§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
said, that on Monday next he should, in company with his hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) be called upon to answer in a Court of Justice for a criminal offence, for which, if found guilty, they might be sentenced to a protracted term of imprisonment. In view, therefore, of the circumstance that the House, in all probability, was not likely to be troubled by him for some time, he hoped that his present speech in defence of his conduct would be listened to with a fair share of attention. If he attempted—as he believed he should successfully attempt—to defend his action in Ireland in that House, it was not because—and he said it with all respect—that he felt under any obligation either to Parliament or to England to explain his action, because it was to Ireland alone Irish Representatives had for a long time looked for approval or disapproval; but he spoke there because the attack on himself and his fellow-traversers was commenced in that House by the Irish Law Officers of the Crown. The hon. Gen- 1108 tleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson), in reply to some Questions put with reference to the trial on Monday, had answered them, as the House saw, with pale face, with faltering voice, and with trembling hands. He did not think there were many hon. Members on that side of the House who would be satisfied with the obstinate refusal of the Solicitor General for Ireland to reply to the straightforward Questions addressed to him as to what there was in the jury panel of the City of Dublin that rendered it unlikely that a fair trial could be had in the city. The Irish Law Officers had quoted in that House the speeches for which he was to be tried. He believed that many of the Liberal Members of the House were of opinion that it would have been in better taste and better feeling for the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland—both of whom were engaged for the Crown to prosecute in the case—to have refrained from indicting the traversers until the case against them was opened next Monday. He did not complain of this, however, because Irish Members must not expect good taste or fair play from the officers of the Executive Government in Ireland. There had been a great deal of talk, in the course of the debate, about the Plan of Campaign, and, as he was intimately connected with the carrying out of the Plan in Ireland, he could not help thinking how deplorable it was that hon. Members should take part in the debate, and denounce the Plan of Campaign without even having the slightest information as to what the true nature of the Plan of Campaign was; but as he was associated with the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) in that attempt to save the people, he might fairly be supposed to have some knowledge of the subject. From what hon. Members opposite said, one would imagine that the Land Question had been satisfactorily settled in Ireland until the Plan of Campaign came to upset that settlement. In point of fact, the discussion on the present Amendment was on the whole question of the struggle between landlords and tenants in Ireland. It was an error to suppose that the misery which became so apparent in Ireland this winter did not exist during the six 1109 previous years. These years had all been full of misery for the tenant farmers, the Land Act of 1881 having failed to fulfil the expectations formed by its authors; but the great crisis occurred this winter. It was absurd to say, as the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) did, that the crisis had been manufactured by the Nationalist Members. To endow them with the power to make contented tenants face eviction was to give them credit for what they did not possess. It was the distress of the people which induced them to join in the Plan of Campaign. Everybody got timely warning of the crisis that arose in Ireland last winter, and to meet that crisis the Tenants' Relief Bill was introduced by the hon. Member for Cork. But the Bill was rejected, and he would ask the attention of the House to the extraordinary fact that the single argument used by the Government to overthrow the Bill was the argument that the judicial rents were sacred, and that there was no necessity for these judicial rents being reduced. What occurred in Ireland? Immediately after the rejection of the Bill, the supporters of Her Majesty's Government in Ireland—the landlords—to a very large extent gave reductions in judicial rents, so that a large number of landlords more or less did voluntarily—some from a sense of humanity, others from considerations dictated by common sense—that which the Government said it would not do and should not be done in Ireland. That disposed pretty well of the only case that the Government put forward in support of the rejection of the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Cork. Well, the Government went to Ireland, and they endeavoured, with a dispensing power, and with "pressure within the law"—whatever that phrase might mean—to make certain landlords give reductions. But there was a fourth class of landlords, however, who stood aloof, and would not yield to humanity, to common sense, or to Governmental pressure, and who insisted on getting the full pound of flesh. These men he would christen the Shylock wing of the landlord class in Ireland, whom the Nationalist Members had tackled, and, he was proud to say, had tackled successfully under the Plan of Campaign. A great deal had been said about the law 1110 of the land, but there was a higher law than that—namely, the law of self-preservation. What were the Irish Representatives to do, with evictions pending all over the country? Bearing in mind what took place in 1847, when, owing to a blight on the crops, the tenants of Ireland were left penniless, and were by the thousand evicted by their landlords; the friends of the tenants, not seeing any evidence that the landlords had improved in humanity since then, did not think they would be doing their duty if they allowed them to be evicted for the non-payment of rent that they could not pay. The Representatives of the people did not want a recurrence of these sad events in Ireland, and so, as a last resource, they issued the Plan of Campaign, which was only another way for doing—though, perhaps, in a rougher and readier mode—what the Government was endeavouring to do with its dispensing power and pressure within the law; and it was only in exceptional cases, where evictions were pending, where it was absolutely necessary to protect the people, that the Plan of Campaign was applied. In no case where the landlord had shown a desire to meet his tenants in a reasonable and fair spirit had the Plan of Campaign been taken up. It was only adopted where the landlord proved himself utterly heartless and insensible to the sufferings of the people. Why had the Government waited for two months before taking any steps against the Plan of Campaign, or intimating that they considered it illegal? He had heard it said, by way of excuse and explanation, that the Government waited to see what the effects and results of the Plan would be. But upon this principle, if the Socialists of London placarded the walls with appeals to the people to assemble and burn London, it would not be the duty of the Government to interfere until the conflagration had commenced. He himself was to be put upon his trial for the part he took in the Plan of Campaign, but all that he did in collecting rents and making speeches he did under the eyes of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Yet for six weeks he got not the slightest intimation that what he was doing was illegal. The Tory Government, in fact, by standing by had led him into vicious courses. They might, he thought, have been good-natured enough to give him 1111 a hint that if he went on as he was going, he stood a chance of two years' imprisonment. Those who asserted that the Plan of Campaign was an illegal conspiracy had spoken a little too soon. No jury had yet decided the point. The question was to be tried for the first time on Monday, and he denied the right of any hon. Member of that House, whether he was in the Government or not, to say that he had been guilty of criminal conspiracy in promoting the Plan of Campaign before a jury had condemned that Plan as illegal. He (Mr. William Redmond) denied strongly the truth of the allegation that the Plan of Campaign had been introduced into Ireland from America, and was worked only by well-paid agitators simply for political purposes. Long before the Plan of Campaign appeared in Ireland, the tenants on numerous estates combined in order to obtain abatements of rents, it being impossible to pay the rents demanded. He wanted the House to allow him to read an extract from the report of a meeting held not by any tenants under the influence of the National League, or under the thumb of the parish priests, but a meeting of tenants in the County of Donegal, upon the estate of the Duke of Abercorn. The report said—A memorial was unanimously adopted, petitioning for a reduction of 25 per cent of their rents for the present year. Memorialists assured their landlord (many of them Orangemen, and none of them having anything to do with the National League) that they followed no example in this matter, having hesitated as long as possible, and that they were constrained to make the application solely because to pay the present rents under existing conditions was absolutely impossible.Could anybody say that these men had been intimidated by the Irish Members? The Plan of Campaign, however, came to the poor tenants as a helping hand, and they were glad to avail themselves of it. The dire necessities of the people alone had induced him and his Colleagues to enter into the movement. He (Mr. William Redmond) did not deny that the Plan of Campaign, like other organizations, might be devoted to bad objects. But he would remind the House that it had never been put in force except with the sanction and approval of the Catholic clergy of Ireland—from the Archbishop of Dublin down to the curates of the country—and he did not think there was 1112 a single hon. Gentleman present who would say that the Catholic clergy of Ireland would recommend their people to adopt any scheme which was immoral or dishonest, or uncalled for. The Plan had never been put in operation on an estate of which the landlord was desirous of treating his tenants with justice; and he (Mr. William Redmond) contended that the result of the movement up to the present had been to make peace on many estates where there had long been strife; to induce landlords to act justly who would not otherwise have done so, to reduce crime and stop one of the great causes of it—evictions; and to show the people that there was a better way of obtaining justice than by resorting to the old and violent methods against landlords which belonged to the dark days of the past. They had been taunted that the Plan of Campaign had not extended largely in Ireland; but be thought they should be congratulated that there had been no necessity for its being extended largely in Ireland. The result of the Plan of Campaign was to mark the winter of 1886, in the history of Ireland, as remarkable for the comparatively few evictions which had taken place, and for an almost total absence of crime. They had been accused of driving the people into the adoption of the Plan of Campaign, but it was the people who had driven them into it. In the County of Wexford the people had lodged their rents before the Plan was published, and the result was there were no evictions. He thanked God that there were no evictions, but he also thanked the Plan of Campaign. No one had suggested that the Plan of Campaign should be permanent. The Bill of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had been proposed last Session as a temporary measure, and so also the Plan of Campaign was only temporary. The people of Ireland had not abandoned the hope that the people of England and Scotland would give a mandate to their Representatives which would finally regulate the tenure of land in Ireland; free the people from eviction, give the landlord what justly belonged, to him, and happily enable this Parliament, relieved from debating this Irish Question, to pass measures which would benefit the English and Scotch working-men. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) the other 1113 evening taunted the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) because, on his return to Ireland, he had not advised the people to resist oppression and rise in insurrection, instead of having set off on a feeble attempt to stop the payment of rent. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the unarmed Irish people were afraid to fight; but he (Mr. William Redmond) said that if they had arms in their hands they might fight for their liberty like other people. But neither the hon. Member for East Mayo nor any other of the Irish Members had any desire to incite an unarmed people to rise in insurrection, nor could they be justly taunted with cowardice for not having taken such a course. They were willing to meet English Members half way if they would give Ireland a measure of self-government which would benefit Ireland, and benefit England also. If they gave such a measure, all the time and all the efforts of the Legislature of Ireland would be devoted to the building up of the prosperity of the Irish people, and they would have no time to interfere with this country. But the Irish people, as long as they were gagged, would devote all their time to obtaining liberty for their country. They might put him in prison a second time, and keep him there for three years, but he would rest himself in prison, and, re-invigorated by that rest, would come out and redouble his efforts against landlordism and Castle rule in Ireland. He would rather stand next Monday and receive sentence for defending the people of Ireland from eviction, and for working for the overthrow of Castle rule, than have all the wealth, power, honours, and titles which Her Most Gracious Majesty could confer. The only honour which he and the young men of Ireland were taught to look for was the honour of making a stand for the liberties and homes of the people.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)
said, Sir, whatever may be the necessity of the hon. Member for Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) in Ireland, it is perfectly unnecessary for him in this House, at all events, to offer any defence, as he did just now, of the course which hon. Members from Ireland have taken in not prompting the people to resort to the extreme remedy of civil war. There is much in the conduct of the hon. Mem- 1114 ber, and of those with whom he acts, which we are bound to consider wrong, to consider ill-advised, and to consider unpatriotic; but the hon. Member may be perfectly certain that we, at all events, will never taunt him or his Friends for having abstained from inciting the people of Ireland to adopt the alternative of insurrection, nor will one word ever be spoken in this House tending to impute that abstention on their part to cowardice. We know that cowardice is the last imputation that should be made against the Irish people or their Leaders, or against the hon. Member for Cork. The fact that the hon. Member for Cork has not instigated them to armed resistance is due not only to the hopelessness that would attend such an effort, but because of the belief and hope of the Irish people that their object may be attained by other and more peaceful and legitimate means. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Fermanagh who has just sat down has not unnaturally—considering the position he will occupy next Monday—devoted almost the whole of his speech to an examination, and a defence of what is known as the Plan of Campaign. I shall have occasion to make some observations upon that movement by-and-bye; but I wish to point out as a reason for my not following the hon. Member in his remarks upon the Plan of Campaign just at this moment that that movement is not the subject immediately before the House, it not being directly referred to in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork, and although, undoubtedly, he did incidentally advert to it in his speech, and the question relating to it is indirectly raised by the Amendment, still it is not the main question which we are called upon to consider by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork. Owing to the protracted debate upon the Address, I am afraid that the House is in some danger of losing sight of the real nature of the question raised by this Amendment. There may, perhaps, be some hon. Members in this House who are not aware that the practice of moving Amendments to the Address of the character of some of those which stand upon the paper is of comparatively recent origin. Down to a recent time no Amendment to the Address was ever moved unless it raised the direct issue of want of confidence in the Government of the day. No doubt the 1115 practice has been greatly altered of late years, and it appears to be the impression on the minds of some hon. Members that the debate on the Address to the Crown, in answer to the Speech from the Throne, is only an additional method to afford them an opportunity of discussing every possible question in which they may be interested. That practice is extremely recent, and I venture to assert that it is extremely inconvenient. Whatever may be the opinion of the majority of the House upon a subject raised by way of Amendment to the Address, it is impossible for the Government of the day, whosoever it may be, to regard an Amendment to the Address as a matter of indifference; seeing that such an Amendment must, in all cases, assume the character of a vote of want of confidence in the Government. Therefore it is that questions raised by such Amendments cannot really be debated upon their own merits, but must be debated by the House with reference to the effect which they must necessarily have upon the position of the Government. From this point of view I think that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork is more in accordance with the former practice of the House, and, in fact, is far more legitimate than many which have been moved on the Addresses in recent times, or than some of those which stand upon the Paper at this moment. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork does, undoubtedly, raise an issue challenging the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in Ireland—past, present, and prospective. The Amendment of the hon. Member brings certain charges, both of commission and of omission, against the Government. No doubt the hon. Member and his Friends feel no confidence in Her Majesty's present Advisers; and the hon. Member is perfectly entitled, if he chooses, to take the first opportunity he can of asking the House to eject Her Majesty's Government, and to replace it by another. But, although the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends are taking, in my opinion, a proper and a constitutional line in thus challenging the Irish Policy of the Government in moving this Amendment, I am afraid that that Amendment is going to be supported by many other hon. Members upon a totally different ground. Take, for instance, the speech delivered by my 1116 right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) the other night. My right hon. Friend gives hardly any support whatever to the charges which have been brought against Her Majesty's Government by the Amendment. Of much which the Government has done my right hon. Friend expresses approval, but he is going to vote for the Amendment, not on account of the challenge which it contains against the conduct of the Government in Ireland, but because it contains certain words indicating a certain line of reform of the law, and the system of government in Ireland to which my right hon. Friend could give a general concurrence—that is to say, he intends to vote for the Amendment as though it were a sort of abstract Resolution in favour of Home Rule. Now I contend that that is a most extremely inconvenient mode of procedure. It is not a convenient way of raising a debate upon Home Rule in this House to mix that question up with a series of charges against a particular Government in relation to their administration in Ireland. If the question of Home Rule is to be debated in this House, let it be debated in the form of a separate Motion, or as an alternative policy to that adopted by the Government when they bring forward their Irish policy. But it is not reasonable for the right hon. Gentleman, or for any of those who agree with him, to vote for this Amendment, and in doing so to ask the House of Commons to pass a vote of want of confidence in the Government because they, having been placed by the majority of the electors of the country where they are for the purpose of carrying out a particular policy, have not thought it right, within six months from their having been intrusted with power for that purpose, to change their views, and to initiate a policy the exact reverse of that which they were appointed to carry into effect. There are numerous charges made by the hon. Member for Cork against the Government. He charges them with having rejected the Bill which he brought in last Autumn—with having been guilty of unconstitutional conduct in bringing pressure of an irregular character to bear on the Irish landlords in order to induce them to reduce their rents—with repressing meetings—with being guilty of uncon- 1117 stitutional conduct in prosecuting the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. John Dillon)—with packing juries, and, lastly, with suggesting some Amendment of the Criminal Procedure in Ireland, whereas they ought to look in other directions for remedies for the evils they sought to put an end to. These are the principal charges which the hon. Member for Cork has brought against the Government, and with the permission of the House I will proceed as briefly as I can to deal with them. In the first place, the hon. Member has made it a matter of grave charge against the Government that they had induced the House to reject his Tenants' Relief Bill of last year. In dealing with that matter the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) said the other day that the only ground upon which the Government had induced the House to reject that Bill was that there was no unusual depression of the price of agricultural produce in Ireland, whereas both the Government and the landlords now admitted that there has been an unusual fall in that price. But when we rejected that Bill we did not deny that there had been a fall in the price of such produce—did not attempt to base our action upon such an untenable ground. The ground which we took was that the measure of the hon. Member was unnecessary and was unsuited to the circumstances of the case. What we did say was that the prices of agricultural produce of last year were not lower than those which had prevailed when many of the existing rents had been fixed. It is not proved that the Land Commissioners in fixing judicial rents have not allowed a margin for a fall of prices. It was probable that the landlords themselves would, as reasonable persons, in particular cases, make a sufficient reduction of those rents, as had been done in England, without such a measure being passed; and, finally, they urged that the Courts in Ireland were already possessed, to a considerable extent, of an equitable jurisdiction, which would enable them to meet the vast majority of cases where it was sought to enforce the law too rigidly against the tenants, and to grant such relief or such suspension of proceedings as might be required. I maintain that upon those grounds the House was perfectly justified in reject- 1118 ing the hon. Member's Bill. And, indeed, the course of events has shown that the House was justified in doing so. It has been admitted by the hon. Member for Cork, and by his Friends, that, in a large number of cases all over Ireland, the landlords have, of their own free will, offered to reduce the rents and enter into reasonable agreements with their tenants. What we say is, that if such a Bill had been passed as that of the hon. Member for Cork, the effect of such a measure would have been to have induced the tenants to refuse to come to such reasonable agreements, and would have prevented the landlords from making any reasonable concessions. If that Bill had been passed every judicial tenant in Ireland, at all events, would have obtained, at least, temporary security by the tender of half-a-year's rent and half the arrears due. Not a shilling would the landlord be able to collect without going into Court, without taking judicial proceedings, without being exposed to legal action, and without having the burden thrown upon him of proving that the tenant was able to pay more. I say that would have had the effect of suspending over the whole of Ireland the payment of more than half a-year's rent, or of placing the landlords and tenants all over Ireland in the position of contending parties in an action at law. We say that no case existed for such a proceeding as this, and we say that over a large part of Ireland no such measure was required, because tenant and landlord were able to come together and make arrangements. We say, further, that in many parts of Ireland, where real difficulties existed—and exist now—the Bill would have been altogether ineffective, because the tenants were utterly unable—as was known at the time when we were discussing that measure—to pay half-a-year's rent and half the arrears due, which alone would have entitled them to come under the protection of the Bill. Now, I feel disposed to doubt very much whether there exists in the greater part of Ireland what the hon. Member calls an agrarian crisis. I am willing to admit that over the whole of Ireland the relations between landlord and tenant are unsatisfactory; and I doubt very much, as I have said on more than one occasion before, whether those relations can be rendered permanently satisfactory so 1119 long as the dual ownership created by the Land Act exists. I believe that perfectly satisfactory relations can never be established except by some process which will convert or do away with the dual ownership which has been created, or will, to a large extent, make the occupiers of land in Ireland the proprietors of the soil. That is a very large and very difficult question, which cannot be settled in the discussion of an Amendment of this character. It is one which can only be approached by the House upon due deliberation and due information, and upon definite proposals placed before it by those whose duty it is to do so. But I believe, so far as the greater part of Ireland is concerned, that there is no greater agrarian crisis prevailing at this moment than during the last three or four years since the passing of the Land Act. In certain parts of Ireland, no doubt, there has existed for a considerable period, and there exists now, something which may be described as an agrarian crisis. It is a matter of most extreme difficulty to suggest a remedy for that state of things; but it is not difficult to make a very simple statement of the causes. There is a large part of Ireland—I think it is admitted on all sides—where a great population exists on the land, which has not, and which probably cannot subsist and pay rent for the land out of the produce of the land. It is a population which in times past has subsisted on labour given elsewhere, concurrently with the produce of its own holdings. Changes have taken place which have diminished the demand for that labour in other parts of the country; and this population, unable or unwilling to change its residence or change its habits, has, no doubt, long felt the greatest possible difficulty, not only in paying its rent, but to exist at all upon the holding. No doubt that is a state of things which may be described as an agrarian crisis. What the remedies are, and how the remedies can be applied, are matters of extreme difficulty; but I fail to see in what direction it is possible to look for a remedy, unless in the direction of providing a larger amount of employment for the population in their own districts or in other parts of Ireland itself, or something in the nature of emigration. To either of those remedies I believe Her Majesty's 1120 present Government are not averse. They have appointed a Commission for the express purpose of seeing whether the industrial resources of Ireland can be developed, and whether a greater amount of remunerative employment cannot be found for a great part of the population of Ireland. I believe they would not be averse to assist the Irish people or their Representatives in any well-conceived scheme of voluntary emigration; but if there are any other remedies than those, I confess I do not know what they are. Is it not the duty of the Irish Members to suggest in what other direction a remedy can be found? [Cheers.] I do not understand the cheers of my right hon. Friends behind me. I ask whether there are other directions in which remedies for this agrarian crisis, which exists in the West of Ireland, are to be looked for? If there are any, I suppose we shall hear from them at all events. We shall hear from them in what direction these remedies are to be looked for. Certainly, I contend it is no remedy for the state of things I have described to suspend, to reduce, or even to abolish the payment of rent. That would be no remedy for the state of things which exists in a great part of Ireland. Let the House consider for a moment a possible similar case. We are all of us agreed with my right hon. Friend that something should be done to enable the agricultural labourers in England to obtain allotments or small holdings; but it is not proposed that these labourers should live on the produce of their allotments or holdings. It is intended that they should live by their labour on larger holdings, and that they should have the comfort and additional assistance which they can derive from the produce of their own allotments or small holdings. But suppose circumstances should arise in England, as they have arisen in Ireland, to diminish the employment of agricultural labourers, would anyone contend that any encouragement should be given to any attempt on the part of those for whom these allotments or small holdings have been provided to continue on those allotments or small holdings by the reduction or by the abolition of the rent for them? Would anyone contend that a landlord, by such a change of circumstances, should be deprived of such rent for these allotments or small holdings as 1121 was commanded by the neighbouring agricultural land; or can it be suggested that it would be any alleviation of the sufferings of these people that they should be encouraged by any legislation of that sort to remain in the localities where there was not sufficient occupation for them? The condition of a great part of the West of Ireland is very much the same, and the remedy to which some hon. Members seem to be looking—the abolition of eviction, the reduction of rent, or the suspension of the payment of rent altogether—is no boon at all to those tenants for whom the only remedy, as I have said, so far as my knowledge extends, would be to increase the amount of productive employment in Ireland by some means, or to take them to some place where they can be productively employed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) spoke the other day of something I had said as if emigration were my panacea for the evils which have arisen in Ireland. I had previously suggested emigration among other remedies; but it was from my right hon. Friend himself that I adopted his panacea. My right hon. Friend had spoken not only of emigration, but had expressed the opinion in one of his speeches that nothing but compulsory emigration would be sufficient to meet the difficulty of the case. The difference between my right hon. Friend and myself is solely that he considers compulsory emigration as the remedy, and that compulsory emigration can only be applied by an Irish Government. I do not believe in compulsory emigration at all. I do not believe that compulsory emigration could be applied in the congested districts of Ireland, either by a British Government or any Irish Government that could be created. I am not quite sure I should like to see it attempted; but I do believe that voluntary emigration, not conducted by, but assisted by the State and by the Government, initiated by and organized by the the Local Authorities possessing the confidence of the people of the country—is a remedy to which we may look with some hope and confidence. But I do not believe that we want a great State machinery for the purpose of ascertaining what emigrants desire to emigrate, where they desire to go to, or what assistance would be required to be 1122 given to them. My right hon. Friend referred the other day, in his speech in the House, to the difficulties that would arise if the attempt were made to emigrate paupers from Ireland indiscriminately to any of our Colonies or to the United States. No doubt, arrangements would have to be made with our Colonies and the United States. I ask, is there any reason why the British Government is less able to deal with those difficulties than an Irish Government? I should have thought that a Government which possessed a Colonial Office, which was in communication with our Colonial Governments—which possessed a Foreign Office, and which was in communication with Foreign Governments—would be in a far better position to overcome difficulties of this character than any Irish Government which you could create. As to any local difficulties that may exist, as I said before, I do not believe it requires a State Department to deal with those difficulties at all. The Local Boards, Boards of Guardians, and County Authorities are perfectly competent, if they are supported by a desire on the part of their own people, to initiate, to organize a system of emigration which only requires to be assisted, and, to a certain extent, directed, by the Central Government of the country. Now, Sir, it is also charged against the Government that they have brought to bear illegal and un-Constitutional pressure on the landlords to induce them to reduce their rents. It is not very easy to understand the view which the hon. Member for Cork takes of this dispensing power. In one portion of his speech he said that after the rejection of the Tenants' Belief Bill it was the best thing the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant could have done; but in another part of his speech he said the exercise of this power had done more to demoralize the tenants of Ireland than all the agitation which had been conducted by ail the Fenian organizations which had ever existed. It is, therefore, rather difficult to say what view the hon. Gentleman takes of these alleged proceedings on the part of the Government; but, after all, what do they amount to? What proof has been brought forward in this debate of the existence or the use of this un-Constitutional dispensing power 1123 at all? We have heard something of the proceedings of County Court Judge Curran in the County of Kerry, and it has been said that he has exceeded his powers and acted illegally. I conceive that, if Judge Curran has in any way exceeded his legal powers, there are in Ireland Superior Courts which have the power of revising and correcting any abuse or excess of power or jurisdiction of which he may have been guilty. If any landlord, if any tenant, or if any person feels himself aggrieved by the un-Constitutional proceedings of County Court Judge Curran, there is, I conceive, in Ireland some power by which the injustice done can be redressed. But, Sir, what have we heard of any such grievance? Who has been aggrieved by such proceedings? Who has been injured by the course the learned Judge has taken? It appears to me, from all I have ever heard alleged of the proceedings of County Court Judge Curran, that he has used—boldly, no doubt—that equitable power which we have always contended was possessed by the Judges of the County Courts in Ireland under the rules of Court. The existence of this power was denied by our opponents.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Does the hon. Member still deny that there is such a power? It was stated by legal authorities in the House last autumn that, under the rules, County Court Judges did possess a very considerable equitable power of suspending evictions, and proposing equitable arrangements between landlords and tenants. I am very glad that that power exists, and that it has been used; and if the inquiries of the Land Commission should throw any light upon the subject—show a necessity for any further law on the subject—or if it should be found that such powers should be further extended, I should be most happy to consider any proposal which might be submitted in that direction. I think that power, in the existing condition of the Land Question in Ireland, and probably in any condition of the Land Question which may be created by legislation—the power of eviction, or something equivalent to the power of eviction, cannot possibly be dispensed with. I cannot conceive any circum- 1124 stances, even if the tenants should be made possessors of their holdings, in which there should not be somewhere, in some person, a power of ejecting the tenant from his holding if he fails to fulfil the conditions under which he holds it; and I do not believe that there is any remedy for the Land Question that can be devised which will absolutely get rid of the necessity of the use of the power of eviction, or something equivalent to eviction. It is, no doubt, a tremendous power, and should only be used in the very last resort; and if there is reason still to believe that eviction is possible as the result of harsh, capricious, or unjust proceedings on the part of the landlord, and if there is not any power enabling County Court Judges to inquire fully into such cases and to satisfy themselves that substantial justice is done, then, I say, I should be very glad to see and consider any amendment of the law in that direction. So far as regards the proceedings of Judge Curran, what more proof has been adduced? There is a story—one story—about something that Captain Plunkett is supposed to have done. That has been denied, and I am not aware of any attempt that has been made to substantiate the charge against Captain Plunkett. The hon. Member for Cork referred to the correspondence that has been published between Sir Redvers Buller and Messrs. Darley & Roe, in the Glenbeigh case; and he said it contained a threat on the part of Sir Redvers Buller, in case the solicitors did not come to an arrangement. Sir, I have carefully read that correspondence, and I am prepared to state that that correspondence contains no threat of any sort or kind on the part of Sir Redvers Buller. I think that that correspondence does credit to the good sense and judgment of Sir Redvers Buller. He used no threat; he used no word implying that if the landlord insisted on the exercise of his legal rights protection would be refused him; but he did what it was his duty to do as a person in a responsible position; and, having a knowledge of the circumstances of the case, Sir Redvers Buller, as a sensible man, advised the agents to do what, in his judgment, would be best for the landlord, best for the tenants, and most in the interests of humanity and law and order in the district. That advice which was 1125 tendered by Sir Redvers Buller was accepted by the agent; and, in the opinion of an authority which can hardly be questioned, even by hon. Members from Ireland—the opinion of the parish priest—an equitable and a generous proposal was made to the tenants. Then, Sir, the hon. Member for Cork referred to the prohibition of the proposed Sligo meeting. As to that, there is a direct conflict of statement between the hon. Member for Cork and Her Majesty's Government that ought to be cleared up before the conclusion of this debate. What did the hon. Member for Cork describe as the object of the Sligo meeting? It was, he said, to discuss the Land Question, and to protest against the composition of the jury panel. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland read the other night from a notice which was published calling that meeting. There is nothing in it about the Land Question, and there is nothing about the irregular composition of the jury panel. The notice published was, I believe, textually read by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. What does it ask? It asks the Nationalists of Sligo to assemble in their might in Sligo town next Sunday to appeal to Sligo jurors to express their condemnation of the attempt of the Government to assassinate the liberty of the Press and to victimize the gallant defenders of "Saunders' Fort." What is there here about the Land Act or the irregular empanelling of juries? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said such a meeting, avowedly summoned to intimidate jurors, was, in the opinion of the Government, an illegal meeting. Sir, I trust the right hon. and learned Gentleman was right, and that it is an illegal meeting; and I hope that either in Ireland or any other part of the Kingdom the Government would prohibit and prevent the holding of any meeting which was summoned to appeal to juries to act in any particular manner not according to their conscience, not according to the evidence, but to accommodate themselves to the opinion of a particular section of the community. Sir, it is to be hoped that English and Scotch Members will receive with caution much of what they have heard of the process by which, in certain cases, juries in Ireland are placed in the box. Nothing which can in fairness be called jury-packing exists in Ireland. No doubt there are 1126 proceedings different in character from those to which it is necessary to resort in England, and which, I admit, are capable of shocking the feelings of many hon. Members. Some persons in Ireland have very curious ideas as to what the duty of an Irish juror is. There, as here, jurors are sworn to give a verdict on the facts according to the evidence; but it appears to me that those persons to whom I have referred seem to think that that is not the duty of a juror at all, and say they will do their utmost to persuade the Irish jurors that they are to ignore the facts, to ignore their oaths, to ignore the directions as to law given to them by the Judge, and that they are to give verdicts in accordance with their own opinion of what ought to be, and in accordance with what in the opinion of the majority of their fellow countrymen ought to be. Now, Sir, we have heard something of an article published in United Ireland previous to the holding of the Sligo Assizes. I have seen that article. It is stated in that article—and I do not think it will be denied—it was distinctly laid down that the prisoners whom juries were about to try were innocent men who ought to be acquitted, and who had been already tried and acquitted by the public opinion of Ireland, and that if they were convicted it would be regarded as an outrage on the people. The same article contained a distinct intimation that the names of jurors who acted in a particular way would be held up to public odium. When some of us are so shocked by proceedings such as are resorted to by the Irish Government to get jurors into the box, we ought to consider whether there were or were not upon the jury panel men who were likely to be influenced by exhortations and threats of that description. I suppose that those who made these threats thought they would have some effect, or they would not have taken the trouble to make them. Sir, unfortunately, we know that the office of juror in Ireland is not one that is entirely free from danger. We have heard of one juror in Dublin who nearly paid the penalty of his life for the honest performance of his duty. We have heard also that there are jurors in Sligo at this moment who are Boycotted on account of their conduct at the recent trials. If such a state of things prevails in any part of Ireland, is 1127 that not some extenuation of the course which the Government—and not this Government alone, but all Governments—have had to take in this matter? I ask whether, if any power exists by which those who are responsible for criminal procedure in Ireland may empanel a jury consisting of men who are least likely to be subject to such influences—I ask whether any Government would be doing its duty to the country if they were to omit to make use of those powers which the law gives them? Now, Sir, the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) referred also to what I think he described as the timidity and vacillation of the Government in regard to their dealings with the Plan of Campaign, and he seemed to make it a complaint that no tenants had been prosecuted for the Plan of Campaign. He also complained of the great delay on the part of the Government in expressing any opinion on it one way or another. As to the delay, of course it is not for me to express any opinion. I do not know whether it was possible to have acted before they did; but as to the course they took in prosecuting those who were the authors and advisers of the Plan of Campaign rather than the tenants, who were the instruments in putting the Plan into execution, I do not think there can be much doubt that the Government took a right, a straightforward, and an honourable course. If the Plan of Campaign was, in their opinion, an illegal plan and an immoral one, if it was an illegal conspiracy, surely it was their duty to attack those who were responsible for it, and who were doing their utmost to advise the tenants to adopt it, rather than to attack the tenants, who might be ignorant dupes, and who had acted under the advice of those in whom they had confidence. The speeches delivered in the House upon the Plan of Campaign have been extremely conflicting, because they have produced a number of opinions from Gentlemen of great weight. Some of them are of a remarkable character. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) expressed his opinion on the Plan of Campaign. He says that it is a consequence of our action in rejecting the Tenants' Relief Bill last year. That may be perfectly true. The Tenants' Relief Bill did all or a great deal of 1128 that which the Plan of Campaign was invented to do; and in that sense it might be contended that the Plan of Campaign would have been absolutely unnecessary if the Tenants' Relief Bill had been passed. But it would have been interesting for the House to know whether the right hon. Gentleman thought it was a legitimate consequence of our rejection of the Bill, and whether, whenever the House of Commons rejects a measure which is asked for by any section of the community, that section of the community is legally and morally entitled to take the law into their own hands, and to do for themselves that which Parliament had refused to do for them. [An hon. MEMBER: Church rates!] The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) gave his opinion of the Plan of Campaign. He has invented a new term, I think, by describing it as extra-legal, and declared that to be extra-legal which does not, or may not, exactly square with the ordinary principles of the law. The hon. Member said that, if he had been an Irishman, he would not have shrunk from bearing his part in the prosecution of the Plan of Campaign. Sir, I think that that definition ought to have been a little further enlarged; and that it would have been desirable to have an explanation of the precise difference between that which was illegal and that which was extra-legal. I should have been glad to know whether the hon. Member had any responsibility for the Land Act of 1881. I want to know whether the hon. Member thinks that that Act is, as against the tenant, absolutely of no effect, and that, by some extra-legal process, while the landlord is entirely bound by the provisions of that Act, the tenant is under no responsibility whatever with respect to his engagements. But, Sir, the most important declarations of all that we have had on the Plan of Campaign is that which was given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) the other night. My right hon. Friend protested against being called upon to give an opinion at all; but he did give an opinion. He said—"If I must pronounce judgment at all, I must be allowed to pronounce judgment in full." Now, let us see what that judgment in full is. His judgment in full is, that however immoral, however unpatriotic, 1129 however objectionable the Han of Campaign might be, it was not more immoral, more objectionable, or more unpatriotic than the conduct of certain Irish landlords who had been denounced by the Chief Secretary. Now, the House can understand why there has been so much hesitation in various parts of the House in giving a direct opinion on the Plan of Campaign. The hon. Member for Cork shrinks from actually approving it, because such an open approval of the Plan of Campaign might alienate the support of some Members on this side of the House. My right hon. Friends who sit near me hesitate absolutely to denounce or to condemn the Plan of Campaign. That may be owing to the circumstances that such a denunciation might alienate the support of those who are sitting below the Gangway. However that may be, I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle did not, in the slightest degree, satisfy the House with the judgment in full which he pronounced the other night. There is no man in the House who can see more clearly than he can the fallacy in regard to the differences between the two cases which he cited. My right hon. Friend referred to the conduct of bad landlords. Well, Sir, we have been trying, for some years past, to make landlords—English landlords to a certain extent and Irish landlords to a greater extent—good by Act of Parliament. We have done a good deal, and have gone a good way; but perhaps we have not gone far enough. But why has Parliament stopped short at the point at which it has? Why has it stopped short at the point which would have enabled it to deal with the conduct of those landlords to whom my right hon. Friend has referred? It has stopped short because it felt, rightly or wrongly, that by further interference with the remaining powers of the landlords it would do more harm on a large scale than it could possibly do good on a small scale. Irrespective of the legality or the morality of the Plan of Campaign, why is that Plan to be condemned by the House? Because whatever may be its effects in particular instances, whatever provocation may have been given by particular landlords, if its legality be admitted, if its validity be maintained, it is calculated to do far more harm on a large 1130 scale than it can possibly do good on a small scale. Why, Sir, if this Plan of Campaign is legal, and if it cannot be stopped, there is an end to all the legal relations between tenants and landlords. It is all very well to say that it has only been applied in a small number of cases; but it is capable of being applied in every case. If it is capable of being applied to obtain a fair reduction of rent, it is equally capable of being applied in order to obtain any reduction of rent, or a total cessation of rent, as the tenants may choose. It is a weapon which those who have invented it cannot possibly control the use of; and if its legality is admitted by the Courts of Law and by Parliament, there is evidently and obviously a total destruction of all the remaining rights of every landlord in Ireland. Look at the consequences to the tenants that the success of this Plan of Campaign is likely to entail. Whatever may be the legality of the Plan of Campaign, you cannot deprive the landlord of the right to resort to his existing legal remedy. He cannot be prevented from attempting to re-enter on that property from which he receives no rent; and I maintain that if the Plan of Campaign be extensively resorted to, the only remedy left to the landlord is not partial but indiscriminate and total evictions if he wishes to retain his title to any land. I put it to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House whether that is not for the landlords the desperate, and as it seems to me the only, remedy, if the legality of this Plan of Campaign is admitted? It is an invitation to internecine war between landlord and tenant. Now, Sir, I think that it is the duty of the Government to do everything in their power to prevent the further progress of a system which could only lead to such results, and it is equally the duty of Parliament to support the Government in any measures which they may think necessary for the attainment of that object. There is only one other subject that I will refer to, and I will be as brief as possible. The hon. Member for Cork warned us in very solemn language against the probable consequences of any attempt to resort again to what he described as coercive legislation. I desire to acquit the hon. Member of making any statement in the nature of a threat, and I am perfectly willing to accept his own 1131 declaration that anything which he said was by warning, and that when he referred to what had occurred in the past it was only to warn us against what might occur again. But what is the hon. Member's argument? He says that coercion has been used by former Governments, and that any fresh coercive measure will be used by the present Government as a weapon against their political opponents, and that the suppression by the Government of political discussion in Ireland has always been followed by outrage, not only in Ireland, but elsewhere. The answer to that appears to me to be that anything which can be described as a reform of criminal procedure can only be used by the Government against political opponents in the event of their committing illegal action. The argument of the hon. Member may be a good one as against the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act and other provisions of that sort, which may be used indiscriminately and arbitrarily by the Government against political opponents; but criminal procedure can only be used against political opponents if they put themselves in a position to be prosecuted for criminal offences. It may be perfectly true that if the law is allowed to remain powerless outrages will not take place; for when the law is not asserted there is no occasion for active resistance to it. But I maintain that neither Parliament nor the Government can acquiesce in passive resistance to the law any more than in open resistance to it—indeed, the consequences may be more serious from a passive than from a more active form of illegality; and that, if the consequences of a recognition of the duty be even to provoke a conflict with a more active form of illegality, no Government is justified in permitting a paralysis of law in any part of Her Majesty's Dominions. I should have thought that the argument to be drawn from the observations of the hon. Member for Cork was rather that the law in Ireland, as in every part of the Kingdom, ought to be made sufficiently strong to deal, not only with active, but with passive resistance, with every form of resistance to the just laws of the land. The hon. Member reminded us that coercion had been followed, not only by outrages in Ireland, but also by dynamite and assassination elsewhere. Well, Sir, that 1132 warning gives some cause for reflection. I will not admit that outbreaks of dynamite plots or assassination plots are the natural and spontaneous results of a firm or even a coercive administration of the law in Ireland. Those plots and attempts are the deliberate reply of an organization existing in America to every attempt by the British Government to assert the law. They are not the spontaneous action of individuals. They are parts of the organized plan of an association deliberately formed. The hon. Member may say that he is unable to repress the proceedings of any such organization. That may be perfectly true, and I do not doubt it for a moment; but I think that the House and the country expect something more from the hon. Member than that. It is in the power of the hon. Member, not only to warn us of what may happen in consequence of certain legislation which we may be contemplating, it is also in his power to denounce the methods which will be adopted by some persons on the other side of the Atlantic. It is in his power to sever himself and his political organization absolutely and completely from those who are responsible for such a line of conduct. There is no doubt whatever that the hon. Member has from time to time sent delegates to Nationalist conferences in America; and he has, undoubtedly, received large subscriptions from America for political purposes. Has the hon. Member satisfied himself, or will he satisfy himself now, that his delegates have not associated with those who have been guilty, and who, he warns us, may be guilty again, of crimes which I fully admit he is not in a position to control, but which he is in a position to disown and denounce? When the hon. Member has done this—when he has placed beyond the possibility of doubt the absence of any connection, direct or indirect, between himself and any association which seeks by other than political methods to accomplish its ends, then I think the House will be disposed to listen to the advice which he may give it, to the warnings which he may address to it, in a very different spirit from that which it is disposed to show now. From what I have said the House will understand that it is impossible for me to concur in the censure which it is proposed by the hon. Member to pro- 1133 nounce upon the action of the Government. As to the affirmative declaration which the Amendment contains, and which commands the approval of the right hon. Member for Newcastle, it appears to me that that declaration may mean everything or nothing. My right hon. Friend must know by this time that the great difficulty in the way of Irish legislation is not the framing of a Resolution in plausible terms; the difficulty lies in framing the details of a large measure which will be accepted in Ireland and in Great Britain. It will not advance us much to pass a Resolution urging a "reform of the law and of the system of government in Ireland which will satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people." The difficulty is to include in legislation conditions which will satisfy British interests and British ideas, as well as the demands of the Irish people. My right hon. Friend must be as well aware as the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian himself that there exists at this time the solid barrier of 100 votes in this House against the policy for which the late Government made themselves responsible in the last Parliament. My right hon. Friend the other day reproached the Government with inability to grasp the conditions of the Irish problem, or to understand the true difficulties of the Irish Question; but is it not equally necessary for a statesman to grasp the true conditions of the British problem, and to ascertain the true nature of the difficulties felt by the British people? It is not enough that a measure for the reform of government in Ireland should command the confidence and approval of the Irish people; it must be accompanied by conditions which will command the approval of the British nation. The British nation said at the last Election by a large majority that the plans of the then existing Government would not secure the conditions which they themselves considered necessary; and until they have made some further progress, until they have grasped more completely the conditions which are necessary to secure the confidence of the British people, it is idle for them to ask us to agree to a Resolution which speaks only of satisfying the needs and securing the confidence of the Irish people. We none of us are averse to reforms, either of the 1134 law or of the system of government, which would satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people. I retract nothing of what I have ever said at any time as to the conditions under which I think it is possible to make an attempt to satisfy those needs and acquire that confidence; but I do not see the use of, and I refuse to be a party to, a vague Resolution which may be held to pledge me to that which I may be unable to perform. And, above all, I decline to vote for a Resolution which holds out as the sole and only object to be borne in mind by the House of Commons (hat of satisfying the wants and securing the confidence of the Irish people, and fails at the same time by a single sentence—by a single word—to recognize that there are securities and there are conditions which are equally required, and equally justly required, by the people of Great Britain, and which must be secured before they can assent to any such legislation as is contemplated by some of my right hon. Friends near me.
§ MR. A. E. PEASE (York)
said, that he felt bound to remind the House that the Government had been warned of the critical condition of the Irish tenants and of those circumstances which had culminated in the adoption of the Plan of Campaign by others than the Irish Nationalist Members in this House; and in support of that contention he desired to be allowed to quote the letter of Sir Eardley Wilmot, who for many years was a Tory Member, which appeared in The Times in September last. The hon. Baronet said—As an old and staunch Conservative, as a cordial supporter of Lord Salisbury's Administration, as an earnest well-wisher of its success, and, last but not least, in the cause of peace and prosperity in Ireland, I hope that the Government will see its way to accept, subject to modifications, the 3rd clause of Mr. Parnell's Bill dealing with evictions. The interests of leaseholder sand the adaptation of the amount of rent to current prices may well wait the issue of the proposed Royal Commission on Land and Industries, but misery and hunger cannot wait; and if nothing is done to arrest the iron hand and heel of the agent, thousands of families will be thrown in cold and shivering and nakedness upon the cruel mercies of the coming winter. Evictions cannot serve the purpose of the landlords for the present condition of the country; and if the land-hungering squatter will dare to occupy the vacated land, among rational and calmly-judging men in Ireland there is but one opinion—namely, that evictions 1135 should be temporarily suspended, subject, of course, to investigation of the local Court as to the capability of the tenant. Because the proposal emanates from a Home Ruler whose political doctrines we abhor, if it is a good proposal, in God's name why should we reject it?But, further than that, he (Mr. A. E. Pease) contended that they on that side of the House were justified in placing the responsibility of the Plan of Campaign on the shoulders of Her Majesty's Government. He noticed amongst the Bills introduced into the House a Bill for providing a close time for hares; and if that were a desirable object, he asked if it would not have been a good thing to have, for at least a few months during the winter season, a close time for the poor Irish tenants? He listened the other day with great respect to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), and he thoroughly believed in the genuine sympathy for these sufferers, and the high purpose of the right hon. Gentleman in striving to temper with mercy the application of the law—and he believed that the country generally approved of the action of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the pressure brought to bear upon Irish landlords. But the approval of such action implied to a greater or less degree the acknowledgment of the inequitable incidence of certain laws; and that approval and acknowledgment of the wisdom of the course adopted by the right hon. Gentleman was also inconsistent with the new doctrine and principles adopted by the Unionist Party of late, that any principle, whether right or wrong, moral or immoral, was to be regarded as absolutely sacred and irreproachable if once it had become embodied in the law. According to the new Unionist creed, anyone who dared to question the justice of a law, or the infallibility of an Irish Judge who had pronounced an acceptable dictum, was to be exposed to all manner of reproach and harsh criticism; but there seemed to be a different test of right and wrong when an Irish Judge said something which implied disapproval of the action of the Irish Executive. Then, indeed, the Unionists fled to a very different code of morality. The Government had over and over again stated their determination to maintain, at all risks, law and order in Ireland, and quite right too. They on that side of the House were 1136 quite as anxious to maintain law and order as any hon. Members opposite could be; but they advocated different methods of achieving that object. They believed that law and order could only be satisfactorily maintained in any country by winning the confidence and securing the acquiescence and good-will of the main body of that people. If he might be allowed, he would quote a few words on this point by an author whose name had, of late, been in every Unionist's mouth—No jurist"—said Professor Dicey—"can question for a moment that the ultimate strength of law lies in the sympathy, or at the lowest the acquiescence, of the mass of the population.But, he would ask, was the conduct of the Government such as was likely to obtain the acquiescence of the Irish people, much less their sympathy or reverence for the law? Regarding their policy, and guessing from it what the future might bring, he regretted to say that he could not look forward to any good result following from the measures foreshadowed in the Speech of the Queen. Certainly, the past afforded no hope for the future. There was a time when he, like hon. Members opposite—and he believed, also, the majority of the people in England—treated as absolutely incredible the allegations as to the wrong-doing and tyranny of English officials in Ireland which were made by Nationalist Members. He could not bring himself to believe that such things as jury-packing, scales of fees for Crown witnesses, and exclusion of Nationalists from all public official life in Ireland, wholesale evictions, the driving of poor people out wholesale upon the road-side, and the destruction of their dwellings in the depth of winter, and other iniquities, were possible under a British Government, and some hon. Members opposite appeared still to cherish this pious belief, though there were others who were not afraid to acknowledge the existence of those terrible evils. Unhappily, it was no longer possible, in the presence of the fierce light which had recently been thrown upon Irish affairs, to have any doubt on the matter; and if such things could take place during the last few months when the Government was exerting itself to the utmost, and the landlords were upon their good beha- 1137 viour, he would ask, what must have been the state of things when those influences were not at work? The evictions, and the packing of juries at the Sligo Assizes, enabled them to form some idea of what the Irish people had had to suffer in the past in the name of the maintenance of the law. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), in his able speech, taunted Liberals with their change of attitude upon the Irish Question; but there was a very good cause for the change; of attitude, the wider suffrage and the great preponderating strength of the Nationalist Party was testimony enough to any reasonable man—it was testimony which, under our Constitution, we were bound to recognize of the genuineness of Irish desires. They were asked—"Do you mean to hand over the management of the affairs of Ireland to the National League?" But, if he (Mr. A. E. Pease) understood matters rightly, the National League existed in consequence of two things which bound the League together—the desire for settlement of the Land Question, and the desire for self-government—and if these two questions were settled to the satisfaction of the Irish people there would be no National League to hand over the affairs of Ireland to. They would be handed over to the Irish people. The fact was the Tory Party looked upon the Irish Question from the narrow point of view of the present; whereas the object of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and of the Liberal Party, was not to get rid of the Irish Question for a short time, but to make, as far as possible, a final settlement of the Irish problem—at least, a settlement for the generations to come. They all admitted the deplorable events which had taken place in Ireland in the past; but the ruling people in Ireland and the landlord class must take their share of responsibility, for they had wickedly neglected the interests of the masses for long series of years, and it was not to be wondered at if, in the struggle of the people against enormous odds, regrettable events had taken place. But now that the people had found an adequate voice in the House, he hoped and believed that the House would lend an ear to the reasonable demands of the Irish 1138 people, and do its best to meet them. He would also ask the House whether the Nationalist Representatives had already shown themselves more unfitted for taking part in the government of their own country than past English Governments. He would like to quote a few lines from writings of a man whose opinions were always respected in that House—namely, Edmund Burke, who, writing in 1797, said—There is no hope for the body of the people of Ireland so long as those who are in power make it the great object of their policy to propagate an opinion on this side of the water that the mass of their countrymen are not to be trusted.He (Mr. A. E. Pease) believed that in those words lay the secret of the Irish problem. It was the refusal of England to trust the Irish people that had done the mischief. The old system of the government of Ireland—the landlords supported by English soldiers—was disappearing, and whatever Government was in power would have to find a substitute for it, either in a representative institution, or resort to a despotic and arbitrary government of the country. They were told that they ought to yield nothing to agitation. When the Irish agitation was spoken of, or when Irishmen agitated, it was said that they did not deserve anything; but if they did not agitate it was said that they did not want anything. He should feel it very difficult, if he were an Irish Nationalist Representative, to know what course to pursue. If the Irish people remained perfectly still and neutral it was taken as a signal that Ireland had no grievances. They had had an appeal from the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh to suppress the National League, which was very similar to the language used by the right, hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) at Liverpool, when he asked the people of the town to help him to put out the fire in Ireland. If the means by which the Party opposite attempted to put out the fire in Ireland was by piling on more fuel in the shape of repressive legislation, they on that side of the House certainly would not help them. There was another way in which the fire might be put out, in which his (Mr. A. E. Pease's) Party would be most happy to help the Government. The noble 1139 Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), in his speech in the general debate on the Address, alluded to the treatment of Ireland in the past as being like "jobbing a horse in the mouth," and he thought the simile was peculiarly appropriate. The noble Lord also said he would support any repressive measure which should also be applied to England and Scotland. He would like to know what comfort Englishmen would have in looking forward to repressive measures to be applied to themselves, by which they would also get a "job in the mouth" at the same time as the Irish people. If the Government pursued, or allowed the Irish Executive to pursue, those courses which had spread the belief among the Irish people that conviction and not justice was the object of the Government in the country—if they appeared to be desirous of introducing measures by which they would be able to evade existing law, they would stir up a great antagonism to the Irish law. It had been well said that if the people regarded the laws as their enemies, they would be enemies to the laws; and that was the feeling which they on that side of the House hoped, by the policy they advocated, to remove. They hoped to let the Irish people see that the laws existed for themselves and their protection, and not for interference with their liberties or for their persecution. He (Mr. A. E. Pease) believed there was no desire on that side of the House to monopolize the policy of conciliation. He thought they would heartily support any indication on the part of the present Government showing a wish to adopt a different attitude towards the Irish people. On the other hand, if the Government pursued the course which would exasperate the Irish people, he believed the Liberal Party would as heartily oppose it as they would cordially support the other course. He thanked the House for its indulgence, and he would not have spoken if he had not felt strongly the danger of the course of extraordinary legislation in the matter of the repression of crime in Ireland, and if he had not also felt very strongly the necessity of showing a generous and conciliatory spirit towards the Irish people.
§ MR. DE COBAIN (Belfast, E.)
Mr. Speaker, I think it necessary that I should apologize for interposing the few 1140 observations I propose to make in the course of this debate, because I am one of those who recognize that in the very lengthy and discursive discussion of the subject-matter of the Queen's Speech it may be wise for those who desire the progress of Public Business, and who regard with disfavour the expenditure which is now taking place of the time of the House, to remain silent. But certain observations of a personal character have been made with regard to myself, and I hope the House will accord me its indulgence while I make some reference to them. In the cold, cynical, and passionless speech addressed to the House on Monday by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) he alluded to the well-worn, stale, and stereotyped argument of coercion, and he indicated that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to put coercive legislation strongly in force in Ireland. But the hon. Member did not stop to consider whether the restraining of Boycotting was coercive legislation, or whether any legislative attempt to resist the Socialistic conspiracy which is at present in full swing in Ireland, or to interfere with those who are seeking to obtain money legally owing by one man to another, and to impound it in order to promote some object of their own, is, or is not, coercion. In the somewhat ambiguous and remarkable speech which was made the other night by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), in which he skilfully trimmed his sails in order to catch both winds, the hon. Member told the House that he had no objection to coercive legislation if it was found to be necessary, and providing that it was applied to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects and to all parts of Her Majesty's Dominions. I am quite prepared to admit the force of the logic of the hon. Member; and I presume that if the same causes exist in this part of the Queen's Dominions as exist in that unhappy part of them to which I have the honour to belong, where we have had Boycotting, Moonlighting, assassination, and the Plan of Campaign in full swing, it would be the duty of those who are intrusted with the administration of the law to step in, and say whether this course of procedure was in harmony with the law, and if allowed to continue would be to the advantage of Her Majesty's subjects. [An hon. MEMBER: 1141 How about the riots in Belfast?] I will come to that question by-and-bye. The hon. Gentleman has stated that the policy of coercion would bring Her Majesty's Government to the apex of an inclined plane, and one would imagine that the hon. Member and his Friends would be delighted to see them there, so that they might be able to apply the momentum which would be requisite for precipitating the Government into the chasm below. If the principles of the Plan of Campaign are permitted to pass unchallenged a most grave and serious precedent will be set, which will not only affect the question of the rent payable to the landlords, but will touch ultimately the profits of the trader and every sort of industry and enterprize in Ireland. Apart from the question of the legality of the operation, it is, as far as I can judge, nothing but Socialism; and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will exhibit, in relation to this phase of Irish agitation, carried on in so illegal and arbitrary a manner, the firmness which is required by the conditions of the country. Of the different phases of discontent and agitation which we have seen in Ireland, this Plan of Campaign is only part of the dismal whole. The maiming of cattle, the dynamite explosions of which we are threatened with recurrence, the Phœnix Park assassinations, the attacks upon life and property, and Boycotting, are simply parts of the same movement, and are well recognized as springing from the same source, and all pointing to the same disastrous end. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork has stated that the effect of repressive legislation is merely to drive crime under the surface. But when, some years ago, the hon. Gentleman, with some of his confederates, was imprisoned for a brief season in Kilmainham, the country enjoyed during the period of their incarceration a qualified tranquillity. They were imprisoned on a charge of treason-felony, and they were let out of Kilmainham without an investigation of the grave and serious offences with which they were charged. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and other hon. Members have complained of the constitution of the jury lists; and it appears that in the estimation of hon. Members below the Gangway no jury can possess adequate quali- 1142 fications for coming to a right and proper decision unless it is composed of men who are under the influence or intimidation of the National League. But the only way in which the law can be properly carried out is by calling upon all jurors to stand aside who are under the power of such intimidation. I have had an opportunity of hearing the grounds on which a Member of the Party led by the hon. Member for Cork relinquished Parliamentary life. That hon. Member told me that he gave up his position as a Member of Parliament, and of the Home Rule Party, because he found that that Party was a conspiracy of blood. [Laughter from the Home Rule Benches.] I would ask hon. Members to restrain their laughter for a moment, until they hear the whole of what I have to say. This Gentleman told me that he had relinquished his connection with the Home Rule Party because he had been given to understand that the money collected by a lady in Ireland—a near relative of the hon. Member for Cork—was applied in the payment of those wretches who committed the Phœnix Park murders, and of others who had been guilty of similar deeds. The hon. Member further told me that the feeling of remorse with which that lady reflected upon the application of the money she had industriously collected led to her being immured in a place of privacy. [Renewed laughter.] Well, the hon. Gentleman who made this statement to me was as worthy of credence as any hon. Gentleman now sitting below the Gangway opposite. [Cries of "Name!"]
§ MR. DE COBAIN
I have no desire that a messenger with a black mask should be sent to the residence of this Gentleman; and therefore I shall decline to give his name. The hon. Member for Cork has told the House that dynamite has been used, that explosions have occurred, and that threats have been uttered that bombs will be thrown from the Strangers' Gallery on to the floor of this House; and, because of these things, the Parliament of the British Empire is to be placed under a feeling of intimidation, and by threats and menaces of this kind prevented from doing its duty to the people. An hon. Member—I think it was the hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan)— 1143 who touched, and, I think, accurately, the cause of the agricultural evil when he told us that the distress which exists in so many parts of Ireland is attributable to the small holdings of the people. If the Government and the country would make a searching inquiry into this matter, and if legislation is promoted to remove these small holdings, and to enable those engaged in agriculture to cultivate a larger amount of land, I believe we should deal with what is mainly the vital source of the suffering and privation of the Irish people. My sympathies have always been with the agricultural interest. I have ever been in favour of the tenant farmers, and I have always advocated the recognition of their rights in the soil, and the justice of their being compensated for every shilling of money they have expended in their holdings. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Morley) charged the Government the other night with not having grasped the situation of affairs in Ireland; but there is very little wonder that the Government cannot immediately grapple with the state of affairs in Ireland. They entered into office under circumstances of unusual complication and difficulty. They were the immediate Successors of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), and the right hon. Gentleman's administration of Irish affairs was not calculated to make easy the task of anyone who succeeded him in such administration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle says that Chief Baron Palles had charged the Irish Government with weakness. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman recollects the circumstances under which Chief Baron Palles made that observation. Was it not to rebuke the indifference and apathy with which the police stood up and allowed the process of the law to be defeated. And then the right hon. Gentleman charges me with writing an incendiary letter on the strength of the Report of a Royal Commission.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
Will the hon. Gentleman pardon me. I made no charge against him. I simply stated that he had been pointed out by a Commission issued by the Lord Lieutenant for public censure and reprehension.
§ MR. DE COBAIN
The right hon. Gentleman did not allow me to finish my 1144 sentence. What I meant to say was that the Commission was originally composed of three Members appointed by the right hon. Gentleman himself.
§ MR. DE COBAIN
I am under the impression that the Commission was originally constituted by the right hon. Gentleman, and that it was composed of three Members, of whom the dominating spirit was a legal gentleman who undertook the defence of the Phœnix Park murderers—Mr. Adams, General Buller, and Mr. Justice Day. That Commission sat at Belfast, and Mr. Adams was practically its presiding genius, though aided and abetted by Mr. Justice Day. They went there to investigate matters affecting the interests of Belfast, and they carried out their inquiry in such a manner as to leave a sense of injury which is still rankling. Under these circumstances I wrote a letter, not one word, or one phrase, or one sentiment of which am I prepared to alter, qualify, or change. I wrote a letter complaining of the insobriety of the police force, and their acts of cruelty and crime; and that letter, as well as some other deliverances of the same kind, acted on the town of Belfast as a sort of escape valve for the feelings of an outraged people who felt placed under a force which was incapable or unwilling of giving them protection. I regard the censure of hon. Gentlemen opposite as a diploma of merit. I never could have met my own constituency with any sense of deserving or enjoyment of their confidence it I had not been met with words of reprobation by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. That right hon. Gentleman believes that the only policy for Ireland is a policy of Home Rule, or, in other words, that the Legislative and Executive power of the country should be handed over to the element most incapable of carrying out just and fair government. May I take the liberty of saying that, in my opinion, the accession of the right hon. Gentleman to the late Government by no means added to its strength. I think that his abdication of the stool of the pedant for the seat of a Cabinet Minister did not augment the influence of the Party to which he belonged. If he had stuck to the pursuit of penmanship, the right hon. Gentleman might have been more successful.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is dealing very discursively with the Amendment, and his remarks do not appear to be at all relevant.
§ MR. DE COBAIN
I must apologize, Mr. Speaker, for having deflected somewhat from the merits of the Amendment in order to make a sort of personal rejoinder to the right hon. Gentleman. I have only now to express my belief that in the hands of the present Government, led by the noble Marquess in the other House (the Marquess of Salisbury), and assisted by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), and of that illustrious man of whom every Englishman is justly proud—the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright)—and his brilliant and accomplished Colleague in the representation of that City, the interests of the Empire will be thoroughly safeguarded. No matter how leaden the atmosphere may appear to the right hon. Member for Newcastle, and however fearful he may be as to the future progress of legislation in this House, I believe that the statesmen to whom I have referred will hand down to their successors a supreme Imperial Parliament, together with a stable, progressive, and over-united Empire.
§ VISCOUNT KILCOURSIE (Somerset, S.)
I rise for the purpose of supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). But, Sir, I am not able to give to the whole of that Amendment an unqualified assent. I can give ray entire approval to the second and third portions of it; but I can only give a qualified assent to the first part. The first part of the Amendment represents 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.Now, Sir, I happen to know of cases where the National League has interposed to induce tenants who could afford, and easily afford, to pay their rents, not to do so. But I am bound to say that these have been exceptional cases. In remote districts in the West of Ireland—that portion of Ireland which I have heard described as "Ireland beyond the Pale"—I have known cases where persons, even in those distressed districts, 1146 could have paid their rents, and would have paid them, had it not been for the inducements held out to them by the National League not to pay them. In regard to that portion of Ireland to which I refer, I do not think anyone has more thoroughly grasped the condition of the people than Lord Duffer in did in 1880, when he said—That no legislation could touch it; that no alteration in the Land Laws could effectually ameliorate it; and that it must continue until the world's end, unless something be contrived totally to change the conditions of existence in that desolate region.If I may be allowed to read another quotation from an article written by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), it will, I think, show what, in his opinion, at any rate, ought to be the course taken by Her Majesty's Government, with the view of ameliorating the distress in that district. He says—Instead of relief, what a statesman must seek is prevention of this great evil and this strong root of evil; and prevention means a large, though it cannot be a very swift, displacement of the population. But among the many experts with whom I have discussed this dolorous and perplexing subject, I never found one who did not agree that a removal of the surplus population was only practicable if carried out by an Irish authority, backed up by the solid weight of Irish opinion. Any exertion of compulsory power by a British Minister would raise the whole country-side in squalid insurrection, government would become impossible, and the work of transplantation would end in ghastly failure.Now, I am thoroughly aware of the difficulties in which Her Majesty's Government are placed with regard to Ireland; but may I not ask them, in spite of the mandate which their supporters received from the constituencies, whether they could not have done something to ameliorate the condition of the people living in these portions of Ireland? Would it have been impossible for them to have entered into some negotiations with hon. Members who represent popular opinion in Ireland; and would it have been in vain to have attempted, at all events, to do something to relieve the dreadful distress in the West of Ireland? I am sorry to say that nothing of the sort has been done. I admit that, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, it may be stated that there are great difficulties in the way. I acknowledge those great difficulties. I 1147 may be told that there are difficulties in treating with hon. Members whose speeches in Ireland have not, on every occasion, corresponded with their speeches in this House. And in so far as their speeches in Ireland have not corresponded with their speeches here—in so far as their speeches delivered in Ireland have had an illegal complexion, I, at least, cannot be accused of having been indifferent to them, because, both in the public Press and in public speeches, I have in unmeasured terms condemned the speeches which have been delivered by hon. Members from Ireland. But while I have condemned those speeches I could not forget, for a single moment, the circumstances in which those hon. Gentlemen were placed. I trust that in my future career, as in the past, I shall always endeavour to use such moderation of language as may commend itself to the hearers I have the honour to address. But if, in the constituency I represent, there had been 600 evictions from one property alone, I should have been very sorry indeed to answer for the language that I might have used. But, Sir, I will go one step further, and say this—that if I have denounced in unmeasured terms what I have considered to be the immoderate language made use of in Ireland, I may ask whether there have not been speeches, on the other hand, from hon. Members from Ireland in this House which have been moderation itself, especially those which have been delivered by the Leaders who sit below the Gangway? No more moderate utterances have ever been delivered in this House than those which proceeded from the hon. Member for Cork when he introduced his not unreasonable Bill in the autumn. Nor could there have been a more moderate speech than that which was made by the same hon. Member the other day in this House in moving his Amendment. And if immoderate speeches have been made by irresponsible persons, I cannot forget the position in which they find themselves placed. I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland and the Lord Advocate have been about for the last three or four weeks? Have they not been consulting with the Scotch Members as to the best legislation to be carried out for Scotland? Has there been any reciprocal feeling with regard 1148 to Ireland? In my opinion, a want of responsibility is the only reason for the unreasonable and immoderate speeches which have been delivered. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite will themselves remember that there have been times when they did not occupy quite such a responsible position as that in which they find themselves placed today, and on those occasions they have indulged in language which has probably been less marked by moderation than that which they use to-day. I would ask whether, if responsibility were given to hon. Members below the Gangway, it would not have the same effect upon them? With regard to the Plan of Campaign, I fully endorse what has fallen from the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) this evening as to the attitude of Her Majesty's Government in reference to it. If the Plan of Campaign is illegal, it is unquestionably the duty of Her Majesty's Government to suppress illegality; but may I not, at the same moment, remind them of what occurred in this country with regard to Church Pates? Why, Sir, that which was then illegal has now become legal, because the popular feeling in this country was against Church Rates, or, rather, against the compulsory payment of Church Rates. Popular feeling in Ireland, I trust, is not entirely in favour of the Plan of Campaign; but popular feeling in Ireland is distinctly in favour of the objects of those who are carrying out the Plan of Campaign. With reference to the last portion of the Amendment to the Address—that portion in which the hon. Member says he considers that—Such a reform of the Law and the system of Government in Ireland should take place as would satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people,I entirely concur with the view of the hon. Member; and I may remark, in passing, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), in a recent speech, has expressed a hope that Members of both Parties might unite in order to secure the confidence of the Irish people and to satisfy their needs. For my own part, I fear that if I have ever indulged in such a hope, it has been during that portion of the 24 hours which are devoted to dreamland; but I do look forward, and I look forward with hope, to the re-union 1149 of the Liberal Party, which, I believe, can alone satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people. There are various methods which have been attempted to be adopted by different persons in order to bring about the union of the Liberal Party, for the purpose of securing the objects which are mentioned in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork. There has been a remarkable attempt made in this direction by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), who has endeavoured to gain over as many persons as possible to his method of reasoning, in order that he and his Friends may be able to satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people. But he has spread his net in a somewhat remarkable manner. We are told that it is in vain to spread a net within sight of the bird we wish to bring into it; but the hon. Member has not spread his net at all; on the contrary, he has planted it and framed it so as to form an attraction, as he supposes, for the birds outside, such as the right hon. the Member for West Birmingham, and he has armed himself with the blunderbuss of caricature and a rifle of wit and sarcasm to attract them. I presume that the hon. Member is astonished that so few persons will adopt his view; and when he finds how few, I hope he will be induced to reconsider the method he has hitherto adopted. I rejoice to think that the question to-day is not the same as it was last June and July. The question in June and July last was whether or not it was safe to concede Home Rule in any shape to Ireland in consequence of the demands of hon. Members from Ireland. But the question of to-day is, I believe, among thinking minds, simply and solely how, when, and under what circumstances, it will be safe to grant such a reform of the law, to use the exact words of the Amendment, and such a system of Government as will satisfy the needs, and will secure the confidence of the Irish people. That, Sir, is the great question we have now to consider. My humble efforts have always been directed towards the attainment of that end; and however long my life may be spared, I shall certainly never rest until, to use once more the expression contained in this Amendment, the needs of the Irish people have been fully, fairly, honestly, and safely satisfied.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I think that, as a novice within the walls of this House, I may be allowed, in the interests of my constituents, to say a few words with regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). The hon. Member has been congratulated on his recovery from a recent illness. Although we are all glad to see the hon. Member sufficiently recovered to be able to attend to his Parliamentary duties, I think he ought also to be felicitated on the remarkable fact that his temporary retirement from public life, occurring as it did during the last few months, has been a very timely and useful one, because it has enabled him to keep aloof from the Plan of Campaign, and to give to this House an entirely colourless view of his ideas. He has allowed the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) to come to the front and take the most active part in the Plan of Campaign, and by that means he has himself been prevented from coming into personal collision either with Her Majesty's Government or the late Prime Minister. I, therefore, think that I am entitled to congratulate him on his temporary retirement. So far as the Plan of Campaign itself is concerned, it has been described by an hon. Member opposite as extra-legal, and it has also been described by the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government as organized embezzlement. Whatever it is, there can be no doubt that if the Bill for the better Government of Ireland should ever pass, the Plan of Campaign will be applied to every trade and every industry in Ireland. I can quite understand the affection entertained for the Plan of Campaign by hon. Members opposite who represent Irish constituencies, because I cannot conceive many more delightful occupations than sitting as self-constituted and irresponsible agents at a table, whether round or square, collecting the landlords' rents, and very little of it, lam afraid, has been handed over to the legitimate owner. [Cries of "Oh!"] At any rate, that is my opinion. The hon. Member for Cork spoke of a threat, or rather a menace, of dynamite. Hon. Members here possibly do not know what that menace of dynamite was to which the hon. Member alluded. I think I can tell them. In the year 1885 a man named Daly was commissioned to go 1151 into the Strangers' Gallery of this House and throw a dynamite shell, which was to explode upon the Table beneath me and between the two Front Benches; and the only reason why it was not thrown was that it might have inflicted some trouble upon the man who threw it, and those who gave the order for the commission of that outrage, as well as Her Majesty's Government. The hon. Member for Cork says in his Amendment that the remedy for the existing crisis in Irish affairs is to be found in such a reform of the law and system of Government as will satisfy the needs and secure the confidence of the Irish people. Now, I do not think that it is to be obtained by rhetorical flourishes, to be followed up by outrages and crime. I allude particularly to the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Slid Cork (Dr. Tanner), some days ago, at a meeting of the National League in Cork. In the course of that speech the hon. Member said that a resolution had been carried warning the women of the district from engaging in the abominable and unnatural crime of conversing with members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The local branch of the Irish National League intimated in their resolution that conduct of that kind would be taken notice of.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I rise to Order. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman has an accurate report of my speech. He does not appear to have seen that the statement he refers to has been denied by the Secretary of the local branch of the National League, who asserts that no such resolution was brought before the League or passed.
§ MAJOR RASCH
If I am wrong I beg to withdraw the statement. All I have to say is, that it was reported in the newspapers that the local branch of the National League had intimated that any woman seen speaking to members of the Royal Irish Constabulary would be followed, and their conduct taken notice of. [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Members opposite will not deny that on Monday last an outrage was committed at the house of an Irishman—a National Leaguer—named Murphy, whose two daughters were dragged out of bed, their hair cut off, and they themselves covered with pitch. I would ask hon. Members opposite whether they consider that measures for amending the criminal 1152 procedure of Ireland in regard to such cases are wrong, or whether such a measure would be novel, doubtful, and un-Constitutional?
§ MR. LACAITA (Dundee)
After the great discussion that took place yesterday, and the day before, on the subject of the Plan of Campaign, and, above all, after the strictures which have been made on the wording of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) this evening by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), it is incumbent upon everyone who, like myself, intends to vote for that Amendment to explain pretty clearly the reason why he is doing so. Although the wording of the Amendment may be in some respects vague, it does raise indirectly, if not directly, and has throughout this debate been treated as raising, two distinct questions—a question as to whether the Government are justified in the course they have adopted towards the Plan of Campaign in Ireland, and a further question as to whether the whole Irish Question ought not to be solved in a manner which amounts to Home Rule? If we vote against this Amendment, we very clearly declare that we think the proposals of the Government for dealing with the present troubles in Ireland are better ones than the suggestion contained in the closing words of the Amendment itself. If we vote in favour of the Amendment without explaining our reasons we shall certainly be considered to have altogether blessed the Plan of Campaign, as has already been done by many hon. Members on this side of the House. Now, it is quite clear that the main question about the Plan of Campaign is not its legality or illegality in the narrow sense of the word, but its political aspect. I have listened to long legal arguments on both sides in regard to its legality. I have heard the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Coleridge) argue more subtly than conclusively that the Plan of Campaign was only to do what Judges, juries, and witnesses had done in this country before. I have heard also the hon. Member for Crewe (Mr. M'Laren) explain that the campaigners are only acting on the same principles as the members of his persuasion—the Quakers. When it can be proved that Irish tenants and their friends are losers in their property by their devotion to the Plan 1153 of Campaign then will their case be on all-fours with the case of the Quakers, and not until then. But I do not propose to speak solely on that narrow legal question. A further question has been raised in this House of the morality of the Plan of Campaign. When there is a dispute on the subject of the morality of a particular course of action it is somewhat dangerous ground to tread; and the chief argument I have heard in support of the morality of the Plan is that it is only exactly the same course which is adopted by Trades' Unions in this country—that it is neither more nor less than the defence by the tenants of their case by the method of a strike. I think the cases are very clearly distinguished in many ways. I shall only mention one distinction, and it is this. A strike often is answered in this country by a lockout on the part of the employers. That lockout may be successful, or it may fail. The employers may bring the workmen to their terms, or they may give in to the terms of the workmen; but if the thing be pressed to the last extremity, the employers always have it in their power to withdraw from the undertaking in which they are engaged, and if they do so withdraw, the plant and the capital which they have employed do not thereby either become the property of the workmen or benefit them in any way whatever. Now, if the Plan of Campaign were pushed to such an extremity as to make the landlords of Ireland prefer to leave their estates altogether, I think it is very clear that the tenants would benefit by that of which the landlords were deprived. I am not going to say whether that is a desirable end or not. I merely point out this one very clear distinction between an ordinary strike in this country and the Plan that has been adopted in Ireland. Strikes now generally lead to a solution by means of arbitration, the arbitrator being usually some person who has the confidence of both parties. What hon. Member, representing a Nationalist constituency in Ireland, is going to have the confidence of both Parties on this question? What is the really weak part of the Plan of Campaign? It is that the judges of what is a fair and necessary reduction of rent are not a Judicial Court appointed inconsequence of legislation and on the authority of this House, but are either the tenants 1154 themselves or their advocates and partizans. I am not accusing hon. Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway of acting with the slightest unfairness in the matter. I feel it is extremely difficult for hon. Members of this House who are not Irishmen to form anything like a judicial decision as to the right or wrong of any particular suggested abatement of rent in Ireland. There is abundance of evidence from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this side of the House—there is abundance from Gentlemen of an Orange colour on the other side—but we have not got it in our power to sift that evidence. The evidence is not given on oath, and there is no power of cross-examination. Of course, the only way in which hon. Members who sit for English or Scotch constituencies can really attempt to understand these details of the Irish Question is by themselves going over to Ireland, but when they go over there it is very obvious with what object they go. They go there to investigate this subject, and their conclusions, I venture to say, will in every case be determined by the fact of their either being the guests of hospitable landlords belonging to the persuasion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, or being personally conducted by some Nationalist Member from below the Gangway. I confess that in my own case I could not resist the fascination of any Irishman of whatever political colour. The difficulty in which we find ourselves is one of the stock arguments for Home Rule, and to me it is really a very strong and persuasive one. Most of the questions touching Ireland on which we are called to vote in this House are not great questions of principle, but they are endless questions of detail regarding the action of the Executive in some particular case, or regarding the action of landlords or tenants in some particular district in Ireland; and I feel that it is quite impossible to attain to anything like a serious conviction as to the rights and wrongs of each particular case as it arises. We have certainly hitherto heard the Plan of Campaign either altogether blessed or utterly cursed by hon. Members who have taken part in this debate. I have even heard it argued by the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace) that the Plan, if not legal, ought to be made legal. I 1155 hardly think that even hon. Members who sit below the Gangway would propose a Bill in this House by which the Plan of Campaign in its present form should be made part of the law of the land. There is only one sense in which it could be made legal, and that is by extending the powers of the Land Courts which already exist, or by the establishing, if necessary, of new Courts with further powers, when they think fit from the evidence given, to reduce rents. This is a very different thing from making hon. Gentlemen and their friends in Ireland, who are undoubtedly and rightly strong partizans in all Irish questions, the real Court to decide as to whether in every particular case a tenant is able to pay or unable to pay, or as to the amount of abatement which should be granted. It is a weapon which, if used on a wider scale, would become a weapon so powerful, and one to use which the temptation would be so great, from the influence that it necessarily adds to influence already possessed by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, that unless there be Home Rule granted to Ireland, it seems to me perfectly clear that no Government can allow its use. [An hon. MEMBER: It is legal.] The question as to whether it is legal or not is the question for the Courts of Law. There is no matter in which this House more easily goes astray than in attempting to decide on questions of technical legality or illegality. I will only refer to the case of the hon. Gentleman who now sits for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) to show how far astray this House may go when it attempts to decide on what is and what is not the law. But I return to the point that hon. Members who sit below the Gangway are hardly an adequate tribunal to decide how far the Plan of Campaign should be extended and exactly what abatement of rent should be granted by landlords. I admit and agree with the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington when he said that the Plan of Campaign had not been very widely put into execution. Its importance so far has been considerably exaggerated, and I believe that, if confined within the present limits, it is at at any rate tolerable; but its further extension is politically impossible, because it must necessarily lead to the ousting of the Government of the day by the hon. Gentlemen 1156 below the Gangway and other hon. Members of the National League in Ireland. That may be a very desirable result, but it is a result which should be obtained with the consent of Great Britain and by the action of this House. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, whether they consider Nationalist Members for Ireland are the right tribunal to whom questions of the amount of abatement of rent should be referred. I think my question is answered when I refer to the fact that those right hon. Gentlemen introduced concurrently with the Home Rule Bill, a Bill for settling the Irish Land Question. I do not think it is necessary that we should go as far as these right hon. Gentlemen seemed to have gone in their doubt of the propriety of leaving the Land Question to be settled by Irishmen themselves; because, supposing such a Legislative Body as was then proposed to be established in Ireland, there would be a minority representation in that Body of Gentlemen who now sit opposite; and a House so formed would be representative of Irish opinion as a whole, and would be a proper body to deal with the Irish Land Question, and with the adequacy or inadequacy of abatements in accordance with general Irish opinion as a whole. Now, it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman to whom I last referred is thoroughly sensible to that difficulty, and we can, therefore, quite understand why, when he came down the other night to this House and was called on by daily newspapers and by hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite to curse the Plan of Campaign, he did not see his way to play the part of Balaam, and, therefore, I shall leave it to other hon. Members of this House to play the part of Balaam's ass. But if the Plan of Campaign cannot be allowed by any British Government which is responsible for the state of Ireland to develop itself in any great degree, it does not at all follow that we can endorse the proposal of Her Majesty's Government as contained in the Queen's Speech. How do they propose to deal with this difficulty in Ireland? They propose to deal with it by a reform of legal procedure. By that reform they think they can crush out this movement. Really 1157 that proposal of theirs is not directed at outrages, because they themselves admit there are fewer outrages in Ireland than there were a year ago. There is no such state of things in Ireland as calls for any extension of the power of the Criminal Law to deal with outrages. Outrages I believe to be deplored by every Party in this House—not by hon. Gentlemen opposite alone, but by the Nationalist Members for Ireland themselves. And if they have not always in clear and strong terms condemned outrages, I believe they, as we do, in their hearts deplore them. I would remind hon. Gentlemen that in times of revolution—and it is impossible to disguise the fact that these are times of revolution in Ireland—no Party has ever been found in any country to do the full extent of its duty by denouncing those deplorable acts which may indirectly have conduced to its own interest. I will only quote the well-known instance of the struggle for Italian independence, and ask hon. Gentlemen whether they do not well remember that it was impossible to obtain a condemnation of the Orsini plot and other like deeds by the Mazzinian party; and that after independence had been obtained the reactionary Party winked at and covertly assisted a system of brigandage which involved horrors before which the worst cases of outrage in Ireland are as nothing. It does not follow that because hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway had not made up their minds to the strong condemnation which it was their duty to utter of brutal and gross outrages, which struck not at the political system which they wished to attack, but at innocent and poor tenants themselves—it does not follow that they were not absolutely bound in duty to do so, and that we should not be equally bound. But this proposal for the Amendment of the Criminal Law is not aimed at outrage. It is aimed at the political and social state in Ireland, and therefore we are entitled to vote for the Amendment, even while we cannot endorse the policy of the Plan of Campaign. I am not going to dispute the possibilities of restoring order and quiet in Ireland by the plan known as "Thorough"—by measures of strong coercion—but I venture to deny the practicability of that method, not the physical or moral impossibility, as the history of Europe, not to say of the world, 1158 shows, but its impracticability, owing to the character and opinion of the great body of the electors of Great Britain. It is impossible for any man to persuade them to take those measures which would really be necessary in order to produce the results desired by hon. Gentlemen opposite. You may repeat the Coercion Acts you have had before. You may make them more stringent; but make them as stringent as you will, and you will not crush out the free expression of the opinion of Ireland. We have all heard it suggested that an Empire may be of adamant, but that a free Press will grind it to powder. Now, in Ireland you have a free Press, and I have yet to learn that the foundations of Dublin Castle are of adamant. You have to do something more than keep Ireland quiet and orderly for 20 years. You have to ensure that a new generation will grow up loyal to the connection with Great Britain. Therefore you would need to take inquisitorial measures in connection with the instructions given in Irish schools and with the whole body of Irish youth. It may be that something of the kind might have been possible had the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland in past days been made to depend upon the State for support; but the possibility of that has passed away. And even if you were to win the Roman Catholic clergy to your side you would not produce the effect yon desire, for I believe the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will allow me to remark that the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland have almost ceased to be Roman Catholic, and have almost become Irish Catholic. Therefore I do not believe that the Plan of Coercion can possibly produce the results which we all desire to see in Ireland. There is a second Plan—that of some of the Radical section of the Liberal Unionists. That is the settlement of the agrarian question without in any way satisfying the political aspirations of the people of Ireland. I admit it might be possible to settle the question by such a complete confiscation of landlords' interests as would remove the basis for any agitation in favour of political autonomy for that country; but that would be open to the same objection—that for this possible scheme it would be as impossible to find support in the constituencies of Great Britain as it would 1159 to find support for a thorough going system of dealing with Ireland by a high hand. Therefore I cannot but think that the position of the Liberal Unionist and Radical Members, who, as the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Winterbotham) tells us, will under no circumstances approve of coercive measures, and yet will not give any vote which will fulfil the political desire of the Irish people, is an untenable one. If the House will allow me to continue the metaphor which the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington tossed at his late Colleagues before he left the country, I should say that in driving a high-mettled horse they have thrown the reins on his neck, and have flung away whip and spur, and then they have hallooed it in terms only heard from a Spanish muleteer. The position held by these hon. Gentlemen leads me to hope that with the adoption of more conciliatory language than we hear, especially from the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton, they may be induced to accept such a measure of Homo Rule as will really satisfy the aspirations of the Irish people themselves, whilst being acceptable to the great majority of the Members and the Liberal Party throughout Great Britain. I do not think the way to ensure that result is continually to taunt those hon. Gentlemen who have thought it their duty to vote against the late measure introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian; but without attempting any compromise, without giving up any of the points that were settled at the Leeds Conference, to treat them in the most friendly way, and to induce them gradually to return to the great body of the Liberal Party, which they left hurriedly perhaps, but conscientiously. Now, I am glad to think that whilst I have been obliged to refuse assent to the Plan of Campaign, that does not involve the necessity of expressing no sympathy with the tenants of Glenbeigh. It has been conceded on both sides of this House that the Glenbeigh Question is not involved in that of the Plan of Campaign. I believe the measure proposed by the hon. Member for Cork last Session would not have dealt with the people of Glenbeigh. I agree with the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (The Marquess of Hartington) that if you remove landlords altogether the question of the con- 1160 gested districts of the West of Ireland would still remain, and some scheme of migration or emigration is the only way to remove them from their present miserable plight. But I hold this to be another argument in favour of Home Rule. What raises the great difficulty in the way of the acceptance by the Irish people of a scheme of emigration now? It is that it is proposed by those whom they do not believe to be their friends, and that their schemes are nearly always opposed by the men in whom they put trust and confidence. Grant Home Rule, and then I say hon. Members below the Gangway, having become Members of a Legislative Body for Ireland, will be prepared to adopt such reasonable measures of migration and emigration as may be necessary to meet the facts of the case, and that without the slightest suspicion of it being hostile to the interests of these poor tenants. The difficulty now existing, of making local bodies or any bodies that may be constituted work together with the Imperial Government, will then be removed. The very fact of local authorities needing to apply to Government in the way of receiving loans, or putting them in communication with the Colonies and other countries to which they may wish to emigrate, would in itself be a guarantee—not a paper guarantee—but one of the material guarantees that under a local Legislature the affairs of Ireland would be wisely conducted.
§ MR. SMITH-BARRY (Hunts, S.)
said, that, as one of the few Irish landlords who had a seat in the House, he should like to say a few words on the question before them. He did not propose to argue as to the legality or illegality of the Plan of Campaign; he would only observe that it was enough for him to know that the great majority of those who had considered the matter from a legal point of view deemed it an illegal combination, and those who had studied the Ten Commandments deemed it an immoral one. ["No, no!"] He proposed, with the permission of the House, to say a few words with regard to the application of the Plan, and to give a few instances of the terms offered by landlords in the South of Ireland against whom that Plan had been put into operation. They had been challenged by hon. Gentlemen opposite to deny that the Plan of Campaign had 1161 been applied only to estates on which the landlords had declined to deal justly with their tenants. He hoped to be able to show that that statement was absolutely incorrect, and must be allowed to express his disapproval of the manner in which certain Irish Members had interfered with tenants to prevent them paying rents even in a considerably reduced form. He would take, first of all, the case of the Ponsonby estate, which was one of the first to which the Plan of Campaign was applied. The hon. Member who spoke the other night (Mr. Lane) said that it was only brought into operation against absentee landlords, or mainly so; and he had been good enough to state that the majority of the County Cork landlords had acted with justness and fairness; and the hon. Gentleman did him the honour to single him out as one who had given reasonable reductions, and against whom it was unnecessary to proceed with the Plan of Campaign. In the Ponsonby case, the tenants demanded 25 per cent on judicial rents and 35 per cent on non-judicial. They were offered 10 per cent on judicial and 20 per cent on non-judicial rents; and the landlord himself told him (Mr. Smith-Barry) that he had given instructions to his agent to make exceptional allowances in exceptional cases. If these instructions never reached the tenants of the estate, it was because hon. Members stepped in so hastily, so anxious were they to try this new weapon—["No, no!"]—that they never allowed time to see whether Mr. Ponsonby or his agent was prepared to act generously or not. On Lady Kingston's estate, the tenants had been offered a reduction of from 10 to 20 per cent on a sliding scale; but they had demanded a general reduction of 20 per cent, and because their demands were not acceded to the Plan of Campaign was put into operation, and threatening notices were posted all over the estate. Beyond that, the people were summoned to attend meetings in the South of Ireland, and to resist what was called landlord tyranny by adopting the Plan of Campaign. Bills were circulated headed "Boycott, boycott, boycott," showing that boycotting was not yet done away with. In the case of Mr. Leader's estate the tenants had been dealt with with peculiar liberality, an abatement of 12½ per cent which was given in famine time of 1849 being continued 1162 to the present day; but the tenants had insisted upon a reduction of 25 per cent upon the judicial rents, and in default of the landlord, who resided upon the estate, accepting their terms, the Plan of Campaign was adopted. In the case of the O'Grady estate, in County Limerick, which had formerly produced £2,000 per annum, the rental of the estate had been reduced, by a valuer appointed by the tenants themselves, to £1,712. Mr. O'Grady was not an Englishman, and he was not an absentee. His land was the best in Ireland, and yet upon this estate occurred the case of the celebrated Moroney, who had been sent to gaol for contempt of the Court of Bankruptcy. The Poor Law valuation of Moroney's land was £73, and yet his rent was only £63 15s., upon which his landlord offered him an abatement of 25 per cent, which was refused, and the Plan of Campaign was put into operation. These figures showed that the statement of hon. Members opposite that the Plan of Campaign was only put into operation in cases where the tenants had been unable to obtain fair reductions, was inaccurate. The fact was that the Plan was adopted only against the weak, and only in those cases where victory was tolerably certain. Out of the four cases he had mentioned one of the landlords lived some distance from his estates, and was not able consequently to make arrangements with his tenants in time, although, in previous years, he had granted considerable reductions; and in two other instances ladies were the victims, probably because they were not so likely to resist as well as men. The Plan of Campaign was, in reality, adopted not to obtain justice for the tenants, but because it offered a means of attacking landlords as such. It was part of a scheme to bring landlords to their knees, and to drive them from the country, as the Parnellite Members knew well that, with all their faults and weaknesses, they were still looked upon as an important factor in the country, and as a considerable obstacle to the repeal of the Union.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
I have listened with much pleasure—and it is always a pleasure for me to do so—to the speech of a high-minded Irish landlord, noted in his district for strict honesty and uprightness towards his tenants, and am able to agree with a great deal of 1163 what the hon. Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry) said. But there was, however, a final remark he made which struck me as rather going beyond the fact. He said that this Plan of Campaign was an attack on the Irish landlords "as such." Now, may I ask the hon. Member where he has been attacked in that manner? No attack has been made upon him, because in his personal relations with his tenants he has remembered not only what was due to himself, but what was due to them. He complained of hon. Members for Ireland because they are active. I wish I were not able to return the compliment to him, and I warn him that in his personal relations with his tenants he may do well, but as President of the Patriotic League—or whatever it is called in Cork, he knows, and no man knows better, that he has, as President, supported the actions of men, which actions, individually, he would scorn to commit. Sir, I am sensible of the kindness of the House in permitting me to speak at all on this subject, and I promise the House not to speak at any great length, and to address myself immediately to the Question before us. The noble Marquess who spoke earlier in the Debate (the Marquess of Hartington) made a challenge not only to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench, but also to the Liberal and Radical Members in this House, to pronounce their opinions upon the Plan of Campaign. I feel that I need have no hesitation in accepting the challenge of the noble Marquess, being a Home Ruler when it was not a fashionable thing to be one. I was one of the five English Members to stand up in support of Home Rule when it was not supported as it is now, and I shall accept the challenge, and as an English Member and a Home Ruler, I say what I think of the Plan of Campaign. Now, Sir, I may say in a word that I should be in favour of the Plan of Campaign, if it were not that I have an old-fashioned prejudice in favour of the Ten Commandments ["Hear, hear!"] Very strange doctrines and strange declarations have been indulged in during the present debate from this side of the House. I listened the other night to a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre) who was selected to occupy a distin- 1164 guished position in the late Government. He told us that he doubted the expediency of resorting to repressive legislation before remedial measures were introduced. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the present difficulty of the Irish landlords; and he said that Lord Dillon, and persons of that type, ought to be thankful and grateful that they had been permitted to receive 80 per cent of their rents. ["Hear, hear!"] That was a specimen of the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford, who had filled the Office of Postmaster General. Well, Sir, I listened with amazement to such a speech coming from the right hon. Gentleman, because five years before I heard him make a precisely opposite speech; and I comforted myself with this conclusion—that if I live for another five years, and circumstances should alter again, I might happen to hear the original speech from the original man. Well, I have heard also the opinion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) upon the Plan of Campaign—or, rather, I have not heard his opinion. I do not wish to indulge in more criticism of my right hon. Friend than the occasion demands, because, if I understand matters aright, if there is a man who has a difficult position to maintain at the present time it is my right hon. Friend. When I heard and read the speech of my right hon. Friend it put me in mind of what has happened to me, when I go away from this House and indulge in a little fishing—if the House cares to take an interest in the matter. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to remind me of my position on a sunny morning, when I went fishing—when I did not know whether to put on a fly or put on a worm. [Loud laughter.] Well, Mr. Speaker, we are yet to hear, I hope, a more authoritative deliverance from the Front Bench of the Liberal Opposition. If it be a fact, which I hear tonight, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is not to take part in this debate before its close, I shall deplore it very much; for if the right hon. Gentleman were here, and he for once listened to my words, I should venture to say that he should take and express a larger view of this question than is bounded by the exigencies of the present. We should, 1165 on this side, beware of the inclined plane spoken of in connection with the French Revolution—it is easy, once you get on it, to slide into disorder and anarchy. Connivance at evil brings after it a subjection to evil; and if the late Prime Minister were here I would have him say once, and once for all, and so affirm an old Radical principle—that what is morally wrong cannot be politically right. We have had strange declarations and strange expressions of opinion from this side of the House. My hon. Friend—who, I may almost say, ought to be right hon.—the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) has said, in his lordly way, that the action under the Plan of Campaign was exactly like the action of trades unionism in this country, and another hon. Gentleman has expressed strange doctrines—I mean the hon. Member who defeated the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace), and so got him returned for St. George's, Hanover Square, in a constituency, I understand, where there is not a single Board School; and this may explain the action of the constituency yesterday. Well, this hon. Member for Edinburgh, who is a clergyman—[Cries of "No!" and "A lawyer!"]—oh, he was once a clergyman; and we know it is said, Once a priest always a priest. The hon. Gentleman represents a Scotch constituency, he is a Scotchman, and he has expressed moral views calculated to make the bones of John Knox turn in their coffin. I entirely repudiate that statement; and I feel anxious to do so—the statement made by the hon. Member for Northampton, that the Plan of Campaign is nothing more nor less than the application of the principle of the English Trades Unions. I cannot think that the hon. Member for Northampton could have spoken with anything like accurate knowledge of English trades unions and what they do. English working men combine, and they do well to combine; Irish tenants combine, and they also do well; English workmen assist each other—those that require help receiving it, and thereby they do well. The Irish tenants who are better off ought to help those who are worse off. [Cries of "They do."] Yes; but they ought to do it out of their own pockets. They do, says an hon. Member; well, let me argue the point. Here is a tenant 1166 who has contracted to pay a rent, and he cannot pay it. There can be no moral obligation to pay if he cannot. With his inability expires the moral obligation until he is able. But there is another tenant who says he can pay, and that he ought to pay, 80 per cent, and there is another tenant who says, "I can pay all." I heard my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), in this House the other night, and I have heard others say, that there were tenants who could pay and who did not pay, and the hon. Member said he advised them not to pay. I would not speak in the language of passion or as a politician on that matter—I would speak seriously, as a man to men who know how the fabric of society is built up and how it is destroyed. I would say to you that if you once admit the contention that a man may refuse his legal obligations when he admits they are just—["No, no!"] Ah, but that is the point. ["Oh, oh!"] I challenge my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo—I will take my answer from him. When he said in this House the other night that he advised tenants who could pay not to pay, did he mean only those who had unjust rents? [Mr. DILLON: Most certainly.] Then, if I can pay, and I have made the bargain honestly—[An hon. MEMBER: There is no contract.] There is no contract; well, let me examine that point before the other. There was no contract. They say the Court made the contract. Well, but did not the two parties accept the contract? ["Oh, oh!"] I say they did. But let us examine the other side of the contract. It appears that the contract, being made by the Court, and in fact accepted by the landlord and the tenant, things have turned out badly for the tenant. Suppose the opposite had happened, or suppose some catastrophe had swept away the corn lands of America and India. [Oh, oh!"] I dare say I am putting the case more strongly than I it need be put. Well, let my Friends be patient with me. Many a time they have cheered me. I say that, suppose from some circumstance the fact turned out the other way. Suppose that after the contract was made the price of agricultural produce had gone up, and as a consequence the tenants had got much more for the sale of their produce than ever they had expected—would those 1167 hon. Gentlemen have admitted the right of the landlord to take the higher profit the tenant had made under the contract? If they would not, how can they maintain the opposite? But I return to the point I was on. As I understand the Plan of Campaign—and I know I understand it—it is in Ireland not merely tenants who could not pay, not merely tenants who are rack-rented, but tenants who could pay, who are advised not to pay. ["No, no!"] Well, at any rate, that is my proposition. I say, according to my understanding and my reading, tenants who could pay all or who could pay part have not paid, and have been sustained in not paying, in order to help their brothers. If the tenants who could pay had paid their rents, and had subscribed out of their own pockets to help their brethren, that would have been on an equality with trades unionism. The argument of the hon. Member for Edinburgh amounted to this, that if the Plan of Campaign was not legal, it ought to be made legal, and that if it was not moral it ought to be moral, and he complained that in England trade unionists might do what they were not allowed to do in Ireland. No trade union I was ever connected with, or ever heard of, proceeded to combine without first of all fulfilling its legal obligations. ["Oh, oh!"] If the shipwrights of Sunderland strike, this is what they do first: they work out their legal notice, they fulfil their legal obligations; and if they do not, the English law steps in and makes them. And I say that until Irishmen put themselves in that position they cannot say they are on an equality with trades unions in England. I have come deliberately to the conclusion that what my hon. Friends from Ireland have suggested under the stress of circumstances may be legal or not, I cannot tell; that it must be left to a Court and a jury, and I for one say that a very different Court and a very different jury from what you propose on Monday will be necessary to satisfy me; but that it is morally wrong I cannot for a moment, in my innermost conscience, doubt. And I say it is the business of Radicals, who have always preached the doctrine that political right should be founded on moral right, to stand up here and tell the 1168 Front Bench that if they want to win the Home Rule fight—and they did not lose by many last time—they must take account of the existence in every constituency in England of a large amount of public opinion, of Dissenters and Churchmen both, who really do believe in the Ten Commandments, and who want them given effect to in political as well as in daily life. [Cheers.] I am much obliged to my hon. Friends for having cheered the sentiments I have expressed, and I proceed now for a few minutes to test whether they cheered me because they accepted my statement as a fair statement, or whether they cheered me because they were delighted that a Radical should say something unpleasant about his own Leaders. [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"] If the latter, I cannot pretend to contend with them; but, if the former—if they really cheered me because they thought I was expressing my conviction and the truth, I ask them to permit me for five minutes to say to them, as Englishmen of perfectly independent character and without reference to the effect it may have on the success of Tories or of Liberals, what may fairly be said in behalf or in extenuation of the Plan of Campaign. In the first place, hon. Gentlemen opposite must admit that the Plan of Campaign has been practically successful. [Laughter.] Aye; I do not laugh at the silence of hon. Members opposite, because, in their inmost souls, I know that they rejoice, as I do, that in some way or other evictions have been prevented to a large extent in Ireland this winter. The noble Marquess, in order to prove that he did quite right to reject the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) last Session, plumed himself upon the fact that things had been quiet in Ireland, that evictions had not been numerous, and that there had been very few offences against the law. But how much has that quietness been due to the action of the Front Bench opposite, and their pressure on the Irish landlords, and how much of their action—their most extraordinary action—was due to emulation of hon. Members near me and the Plan of Campaign? This, too, maybe said for the Plan of Campaign that, the evils of Ireland being admitted, if the Parliament does not act, and will not act, some one must. The noble Marquess admitted to-night that our legislation was be- 1169 hindhand. Everyone who writes on the point admits that our legislation always has been too late, and that, owing to the House along the corridor, it has never been complete. The world cannot stand still. Irishmen cannot see their friends die, or be turned out of their holdings, till a Tory Government makes up its mind. I told the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo that I disapproved of the Plan of Campaign; but I have got this to say—that if I were an Irishman, living in Ireland, and seeing these poor people turned out on the hill-side, from homes which are as much theirs as their landlord's—I say, if I were an Irishman so circumstanced, it would go very hard with me. I should feel, perhaps, like the hon. Member for East Mayo, that I would strain a point under the circumstances. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not, howover, say I would do it. We all know that everybody does break some of the Ten Commandments now and then, and I venture to think that there are a good many Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House—for I have admired the amiable characteristics their facesdisplay—there are, I say, a great many Gentlemen on the opposite side who, if they had seen these deeds done, would have felt very much disposed, like the Irish Members, to go with their people, and put an end to this state of things with a high hand. Moreover, if the Irish tenants are now stealing, and if the hon. Member for East Mayo, whose nobility of character is recognized by every man in this House, whether he agrees with him or not, if he is to stand forward as a man who recognizes that they should break the Ten Commandments—I wish to ask the landlords in this House who taught the tenants to break the Ten Commandments? What has been done in Ireland for the last 50 years? Why, the Land Acts stand as a living proof that there has been rack-renting, evictions, barbarous thefts by law—for every man who has taken more than what is just from his tenant has committed a legal theft. If the tenants, poor men and ignorant men, have for years and generations seen their undoubted rights in their property confiscated by the landlords, are they much to be blamed if they have learned the bad lesson? I have been very much astonished, Sir, at the excitement which the evictions at Glen- 1170 beigh have caused in this country. Some hon. Gentlemen have got quite excited over them. What; a house burned down! A man and wife and their child turned out on the hill-side in the winter! Why, Sir, for 50 years, since the Act which deprived the Irish freeholder of his vote, the case of Glenbeigh has been the case of hundreds of Irish tenants and cottagers. Every winter, for 50 years, the flame of the cottage has lighted the dark hill-side; and, what is more, that flame may be out in Ireland, but it is living in the hearts of thousands of Irish men and women in America. Can you wonder at the bitterness which you see in these men's faces, when you remember the misery they have gone through and by whom this bitterness has been caused. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite cheered the Ten Commandments just now; the Ten Commandments were made known to men through Moses; but a greater than Moses gave us an Eleventh Commandment—"Love thy neighbour as thyself." In other words—"Do unto others as thou wouldst be done by;" and I want to know is there any hon. Gentleman in the House, Irish landlord or another, who will get up and defend the evictions and the burnings in mid-winter that have been going on for 50 years in Ireland. I want him to ask himself this question, whether the circumstances of the past, whoever may be to blame for them, are not such as to justify this House in making a supreme effort to put an end to miseries that have so long afflicted Ireland and disgraced us. But now I want to point more directly to the Amendment before us. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork, in so far as it refers to the past, does not present any particular attraction for me. But penetrated, as I am, with a sense of the evils we have done in Ireland by connivance, I want to know whether the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) is not the only remedy for the ills of the past and the difficulties of the present that has been presented to the House? Neither in the past have we, nor in the present and future can we satisfy the great wants of the people of Ireland. I laughed when the Leader of the Government opposite talked of resolute government for Ireland by the Conservative Party. I do not often go to the other 1171 House to look at the noble Lords there; but I have sat very quietly here, in a position that gives me good opportunity of observing the right hon. Gentlemen occupants of the Front Bench. I look at the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), kindly, good-natured, clever in business. I look again—I am sorry not to see him present, as I should like to point the moral—I look at the quivering lip of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach); I look at the trembling hand of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland, and I think then of a resolute Government from these Gentlemen! Why, Mr. Speaker, there is only one resolute Unionist in the House that I know, and that is the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) who sits below me. Give him the reins, and he will govern on Strafford's plan. Happy for him if he does not meet with worse than Strafford's fate. ["Oh, oh!"] But while the noble Marquess in the other House amuses himself with talking about resolute Government, there are some innocent souls on this side, like the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse), who plaintively cry, "Let us govern Ireland without reference to Party divisions." But let the House think what meaning is there in that? Here in so trifling a matter as the speech I am allowed to make to-night, when I said something apparently unpleasant about a hon. Gentleman, my own Leaders—whom I am glad to recognize as Leaders—I hope they are as fond of their Follower as he is of them—when, in the course of the present speech, I seemed to say something unpleasant of them, it gave a point to hon. Members opposite, and smiles o'erspread the visages of right hon. Gentlemen on the Bench opposite. It was not because what I said was particularly true or good; but it was a point against the Party opposite to them. Then, again, when I said something about the right hon. Gentlemen who now constitute the Government—Well, I cannot say the noble Marquess looked particularly happy; but I noticed the faces of my right hon. Friends (Mr. Morley and Mr. H. H. Fowler), and I know they were not dissatisfied at what I had said. After this simple example of what 1172 goes on in the House, there are hon. Gentlemen so particularly dull as to believe that any government of Ireland is possible without reference to the exigencies of Party here. No, Sir, depend upon it our coercive measures have failed and have embittered the relations between the two countries; our policy has driven out a whole nation; our remedial measures have been insufficient; and our Party conflicts in this House make a continuity of resolute government in Ireland an impossibility. I have heard some hon. Gentlemen say who grant all this, that to adopt Home Rule is the counsel of despair; but rather, I think, we may call that of our opponents the counsel of despair, when they declare that the resources of statesmanship are so feeble, that if we do not go on as we are, we must have separation—and better separation, they say, than Home Rule. That, I say, is the counsel of despair; but I say, on the contrary, we have been continually ameliorating the condition of the relations between the two countries; and, I believe, if hon. Members opposite would look the thing fairly in the face with hon. Members here, that the great scandal to the country, which brings disgrace upon us in the eyes of the civilized world, might, by a measure resulting from the combination of Parties, put an end to the miserable state of things existing in Ireland. I want to make one reference to the action of the Liberal Unionists. I do not presume to make any appeal to the noble Marquess, because I recognize that there is between his political opinions and mine so great a divergence that it would be impertinent to make any appeal to him. But there are sitting on the Front Bench—or there ought to be—and there are sitting behind here a number of Gentlemen who, intensely Liberal, and even Radical in politics, yet feel it to be their duty to sustain the Conservative Party in Office. I want to say a word to those hon. Gentlemen; and I should particularly have liked, if the Leader, who represents them, I suppose more nearly than anyone else on the Front Bench, had been present, to listen to my appeal—I refer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). The last time I spoke in the House, I made some rather severe remarks about that right hon. Gentle- 1173 man, and I am very much afraid publicly in the country and privately, too, I have not been guiltless of the same thing on several occasions since. I do not want to withdraw any observations I have made; but if the right hon. Gentleman had been here to-night, I should have begged him, by the community of sentiment we Radicals possess, by our common agreement upon the great measures which we propose, if we can get the power, to put before the country, to take the present, the earliest occasion, to bring to an end this conflict between himself and his Friends, and let us present to the country once again—as we ought to present—the spectacle of a united Radical Party. ["Oh, oh!"] I do not wonder hon. Members opposite do not particularly like that tone of observation. They would much rather I should have said as severe things as I could. ["No, no!"] But I give them friendly notice that there is a growing inclination amongst all Radicals to come together on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has taken a very self-willed course. He reminds me, in his conduct, of an Oxford Professor, of whom I have heard. One of the young men in his charge turned Catholic, and he was summoned, of course, before the Professor, who gave him a severe castigation, remonstrated with him, and finished up by saying—"Sir, by your conduct you have imperilled your immortal soul, and you have seriously offended me." Now, some such feeling as that seems to have entered the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The Liberal Party, by going over to Home Rule, has not only imperilled its future, but it has offended the right hon. Gentleman. All I have to say about him is, that I trust he will realize—and I think the noble Marquess, in his speech at Newcastle, seemed to realize—that with them or without them, the Home Rule movement is sure to be carried to a triumphant issue. Sir, I want hon. Gentlemen to do us the credit of believing that we are not for Home Rule for any base or unworthy motives. There are hon. Members sitting on the Front Bench who know that I have been for Home Rule for many years. I do not want them to indulge longer in the fun of calling me a Separatist. I want them 1174 to believe that the English Radicals who are for Home Rule love their country, and are as proud of their Empire, and are as anxious the Empire should continue one united Empire, us any Conservative in England. I beg them to do us the justice to accept what I say. I hope they will not again accuse one of us of being Separatists. We want nothing but real union between the two nations, and we think we know the way to get it. Sir, this House of Commons, with its four Parties at present fighting one with the other, playing at sixes and sevens, is a spectacle to all the Legislative Bodies in the world. The time has been when this English House of Commons was proudly pointed at by all the Legislatures of all lands. Now there is scarcely a Legislature in our Colonies that does not laugh when it reads the accounts of our proceedings. ["Hear, hear!"] But do not hon. Members who cheer that statement see what is the cause of it? We are a Representative Chamber; we exist on the representative principle, and there—(pointing to the Irish Members)—come the mighty majority of the Representatives of a nation, and they ask us for self-government in their own local affairs. They tell us that that will settle the controversy between England and Ireland, and I know it will settle the difficulties of this House. Sir, you yourself, sitting in the august Chair, must have felt many a time that you could heartily desire that the present disjointed system was at an end. If I might give an illustration, I would say that this English House of Commons has, for several years past, been like the travellers lost in an enchanted wood, everywhere vistas opening before them, and at the end of every vista appears one terrible awe-inspiring figure—the Irish Question. There is no escape from it but one. As in every enchanted story, when some brave knight steps up to the figure and grasps it boldly; at the touch of trust and of love, the spectre turns into the familiar image of a long-sought friend. We believe we have the disenchanter on our side of the House. You may think you may have him there. Our disenchanter may be old in years, and his tongue may have lost some of its trumpet tones, but the indomitable will in him and the principle of justice by which he is guided will, when applied to this Irish 1175 spectre, turn it into a friendly figure, and will thus enable this House to resume its dignity in its deliberations, and the two nations to sit down together bound in the golden bonds of peace and love.
§ GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
said, the experience of a residence in Ireland for the last 13 years as a tenant, and not as a landlord, urged him to raise an earnest protest against the Amendment, and to exhort the Ministry to guide and govern that country with continuous firmness. During the last six years he had had full opportunity of watching the disastrous effects of wavering concession and so-called coercion. It was his duty in 1881 and 1882, when in command of the Curragh Camp, on the requisition of any magistrate, to send out troops to the Land League meetings through the country, simply to be present at the delivery of seditious speeches and to march back again. It required no prophet to foretell what would be the consequence of those great meetings, and the effect which the distribution of rebel newspapers throughout the country would have upon the people. Since that time we had seen the rise and the fall of the Land League; we, too, had seen the rise of the National League—and Unionists trusted to see it fall. The relations between owners and occupiers had been most seriously disturbed by the Plan of Campaign. It had forced the long-suffering owners to remain without their rent or else to accept, in numerous cases, a pittance quite out of proportion to any passing fall of prices, simply to save themselves and their poor relatives from utter destitution, and even to keep clothes upon their backs. The preposterous Tenants' Relief Bill having been thrown out, the Plan of Campaign was started as a desperate step to add to the account of which no account was given—to starve out the owners of property, "to make the land of Ireland as free as when the waters of the Flood left it," and to lead to that great day when "not a penny of rent is to be paid for a sod of land in the whole of Ireland." A hundred thousand men in Ireland were looking to the Government to be firm. They must proclaim the League, suppress the continual publication of disgraceful and seditious articles in the rebel Press, and find employment for the poor in the West. Let them also have some scheme 1176 to promote fair trade. The words and acts of the Nationalist Leaders during the last six years rendered it impossible to hand over to them the welfare of Ireland any more than Burmah could be handed over to Dacoits, Egypt to a Mahdi, or the Cape to the Zulus.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
Sir, I am not about to follow the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) through his very able, amusing, and extremely impartial speech. I think he has chastised every part of the House with perfect freedom; and, on the whole, he has been tolerably impartial. I cordially reciprocate the friendly feelings which the hon. Member expressed towards those who sit on this Bench, and also the sentiment with which he concluded his speech, when he said it was his desire to strengthen the tie which he is so anxious to maintain. I rise, however, for the purpose of making some observations upon the powerful and statesmanlike speech of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). It was a speech worthy of himself, and worthy of the occasion. My noble Friend took exception to the form of Amendment as somewhat trenching on the practice of the House, and creating a rather dangerous precedent. He laid down the doctrine somewhat broadly, that no Amendment should be moved upon an Address which does not amount to a want of confidence in the existing Administration. Well, Sir, as far as precedent is concerned, I think my noble Friend would have some difficulty in establishing his contention, for I find that no longer back than two or three years there have been Amendments moved to the Address which have not taken the form of a direct Vote of Want of Confidence. In the debates upon the Address, both in 1883 and 1884, it will be found that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen now sitting on the Benches opposite distinguished themselves by a very prominent departure from what my noble Friend calls "Constitutional precedent." I find that in 1882, the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) very early interposed in the debate upon the Address to move an Amendment in reference to Egyptian affairs, and on that Amendment a division was taken. No sooner was that Amendment disposed of than 1177 my hon. Friend the present Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) interposed another Amendment upon Ireland. A division was also taken upon that, and then the debate upon the Address languished; but it was not brought to a final close until the usual period of 11 or 12 nights had been reached. In 1884, Mr. Bourke, who had been Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Lord Beaconsfield's Administration, moved an Amendment on foreign affairs; the hon. Member who then represented Birkenhead (Mr. M'Iver) moved another on the depression of trade; the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Chaplin) moved a third in reference to the importation of diseased cattle; and then the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) moved another in reference to Ireland. With one exception only, those Amendments were all pressed to a division. Hon. Members will, therefore, see that the precedent has not been to move a general Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government, but Votes of Censure on specific acts of policy. Well, we do not want to turn out right hon. Gentlemen opposite. [A laugh.] I repeat it. I do not think any man—at least any man with a grain of political common sense—wishes, at the present moment, to have a change of Government. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who sit upon that Bench have a fair and just title to be there. They were returned at the General Election to carry out a specific policy. It is their duty to proceed with that policy, and it is the duty of the Opposition to give them a fair trial. Our desire is to hear—we have heard nothing of it in this debate—what the policy of the Government is in regard to Ireland. How do they propose to govern Ireland? How do they propose to deal with the evils which my noble Friend admits do exist in Ireland, but with regard to which we have had no response, except two speeches from the Irish Legal Advisers of the Government. It is said that the Government is behind the solid wall of a majority of 100; but it is the duty of the Opposition to criticize, and it is upon that ground that I shall support the Amendment, and deal not with ingenious and subtle arguments as to what the Amendment involves, but with the important 1178 issue which it raises. The right hon and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) told us that, if we vote for the Amendment, we shall be voting in approval of the Plan of Campaign, and in disapproval of the measures the Government intend to introduce for the repression of crime and lawlessness. He further asserted that we should be voting in favour of the measure which was introduced and rejected last year. Now, the Motion before the House has nothing to do with the Plan of Campaign; and I want to show the House what it is the Amendment really means. It contains a simple statement of facts—that the agrarian disturbances, to which the Queen's Speech alludes, have not prevailed—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.It then proceeds to express an opinion that the remedy for the existing crisis in Irish agrarian affairs is not to be found in the coercive measures which the Government have promised—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.My noble Friend states that, in his opinion, there are two remedies. One is a large expenditure on public works. Now, our past experience of expenditure on public works in Ireland has convinced us that it means jobbery, corruption, waste of English money, pauperism of the worst class of the Irish people, no impetus to Irish industry, no real good to the Irish people. My noble Friend then put the whole strain of his argument upon emigration; but he proceeded to admit immediately afterwards that emigration, if it is to be successful, must be voluntary, and to be voluntary, it must be with the consent of the Irish people. We quite agree with him. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) has never advocated compulsory emigration, but he said that if such a plan was proposed it must be put in force by an authority in which the Irish people had confidence. Our contention is that any system of voluntary emigration, to be successful, must be carried out with the consent and concurrence of the Irish people; whereas, any system of emigration proposed by an English Government 1179 would be regarded by the Irish people as a system of compulsory emigration, and would be resisted accordingly. But whether we are able to carry out a system of emigration upon a small or a large scale, I do not believe that, under the most successful auspices, it would cure much of the evil to which this Amendment calls attention. My noble Friend said he knew no other remedy, and he called upon the Irish Members and my right hon. Friends, in their speeches, to suggest a remedy. What can be a more conclusive proof of the absolute hopelessness of this Irish problem than that one of the most experienced and trusted Statesmen in the House—a man of whom we are all proud, and look up to with the greatest confidence—has no remedy whatever to suggest. There is a remedy, but my noble Friend did not suggest it, because he thinks it involves a danger. When the noble Marquess calls on us to suggest a remedy, we suggest one at once. We say that the only remedy for Irish distress and discontent is to bring the sympathy and the action of the Irish people into harmony with the mode of administration and of government in Ireland. We have heard a good deal of the remedy of abolishing the dual ownership of land; and it now seems to be agreed on both sides of the House—in rather strange contrast with the debates which took place in 1881,—that the dual ownership is to be swept away, and that the true solution of the difficulty is the creation of a peasant proprietary, and the abolition of landlordism altogether. Is the House prepared to accept that principle? I am not. I do not think it would be an unmitigated boon to Ireland to completely abolish landlordism, although it might be to have a large accession of peasant proprietors, and to deal with those holdings which are under 20 acres, and which represent something like 600,000 of the tenants of Ireland. Neither would it be possible to get rid of dual ownership, because if you created a system of single ownership, in a very few years afterwards, from the force of circumstances, property in land would come to be bought and sold as a commercial transaction; and as it would not be possible in all cases for the owners to be the cultivators, there would be tenants again. Without stopping to argue that point, I submit that 1180 it would be impossible to carry out the scheme of my noble Friend unless there were some local authority in Ireland by whose agency this reform would be attempted. My noble Friend took exception to that part of the Amendment which complains of the action of the Government during the Recess having been novel, unconstitutional, and doubtful. Now, I never understood the hon. Member for Cork to complain of the action of the Government in reference to the reduction of rents. My noble Friend has asked what proof there is of pressure having been applied by the Government. We have the action of Judge Curran, and of General Buller; but the best proof of that pressure we have had is from the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself. At Bristol the right hon. Baronet said that he had put pressure upon the landlords in regard to the reduction of rent, and I myself would be the last man to blame the right hon. Gentleman for what he did. But there was other unconstitutional action during the Recess of which I wish to say a word—I mean in reference to the question which has been called jury-packing. That raises a very grave and supreme difficulty in the present position of Irish affairs. I should like for a moment—although the House may not give me credit for what I am going to say—I should like for a moment to look at the jury question totally apart from Party politics. The very general want of confidence in the administration of justice which exists in Ireland constitutes a very serious embarrassment. I think we are all agreed that it is absolutely necessary in a civilized State, to say nothing of a free State, that justice should be fairly and impartially administered, and, not only that, but that the people themselves should believe that it is so. You may administer justice impartially, firmly, and fairly; but if the people among whom it is administered think the contrary, then you have a very serious obstacle in the way of carrying out your administration. It has been one of the proudest characteristics of the rule of England in all parts of the world, that wherever it has extended and wherever Englishmen have gone they have administered justice. Whether in the self-governed Colonies, or in the Crown Colonies, or in India, the one thing at least as to which we are able to look the world in the face has 1181 been the administration of justice. The English Constitution recognizes no difference of class, no difference of creed, and no difference of position. All men are equal before the law, and all men must be tried fairly by the law. But that is not the state of things in Ireland. ["Oh, oh!"] I say that in Ireland the Courts of Justice are battle-fields where contending social and political forces meet; I say, further, and I will quote my noble Friend in support of my argument, that a trial is not an unbiassed inquiry, but the arena for Party conflicts and Party triumphs. That remark applies not only to Sligo, but to Belfast. Let me remind the House what it was that Mr. Justice Lawson said at the last Assizes. We have heard the question of intimidation put with great force and eloquence to-night, and if there was intimidation at Sligo, the censure of my noble Friend to-night in regard to it was not too strong. At Omagh a man was put on his trial for murdering a soldier. The Judge said that in that case the jury had no alternative but, on the evidence, which was clear to demonstration, to find the prisoner guilty of wilful murder. The jury did not find him guilty of wilful murder, and the comment of the Judge was that they must have been influenced by some other motives than a due regard to the oath they had sworn. It is a very sad thing, whether the trial took place at Omagh, or at Sligo, or at Dublin, there is an impression, sanctioned by high judicial authority, that juries regard the discharge of their duty, not as the sacred trust which English juries regard it, but as a weapon of political warfare which they are at liberty to use, first on the one side and then on the other. I speak of the Irish Judges with the utmost respect; but the ordinary staff and machinery by which justice in Ireland is worked belong to one class and one sect. I regret that the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland is not at this moment in the House, for I would ask him what is the opinion of men like Sir Robert Hamilton on the subject—whether Sir Robert Hamilton and others who are well acquainted with the government of Ireland do not look on the administration of justice as a far graver difficulty than the agrarian difficulty? I will take the alleged charge of jury-packing in Sligo, of which we have heard a great deal in the course of 1182 this debate. It was a very simple business, and I am not going to impute improper motives to anyone in connection with it. The Crown in this country had originally an unlimited right to challenge peremptorily. But by an old statute passed, I think, in the reign of one of the Edwards, the right to challenge was limited to challenge for sufficient cause, or in other words it must state the grounds for the challenge. But the practice has grown up for centuries, and is sanctioned by authority—that the Crown is entitled to say "Standby," without assigning any ground, until the panel is exhausted. Then the panel is called over again, and the Crown is bound to state the reasons for its challenge. In regard to Sligo, the charge is that the Crown deliberately ordered every Roman Catholic juror to stand aside, implying thereby two things—that the professors of the Roman Catholic faith were in league with the accused, or that the professors of the Roman Catholic faith were prepared to violate their oaths. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may imagine the feeling of indignation which would arise in this country if anything approaching to this system were followed here, at any English Assizes. Suppose that an official ordered all Nonconformists to stand aside. I should entertain sanguine expectations as to what the fate of the Government would be which allowed any official to do that. It would be an insult to the religious feelings of a minority; but in Ireland it is the majority against whom this action has been taken. A document has been signed by the Bishops and Priests of the Roman Catholic Church, protesting against this insult to their faith and their church. [An hon. MEMBER: And by Protestants as well.] Yes, and Protestants as well; and, therefore, I do not think that action of this kind is calculated to strengthen the administration of justice in Ireland. My noble Friend expressed some doubt as to the state of things in regard to trial by jury in Sligo, and he asked how such trials were to be carried on unless some measure of this kind was adopted. But my answer to him would be this—if that is the state of things in Ireland, and there is reason to believe that the jurors will not give a fair trial, abolish trial by jury altogether, and no longer have this sham—do not 1183 pretend to give trial by jury with one hand and then take it away with the other. If you abolish trial by jury, and place the power in another authority, that authority would be responsible, not only to public opinion, but to Parliament, and we should be able to test the evidence on which that authority had acted, and the reasons for the decisions at which it had arrived. Though we speak sometimes very lightly of this matter now, it is well to remember that one of the greatest Statesmen who ever lived and graced this House and our literature, Edmund Burke, said this—The whole array and machinery of the British Constitution, and the object at which it aimed, was to bring 12 honest men into the jury box. He regarded that as of great importance, and if it was important in that day, it is no less important to our jury laws now. It is a matter of the utmost importance to the people of Ireland at the present day. There is another remark which this suggests to me, and it is with reference to the mode in which trials are conducted. I would point out the essential difference that exists between an English and an Irish trial. In an English trial, conducted, we will say, by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir Richard Webster), the present Attorney General, or my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), the object always is—and everyone who knows anything of the practice of an English Court of Justice is perfectly aware of this—to arrive at the truth. In criminal cases, as a general rule, an English counsel does not care for a verdict. He cares for getting a just decision; but an Irish trial always appears to be a battle for a verdict. We hear that next Monday you are going to put on trial the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) with four or five other Members of the House of Commons, and some other persons. Well, it is a serious thing to put a Member of Parliament on his trial. [A laugh.] It is not a thing for a man to laugh at, or to regard lightly. The occasions in our history on which Members of Parliament have been made the subjects of criminal trials are very rare. It is true that the House of Commons possesses no privilege which exempts its Members from the criminal law of the 1184 country; but the House is not chary in inquiring into the character of the whole proceeding; and I think hon. Members have but little knowledge of the capacities and powers of hon. Members from Ireland if they imagine that if a certain number of those Irish Members are put into prison for what they regard as a political offence we shall not hear a great deal of it in this House hereafter. That drama will not be closed by the verdict in the Court. Is it not, then, absolutely essential that there should not be a taint or suspicion of injustice in the whole procedure of this trial? Is it not absolutely essential that you, sitting on the Government side of the House, should be practically confident that there is not a shadow, jot, or tittle of justification for any charge brought against the officials in Dublin, either of favouritism, unfairness, or prejudice, in the attempt to form a jury? Let me take the statement which was given to-night in answer to a Question put by an hon. Member below the Gangway on this side of the House. What did we get from the legal representative of the Irish Government? We got the statement that the offence for which the hon. Member for East Mayo and the other traversers are going to be tried was committed in the County of Galway. It was there they committed the offence of conspiring and inciting the people not to pay their rents; but the hon. Members are to be tried in Dublin, upon the technichal ground that the academic discussion of the Plan of Campaign took place in Dublin. Though the overt acts were committed in Galway, or Kerry, the trial is to take place in Dublin. Then, having brought the trial to Dublin, what is the next step? Not content with the City of Dublin, they transfer it to the County of Dublin, and not content with that, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson) has told us, though the ordinary number of names on the jury panel in the County of Dublin is from 80 to 100, on this occasion it is to be raised to 250. Not even content with that, the hon. and learned Gentleman tells us that the Defendants are to have no right of challenge beyond six. [An hon. MEMBER: That is the law!] So it is; but let me tell the House what one of the highest authorities on criminal law in this country says in reference to this point— 1185In cases of misdemeanour"—this is a case of misdemeanour—there is no right of peremptory challenge; but the defendant is generally allowed to object to jurors as they are called, without showing any cause, till the panel is exhausted;and that practice was approved of by Mr. Justice Williams. We are told to-night that the traversers are not to have this privilege; they are only to be allowed the right of challenge up to six. Now, let us see how this will work. The Crown orders jurymen to stand aside without giving any reason. That is the law. The six men that the traversers have the right to challenge will soon be exhausted. If you had a small panel, the Crown would order such a number to stand by that the panel would be exhausted, and then they would be bound to give their reasons for objecting, and the matter would be openly tried. But to appoint a panel of 250 men is practically placing the jury in the hands of the Crown. There is a general impression among hon. Members that—I find not from speeches of hon. Members in this House, but from association with hon. Members—an under-current of opinion through a large section of Members which will not find expression, perhaps, in any speech—that, under these circumstances, these men will not have a fair trial. I may be taking too much on myself at the present moment by giving utterance to the opinion. ["Hear, hear!"] You may well say "Hear, hear!" I am telling you a fact. There are a large number of Members of Parliament who believe that these men will not have a fair trial, and you are beginning the prosecution of these persons under such auspices as that. ["No, no!"] I am not saying that these men will not have a fair trial. I am merely saying that a large number of people think they will not.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
The hon. Member for Preston is extremely anxious to know my opinion. I will not shrink from giving it to him. I thought I had expressed it already. I say the whole course of procedure with reference to the jury panel on which these traversers are about to be tried is one that is unknown, and would not be tolerated by this country. I think it is a system of procedure which the Eng- 1186 lish authorities in the present Government, the men who are animated with what my noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) described as British spirit and feeling, ought to put their foot upon. Those English authorities ought to tell the authorities in Dublin that they will not allow Dublin Castle to interfere in the matter as they have done and that there must be as fair a trial given to these men in Ireland as would have been given to English prisoners at the Old Bailey, under similar circumstances. My noble Friend found complaint with reference to the wording of this Amendment—as to the increased stringency about to be imparted to criminal procedure in Ireland; and he propounded the rather singular doctrine that all the Government contemplated was a reform in criminal procedure, and that such a reform would not amount to the enactment of coercive laws. He said it would not be a weapon against a political opponent unless he were arraigned for criminal offences; but, as a matter of fact, the whole safeguards of our Constitutional system are a matter of criminal procedure. Trial by jury is a matter of criminal procedure; so also was the Court of Star Chamber. I do not know what the legislation of the Government is going to be; but any attempt, say, to subject prisoners to examination would be a very serious reform in criminal procedure, and if they propose to extend it to this country, they will find, I imagine, a pretty considerable amount of popular feeling excited against it in this country. But, however you may disguise it, under the guise of a reform of criminal procedure you might abolish every one of the privileges now enjoyed by people who are put upon their trial in this country. I adhere to the old-fashioned maxim that it is better that 20 criminals should escape than that one innocent man should be punished, and I am inclined to look with great jealousy upon any interference with those details of our criminal procedure, which have for their object the prevention of injustice, which are the safeguards of our Constitutional system, and which are designed for the prevention of innocent men being found guilty, though sometimes, in practice, they may interfere with the conviction of the guilty. I do not wish to occupy the time of the House any longer; but I would 1187 point out, in conclusion, that we have got in Ireland an administration of justice which is distrusted and doubted. My noble Friend has shown you that the land system is not working satisfactorily. Everyone believes that there must be a radical alteration in the law of landlord and tenant. You have got a system of education in Ireland distasteful to the vast majority of the Irish people. You have got a system of Local Government equally distasteful, equally incompetent, equally extravagant. You have the whole of your internal administration of Ireland arousing the feelings and treading upon the susceptibilities of the vast mass of the people. Now, what is the remedy you are going to offer for that state of affairs? Emigration will not he a remedy—public works will not be a remedy. You have got a deep-rooted sentiment of Nationality to deal with; you have got that which is, perhaps, stronger—namely, a deep-rooted discontent with the whole working of Irish administration. Now, we are bound to do one of two things—we are bound either to govern Ireland ourselves, and do it properly; or we are bound to allow the Irish to govern themselves instead. The Government have told us they have no intention of proposing any great alteration in the administration of Irish affairs—in other words, that we are to go on as we are. I can only predict from that a continuance of the hopeless failure in which we are now found. I do not disbelieve the competence of Englishmen to govern Ireland. England has governed India, and has governed it splendidly. And if you govern Ireland by Englishmen, I believe you could govern it well too. But you do not; you govern it by a sect and a class of Irishmen. Conceive what the state of things would be in India if you endeavoured to govern that country by classes and castes, by Mahommedans or Buddhists, instead of by ourselves. If Englishmen would take upon themselves the administration, I do not say that Ireland would accept it, or that England would tolerate it, but you would secure a good Government in that way; whereas, at present, you have the very worst Government imaginable, which does not fulfil even the primary duty of government, which is to secure the confidence of the people. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse), in his 1188 address, very sarcastically alluded to the peroration of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). The noble Lord told the House, or rather his unsympathetic Friends around him, that he intended to appeal to Cæsar. I thought the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse) was not very confident about Cæsar. He expressed considerable hesitation as to the change which might have come over Cæsar's mind; and though he was rather severe on Cæsar for being subject to these mutations of opinion, I saw that he did not look forward with very great confidence to the next appeal. I would say to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—your duty also is to appeal to Cæsar; do not retard the Business of this House; do not obstruct the course of English legislation; do not put yourselves in antagonism with the law, but tell the English people—not the people of one class—I do not care for this constant reference to an appeal to the democracy, but tell the English people the story of what is going on in Ireland. The Glenbeigh evictions, notwithstanding all the explanations we have heard, and all the apologies which have been made, have rooted themselves in the mind of the English people; and there is not a man sitting on the opposite side of the House who does not know that he will have to talk about them at the next General Election. I tell hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to persist in their appeal to Cæsar, and I venture to predict, with some confidence, that when the final judgment of Cæsar is given, the best of the classes and the best of the masses will sweep away the hideous imposture of Dublin Castle, and will confide to the Irish people what has been given by the Anglo-Saxon race to every race in the world to which its power and influence extends—namely, that principle of self-government which I believe, and which you believe, although you may laugh at it now, to be both the bulwark and safeguard of law and of liberty, and conduces to what the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) spoke of the other night as the freedom of the individual and the unity of the Empire.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has earned for himself a reputation as being a sound 1189 lawyer, and I think that reputation will be considerably increased by the speech we have just heard. At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman will be set down as an astute lawyer, for he has carefully avoided in the speech he has made, the most interesting subjects we are debating and the most difficult part of the subject with which he ought to have dealt—namely, the legality or otherwise of the Plan of Campaign. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that he had no desire whatever to turn out the Government. He then with remarkable logic informed the House that it was his purpose to vote for an Amendment which, if carried, would turn out the Government, because we conceive that no Amendment to the Address that was ever moved in this House was more utterly opposed to the policy of Her Majesty's Government than the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). Now, Sir, the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork has one peculiarity. The main question which we have been fighting and debating with hon. Gentlemen opposite for a long time past—namely, the question of Home Rule, is in this Amendment, towed like a small boat after a larger one. The question comes at the very extreme end of his Amendment. I have always supposed that the question of self-government for Ireland is really the question which hon. Gentlemen opposite have most at heart. We have sometimes ventured to say that the Land Question is the real question in Ireland, and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite, as a rule, say "No, no!" when we make that assertion. But when I listened to the speech of their Leader—a very long and able speech—I wondered when he would come to the great question. But he hardly touched it at all except in a very few words at the end of his address. The hon. Member for the City of Cork found great fault with Her Majesty's Government all round; but the principal fault he found with them certainly struck me very much with surprise. He found great fault with Her Majesty's Government because they did not maintain what they call the law in Ireland. I never heard the hon. Gentleman object to any Government for that reason before. Well, undoubtedly, we in Ire- 1190 land did think that there was considerable delay on the part of the Government in grappling with the Plan of Campaign; but, on considering the question, and on realizing the difficulties which presented themselves to the Government under the existing condition of law, we came to the conclusion that the Government was not at any rate so much to blame in the matter as at first we had supposed. The Plan of Campaign first appeared on the scene in United Ireland. But though not a lawyer, I am perfectly well aware of the fact that it would be impossible for the Government to prosecute, with any hope of success, a newspaper for the conspiracy in which they have brought out a plan of this kind. Well, the Government had to wait until the plan was further developed, and they had not to wait very long. Hon. Members opposite—and I give them full credit for candour—have never expressed any shame whatever for the part they have played in promoting the Plan of Campaign. I am perfectly certain that hon. Gentlemen opposite are quite clear in their consciences as to this matter, though the highest Court in Ireland has decided that it is an illegal and criminal conspiracy. I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite believe in their consciences that they are perfectly right in the course they have pursued. Well, they are not the first criminal conspirators who have had easy consciences. [An hon. MEMBER: No; Orangemen!] I am alluding to a mediæval personage—Robin Hood. He was a gentleman engaged in freebooting in this country, and we hear that his men in green had their consciences kept clean because they retained among them a certain Friar Tuck. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have also their Friar Tuck in no less a personage than the Roman Catholic Archbishop, who has given his imprimatur to the morality of the proceedings in which they are engaged. [An hon. MEMBER: What about rearing Kane?] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say that this is a spontaneous manifestation on the part of the farmers in Ireland of their desire to oppose extortion on the part of the landlords. Have hon. Gentlemen opposite, either directly or through the National League, endeavoured to terrorize the tenantry of Ireland into the adoption of this so-called Plan of Cam- 1191 paign? [Cries of "Never."] Hon. Gentlemen say "Never;" but with the permission of the House—and I commend this to the right hon. Gentleman opposite who has just spoken and who possesses a legal mind—I will show that this is not correct. I wish to point out to him, and to other hon. Members, that if I am able to show that the tenants of Ireland have been unwillingly compelled to join in the operation of this Plan of Campaign, it should have the effect of causing them to think twice before giving it support in England. With regard, then, to the terrorism exercised in connection with the Plan of Campaign, I have here letters which show this in regard to one estate in Ireland. [Cries of "Name."] I do not intend to mention the name, but in order that the House may not suppose for a moment that this is a trumped-up case, and in order to satisfy hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, I will, with his permission, submit the case and the letters to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), and I will say of that right hon. Gentleman now what I always say about him in public and in private—that, although I disagree with his policy, I am perfectly convinced that he means to be fair and just. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has studied the Irish Question in those Attic groves in which he has won such distinction, and that he has gathered his ideas of the state of Ireland rather from books than from observations, and by mixing with Irishmen themselves—the very worst plan that can be adopted; but acknowledging, as I do, that he is a fair-minded Englishman, I am sure that I shall convince him that the cases I am ready to submit to him are absolutely authentic, as I myself know them to be. Well, Sir, there is a district in Ireland which has adopted the Plan of Campaign. A meeting was held there, and a man was present who not only proposed the Chairman, but supported the plan that the tenants were not to pay their rents except on certain conditions. This man had paid his rent two days previously. [Laughter, and cries of "Name!" from the Irish Benches.] I shall submit the name of the individual to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, and that will satisfy the House. That 1192 is case number one. Here is case number two in connection with this subject. I hold in my hand a letter from a tenant on the estate, who says—Sir,—I enclose a cheque for £4 19s., half-a-year's rent, according to promise. I sent it to—a certain person whose name I will not mention—Because I was afraid to send it otherwise. I am afraid to send it by post, as I am watched.[Cries of "Name!"] I shall submit it to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. But here is another letter, one which I have received from a priest of the parish; and it appears that Father Quilter is not the only priest that takes an interest in the tenantry of Ireland. I am happy to say there are many such men. The letter is as follows:—On behalf of—the person whose name is mentioned here—I enclose you a cheque for £21 10s., for half-a-year's rent, including costs, and I request you to keep this payment private, as the knowledge of it among other tenants might bring upon her very detrimental influences in her present delicate state of health.This is from a priest who has a personal knowledge of the tenants on the estate, and who even assists them in fulfilling their legal obligations. I have in my hand another letter, which is the last I shall trouble the House by reading. It is from a Roman Catholic; he is a grazier, and writes to make a tender to the owner of the property for some grass land. He says—I have been asking for certain grazing land. I know it will be a dangerous thing for me to take it, owing to the National League influence. However, I will chance it, on account of my having the grass for the last five years past.Now, Sir, we have here cases of persons who have supported the Plan of Campaign, and yet have violated the first of its rules by paying their rents secretly, owing to the terrorism of the National League. So much for the Plan of Campaign. Perhaps the House will allow me to say why we refuse to obey the rule of the Plan of Campaign. I do not argue whether a reduction of 20 per cent is a reasonable reduction or not. It may be or not be. I do not know all the circumstances and therefore I cannot tell. But we object to the Plan of Campaign 1193 coming between us and our tenants; we refuse to accept the law of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, who must remember that they have not yet secured the passage of a Home Rule Bill. But there is another point of interest connected with this subject. We have had one hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) in his speech this evening condemning the Plan of Campaign in the most eloquent terms, but who I believe is going to vote for the Amendment before the House. The hon. Member for Sunderland said some hard things of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace) and alluded to the breaking of the Ten Commandments, as well as to another Commandment intended to be kept in England, but not in Ireland. As to the morality of which I say nothing, but I take it that what is held to be right and just in England is equally right and Justin Ireland. What appears to me to be the most dangerous doctrine that has yet been preached in this House, at any rate in our time, is the doctrine that the law is to be obeyed only so long as it is just. But who is to say whether the law is just or unjust? We have always imagined that if a law is thought to be unjust, it is brought for Amendment before this House. It is Parliament which makes the law, and which, when it is thought right to do so, can alone abrogate or change it; but that people who object to a law shall have power to break it at will is a principle which I have never before heard of. If this is the law of the now Party opposite, if we are to be at liberty to obey those laws only which we approve, and disobey those which press hardly upon us, all I will say is that pocket-picking ought to look up. I do not know whether the criminal class in the Metropolis read our debates, but I take it that the pick-pockets and light-fingered gentry will take heart of grace when they understand that right hon. Gentlemen in this House lay it down as their policy that the law is only to be observed so long as it is chosen to be obeyed. The pickpocket is at war with society. He says that one man has no right to be richer than another, and when he filches a purse from the pockets of the rich, he says he is only establishing a monetary equilibrium between those who have too much and those who have too little. I hope, Sir, that this will 1194 never become the policy of this House. Undoubtedly, there are many hon. Gentleman opposite who, to my mind, have gone astray. But it is only a temporary aberration, and I believe that when they come to face the consequences they will turn again into the good old paths along which all classes in the country have hitherto walked. But there is another important point which has been brought prominently forward in this House, and which has been dwelt upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle as the principal reason in his mind why the latter part of this Amendment should be passed, that part which deals with the question of a separate Parliament for Ireland. Now why is it that my right hon. Friend apparently desires a Home Rule Parliament for Ireland? In his speech the other night, he said he wished to remove an impediment which for so long had been a shame and disgrace to the English Parliament. I did not hear, when my right hon. Friend said that, any sound of approval from below the Gangway. My hon. Friend generally speaks in that way outside the House; but, in the speech which he made on Tuesday, he said that until we get rid of the Irish Members in this House, England would never be mistress of her own actions. Knowing the relations which exist between hon. Members below the Gangway and the right hon. Gentleman, I feel that they cannot take up the cudgels in their own defence, and therefore, with the permission of the House, I will take them up, and say a word or two to show that the course pursued in debate in this House by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite has not been pursued with a desire unduly to interfere with the progress of business, but that they have all along aimed at an object which they have consistently kept in view. What is that? Hon. Gentlemen opposite are possessed of unbounded eloquence on every subject, whether they understand the subject or whether they do not; and they are capable of making speeches at any length. That is a great power to possess. It has often struck me that Samson confounded his enemies with a jawbone, but the hon. Member for the City of Cork deserves the credit of having resuscitated that implement, and, with 85 implements of the kind, he has succeeded in confounding, confusing, 1195 and demoralizing the British House of Commons. The object in view is to clog the wheels of the legislative machine, to prevent their turning round, so that at last, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, the House of Commons should come to the conclusion that so long as Irish Members remain below the Gangway, so long would it be impossible to proceed with the legislation of the country. But does the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be worth while to try an experiment so tremendous that it would practically dismember the Empire in order to get rid of men who are unmanageable? Now I absolutely deny that hon. Members below the Gangway should be given up by the right hon. Gentlemen as a bad job until some effort has been tried to render them amenable to reason. We have before us an alteration of the procedure of the House. I have, in former times, done a good deal of riding, and have found that some horses are dangerous to ride until you put on a gag-snaffle. That is the meaning of the first resolution that will be put forward.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. and gallant Member that he is proceeding beyond the Question before the House.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I submit to your ruling, Sir. There appear to me to be two policies which can be pursued by the House of Commons. There is the policy indicated by Earl Spencer and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, which I call the policy of despair. Earl Spencer holds views very similar to those of my right hon. Friend. He holds that it is impossible upon existing conditions satisfactorily to govern Ireland, or to manage affairs in the House of Commons, and that, therefore, in his opinion, a Home Rule Bill should be passed. The noble Earl, at Newcastle, in company with my right hon. Friend, and speaking on the Irish Policy of the Liberal Party, which is described as a policy brought forward with the laudable object of satisfying all the just requirements of Ireland, said that some of the measures—Were so strong that we had to strain the loyalty of many English Members to carry them, and yet those measures were hardly allowed to have effect in Ireland. The National Party, in order to get the Government into their own hands, would not allow those remedial measures to take effect. They would not 1196 allow them then, and they will not allow them hereafter.Well, some right hon. Gentlemen opposite have asked, what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government? I say it is the direct opposite to the policy indicated in the speech of Earl Spencer. Earl Spencer, in this speech, says there is a power in Ireland which prevents the Irish people accepting the remedial measures that this House has passed in former times. I take it that Her Majesty's Government means that no Party in Ireland shall have the power in the future of preventing the Irish people accepting the remedial Acts passed by this House. I hear hon. Members sometimes allude—I heard one hon. and learned Gentleman on this side of the House allude—to the mis-government in times past, to the crushing out of the industries of Ireland in times past, as a reason why we should now deal leniently with the Irish people. Did he forget the remedial measures adopted during the last 40 years—measures which have conferred on the Irish boons which, I believe, no other tenantry or people on the earth have ever received from any Government? I take it Her Majesty's Government realize that as the very first principle of governing Ireland the law must be re-established, that the law of the land and the authority of this House must be maintained, and that the authority of the League must be crushed. I said, on a former occasion, that I hoped the Land Act of 1881 would get a fair chance, and that those Acts which enable the Irish tenantry to purchase their farms would carry with them those blessings and benefits which I believe they can, if they are only allowed. But some hon. Members opposite do not think there is at present any chance of the Irish tenantry becoming possessed of their farms, of the tenantry separating themselves from the National League. What is the opinion of one of their most distinguished Members—the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), who took his seat in the House to-day? Speaking on the 10th of October, 1885, the hon. Gentleman said—There were two points that should be seen to, two chinks in the armour; first, a combination that would make it impossible for the rich farmers to break the organization.Now, Sir, who are these rich farmers? I have given you a specimen of one of 1197 them, this grazier who dared to confront the authority of the National League by taking a certain grazing farm. There are thousands in Ireland like him. Then the hon. Member went on to say—And the second was a sufficient sum of money in the National Treasury to show the landlords it could not be quickly exhausted; and that it would be a farmers' fund that would guarantee them from all reasonable losses.Why, Sir, even so long ago as the 10th of October, 1885, the Plan of Campaign was in contemplation. A National Fund! I do not know how much of that fund will ever be seen by the tenants, but I hope that when the accounts are furnished they will give more satisfaction than was given when the accounts of the Land League were published; for those accounts showed a deficit of £120,000, though the money had been subscribed for a definite purpose and object. I believe most firmly that if the law is maintained in Ireland, and if the Irish people are taught that the law is capable of defending those who obey it, we shall find that the organization of which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) is the head will crumble away, and that the Irish people, realizing that law and order is on their side and capable of making itself respected, will ultimately come to the side of law and order, and settle the Irish Question as, I believe, it alone can ever be settled, by the decided opinion of the Irish people themselves that the law of England is the law under which they are most likely to attain prosperity and happiness, and under which, ultimately, Ireland will be able to take her place as she has a right to take her place, owing to the genius of her children and the wealth and resources of her soil, as a credit, and not a disgrace, to the Empire to which she belongs.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I hope it will be understood, if we consent to the adjournment now, the debate upon this Amendment will be allowed to close to-morrow. I do not undervalue the importance of the debate, but to-morrow night it will have lasted five nights, and, therefore, I trust 1198 that to-morrow we shall be allowed to take a division.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.