish affairs is to be found—In such a reform of the Law and the system of government as will satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people.In view of that part of the Amendment, and considering that, in my judgment, it points to the most vital fact in the present situation, I may say, at the outset, that I shall have no hesitation in going into the Lobby with the hon. Member for Cork. We, here, contend 899 at this Table, and at other tables, in the words of the Amendment, that there is no remedy for the crisis, which is not connected with reform in the system of Irish government—a reform such as shall win and secure the confidence of the Irish people. Has anything happened since last Session to give evidence to the country—I will even say to give evidence to their own side—that Her Majesty's present Advisers have grasped the present situation in Ireland? Has anything happened to make us believe that they have found a clue to the difficulties of Irish government? We need not go back further than the last three, four, or five months of their administration to indicate to us very clearly—as is evident from the very remarkable speech made last night by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury)—that even among their own most faithful followers there is a conviction that they in no sense possess a definite and intelligible policy in Ireland. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) the other right said that Ireland was always in a state of crisis, sometimes arising from climate, sometimes from political and artificially manufactured causes, and sometimes from fires which, he says, are always smouldering underneath the surface of Irish society. But we were led to suppose, and we were told that the accession to power of a Government which would exercise a firm and resolute administration in Ireland, would put an end to all those crises. On the contrary, there has been no abatement—not the slightest—in the state of crisis, in its essence and substance, since the accession to power of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Not for one single day has there been what they describe to their own supporters as firm and resolute government. It is all very well to come down to this House with sounding phrases about law and order. During the Recess their whole policy was very different indeed from anything like firm and resolute administration. The charge of Chief Baron Palles at Sligo did not indicate that he had any confidence in the firm and resolute administration of the Chief Secretary and his Colleagues. The noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), speaking in December, rather charged the Government with too 900 lax an administration than with one too stringent. If there is evidence on the other side that no confidence has been established in the minds even of their own friends from the policy of Her Majesty's Government, still less is there likely to be any such confidence created in our bosoms. I am not going over the story of the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork. I will only point out that the Bill was rejected on two allegations of the Government, and that each of those allegations has been absolutely exploded by the action of the Government themselves—I believe that within 24 hours of the rejection of the Bill the Government felt that these allegations were exploded. The first was that there had been no fall in prices; and I have still ringing in my ears the rapturous declamation of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson) as to the rise in the price of wool. The second allegation was that the Land Commissioners, in fixing the judicial rents, had taken into account a possible decline in prices. Both these allegations are exploded, and we have not heard a single hon. Gentleman, since the Session began, get up and defend either of these propositions. What is the conclusion to be drawn from the failure of the two allegations upon which the rejection of the Tenants' Belief Bill was based? The conclusion is that there was a real evil, and that there was a real grievance on the part of the poorer tenants of Ireland, and that those who had had their judicial rents fixed were exposed to substantial wrong. That being the case, the conduct of the Chief Secretary shows he was perfectly aware of this grievance, this wrong, and this danger. He was aware of it because he at once set to work to carry out that process of which so much has been said, which consisted of putting pressure upon the landlords to grant fair abatements. Where there is a real danger, it is surely the duty of the Legislature to find a legal remedy, and it was because we failed, and because this House failed, to take the first step in providing a legal remedy, that some mischief—which, as I trust I shall presently persuade the House, has been exaggerated—has taken place. I know that there are those among my right hon. and hon. Friends who say—"It is true that a remedy was needed, but the 901 Tenants' Relief Bill of the hon. Member I for Cork was not the right kind of remedy." Why did they not say so before the rejection of the Bill? I ventured to point out at the time that Amendments might be made in the Bill in Committee which would have had the effect of getting rid of some of the most valid of the objections to the Bill. Many of those who have since declared the Bill would have furnished no remedy took no part in the discussion or in the Division upon it. Why did they not help us to find a better way? I have not a word of criticism upon the Chief Secretary for endeavouring to keep the peace between landlord and tenant. On the contrary, I think the course taken by the right hon. Baronet is such as will commend itself to everyone as a good and sound policy of administration. But I am surprised that the right hon. Baronet is so modest since Parliament has met, as to the part he took in persuading the landlords to deal fairly with their tenants. He has endeavoured to minimize his own virtue; he is one of those who "do good by stealth and blush to find it fame." It may be that the right hon. Baronet and the hon. and learned Attorney General cannot erase from their recollections the tremendously solemn and impressive harangue made to me, when sitting on the opposite side of the House, by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, upon the intolerableness of any Member of an Executive Government presuming to interfere between man and man in the matter of judicial rent. The right hon. Baronet, who knows Ireland as well as most Englishmen, must know and must have foreseen from all the course of Irish history that in Ireland, above all countries in the world, where you have a real grievance and a substantial wrong without a legal remedy, you may be perfectly sure that some portion of the people, at least, will resort to illegitimate methods of obtaining redress. That is the history of Ireland in a nutshell—unredressed grievances, moral wrongs without a legal remedy, and then the resort to illegal acts to secure justice. Popular discontent among the poorer tenants in Ireland has always led to irregular, illegal, and very often criminal expedients; and it is because the leaders in Irish affairs, those whom the majority of the Irish people look up 902 to and trust, are not listened to in this House, because they have no share in guiding the administration of their country, that they are often driven to expedients and devices which, if they had had a more responsible training, they would be more likely to hold aloof from. I will not consent to argue the treatment of Ireland upon the narrow grounds of technical administration. Nisi Prius is all very well, but it is not everything. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) was perfectly right when he said that a great deal too much attention had been paid to the Plan of Campaign in this debate; that, in fact, it had not been very largely or widely operative; and that, on the whole, over the greater portion of Ireland rents had been very fairly paid and legal obligations very fairly and honourably acknowledged and met. I entirely agree with the noble Lord in that judgment. I have never felt that there was any justification either for the enthusiastic benediction bestowed by my hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) upon the Plan of Campaign, or for what I must take leave to call the violently exaggerated censure of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). My noble Friend, speaking on the 7th of December, said that the principle of the Plan of Campaignwould lead to the complete and profound subversion of every principle upon which, hitherto, social order has been based.That was two months ago. But my noble Friend, speaking last week, said—I do not mean to say that anarchy, or anything approaching to anarchy, has prevailed over the greater portion of Ireland; I believe at the present moment order does exist in a very large portion of the country.Well, that is a very fair reason for thinking that the policy and the principles which the noble Lord had announced two months ago as a complete and profound subversion of social order have had no such effect as he had anticipated. I think there has been enormous exaggeration in all the language that has been used about the Plan of Campaign. I will venture to say, at the risk of being misunderstood, two things about the Plan of Campaign. The first is that, so far as we have yet heard in the course of this debate, there is no evidence that 903 in consequence of the adoption of the Plan of Campaign there has been the actual perpetration of any marked substantial injustice. I will say, secondly, I believe that even those who are most passionate against the Plan of Campaign will admit that a combination of that kind, limited as that combination has been, is better than those grim associations which have set their mark on Irish agrarian history—secret societies and secret murder clubs. I will say another thing—if I am called upon to pronounce a judgment upon the Plan of Campaign, and upon the principles on which it rests, I must be permitted to pronounce a judgment in full. However immoral, however unjust, however unpatriotic you may consider the Plan of Campaign and the action taken under it to be, I do not hesitate to say that I do not regard it as any more immoral, any more unjust, any more unpatriotic than the action of those landlords whom the Chief Secretary himself denounced at Bristol as harshly exacting the rights of property while performing none of its duties. I will fortify myself by an authority. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) did me the honour the other day to quote a sentence from one of my too multitudinous utterances on the Irish Question. I should be sorry to fall behind my right hon. Friend in any polite attention of this sort. Some time in 1885 my right hon. Friend said—I do not see why a sufficient remedy for the eviction of poor tenants in Ireland should not be found without any proceedings which can fairly be described as dishonest, and when I speak of confiscation I do wish that the landlords would exercise a little reciprocity. When an exorbitant rent is demanded, which takes from a tenant the savings of his life, when a man is taxed for his own improvements, that is confiscation, and it is none the less reprehensible because it is sanctioned by the law.It is impossible in a country in the condition in which Ireland now is, to form any judgment worthy of the responsibilities which lie upon this Legislature, if you look at the social situation in Ireland merely as lawyers may look at it in a Court. We have been taxed in the course of this debate with not launching out into denunciations of the Plan of Campaign. It is a ludicrous doctrine that because we happen to agree with the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway as to the best way of governing their 904 country, that, therefore, we are to be called upon to express judgment upon everything they may say or do. I, for one, repudiate any such doctrine. [Ironical Ministerial Cheers.] Yes; but you yourselves do not practise that doctrine. I see sitting behind the Ministerial Bench the hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. De Cobain), who has within a few days been held up by an official Commission to public censure and reprehension for writing an incendiary letter upon which much of the blame is to be laid for the bloodshed, disorder, and violence that have taken place in Belfast. We have not heard any of you condemn that action of the hon. Gentleman. None of you have cut yourselves off from that action or passed any censure upon it. Why should we be called upon to express opinions upon anything and everything done by political allies? When you ask us to hurry on to platforms or to come down here and rail at or revile hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, I say that you are taking one of the most fatal courses to the Union you value that can be taken. I will tell you why. Depend upon it that nothing can be so fatal to the Union as the conviction in the minds of the Irish people, that there is no Party or individual in this House which is not always ready upon the slightest provocation to comedown here, or to go into the country sermonizing, bullying, scolding, and lecturing them. It is most important for the peace of Ireland, as well as for the Union, that they should feel that there is a Party here who will not be led to repeat the old fault of supposing that everything said and everything done by Irishmen is best treated by harangues, lectures, and bullyings from us in this House. Let there be no mistake. We are under no obligation to support every Motion made in that quarter of the House. I do not suppose that from that quarter of the House the Motions are all sure to be more wise and deserving the support of sensible men than those from any other quarter; but I am not sure they will be less so. At all events, we shall not be driven by any taunts as to our going on our knees to the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) into forgetting the fact that the attempt to govern Ireland with sublime disregard of the advice and assistance, the opinions and the wishes, of the Representa- 905 tives of the Irish people is the most vain and futile attempt that was ever made. The House must have been rather struck last night by what fell from the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) when he described himself and his friends as being ignorant of the doings and policy of Her Majesty's Government, and when he described how they were unable to learn anything, except what they might hear through private channels, of what was being done by the Chief Secretary and his lieutenants. This brings me to make a few remarks upon a subject not mentioned so far in the course of the debate—the removal of Sir Robert Hamilton. I am not going to argue the question whether it is or is not desirable to displace the permanent head of a department when there is a change in the Parliamentary Chiefs. I will not argue it, because I am sure there are not two opinions in the House as to that subject; we are all agreed that it is in the highest degree desirable that no such policy should be pursued. Nor am I going to attempt to say a word about the official loyalty of Sir Robert Hamilton, nor to bear my testimony, whatever it may be worth, to the fact that Sir Robert Hamilton has never overstepped by a single hair's breadth the lines of his strict official duty. For I am perfectly sure that neither the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary nor anyone else would make any charge of that kind against him. What I want the House to consider is more important than any merely personal point. Let the House consider the effect of the removal of Sir Robert Hamilton on the chances of the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary getting true information, and learning the true state of things, in respect of the government of Ireland. There are some races of which it is said that they look into your eyes when you ask a question to see what kind of answer you would like. I think it is most undesirable that officials, especially in a country like Ireland, should be placed under any temptation to acquire a habit of that kind. But I must say it will be a miracle if Irish officials, with all their loyalty to the service, do not for the future think twice before they give full and independent opinions on points of administration and policy that come in their way, which may be disagreeable to the Parliamentary Chiefs. I think the effect of 906 what has been done will be in that direction. Sir Robert Hamilton, it is true, has been hustled upstairs, but he was a conspicuous man, with powerful friends; but a small man without powerful friends may think that the telling of disagreeable truths will end in his being hustled downstairs. The chances of governing Ireland under the present system are not, in my judgment, very good at the best; but there can be nothing more fatal to those chances, small as they are, than that the Chief Secretaries, who, as the First Lord of the Treasury knows, are very transient and fleeting personages—for there have been nine within the last seven years—nothing can be more fatal than that they should be deprived of every chance of having the fullest and the most naked truth as to every detail in connection with the government of Ireland. Sir, there is one other point in connection with this subject which I wish just to mention. It is said that some changes are going to be made which will end in the Office of Under Secretary being made a political Office, the occupant of which is to go in and out with the Parliamentary Chief. Whether that is true or not I do not now ask; but I wish to make one remark upon it which bears upon the Amendment. It is that the effect of any action of that kind will inevitably be to throw the real power of Irish administration into the hands of the lawyers. Well, Sir, I think that those who know best the history of Irish administration since the Union will agree that nothing is so responsible for the hatred and the unpopularity and failure of the Castle administration as the predominance of the legal element in carrying out that administration. I am reminded by what I have said about lawyers of the rather remarkable and interesting exhibition of the legal view and the legal mind which was made last night by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes). The House is acquainted with the facts of the Sligo juries at the Assizes. We have heard, in the course of the debates, that when these Catholic peasants were brought up for trial, in the case of two batches at least of them, there was not one single Catholic on the jury. In the case of other batches, I believe the exclusion was not quite so rigorous; but in these two cases so it was.
907 Now, considering the predominance of the Catholics in the population of the district, one might have supposed that such a result could scarcely be due to accident. All doubt on the point was put an end to last night by the right hon. and learned Gentleman plainly avowing that it was not accident but design which had excluded all Catholics from these cases. We know what the books tell us about trial by jury. The blessing of trial by jury is that the accused has the charge against him sifted and decided by 12 of his equals and his neighbours indifferently chosen. According to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, they are not, by any means, indifferently chosen. The right hon. and learned Gentleman actually laid it down that the legal representatives of the Crown would have been guilty of dereliction of duty, and that it would have been impossible to secure a fair trial, if the Crown had not exercised its privilege in order to secure the attendance of men of independent thought. Now I do not believe that in the racy and exuberant history of Irish humour there is a nobler euphemism than this. A man of independent thought is a man to whom the Crown can trust to give you a conviction. Sir, I do not believe that an English Minister ever before came to this House and made such an admission. The position assumed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman comes to this—that no Catholic can be a man of independent thought. It comes to this—that it would be a dereliction of duty if the Crown were to allow the Catholics their fair share of the rights and the duties and the burdens of common citizenship. And yet, with maxims like this, and practices like this, we are surprised that we cannot govern a Catholic country. I will now go on, if the House will extend me its indulgence, to notice one or two suggestions that have been made in the direction of policy—suggestions which may influence, and which, no doubt, will influence, the minds of hon. Members. I shall vote for the Amendment, because I think it points to the only policy on which Ireland can be governed—the only policy upon which England can be relieved; but I naturally turn, with the greatest eagerness, in every direction, for a substitute for the policy which we advocate. My noble 908 Friend the Member for Rossendale, the other day, gave, at Newcastle, his notion of the direction in which we ought to look for a substitute for the Bill of the late Government; and it came to the prescription commented on by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo the other night, that we ought to look in the direction of emigration and migration. The proposition of my noble Friend is, that the British Government might, with local co-operation, local assistance, and through local agencies, do much in the way of assisting emigration or migration from some of these congested districts. The point of the proposal is that the British Government should do this. But forced and large emigration is not a process which you can carry out when you will without regard to the labour market of the world. You cannot carry out emigration without regard to the feelings of the country to which you propose to send your emigrants; and what is likely to be the feeling of our Colonies, or of the United States, at what they justly term a pauper invasion? Who can believe that these poor, broken creatures, who have just had their houses burnt over their heads at Glenbeigh, broken in spirit, with their frames emaciated by hunger, body and soul worn out in the long struggle with the harshness of Nature, and the worse harshness of man—who believes that they will be welcomed in new countries which require all the energy, all the spirit, and all the physical strength of the population? I may remind the House of the experience of that zealous and benevolent man, Mr. Tuke, who, in his emigration work, found that he had aroused antagonisms—not political antagonisms—which rendered it impossible that much more could be done at that time. Mr. Tuke left a record of his opinion, which I think bears very precisely upon the views of my noble Friend. Mr. Tuke said—Though what was needed was a permanent Board of Emigration, which with a suitable staff both in Ireland and America should, from year to year, and not spasmodically, deal with a limited number of applications for emigration, and advise in each case as might seem the best, yet it must be fully admitted that no such Board could, in the present state of Irish politics, be formed.That was in 1884. The hon. Member for the Poplar Division of the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Sydney Buxton) is well 909 acquainted with the facts of this movement, and will be able to correct me if I am mistaken. Mr. Tuke said in 1884 it was hopeless to think of having that Board of Emigration which he regarded as essential and indispensable. I want to ask anyone who looks in this direction whether he thinks that in 1887 the state of things is more favourable for a Board of Emigration than it was in 1884? The noble Lord the Member for Rossendale knows very well that if a Board of Emigration was impossible in 1884, it is much more impossible in 1887. ["No!"] We heard the hon. Member for East Mayo last night. I do not think his language was very encouraging for anyone who looks to emigration under British control as a likely way to solve the Irish difficulty. I do not believe, therefore, that this panacea of my noble Friend is at all likely to be a substitute for the reform which we attempted to carry out. It is often said—"If you will only settle the Land Question you need not trouble yourself about Home Rule." The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), in his most able speech the other night, said something about the Land Act of 1881. Mr. Goschen says the Land Act of 1881 is a gigantic failure. But although I always pay great respect to Mr. Goschen's remarks, I never have thought he showed a precise and specific knowledge of Ireland. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, however, knows Ireland very well, and I never listen to him speaking on Irish affairs without feeling that he has the welfare of his own country at heart. He says the Land Act of 1881—it is his own language and not mine—"laid the foundations of the true solution of the Irish Question." The hon. and gallant Gentleman meant some extension of land purchase. Now, when we think how we have moved in the matter of land purchase since 1870 by successive stages, I think we must not be too sure that even the largest and most generous measure of land purchase, unless it were accompanied by something to satisfy Irish political opinion, would have the effect which the hon, and gallant Member and all of us desire. Think how you have advanced in your inducements for tenants to become the owners of their holdings. In the 910 Bill of 1870 the advance of the Treasury was two-thirds of the price, with 4 per cent interest. In the Bill of 1881 the advance was three-fourths at 3½ per cent, and a term of 35 years. In 1884 Mr. Trevelyan brought in a Bill which advanced three-fourths of the purchase money at 3¼ per cent, repayable in 40 years. But in 1885 the Government then in Office, which was, in effect, the present Government, made a further step of the most serious kind; they agreed by the Act, which is called Lord Ashbourne's Act, to make the whole advance repayable in 49 years, being an enormous extension of the privileges which had been granted by the previous Bills. I cannot, for my part, imagine any terms being invented more favourable to the Irish tenant, if he is inclined to purchase, than those of Lord Ashbourne's Act. Yes; but they are not terms very favourable or safe to the British Treasury. That, however, is not my point for the moment. It is that, even with a temptation so enormous as that—apparently, so irresistible—the Irish tenant has not shown any very great anxiety to become the purchaser of his holding. The Act has, indeed, not been long in operation. But it has been quite long enough if the Irish tenantry meant to avail themselves of its provisions—quite long enough to show that, considering the reduction made on the judicial rent and what he was paying before 1881, the tenant will be sitting at something like 40 per cent less than he was five or six years ago. If an offer of that kind is not jumped at, does it not lead to the opinion that there is something in the temper and frame of mind of the Irish tenant which proves that in that direction you need not look for a solution of your difficulty? Even if it were otherwise, it has a fatal defect in the minds of many of us; and I am glad to be able to dwell upon the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) has recently stated that he is opposed to the extension of an arrangement which involves the Treasury in such risk, and which, besides, has the political danger of bringing the British State into direct relations with the individual Irish tenant. Sir, I will only say further upon that suggestion that, do what you will in the way of 911 land purchase, no scheme will be workable or safe which is not backed by local authorities, who, in turn, are backed by a central Government resting upon the public opinion of the country. I, therefore, must express my own emphatic disbelief in any remedy being found for the present or other agrarian or political crisis in the direction of land purchase if unaccompanied by some other measure which, in terms of the Amendment, "shall meet the needs and gain the confidence of the Irish people." I wish to say a word on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse). My hon. Friend said that he will vote for coercion. But he said rather more. He said the reason he would not subscribe to the doctrine that coercion had always failed was the intermittent application of such laws in obedience to the exigencies of political Parties. Now, Sir, sincerely I would ask my hon. Friend whether he thinks, in this ingenuous and artless aspiration, that the exigencies of political Parties are coming to an end now? If my hon. Friend will look back for six or seven years, he will find that in 1880 the Government dropped the Peace Preservation Act. In 1881 the same Government brought in a tremendous Coercion Act. In 1882 they let out of prison men who had been locked up under it, and then proceeded to pass in many respects a still more stringent measure—the Crimes Act. In 1885 there was a change of Government, and the Government which came in dropped all coercion, and declared their intention of administering Ireland by the ordinary law. In June, 1886, the same Government said, "We must have more powers." In 1887 we now see that they are going to turn back to their former judgment, and again to ask for new and exceptional powers. Now, I ask my hon. Friend and the House whether it is possible, in the face of an experience of that kind—so many vacillations, so many turns about in both Parties; I do not accuse one Party of being more vacillating than another—to expect that all the exigencies of Party, now of all times in the world, are coming to an end, and we are to have a just, a steady, and permanent policy carried out in Ireland? Why, even in the course of this 912 debate we have seen that there is no unanimity among those who support the Government. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) last night told us that he should be disinclined to support this coercive legislation, unless it were extended all over England. There was domestic separatism in the Unionist camp, because the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division (Mr. Winterbotham) said he could not support coercion at all. Therefore I ask hon. Members who look to coercion as a policy how they think that policy is to be accepted by the House, and how long it will be carried out by a Government, even if they are fortunate or unfortunate enough to get their Bills carried? Sir, it is not in that direction that there is anything to be hoped for the better government of Ireland, and I will remind the House that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) said last year that he did not believe for a moment that a renewal of the clauses of the Crimes Act would have had any effect in dealing with the National League. He said, in his judgment, what was wanted was something stronger and quite different. The noble Lord's advice in that respect seems to me to be perfectly good, and I hope Ministers will even now, if it is not too late, reconsider the decision which has been foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech. I am perfectly sure that nothing will come from carrying out that decision but an increase of the difficulties and troubles with which they and all of us have to deal in Ireland. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington said the other night we might make ourselves perfectly easy, because Home Rule was now practically at an end, and that if he could only go into a room with hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, where what they said could not be heard, he would get them to confess that their aspirations had now no chance of being satisfied. The noble Lord is not a trustworthy prophet, in matters affecting Ireland. Well do I remember one afternoon, in the Parliament of 1884, he made a remarkable speech, in which he was dealing pretty faithfully with the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the House. He was remonstrating with the Conservative Party for hesitating 913 about the extension of the franchise to Ireland. He made this prophecy, which he urged the House and his Party to accept from him. "Depend upon it," he said, "if you only extend the franchise in the counties you will find in the Irish counties a Conservative set of influences which will soon put in order the Fenian and Nationalist tendencies of the towns." We all know how that prophecy has been fulfilled, and you may depend upon it that as that prophecy has been absurdly brought to naught, so will his prophecy about Home Rule be brought to naught. The Conservative Party will not act wisely, as it often has in the past, if it shapes its policy upon any such assumption. Last year the same noble Lord, speaking as the Leader of this House, and as the Representative of the Government, made a very distinct promise to the House and the Irish Party. He said that if the Irish Members would desist from their criticism upon certain Estimates then under consideration, the Government would be prepared to bring in measures, as early as might be, throwing the responsibility for local government and the operations of the Board of Works into the hands of the Irish people. Now, if you will not listen to our policy, is it not time that you should fulfil the pledge given by your own Leader for a consideration? ["No!"] The right hon. Baronet (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) shakes his head; but the pledge was certainly given.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
There was no consideration.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
The right hon. Baronet states that there was no consideration. Then, Sir, the pledge was still stronger; it was what lawyers call a voluntary promise. In any case, it was announced that the Government were prepared at that time to transfer large powers of local government—especially powers connected with the Board of Works—to the Irish people. What is there in the state of things at present to prevent persistence in that policy? It is ridiculous to pretend that because there are disorders—which I persist in calling slight disorders—in some parts of Ireland, you have a pretext for leaving your own promise unfulfilled. I do not think that is worthy of right hon. Gen- 914 tlemen opposite. It is not safe—certainly it is neither prudent nor politic—to leave the field so bare of all Irish legislation when the Chief Secretary himself, and every prominent responsible Member of the Irish Administration, and when both sides of the House have agreed that remedial legislation for Ireland is in many respects greatly needed. The noble Lord the Member for Rossendale has before now said very strong things about the need in Ireland for local government and remedial legislation. He has given no reason why all that legislation is to be postponed, and why we are to be content with the barren and mischievous fare for Ireland of reform in her criminal procedure. You all hoped that when you had got rid of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and of our policy, this Chamber would be able to settle down to do good legislative work both for Ireland and Great Britain. I appeal to either side of the House whether there is any prospect before us of any such thing? I ask the House whether any Session ever began with less hope in the mind of any section of the House, less expectation, less intention of doing good work? [Cries of "Oh!"] I misunderstand the temper of the House if there is any buoyancy, any hope, or any expectation of getting on with legislation and Business for England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. I have never myself felt the atmosphere of the House so leaden. [Ministerial cheers.] You cheer that statement; but with whom does the fault lie? It lies with those who will not move out of the way what for seven years has been the standing obstacle to the transaction of the Business of the House, and a standing scandal upon its character. This leaden, moveless cloud will not lift from our deliberations, until you have achieved, as your first task, such a reform of the system of government in Ireland as will meet the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people; and it is because I have that conviction that I shall vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ MR. HOWORTH (Salford, S.)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman opposite who had just sat down was free from the suspicion of insincerity. He was the original Home Ruler in the Liberal Party, and he was, in the opinion of many, the one Home Ruler whose con- 915 victions on the subject of Ireland were unqualified by other motives and other considerations. Having paid the right hon. Gentleman that compliment, he had to express his regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have said nothing likely to help the House to arrive at a right conclusion upon the matter before it. He had failed to find in the right hon. Gentleman's speech one single helpful sentence which would tend to mitigate the terrible difficulties of the position which they had to face. It seemed, as he took up one possible remedy after another, to pour contempt upon them, that he was prepared across that Table, where a great deal of gambling had taken place in former years, to throw down as a stake almost everything which was valuable to a politician. He had expected that a politician with his responsible antecedents would have refrained from adding one more irritating voice to the many heard in reference to Ireland, and would have done what he could to mitigate the mischievous effect of the language heard in many quarters. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had not taken that course. He had twitted the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) with falsely prophesying that if the Plan of Campaign were put into force it must lead to the disintegration of society in Ireland. But the reason why that result had not come about was that the Plan of Campaign had failed. If the Plan had succeeded all over the country, as its originators hoped that it would, matters now would be in a very different and worse condition. Then the right hon. Gentleman reproached the Government on account of the removal of Sir Robert Hamilton from the post of Permanent Under Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman ought to bear in mind that Sir Robert Hamilton was not an Irishman but a Scotchman, sent over from London by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), for the express purpose of carrying out that right hon. Gentleman's policy. But he would not consider further the right hon. Gentleman's miserable polemics. He preferred more profitable subjects of discussion. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) in his speech spoke with the same passionless rhetoric with which he was accustomed to address 916 the House, and which he thought was a great advantage to their debates. It enabled hon. Members to approach these questions apart altogether from the sentimental ornaments so often introduced, and it enabled the House to judge of these questions on their merits. The speech of the hon. Member for Cork and his Amendment were both in remarkable contrast with the speeches and Amendments made by him in the House on previous occasions. There was an absence of the trenchant and aggressive language, both in the Amendment and in the speech, which was usually heard from those Benches, and which seemed to him to reflect the preeailing feeling of depression which appeared to have overwhelmed the hon. Members from Ireland at this moment. It seemed to him to be natural that hon. Members should have a feeling of depression. In the first place, the first element which appeared to be producing it was the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. Where was the right hon. Gentleman? Not long ago the right hon. Gentleman assured them that the only object he had in the few remaining years of his political life was to secure for Ireland a Legislature and a permanent Executive independent of this country. But now at the first pinch of battle he deserted his friends, and instead of being in the House to support them he found it more convenient to be elsewhere. He hoped that the House would have a reasonable explanation of this extraordinary position. It seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman owed a very considerable apology to his Friends below the Gangway for having deserted them at this juncture. If they looked at other factors in the problem the House would see that another reason for the depression among hon. Gentlemen opposite existed. This was the utter failure of the Plan of Campaign. ["Oh, oh," and Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen who laughed and jeered would do a great service to the House if they would publish some statistics in regard to the Plan of Campaign, as to the number of estates on which it had been put in force, and the number of estates on which it had proved successful. He thought it would be a great surprise to the House if they only knew what an abject failure it had 917 been. These and other matters rendered the outlook of the hon. Member for Cork and his Party rather more gloomy than it had been, and it was for this reason that they must feel in a position of great and grave uncertainty. He wished to make a special appeal to hon. Members on this occasion. It seemed to him that they had now only two courses left open to them if they were to retain that influence which they had possessed for a long time over the Irish people. They must either again let loose those revolutionary forces which pervaded the whole country two or three years ago, or they must be prepared to accept at the hands of those who were perfectly willing to give it to them on rational terms a policy which they might accept with the greatest possible credit to themselves. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite had acquired a prestige in Ireland which made them the masters and not the slaves of Irish opinion, and if they were as willing as they were powerful to use that prestige and influence for the purpose of settling this question on rational and reasonable grounds, he believed they might use it with great honour to themselves and great profit to the country. Why was it necessary that they should continue to be a mere shuttlecock between the two great English Parties? Was it not possible for them to realize at last that they were this, and nothing more? Could they not make some advances to some other section of the House with whom they might arrange something of great advantage to their country? On his own side of the House there were a number of Irish Members, who represented Irish opinion just as much as hon. Members opposite. It was the continual gulf that existed between those two sections of Irish opinion which made it impossible for hon. Members to accept the propositions put before the House by the Representatives of Irish opinion. If it were possible to shake hands across the gulf; if it were possible for the two sections of Irish opinion to come to the House and say—"We agree that these great changes would be beneficial to Ireland, would be a rational settlement of this question, would tend eventually to the peace of the two countries," both Parties would be delighted to give what was asked. Here then was the difficulty. Members on that one side had some 918 claims on the sympathy of their opponents. They had prevented Ireland from becoming a sort of poor relation by the side of England, with no attention paid to its needs; and, consequently, they were in a position at this moment to make offers to their real Friends on the Conservative side of the House, not only English Members, but Irish Members, who had the same yearnings as theirs, and who wore wishful and ready to accept a modified policy, which would be acceptable to those who wanted it, if only made on rational lines. They were ready to press upon the House of Commons anything which should have the element of permanence if combined with equity. It seemed to him that this was the only policy which would ever secure for Ireland the satisfaction of her needs. But it was absolutely necessary that those demands should not be made merely by the Representatives of the Irish peasantry; but by them, in conjunction with those who represented Irish education, Irish wealth, and the other elements in Ireland which were the elements of stability. If it were possible for these two bodies of Members in the House to be persuaded that this was the only rational way in which the question should be settled, it seemed to him that the solution was more hopeful than that contained in the concluding sentence of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. In regard to the economical side of the question, it seemed to him a matter of regret that the right hon. Gentleman, with his great knowledge of the problem, should, instead of assisting to solve its exceedingly difficult elements, throw every obstacle in the way by means of mere futile criticism. Take the question of emigration. Who was there in the House who would not say that in the congested districts of Ireland the only possible remedy, whether imposed by that House or an Irish Parliament, was emigration? Either they must protect those poor people against the competition of foreign traders, or else they must emigrate them to some other place where it was possible for them to gain a livelihood. It seemed to him, therefore, that it was impossible that this problem could ever be solved except by a rational system of emigration. Why had emigration failed so often hitherto? Because it had had the opposition of hon. Members opposite, 919 and because it had had the opposition of another powerful element in Irish society—that of the Irish priesthood. But one of the most hopeful signs he had seen in Ireland of late was the altered attitude of the priests on this question. They thought differently years ago; but now they had come to the conclusion that it was the only possible remedy. There were a number of people who talked about embarking in a great fishing industry on the West Coast of Ireland; but they forgot the enormous difficulties of nursing such fisheries, and the almost utter impossibility of bringing fish to market. One of the great difficulties attending emigration hitherto had been that it was of the character of individual emigration. He did not believe in it, for the effect on the Irish peasant was that he was transplanted at once to an American town, where he not only lost his character for respectability, but the influence of the priest as well. These people should be emigrated in communities, their priest being taken with them. In spite of the fears which the right hon. Gentleman had sought to excite, many countries would be glad to have them. Australia and Canada would be willing to have those poor creatures if we emigrated them in a rational fashion. Canada, of course, like other countries, did not desire to have her population enormously augmented by a great influx of extremely helpless people from Ireland; but she would be delighted to have her magnificent western lands planted by Irish colonists who would go out, with some hope of success, in small communities; and he hoped the problem would be faced by the Government in that way. That done, he would then like to see some system of arterial drainage introduced into parts of Ireland, where it would add, at all events, to the material prosperity of the country. He could not help thinking that it was on those lines that the problem would, with more hope than the right hon. Gentleman had expressed, be presently solved. Nor did he fail altogether to hope that it would be solved with considerable assistance from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. As one who, on many an occasion, both in print and in speaking, had sought to throw light on this question—he hoped in a fair way, and without the use of exasperating lan- 920 guage—he would venture to appeal to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite to forego a good deal of what they deemed the ideal solution, and to accept rather its practical side. Those hon. Gentlemen would have nothing to fear in regard either to prestige or position, by accepting the more rational solution, and they would make Ireland a more prominent factor in the world's history than it had hitherto been. Let there be less of the miserable rancour as between the classes they represented and those represented on this side of the House, and let the Irish Members on one side of the House endeavour to make terms with the Irish Members on the other. In this way Irishmen would increase their national importance, and would be helping the House in the solution of these questions. He did not like to hear one set of Irishmen abusing another set. It was not true that the gifts of the Irish race were confined to one set of Representatives only. It was, on the other hand, a remarkable fact that the drolleries and witticisms made by Irishmen on one side of the House always found their warmest welcome among Irishmen on the other side, and it would be a great loss to that community if they were not both represented in the Legislature. He wanted them, laying aside wrangling, and gibes and jeers, to unite in making a common demand upon that House, in the same way as demands from Scotland were made, which would be listened to and responded to by hon. Members as the genuine expression of the feeling and the opinion of Ireland. It was with that view that he had ventured to intervene in the discussion, to stop, if possible, the torrent of recrimination, and to draw the debate into more fruitful and promising fields.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
Mr. Speaker, I feel that I must ask the House for its indulgence in addressing them for the first time; but I will, at any rate, promise that my remarks shall be brief, and that they shall not add to the torrent of recrimination of which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Howorth) has already complained. We shall be called upon shortly to give our votes on the most important Amendment to the Address proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell).
921 I mean to vote for the Amendment; and, as I know that my vote will be subject to many interpretations—the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, for instance, said that Members sitting on this side of the House are actuated by very qualified motives—I wish to make clear the reasons why I intend to support the present Amendment, and why I am sure I shall never have to regret my decision. It will be said that those of us who vote for this Amendment will, in doing so, endorse the Plan of Campaign, which is declared to be hopelessly illegal, and hopelessly immoral. I am not concerned to defend the question, whether the Plan of Campaign is illegal or not. I think, perhaps, the best that can be said on that ground is, that whether it is technically illegal or not, it has, at any rate, endeavoured to supplement the law by purposes which are opposed to the spirit of the law as it now stands; but, before I pass any condemnation on the morality or immorality of it, and before hon. Members pass any full condemnation upon it, I ask them to remember who are the authors of the Plan of Campaign. The authors are the Irish Members. The Irish Members may be actuated by the motives which have been complained of, and which have been called in question. Some hon. Members may believe that the Irish Members are actuated by improper motives; but, at any rate, I think everyone will agree that the Irish Representatives do know the circumstances and conditions of the Irish peasantry. Before the Plan of Campaign was instituted they were far better aware of what was going to happen in Ireland than the Government were; they recognized that the condition of affairs in many parts of Ireland during last autumn would be desperate. They felt that desperate conditions called for desperate remedies. I therefore think that, before we pass any full condemnation on the morality or immorality of the Plan of Campaign we must remember that the Irish Members, in instituting it, have been subject to temptation from which mercifully most English and Scotch Members have been free. And I will say this further, that if hon. Gentlemen are disposed to condemn the Plan of Campaign, they should also be disposed to censure Her Majesty's Government for the action, tending in the same direction, which they 922 took. I do not, however, wish to condemn the action of the Government for a moment; I believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was inspired by generous and humane motives; but I do ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to remember that what is justifiable reason for the action of Her Majesty's Government ought, even in their opinion, to be some palliation for the line taken by the authors of the Plan of Campaign. This I must say before I leave this part of the subject, that neither the Plan of Campaign nor the action of the Government can be looked upon as other than temporary expedients; and that it does not matter whether the Plan of Campaign is illegal or not, one thing which I think Home Rulers in this country have grasped thoroughly is, that the longer the settlement of the Irish Question is delayed so much more objectionable will many phases of that question become. Upon that ground we ought to welcome an early solution of the Irish problem. I should like now to say a few words upon a still more important part of the Amendment which we are asked to consider. It is that part which applies to the future policy of Her Majesty's Government, that part which applies to the coercive proposals which are to be brought before the House. Hon. Members object to the term coercion; they say it is a nickname which has been applied to an entirely unobjectionable policy. It may be a nickname; but it is a nickname which has fitted the policy carried out so admirably that we are unable to get rid of it. But to adopt for a moment the term which is applied to this policy by hon. Members opposite, and to speak of the policy of the enforcement of the law, it must be admitted that this is enforcement of the law by unconstitutional methods, or, at any rate, by methods which are foreign to the British Constitution. I believe I am right in saying that the British Constitution includes as two integral parts—trial by jury and the Habeas Corpus Act. Both of these parts have been suspended when we resorted to the policy of the enforcement of the law in Ireland. Some time ago the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) gave advice to Her Majesty's Government which was so simple that I may venture to 923 repeat it. It was, do not legislate until you know. The Government have anted on that advice. Before they have legislated on any subject, they have appointed a Commission to inquire into the subject; they have appointed Commissions to inquire into certain phases of the Irish Question. I wish they had gone a little further, and appointed a Commission to inquire into the effect of a coercive policy as regards Ireland. I think that such a Commission might not unreasonably have been expected to produce a Report which would have included, among other things, four main statements. First, that the policy of coercion has been tried by Lord Spencer and Sir George Trevelyan to its uttermost limits and has failed, and that it is extremely difficult to say whether it is possible to repeat the experiment again; secondly, that it has become so unpopular that, even many Members opposite, seeing its failure demonstrated, have foresworn it as an evil thing, and declared that they will never vote for it again; thirdly, that coercion, whenever it has been tried, has operated merely as a temporary check—it has been possibly one step forward towards the suppression of a temporary outburst, of outrage and crime, but it has always been two steps backwards in the solution of the one great question—how are we to govern Ireland? Fourthly, that this coercive policy has, more than anything else, diminished the security of property in Ireland; that it has done so in this way, it has brought property in Ireland to look for its security to outside influences, and not to inside influences. Internal influences in a country are contentment, satisfaction between class and class, and general prosperity; these act automatically, and outside influences have to be summoned in whenever they are wanted. These outside influences have been brought into requisition in regard to property in Ireland, but can anyone say that, even with Her Majesty's present Government in Office, property in Ireland is as secure at the present moment, and as freely changes from hand to hand, as property in England? If that is so, surely it is because some difficulty is found in calling in outside influences; and because you can never, by outside influences, give the property the same security which is obtained from inside influences and 924 from good government. Now, the Coercion Bill which has been promised will be framed specially and exceptionally to deal with the Plan of Campaign, and, it may be, will succeed. What then? The Plan of Campaign will be succeeded by something else in Ireland, it may be succeeded by a general system of "Boycotting," or by something worse; and Her Majesty's Government must then proceed, if they are consistent, with other exceptional measures to meet other exceptional circumstances. They will get deeper and deeper into the mire, and the result will be that they will possibly, at last, have to be dragged out of the mire with the aid of a rope extended to them by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). Now, Sir, the two policies before this House are the policy contained in the Amendment, and the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The policy embodied in the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Parnell's) Amendment is simply a policy of responsibility. Why should we think that it will fail? Surely, a policy of responsibility has succeeded in England before now, when individual Members have been found transgressing. Hon. Members opposite can think of instances in which violent and injudicious sentiments have been expressed by Members of their own Party, sentiments which have caused not a little anxiety to the Party generally. But I will not pursue that point further, the policy of responsibility has been tested in other countries. We find it has succeeded in Hungary, in the United States, in Switzerland, and elsewhere. It has been said that none of these instances apply to the case of Ireland, because they and it are not on all fours; but none of these were exactly the same as each other. They are as different from each other as the case of England and Ireland is from them; and I think some conclusion may be drawn from this experience. There had been difficulties; but with a different set of conditions to be provided for in the different cases, self - government has succeeded. In Ireland we have a set of conditions and of details for the proposed self-government differing from the conditions and provisions existing in the other cases to which I have referred; but I fail to see why Ireland should not, as all these other countries have done, 925 participate in the advantages that have accrued from being repsonsible for their own Government. The policy of Her Majesty's Government may be roughly described as confidence in itself as a British Government sitting at Westminster; but the question is, whether the country have reason to place confidence in that Government. Was not that the policy they advocated last September? Was it not the one general answer to the Tenants' Relief Bill of the hon. Member for Cork, that, if hardships were likely to arise, confidence should be placed in the Government to set the matter right? What has been the result? Evictions have taken place which have caused a feeling of shrinking and shame to pass through this country, and the Government, while admitting that fact, have endeavoured to throw the responsibility upon others. What does Her Majesty's Government propose to do in regard to the congested districts in Ireland? It is already known that many tenants have pledged their future crops to pay their rent; so that the question must again arise. What is to be done in their case? If confidence is to be placed in the Government, how is it that there is no mention in Her Majesty's Speech of the condition of affairs in the congested districts of Ireland? What I do feel most strongly is that we want this question of Irish Government and of Irish distress realty faced. I believe that it will be best faced by a Land Purchase Bill on good security, and I am convinced that as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) has said to-night, such a Land Purchase Bill can only be made to work through the responsible authorities in Ireland. If an Irish Parliament is not to be allowed to solve the difficulty of congested districts in Ireland, is there any chance that the House of Commons will face the question? In the first place, the House of Commons has not, and never will have, the time, because the exigencies of Parliamentary Government will never leave it the time. It has not the knowledge, as past experience shows, and if it had it is doubtful—looking back to the Devon Commission—whether it would use the knowledge. But if it made an honest attempt to solve the difficulty from the information it has acquired, it is very probable it would fail, as it has 926 continually failed, from not understanding the feelings of the Irish people. There is, consciously or unconsciously, a conviction that the Irish people ought to be in love with emigration, that they ought to be pleased to leave their wretched hovels, and the country where they are so badly off. But from all I have heard of the Irish peasants, that is not the case. Certainly, in trying to carry out any scheme of that kind, the House of Commons lacked tact. From not understanding the feelings of the Irish people, we in Westminster set our hands heavily upon the most tender parts of the Irish character. I believe an Irish Government will be in every way more qualified for the task. Irish Members have proved that they have far more of the necessary knowledge for it than English Members have. They understand the Irish people; and the result of leaving the task to them will, I believe, be the taking up the difficulty of the Irish land with unwavering resolution, with tact, and with a thorough understanding of the Irish people. Ireland will, by degrees, be relieved of some of her misery and distress, and the British Parliament will be free from the strain which is injuring the Constitution, upsetting the Business of the House of Commons, and embittering the feelings of the people of the two countries.
§ COLONEL WARING (Down, N.)
said, he would endeavour, in discussing the question upon its merits, to avoid the exaggeration which had too often characterized speeches with reference to the condition of Ireland, and to speak the truth, without fear or favour. He, unfortunately, laboured under considerable disadvantage; because he did not fulfil any of the conditions which seemed to be usually recognized as a qualification for speaking on Irish subjects in that House. The hon. Member for North-West Lanarkshire (Mr. Graham) had laid it down, as a first qualification, that the speaker should never have been in Ireland. He (Colonel Waring) was free to admit that, as far as he could judge, hon. Gentlemen opposite who spoke upon Ireland usually had that qualification, and derived what knowledge they possessed from having conversed in a railway carriage with a commercial gentleman of more or less intelligence. He wished he could entirely apply the same 927 description to some hon. Gentlemen on his own side; but one speech had been made from those Benches which had convinced him that, not only had the speaker not been in Ireland, but that if he had the advantage of conversing with a commercial traveller he was a singularly unintelligent one, or the hon. Member was strangely slow in receiving information. He (Colonel Waring) had, unquestionably, the misfortune to be one of those grievances which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his followers would remove from Ireland. He was a small landowner; but he was also an Irish tenant farmer, paying a rent of over £200 a-year, and paying a rate per acre which would make some hon. Gentlemen's hats rise off their heads when they knew how heavily he was rack-rented. He was, in fact, one of the down-trodden Irish tenants, of whom so much had been heard, and it was very hard, he thought, that the Plan of Campaign had not been brought to his relief.
§ COLONEL WARING
said, he was sorry to say he had not; but he was carefully attending to what had been done by hon. Members opposite in these cases, and, no doubt, when the hon. Gentleman opposite had instructed him how to go about it, he should receive a reduction. Putting that, however, on one side, he intended to address himself to the one short paragraph of the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork, which spoke of rent abatements which were called for by the state of prices of agricultural and pastoral produce. He thought he should be able to show that the state of prices, if not very greatly exaggerated, had, to some extent, been misstated, and that,in all probability, it would be proved, on careful investigation, that the great depreciation which was alleged to have taken place was, more or less, not borne out by facts. It was far from his wish to deny that a depreciation of a serious character had taken place; but in dealing with a question of this kind, it was only right and fair that they should take a series of years for the purpose of reliable comparison before drawing their conclusions. He did not, therefore, think it unfair to make his calculation on the basis of a comparison of present 928 prices with those of 30 years ago, when a valuation of Ireland, that of Sir Richard Griffith, was taken, which he knew was discredited by many. An average taken of the 36 years previous to, and including 1885, putting one thing against another, showed that the year 1885 was an average year out of those 36 years. A tenant farmer of his acquaintance, and one not strongly in sympathy with the landlords on this subject, had made a valuation of the financial results of cultivating five acres of land with the usual crops in 1852 and 1886. He had made the calculation very carefully as to each crop, and he found that, after making allowances for the increased cost of labour and all the outgoings, the net profit in 1852 was £24 16s. 3d., and in 1886, £28 8s. 11d. No doubt, the Sub-Commissioners had proceeded on a different basis, and statements had been made in that House by the hon. Member for North Meath (Mr. Mahoney), who had been a Sub-Commissioner, which represented that there had been a tremendous fall in prices. He (Colonel Waring) was not prepared to place much confidence in those opinions; for the chief qualification for a Sub-Commissioner had apparently been that he should have previously failed in one or more walks in life. The four or five articles of produce which formed the basis of Griffith's valuation had all, with the exception of wheat, risen from 17 to 57 per cent in 1885; and the articles not included as the basis of Griffith's valuation, but which were largely produced in Ireland, and live stock had, as compared with 1852, risen from 41 to 193 per cent. Taking the 36 years since 1852, the year 1885, as he had said, appeared to be a fair average year. The hon. Member for Cork asserted that prices were still falling. But that he (Colonel Waring) emphatically denied. The only things that could be bought cheaper were hay and straw; and that was because the crops last year were so good that they were equivalent to the crops of two ordinary years. He thought it was clear there had been some exaggeration in regard to the fall in prices, which appeared to him to be assumed without any data on the part of hon. Members opposite, who, to say the least, were interested in the matter. The decline which had occurred in one commodity was not without cause. At- 929 tention had already been called to the matter, and that was the great deterioration in the quality of the young stock offered in the Irish markets. He regretted that it was so, but thought it was largely owing to the fact that the landlords, who usually kept breeding establishments, for the improvement of stock, had been forced by the circumstances of the time to discontinue those establishments, and the result was a deterioration in the quality of the stock. Again, it was said that the tenant should be able to "live and thrive." Nobody would more fully endorse that opinion than he (Colonel Waring); but the question was, What sort of a tenant was meant to be kept at the expense of the landlord? Was it to be a lazy, idle, unintelligent tenant, or was it to be a man of fair and average industry? The question, he thought, ought to be answered by the Nationalist Members at once. The great fault and curse of many of the Irish tenants, and one that existed long before the Land League was established, was the indolent procrastination of the people, and their unwillingness to tackle to a job—the feeling that was expressed in the Spanish manana—the way in which they put off doing what they should immediately apply themselves to, that being locally known as doing a thing, "Please, God, on Monday." Procrastination, in truth, had been largely the cause of what had hapnened in Ireland, and had that been discouraged by what had been done by the late Government? It had not. The legislation of the late Government had held out a premium to the lazy and untidy tenant, to make his land look to the eye of the Sub-Commissioner as unattractive as possible, so that he should obtain a reduction in his rent. Hundreds of such cases had come within his (Colonel Waring's) own personal knowledge. They had heard a great deal about the Glenbeigh evictions—and those evictions were much to be regretted—but it was clear that the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork would not have prevented them. That Bill, as far as he (Colonel Waring) could judge, would only apply to cases in which the tenants had judicial rents fixed. It was not for him to pry into the finances of the National League; but he would only make this remark—that during the past few weeks, although only £200 was sub- 930 scribed for the evicted tenants, no less a sum than £3,000 was subscribed for "general purposes." Was it unreasonable to ask, why more money should not have been given to the evicted people, looking at the funds possessed by the National League? Could not the League, out of that £8,000, even have spared something to assist the landlords? [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh, but he did not think that would have been a misappropriation of the money which had been subscribed for "general purposes." Surely, the loss which had resulted in Ireland from the fall of prices and other causes of the depression of agriculture ought not to be thrown entirely upon the landlords, nor ought the whole class of landlords—the majority of whom, it was admitted, had shown fair consideration to their tenants—to be made to suffer for the harshness or imprudence of a comparative few. The effect of all previous legislation had been to punish the landlords, and it was not too much to ask now that, in any future measures, they might be treated with some show of justice. There was one thing upon which he believed the followers of the hon. Member for Cork would agree with him (Colonel Waring), and that was the question with regard to the thriving and unthriving tenant. Was it fair to blame the landlord for the position of the tenant who would not properly and skilfully cultivate his land? If a case could be shown him (Colonel Waring) in which the tenant had been industrious, and still could not thrive, then, undoubtedly, that was a case in which something should be done for such a person. Another difficulty was, how to ascertain whether the tenant could pay or not. On that point he could throw some light, from an incident which had been mentioned to him. A tenant, one day, came to the office of the agent, it was supposed, to pay his rent. The first thing he did, however, was to assure the agent that he had not a farthing about him, and that the agent, if he persisted in demanding the rent, would have to put the tenant out. After some parley, however, the tenant thought he might just be able to pay a half-year's rent, and that would take from him the last penny that he possessed. The agent then asked to see what the tenant had in his pocket 931 where upon the latter drew forth a bundle of bank notes, and with these the tenant offered to pay the rent. On counting the notes the agent found that they amounted to the full year's rent, and for that he expressed his readiness to give the tenant a receipt. Suspecting that something was wrong, the tenant pulled out a bundle of bank notes from his other pocket, and his consternation might be judged from the fact when he exclaimed—"Sure, I gave you the wrong bundle." The agent, however, got the full rent. Judging from that fact, in his (Colonel Waring's) opinion, a very large proportion of the tenants in Ireland could have paid the rents demanded of them if they thought well to do so. The landlords, certainly, had a hard time of it, and that despite the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), who, in referring to the Report of the Bessborough Commission, entirely acquitted the landlords of any undue harshness towards their tenants. What were the measures now proposed by the hon. Member for Cork? The hon. Member recommended an alteration in the Land system, and a now system of local self-government for the Irish people. He (Colonel Waring) denied that the proposal of the hon. Member would do what he expected from it. It would not remove the evil, and spare the good landlords. It would simply punish good landlords, and secure a reduction in the rent, no matter whether it was high or low. Surely, it was rather hard that the good landlords should suffer for the sins of the "residuum," as the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) called them. Now, they had heard a great deal about evictions; but evictions, he would remind hon. Members opposite, were by no means so peculiar to Ireland as they seemed to imagine. Such things occurred in other parts of the British Empire. Even in the happy hunting-grounds of the United States—which he might call the Land of Goshen of the Nationalist Members, evictions frequently occurred. It would appear from a letter which had been received from a North of Ireland tenant, who had emigrated to the United States, that the system which prevailed in that part of the State of Illinois, where the writer of the letter had settled down, was 932 equally as bad as anything that existed in Ireland. The writer of the letter mentioned the case of a tenant having been evicted from his holding 14 times in 14 years; but no doubt that statement will be received with contemptuous mockery by the Nationalist Members. He might say that he had lived among his own tenants since the Reign of James I. [Laughter.] Since that time his family had resided in Ireland among their tenants, and, although perhaps he ought not to say so, they had always been respected. With regard to evictions, there was very great difficulty in dealing with them; because, in numerous cases, it was impossible to say whether the tenant could pay or not. In many cases they could pay, although they declared they could not. He had been informed also, on good authority, that even some of the Glenbeigh tenants who were evicted could, and would, have paid their rents if they had been advised from certain directions that it was prudent for them to do so. Much had been said about looking at this question of Ireland with regard to the future; but he wanted to look at it in respect to the present, because so far the present state of things had been misrepresented. There was reason to believe that they had touched bottom in Ireland; prices were steadily rising and things were improving, and he trusted that this fact would be recognized. [Mr. BIGGAR: Oh no!] Well, he could tell hon. Members that pork especially was going up. They were told that it was necessary to do something to satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people; and, at the same time, hon. Gentlemen opposite stated that nothing short of the extreme measures proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian could secure that end. But, speaking for himself and for those whom he represented—and these were not the "classes," who, he might add, had given him but little encouragement to enter Parliament—after what they had seen and heard, it would be impossible for him and hon. Members who sat with him on that side of the House to support anything resembling the propositions of the late Prime Minister. They thanked the Government for what they had done in the matter of the Plan of Campaign by way of delaying any proceeding with regard to it, though their 933 action might have been less tardy. In so doing, the Government had given the Nationalist Members an opportunity of uttering sentiments which they had concealed from that House during the discussion of the Tenants' Relief Bill. Had the Government acted more rapidly, they would have lost the declaration made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), when speaking the other day at Castlerea. That hon. Member said, in the course of the speech which he made on that occasion—and he (Colonel Waring) would ask the attention of the House to the words—In the day of our power we will remember them.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I rise to Order. It is not fair for the hon. and gallant Member to take a single expression from my speech, and not give the context. My words were, that—Those who signalize themselves now as enemies of the people, in the day of our power we would remember them.
§ COLONEL WARING
said he had selected a few words used by the hon. Member in the peroration of his speech. If those words were not accurately reported, perhaps the hon. Member would now withdraw them.
§ MR. DILLON
Will the hon. and gallant Member quote my exact words, giving what precedes and what follows?
§ COLONEL WARING
said, he had quoted the hon. Gentleman's own words. He did not think it necessary to read to the House the long and excited oration delivered by the hon. Member on the occasion in question; but the passage from which he quoted was this—Those who have signalized themselves now as the enemies of the people, in the day of our power we will remember them.If the hon. Gentleman did not mean it, of course he could get up in his place and say so.
§ MR. DILLON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has invited me to get up and repudiate or acknowledge those words. I have never the least hesitation in acknowledging any words I have used. What I did say was this. I said that ifMen who signalized themselves by exceeding the law as the enemies of the people, that we would remember them in the days of our power.But I immediately went on to say— 934And if they wished promotion they must go to some other country to look for it,clearly pointing to what I meant by that.
§ COLONEL WARING
said that, in his view, the explanation given by the hon. Member fully confirmed his quotation. The argument he (Colonel Waring) founded upon it was that the affectionate words addressed to his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Saunderson) and himself (Colonel Waring) by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), to the effect that he could not spare a single Irishman, in his speech last night, were practically worthless; because, if the Parnellites only got Home Rule, their first business would probably be to proscribe their opponents, as was done in the Irish Parliament of 1689. The landlords had already been told that all they could expect was first-class tickets to Holy-head. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had warned them that the sands in the glass were running out. Perhaps they might now only get third-class tickets. They had been urged to accept the safeguards and guarantees with which his scheme was to be surrounded. They cared not for those safeguards, and did not believe in the guarantees. There was but one safeguard, one guarantee, upon which they relied, and that was a safeguard, a guarantee, which no Parliament, no Government, had given, and no Parliament, no Government, either Irish or Imperial, could take away.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down has given us a great deal of interesting information. He talked a great deal about the various kinds of residuum, and he has presented himself as a residuum from the distant ages of James I. To such unrivalled experience as his must be, any criticism I can offer will be entirely irrelevant. Therefore, I shall proceed at once to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), for the purpose of supporting which I shall make a few observations. Hon. Members below the Gangway will pardon me for saying that although I have no hesitation at all in supporting this Amendment, it appears to me somewhat colourless and inconsequential. It is inconsequential because it presents the demand for Home Rule apparently as arising entirely out of the agrarian grievances in Ireland. I do not know 935 whether the hon. Member for Cork meant to present it in that way, but for my part I consider there are other classes in Ireland besides the agricultural classes, and that Home Rule is to be supported, not as a remedy for agrarian grievances, but on its own merits, and its own merits alone. I think the hon. Member might have insinuated the scheme of Home Rule with more courage and more detail. That is what I mean by saying I find the Amendment somewhat colourless. In making that somewhat depreciatory criticism, I do so for the purpose of pointing out that it leaves all the less excuse for those Members of the Liberal Party who are going to vote against it. Those Members of the Liberal Unionist Party who are still Liberals ought, I think, to feel themselves at liberty to support it, for the reason that it commits them to so little. For my part I do not hesitate to say, notwithstanding what has been said on the other side about the passing away of Party feeling in this House—I do not hesitate to say that the most extreme scheme of Home Rule that has ever been proposed from the Irish Benches is not a sufficient excuse for any Liberal supporting a Tory Government in power. I say so now also, notwithstanding the comparatively harmless character of the present Tory Government. The present Tory Government might, perhaps, become formidable on one condition, and I think one condition only. In the remarkable apology of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) which was begun ten days ago, and will be resumed, I suppose, six weeks hence, and which, at all events, is not nearly complete—there was one statesmanlike recommendation to his own Party. He said, that the one condition of their continued existence as a body was to combine resistance to Home Rule with a sweeping reforming programme for Great Britain. I do not stop to comment upon the morality of this combination—granting justice to Great Britain, and withholding justice to Ireland—but I recognize that upon ordinary principles that would be a formidable policy if there was any chance of hon. Gentlemen opposite adopting it. I do not believe for a moment that we are going to have from them anything like progressive legislation for Great Britain, or for Ire- 936 land either. Something they may give. They may give us a sham Land Bill, or a sham Allotments Bill, or a sham University Bill, and various other shams which may easily suggest themselves to hon. Members; but I venture to predict that at the end of the Session their culminating achievement in the way of progressive domestic legislation will be the innocent little Bill which the Attorney General has introduced for the purpose of dispensing with the attendance of Registrars at Nonconformists' marriages. I am sorry to see so few of my hon. Friends who are Liberal Unionists in the House, but I venture to offer a remonstrance to those Liberal Unionists who are still Liberals against the line of conduct they propose to take. I do so with less hesitation because I sympathize very strongly with some opinions to which they have given expression. I sympathize very strongly with the one point which I believe is a point of cardinal importance to them—namely, the maintenance of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament in any new relations we may make with Ireland. I am myself free to insist on any conditions in any Home Rule scheme that we make supremacy plain, indisputable, and obvious to all men both on this side the Channel and on the other side of the Channel. My hon. Friend the Member for East Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham), who is a prominent Member of the Liberal Unionist Party, will forgive me for saying, that I have never reconciled myself to the line of action which he, professing the views I know he entertains, and with which I so largely sympathize, took with regard to that measure. What is my hon. Friend's first and last condition about Home Rule for Ireland? Is it not simply that the maintenance of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament should be made plain and indisputable to all and sundry? Well, I venture to remind the House that that condition has been accepted—accepted in terms by the responsible Leader of the Irish Members in this House. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), speaking on the last night of the debate on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill—I wish he had spoken on the first night, because his words would then have had more effect—speaking on the last night of that debate, he said— 937We have always known since the introduction of this Bill the difference between a coordinate and a subordinate Parliament, and we have recognized that the Legislature which the Prime Minister proposes to constitute is a subordinate Parliament.The hon. Member went on to say by way of defence for his own position—There are practical advantages connected with the proposed statutory body.It was not very often indeed that the hon. Member called it a Parliament at all. He was as guarded about that as he was about the Plan of Campaign last night. The hon. Member said—There are practical advantages connected with this proposed statutory body, limited and subordinate to this Imperial Parliament as it undoubtedly will be. "We feel," he said, "that under this Bill the Imperial Parliament will have the ultimate supremacy and the ultimate sovereignty."—(3 Hansard,  1171–2.)That is a most important declaration, because it carries with it not only the admission of the principle for which my hon. Friend contends, but it involves also any detail and any guarantee which my hon. Friend or anybody else may think relevant to the securing of this ultimate and dominating supremacy. I would do my hon. Friend the justice to say that in the late Home Rule Bill there were clauses and provisions which certainly tended to throw some doubt upon the supremacy of Parliament. There was the exclusion, for instance, of the Irish Members from this House—an exclusion which was repudiated not by the Irish Members themselves, but almost unanimously by the people of Great Britain—simply from an instinctive sense that by excluding these Members the moral authority of this Parliament might be to some extent impaired. I give my hon. Friends credit for all that, and I go further and say that so far as the main purpose is concerned I agree with them. By the supremacy of Parliament, however, I am not quite sure they mean the same as I do. I mean the supremacy of the House of Commons. That the House of Commons should be as supreme after the passing of the Home Rule Bill as it is now is one of the necessary conditions of the settlement of the Irish problem. But while this Parliament is, I hope, to be supreme in Ireland, whatever legislative changes may be brought about, I do not think that it is at all necessary that the House of Commons, 938 or any other branch of the Legislature, should be perpetually interfering in Irish affairs. I think the one conclusive test of the success of a Home Rule scheme would be absolute absence from interference on the part of this Parliament with the management of Irish affairs by an Irish Parliament. That is what I look upon as the necessary test of the success of any such scheme. The Liberal Unionists on this point appear to me to be under the domination of what I may call a master fallacy. They appear to believe—and, indeed, it is the sole logical ground of their position—that there is no alternative between constant interference on the part of the Imperial Parliament and a supremacy which shall be merely nominal. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), is the political philosopher of the Liberal Unionist Party. He made a speech the other day at Manchester, in which, as usual, he gave expression to the favourite fallacies of his section. I want to cull a few flowers of fallacy from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The first is this. He says—"We must either govern and guide Ireland or we must give it up." That is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own remark. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's is not a very original mind, but this remark comes from Lord Derby, one of his Colleagues. Lord Derby, in the various Parties to which he has belonged, has been throughout nearly the whole of his adult life the Member of a Government which has been engaged in attempting to govern and guide Ireland. Has he succeeded? Has any Party of which he has been a Member succeeded in governing and guiding Ireland? If this wise maxim, which was laid down with all solemnity by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, is true, what is the conclusion to which history compels us to yield but this—that Lord Derby and his kind, the members of the governing classes, having failed to govern and guide Ireland, we must give it up. Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman speaks, in this Manchester speech, of what he calls the impossibility of foreign and external management being with one Power and internal management with another. That is what he says is an impossibility, and he gives a 939 practical example, derived from his own impression, of how this impossibility would work out, because, he says, under a Home Rule scheme you could not call out the international obligations involved in an extradition treaty. When I read this remark of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I wondered whether he had ever heard of such a community as the United States of America. I never looked upon the United States as a foreign nation in regard to this matter. They have our own language, our own laws, our own institutions, and they have applied these to their own conditions in ways which in many cases we might well imitate. But in the United States, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had desired to state in a sentence that which is the keynote if not the essence of the system, he could not have chosen words other than he used. The very essence of the whole system is that foreign and external management is given to one power, and that internal management is given to another power. The Federal power with which we deal in the matter of extradition is confronted on every side in the Union with, I will not say a hostile power in the shape of a State Government, but an independent, an exclusive power—a power which can and does say to it, "Thus far shalt thou come, and no farther." That example, which I think ought to have been known to all intelligent students of politics, should have been sufficient to warn the right hon. and learned Gentleman from committing himself to general propositions of so astounding a character as that to which I have alluded. I should like to ask what Member of the Liberal Party has ever committed himself to a scheme of Home Rule which would prevent us from carrying out our international treaty obligations. I for one have no such intention, and I do not believe that any Members of the Party with which I act have any intention whatever of assenting to a scheme which would weaken in the least degree the power of the Imperial Government for the fulfilment of all Imperial obligations. Let my hon. Friends who dissented from the last scheme, but who agree with us on the general principle, come forward and submit to us and to the Irish Party whatever scheme they may think best intended to secure the object which they profess to have in view—namely, maintaining the strength 940 and supremacy of the Imperial Parliament—and I am certain no reasonable device for this purpose will be objected to by hon. Members on this side. I regard it as an essential part of a Home Rule scheme that we should maintain our Imperial strength and supremacy; and I deny that either by us or by any section of this House the consideration of any proposal whatever is precluded by anything that has passed in this House or outside it. Before I sit down I want to say one or two words about what I may describe as the other extreme view in the Liberal Party on this question. I am sorry to observe that atttempts have been made on the part of a section of the Liberal Party to drive the Liberal Unionists of alt shades out of the Liberal Party. With that attempt I cannot sympathize. The chief offender in this campaign against all Liberal Unionists has been the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). That hon. Gentleman in recent times has been going up and down the country raging like a roaring lion, seeking what Liberal Unionist he might devour. He has been assuming to speak in the name of the whole Radical Party. He has been dictating what he calls conditions of surrender to those Members of the Liberal Party who do not agree with him and us on this question of Home Rule. For my part, I do not recognize the hon. Member for Northampton as entitled to speak with the authority which he assumes. I do not regard him as entitled to set up shibboleths of any kind to the Liberal Party. I recognize in all political matters but one Leader, to whose unrivalled experience and unparalleled services I should always be willing to yield my own judgment on almost any political question. I can accept the word of command from no sub-leader, and I recognize in no such sub-leader the right to drive out of the Liberal Party those who say—and say honestly—that, notwithstanding their divergence from us on this question, they are still in all essential respects Members of the Liberal Party. I distrust extremely the extravagance and dictatorial tone assumed, not only by the hon. Member for Northampton, but by some other Members from whom we might have expected better things. I distrust that hon. Member very much, as Mr. Newdegate, formerly a Member 941 of this House, used to distrust the late Mr. Whalley, whom he regarded as a Jesuit in disguise. I sometimes think that so determined is the hon. Member to prevent reunion that he is in secret a Conservative. His action, if he succeeds, will delay Home Rule by delaying the reunion of the Liberal Party. There are among the Liberal Unionists many who, but for this misunderstanding on the question of Imperial supremacy, would have voted for Home Rule last Session; and who will vote for it next time if that is made clear in the sense of the words of the hon. Member for Cork. My view is that so far as Liberals are concerned the present is a time for conciliation—I do not say for compromise, but for conciliation. This great question of Home Rule for Ireland bristles with difficulties of all kinds. Our great difficulties will be the difficulties of detail. What is dreaded more than anything else is not that this Government is going to stop the way very much longer. I have no belief in their stability. I have no such belief, notwithstanding that they have the sure support of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), and the very uncertain, unsteady, and stumbling and staggering support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). Nor have I much belief in the conversion of the ultra section of the Liberal Unionists. I am addressing not so much those who follow the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale as those who owe allegiance neither to him nor to the right hon. Gentleman. The extremists among the Liberal Unionists are perishing before our very faces. The extreme section is day by day breaking up. It is perishing by what I may call a slow and gradual process of suicide. Their champion—the champion of all England—who presented himself as such to the people of Liverpool last week, presented himself last night in Hanover Square as a Tory. He is one of their champions gone over to the Tories. That is not all. There is an election in the North of Ireland. The Liberal Unionists have a candidate of their own, and one of them, being in trouble about his political soul, has consulted the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale. And what is the noble Lord's answer? Is it to vote for 942 the Liberal Unionist? No; it is to vote for the Conservative. Therefore I say the extreme section of the Liberal Unionist Party is melting away, and merging itself gradually in the Party which for the time being is represented by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I do not believe that such a Government, with such a policy, with such principles, can stop the way very much longer against any kind of reform. What I rather dread is that Power will be upon us before we are ready for it—before we have recognized, much less considered, one tithe of the practical difficulties with which the Irish Question is surrounded. Therefore it is I have ventured, in a spirit of perfect loyalty to Home Rule and the Liberal Party, to protest against the exclusive and dictatorial policy which has been taken up by some hon. Members. I think their policy is a mistake. I think they should welcome all to the solution of this question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said very truly the other day that this question could not be settled except by accepting contributions from all minds. I would add we should invite the experience of all peoples and all times. I am for conciliation. I do not want to break that Round Table and burn it. The Leeds Conference put forward this plank in its platform—that no scheme of Home Rule would be satisfactory to them which would not satisfy the Irish people. I accept that principle heartily. I venture to suggest that it should be extended. I hope the time may come when the Irish people will say that no scheme of Home Rule will be satisfactory to them which is not satisfactory also to the people on this side of the Channel; and I believe that time will come. I do not believe this question is beyond the political genius of this country to solve. I believe that in the fulness of time a solution will come; and my heartiest desire and prayer is that, in the end, there shall be added to the majority of the Irish people, and the majority of the Welsh people and Scotch people, who have already declared for Home Rule—I hope there will be added the majority of the English people also.
§ MR. H. S. WRIGHT (Nottingham, S.)
Notwithstanding the speech which has just been delivered by the hon. Member opposite, I cannot forget the 943 forcible speech, delivered last night by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse), which certainly gave no promise of surrender on the part of the Liberal Unionists. Whatever the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) may appear to be at first sight—however warily and ambiguously it is worded—there can be no doubt whatever that its aim is a separate Parliament for Ireland, which is to bring about a final separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom. It was the same question that was before us last summer, and was rejected by all who desire to seethe Union maintained. What we all desire to see is the restoration of prosperity to Ireland. But how is Home Rule going to give prosperity to Ireland? The hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) has told us that there are about 150,000 holdings in Ireland under five acres, and he said "Make them ten acres." That might be a very good thing to do, but would it not involve a series of evictions in regard to some of the existing tenants? The hon. Member also appealed to the Government to carry out the "Dartford programme" by developing the resources of the country, especially its drainage systems and fisheries. I maintain that the present Government have all along intended, as soon as it was practicable, to carry out the programme laid down by the noble Lord the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to give to Ireland all it needs to increase its prosperity and to develop its resources. But I say that the intentions of the Government have been blocked by the conduct of the Irish Nationalist Party in instituting the Plan of Campaign. I trust that the hon. Members opposite will see that if they desire to do justice to their own country, as well as to Her Majesty's Government, the Government ought to be afforded a chance of doing something for the restoration of prosperity in Ireland. Unfortunately, the land question in Ireland is inextricably mixed up with trade questions, and I maintain that the trade of Ireland materially suffers from the one-sided system of Free Trade which has been introduced into that country. No doubt in former days England destroyed the trade of Ireland. Free Trade has destroyed Irish industries, and we are doing the same in regard to our own industries in favour of foreign nations. If 944 there were a separate Parliament in Ireland, one of the first uses to which Home Rule would be put would be to give protection to Irish manufactures, but I fear it would be protection against England. For my part, I should like the whole British Empire to be mutually protected against free goods from foreign manufacturers. In England the land question is a great question, as well as in Ireland. We have many tenants who are suffering quite as much as the Irish tenants. If we could only restore trade and prosperity to Ireland the Land Question would soon, to a great extent at all events, solve itself. Last night, the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) made some remarks which I could neither agree with nor altogether understand. He said that the Government must have "clean hands" in dealing with Ireland. Now I thought that the present Government were being blamed for having, if anything, done too much in the excess of their benevolence. Their action was dictated by the interests of humanity, and who will blame them for what they did? I hope to see trade and commerce brought back again to Ireland under the influence of wise legislation, but no one has ventured to say what good Home Rule, or a separate legislature, would do for Ireland in the way of bringing about a revival of trade. Will it make better crops, or ensure to the tenants better prices for their butter and other commodities? Do hon. Members think that it would encourage British or any other capital to go to Ireland? [Mr. BIGGAR: We do not want it.] I am of opinion that in order to develop the trade of Ireland a good deal of capital would be required, but hon. Members opposite seem to know better. An hon. Member said the other night, in reference to the Bill of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), that the proposals which the right hon. Gentleman brought forward last year almost wrought a miracle in the constituencies of the United Kingdom. Yes, Sir; but it was a miracle of conversion on the part of the right hon. Gentleman himself, who, in the short space of a few months gave up all the convictions of a long life, but, nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman says that he is not even converted yet to Separation, but is desirous of preserving 945 the union of the two Kingdoms. The real object of hon. Members opposite is separation, and that we are prepared to resist. They seem to speak in two voices. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) has interpreted one of the two voices with which hon. Members opposite have spoken. They have one voice when speaking in England, and another in Ireland. They have even a stronger voice when speaking in America, but a different voice altogether in this House. In Ireland they speak their minds; but in England they speak in a mild, hushed and dove-like voice; and the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary seems to have listened only to the soft, mild voice of conciliation, and to have closed his ears resolutely to that other voice. I maintain, however, that it is the utterances in Ireland and America which we are justified in regarding as the true utterances of hon. Members opposite, and as representing the true meaning of the Irish Nationalist Party. Those utterances in the face of all they have proclaimed as their demands for so long a time past I cannot disbelieve. I will not detain the House longer; but I wished to make these observations upon the Amendment, because I am of opinion that whatever may be said about its conciliatory tone, the one issue raised by it is no more nor less than that of the continuance of the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, or the entire separation of Ireland from Great Britain.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
said, Mr. Speaker, I almost regret that the Motion for counting the House was made, and I doubly regret it now, because I see departing from the House the hon. and gallant Member for North Down (Colonel Waring), who of himself may be regarded as representing more than 40, inasmuch as he has told us that he concentrates within himself the whole of a great race since the time of James I. [Colonel WARING returned to his seat.] I was delighted to hear the tone in which the hon. and gallant Member spoke to-night, and I shall be doubly delighted to hear that tone more frequently repeated on both sides 946 of the House. I maintain that it is quite pertinent to the Amendment to express a hope that as far as possible hereafter there may be the same conciliatory tone of language between the Irish Members on this side of the House and those on the other, as there is between the Irish and English Members. Passing, however, from that matter I must confess my astonishment that the hon. and gallant Member for North Down has not been able to see that which has been apparent to the rest of the world—namely, that there has been a large fall in the prices of produce.
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON
The hon. and gallant Member says that the fall in prices has been exaggerated. May I remind him that his hon. and gallant Colleague (Colonel Saunderson), the Leader of his Party, as they are pleased to call it, has actually given a reduction of something like 25 per cent upon the fall of prices. Several others have done the same thing.
§ COLONEL WARING
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but if he will wait until the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh is in his place he will probably find that he is mistaken.
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON
I was really speaking in no antipathy with the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, but I will readily take any correction from my hon. and gallant Friend. This however, is not a mistake—namely, that the Unionists who profess that the unity of England and Ireland must be maintained, and that the Legislative Union which exists between England and Ireland must also be maintained upon its present footing—some of the Unionists who have spoken in this House have admitted that there has been such a thing as a depreciation of prices. Formerly some of them maintained that there had been no fall of prices, but they had since then given a reduction to their own tenants, and have thereby acknowledged the depreciation which we have alleged. We have been informed that wool was going up, and we are told to-night that the price of pork has gone up, and, therefore, that there is no agricultural depreciation. I do not know what may have affected the price of pork, perhaps the Liverpool 947 election may have had something to do with it; but it is well known that there has been no general improvement in agricultural prices. Hon. Members cannot deny that with regard to a large class of tenants whose holdings have been under discussion in the course of this debate—the class of tenants engaged in the production of small stock, that within the last three years there has been a reduction in the price of two-year-old stock of at least 70 per cent. The hon. and gallant Member opposite appears to assent to that. It has been sought to divert the debate from its real merits by discussing the question of congested districts. I think it is only fair to remember what was stated by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) last night, that the lines and boundaries of the congested districts are conterminous with the mountainous sea-coasts of the poorer localities. There has been an enormous fall in the price of the stock reared in those districts. A great deal has been said already in this House, at a time when I had no opportunity of listening to it, on the subject of the Glenbeigh evictions. I feel that, important as the question is, I almost owe an apology to the House for attempting to enter at any length into the question again. I will promise the House not to say much upon it, but I feel that it is necessary to revert to it shortly because, although it has been clearly gone into and put before the House in a very able manner, there seem to be some points which have not been grasped by hon. Members, who appear to be either wilfully blind or to possess a peculiarly defective vision on any special Irish subject. Glenbeigh is what hon. Members opposite have been pleased to describe as a congested district. I am able to assert that there has been a fall of between 60 and 70 per cent within the last few years in the price of produce in that district; and if that is so I would ask hon. Members how it is possible that the people in such a district in Ireland can pay the present high rents that are demanded from them? I do not speak especially of Glenbeigh; but I warn you that there will be many Glenbeighs in Ireland if you do not pay attention to the arguments which are put forward on this side of the House in support of the Amendment. All through the congested districts, that is, all through the moun- 948 tainous coast-line of Ireland, there has been a failure in the fishing interest and an enormous fall in the price of the small stock reared and sold in these districts. The consequence has been that the people have been really in touch-and-go with starvation, and if the spirit of the Amendment is not accepted by the House and the Government, I maintain that you will have many repetitions of the awful scenes which it has been recently my painful duty to witness in Glenbeigh. I am not very well qualified to speak on the question of prices, but I think it will not be denied by hon. Members on either side of the House that in regard to the one item of stock in the agricultural districts of Ireland there has been in the last three years a fall of from £6 10s. to £2 10s. Consequently, if the rents fixed by the Commissioners were just three years ago, it follows that such rents are unjust now, and that it is unjust not only for the landlord to claim them, but for this House to back up his claim by British bayonets. It has been asserted that the Irish Sub-Commissioners who have had to deal with the fixing of rent were selected for that task for the reason that they had no particular aptitude for any other line of life, and, therefore, might well be appointed Land Commissioners. It is a notable fact that the only honourable exception was the case of my hon. Friend the Member for North Meath (Mr. Mahony); and it is also a fact that one of the first acts of the Government was to discharge my hon. Friend—the only man who was equal to the work the Sub-Commissioners were appointed to do. That is a specimen of the Government of Ireland, and it must be remembered that the Amendment we are dealing with to-night rests entirely, but nevertheless strongly, on the question of the Government of Ireland. I own I was somewhat surprised at the unfortunate criticism of the Amendment by an hon. Member on the Liberal Benches a short time ago, when he stated that he thought the pith of the Amendment was to put the agricultural question in the foreground, and then to declare that Home Rule follows as a necessary consequence from the agricultural difficulties of Ireland. Now I do not read the Amendment in that light; but I think that it speaks fairly and clearly for itself. The Amendment runs 949 in these words, and I hope I may he permitted to read it in the light of the comments which the hon. Member has passed upon it. The words are these—But humbly to represent to Her Majesty that the relations between the owners and occupiers of land in Ireland have not been seriously disturbed in the cases of those owners who have granted to their tenants such abatements of rents as are called for by the state of prices of agricultural and pastoral produce: and that the remedy for the existing crisis in Irish agrarian affairs is not to be found in increased stringency of criminal procedure, or in the pursuit of such novel, doubtful, and unconstitutional measures as have recently been taken by Her Majesty's Government in Ireland, but in such a reform of the law and the system of government as will satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people.Sir, we do not claim that Home Rule is to be a specific remedy for agricultural distress and for the agrarian difficulties of Ireland; but what we do assert is that Home Rule is an alternative which ought to place itself before the minds of Her Majesty's Ministers far and away in preference to the specific they are proposing—namely, the reform of criminal procedure in Ireland. No doubt, it is painful to come here, after labouring in vain, as we did last year, to induce Her Majesty's Government to grant to us a partial and temporary measure, because we believe that if that measure had been accepted the people of this country and Parliament would have been in a better mood for doing justice to Ireland. It is painful for us, after all the promises we got then of immediate attention to the grievances of Ireland and of remedial measures, to ask you for bread, and to receive only a stone, and a promise of further chains. We have had enough of chains and coercion in Ireland. During the last 87 years 56 measures of coercion have been passed for Ireland, and Parliament is now asked, in the year of Her Majesty's Jubilee, to pass another Coercion Act. Very recently we had circulars flying all over the land, at the instance of one who in the course of nature will probably succeed to the Throne, inviting the loyalty and affectionate regard of the people of this country and of Ireland towards the Sovereign to be exhibited in the celebration of Her Majesty's Jubilee. Sir, as an Irishman, I should be very ungallant if I did not wish to the Gracious Lady who fills the Throne many happy returns of the year, and 950 that all domestic happiness may attend her in the Jubilee which is now about to be celebrated; but while we have the best wishes towards Her Gracious Majesty, we cannot forget the wives, the sisters, and the daughters of those among whom we have been bred and reared. We wish for them some alleviation of the hard life they have had to endure; and we say to this House, to the British people, and to the world, that there can only be a partial demonstration of loyalty from the Irish people so long as Her Majesty's Jubilee is being celebrated by the burning of the roof-trees over the heads of our impoverished people. I am very sorry to say that the present Government of Ireland does not belie the traditions of those which have preceded it. The present Government is dangerous to England. It is shocking the sensibilities of the world, and it will continue to do so, so long as the appeals which are made to it from these Benches in earnestness and sincerity are treated with contemptuous indifference. The Amendment raises the question of the novel and unconstitutional methods by which the government of Ireland has been carried on. I have great respect for the arguments which have been put forward, upon both sides of the House, in reference to the humanity and consideration of the Government; but I appeal to hon. Members to listen to what I am going to say upon that subject. If it be right for the Chief Secretary to display humanity and consideration, and if it be right for the House to endorse it, then, in God's name, why not legalize humanity and consideration, and make humane and considerate laws for Ireland, or give the Irish people the opportunity of making such laws for themselves. I shall probably be met by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite with the assertion that they are ready to make such laws; but we have to judge them by their acts. When we brought forward, last year, a Bill whose mainspring was humanity and consideration for those who were unable to pay the rents demanded of them, how was it met by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite? The Bill of the hon. Member for Cork was rejected. I think it was as honest a measure as could fairly be put forward for the acceptance of this House. There were no rights to be abolished, no privi- 951 leges to be curtailed; but the essence of the Bill was that in cases where the tenants were manifestly unable to pay their rents, if those tenants came forward and paid half a-year's rent, until, upon inquiry, it was found out what they really ought to pay, they should not be evicted. A great deal of eulogium has been passed on the conduct of the Chief Secretary, in which some kind friends of ours have joined; but I would say that if the Government are prepared in this House to sanction the recent action of their Chief Secretary in Ireland, and of all those who have acted under him, how was it that the Government which boasts that it was a kindly act—an act of kind and generous consideration—how was it that they did not legalize that kind consideration, and make it the law of the land, instead of allowing men to be flung out on the road-side, and the industry of their lives confiscated in a moment? It has been stated that if the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork had been passed it would not have affected such cases as those which have been referred to in this House. I grant that in the form in which it was presented to the House it would not have covered the case of the Glenbeigh tenantry; but I would remind hon. Gentlemen that when the Bill was presented to the House they wore only asked, in voting for or against it, to say whether the essence of the Bill was good or bad—whether the principle was good in itself. If the second reading had been assented to, it could Lave been amended so as to cover the whole ground that was desired. I have no doubt that if hon. Members who now criticize the shortcomings of the Bill had only voted for the second reading, and indicated the direction in which it ought to be extended, we should have met them in a very liberal spirit; but when it is stated that the landlords have acted with consideration for their tenants in Ireland, when it has recently been stated by the noble Lord the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer that the case of the Glenbeigh tenants was an evidence of the consideration of the Irish landlords; I felt on reading those statements at the scene of the evictions by the light of the burning and demolished cabins of these poor people, that there was in them something akin to what Shakespeare has told us, and which I will slightly para- 952 phrase by saying that "the smoke of the Glenbeigh huts came between the wind and his nobility." The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) probably thought that his resignation would occupy the attention of the House for the whole of the present Session, and he felt indignant that such an unimportant matter as the demolition of a dozen houses of the poor people of Ireland, and the eviction of some score of tenants, should for a moment divert that attention which he considered ought to be bestowed upon him. All I can say is that I fail to see the humanity of the assertion which the noble Lord has made. If hon. Members want information on the matter, let me point out to them that the Arrears Act was passed to cancel outstanding debts which had become due in regard to small and impoverished estates; but the fact is that the landlords, by their action, have prevented many of the tenants from availing themselves of the benefit of the Arrears Act, and of giving them the option of starting afresh and paying what rent they could pay upon their holdings. The result is that these tenants have been represented to this country as being so dishonest as to owe five and six years' arrears of rent. No doubt, it was the fact in 1883, the Glenbeigh tenants had fallen into two or three years' arrear; they were all evicted from the property, and the first knowledge they had of the Arrears Act was when, at one fell swoop, some 300 persons were rendered homeless. When I have myself seen the wives of evicted tenants nursing their tender infants beneath the bleak hill-side, their only shelter having been taken from them, I think it will be allowed that if I had not done my best to secure the sympathy of the public for their sufferings, I would no longer be able to claim as my own the commonest feelings of humanity. I have been blamed for interfering in the case of the Glenbeigh evictions; but grosser interference has been practised by the Government, as, for instance, when Captain Plunkett interfered to get certain rents reduced. These people, who have been evicted for two or three years' arrears of rent, have had the Crimes Act put in force against them. If they attempted to retake possession of their homes they were prosecuted. Let me mention one instance, to show how a coercion law works in 953 Ireland. While the tenant and his family who had been evicted were sheltering themselves in the cow-house of another tenant, upon a certain windy day in the month of November, 1884, the tenant saw the thatch being blown off of the house which he had occupied. That tenant, acting from impulse, seeing that it was the house in which he had been born, the house which probably might shelter him again, and which in reality has done so, obtained a ladder and proceeded to place some stones on the thatch to prevent it being blown away. There was an Emergency man on the premises and some police inside. The evicted tenant was arrested and prosecuted, and he received two months' imprisonment under the Crimes Act. I can verify the fact, because I had the privilege of serving for six months in the same prison, and I saw this man in gaol. I have no comment to make upon my own case. I do not ask for the sympathy of any hon. Member opposite; but I may tell them that I am free from crime in the matters which were imputed to me at the time of my conviction; and even if all which was charged against me was correct, it would not have warranted the extraordinary punishment meted out to me. I may add that the Crown Prosecutor met me some hours after, and he expressed his utter shame at the proceedings in which he had been forced to take part. My case, however, was nothing in comparison to that of this poor tenant, who was sentenced to two months' imprisonment for no other crime than that of saving the property of his landlord. Sir, I think the instance which I have given will show to this House that, in the words of the Amendment, strange, novel, and unconstitutional measures are likely to be resorted to by Her Majesty's Government, because they have already resorted to very strange methods in previous years. My hon. Friend the Member for Cork read a few sentences from one of the most extraordinary letters which has ever been given to the public in recent years, in connection with the government of Ireland. It is a letter written by Judge Curran, the County Court Judge of Kerry, to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Killarney, complaining of the course pursued by the parish priest of Glenbeigh. It will be said of Judge Curran, that he is one of the links in the 954 chain of consideration which the Chief Secretary for Ireland is said to have manufactured recently for the Government of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman set aside the voice of Parliament, and, apparently, the voice of the Cabinet, because his action in no way tallies with the words of the Marquess of Salisbury. He appears to have relied upon General Buller, Colonel Turner, and County Court Judge Curran for the administration of law in Ireland, and to have carried that administration out in the most unconstitutional manner. In the first place, I maintain that it was unconstitutional to tamper with the Judges of the land. It is part of the British Constitution itself, that no Judge of the land can be removed from his position, except by a Joint Address from both Houses of Parliament to Her Majesty, and it would require the commission of a very gross offence to necessitate such a proceeding. A short time ago, certain legal gentlemen gloried in the title of Chairman of Quarter Sessions; but they were recently raised to the title and dignity of County Court Judges. There was one of these gentlemen in Kerry, a Mr. O'Connor Morris, who, although of some literary ability, was not, I believe, considered to be one of the most capable Judges, or, perhaps, I ought to say he was rather too capable. Where an ordinary Judge confined himself to the delivery of one judgment in the course of a case, it was no unfrequent occurrence for Judge O'Connor Morris to deliver four, and, on some occasions, even a fifth. For time out of mind, it had been a grievance that he should be in Kerry, and, some time ago, I believe that he himself applied for his removal, but the late Irish Lord Chancellor (Sir Edward Sullivan) said, "Let him stick there; you are more used to him than we are, and why inflict him on another county?" But although his application was rejected at that time, Her Majesty's Government have since thought fit to inflict him upon another county. When General Buller went down to Kerry, he seems to have arrived at the conclusion that Judge Morris was too much of a "Paddy, go easy" for these days, and there is no doubt that he instantly wrote to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and asked him, for goodness' sake, to send down another Judge, whom they could 955 do something with. Judge Curran was accordingly sent to Kerry, and Judge Morris was shunted off to another county. When Judge Curran went into the County of Kerry, he went in with a flourish of trumpets, telling all the tenants to come into his Court and he would give them splendid reductions. He said that he did not wish that the League should go into his Court, but he would do everything for them himself. Almost simultaneously with the advent of Judge Curran was the advent of the new agent of the Glenbeigh property—a Mr. Roe, of Dublin—who has signalized himself by his recent barbarities. He called upon the tenants of Glenbeigh to pay five, six, and in some cases seven years' arrears of rent due from them. Hon. Members will probably think this a singular demand to make, when I assert that, legally, not one-half of these arrears were due, and, morally, none of them. These tenants had been evicted three years ago, when the Arrears Act, if availed of, might have cut away one-half of the arrears that were supposed to be owing at the time of their late eviction. There were emergency caretakers employed to prevent them from re-entering their farms, and they were several times prosecuted, fined, and imprisoned for re-entering them. These are the men who have been described as having been in full possession of their farms for six and seven years; that, as I have said, accounts for three years. How about the first three years? If that estate had been in the normal condition of other estates, the landlord or the land agent would have said, when he saw that it was hopelessly impossible to extract three years, that he would take the gale and get a contribution from the Government which would have wiped off the arrears, as has been done in other parts of Ireland. Surely that disposes of both the legal and the moral obligations of these tenants. I believe that if I could capitalize the results of the industry and the exertions of these poor people upon that stony and wretched soil for generations, it would realize sufficient to buy out the fee-simple of a farm on the richest plain in England. Well, Sir, the case of these tenants came before County Court Judge Curran. Some 70 decrees were obtained, and what was the actual state of the case? The 956 land agent had offered to take a year's rent which was proposed to be credited to the tenants up to the 1st of November 1885, leaving them still one year in arrear, and then all the other arrears were to be wiped off. I do not think that that was a very generous offer, although it has been put forward as such by those who have spoken on the landlords' side of the question. Many of the tenants did not go into Court, because they believed it was utterly impossible to improve their condition, and they thought that the same powers were inherent in the County Court Judge as in his Predecessor. They said—"We owe five or six years' rent, which we will be called upon to pay, and we have no defence." Some of them who were more 'cute than the rest, went there, and they found that Judge Curran had a new method of administering the law in Ireland. When the tenants presented themselves in Court, Judge Curran called the first man up and said—"Will you pay a year of the arrears of rent and costs?" The tenant said—"I cannot do it." Judge Curran then said—"Then I shall have to issue a decree against you for the entire arrears"; whereupon the tenant said—"I had better take the smaller evil of the two, and you had better decree me for one year's arrears." This is represented to have been the consent of the tenants; whereas 10 of the tenants were coerced into making that agreement. The County Court Judge kept his decrees in his pocket. It was his duty then and there to have signed them, and to have sent them off in the ordinary way; because, after all, he was only performing the functions conferred upon him by the law. He has no power to abridge or alter the law, and I assert here that neither has he any power of arbitration. His only duty is to administer the law. He withheld the decrees, kept them in his pocket, and actually afterwards, in collusion with General Buller, the pet, the joy, and the gallant soldier of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who was sent down to put down Moonlighting and cope with crime in Kerry—I am sorry to say that he has left crime very much as he found it, and that he only concerned himself with meddling with the County Court Judge and the tenants—in collusion with General Buller, Judge Curran brought the decrees down from one year to half- 957 a-year, altering the date of payment from the 1st of November 1885, up to the 1st of May 1886, thereby blotting out a considerable portion of the rental of the estate of an Irish landlord. Will the hon. Gentleman opposite say that that is not a novel and unconstitutional method, at all events, of dealing with the landlords of Ireland. Let me not be mistaken or misunderstood. If it had entered into the mind of Judge Curran or General Buller to wipe off all the arrears, and to start the tenants afresh with fair judicial rents, I should have been the first to applaud their act; but it is because the arrangement was a mere mechanical one, nottaking into consideration the wants, the wishes, and the capabilities of these people; and because the people have been punished for not abiding by it, that I now protest against the course which has been pursued against the tenants of Glenbeigh. I trust that, with the assistance of sympathetic friends, we shall all be able to make a repetition of such scenes impossible in any part of Ireland. I do not think it is necessary that I should refer further to that special matter; but I propose to deal, in a few short sentences, with the political aspect of this question. An hon. Member on the other side of the House—I believe it was the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth)—some time ago remarked that when the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) made a joke, it was as readily appreciated on these Benches as upon those opposite; and now I ask the hon. Member, when he said that Irish Members understand each other, to follow up his assertion to its logical conclusion by sending the Irish Members to their own country in order that they may frame laws on subjects which they understand better than hon. Members here. The hon. Member also said that hon. Members opposite had been visibly impressed, not with standing their hostility to us, by the pathetic appeals which have proceeded from this side of the House. That is a further reason why they should give their countenance to the policy I am advocating. The hon. and gallant Member for North Down (Colonel Waring), a short time ago, said he was doubtful whether, in these days, it was an honour to be an Irishman. I am afraid it is one of those honours which 958 will stick closer to that hon. and gallant Member than even the military honours which, I am sure, he has worthily received. He cannot attempt to deny that he is an Irishman; and, to demonstrate his nationality, he indulged tonight in what even we Irishmen regarded as a glorious "bull." The hon. and gallant Member said that he had been in his farm since the reign of James I. I have no desire to wish the hon. and gallant Member out of it in a hurry; if there ever be a James XXI., I hope he may still be found there. As if to prove their nationality, the hon. and gallant Member for North Down and the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh always indulge in this kind of "bull," and whenever either of them rises to speak, we are sure to have a "prize bull" from one or other of them. The hon. Member for Salford has expressed an opinion that Irishmen if left to themselves best understand each other. Then, in Heaven's name, why do hon. Members opposite not let us do it? The hon. Member drew a singular conclusion from that position. He said that hon. Members on those Benches understood the Irish people, and that there are Members on this side who also understand the Irish people. They both understand them well; but he went on to say—"When you want to deal with an Irish question, keep every Irish Member on both sides out of it." I was greatly impressed with the clear and the intellectual argument of the hon. Member that, because Irish Members, who hold different views, yet mutually understand one another, and mutually understand their country, therefore they should be entirely prevented from having a voice in legislating for that country within the walls of this House. Why should this House studiously refrain from consulting the Irish Members, and getting information from them, in preference to obtaining it from some stray commercial traveller they might pick up in a railway carriage. I was glad to find that, during the last autumn and winter, many hon. Members went over to Ireland and made inquiries on the spot into the condition of the tenants and the character of the proceedings against them. I can testify to the fact, because I saw them myself in the West. I rejoice that such a policy has been resorted to—a policy of real 959 examination and inquiry of those who complain of grievances. It is one which I believe will he the means of securing the salvation of the country and of restoring to us that legislative independence which is ours by right and by moral and divine law. Hon. Members have been paying visits to Kerry, which have not been mere transitory visits like the 24 hours' expedition of the right hon. Gentleman the present First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith). It is not by a visit of that kind, but by a process of thorough inquiry into the facts and into the actual condition of the people, that Liberal Members of the British House of Commons have come back to this country surcharged with real knowledge of the state of affairs. It will require a little time for that knowledge to be diffused throughout the country; but when it is diffused I believe the electorate will rise up and demand and compel justice to Ireland. But whether that be so or not, whether the voice of this country shall, in the near future, order you to do justice to Ireland, or whether this House will be gradually weaned from the voice of justice, our mission here is to speak the voice of our country, telling you that the Irish people have been grievously wronged, and that wrongs which some of you think have departed into the domain of ancient history, are still being daily perpetrated and will continue unless you establish the means of doing justice on the spot by men who understand the wants and wishes of the people who have to be legislated for. When we bring forward Irish griev-vances here, we only excite the laughter of hon. Members opposite, and if we have no remnant left of our ancient liberties, we have still some remnant of our pride and scorn to be hawking our grievances before you, amid your jeers and sneers. There are a hundred matters which we have daily to let pass, because we know how they would be received as long as right hon. Gentlemen consider it their duty simply to advise Her Majesty, in the 50th year of her Reign and government of Ireland, to continue repressive legislation until Ireland is fit to receive those legislative liberties which are enjoyed by England, Scotland, and Wales. I have to apologize for the discursive remarks I have made, and I will only, in conclusion, 960 impress the fact upon hon. Members opposite that it has at last become their duty to follow out to the letter the policy which was indicated, but not carried out, by Her Majesty's Government when they declared themselves to be a Government of examination and inquiry. I invite them to come over themselves to Ireland and see for themselves what is the real character of the government of that country. I give them a guarantee that they will not be molested in going through the country, and if they come over with a fair mind to inquire into the wants and wishes of the Irish people, they will be loyally and affectionately received; but it will be worse than useless if they continue to study, as they have hitherto done exclusively, the interest of one class—that of the landlords alone,
§ MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)
said, he could not help wondering how many of the hon. Members who now call themselves Home Rule Liberals would not have supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had it been introduced or suggested 14 months ago. In this respect the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) occupied an almost unique position, for he had all along been a Home Ruler; he had always, in a Parliamentary sense, professed Home Rule principles. When, in the autumn of 1885, there was a general Index Expurgatorius of the Liberal Party published on the authority of the hon. Member for Cork, and signed by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), from that Index Expurgatorius the name of the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton was expressly excluded. He thought that the hon. Member could, in these circumstances, claim some small amount of consistency for his conduct in regard to the Question of Irish Home Rule—for, in his case there was no special need to find salvation, like the late Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), because in this matter at any rate he had no original sin. On the score of his comparative consistency and his position in the Separatist Party, the hon. Gentleman's utterances on the Irish Question deserved careful and earnest attention, which was more than could be said for his familiar Friends on the Opposition 961 Benches above the Gangway. There were no speeches more eagerly waited for or more eagerly listened to than the speeches of the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton; but at the same time the Members of the House had one very good cause of complaint against him. That hon. Member was too much inclined to reserve his tit-bits, his sparkling epigrams, and his highest flights of oratory for the platform rather than for Parliament. The hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton was good enough to go to Scotland and enlighten Scotchmen on the Irish Question. He did enlighten them very much. He distinctly explained to them in Glasgow why it was necessary, as often as possible, to introduce such Amendments as that now before the House, and to press them to a Division, and, in fact, he disclosed to them his Plan of Campaign. The hon. Member's object was no doubt a most laudable one from his point of view, but it was doubtful whether it would so commend itself to the Members of that House and the people of this country at large, as to afford any real and proper excuse for a deliberate waste of the time of the Imperial Parliament. The hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton spoke at Glasgow on the 10th of December last, and was reported on the following day in The North British Daily Mail, the organ of the Separatists of the West of Scotland, and the organ of the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), to have said—All I know is this—and I think that Dr. Cameron will bear me out—that we mean in the next Parliament to rub Mr. Chamberlain's nose in the mire. We shall have Resolutions, we shall have Amendments every evening—good, sound Radical Amendments. Mr. Chamberlain will have to choose either to vote for them or against them; and it seems to me, if we can judge by what he says at present, that he will vote against them, in which case he will come away from Parliament as naked and as ashamed as old Joseph of the Bible was after his interview with the wife of Potiphar.Thus they had seen that the object of the Amendment was to rub the nose of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) in the mire; and with regard to that elegant extract, he (Mr. Hozier) thought there were two questions which might be fairly put to the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton. 962 In the first place, who was pointed at in the elegant simile as representing the erring wife of Potiphar, from whom Joseph of old succeeded in making his escape; and, in the next place, did the hon. Member pretend that the conduct of Joseph of old, on the occasion referred to, was in any way blameworthy? That speech of the hon. Member naturally excited the greatest enthusiasm among the Separatists of Scotland; and in The North British, Daily Mail there appeared an article next morning, headed "Mr. Labouchere's Speech," in which it was said it was the fashion of the superior persons in politics—of bigoted Tories and stolid Whigs—to affect to look down on the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) as being something less than a serious politician; but they were much mistaken. That politics might be a game of shuttlecock with such as the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), but were with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) an earnest pursuit in the course of popular progress. After his brilliant feat of oratory at Glasgow, the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton went to Dublin, and need they be surprised that the toast of his name at the Mansion House of Dublin was received with rapturous applause, and by the band playing the strains of "The Minstrel Boy?" He (Mr. Hozier) had already ventured to say that the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton occupied an almost unique position in that House, with regard to having initiated the Irish, policy of those who were called the Leaders of the Opposition, inasmuch as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) had been all along in favour of such a system of Home Rule for Ireland as that embodied in the Irish scheme of the late Government. But it was rather curious to investigate how his lieutenants, as he supposed they must be called, on the Front Opposition Bench came to be converted to his views. In Truth, on the 6th of May last, the hon. Member (Mr. Labouchere) said—The Irish—Archbishop Croke and his clergy especially—are gushing a good deal over Mr. Gladstone, and United Ireland grows quite eloquent over the manliness of Lord Spencer. All this is very touching and amiable, but after all truth is the first of virtues, and truth compels me to say that these statesmen were converted to Home Rule by a process 963 precisely similar to that by which, in my youth, I remember to have been converted to the Latin Grammar. If the Irish want to gush over anybody they had better gush over Messrs. Parnell and Davitt. They held the birch, and the most that can be said for our British statesmen is that they have taken it very kindly and profited by it, especially Sir William Harcourt.Well, that being so, and the lieutenants of the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton having been converted to Home Rule in that way, how came it that so many other hon. Members of the Party opposite were converted, and that the late Government obtained even such a measure of support as they did receive in the country? Most undoubtedly it was entirely due to the extraordinary personal influence and personal popularity of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, exerted in the recent Election. If they looked at the political map of Scotland hon. Gentlemen would find that while the East of Scotland—
§ DR. TANNER (Cork, Co., Mid)
I rise to a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to know what, the map of Scotland has to do with the Amendment before the House?
§ MR. HOZIER
said, he believed he was in Order. If hon. Gentlemen looked at the map of Scotland coloured according to the political representation they would find that in the East of Scotland the Home Rule representation predominated, while in the West the converse was the case. This might be due either to the fact that the West of Scotland, being nearer to Ireland, was in a better position to judge of the Irish Question, or to the generally conceded fact that the influence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was far greater in the East than it was in the West. It was all very well to say with the old proverb, "that the rose by any other name will smell as sweet," but as a matter of fact the Home Rule scheme would not have smelt anything like as sweet if it had not been for the name of the late Prime Minister. Supposing that the Home Rule scheme had been given to an astonished world as the joint production, and on the joint authority, of the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton and the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall (Mr. Conybeare). What would have 964 happened? It would have been considered in the light of a gigantic practical joke, and would have been laughed out of the House. Why, marvellous as was the magic of the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, it was terribly handicapped by the weight of the Home Rule scheme. Take, for example, his (Mr. Hozier's) own constituency—South Lanarkshire—it bordered on Mid Lothian; and in addition to that circumstance it had two important railway junctions in it, where, occasionally, between the snortings of the railway engine, speeches were emitted instructing Scotchmen that they must do their duty. In spite of all the influence, however, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was consequently able to exercise in the constituency, his (Mr. Hozier's) opponent found himself obliged to drop the Home Rule scheme, and to argue at his meetings thatthe Bills are dead, are dead are dead, and a good thing too. But you ought to support me because I voted to keep these Bills alive, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian wished me to do so.Surely rather a curious line of argument, but one that certainly showed the influence of the late Prime Minister's name, both in a constituency and on a Member. At his opponent's meetings there were loud cheers for the grand old Leader, but there were few cheers for the brand new scheme. Thanks to the loyal aid of the Liberal Unionists he (Mr. Hozier) won the seat. He had no wish to call the Liberal Unionists by any better name than "truly loyal friends," and he earnestly trusted that in his case the friendship and co-operation would be a life-long one. Undoubtedly, in that Constituency, bordering on Mid Lothian and subject to all the influence of the great name of the late Prime Minister, they succeeded in turning what had been previously a minority of 1,338 into a majority—indeed, practically 2,000, calculating a change in the Irish vote, was changed into a majority—not a large majority indeed, but quite large enough to make his opponent a Peer of the Realm and to make him (Mr. Hozier) a Member of the House of Commons. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington warned the Unionists to be on their guard against idolatry—to be careful not to be merely 965 going about and saying "Great is Diana of the Union." He trusted that no great Party would ever set up an idol; but if they did he earnestly hoped that that idol might be a principle and not a man. His constituency in returning him to Parliament wished to emphasize the fact that law and order must be maintained in Ireland. He was, therefore, glad to see, in the Speech from the Throne, that there were to be reforms in the legal procedure. There were three parts of the Scotch Common Law which might be applied with advantage to the whole of the United Kingdom. The first was the preliminary investigation before the Procurator Fiscal; the second, the special jury system; and the third, the change of venue. The Scotch people happened to have all this extra amount of coercion, but who, he asked, were the worse for it? The Scotch were not a down-trodden race, and did not pretend to be. On the contrary, he thought everybody would say that the sturdy independence of the Scottish race was one of their best and greatest characteristics. It might be urged that the law was a foreign law. He admitted that the law which had to be enforced was a foreign law if they meant by foreign law the old Jewish law of the Ten Commandments. He did not suppose anyone wished to enforce all the Ten Commandments by penal enactment, but there were two which must be enforced—the Sixth and the Eighth, "Thou shalt do no murder," and "Thou shalt not steal,"—in Ireland as in any other part of the Queen's Dominions in order that there might be real and true freedom in Ireland. It was possible that his idea of freedom in Ireland might be somewhat different from the opinion of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. His idea of freedom in Ireland did not mean freedom to mutilate cattle, to commit moonlight outrages, and to murder; his idea of freedom was that honest men should be allowed to do their duty in that state of life to which they should be called. As to local government, he was strongly in favour of a generous measure of local self-government for Ireland, such as might be also applicable to Scotland, England, and Wales, but never in his wildest moments did he ever use the blessed word "simultaneity." He had all along been of opi- 966 nion that it was possible to find much truth in the saying," The more haste the worse speed," and that one might very easily "Legislate in haste and repent at leisure." As to the Land Question, he was always in favour of single ownership in land. He trusted that there would be some scheme for making the tenant the proprietor of the land which he tilled on easy and reasonable terms, and those whom he (Mr. Hozier) represented were strongly of that opinion. In addressing his constituents he rarely failed to quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) on that point. Speaking in the House of Commons on the 9th of April last year that right hon. Gentleman said—I said I shall object to any scheme that involves the British taxpayer in excessive risks. Why is the risk of any scheme excessive? I have been myself an advocate of large schemes in England and Scotland, intended by the use of public money to turn a small tenant into the proprietor of the land that he tilled. I have not been unwilling to take the risk in such a case, but what I object to is to take a risk for what I believe in a short time will be a foreign country. For an integral part of the United Kingdom I am prepared to take a risk; but I am not prepared to take a risk in order to promote what is, in my judgment, a thinly veiled scheme of separation."—(3 Hansard,  1194).They could hardly expect, however, that any such moderate proposals as these would commend themselves to the servile followers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, or to the followers of the hon. Member for Cork but he thought it was hardly part of the duty of the Unionist Party to try to fulfil the aspirations of those who had been rightly described as marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire; nor, on the other hand, did he think that the Unionist Party need place much value on the opinion of those whose ideas of honour were such that it was their chief delight to denounce as turncoats and traitors those of their own familiar friends who in the summer of 1886 committed the terrible crime of remaining constant to the promises and pledges which they gave in the autumn of 1885.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester, S. W.)
Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Hozier), in his desire to refute the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), seemed to me 967 to forget entirely the question before the House. The hon. Gentleman is, I believe, a Tory Member for one of the constituencies of Scotland. Scotland is not accustomed to send a great many Tory Members to this House; and, therefore, not being able to send quantity, it makes up for it by giving us quality. I have listened with painful interest to much that has been said in the course of this debate, and I do not believe anybody can know anything of the condition of Ireland without feeling that the subject of Ireland, especially when it is brought before this House, is always a painful subject. But I have had other feelings in the course of this debate. I have felt strongly surprised that England should be so unwilling to abandon a task for which she has clearly proved herself through generations to be wholly incapable—I mean the task of governing Ireland. It is no discredit to England that she is incapable of governing Ireland. It is a difficult thing to govern one's own country. It is easy to make many mistakes in doing that. But it is much more difficult to govern a country at a distance from us, whose character and circumstances we know little about, and whose condition, in many respects, is wholly different from our own. I say it is no discredit to England to have failed. The discredit, if there is discredit, is in her determination to continue to govern when she knows she has failed—failed always—and is incapable of succeeding. The Irish are held to be a turbulent and a difficult people. I have always found them to be, in Ireland, about the most peaceable people of whom I know anything. They surfer at our hands indignities and insults of an extraordinary character; and any other people but this would resent these insults and these indignities with more force than the Irish bring to bear in regard to them. It has been shown in the course of the debate that we suppress meetings that are called for legal and needful purposes. It has been shown that we tamper with their juries in the most dishonourable fashion. And everybody knows that if there is a man in Ireland somewhat more influential, somewhat more respectable than his neighbours, that man has been pounced upon by the British Government and put in gaol. I say the British Government, because all Parties 968 have been in this matter, up to this period, very much alike. The next person to be put in gaol is my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). I suppose everybody knows that the Government can so manipulate the jury, before which he has to be tried, that they can put him in gaol if they like. They will have to determine what policy they will pursue—whether it is safer for them to give him freedom or to keep him in gaol. If his imprisonment would not injure his health, I confess I should not object to see the Government make the blunder of sending him to gaol; because the sooner and the more we pile up foolish deeds in regard to Ireland, the sooner the moment will come when we shall be enlightened enough to set her free and to give her her own Government. It was shown from these Benches, and not denied, that a Protestant may commit a grave crime, and commit it with impunity. He is tried by a Protestant jury—one that partakes of his prejudices, his passions, and his hatreds. That jury sets him free. But a poor Galway peasant is heavily punished for a slight offence. He is brought before a jury from which every man of his own faith has been excluded. I should like very much to see a packed jury in England, in order that the English people might know what it means. I should like to see a few Protestants in this country tried in certain cases by exclusively Catholic juries. If that were so, the eyes of the people of this country would be opened; they would see themselves as others see us. By what right do we govern Ireland despotically?—because we do govern her despotically. Ireland is under a Parliamentary despotism. Ireland sends 100 men to this House, and before she can get anything she asks she is obliged to convince some hundreds of men who know little of Ireland, and, up to recent times, have cared very little about Ireland. By what right do we govern Ireland? By the right of force. The only English-speaking people in the world whom, we govern by force are the Irish. We have abandoned that system in every other place. We tried it with the United States, and they cast us off. We tried it with Canada, and Canada would have cast us off if the country had followed the advice of men who belonged to the Party opposite. But we ceased to govern 969 Canada by force, and from that moment Canada has been united to this country and is a close friend of this country. We govern Ireland by force, and we have lost Ireland—temporarily we have lost her. I believe we can regain her, and that Ireland may become a source of strength to this country. Is she not at present a great weakness? What does she do to assist us? Financially she does nothing. Does she assist our Army or our Navy? We keep 30,000 bayonets in Ireland in order to control the people. I say we have lost Ireland, as we lost the United States; and the only way to regain Ireland is to do that for her which we have done to every English-speaking people in every part of the world. I would like to make one or two very brief remarks on the question of evictions and the Plan of Campaign. The evictions that have recently taken place have been, I believe, perfectly legal transactions. I imagine those who have evicted their tenants were within their legal rights. But no one will dispute that these acts were acts of cruelty. No one will dispute that they have damaged the reputation of England throughout the world. If I had tenants to evict—poor, miserable, defenceless men and women and children—I would at least make one concession to them. I would choose the time of eviction in June instead of January. By so doing I should have at least the poor consolation that I was saving the old and the young, the half-clad, and the miserably feeble from mortal suffering. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) made a speech the other day in Newcastle, and I think I am right in saying that he endeavoured to defend these evictions, so far, at least, as to say they were not more cruel or more objectionable than evictions that take place regularly in our towns. Well, if that was the only defence that the noble Lord had to give, it would have been wiser to have passed the subject over in silence. What is the difference? In our towns, indeed, poor people are made to leave their houses or their rooms if they do not pay their rents; but that class of persons in our towns are migratory to the last degree. Instead of being driven out of the house because they cannot pay their rent, they leave the house by stealth to avoid paying it.
970 Even where cases of cruelty occur—and it may be quite possible they do—yet evicting a tenant in Manchester or London is certainly not a sentence of death. But the Irishman who is evicted is very often driven from the cabin which he has built. He may have been born there; he may have lived there long years. His eviction is a more serious matter to him than eviction is to the people to whom the noble Lord referred. Now, the Plan of Campaign is said to be a scandalous thing, and I believe those who are most shocked at it are lawyers. There is, to my mind, something more scandalous in Ireland than the Plan of Campaign; and it is this—that there is no tribunal before which two men, each having an interest in the same property, may both go and have their differences settled, and that, under the present system, the stronger of the two claims to have the right to eject the weaker, and to deprive him of that which belongs to him. That, to my mind, is the greatest scandal. I believe it is admitted that the objects, at least, of the Plan of Campaign are good. I believe it is admitted that the results generally have been good. The results, too, have been greater than have been indicated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). It is not merely those to whom the Plan of Campaign has applied who have got the benefit. The benefit extends much further; because in many cases, in order to avoid the application of the Plan to their estates, men have made reasonable concessions of rent. I do not blame the Irish Leaders for the Plan of Campaign. It would have been to me an extraordinary thing if nobody in Ireland had stepped forward at such a moment, and endeavoured to rescue the wretched tenant from the fate impending over him. In 1881 we passed a great Land Act. It was a revolutionary Act. It was a tremendous innovation. Why did we do it? It was owing to the circumstances of the time and the pressure upon the tenants. It is asserted by men who understand the question well that the pressure upon the tenants owing to the fall in prices has been as great last year as in 1881. That being so, it was incumbent on the Irish Leaders to come forward to do something to rescue these poor tenants. Now, is the Plan illegal? The lawyers tell 971 us that it is; but surely it is reasonable to wait till we know exactly what the Plan is, and what means have been used for carrying it out. All this we shall know when it comes before the Court in Ireland. It is not surprising that the Irish people look upon it with confidence. It has the support and sanction of the highest ecclesiastic in the Church of the Irish people. It has been closely associated with the name of a Member of this House, a man whose character stands as high as that of any Member of this House—a man whose moral sense, whose sense of justice, I undertake to say, is as fine as that which is to be found on any one of the Benches of this House—I mean the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). But, Sir, even when the law is broken in Ireland, in my opinion, it is not the same thing as when the law is broken in England. I hold that there is an important difference. There is a difference, in my mind, which no one can eradicate. When a law is not observed in England there is this to be said about it—that the person who is guilty of infraction of the law is disobeying an English law—a law made by his own people, a law made by those who understand the country and its wants. When an Irishman breaks the law he is not breaking an Irish law probably—he is breaking a law which, if I may quote the language of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), is the law of a foreign country. It comes from a place where Ireland is not known or understood, and it may be a law entirely inapplicable to the country. But I agree with those who maintain that disobedience to the law is a serious thing, and ought to be put down. But how should it be put down? Hon. Members opposite have got a plan. It is a plan that has been tried a hundred times, and a hundred times it has failed. We have got a plan—we, the servile followers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian—we have got a plan, and it has been adopted by the English Liberals, not because it was given to them by the right hon. Gentleman, great as his authority has been, but it was adopted by the English Liberals because it was believed to be in harmony with the traditions of the Liberal Party, and with their highest principles. We say, put down infraction of the law, but 972 do it by letting Ireland have Irish law. Take that plan, and there will be the same obedience to law in Ireland as in England. I believe the time is approaching when Ireland will make her own laws. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), in the last speech he made in this House, said the battle of the Union—I suppose he meant the Legislative Union—is over in Ireland, but that it has to be fought in England. I agree with the noble Lord. I think the battle is over in Ireland. When five-sixths of the Irish Representatives come to this House to declare against a Legislative Union, they have done nearly all that is in their power to do. But the battle has yet to be fought in England; and it is being fought out, I believe, with success in England. The character of the meetings tells for something. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury in Lancashire (Sir Henry James) was present the other day at a meeting in Manchester. They very modestly took a small room. They did not expect to require more than a small room. But I have seen—and where I have not seen I have read accounts of—meetings in Manchester held in the Free Trade Hall and the St. James's Hall, two of the largest buildings in that town, and two among the largest halls in the United Kingdom. I have seen these halls crowded by enthusiastic audiences asking that the principle might be established that every people may have its own Government. Now, in fighting this battle in England to which the noble Lord referred, I think the Unionists are at a considerable disadvantage. Take their speeches. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) will excuse me for saying that I think some of his speeches on this question have had a melancholy character. Take my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. His propositions are so conflicting, so varying, that they do not really attract the public attention, and they do nothing to command popular conviction. But when the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is placed before the people, it is a clear policy which every man understands; and when I say every man, I mean large numbers of men, and an increasing number of men every day. The noble Lord 973 the Member for South Paddington said the Tory Party was leaning upon a crutch. If I had the honour to sit on the other side of the House I should not care anything about a charge like that, provided always that the crutch was a sound one. I have known a crutch—a sound crutch—to out-last a natural limb. But what is this crutch on which the Tory Party leans? Why, it is made up, we all know, of very different material, and material very badly put together. It is a crutch which will fail in use; and I think there are indications in the last speech of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale that show he has some uneasiness as to how long the crutch will hold together. But if I were an advocate of the Legislative Union between the two countries, what would most alarm me would be the fact that the case now rests upon the Tory Party. Whatever rests upon the Tory Party never rests long. Why, in the great contested questions of the present century, when the Tory Party has taken up a position with all the appearance of courage it shows now in taking up its position on this question, it has invariably been dislodged from that position. The political gains of the United Kingdom have always been the losses of the Tory Party. Unless, for the first time in this century, the Tories shall be found to be right upon a great national question and the Liberals wrong, it will not be very long before the Legislative Union will cease. But there is another fortunate indication for us—it is that the Liberal newspaper Press throughout the Kingdom, with very few exceptions, is in favour of giving to Ireland her freedom. The newspaper Press of London, true to its character, takes the Tory side. Look at The Times. Well, it is a happy thing for us that The Times writes as it does, because I have always seen that when The Times has zealously and passionately advocated a cause before the country, it has always been on the losing side in the end. It defended the Bread Tax; it advocated the endeavour to establish a Slave Empire in America; it defended the taxes on knowledge. I might go on repeating ad infinitum the cases, the bad cases, which The Times has taken up and energetically advocated. If I were at the end of the earth, and knew that a great contest was taking place in the United 974 Kingdom, I should only have to ask what side The Times was taking to know absolutely what would be the final result. Those who do not want to go back to the Heptarchy ought to be in favour of Homo Rule. It is the Home Rule principle, and that alone, which enables great Empires to hold together. Give up the Home Rule principle and the British Empire would dissolve. You would have the disruption that is so often talked about. The United States could not exist without that principle, nor Canada, nor some of the States of Europe. We hear a good deal now about the possibility of Continental war; and there is some anxiety in this country that our Fleets and Armies should be in good condition. I sometimes think the best preparation for war is a united people. And when I remember that 20 men out of every 100 in our comparatively small Army are employed in keeping down Ireland, I am inclined to question the wisdom of the statesmanship of this country. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), and the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), have all shown great alarm as to the possible disruption of the British Empire. Now, do they believe in those alarms, or are they merely simulating? They do not act as if they believed in them. If they believe that at the next General Election there is some reasonable chance that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) may be brought back to power, and that his return to power would be followed by the disruption of the Empire, surely they would spend their days and nights in instructing the British people, in order that they might avoid so terrible a calamity. But what happens? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham goes and suns himself in the Mediterranean, leaving everything here in the dangerous condition which he says exists. I do not know—it may be possible he went to study the condition of the Ottoman Empire. Seeing that it has been subjected to so many disruptions, he may want to know what the disruption of an Empire meant. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale goes 975 over to Rome. Well, it is a delightful place. When I was banished from this House in the last Parliament I also went to Rome, and enjoyed it very much. But the noble Marquess said the other day he was wanted to act as a guard at home, and he laid special stress upon the fact that he would be here to keep charge. He took with him the right hon. Gentleman who sits opposite me (Mr. Chaplin), who also ought to have been doing something here to prevent the people going over that frightful chasm of which they speak whenever they make speeches on this subject. I believe these Gentlemen to whom I have referred will live to see the measure passed which they appear to regard with so much alarm; and I believe they will live to acknowledge that all those predictions of evils have followed the fate of all the predictions that have ever accompanied the passing of great legislative measures in this House.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. GIBSON) (Liverpool, Walton)
Sir, anyone listening to this debate might suppose that we were still engaged in the debate of last summer. But the second stage of the Home Rule controversy is now reached. Since last summer the country has, by a considerable majority, pronounced a condemnation on the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and the Government are bound to acquiesce in that decision. The country has pronounced in favour of the maintenance of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, yet speeches are now being made which are practically appeals for the Repeal of that Union. It was not incompetent for an association in Ireland to assert that certain laws of the country should not be obeyed, and that certain rights should not be enforced. I cannot but feel regret at certain observations that fell this evening from one whom I much respect. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) made some remarks in regard to social disorder in Ireland which were of a very dangerous character. The justification put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian for Home Rule was the necessity of restoring social order in Ireland, and he pointed 976 out the difficulty that there existed in getting juries to convict in cases of agrarian crime. Yet this evening the House has heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle a kind of condemnation which was really a justification and palliation of the Plan of Campaign, which has been decided by the Judges of the land to be illegal. The right hon. Gentleman remarked that two things could be said in favour of the Plan of Campaign—that it produced no substantial injustice, and that it was better to have a combination of this kind than murder and secret crime; but has the right hon. Gentleman made any inquiries which convinced himself that no injustice is done by this Plan of Campaign? Does he know anything of the circumstances under which the Plan of Campaign was adopted on the Marquess of Lansdowne's estate? But where is combination of this kind to stop? Are the Executive to permit any combination of men to set aside the decrees of the Courts of the country? If so, the supremacy of Parliament and the authority of the Government are at an end. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle laid stress on the fact that the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork was rejected. But he scarcely represented the circumstances under which that Bill was brought forward with correctness. At first the hon. Member for Cork suggested that three-fourths, then two-thirds, and then one-half of the rent should be paid under the Bill, so as to entitle the tenant to a compulsory credit and a stay of proceedings against him. The Government resisted it as unfair and unnecessary, and calculated to jeopardize the recovery of the other half of the year's rent. No doubt there has been a fall in prices and a strain upon the tenants; but, as has been pointed out by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, during the month of October, after the rejection of the Bill, rents were fairly well paid all over Ireland until the Plan of Campaign was started. The speeches which have been delivered by hon. Members opposite in Ireland plainly show that this Plan of Campaign was primarily intended to be used as a political instrument. If there was such a crisis among the tenants as to require the Plan of Campaign, how is it that the fact was altogether unknown to the 977 trusted Loader of the Nationalist Party, who so late as the 22nd of December last stated that he did not propose to express any opinion, as he had not been consulted with regard to it? Is it not manifest that the hon. Member for Cork has held aloof on purpose, because it was seen that this was a very questionable and dangerous move, and because it was desired to preserve the appearance of strict Constitutionalism? Only a very limited number of the Party have thought it well to take an open part in the agitation, and certainly some of the most prominent Members of the troupe have not performed at all. That is one of the circumstances which induces me to believe that the alleged danger of the situation caused by the rejection of the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork has been, to some extent, exaggerated. On the 25th of January the hon. Member for North Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), addressing a meeting in the County Tipperary, said that he "had told their kinsmen at Chicago that the very laws of Nature themselves would prevent the possibility of a peaceful winter in Ireland." That statement or prophecy was made in the month of August, before the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork was introduced, and before it could be known what the fate of that Bill would be, or what would be the nature of the reforms proposed; and I cannot help thinking that some of the unkind feeling which has sprung up between landlord and tenant in Ireland is owing to the language of warfare which has been used in this question. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), in addressing a meeting at Killorglin, explained to those present that there were men in Ireland who are well able to pay their rents, but who would not pay because he told them not to do so.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I did not say "well able." I said they were able to pay, but would not because I told them not to do so.
§ MR. GIBSON
They were able to pay, but would not, because the hon. Member told them not to do so. This certainly goes to show that there was a feeling of expectation on the part of several, at least, of the Irish Members, that social disorder and trouble might spring up in Ireland in the coming winter, and that this disorder and trouble 978 would not be altogether unfavourable to Home Rule. I understood the hon. Member for East Mayo to say, on the previous night, that the Plan of Campaign was not pressed by him, or by other Members of the Party, on the tenants, but that the tenants first combined, and then came to him to obtain advice and assistance. This, however, does not agree with the speeches which the hon. Member and others of the Party have made in Ireland, for they had over and over again directly urged the tenants to adopt the Plan of Campaign. I was surprised to hoar the late Chief Secretary give utterance to such a doubtful note in reference to the Plan of Campaign. One of the circumstances which has led to difficulty in Ireland at the present time is that hon. Members below the Gangway opposite are preaching a doctrine as to juries, which is absolutely subversive of all Constitutional law. Sir, the hon. Member opposite thinks, obviously, that the jurors lay down the law. On the other hand, it is an emphatic principle of our law that both what is legal and what is illegal must be decided not by debates in this House, or by the verdicts of juries, but by the Courts of the land; and if they do not ascertain and lay down the law, I am at a loss to know upon what the Constitution rests. The practice is for juries to accept the law from the Judge; but if it is to be laid down, as by hon. Members opposite, that juries are not to be guided in the law by the Judges, but are to find verdicts even against the law as interpreted by the Judge, the result will certainly be disastrous to the cause of law and order in the country. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary said to-night that much of the unpopularity attending the administration of the law by the Executive in Ireland is occasioned by the predominance of Law Officers. He said that one of the circumstances which made the high-souled people of Ireland recalcitrate and kick was that they were bullied, lectured, and dominated by lawyers. In order to avoid that difficulty the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, came into this House and endeavoured to govern Ireland without any Law Officers at all. Now, is it surprising that the delicate and tender susceptibilities of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway should be ruffled by the 979 odious presence of men who may have to prosecute them on a subsequent occasion? [An hon. MEMBER: Emigrate them.] I have called attention to the active part taken by a select number of the Leaders of the Irish Party in recommending and pressing the Plan of Campaign, and I am not quite certain whether that Plan had not something to do with the unfortunate incidents which have occurred at Glenbeigh. ["No!"] I will tell hon. Members opposite why it is I say this. I have a very accurate memory, and I remember reading a statement in The Freeman's Journal that a flag was exhibited at Glenbeigh, and that on that flag were inscribed the words "The Plan of Campaign."
§ MR. GIBSON
The view taken by Judge Curran in the letter which he wrote to the Bishop of Killarney, and which has been published, is a view which many Members will adopt. He said—I believe that the poor Glenbeigh tenants are sacrificed to keep alive the agitation in Kerry.That was the view of Judge Curran, who did his best to protect the tenants from excited and suicidal counsels when he brought about an agreement which was favourable to them and merciful beyond example. But that agreement was broken through, and became useless. Now, as to the administration of justice and juries in Ireland, of which we have heard a good deal. I recollect, in the first place, that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), in the Home Rule speech which he delivered in April last, distinctly put before the House that, from the unfortunate circumstances which existed in Ireland, it was hard to get juries to do their duty, though we all know that they are sworn to do it upon the evidence. We know that evil influences do exist, and even when juries are fair and are willing to do justice between man and man, without affection or partiality, in many cases, owing to commercial pressure, and owing to intimidation, they do not dare to do their duty. In these circumstances, it was the duty of everyone who conducted 980 Crown prosecutions in Ireland—and it has been the duty of the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and of the late Chief Secretary—when a jury was impanelled, to see that men were selected who were independent and fearless, and not men who had made up their minds on one side or the other. But the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary appeared to me to-night to convey that there is something new, and something dangerous and unjustifiable in what has been done by Her Majesty's present Government in Ireland, since they have succeeded to Office. What has been done by them was done also by the Administration of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary will recollect that in the powerful State paper issued by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), before the election in the summer of 1885, one of the weightiest charges which he brought against the late Prime Minister was the great jury-packing which had prevailed under his Administration. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: Hear, hear!] I see that the hon. Member cheers that statement, so that I am perfectly accurate in my recollection.
§ MR. GIBSON
The difficulty is one which must be faced; there is no use in the Crown putting prisoners upon their trial before a jury who have determined, per fas aut nefas, to acquit, or who will not fearlessly resist external influences. But with respect to the alleged jury-packing at Sligo, I would call attention to some of the articles in the newspapers. I do not know whether hon. Members have heard of an article in United Ireland called "Jurors upon their Trial." Shortly before the Sligo Assizes it was boldly and distinctly laid down that the prisoners then in gaol were innocent men, who ought to be acquitted, and whose conviction would be regarded as an outrage upon the people. And actually in one of the articles there was an intimation that the names of jurors who acted in a particular way would be published and held up to public odium. That was too much apparently for a Home Ruler of the name of Rollestone, who wrote a letter on the subject to United Ireland. In reply to 981 it, the editor wrote this note by way of comment—In a self-governed Ireland it would, of course, be intolerable that men should not be allowed to differ in the jury box and everywhere else. But in the state of chaotic rule to which Ireland is reduced everyone that is not with us is against us, and must expect to be dealt with accordingly. That is not liberty, but it is the way of winning it—the only way in our power.It is said that the Sligo verdicts were not just and righteous verdicts. Is there anyone who professes any knowledge of law, and who knows the facts that were proved in these cases, who will say that the verdicts were not just and righteous verdicts? The accused men had occupied a house by force, and they resisted the police by pouring hot water and lime upon them, and at length it was found necessary to bring up a siege train in order to enable the police to force their way in. No matter what the moral guilt of the accused was—I am not going to refer to that now—but can there be the slightest doubt of their legal criminality? The learned and eminent Judge who tried the case, and who has often received the encomiums of hon. Members opposite—Chief Baron Palles—fully approved of the verdict which the jury returned, and said that it was the only one that an upright and conscientious jury could give. To show what has been the result of a considerable "stand aside" in some cases, where the jury has consisted entirely of Protestants—to show the impartiality and fairness with which the juries have acted—I may say that all the accused have not been t convicted. Tully was tried by a jury who were all Protestants, and he was not convicted; and in other cases there were disagreements. [Ironical Home Rule cheers.] Hon. Members opposite below the Gangway do not appear to understand the point of my observations. The suggestion, as I understand it, is that the Crown has selected the juries in order to obtain convictions. [Home Rule cries of "Hear, hear!"] Yes; but the juries which it is alleged have been selected did not convict—they acquitted many prisoners, and recommended others to mercy. I am not going to-night at length to justify what has been done in Sligo, because I believe that matter will be brought before the House on another occasion; but I will say a word or two as to the occur- 982 rence at Tyrone to which the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) referred. The hon. Member asserted that, in a case where the prisoner was charged with the murder of a policeman or of a soldier, the jury did not do their duty. I was not concerned in the case myself; I was at Cork at the time. But the hon. Member was wrong in saying that, in that case, there was no "stand aside," because there was a stand aside. The jury at the Tyrone Assizes, who have received the encomium of the Judge for having convicted fearlessly in all the cases up to this particular trial, did not in this case follow the charge of the learned Judge, who directed that the prisoner was guilty of a legal murder. The jury considered that the circumstances showed that the offence was committed in hot blood, and they were anxious to bring in a verdict of manslaughter. Neither did they acquit the prisoner, but they disagreed.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
The hon. and learned Gentleman is misrepresenting what I said. What I said was that in Sligo, whereas the Crown exercised its power of ordering jurors to stand aside, to the extent of setting aside about 20 or 30 Catholic jurors, and by that means securing a jury of Protestants in the North of Ireland, they did not exercise that power of ordering jurors to stand aside, as against the Protestants, but allowed an Orangeman to try an Orangeman.
§ MR. GIBSON
In all the cases in the North of Ireland to which I have referred, verdicts were found in accordance with the summing up of the learned Judge, except in the particular case of this murder. The hon. Member has complained of the change of venue in the case of "The Queen v. Dillon." I will make no observation on that case for obvious reasons. It is not for the House of Commons to discuss the wisdom of the action of the Crown in a pending prosecution; and I have no desire to turn the House of Commons into a Court of Appeal to re-try the case. But this I will say—that the Act of Parliament under which the change of venue was obtained is not an obsolete Act, but an Act which applies equally to England as to Ireland, and was passed for Ireland in order to assimilate the Irish to the English law. It was put in force at least six months ago in the Dublin 983 Commission Court, on which occasion the venue of a case which had been sent for trial in the City of Dublin was changed to the County of Dublin. [An hon. MEMBER: What case?] It was the York Street case. There was another charge made against the Government by the hon. Member for East Mayo—namely, that there was unnecessary delay on the part of the Crown in obtaining a declaration by a Court of Law that the Plan of Campaign was illegal; but that is a curious complaint to come from hon. Members below the Gangway, for the simple reason that, ever since the Plan of Campaign was declared to be illegal, they have persistently defied the Court. ["No!"] I say "Yes." The language which hon. Members below the Gangway opposite have been using throughout the country is that the jury must decide the question of law; and the hon. Member for East Mayo, after denouncing the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench, went on to assert that, in apostolic succession to other Judges in error, Judge Fitzgerald was altogether in error in the judgment which he gave. The course pursued by hon. Members opposite has caused grave mischief and injury to public and social order in Ireland. I have no desire to refer in detail to matters which have accentuated the danger to social order; but I will merely point to the wretched case where, for some small offence against the law of the League, some ruffians broke into a house, cut off the hair of the girls in it, and poured tar upon their heads. Nor am I going to enter upon the case of Moroney, a tradesman on the O'Grady estate, who was committed to trial by the Judge of the Bankruptcy Court for contempt, and was serenaded on his way to prison. [Cheers from the Home Rule Members.] And he is getting, apparently, an after-clap of that serenade in this House tonight. Something has been said about the action which has been taken by my friend Judge Curran in Kerry. I do not know whether hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are personally acquainted with Judge Curran, or whether the late Chief Secretary is acquainted with him; but I have been acquainted with him ever since he has been at the Bar, and I know no more honourable or more upright and resolute man, or one who unites such great faculties of the brain with large-heartedness and 984 sympathetic feeling. In doing what he did in Kerry, Judge Curran acted upon his own responsibility as a Judge, having no one to account to but his own conscience. Whether he was right or wrong in his action, hon. Members opposite below the Gangway ought to be the last to complain of Judge Curran, for he has acted in the interests of the tenants of Kerry. Why is it those hon. Members attempt to throw ridicule and contempt upon Judge Curran and General Buller for what has been done by them in Kerry? What they have done was for the benefit of the tenants, who have received substantial advantage from their action. But I fear that one of the reasons why hon. Members denounce Judge Curran now, is in order to prevent him from being regarded by the people as that which he is—an upright, just, and merciful Judge. He has been described in terms of a very ambiguous character by the hon. Members opposite; but if there is any man who is a thorough Irishman, and speaks with Irish voice, it is Judge Curran. Yet he has been described as a Cadi coming from the East, and unable to speak the language of his native land. There is one point to which I wish to call the attention of the House, and it is that not one single authentic instance has been adduced by hon. Members opposite, in which full enforcement of the decrees of the Court has not been carried out. There may have been delay, for it was requisite, before carrying out a writ of ejectment, to make arrangements for the attendance of the necessary number of police. Nothing could be worse or more dangerous than failure in the enforcement of decrees, where it is known that they are likely to be resisted; and to carry out the decrees of the Court it is necessary to make arrangements beforehand, as there are only a limited number of police in any particular spot. The hon. Member for East Mayo last night said that one of the great evils from which Ireland suffers results from the congested districts, and that all of them are to be found on the poor lands, while the good lands are comparatively thinly populated; and he went on to say that the unequal distribution results from bad English law, and would be got rid of if Ireland were free. This state of affairs, I imagine, is not the result of any special laws, unless economic laws can be considered special 985 legislation. I do not gather from the hon. Member's remarks that he proposes any remedy; the only clue he gave being that if Ireland were free, men in the congested districts would make their way down to the rich lands. By what process they would perform that operation, whether by Act of Parliament or otherwise, was not explained by the hon. Member. For my own part, I am at a loss to understand how this economic difficulty in Ireland is to be got rid of by merely making Ireland free. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, in introducing his Land Act in 1881, pointed out that one of the main circumstances to be kept in view, as indicating the condition and greater prosperity of the Irish tenants, was the diminution of the smaller holdings, and the increase of the larger holdings, and more especially of those of 15 acres to 30, and those of 30 acres to 50. They are both largely increasing, while the smaller holdings are decreasing. Everyone interested in the prosperity of Ireland would rejoice to see the tenants of Ireland obtain holdings of larger size. We do not want enormous holdings, but good-sized ones; but I fear that is a matter which must be dealt with by the play of economic interests, as it is very difficult, if not impossible, to prevent a farmer holding a farm of any number of acres by legislation dealing with the aggregation of property. No doubt it would be very desirable that the tenants in the congested districts should be moved to better places, by means of purchase or otherwise, to be provided for by emigration. The hon. Member for North Mayo told us that any scheme even of emigration would be regarded as extermination by the unfortunate tenants. I was sorry to hear that from the hon. Member; for if anything will be plain by the close of this debate it is that the Land Question in Ireland is the very kernel and heart of the Irish Question. The hon. Member is quite right when he says that it is the Land Question which must be dealt with and solved. The present Government, who made its first announcement in Office in August last, did not come into Office as a Government of repression which intended to grind down and oppress the Irish people. I think the House will recollect that we came in with a programme which promised so 986 much and went so far that some hon. Members opposite were induced to suggest that it was an impossible programme, and that the promises which were made could not be realized. All I can say is, that the necessity for strengthening the existing law has been, forced upon the Government, and forced upon them, I regret to say, by an agitation which was hardly justified under the circumstances. There is one thing the Unionist Party on both sides of the House must recognize, and that is that we are under a very great responsibility—that of securing the supremacy of Parliament, and seeing that the laws of this Parliament are enforced in all parts of the United Kingdom. In The Freeman's Journal, yesterday, I read a speech made by Mr. O'Brien, at Roscommon, which represents the exact antithesis of what I maintain must be the policy of the Government. He said—"From shore to shore of this island the law of the League must be the law of the land." That is what no Government, worthy of the name, can allow. No law except the Queen's law must be enforced or set up in Ireland; and we, the Unionist Party in the House of Commons, are bound to see that the supremacy of Parliament is not a nominal and illusory phantom, but a substantial fact, as the people of the United Kingdom intended it should be at the last General Election. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) not only contains an incorrect representation of fact, but recommends as a solution of the Irish difficulty a measure which has already been condemned. The time of the House is the property of the nation, and as long as this Parliament remains, and until it is dissolved, that time ought to be devoted to the interests of the subjects of the Queen. I am very sorry to have heard this evening from the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) the dismal and hopeless view, that at the very threshold of the new Parliament we are to give up all hope, that we are in a leaden atmosphere, and that we cannot remove in this Parliament what for years has been the standing obstruction to Public Business. That is a hopeless and dismal proposition to make.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
What I said was, that we should not be able to remove this obstacle now, 987 unless we dealt with the great obstacle to legislative progress—not Obstruction, but the non-existence of free government in Ireland.
§ MR. GIBSON
I accept the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman used the word "obstruction," which, no doubt, led to the misunderstanding. We must, however, keep this broad fact before us, that we are the Council of the country, and that the country is watching to see what the speeches and action of the different Members who compose it will be. I submit that the time of the House is very unprofitably expended in discussions raising over again the issue of Home Rule, which was decided at the last Election. If each night we are to have a fresh discussion as to whether Home Rule is the only panacea for all the wrongs of Ireland, the rest of the Kingdom will not consider it fair political warfare. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland has considered that one of the great recommendations of Home Rule was that it would make the Members of the British Parliament masters in their own House, and that that cannot be as long as hon. Gentlemen opposite occupy their present position. I do not adopt that view; but I hope that in the course of time, and seeing the fair play they get here, the Members from Ireland will become quite as willing and cheerful Members of the House of Commons as anyone in it. The most humorous remark made by the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech was the observation he made about the attitude assumed by the Unionist Party in lecturing and sermonizing the Irish Members. It appears to me that it is all the other way, and that it is the Irish Members who are constantly standing in the judgment seat and denouncing, not always with moderation, successive English Ministers, setting forth to the country that they should at once get upon the stool of repentance and admit their faults. The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork is inaccurate in its statement of facts, is one it is quite impossible for us to admit, and recommends a policy which has already been decisively pronounced upon and condemned by the country.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I must congratulate the hon. 988 and learned Gentleman upon being in better spirits than he was when I last saw him gliding away in a railway carriage from a station in the city a portion of which I have the honour to represent. I have no wish, however, to be ill-natured; and, therefore, I will proceed at once to congratulate the hon. and learned Gentleman on the speech he has made in defence of the Government. But, without wishing to be disrespectful towards him, I would say that the subject we are debating here tonight is of far too serious and too broad a character to be treated in the Nisi Prius manner in which the hon. and learned Gentleman has approached it. He has found fault with many of the statements of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and the w ay in which he has dealt with them is certainly calculated to produce an entirely false impression. Let me give an example. The hon. Gentleman has defended the change of venue in the case of the trial of my hon. Friend who sits beside me, which is, I believe, to come on on Monday next. He says that changes of venue similar to the one complained of have occurred frequently during the last six months; but he did not, until he was interrogated by my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), give any information as to the cases in which it had taken place. My hon. Friend asked him to name a case in which a change of venue had taken place from the City of Dublin, where political feeling is mixed, to the County of Dublin, where the jurors are almost exclusively landlords. The hon. and learned Gentleman then named the York Street case. The hon. Gentleman evidently presumed on the ignorance of the English Members, for what was the York Street case? It was a change from a City jury to a County jury in the case of an Orangeman who was accused of firing a shot into a crowd in the City of Dublin out of the window of an Orange Club; and it is easy to understand why a Government, partly consisting of Orangemen, and largely supported by Orangemen, desired to transfer the trial of an Orangeman from a City to a County jury. [An hon. MEMBER: He was acquitted!] Of course he was acquitted. I did not think it necessary to inform the House of that fact. Every hon. Gentleman in this House must have 989 known perfectly well, when I stated the kind of action taken by the Government, the course they adopted, and the character of the prisoner, what the result must have been. The transfer of the case from the City jury to the County jury in the case of the Orangeman was to procure an acquittal; and the transfer of the case of my hon. Friend from the City jury to the County jury is to procure a conviction; and the action in both the one case and the other is tinged with equal criminality. Now, Sir, let me take one or two more of the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He asks the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) whether he personally acquainted himself with the estates in Ireland where the Plan of Campaign was adopted; and the hon. and learned Gentleman, whose elocution leaves nothing to be desired, laid particular stress on the word "personal." The moment he uttered these words there resounded through the House, from another master of elocution—namely, the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin)—an emphatic "Hear, hear!" [An hon. MEMBER: He is right hon.!] I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I see him sitting on the Bench below the Gangway opposite; were he on the Treasury Bench such a mistake as that into which I have fallen it would not have been so easy to make. I would take this opportunity of condoling with the right hon. Gentleman on his recent misfortunes. I am sure he is a good deal better fitted to be on the Treasury Bench than some who have seats there. I observe that the right hon. Gentleman has been taking copious notes during the debate, and what I want to ask him with his "Hear, hear!" still ringing in my ears, is this, whether he is prepared to pronounce an opinion upon every case to which he himself has not devoted an attentive personal examination? I am not sure whether my country has ever had the honour of a visit from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Yes, Punches-town! The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland said that the rents were paid regularly in 990 October, and the suggestion he made to the House was that they would have been paid with continued regularity had it not been for the continued intervention of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and the Plan of Campaign. It is true that rents were paid regularly in some cases in October, but surely the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has an intimate personal acquaintance with Ireland, knows very well that the number of rentals paid there in October are a very small portion of the entire rentals. October is not one of the special rent paying months. November is the great rent paying month, and the rents that were paid in October were a small portion of all the rents in Ireland, and were paid upon those large estates, on which, partly owing to the encouragement of the Government, good and reasonable landlords had already given very considerable reductions. Rents were well paid on estates like those of the Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of Devon and others, such landlords as were under the pressure of the Government giving tenants those reasonable abatements which in England are matters of right, but in Ireland are characterized as acts of generosity on the part of the landlord. Let me say one or two other words as to the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. He said the Plan of Campaign had something to do with the evictions at Glenbeigh. I give a most emphatic contradiction to that. The case of Glenbeigh arose naturally and spontaneously. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has pledged himself, and I am sure there is not a Member on either side of the House who doubts his statement, that he never heard of the Glenbeigh case until the cruel evictions and burnings were in progress. The hon. and learned Gentleman says there was a banner displayed at Glenbeigh bearing the words "Plan of Campaign." So there was. On the second or third day of the evictions a banner bearing those words was, I understand, raised over one of the houses, but the evictions had begun, and this small tittle of evidence of the banner is the only thing the hon. and learned Gentleman is able to give in proof of his statement that the Glenbeigh evictions were aggravated and accelerated by the action of the National League. No, Sir, the National League had nothing to do with it: the Plan of 991 Campaign had nothing to do with it either. These evictions stand isolated by themselves, entirely separated from the general movement in Ireland. Now, I come to the question of jury packing. I am glad the hon. and learned Gentleman and the right hon. and learned Gentleman his Colleague have taken a manlier attitude than was taken up by some of their Predecessors—Liberals though they wore called. The hon. and learned Gentleman has avowed jury-packing; he has defended jury-packing, and now the question no longer remains for discussion in this House whether or not there is jury-packing in Ireland. That question has already passed beyond the region of dispute, and the question now is whether or not jury-packing is under any circumstances justifiable. The hon. and learned Gentleman made allusion to the attitude which hon. Gentlemen on those Benches, including myself, took up in regard to the action of the late Government in Ireland. Does the hon. and learned Gentleman think we have changed our opinion as to that? We condemned coercion when it was carried out by Lord Spencer and his Law Officers; we condemn it still. We have never said a single syllable to lead anyone to believe that our opinions in that respect have changed one iota or jot. If the fight with Lord Spencer had to begin again to-morrow, he occupying his old ground, and we standing in our old position, there would be no lack of vehemence and energy in our resistance and in the protest we should make. I would point out that in the first place I dislike to see any question of importance and gravity of the Irish Question degraded down to a miserable tu quoque between the two sides of this House. What I wish to say to the hon. and learned Gentleman is this: he is precluded from using the action of Lord Spencer and the late Irish Government as offering him a precedent in the present action of Her Majesty's Ministers. Lord Spencer tried coercion in Ireland, the Law Officers of the Crown under Lord Spencer packed juries—not quite so shamelessly as the present Government, but they did pack them. But has not Lord Spencer come before the country and the world, and with a frankness and manliness which have softened the memories of the struggle, acknow- 992 ledged that the system, of which he was the most able exponent, was a mistaken system, and that Ireland could not be governed by coercion? To jury-packing and the other mean and miserable resorts the Conservative Government of a freely governed country like England, with all her traditions of freedom, is obliged to resort in the administration of the affairs of a country lying so close to her doors as Ireland. Such obsolete and rusty weapons as jury-packing are still to be availed of, although they have been given up by Liberal statesmanship and never more will form a portion of the armoury of a good Government. When the hon. and learned Gentleman appeals to Lord Spencer as a precedent he ought to add that such weapons as this Lord Spencer, having used and tested them, has been the first to most strongly and vehemently condemn. I remember one of the cases of jury-packing in Sligo to which reference has been made. It has been pointed out that a Catholic was allowed to be on the jury. Yes, but who was this Catholic? He was a landlord whose tenants were engaged in the consideration of, if they had not actually adopted, the Plan of Campaign. And, Sir, is it not an abuse of words and a contradiction of all accepted ideas of trial by jury when you put into the box to try a prisoner a man of a different class, of different politics, and a bitter enemy in the present bitter and social struggle? Why, Sir, it is gross unfairness. Now the Government had transferred the case of my hon. Friend from the City jury to the County jury in Dublin. Everyone knows what the character of the County jury in Dublin is. The jury is one in which the vast majority belong to the landlord class. It has upon it landlords, who at the present moment, in many cases are suffering from the Plan of Campaign, and who regard my hon. Friend as its author as little less iniquitous than the author of all evil. These landlords are suffering in their pockets; and to put my hon. Friend upon his trial before a jury composed of men like that, is, to use a very well-known simile, like trying a cow by a jury of butchers. Let me bring before the House this fact. There are 250 men on the panel altogether. Of these my hon. Friend will have the power of peremptorily 993 challenging but six, which leaves 244 at the disposal of the Government prosecution, and I think I am within my right in saying that of these 244, something like 200 are friends of the Government, and may be relied upon to give a verdict. The property qualification to be a member of the jury of the County of Dublin is £40. The reason why this jury has been selected is told in the columns of The Times newspaper. On January 25, the well-known Dublin correspondent of that journal said—The report that the Crown intended to apply for a change of venue for the trial of the defendants charged with conspiracy is not correct. No such intention is entertained. The trial will take place in the Commission Court, Green Street, but the bills will be sent to the grand jury of the County, instead of the City, of Dublin: a very necessary and proper arrangement in order to obtain a better panel.Now, what Dr. Patton, the Orange editor of The Dublin Express, considers a "better panel" I leave it to the intelligence of any Member of this House to imagine. Sir, they will try next week to convict my hon. Friends by a packed jury of their bitterest political enemies. I put it to hon. Members on this side of the House: it has been complained that the law is not respected in Ireland, but the way in which the law is administered has a good deal to do with the feelings entertained towards it by those who are subject to it. You can make even a good law an object of dislike if you administer it impurely and unfairly. Is not the law which tries a patriotic man by juries of their political opponents, carefully packed, a law utterly dishonest, and to say that so long as law is administered in this manner in Ireland you can expect the Irish people to honour, or have any devotion to, the law, is as much as to say that you might fairly expect a man to admire the noble sport of horse-racing if introduced to it in a stable of blacklegs on the Derby course. I am astonished that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland is in such excellent spirits to-night. It seems to me there is not a Member of the Government who ought not to appear in the Parliamentary equivalent for sack-cloth and ashes, because never in recent history has there been a better illustration of the fallacy of the mode of governing Ireland, adopted by English Governments, than 994 we have had of late. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, speaking from the Ministerial Bench some months ago, declared that rents could be paid in Ireland, and that reduction in the prices of agricultural produce was an invention of our wicked imaginations.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
I never said that.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Then why did the right hon. Gentleman oppose the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork? Our whole case was founded on reduction of prices, and the opposition of the Government to the Bill was based on the contention that prices had not been reduced.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I could not help interrupting the hon. Member, because he stated what was directly contrary to the fact. I never stated in this House that prices had not fallen.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Then why did not the right hon. Gentleman support the Bill? The fall of prices, which, he now admits, means a reduction of the ability of the tenants to pay rent, and the Bill of my hon. Friend dealt with cases of clear inability to pay rent. Yet, the right hon. Gentleman, admitting that prices had fallen, and that the tenants were, consequently, less able to pay rent, rejected the Bill for their relief. I will leave the House to draw its own inference from that—I refrain from going through the whole ABC of political economy and logic to convince the right hon. Gentleman of inconsistency, for I should be all night on the point. I am unable to reconcile his admission that prices had fallen with his contention—as manifested in his rejection of my hon. Friend's Bill—that tenants were just as well able to pay rent as they were when prices had not fallen. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman get up and declare candidly that his policy and statement and arguments were all incorrect? Well, perhaps that is an unreasonable thing to expect. I must say, Sir, I have been very much pained to observe the high point which equivocation has reached in this House. Is there a man on either side of the House that has the least doubt in his mind that the Government have been bringing all the pressure they can command to bear upon the landlords of Ire- 995 land in order to induce thorn to give generous reductions of rent? The right hon. Gentleman says they used pressure "within the law." He will pardon me for saying that he is guilty of confusion and contradiction of phrases. There is no such thing as "pressure within the law" for preventing a man from doing that which he has a perfect legal right to do; and when the right hon. Gentleman confessed to the House the use of pressure, he thereby stood confessed to us of an illegal act. The right hon. Gentleman gets up and asks us to give proof of the pressure. He thinks we blame him. Well, I must say the right hon. Gentleman generally misrepresents our case against him. We do not blame him for having used pressure against the landlords. We admire him for having done it; we appraise him for it. In the difficult position in which his policy had placed him, no doubt he adopted the best course he could adopt by putting pressure upon the landlords. What we do find fault with the right hon. Gentleman for is, for having "done good by stealth and blushed to find it fame"—we find fault with him because his whole effort now is to try and blind the public to the fact of the pressure that he used in order to make the landlords give an abatement of rent. He asks us to prove the statement that he has brought pressure to bear upon the landlords. He says that the Government only used arguments and reasoning and representations for the purpose of securing agreement with his views; but are not arguments used by the Governor of a country with 30,000 soldiers at his back, with 13,000 police under his orders, very likely to be construed into commands, especially when used to a class that depends for its very existence on the Government of the day? The fact is, every man in his senses knows that the only difference between the Chief Secretary and the hon. Member for East Mayo is this—that one adopted the system of making private representations to the landlords; whilst the other adopted the system of public representations—both systems being adopted for precisely the same object. Now, a good many analogies have been used with regard to the Plan of Campaign, and I am rather afraid to venture on the ground of analogy; still I will say this, that it appears 996 to me to be admitted by everyone that the Irish tenant is now part owner of the soil with the landlord. That is admitted not only on this side, but it is the basis of the complaints made on the other side, of the House. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), or some other Member on the Conservative side, said a few nights ago that the landlords had been deprived of all their rights. I think it was the hon. and gallant Gentleman who said that, but I may be mistaken; it may have been said by an hon. Member of a less Liberal turn of mind than the hon. and gallant Gentleman. At any rate it is contended on the other side of the House—and the statement is cheered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin)—that the Irish landlords had been deprived of all their rights by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). What does that mean? If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think that the landlords of Ireland have been deprived of their rights, and that what has been taken from them has been given to the tenants, they agree with us in thinking that the landlord is not the sole proprietor of the land, but has been rendered, through what they consider unjust legislation, only part proprietor. Well, I contend that the proper analogy to extend to the case of landlord and tenant in Ireland, so far as their connection with the soil is concerned, is an analogy drawn from partnership in a common business. I would ask any business man in the House—even any hon. Gentleman on the other side—whether, if he were in partnership with another person, he would think it fair that at the end of the year one partner should have all the profits, whilst the other should be asked to bear all the losses? I contend, in this analogy, that the action of the landlords who refuse abatements to their tenants is the action of fraudulent partners in a common firm who endeavour to take all the profits to themselves, and leave all the Josses to those with whom they are associated in business. The Plan of Campaign was adopted for the purpose of making an equitable division of profits between the two parties. I do not deny that it was a very rough-and-ready 997 method, but it was not quite as rough, not quite as ready, as that of Judge Curran or of Captain Plunkett, who actually made a division of profits on a farm he had never seen; whereas in the Plan of Campaign the division was made by men who had satisfied themselves of the justice of the case by making what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland would call an intimate personal acquaintance with the land. But I am not concerned this moment in discussing the question of legality. That will come before a tribunal in the course of a few days. What I do contend is that, if there was illegality in the Plan of Campaign, so was there also illegality in the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary; and what I charge against him is that he has substituted an illegal remedy for the legal remedy offered to him last Session by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork. The Bill of the hon. Member proposed to remove the question of rent from the partizanship of landlord and tenant—it acknowledged that both these persons were too deeply interested to be fair judges, and referred the question to the impartial judgment of a legal tribunal. The Government rejected that Bill, and they have found themselves left to the rough-and-ready method I have described, of endeavouring to bring about the object that measure had in view. Let the responsibility rest with them for adopting an illegal method of doing that which we offered them legal means of effecting. I do not think I need deal further with the question of migration. Migration, of all the problems for relieving the congested districts in Ireland, is the most difficult and delicate to carry out. The objections to this remedy are many. It would afford abundant opportunity for jobbery and favouritism, and would require most careful attention and a most intimate acquaintance with the wants and wishes of the people, in those entrusted with the execution of such a project. Intimate attention would have to be paid to the feelings of the people about to be moved, and the feelings of the people who were not intending to emigrate; and I maintain that such a project is one which could only be carried out with even a moderate degree of success by a Native Government, acquainted with all the 998 wants of the people. Then we have the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), and other Liberal Unionists, declaring that if you settle the Land Question you will get rid of the National Question. I regard it as a very statesmanlike suggestion which came from the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that the ultimate solution of the Irish Question rested with the Irish people. I interpret that as implying that the Irish Question will never be solved until the Irish people accept the form of Government which is offered to them.—["No, no."]—Well, if that is not so, I do not know what the ultimate solution of the Irish Question resting with the Irish people means. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) think that directly the Land Question is settled the National Question will disappear. That is our antiquated notion. I remember the time when Nationalists used the argument that every concession, every relief, given to the Irish tenant injured the National cause. I remember—I think it was in 1869—hearing a speech by the late Isaac Butt, in which he argued at great length the question as to whether any step in the direction of reforming the Land Laws would, or would not, do more to retard the establishment of National self-government in Ireland than anything else. He argued the question this and that way to disprove the fact that if you gave the tenant fixity of tenure you would make him a bad Irishman and a bad patriot. But has not that matter been settled within the last few years? In 1871, and 1881, Land Acts were passed, but have the tenant farmers become worse patriots? Are they not more intense Irishmen and Nationalists than ever? Has not your improvement of the condition of the tenant farmer strengthened the National cause—strengthened the farmer in his devotion to that cause? Why, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) would not have 85 Members at his back to-day if it were not for the land legislation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and 999 the Ballot. If you want to use the Land Question for the purpose of putting down the National movement, you will have to adopt a different system to that you are at present practising. You will have to repeal all the Acts of land reform which have been passed in recent years, and restore the Irish peasant to the condition in which I have seen him myself, of a poor, shivering serf, who did not dare address the landlord with his head covered; who, when he went into the polling booth, was confronted by the agents of his master, and knew very well that if he did not vote as required it meant a notice to quit from his master. Unless you can bring back the condition of things of years ago; unless you can make the Irish tenant a serf once more, abolish the Land Acts, and put a stop to voting by Ballot, you will never be able to destroy the National cause. Then we are told there should be some system of land purchase. If I were an English Liberal or Conservative Member, I should oppose every measure of land purchase unaccompanied by self-government, for I imagine that every penny you give to Ireland for land purchase will be at the risk of the British Treasury. I speak quite plainly on this subject. Supposing you have a large scheme of land purchase in Ireland; supposing you enabled all the tenants to buy their farms with the assistance of the Exchequer, I imagine you would desire to have the money returned, and would attempt to collect it. I should like to see you do it without the assistance of a Native Legislative Body sitting in Dublin. The one solid guarantee against repudiation is the making of the liberties of Ireland hostages for the payment of the money; and if you had a Parliament in Ireland this object would be attained. You would have then every farmer in Ireland compelled, by his own conscience and honour, to be a sponsor and bail for his country, because the liberties of the country would be dependent upon its solvency, and every insolvent tenant would be regarded as a traitor to those liberties. But adopt a system of land purchase only, and I can imagine a large system of repudiation being preached by the apostles of Irish liberty for the purpose of compelling an Irish Parliament to be given to the Irish people. Therefore, I say that hon. Members who 1000 propose land purchase in Ireland without the accompaniment of self-government, are risking the treasure of this country in such a manner as I should be sorry to see. But we have hon. Members getting up at this stage of the debate, and saying that they would give self-government to Ireland on certain conditions. That was the statement of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wode-house), who reminds me of a phrase of George Eliot—that the human bosom is capable of containing at different times opposite propositions. The hon. Member says he is in favour of self-government for Ireland in case the Parliament in Dublin is made subject to the Imperial Parliament. Well, Sir, if that means that this Parliament has supreme and ultimate authority, then the hon. Gentleman and I are in agreement; and he ought to have voted for the second reading of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). But if it means that every Act of the Parliament in Dublin, before it passes into law, must be re-discussed and re-debated and re-passed in the Imperial Parliament, then the hon. Member and I are at issue. What would that imply? Imagine the position which the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) would take up under such an arrangement; and I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman will live to see the day when he will take a very honourable and active part in it; but imagine the hon. and gallant Gentleman in an Irish Parliament of which no measure could become law until it was first discussed here. Why, the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not be satisfied with the petty platform in College Green; he would come to this platform, in order that he might give you the benefit of his eloquence. The proposal would mean then that every Bill of the slightest importance would first be dragged through the Irish Parliament and then through this House. But a Parliament which had no power to make law until its measures had been discussed in this House would be a beggarly and a sham Parliament, without strength or authority. And, then, what would be the case with the English Parliament? This House, as long as I have had a seat here, has been the 1001 victim of a vampire in the shape of of Irish debate. We Irish Members have done all the talking; and what is the fact that has brought rational men to consider that an Irish Parliament is necessary? It is that this never-ending Irish debate has been an obstacle in the way of English affairs and English legislation. But the consequence of the carrying out of the views of the hon. Member for Bath would be that there would be more Irish debate than before; it would go on from Session to Session; and, while you had an Irish Parliament without strength, you would have the English Parliament without peace; instead of one Parliament, there would be two paralyzed Parliaments. The Government is hopeless in this struggle. The Chief Secretary for Ireland to-night almost went out of his way to repudiate the statement of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). If I could read the heart of the right hon. Gentleman I believe I should find there difficulty, doubt, hesitation, and dread, not physical or moral, but dread of the difficulty and impossibility of the task he has undertaken. I think that, before long, the right hon. Gentleman will be convinced that the Irish Question is insoluble, except in one way, and that is by leaving it to be solved by the Irish people. What is the proposal of the Government? Does anyone suppose that they are going to propose any remedial measure for Ireland? I have never seen the time of the House wasted with such cordial assent on both sides as now; indeed, I may say that the Treasury Bench is thoroughly delighted with the waste of time which has relieved the impossible task of proposing remedial legislation for Ireland. What do the Government propose in the programme laid before the House? You do not like the word "coercion;" but the proposals you make are coercion. There has been a faint indication that the proposal you make will be extended to all parts of the country. Well, Sir, I am rather seduced by the prospect of a law against boycotting, intimidation, and bribery in England. I have seen a good deal of England; I know something of the circumstances which surround the political struggles of the country; and I will say that there is more boycotting, more intimidation, and more bribery in one English county, and under half-a- 1002 dozen habitations of the Primrose League in England, than there is in all the 32 counties of Ireland, I have heard Englishmen say that their blood boils at the instances of tyranny that have come to light—of men driven from town to town and from village to village by the agents and friends of landlords, because they dared to have the courage of their convictions, and to vote and speak in accordance with them. I should be curious to see the clause against boycotting tried in Leicestershire, Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire, or some of the other counties of England; but every one knows that if coercion were applied in Scotland and England in the same manner as it is carried out in Ireland, it would produce a revolt. But if it is not to include the three countries, I say it is a sham; and if there is one thing more detestable than another, it is the masking of despotic measures under Constitutional forms. I would remind the right hon. Baronet that he is not unacquainted with Ireland and its administration, or with coercion there; and I ask him this, Does he think he is going to succeed where so many others have failed? You are going to recur to coercion in Ireland; but do you think you can get a draftsman to draw up a more potent Bill than the last? Do you think you can get a man more able to carry out a Coercion Act than Lord Spencer? And yet that noble Lord has come home to say that that most stringent measure, the Crimes Act, was a failure. What will be the end of coercion in Ireland? You will put some of my hon. Friends in gaol, and hundreds or thousands of others, and you will suppress the National League; but will you be any nearer to the solution of the problem? Be assured that the ultimate solution must come from the people themselves; and will you be any the nearer to that solution by putting 1,000 or 2,000 Irishmen in gaol? You will not terrorize the Irish people. I am sure that the right hon. Baronet has got rid of that vainest of all dreams—that a people, who have fought as Irishmen have for nationality, will be cowed by poor Brummagem imitations of Cromwellianism. You will not succeed by coercion; and when your coercion has come to an end, there will be a stronger National Party than before, and you will have hatred and bitterness towards this country as the 1003 result of the terrible and odious policy which is recommended to this House by men who call themselves friends of the Union. We have approached a period which makes men's minds naturally take a retrospect over the memorable reign of the present Queen. I would ask the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sir Henry Holland), if the loyalty and unity of those Colonies have not been purchased by the gift of self-government? Why, then, cannot you trust to the affections and the willing obedience of the Irish people, when self-government has been found to be a panacea for disloyalty and discontent elsewhere? Why not give Ireland a chance as well as Canada and Australia? Let the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland throw his Coercion Acts into the waste-paper basket of the Irish Office, and come forward with something worthy of the name of a scheme of self-government for Ireland, and I will promise that, at the end of the present year Her Majesty will reign over a united and a contented Empire.
§ Motion, made and Question proposed, 'That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Coleridge.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.