HC Deb 16 February 1887 vol 310 cc1650-713
MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

said, he would not trouble the House with any apologies for addressing them upon this subject, which had now been under discussion for one night. The conduct of the Government in sending a military expedition to Skye, and the conduct of the local judicial authorities subsequent to that proceeding, had very seriously troubled the conscience of the people of Scotland, and had excited widespread, and, he might almost say, universal indignation and irritation. Under these circumstances, if the Scottish Members had allowed one single day to pass—when it was in their power—without bringing this question before the House of Commons, they would have been guilty of gross dereliction of duty, and would have been very severely called to account by their constituents. The debate had proceeded, so far, he was sorry to say, in a somewhat one-sided fashion. A number of speeches had been made in support of the Amendment. Only one speech bad been made against the Amendment, and that was made not by a private and independent Member, but by one of the officials whose conduct in these transactions was reflected upon. He did not propose to follow the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) in his somewhat rambling discourse on things in general with which he entertained the House. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman usually did in debate, he gambolled gracefully like a whale in a field of clover. The right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of meetings in Scotland and in London; about speeches made by hon. Members, about everything except the issue before the House. He (Mr. Hunter) might give one little incident which might, perhaps, inspire the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate with some caution when he next came to speak about London meetings. One of the first meetings he (Mr. Hunter) had attended in London was in favour of what would now be considered a very moderate reform of the Land Laws. After the resolution had been put, a gentleman rose and moved a revolutionary amendment. He (Mr. Hunter) kept his eye on that man, and he afterwards found that that gentleman was a paid organizer of Conservative demonstrations in London. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate laid down a most extraordinary legal doctrine—namely, that every person who attended a public meeting was to be held responsible for the opinions uttered by others at that meeting, and from which he might entirely and totally dissent.

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

I never said anything of the kind. What I said was that no dissent was uttered.


Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman's position was that as soon as at public meetings any person made a statement with which 500 disagreed, the 500 were responsible and ought to immediately jump up, when the resolution was proposed, and protest against it.


Yes; if the statement was disloyal.


said, he was happy to hear that remark, because it explained some of the mysterious proceedings in the Highlands. If that was the doctrine of Scotch law, he could not say that he shared that enthusiastic admiration for Scotch law and Edinburgh lawyers which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had so feelingly expressed. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate said what hon. Members wanted was a Royal Commission. It was nothing of the kind. What was wanted was a Committee of Inquiry of the House of Commons. They did not ask the House of Commons to condemn either the Government or their subordinate officials with reference to what took place in Skye, because the facts were not before the House in an official and authentic shape. What he contended was that the supporters of the Amendment had established abundant and ample working ground for inquiry. What were these grounds? They had the testimony of three experts—three newspaper correspondents. One of them was the correspondent of The Scotsman, who had special facilities for knowing one side of the case, because he accompanied Sheriff Ivory in the warship, and he therefore possessed knowledge of what was going to take place sooner than any of the others, in consequence of the continuous private communications he received from Sheriff Ivory. They might, therefore, look to The Scotsman correspondent's account as being a report from the official standpoint of what took place. Another reporter who described what he saw was that of The Glasgow Herald. Now, The Glasgow Herald had been distinguished in its leading columns by strong opposition to the views of the crofters, and of measures which the crofters considered would be beneficial to them. The Glasgow Herald had been an anti-crofter paper, so that The Scotsman and The Herald might be relied upon as not putting the case too favourably for the crofters. There was only one paper which in its leading articles took the side of the crofters—The North British Daily Mail. He had examined the different accounts of the transactions described by these correspondents. There were some minute points of difference; but as regarded the main facts there was no difference whatever. They practically agreed in describing what they saw. In these circumstances, as regarded the facts, they had abundant proof to justify them in asking that an official inquiry should take place. That was the case which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had to answer, and which had not been answered by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate. The first point was—how were the Government to justify the sending of a naval expedition to Skye? It was sent either for the recovery of rates or of rents. He would first deal with the necessity for the expedition so far as recovery of rates was concerned. He (Mr. Hunter) would admit that if the Government had been able to establish a case of that kind it would have justified their action in sending troops to Skye. If they had shown that in consequence of a combination—or what lawyers called a conspiracy—not to pay rates, the local government of Skye was thrown out of gear, schools stopped, and paupers unable to procure maintenance; if they had shown that it was necessary to take legal proceedings to recover the rates and that these legal proceedings could not be attempted without the presence of a large military force, then the Government would have established circumstances to justify them in sending the military expedition to Skye. But, so far from that being the case, the very contrary could be proved. He would push the matter further, and ask, Who owed the rates, and why were they not paid? Eight-ninths of the arrears of rates in Skye last March were owing by landlords and large farmers, who were practically in the same boat with them. Out of £5,200 arrears, less than £600 was the amount due by crofters. These figures appeared in a Return made to Parliament by the late Government. The late Government had no difficulty in distinguishing between the amount of rates due by the crofters—that was, by tenants under £30, and tenants over £30—but the present Government would give them to understand that that information could either not be procured at all, or only with extraordinary difficulty. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] But that information was published in March last, and the important point was that the arrears of the crofters could not materially have increased between March of last year and October, when the expedition was sent. Was it necessary to take legal proceedings as regarded the sums due by landlords and large farmers? He did not believe it was; but, if it had been, it was not necessary, so far as those eight-ninths of the rates was concerned, to send a naval expedition to serve writs on Mr. Macdonald and Colonel Fraser. Therefore, so far as regarded £4,600 out of the £5,200 due, it could all have been recovered without sending a single soldier or even a single policeman to Skye. As to the remaining £600, was there any proof in the possession of the Government that the crofters had determined not to pay their rates, and had entered into a conspiracy not to pay them, and would resist the officers of the law in carrying out legal proceedings? In order to establish their case, the Government must prove that, for if the contrary were proved the whole case for the Government, so far as rates were concerned, absolutely broke down, and the sending of the naval expedition remained without a shadow or shred of justification or excuse. What were the facts as to the willingness of the crofters to pay rates? He would mention what could be proved beyond doubt if a Committee of Inquiry was held. They could prove that the whole and sole cause of the non-payment of rates was the misconduct of the Parochial Authorities and of the persons they employed to collect the rates. They could prove that; as regarded the proceedings taken to recover rates, nothing more scandalous in the administration of parochial business had ever occurred in Scotland. Some of these legal proceedings were taken against men who had been dead for years, which proved that for four years the collector had never called in the townships where those ratepayers had lived, or he would have known that they had passed beyond the reach of the Parochial Authorities. In numerous other cases those legal proceedings were taken against persons who had actually paid their rates, and in many instances the proceedings were stopped by the production on the part of the ratepayers of the receipts. Many were sued from whom the rates had never been demanded. There were persons against whom proceedings were taken who had counter claims against the Parochial Board for exceeding the amount of the rates. There were paupers on the poor roll who were sued, and there were numerous cases in which the proceedings were of the most harsh, cruel, and oppressive character, inasmuch as they were proceedings taken against persons who were absolutely in a state of extreme destitution and poverty, in order to extract from them rates which no Parochial Board, in the proper exercise of its duty, should have demanded. These cases were not rare or exceptional, but were most numerous. He thought that effectually disposed of the Government's contention that it was necessary to send a military expedition in order to recover rates. Now, how did it stand with regard to arrears of rent? Last year an Act was passed for the benefit of the crofters. One of its provisions—a provision which was inserted in the Bill as it was going through the House—gave power to the Crofter Commissioners to reduce arrears of rents, and if the tenants paid those reduced arrears they were not to be liable to eviction from their farms. But there had been a delay, which had not yet been explained by the Government, in the application of the Crofters' Act to Skye; and although the Government, in hot haste, sent down a naval expedition to Skye on the 5th of October, it was not till the 21st of October that any information reached the authorities in Skye that the Crofters' Act had been applied to that Island. Now, he ventured to say that if it were true, and if that were the defence of the Government, that the expedition was sent, not to collect arrears of rates, but of rents, anything more scandalous on the part of a Government had rarely taken place—because the object of such proceedings was to defeat the intention and the operation of the Crofters' Act. The intention of Parliament, expressed in terms that were perfectly well known to all the authorities in Scotland, was that, inasmuch as there was some reason to believe that in many cases—or, at all events, in some cases—the rents at present paid by the crofters were extortionate, it was not fair that they should be debarred from the benefits of the Crofters' Act if they failed to pay the whole of the arrears of rent which, by the decision of the Commissioners, were found to be excessive. Therefore, where the Commissioners thought it necessary to do so, they had the power to reduce the rents; but if the Government sent soldiers to Skye with a view to intimidate, to terrorize, and to extort from the inhabitants sums which that very Act of Parliament had virtually declared to be illegal, then he ventured to say that anything more monstrous in the shape of abuse of Executive authority had seldom been brought before the House. Let not the Government take to themselves the consolation that they had got the letter of the law in their favour. The spirit of the Act of Parliament was clear and beyond dispute; and if they had violated the spirit of the Act, and endeavoured to put pressure on the tenants at the last moment, then let them stand to the judgment of the country. He was quite aware that the Court of Session had driven a coach and six through the Crofters' Act, and had found a loophole in that Act, and that it appeared to be the correct construction of that Act that, though the crofters paid reduced rents, they could not be evicted, but that they could be made bankrupt if they did not pay the whole of the rents, and having been made bankrupt they might be evicted. So the result was that, according to the decision of the Court of Session, the Crofters' Act of last year—in so far as it dealt with arrears of rent—was apiece of self-stultification. What was the state of matters with respect to the spirit of lawlessness of which they were told so much? The expedition arrived on the 5th of October, and, although they were hard at work day after day, there was not—except on the 25th and 26th of October—the slightest act done that could be construed into a resistance of the law. There was not a single finger raised, nor an angry voice heard through the whole of Skye, with the exception of these two days. What happened in these two days? In the course of the first fortnight of the operations of the expedition all the writs for the collection of rates had practically been served, but proceedings continued to be taken for the collection of rents. At Herbusta and two other places there was a certain amount of disturbance of the peace on the 25th of October. That disturbance, so far as he could make out, originated in a very natural rumour—considering the conduct of the Government—that the military were coming to evict the tenants from their homes, so that they might not get the benefit of the Crofters' Act. That rumour naturally would excite considerable indignation. The gatherings in question in no case exceeded 30 people. They were of the most trumpery character. No assault was committed—not a hair of any man's head was injured. [Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD: Oh, oh!] Well, the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate prosecuted the men in Edinburgh, and they were expressly found not to be guilty of any assault. There was no violence, no outrage, no assault. There did exist, however, resistance and obstruction of the Sheriff Officer in serving writs—a most regrettable and most deplorable event, for this reason—that the crofters, without doing any violence—indeed, without advancing their cause in the least—played into the hands of their enemies; because, without knowing and intending it, they were found to have technically stepped across that narrow and almost invisible line which separated legal guilt from legal innocence. He (Mr. Hunter) said unhesitatingly that there was no intention of the part of the crofters to resist the law. There was, however, an intention on the part of the crofters to offer resistance within the law. He used the expression "within the law," because they had been familiar lately with an analogous case—namely, of pressure within the law and pressure without the law. What was pressure within the law and what was pressure without the law was, no doubt, matter of opinion. These crofters committed the mistake which, according to Chief Baron Palles, was committed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). Intending to keep within the limits of the law, they did that which, according to the technical rules of Scottish law, amounted to a technical deforcement. This was but ignorance of the law; and, as they knew, ignorance of the law excused no man. He could not share the raptures with which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate spoke of the law of Scotland, especially upon this question, because he had endeavoured to study the definition of deforcement by Lord Mure and Lord Young, and he was totally unable to reconcile the definition of Lord Mure with that of Lord Young; and, what was more, he was totally unable to understand either definition. He had succeeded once in his lifetime in acquiring a certain mastery of Scottish metaphysics; but he was bound to say that the Scottish law, as applied to the crofters, was more difficult to understand than Scottish metaphysics. What occurred was a temporary ebullition of temper under circumstances of unusual excitement, and the most was made of it by the authorities, because, if they had not got hold of this slight crutch to lean upon, the whole expedition would have been absolutely ridiculous. It was the only thing that would stand between them and the contempt of the country. This trumpery incident was magnified into a sort of State offence, and developed, in the ingenious hands of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, into constructive treason. Sheriff Ivory having, as he thought, caught the crofters in an illegal act, was determined to make the most of it. He followed it up by wholesale arrests, and not only so, but arrests of a questionable, if not of an illegal, character took place. There was the case of Beeton, the cowherd, who was arrested without a war- rant, on the more or less erroneous statement of a police officer, and was liberated after being in prison four days, there being no evidence against him; he was discharged without compensation. Two boys were arrested by policemen on their own authority, though they had not been caught doing anything wrong. Then there was the cruel case of Mrs. Macrae. Anything more cruel he never heard of. A woman suffering from lameness and disease, with a child at her breast, was compelled to walk through the mud and mire for many weary miles in that desolate part of the country. She was kept in prison, and was subjected to all the expense and anxiety attending a trial; and when the Lord Advocate got her at Edinburgh for trial, he did not venture to give any evidence against her, or bring any charge. It might be that that was to the credit of the Lord Advocate. Very likely it was; but if it was to the credit of the Lord Advocate, how much was it to the discredit of those officials who acted under him and who brought her there? Then there were the cases of the Rev. D. M'Callum and Mr. John M'Pherson, who were accused of an offence of a character which he would have been unable to understand if he had not heard the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate's doctrine of constructive responsibility announced last night. Upon a mere newspaper statement, which turned out to be utterly untrue, a minister of the gospel, a minister of the State Church, was arrested on a Saturday night and kept in prison until Monday, when he was discharged on bail, and never brought to trial; and they had declarations from the Crown authorities themselves that two months after that arrest they had no evidence upon which to proceed. In Scotland it was the usual course not to arrest men for trumpery offences who could easily be found, but to serve them with a summons. Why was the course not followed in this case? The complaint in this case was that a most unusual—although, perhaps, a technically justifiable—proceeding was followed. Could it be pretended that a minister of the gospel and a man like Mr. John M'Pherson could not be found when they were wanted? He would tell the right hon. Gentleman why this unusual course was followed. It was that in order—whether they were guilty or not—they should, at all events, have some punishment in the shape of imprisonment, and the punishment was inflicted upon them because they had been guilty, in the eyes of Sheriff Ivory, of the abominable crime of vindicating the crofters. Anything more scandalous in the administration of justice could scarcely be conceived. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate said these laws had existed for a long time, and there had been no complaint. But why had there been no complaint? It was because the right hon. Gentleman would not have tried to do in Edinburgh, or Aberdeen, or in the South of Scotland, what his officials had done in the Highlands. He would remind hon. Members of the gross illegality which the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Shiress Will) had pointed out last night, of searches made in the dead of night for a number of crofters upon a purely technical offence. It seemed that the authorities in Skye, not content with arresting persons who were accused of crimes, also arrested witnesses; and there was a case where the operation of arrest had been brought into play against two persons who were guilty of no other offence than that they were suspected of knowing something about some accusation which had been made against somebody else. Two policemen had been sent from Portree to arrest two men named M'Leod and M'Caskie, and drag them from their work in order that they might be examined, and they had received no compensation for the loss to which they had been subjected. Another man, Norman M'Lean, had been arrested and put into prison for refusing to admit a police constable to a meeting which he had convened. He (Mr. Hunter) took it that any person who held a meeting had a perfect right to choose his own company, and, at all events, that the remedy for the police constable would be a civil action. But in this case a respectable man was arrested on the trumpery charge of keeping the policeman out of the meeting, and put into prison. He would tell the House something about these prisons. In Scotland there was a vestige of the old Roman law and of the old French law, which was called by the name of the oubliette—and well might it be so called—because when a person was arrested he was shut up from all com- munication with the outside world. He was not allowed to send any message until such time as the authorities thought fit to subject him to examination. He congratulated the Government upon having, at last, taken steps to mitigate that great evil, because at present there was no power on the part of the Government, even if they felt disposed, to allow such communication. There was now lying on the Table of the House an Amendment of the Rules of the Prison Commissioners, which would in future authorize the authorities in cases where they thought fit—though in those cases only—to allow communication with the prisoners from the time of the arrest. The House, therefore, would understand what was meant in Scotland by this violent process of arrest, instead of the ordinary and usual summons. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate threw great contempt upon the newspapers, and the information they contained; but it was a fact that in all these proceedings the officials in Skye had no authority to go upon, and no evidence of any kind except what appeared in the newspapers. It appeared in the newspapers that a Mr. Nicholson, who had some controversy with Sheriff Ivory last year—and it was an unfortunate circumstance that, upon a question of fact, four witnesses had sworn to a state of facts diametrically opposed to that which was affirmed by Sheriff Ivory—it was alleged that Mr. Nicholson had called Sheriff Ivory a liar. That was a Saxon expression, but it was not very polite. Proceedings were taken against him. Was a summons issued calling upon Nicholson to show cause why he should answer this charge? Nothing of the sort. He was arrested, and put into the oubliette, which gave him time for reflection; gave him, in short, a taste of those blessings of Scotch law of which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was so proud. Another gentleman—a Mr. Mackay—had written a letter to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland. That letter had been published in some Scotch paper. Although there was no evidence to show by whom it was published, the author of the letter was assumed instantly to be the publisher, and he had called Sheriff Ivory a "judicial monster." Now, that language was not polite. Sheriff Ivory himself, however, was in the habit of using very strong language; and although it was highly improper that crofters should reciprocate in a similar inelegant epistolary style in which he indulged, yet it was not inexplicable that they should do so. Mackay was not summoned—he was arrested, and another gross abuse of the forms of the law was perpetrated. If upon inquiry it was ascertained that these were the facts, it was impossible to pass too strong a condemnation either upon the officials who were guilty of them or upon the higher authorities who sanctioned them. He (Mr. Hunter) had stated that there was no foundation whatever for that which was the basis of the whole case of the Government—the allegation that there was a spirit of lawlessness and resistance to the payment of rates among the crofters. He might quote a great many witnesses on that point; but he would content himself with one. He would content himself with the words of the bitterest enemy of the crofters in Scotland—he meant The Scotsman newspaper. What did the editor of that paper say with reference to this part of the case? In a leading article on the 12th of October, he said— In the first place, it is impossible to resist the conclusion that the accumulation of the large arrears of poor rates which in some parishes have left the Parochial Boards literally without the power of discharging their legal duties is, in very great measure, the fault of the Local Authorities themselves. In no case has there been displayed a disposition on the part of the people to refuse payment of the rates, or even to complain of inequality or oppressiveness of their incidence. But in many instances they have been able to produce receipts for a considerable proportion of the amount now sought to be recovered; in others they have alleged, apparently with truth, that no application for payment has ever been made; while several asserted that they had paid the rates to the factor, but that the amount had been appropriated by him to the rent account. In one instance a writ for two years' rates was served on a person who on investigation was found to be a pauper, the rent of his holding being paid for him by the Parochial Board. Facts like these show clearly that the administration of the Poor Law in Skye has been characterized by a degree of laxity and downright negligence that is alone sufficient to account for the present unsatisfactory condition of affairs. When he could quote such testimony from the bitterest enemy of the crofters—the man who most habitually and most persistently reviled the crofters—and when that was his summary of the facts—he (Mr. Hunter) thought he had made out as strong a case for an inquiry as had ever been presented to the House of Commons. In one case a woman who was applied to could not pay the rate. Her husband was away from home searching for work, and he was totally unable to pay the rate; but still the woman was pressed for payment. There was a similar case, of a woman whose husband died two years ago, and who was reduced almost to poverty, and she pleaded that she could not pay the money. The whole story of Skye was full of such cases. Mr. Duncan Macrae, one of the most extensive merchants in the island, stated that about four years ago he discovered that many of his customers were falling behind in their payments; but he would not ask the assistance of the police or Marines in assisting him to collect his debts. In one parish some of the crofters did not produce corn sufficient for seed, and those who were not able to do so had to live on potatoes. It was impossible to read the description of that island, and the frightful state of poverty in which the people were, without perceiving the truth of the remark that in many of these cases the officers of the law, instead of going in full military array to collect rates, would have been far better employed if they had distributed the cost of the expedition among the people in the shape of charity. The real object of the expedition was to extort arrears in defiance of the spirit of the Crofters' Act, and to compel the tenants to pay these excessive and exorbitant sums which would be declared in due time by the Crofters' Commission to be unfair. While the payment of rates was the excuse, the collection of rents was the real object of the expedition. One of the Parochial Boards in Skye had passed a resolution that they would not allow any writs for rates to be served along with writs for arrears of rent. What did the Government do? The Government threatened that unless they consented that the writs for rates should be served at one and the same time with the writs for rent the Government would refuse to give the Parochial Board any assistance whatever in the collection of rates. He (Mr. Hunter) would give hon. Members one or two illustrations of the class of persons from whom these rates were to be collected. One of these cases was that of an old pensioner named Nicholson, who had served Her Majesty in several notable campaigns, and who had arrived at an advanced age. He was one of those who were marked down for prosecution in this campaign for rents. His arrears amounted to £8. If ever there was a case in which a landlord should have shown some indulgence surely it was the case of an old hero of so many battles. But extreme proceedings were taken against the man, and ultimately, when his goods had been seized and were on the point of being sold, some people in the neighbourhood came forward and contributed out of their own pockets the £8 which was demanded by the landlord. Yet The Scotsman quoted the case as a proof that the inability to pay rents was a hollow pretence, and that it was only necessary to apply extreme torture in order to extract the full rents. The editor of The High'ander and one or two gentlemen, ashamed of their country—and ashamed that men should be subjected to such harsh proceedings—contributed out of their own pockets the £8 which the landlord had the meanness to take. This war was still going on. On the 15th of January there was a batch of writs for arrears of rent served—30 altogether—and 14 of these were against widows, most of whom were struggling to bring up their families under very difficult circumstances. He (Mr. Hunter) would say a word about Sheriff Ivory. Perhaps the House would understand why it was that the people in Skye were not so profoundly impressed with the dignity of the Sheriff as the Sheriff was himself. The reason was that the Sheriff did not always behave in a very dignified manner. In one case Sheriff Ivory ordered a policeman to go to the house of a widow as fast as possible, and because the policeman was not able to go fast enough the Sheriff shouted after him to take off his coat and run. He (Mr. Hunter) condemned the double capacity in which. Sheriff Ivory was employed—as an Executive officer and as a Judge. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate informed the House that this union of judicial and police functions was one that had never been complained of; but the Lord Advocate himself forgot that he himself had mentioned a fact which conclusively proved that the system was intolerable to the people of Skye. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said they could not try these: cases in Skye.

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

I never said so. What I said was that, owing to the state of feeling in that part of the country, we should have been reproached by our hon. Friends opposite if we had tried them by Sheriff Ivory.


Yes; you would I have been reproached by the whole country, and deservedly so. The fact that Sheriff Ivory had been employed as a policeman in ferreting out and conducting operations against the crofters was a fact which, in the opinion of the country, disqualified him from acting as a Judge. What was that but to condemn the utterly monstrous and anomalous system of employing the same man as a Judge in the Court and as a policeman to bring them to trial? The best proof of the poverty of the people was in the nature of the articles upon which distraint was executed. What were those articles? In numerous cases those articles consisted of the bed and bedding of the crofters, as nothing else could be found. In one case, four or five hens were the sole property that could be seized; and not only that, but one of the commonest objects on which the distraint was executed was the stack of peats. The effect of this was to make it a criminal offence for a crofter to go to his peat stack, and have a fire to keep him warm in the depth of winter. Happily, the law of England did not know what the Sheriff Officer was; but he was a mighty personage in Scotland. The smallest proceeding in a civil suit in Scotland could not be taken without invoking the aid of this august person. It was one of the relics of the Roman law which were embedded in the Scotch law. It appeared that the Sheriff Officer was in some mysterious way clothed with the majesty of the law, and that to show any disrespect to a Sheriff Officer was a high and mighty offence. Unfortunately, the instrument whom the law was compelled to employ was not always worthy of that high vocation. Macdonald, who was principally engaged in these proceedings in Skye, was a gentleman who, entirely of his own spontaneity—when he was sent to execute an eviction—was not content with evicting a tenant, but proceeded, without the authority of the landlord, to burn down the house. He was not aware that any criminal proceedings had been taken against Macdonald; but the landlords had raised a civil action for £70 damages against him. It was the favourite amusement of Macdonald on going through Skye, to threaten the people that he would burn down their houses. On several occasions the reporters witnessed assaults which he committed on perfectly inoffensive people, and Macdonald was the very worst person whom the Government could have selected for the duty. Inverness was the county where the offence, if any, had been committed. Inverness was a Highland county—a Gaelic-speaking county. In Inverness there would have been a perfectly fair trial. No one could charge the people of Inverness with excessive partiality to the crofters, seeing that the Burghs returned his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) to Parliament. The cost to the crofters out on bail would have been comparatively small, and the cost of bringing witnesses would have been comparatively small. What was the reason for trying them in Edinburgh? It put the poor crofters to an expense of £30, apart altogether from counsel. It was therefore oppressive to the crofters. Another reason was that in order to make a mountain out of a molehill, and to impress the country with the idea that there was a revolution in the Highlands, the authorities made a sort of State trial of the charges in Edinburgh; and the reason why the trial was taken to Edinburgh was that Edinburgh was the one place in Scotland where the atmosphere was polluted and poisoned with slanders against the crofters. There was only one morning newspaper published in Edinburgh at the time, and he could cull from the leading articles of that newspaper—day after day and week after week—a paper circulating entirely amongst the class of persons from whom juries were drawn—statements of the most violent character, assuming the guilt of all the prisoners, and accusing them not only of every criminal offence, but of moral delinquencies. Those extracts were of such a character that he felt certain in England they would have afforded good ground for an application to remove the trial from Edinburgh on the ground that a fair trial could not be held, for the con- duct and character of the newspaper. And, now, he came to the sentences,—he was not going to criticize the sentences passed upon the crofters, except to say that the people of the country could not fail to compare, nor overlook the fact, that the sentences that were passed on the Scotch crofters were as severe as the sentences passed on the Belfast Orangemen—four months and six months in both cases. But in the case of the crofters, a mere technical violation of the law; and in the case of the Orangemen, a state almost of insurrection. But there was one substantial difference between the two cases. In Belfast, the Orangemen were the tools and the dupes of the Irish landlords. In Skye the crofters were the victims of the Scottish landlords. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had accomplished that which at one time he (Mr. Hunter) should have thought would have been beyond the power of any Lord Advocate—he had succeeded in bringing the administration of the law in Scotland into contempt. There was no people more law-abiding than the Scottish people, or who had a greater loathing of the taint of imprisonment, but such had been the administration of the law, that when some of the crofters were released from prison they were met with pipers and bands, and received the ovation of a whole neighbourhood. And why was that? Because the whole population of Scotland looked with disgust and with indignation upon the manner in which this law was carried out; and the cruel severity of the sentences imposed. That was an unfortunate feeling to engender. It would probably spread from the North to the South; and it was a feeling which had been wantonly excited and provoked, without the slightest justification, by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He (Mr. Hunter) had hoped that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) would have taken part in this debate. He had seen statements in the newspapers that the right hon. Gentleman was interesting himself in the crofters, and that he was to make—at the ensuing Easter—one of those political pilgrimages out of which he expected to derive considerable profit. He (Mr. Hunter) regretted that in an hour when the right hon. Gentleman's services might have been extremely useful, and on a question of the highest im- portance to the crofters, the right hon. Gentleman did not see fit even to countenance the House by his presence. He warned the Government, however, that if they did not grant this inquiry, hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House had no alternative but to assume that the charges made were true. If the statements were inaccurate, exaggerated or distorted, then the Government ought to welcome an inquiry. If the Government refused the inquiry, then they would know what to think, and he ventured to anticipate that even the small number of hon. Members the present Conservative Government was now able to return for Scotland would be very substantially diminished at the next Election.

MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)

said, he regretted that the time of the House had been so long occupied with this debate—for two reasons. Firstly, because of the delay to the Business of the country; and, secondly, because it was an unpleasing duty for Scottish Members to come to this House and complain of mal-administration of the law in Scotland. But he wished to call attention to where the responsibility lay. Hon Members from Scotland had on many previous occasions called attention to the maladministration of justice in the North West of Scotland, and there had been no redress. In particular, he himself had called attention to the anomalous position of Procurators-Fiscal in that part of the country. These Procurators-Fiscal were also the public prosecutors, and in the Island of Skye and in the West Islands generally the same individual was factor or land agent for the proprietors. It was alleged—and he thought there were good grounds for the allegation—that they used their official position to act oppressively towards the tenants, and to bring them more effectually under the control of the landlords. When hon. Members called attention to this point they had received the usual official reply that either there was no ground for the complaint, or, that if there was, it was impossible to find a remedy. Only the other day he had asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) whether he had taken any steps to remedy the state of matters in two such instances in Skye? He understood from the right hon. and learned Gentlemen the late Lord Advocate (Mr. J. B. Balfour) that negotiations had been entered into with the Procurators-Fiscal for the purpose of getting them either to surrender their offices or their private practice. But no progress seemed yet to have been made towards the accomplishment of this design. In face of the fact that up till this time no steps had been taken to remedy or meet the complaints of Scottish Members, respecting administration of justice, they had no alternative except to bring the matter before this House in the most complete manner possible. This seemed the fitting opportunity, for the Address gave—and was intended to give—to Parliament an opportunity of discussing the action of the Government during the Recess. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate attempted some reply last evening, but that reply did not deal with the charges which had been made in support of the Amendment, and for the benefit of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), he, (Mr. Barclay) would point out the charges they made against the Executive officials and authorities in Skye that he might give what explanation of them he could. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman might yet see fit—if not on this Amendment, then in some other way—to grant an inquiry, which the right hon. Gentleman ought to give in his own interest as well as in the interest of the people of Skye. The charge divided itself into two heads—the first was that the landlords in Skye had entered into a conspiracy to defeat the beneficent intentions of Parliament when they passed the Crofters' Act, and, further, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland and other legal officials of the Crown were a part of that conspiracy. He did not wish to be misunderstood. He had for the right hon. Gentleman the highest personal respect, and he would state deliberately and frankly that he did not believe in the least that the right hon. Gentleman was knowingly a party to the conspiracy. The right hon. Gentleman was deceived, he believed, by the officials in whom he thought he had a right to trust; and he believed the "King of Skye" had proved himself too astute both for the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland and for the Government offi- cials. What were the facts? There had been a previous military expedition to Skye, which did not do much good, but it had indirectly a highly beneficial influence on the crofters, for it apparently satisfied the then Liberal Government that it was necessary for Parliament to interfere to protect the crofters from the rapacity of the landlords. That was the only inference which could be drawn from the fact that the Liberal Government brought forward their Bill and carried it through the House of Commons with the approval of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The object of the Act was to give the crofters security of tenure in Skye, and to provide that they should only be called upon to pay fair rents. There was another provision in the Bill with respect to arrears of rent. When the Bill was passing through the House it was evident, from what was known to be the condition of the crofters in Skye, that if the Act were passed, however beneficent its terms might be, it would do little good to the crofters in Skye so long as a great burden of arrears was hanging over them, and the Act authorized the Commissioners to deal with arrears. The object of the conspiracy of which he spoke could be inferred from what took place. The landlords of Skye were determined as far as possible to defeat the beneficent intentions of Parliament, and they endeavoured to exact all they possibly could of the arrears before the Crofters' Act came into force. The Act came into force as soon as it passed this House, but unfortunately it was one of those pieces of patchwork legislation which had resulted when on previous occasions the House had attempted to deal with land. The Act was not made applicable to any part of Scotland until the Commissioners appointed under the Act should so declare; but the approval of the Secretary of State for Scotland was also required before the Act took effect. Unfortunately, the Commissioners began with the mainland, where the case, in his opinion, was not so urgent as in the islands, but they did send a Report to the Secretary for Scotland, bringing Skye under the Act. For some reason, however, a period elapsed of three weeks between the time this Report was despatched by the Commissioners and the time when it received the sanction of the Secretary for Scotland, and to that point he would respectfully direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman because a great deal depended on those three weeks. During that time the landlords were not idle. They raised many actions in the Sheriff Courts against the crofters for arrears. Of course the Act of Parliament did not from the date of its passing suspend the action of the Sheriff Courts from the collection of arrears, and not until the Act actually came into operation by the fiat of the Scotch Secretary were the Commissioners able to take any cognizance of arrears. In the meantime the landlords were urging upon the Government to send an armed force to Skye to maintain law and order on the island. What were the grounds of this application? It was represented that it was impossible to collect the poor rates, the education rates, and other rates necessary for the maintenance of the framework of society. What truth was there in this allegation? On the 14th of March last, a return was presented to the House showing the amount of arrears due by the landlords and the larger farmers, and also by the crofters. The right hon. Gentleman had recently stated that it would be extremely difficult to obtain information as to the amount of the arrears of rates due by the crofters, but there were only seven parishes in Skye, and the Board of Supervision had only to request information from the Parochial Boards as to the amount of arrears which had been paid since the return made up in March last. That would not have been a matter of much difficulty, while everybody would allow that in the discussion of this question it was of material consequence to know who were responsible for the arrears. There could have been no great difficulty in supplementing that information. At the 14th of March the arrears of rates in Skye amounted to £5,200. The total amount of rates payable by the landlords was £4,652, and their arrears on that sum amounted to £3,605. The landlords had paid only £1,047, or less than one-fourth. The larger tenants were responsible for £2,526, and they were £1,004 in arrear, having paid rather more than one-half. The total amount for which the crofters were responsible was £1,123, and of that they had paid £532, or nearly one-half. Surely the Government would not plead that it was necessary to send a military expedition to serve writs upon the landlords and larger tenants. If such were the facts the case of the Government for the sending of this expedition had entirely broken down. The object was to defeat the intention of Parliament by collecting arrears from the tenants which the Land Commission might not consider to be justly due. That was the first part of the case to which they invited a reply from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland. The next part was the accusation—not made now for the first time—of the mal-administration of justice in Skye and the Western Highlands generally. It must be recollected that the whole administration of justice in Skye was practically in the hands of those who sympathized with the landlords. The charge against the administration of justice did not rest on one or two isolated cases. The whole system—the whole manner in which the law had been administered—was what was complained of; and numerous facts and cases had been brought before the House. They said that these cases showed that the administration of justice was partial in Skye. Take, for instance, the manner in which Lord Macdonald had been treated, compared with the crofters. It was considered that it would be a great scandal if Lord Macdonald's furniture should be seized in payment of his debts; but it was not thought any scandal by the authorities in Skye—and no compunction was manifested—at the poinding of the peat stack or the bedding of the poor crofter. They had heard how oppressively the system of poinding had been carried out; and he must say he did not envy the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland, or of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, when listening to the details which had been communicated to the House by his hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron). They must recollect that they themselves were responsible for what took place. They were responsible for sending the expedition to Skye; and they were responsible for the manner in which their officials had carried out their most disagreeable duties. Scottish Members had pointed out that the carrying out of the law had been oppressive, and in several cases, there was great reason to believe, had been illegal—that Sheriff Ivory had caused the arrest of people without warrants; that he had carried out the law in the most extreme manner; that he had adopted processes which would be only justifiable in the worst cases; that he had imprisoned many individuals without bringing them to trial; and that they had been dismissed without any compensation. Cases had been brought forward which gave them great reason to believe that Sheriff Ivory had acted vindictively in the discharge of his duty. He had had differences with some people in Skye—men of position, highly responsible individuals in Skye—and some of these individuals had been the men whom he had arrested and cast into prison. These cases, he submitted, constitutedprimâ facieevidence to justify them in demanding an inquiry. That was all they demanded on the present occasion. If this inquiry were refused there would remain for them the Constitutional duty of endeavouring to withhold supplies to enable such a system to be carried on, and he gave the Scottish Secretary due notice, if they did not get satisfaction upon this discussion, that there were still opportunities open to them; and they should consider it their duty to avail themselves of all the opportunities which presented themselves until they were satisfied that they had obtained justice for the people of Skye. There was another grave charge of illegality on the part of Sheriff Ivory, and that was with respect to telegrams. It appeared from a statement made by the Sheriff himself that he made application to the Home Secretary for the possession of certain telegrams, which was refused, but he obtained possession of them by other means, which could not have been otherwise than illegal. None of the legal formalities necessary for their production were complied with, and they had it on the evidence of responsible people in Skye that Sheriff Ivory attempted to coerce the Postmaster into disclosing the contents of telegrams. All that had been brought before the House already, but no step had been taken by the Government in the matter. He appealed to the House and to the country whether the Scottish Members were not justified in doing all in their power to bring these matters forward, and to obtain the verdict of the House on the allegations made. He thought this discussion could not fail to produce much good. Hitherto the representatives of the Crown in Skye considered themselves to be wholly irresponsible. Only under such an idea could they have entered on the proceedings they had taken. Now, he thought they would find they were not irresponsible, and that the people in Skye would find in the House of Commons a Court of Appeal in which their case would be brought forward until they obtained redress. The crofters were suffering. A good many of them had been sent to prison, but he did not think that would be without a beneficial effect in Scotland. The fruits of the imprisonment of the Skye crofters, in connection with the first expedition, had been the Crofters' Act, and he ventured to say that the fruits to be derived from the imprisonment of crofters, in connection with the last expedition, would be that the men of Skye would get a fair and impartial administration of justice in the future. He should think it would be one of the great objects of ambition of the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary for Scotland, that he should inaugurate a system which would be no less beneficial to the crofters than it would be to all who had any interest in those islands.

MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

as the Representative of one of the Divisions of Glasgow where a considerable amount of sympathy existed on behalf of the crofters, felt constrained to take some part in the debate. The Amendment before the House had nothing whatever to do with the relations between the crofters and their landlords, or with the rights of the crofters to the possession of land. The Amendment simply related to the administration of the law under two heads—as regarded the events which took place in Tiree and Skye, and the general administration of justice in the Highlands. Generally, as regarded the events in Skye, the question turned upon the purpose for which the Naval and Military Forces were sent to Tiree. It was maintained by the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) that these Forces were sent for the purpose of recovering parochial rates. If that was so, then a case for inquiry had been made out; not only a complete case for inquiry, but a case which would prove that the expedition was not warranted in the circumstances; or in any case, if warranted in the circumstances, that the greatest defaulters were not the crofters, but the landlords. Taking the statistics given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate himself, that £1,700 of the rates was due from the landlords, and £1,300 of the rates from the tenants, they showed that the landlords were in greater arrears than the crofters; the parochial rate in Scotland being payable half by the landlord and half by the tenant. Going a little further, they found that a number of these rates which were debited to the tenants were evidently rates which had been for several years in arrear; and there were also rates due by parties on the Parochial Board who could not be expected to pay them. It seemed to him, however, that that was not the real point of contention in this case. A very considerable amount of mal-administration had, no doubt, been proved on the part of the Parochial Board authorities. It was no part of the landlords' right to refuse payment of the rates, merely because they did not happen to get payment of the rents, because the rates were not, like the Property Tax, levied upon, but were a burden upon land; and whether the property were let or not, the landlords were still liable, according to the law of Scotland, for the poor rates. Therefore, the action of the landed proprietors in refusing to pay rates upon the ground that they had not received rents was utterly unjustifiable; and the action of the Parochial Authorities in refusing to execute the law, and declining to use every means in their power to recover those rates from the landlords, was equally unjustifiable. So far, therefore, if the case were to turn upon the question of the military being sent for the purpose of collecting the parochial rates, then he should say distinctly a case had been made out for inquiry. He did not consider, however, that the Naval and Military Forces were sent for the purpose of recovering rates or rents. The matter, so far as he understood it, arose in this way. There had been a petition to the Court of Session, upon which intimation was to be made to certain defenders who had taken possession of some hill in the district without any lawful authority. The officers were eu- gaged in saving this intimation from the Court of Session, and in the course of executing their duty as officers of the Court, they were deforced; and the object of sending a naval and military expedition was for the purpose of apprehending the parties who had committed this criminal offence. That being the case, the question of rates had nothing whatever to do with the question of sending that expedition. The Military Force of the country was a force which ought not to be employed in any way, either by influence or otherwise, in the recovery of rent; but, as was well known, in the law of Scotland the decrees and warrants of any Court must be intimated by Sheriffs. Those Sheriffs' officers, in the case for the Court of Session, were bound, on the application of any individual, or any person holding these decrees or warrants, to execute them. They had no power to refuse compliance; and when they were engaged in the execution of their duty, they were entitled to the utmost protection of the law. The men had nothing whatever to do with what the warrant contained. It was of no consequence to the Executive, or to the Naval and Military Forces, for what purpose the warrant was being executed. They had simply to do with this—that the warrant was the warrant of the highest Court of Scotland, the warrant of the Court of Session, which they were entitled and bound to serve; and it was the duty of the Executive to give them all the necessary protection which the law could give them in so doing. Those who supported the Amendment should clearly understand that the law of Scotland made no difference between the collecting of rents and the collecting of rates. Coming to the proceedings in Skye, he considered that they did not amount to very much after all. So far as the charges against the administration of justice were concerned, one of the cases referred to was the poinding of a baby. That was not a proper or prudent thing to do on the part of any officer; and he did not suppose that any one in the country would at all approve of what was done on that occasion. At the same time, it was not a criminal act on which the Lord Advocate could take proceedings; but, no doubt, it was a case in which some amount of censure would be given to the officer. They had this to remember—that the officer had, at the hands of the crofters themselves, received a good deal of abuse and ill-treatment, physical and otherwise. As to the search of houses without warrant, he was not going into the legal question as to whether the searching of houses, under the circumstances, without warrants, when the Sheriff was upon the spot to give verbal instructions, was or was not illegal. If it was illegal, then the law of Scotland provided a complete and Constitutional remedy. If any officer of the law did an illegal act, he was amenable to the law, and an action might be raised against him in a Civil Court; and he did not see why Parliament should be asked to interfere in a matter for which the ordinary law had provided a suitable remedy. Then, again, they were told that arrests were made without warrant. The same observation applied in this case as in the other. If anything illegal were done the parties who did it were amenable to the Civil Law. They were also told that certain witnesses were arrested for the purpose of getting evidence from them. He apprehended that the reason why these parties were apprehended, in the first place, was because they were accused; and most probably finding that they were not very great criminals, and that they might be useful in giving information, the Authorities made them witnesses. Another matter referred to was the burning down of a house by the officer. An officer, without instructions from the landed proprietor, had no right to burn down any man's house; but, at the same time, he failed to perceive where there was very much grievance on the part of the crofters. If this house was the property of the landlord, and the tenants were not being deprived of possession, and if they were not in lawful possession, the act of the Sheriff's Officer was a matter in question between him and the landlord; and he (Mr. Caldwell) did not see that in the interest of the public generally, the crofters had very much cause for complaint. The House had been told that the landlord had raised a civil action against the officer. That was the proper remedy; and he had no doubt that if the landlord could prove his case he would get substantial redress. He now came to the question of criminal procedure. It was stated in the Amendment that the administration of justice in the Highlands had given great concern; but what was there different in the administration of justice in the Highlands from that which prevailed in any other part of Scotland? The only observation he had heard to warrant that part of the Amendment was the one given by the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay), where he spoke of the Procurators Fiscal being also agents of the landlords. It was, however, well known that the Government on both sides had been endeavouring, as far as they possibly could whenever vacancies arose, and the circumstances of the district and the remuneration warranted it, to separate the two positions in order to allow of the Procurator Fiscal devoting his whole time to the work of the office. He thought that far too much importance was placed upon the powers of the Procurators Fiscal; because it was well known that in Scotland the Procurator Fiscal, especially in the cases of Tiree and Skye, had, practically, no power in the matter. He simply collected information, and took the depositions of the witnesses; but the whole responsibility of sending to trial rested entirely with the Crown Counsel in Edinburgh, so that after all the charge against the Procurator Fiscal was one which did not interfere with justice in the slightest degree. Then, with regard to the change of venue in the cases of mobbing, rioting, and deforcing the officer, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate stated that his reason for sending the case to Edinburgh was because mobbing and rioting and deforcement of officers was of rare occurrence. He believed there was no instance of a case of the kind having been tried before a Sheriff; and he also stated that there was an opportunity of getting a fairer trial in Edinburgh than in the locality. He thought, however, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate missed the most important and strongest point for taking the case in Edinburgh. It was this—that the warrant had issued from the Court of Session, and, therefore, that it was necessary that the officer, in the execution of the warrant, should have the protection of the Court whose warrant he was engaged in serving. The trial of the cases in Edinburgh possessed this further advantage—that it enabled the judges to pass small sentences. Although the sentences were small, the fact that they were passed by the Court of Justiciary impressed upon the public the heinousness and enormity of the offence which had been committed. The acquittal might have arisen from the circumstance that the witnesses did not in Court bear out the statements they had made in their precognitions; and as to the convictions, no one had stated that they were unjust. Why, then, should an inquiry be granted? As to the charges against Mr. Macpherson and Mr. M'Callum, he had little doubt but that if hon. Members were to read the report of their speeches, it would be seen, that the authorities had ample cause for the course they took in apprehending the parties, and that only the difficulties in the way of proving the shorthand notes caused them to come to the conclusion to give the accused the benefit of the doubt and liberate them. It had been suggested that their resistance to the law had got the crofters the Crofters' Act, and he had no doubt but that there existed an idea in the minds of the crofters that if they continued to resist the law they would get still further grievances redressed. It was time that, in kindness to the crofters themselves, the country should make known to them that resistance to the law could be of no possible service in obtaining for them justice, but might lead to their own apprehension. He himself regretted the attempts which were being made in the Highlands to set tenant against landlord, for from whom could the people get employment where the land was insufficient to maintain them, if not from the landlord class? The profit to be made out of these holdings was not sufficient to maintain themselves and their families; and they must, therefore, look to the landlords to give them extra employment. Any antagonism between the landlords and tenants must be to the detriment of the tenants. Reference had been made to the existence of a dynamite party in the Highlands. It was hinted that it had been restrained from action so far, but if a certain amount of inquiry and justice was not granted no one could say what that party might do. He thought it was time enough to speak of the dynamite party when they arose, and ought not to have been introduced into a discussion which sought for justice in a Constitutional way. Hon. Gentlemen, if anything of that kind occurred, would not be altogether exonerated after the hints they had given. But anything in the way of levelling to the ground, by means of dynamite, shooting lodges in the Highlands would not commend the cause of the crofters to the people either of Scotland or England, but would have an exactly opposite result.

MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars, &c.)

said, he did not apologize for rising in the debate, for it could not be said that Scotch questions had occupied the House any length of time for years past. He regarded that as a great Constitutional question. Let him congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate on the eloquent apology of the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Caldwell). He did not intend to comment on the remarks of the hon. Gentleman. He had heard them with very great surprise; and he trusted that, when the hon. Member returned to the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow, he would, at least, make an attempt to convert as many of his constituents as he possibly could to the views which he had just expressed in that House. To wish the hon. Gentleman success would be a superfluity. It did not take much imagination to look forward to the result with which the efforts of the hon. Gentleman would be met in Glasgow to explain the action which had resulted from the recent expedition to the Isle of Skye. There was only one statement which the hon. Gentleman made to which he (Mr. Provand) wished to allude. One of the hon. Member's statements was that agitation, even the disturbances, and movements of a popular character against the carrying out of the law had done no good to the crofters, and would do them no good; but he (Mr. Provand) thought that that was flatly contradicted by experience, for he was sure that, if it had not been for the facts which came out during the agitatation after the military expedition of 1884, the Crofters' Act of last year would not now be on the Statute Book. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland would deal fairly with the question of the extent to which the rates were due by the different classes in Skye when the expedition was ordered. On the question of arrears, the Act gave the Commissioners power to take into account the amount of arrears due before the application for a fair rent was finally determined. Some claims for payment of arrears came before Sheriff Hamilton, who decided that, in consequence of the clause in the Crofters' Act, it was not competent for him to deal with those arrears. That judgment was approved of by another Sheriff, yet, after these decisions, Mr. Sheriff Ivory, sitting at Portree, first tried to dispute the matter; and then, after a quibble with the advocate for the tenant in an action for £30 11s. 6d. of arrears, brought by Colonel Fraser against Alexander Macdonald, observed that it would be a long time before the tenant could get a settlement under the Commission. The defender had made application to the Commissioners to deal with the arrears; and the agent, Mr. Reid, stated that the Commissioners, under the Act, were constituted a Court to deal with those arrears. Sheriff Ivory asked him to what Act he was referring. In his remarks on that occasion, Sheriff Ivory showed, in his opinion, that he was not acting as a Judge, but as an advocate for the landlords. Sheriff Ivory said they were not a Court, but a Commission. That was a quibble, for it was clearly enough stated in the Act that it was the Commission that was to deal with the arrears. The Sheriff said it would be a very serious matter to stop all actions for those arrears for two or three years until the Commission went to Skye. But if the Commission had sat in Skye first, instead of in Sutherlandshire, he (Mr. Provand) believed they would have been saved this Amendment to the Address, and the consequent discussion. Of course, if the landlords could recover their arrears before the Crofters' Commission sat, they would be so much better off; or, if they could make the crofters bankrupt, the latter would be debarred from the benefits of the Crofters' Act. It was one of these two things that the landlords tried to do, and no one would doubt that, in this direction, Sheriff Ivory had favoured the landlords as much as he could. In Sutherlandshire he found that the Commissioners had written off between 50 and 60 per cent of the claims for arrears. Now, he had no exact information; but that which he had received pointed to this—that the Island of Skye was enormously over- rented, as compared with Sutherlandshire. Yet, even in Sutherlandshire the reductions of rent were, in some cases, three-fourths of the whole amount the tenants had hitherto been paying. In one case in Sutherlandshire the Commissioners raised the rent by nearly 25 per cent, but no such result was likely to follow when the Commission arrived at Skye. He had the returns of one estate in Skye, which showed that 30 years ago the rent of the crofts was £981. Since that time there had been taken from that estate several township and hill grazings worth £250, leaving the net value, as at 30 years ago, at £731. Now, the rent of these crofts today was £2,213—an increase on that estate of 300 per cent in 30 years. It would, therefore, be seen that the Skye proprietors had, naturally, very strong inducements to attempt to get in something of their arrears before the Commissioners reached that place; because, otherwise, it would be most unlikely that they would recover anything like the amount they claimed. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate last night interlarded his reply with expressions about the wickedness of opposing the law; but if all the laws were right and perfectly proper, then what was the use of having any Parliament at all? Of course, hon. Members opposite did not want any change; but they on that (the Opposition) side had to be taken into account, and they knew no way of bringing about those changes in the law except by showing opposition of some kind to the law being carried out. They were suffering from laws made by landlords, for until the last 40 years the people had no voice in the making of them. He challenged hon. Members opposite to produce any enactment passed more than 40 years ago, the terms of which were not as strongly in favour of the landlords as they could be, and which were not simply dictated by rapacity and selfishness. He saw an hon. Gentleman smiling. He would give him two or three examples. They passed a law to make bread dear.


The hon. Gentleman is not confining himself to "Recent events in Skye and Tiree," or to "The general administration of justice in the Highlands."


said, he would apologize if he had said a word not strictly in accordance with the Amendment. He would deal with the laws which related to Skye and the Western Highlands. The landlords could no longer come to that House and ask Parliament to pass laws such as were formerly passed. The landlords of the West of Scotland had, however, endeavoured to become a law unto themselves. They had laws of their own, under the name of Estate Laws, which surpassed everything sanctioned by that House in former times, and which it would not tolerate now. The few extracts he would read had reference to the estates of proprietors who were supposed to be more generous than the average. They were as follows— The tenant shall keep no guns nor other firearms on his farm … … The proprietor or his factor, or others authorized by him, shall be entitled at any time to enter and search the premises of any tenant for guns or firearms; and, on such being found, the tenant shall be held to be the owner, and shall be liable to a penalty of 5s. for each gun or firearm, over and above their forfeiture … … In case any of the tenants themselves or their servants, or others belonging to their family or frequenting their houses, shall be detected in shooting or destroying game, or being an accessory to their destruction, or of the eggs thereof, or in fishing, they shall, on proof of the fact, pay a penalty of £1 for the first offence; and, if the offence be repeated, they shall pay double rent for that year over and above the penalties imposed by law. That was a private enactment of a proprietor in the West of Scotland. The tenants shall be bound personally to reside on their farms, unless with the written consent of their landlords. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial Benches.] It seemed, according to the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that landlords were the only persons entitled to be absentees. And, in order to prevent over-crowding, the eldest son, or such other son as the parents may select, shall only be allowed to reside permanently with them; the other sons, after attaining the age of 21, whether married or not, being bound to find accommodation elsewhere, unless with the written consent of the proprietor. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to approve of such an enactment. Let them bring in a Bill in that direction to apply to England, and they would then have the matter discussed. He could conceive nothing more directly aimed against the common weal of the people than such an enactment. They had heard a good deal during the debate about the loyalty of the Highlanders. It was a thing which no man could question. At the same time, it had received a very great shock during the past few years on account of the recent proceedings in Skye. He could assure the House that the people in the Highlands, and throughout Scotland in general, viewed the recent proceedings in Skye with indignation and disgust. It was necessary that justice should be impartially administered, in order to ensure the confidence of the people. Had Sheriff Ivory exhibited in these recent proceedings of his that unprejudiced mind and sound judgment which ought to be exhibited by any gentleman occupying his office? If one-half of the charges that had been alleged against the Sheriff in this debate turned out to be true before the Commission of Inquiry, which he had no doubt they would get some day, it would have been more than proved that he had done much to bring the administration of the law in Scotland into disrepute. He (Mr. Provand) knew that the Government and those behind them could, when the Division was taken, quite easily put down their demand for inquiry; but that would not deter them from again asking for an inquiry, because if what had been described by the different speakers was true, there must have been something like a reign of terror in Skye. They had accounts of policemen and soldiers being awarded medals for catching crofters, or what seemed to be a sort of man-hunting; of a series of night raids by Sheriff Ivory, who appeared to think that his duty was that of a judicial Moonlighter; and of the collection of arrears, though, the Crofters' Act stated that those arrears were to be afterwards settled by a Commission. It did not appear as if the slightest care had been taken in preparing the writs for the rates. Some of them were made out against men who were dead; some against persons who were in receipt of parochial relief; some against persons who had left the island a long time before; some of the rates had been already paid; some apportioned by the factor for arrears of rent; and some had never been asked for. It was a very singular thing that a military expedition should be sent against people in circumstances of that kind. There had been no serious outrage of any kind, and their condition was the outcome of a position of the direst poverty, almost entirely produced by the rack-renting of the landlords, and to but a small extent by the recent agricultural depression. Had the crofters made Skye a Kerry, and had outrages occurred there, no doubt the Government would have sent down some person like General Buller to exercise a dispensing power. But, being quiet and peaceable, the Skye people, instead of being treated as the men of Kerry were, almost had war made upon them by the Government. The question would not end with that evening's Division; and he thought that if the Government would take a reasonable view of the matter, it would be much better to grant the inquiry now than to have to grant it when they could not help doing so. They knew the Government could move their mechanical majority into the Lobby against the Amendment; but they would not always be in that position, and the "crutch" they had heard so much of would not always avail them. The question would come up again and again; and if the Commission were not granted, they would have in that House a Scotch Question, and, like the Irish Question, it would be always with them.


Sir, I do not know how far I ought to regard it as a compliment that hon. Gentlemen from Scotland were so anxious that I should take part in this debate. I confess I thought that the able and conclusive reply of my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald), last night, would have sufficed the House as our contribution to this somewhat too prolonged debate; but as hon. Gentlemen are determined that the debate shall not conclude without their hearing some observations from me on the subject, I feel that I cannot do otherwise than humour them and make a reply. I do not know that the speech to which we have just listened requires any very detailed observations on my part. The hon. Member (Mr. Provand) told the House that he thought the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate was merely an elaborate essay on the maintenance of the law—not a bad subject—and I venture humbly to submit to the House, that if more speeches were heard from Gentlemen sitting opposite that could lay claim to such a title, the cause which they profess to have at heart—the maintenance of law and order—would be far better secured than it is at present. The only other remark that I have to make is to take notice of something the hon. Member let drop with respect to estate regulations, and to which I listened with the very greatest pain. He held up to the reprobation of this House estate regulations by which the owners of land attempted to prevent overcrowding and sub-division, and he actually instanced that as an example of landlord tyranny with which this House would do well to interfere. I need not say that those who have even the most elementary and casual knowledge of the Highlands, know that the great evil from which the Highlands are suffering is that of overcrowding and sub-division, and that the one force which has done something—I grieve to say not enough—but which has done something to resist that tendency, is the force of the estate regulations, laid down by the landlords; and that if this House shold do anything to weaken that check, the evils in the Highlands will be multiplied tenfold, and you will have, from one end of the Western Highlands to the other, a condition of things which can only be paralleled by cases like that of Glenbeigh, in Ireland, of which we have heard recently so much that is painful. But before I come to the main case for the Government, there are one or two remarks which have fallen from previous speakers in this debate of which I feel bound to take notice. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) could not refrain—though I do not know that it had much to do with the question before us—from dilating, in their favourite strain, upon the evils and misfortunes of a country subject to landlord tyranny, and to laws made in the landlord interest. Now, I am not going to follow the course of these hon. Gentlemen and debate the question of landlords in the Highlands. I have done so more than once in this House, and if Bills which are now before us come forward for discussion I shall probably have to do so again; but I wish that hon. Gentlemen, who talk about Land Laws made in the interests of the landlords, would sometimes ask themselves what are the laws in other countries, where nobody sup- poses that landlords have supreme influence in legislation. Some of the clients of the hon. Gentleman opposite—some of these crofters in the Western Islands—will, I hope, find their way to America, which is always held up as the one country where true freedom exists. When they get to America I hope they will prosper, as many of their ancestors have prospered in that country. I hope that they will, in turn, become proprietors of the soil, and I hope that they will rise to the position of having tenants on their property. When they do, I hope they will recollect that, though they have come to a country where no landlord thinks of adopting any other course than that of enforcing the letter of his bond, they come from a country where that has never been the practice of the landlords. I hope they will recollect, when they are deciding the rent at which they are to let their land, that they ought to take something into account besides the mere rack-rent or market value of their land, recollecting that they have come from a country where the landlords are moved by other considerations than these. I do not mention the special privileges given to Highland tenants. I do not speak of the fair rents fixed by the Courts. I do not speak of the fixity of tenure which has been given them. I talk merely of the Land Law as it obtains over the greater part of this island, and I say that, even if you take that law, and exclude from your consideration the extraordinary and abnormal privileges given to the Highland tenants, these people, when they get to America, will find that the system of private property in land is enforced with far harder regard to the interests of the landlord than it has ever been in this country. The hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), whom I do not see in his place today, told us yesterday that, in Tiree, cruel evictions had constantly taken place for causes other than the non-payment of rent, and he appealed to the testimony of the Crofters' Commission in support of his proposition. Sir, I deny the statement, and I deny the validity of the evidence brought in support of it. It is untrue that in Tiree, during the last 40 years, there have been any evictions of crofters for causes other than the non-payment of rent; and when we are asked to take as proof the uncross- examined and uninvestigated evidence of Tiree crofters in this matter laid before the Commission, I will remind the House of a story which I think I have brought before their attention on a previous occasion, in which some crofters in Tiree brought out as an evidence of a grievance before the Crofters' Commission, that the landlord had interfered with their right to cut peat. That story is extremely plausible, and I am surprised that it has not been brought up in this House as an example of landlord tyranny. There is but one flaw in it, but it is a considerable flaw—namely, that there are not, and there never have been, any peats in Tiree at all. Now, the hon. Gentleman who spoke first today, the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter), who also, I think, is not in his place, described one of those cases of deforcement, and excused the crofters because, he said, they attempted to resist within the limits of the law. He admitted that they had passed what he was pleased to describe as the invisible line which separates a legal from an illegal proceeding; and he described all that they did as mere trifles, and not worthy to be considered by the principal Law Courts of Scotland. Well, Sir, I hope that the hon. Member for Aberdeen will never have to submit to the treatment which those officials have had to submit to whom it was attempted to resist "within the limits of the law." What happened exactly was this—that the Sheriff Substitute, the principal legal officer on the spot, and all his legal assistants, were pelted with peat, covered from head to foot with filth, and one man had filth thrust into his mouth. That is the kind of proceeding that the hon. Gentleman thinks so lightly of, and regards with such a lenient eye that he would pass it over as a trifling eccentricity unworthy of the consideration of the Courts of Law. I believe that some other Gentlemen want to speak, and I am anxious to come to the main object of the case which has been made against the Government. The matter has been put before us in this way—we have been asked—"Why did you send the expedition to Skye at all?" Well, I think everybody who has taken the trouble to investigate, in an impartial spirit, the condition of that island before we sent the expedition, will admit that some steps had to be taken by the Government to vindicate the law. We sent the expedition, not to collect rents, and not to collect the rates, but to vindicate the law, that had been outraged from one end of the island to the other. It is a matter of perfect notoriety, and one which was brought before the Government in such a manner that they could not refrain from attending to it; that the officers of no Court in Scotland could proceed to do their duty in the greater part of the island without—not the chance, but the certainty—of their being deforced; and that is a state of things which, so long as I have anything to do with Scotland, I shall not acquiesce in as tolerable; and I am convinced that right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench opposite will entirely endorse the view we take of that matter. Then it is asked—"Why did you not send the Police—why did not the County Authorities use the Force which was at their disposal, without coming to the Government and asking the Navy to help them?" Well, Sir, the course that we pursued was dictated, among other things, by considerations of common humanity. It was brought before us, in the clearest manner, that the Police Force at the disposal of the County Authorities could not possibly protect the officers of the law without their being deforced. If we had increased that Force, as we might have done by contributions from the other counties, it might, perhaps, have been possible to raise it to such a strength that it would have been able to overcome all resistance on the part of the crofters. That is possible; but what was certain was, that if we had attempted any such course, the law would not have been vindicated without a fight between the police and the crofters, which would, most certainly, have ended in bloodshed on one, possibly on both sides. That is a result which I, for one, was not able to contemplate with equanimity. I knew, and the event has proved that I was right, that if we sent a military force to protect the police, we should be able to vindicate the law without causing any unnecessary suffering to the people. I knew that if I sent the police unprotected by the military, there would, as I have said before, certainly be broken heads, and there might possibly be loss of life. What would this House have said, what would hon. Gentlemen themselves have said, if I had chosen the second course, instead of the first, and had come down here, and had to answer, not for the trifling accusations which have been brought in such detail against us, but, perhaps, for the destruction of lives which, if I had taken a different course, might have been spared? Then, and then only, should we have been open to the kind of accusations which hon. Members have been levelling so freely against us. The hon. Member for Aberdeen actually implied that the Government, or rather that Sheriff Ivory, had, in one case, taken steps to see that resistance was offered to the officers of the law; because, the hon. Member said, if there was no resistance to the expedition, that expedition would have appeared ridiculous in the eyes of all Scotland. In my opinion, the resistance that was most unfortunately offered on one occasion to the execution of the law is the one blot—almost the only blot—in the conduct of the expedition. I should have thought that the expedition had been conducted with unexampled and unprecedented success, if it had not been for that single unfortunate ease of resistance to the Sheriff Officer and the police; and so far from taking the hon. Member's view, that the expedition would be made ridiculous had there been no resistance, in my opinion the chief justification we have for it is, that wherever the Marines were brought into close contact with the police, there no resistance was offered at all. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) was in his place last night when the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) moved his Amendment, because the hon. Member for the College Division gave a view of his theory of interference of the Executive which I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will accept. What I understand to be the right hon. Member's theory is, not that civil processes are never to be enforced under any circumstances with any assistance whatever from the Forces of the Crown. What I understand him to hold is, that the Forces of the Crown are not to be used as a substitute for policemen or Sheriff Officers. I do not see the right hon. Gentleman in his place now.


rose, and said, that he was in the House when the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow moved the Amendment.


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I had not noticed him. My eyesight was in fault. And yet the right hon. Gentleman is not so insignificant a person that he should escape observation. It is not my business to defend the Constitutional law of the right hon. Gentleman; but, at all events, in our practice I think we may claim agreement with each other. Whether or not it is right, under any circumstances, to send the Forces of the Crown to support civil writs I do not determine. That is not what we have done. What we have done is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman and his Government did—namely, to send the Forces of the Crown to support the police when they were unable by themselves to see that no resistance was offered to the emissaries of the Courts of Law. That is what we have done in Skye, and that is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby did himself in Tiree; and I do not believe that any Party in this House will be found to say that our action deserves the condemnation of Parliament. I now come to the question of rates. A great deal has been made by almost every speaker of the small amount of rates actually due by the crofters; and I have been very freely attacked because I have not supplied hon. Members with official data on this subject, though they seem to be tolerably well supplied with all the facts they wanted without my assistance. I may explain, in defence of my conduct, that I am dependent on the Board of Supervision for getting the facts which hon. Members say they require. The Board of Supervision informed me that they could not, partly owing to the disorganized state of Skye, supply me with the information I wanted without a great deal of labour and a considerable lapse of time, and until they can supply me with that information, of course, I am unable in my turn to supply it to hon. Members in this House. But this is really a matter of small importance. Hon. Members appear to think that much turns upon whether the proportion of rates due by landlords was large, as compared with that due by tenants, or whether it was small. In the judgment of the Govern- ment, nothing turned upon that whatever. What we felt was that the law was not vindicated in Skye; and whether the law was broken by the landlords or by the tenants mattered nothing to us; and we insisted, from the beginning, that the law which the expedition had to enforce was a law to be enforced alike against rich and poor, the landlord and the crofter, the big tenant and the small tenant; and that policy we carried through faithfully to the end. The hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow talked as if the merits of this expedition were to be measured by the amount of money to be collected. I never regarded this expedition as a commercial speculation. I decline altogether to regard it as a commercial speculation. It is to be estimated not by the amount of rates to be collected, but by the degree in which it fulfilled the end for which it was sent—the end of compelling the landlord and tenant alike to fulfil their obligations. Several hon. Members who have spoken in this debate seem to think that one of the elements of the case that we have to consider was the hardship of demanding these rates from the poorer tenants—poor rates and school rates. I think there is no incident of our law harder than that which compels those who are themselves on the verge of pauperism to contribute their mite towards the support of pauperism. But is that evil an evil confined to Skye? Is it not one which you feel, which is felt with force and severity within a few hundred yards of the place where we are now sitting? Do you not know that every clay, in our large towns, the local authorities proceed against a precisely analogous class of those who meet the pity, and who deserve the pity, of hon. Members in this House? They have got to enforce the law against those upon whom the enforcement of the law presses very hardly indeed. But is that a reason why the Executive should say—"We will enforce the law against the large ratepayer, but we will not enforce the law, under any circumstances, against the poorer ratepayer." Everybody knows that a Government which attempted such a course as that would be turned out of Office in a week; and if distance did not lend enchantment to the view, if hon. Gentlemen could only be got to look with the same eyes at facts in Skye as in Leicester or London, they would see how much of their rhetoric, if applicable at all in either place, is applicable even more in the large towns with which they are familiar than in the remote and romantic districts of the kingdom. The hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow maintained that this expedition served no purpose, so far as the collection of rates was concerned, because, he said, the crofters were perfectly ready to pay their rates, whether the expedition was sent or not. Nothing can be further from the fact. I do not know on what shadowy substructure of imagination the hon. Member has built that astonishing hypothesis.


What I said was founded on the Report of the Officer of the Board of Supervision.


I do not know whether the hon. Member has sat through, as I have done, almost the whole of this debate. If so, he must know that the hon. Gentleman who succeeded him in the debate has paid him the compliment of repeating, without any sensible modification, almost everything he said. There is one plain and simple consideration which I will offer to the House, which I think disposes absolutely of this contention. The House is aware that the Government determined that this expedition should enforce the payment of rates alike by landlord and tenant. As soon as the expedition reached Portree, the landlords and the larger tenants proceeded to pay their rates. The whole of the rates were collected from these defaulters in a few hours. But it required a military visit, repeated on three occasions, to extract from the crofters their share of the rates; and how, under these circumstances, it can be represented that the crofters were burning with the desire to pay these particular debts, I am utterly at a loss to imagine. The landlords have been very savagely attached for not having paid their share of the rates until the expedition arrived; and the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow told us that the rates were an incident, not on rent, but on land, and that the landlord was liable to pay the rates, not because he received rent in respect of his land, but because he owned the land. There cannot be a doubt that the law of the hon. Member is perfectly correct, and I very greatly regret that, as that was the law, the landlords did not fulfil the law, and I did my best to make them fulfil it. But you must recollect that though that is the law, it is only half the law. The other half of the law is, that for land which the landlord lets out, he shall receive rent, and that the State shall see that he shall receive rent. The law doubtless says that the landlord shall pay rates in respect of land, and not in respect of rent. But the law also says that when the rent is due to the landlord, that rent the Courts of Law shall enforce. Though I do not say that the landlords were justified. I say they had something remotely in the nature of an excuse, owing to the fact that, as is perfectly well known to hon. Members, rents in Skye were £20,000 in arrears. I hope I have made it clear I am not justifying the landlords. If the landlords repeat what they did before, I shall repeat what I did before, and I shall see that they are obliged to pay; But in common justice recollect that you are only enforcing half the law, you are leaving the other half unenforced; and very great hardship is inflicted upon that class in whose behalf you do refuse, from whatever cause, to enforce the whole law. So much for the question of rates; now for the question of rents. And here I cannot but say that I think the accusations brought against the landlords by almost every Gentleman who has spoken in this debate are of the most unjustifiable description. I say nothing of the share I am supposed to have had in it. The accusation is, that the landlords made the excuse that the rates were in arrear to compel the Government to send an expedition to Skye in order that their rents might be exacted; and that, by the exaction of their rents, their tenants might be made bankrupt, and thereby excluded from the benefits of the Crofters' Act which this House passed last year. A more scandalous or unjustifiable accusation never was brought forward in this House. I am unable to believe that some, at all events, of the Gentlemen who made that accusation had not taken the elementary trouble to ask whether the facts, in any way, justified so grave a charge against a large body of their fellow-countrymen. I can, I think, convince the House, without much trouble, of the utter futility of this charge. I have already mentioned that the arrears in Skye amounted to £20,000.


The small tenants did not owe more than £15,000.


Very well; I will accept the hon. Gentleman figures. But the House will see that the case in favour of the landlords is so strong that the hon. Gentleman thinks it necessary to correct my figures, and to bring down the amount from £20,000 to £15,000. I care not whether the sum is £20,000 or £10,000, but I will call it £15,000. Out of the total sum of £15,000, the sum which the landlords tried to obtain, while the expedition was on the island, amounted to £1,100, and of that amount they secured actually only £373, taking the rest in some form of security. In no single case did they take advantage of the expedition to evict a single crofter, nor to make a single crofter bankrupt. It is in the face of facts like these, that hon. Gentlemen think that because landlords in Skye at this moment are an unpopular class, they can make an appeal to the gallery, and accuse these men, who, Heaven knows, have suffered heavily enough, of having deliberately entered into a conspiracy with the Executive Government to defeat the Crofters' Act. The House knows my opinion of the Crofters' Act. There are some arguments to be used in favour of it; but there is, in my judgment, an overwhelming mass of argument to be used against the principles on which it is based; but the Crofters' Act is law, and I mean to do, as I have done, my best to make that law effective, and aid in every way its execution according to the intention of Parliament. I have been asked why I did not send the Crofter Commission to Skye in September. I will tell the House. I was anxious, from the information I had, that it should go to Skye. I consulted the Crofters' Commission on the subject, and they told me that they entertained very strongly the opposite view; that they had received an immense mass of applications from other parts of Scotland; but that they had not received, I think they said, a single application from Skye; and they earnestly pressed me to allow them to pursue the course which, as a matter of fact, they have pursued. Whether it would have been better that the Crofters' Commission should have gone to Skye in September, I will not attempt to say; but I was not influenced in the course I took by any desire to defeat the operation of the Act, and I think the House will admit that, after what I have just told them. I now come to one or two questions which, I think, were dealt with by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord. Advocate, but which have been pressed so much on the House since that I suppose hon. Gentlemen want them replied to again. We are told that it was a great hardship on the crofters arrested for deforcement that there was a change of venue from Inverness-shire to Edinburgh. The first observation I have to make on that is, that there never has been a case in which a crime of this kind has not been tried in Edinburgh. [An hon. MEMBER: Oh!] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who said "oh" is aware of a case, and will communicate the fact to the House. I believe that the Government strictly followed the lines of precedents in the course they adopted. In the second place, I have to tell the House that, so far is this from being a cause or excuse for instituting an inquiry into the course of justice in the Highlands, and the legal officers there, if there be an offender in this matter, that offender sits in this House. It rests absolutely and entirely with the Lord Advocate to decide where, and how, trials of this kind are to take place. If hon. Gentlemen think that the course which my right hon. and learned Friend has pursued in this matter was wrong, let them impeach him. We hold that he was right; but whether right or wrong, he is here to answer for himself. Certainly, on account of his action, there can be no motive whatever for instituting the inquiry which the Amendment desires to set on foot. We have heard a great deal about what are called the midnight raids of Sheriff Ivory; they were simply an attempt, which turned out ultimately successful, to arrest those engaged in the great crime of deforcement. His action was perfectly legal. If it was illegal, bring an action against him. But you know it was perfectly legal; and those who attack him most have probably taken the most careful steps outside this House to convince themselves that no action lay against the Sheriff on that account. Sheriff Ivory has been attacked for the arrest of a rev. gentle- man named M'Callum, and of another person named John Macpherson, and of a third named Mackay; and these arrests have actually been attributed to the personal feelings felt on the part of Sheriff Ivory against the accused. This is a singular example of the injustice which Members, unwittingly perhaps, do to those who are absent, and who cannot defend themselves. Sheriff Ivory had nothing to do with the arrest of these gentlemen. Not only did he not give the orders for the arrest, but he did not know of the arrest. The arrest was not at his instance at all; and if he had known of it, he could not have stopped it. I hope that that accusation is disposed of. Then we are told of a poor woman being dragged over the moors to stand her trial at Portree. The facts of the matter are these—This woman put herself in the forefront of a deforcing party; and with all my respect for women's rights, I do not think one of those rights is with impunity to break the law. So far from being dragged unnecessarily over the moor, the authorities sent for a carriage to Portree to meet them at the nearest point on the high road. [An hon. MEMBER: That was close upon four miles distant.] I do not suppose the hon. Gentleman insinuates that the Government are bound to make a high road to the cottage of every person who may be accused of the crime of deforcement. The road may have been four miles off. My point is, that the utmost humanity in this case was used; because a carriage was sent for, and this poor woman was taken over the most convenient and nearest part of the moor to the high road. How hon. Gentlemen would have desired Sheriff Ivory to have acted if he was there, which I am not sure of, I do not know. The truth is, in my judgment, very scant justice has been done to Sheriff Ivory in this matter. It is not my duty to defend him. He is not a subordinate of mine. I did not appoint him, and I cannot dismiss him. More than that, he is not bound to accept my orders; but I feel it my duty to say in this House that Sheriff Ivory has been engaged, during these troublous times, in a most painful, a most difficult, and a most delicate task—a task in which any man might be expected occasionally to give some loophole to the sort of criticism we have heard during the last few nights. I be- lieve that, on the whole, Sheriff Ivory has carried out his functions, so far as the crofter population is concerned, with the utmost humanity in his power. He has certainly not broken the law. Nothing said in this House has convinced me that he has, in any way, overstepped those bounds of humanity which ought to regulate on all occasions every officer of the law in carrying out the law. I am asked, why I do not give the inquiry? I am told it is very easy to grant an inquiry; and that, finally, an inquiry will be forced upon me. I will tell hon. Gentlemen why I do not give an inquiry. If I was to give an inquiry, it would be taken, and justly taken, as an indication either that I objected to the system into which the inquiry is to be made, or that I think that those who have the working of that system had grossly neglected and failed in their duty. Now, I do not believe either of those propositions. I do not believe there has been a gross failure of duty on the part of those who carry out the criminal system in the Highlands; nor do I believe that the criminal system is one which deserves, or requires, overhauling. The Criminal Law of Scotland is that part of the law of which every Scotsman is most justly proud. It is one in which, so far as it differs from the English law, differs, in my opinion, almost entirely for the better—and I will not be a party to an inquiry which will throw that law into the melting-pot, to bring out Heaven knows what brand new system which may be devised by the ingenious brains of hon. Gentlemen opposite. When hon. Gentlemen who have applied this system of microscopic investigation to every action which has taken place in Skye, basing their accusations, for the most part, on very flimsy material, I would ask them, whether they think it possible to have an expedition of the magnitude of that which was sent out, dealing with so large and so scattered a population, in a country so difficult as Skye, where the law had so long remained unenforced, and where the very idea of law appears to be vanishing from the minds and consciences of the people—I ask, whether they think it was possible to send an expedition to redress that state of things without some friction and some difficulty? If so, they take a more sanguine view of the possibilities of human nature than I do. Our law is administered, after all, not by angels, but by men, and if you impose upon men a most difficult, laborious, and delicate task, some slight failure there must necessarily be. So far am I from admitting, for a moment, that there are any such failures in this case as to constitute an occasion for inquiry, I take exactly the opposite view. And I am of opinion, and I feel it my duty to speak out publicly in this case, in this House, that I think the thanks of the country are, on the whole, largely due to those who have been engaged in this most difficult and laborious undertaking. It is on no account to be thought that I, or the Government, or even Sheriff Ivory, like expeditions of this kind, or that they add a charm to the dignity of the Office I have the honour to hold. Sir, I hope, and believe, that no Scotch Secretary will again have thrust upon him the painful responsibility which has been thrust upon me. I hope that it is the last time—it is almost the first, not quite—but I hope it is the last time it will be necessary for the Scotch Secretary to go to his Colleagues and say—"I must ask you to supplement the ordinary forces at the disposal of the Local Authorities, in order to maintain the elements of law and justice in the Highlands." But, Sir, so long, at all events, as I hold the Office for which I am now responsible, I shall not shrink if a similar case should arise for adopting similar means to put an end to it. I look back with much pain to what has passed, but with no regret whatever. I deeply deplore the necessity that was put upon me; but I should have thought myself cowardly, and utterly unworthy of holding any office under the Crown, if I had shrunk from the responsibility, which I did not seek, but which was thrust upon me. Sir, one of the Members for Glasgow last night—the Member for the Camlachie Division (Mr. Watt)—threatened me with the displeasure of the democracy. He said that the democracy were looking for a very different conduct of public affairs from that which was being pursued by the Government. I do not think so badly of the democracy as hon. Gentlemen opposite. I admit that, if some of the speeches we have heard in the course of the last two days really represent the feelings and views of the democracy; if they are capable of being guilty of the same inconsequences of reasoning, the same determination not to face disagreeable facts, the same weak sentimentality, which is the precise opposite of, and is absolutely inconsistent with, true charity and with true humanity; then indeed, Sir, we may have to face the displeasure of the democracy, but very much worse consequences will ensue to this country than the fall of this Government. We may well have reason to despair of the future of this country, if counsels such as those to which I have adverted are likely to prevail with the great democracies. But I do not believe a word of it. I believe, Sir, that the democracy of this country are as firmly determined as Her Majesty's Government to see that, in every part of this kingdom, law and justice shall prevail. And it is because I hold that conviction that I carry out, and the Government carry out, what they believe to be their duty, without the slightest fear of that displeasure of the popular constituencies with which some hon. Gentlemen have thought fit to threaten us.

MR. J. B. BALFOUR (Clackmannan, &c.)

said, that he would not detain the House long; but, as he had held the Office of Lord Advocate under two Administrations, he thought it right to say something on the question before the House. The hon. Member for the Camlachie Division of Glasgow (Mr. Watt) had asked him to say upon what application the late Government had agreed to send a military or naval expedition to Tiree. He (Mr. J. B. Balfour) had no difficulty in answering that question. The expedition was sent upon the application of the Sheriff Principal of the county, stating that the deforcement had taken place with regard to which there had been a good deal of discussion last night. The Sheriff's application was accompanied by the Report of the Chief Constable of the county regarding that act. It was only upon an application so made and so sustained that the expedition was sent; and in regard to the facts which actually occurred there could be no doubt whatever, because they had been made the subject of a most careful inquiry before the highest Criminal Court in Scotland, which had resulted in the unanimous conviction of the persons charged. There were one or two remarks made about subsequent trials on which he should not omit to say what he thought. He did not think it necessary to say anything in regard to the Tiree matter, because he scarcely thought it had been assailed. He did not think that any complaint had been made that the expedition was sent; but one or two remarks were made in regard to the subsequent proceedings, with respect to which he did not think it right that he should be silent. Complaint had been made that the men who were concerned in the deforcement were brought to Edinburgh by his Successor in Office, and tried before the High Court of Justiciary. Now, he had no hesitation in saying that if the Liberal Government had remained in Office, he (Mr. J. B. Balfour) would, in the circumstances of the case, have done exactly the same thing; and he would have done so in accordance with—he would not say invariable usage—but general usage, and in accordance with what he believed would have been the substantially unanimous opinion of the country. But in regard to the bringing of these men to Edinburgh, a remark was made last night by an hon. Member which he thought was a very unfortunate remark, and which he had been surprised to hear. The hon. Member said that these men were put to a disadvantage by being brought to the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh, in respect that there was what he termed a "racial prejudice" amongst the Lowlanders against Highlanders, and because, in addition, they came down and competed with the Lowlanders in the labour market. Now, he (Mr. J. B. Balfour) had listened to that statement with positive amazement, because he did not know any men who were so universally liked in every part of Scotland as the Highlanders. They were all proud of the Highlanders; and he ventured to say that there was not a part in the Lowlands to which they could go without finding Highlanders in positions of competence, of respectability, and of honour, and every man who had Highland blood in his veins was proud of it. The notion, therefore, that a jury gathered from the three counties of the Lothians—the three metropolitan counties—would in any way look with an unkindly or prejudiced eye on, or deal unfairly with, these poor people—to whose character as generally a law-abiding race everybody could bear testimony—was calculated to shock the common sense of anyone familiar with the people of Scotland. He ventured to say that the jury and the Judge must have viewed with great regret the spectacle of these ordinarily law-abiding men finding themselves in such a position; he thought it could be gathered, from the recommendations to leniency which were made by the juries in these cases, that they were moved not a little by the kindly considerations to which he had referred; and he should regret exceedingly if anyone in the Highlands believed that any such feeling as had been suggested existed towards their race. The only other point regarding the Tiree case was put interrogatively by the hon. Member for the Camlachie Division of Glasgow; and it was whether there had been injury to life or limb on that occasion. It might be that there was not; but he would say this—that it was altogether a mistake to imagine that the measure of the crime of deforcement and of preventing service of a civil writ was affected by the absence of injury to life or limb. That, no doubt, would form a very important ingredient in the fixing of the sentences, and quite properly; and he did not doubt that the fact that there had not been serious violence in those cases had largely influenced the Judges in making the sentences so lenient as they did, for if there had been serious personal violence, the sentences would have been heavier. The stopping of the Queen's writ was not to be treated lightly; for upon its free running, and upon obedience being shown to the orders of the Court, was founded the liberty and security of the poor as well as of the rich; and he could not imagine anything more deplorable than that the idea should get abroad that a declinature to allow the Queen's writ to run in any part of the Queen's dominions, was not a grave offence. He would say very little about the most recent Skye expedition, because it was after he left Office, and he only knew of it from what he read in the papers, and from the speeches of hon. Gentlemen in that House yesterday and today. But he would say one or two things. The first was that he was exceedingly glad to hear the statement made last night by his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate and reiterated today by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland, that that expedition was not sent for the purpose of collecting either rates or rents. Both right hon. Gentlemen had emphasized that. He was glad to hear it, because he should not have thought it right employment for the Military Forces of the Crown that they should be sent on either the one duty or the other. He would only further say this—that it was only under exceedingly rare and exceptional circumstances that the Military Forces of the Crown should be employed at all in this country. Accordingly, under the late Government, the most anxious and careful consideration was given to every application that was made for military aid. It was many times refused. It was refused invariably when they were asked merely to protect the service of civil writs; and when it was granted the most stringent conditions were laid down. The conditions on which it would be appropriately granted were laid down in the letter of the Government, written by himself, in November, 1882, to the Sheriff of Inverness; and he had not heard then or since any complaint in regard to those conditions. Nor had he heard any complaint in that House in regard to the first military expedition to Skye in 1884, the Papers relating to which had been laid on the Table at the time. One condition that they laid down was that under no circumstances should a military force be allowed to become a substitute for a police force. It was made a condition sine quâ non that any Local Authority which thought its civil force was not adequate, or should be overpowered, should put into the field as a primary force a large body of constables—he thought 40 or 50 was the minimum—and it was made perfectly clear that it was only in the event of a large civil force being overpowered that the military force should go to their aid. Those conditions were rigorously exacted, and he had not heard that they had been departed from in the recent expedition. He rather gathered, from what was said, that the view taken by the late Government had been concurred in by the present Government. Another suggestion which had been thrown out was, why, in such a case, the number of police should not be increased? Well, there was a practical limit to that. If there was reason to apprehend that the disturbed condition of a locality was to be permanent or prolonged, the right course would, no doubt, be to increase the police force, at whatever cost, and for the reason that he had stated—that under no circumstances should a military force ever be allowed to become a substitute for the civil force. The case was very different when what they had to deal with was something sudden, and something which they had reason to believe would be entirely transient and temporary. They could not train a police force in a day; for the county police of Scotland were not accustomed to act as drilled bodies of men, and he shared the hope expressed from the other side, that it would not be necessary again to send a military force to those districts, or indeed, to keep up an abnormal police force there. He entirely agreed with what was said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. A. J. Balfour) as to the humanity of adopting the course which was adopted, exceptionally by both Governments, in sending a military force, rather than in attempting to augment the police force. That was a matter in which they were not without experience. On the first occasion, when there was serious trouble in Skye—the disturbances at the Braes—the county police were reinforced by a large, highly-organized, and drilled body of police from the city of Glasgow. That was a force which had a degree of training they could not expect to find in a county police force. When they attempted arrests there was a conflict, and considerable injuries were done both to policemen and other persons. If heads were not broken, they were a good deal bruised, which was a thing to be deprecated and lamented; while, in the cases in which a military force had been sent, there had been no injury done to life or limb. He would just say a word upon a matter alluded to by the hon. Member for North Aberdeenshire (Mr. Hunter). His hon. Friend had spoken of what he called "technical" deforcement, and of crossing an invisible line between what was lawful and what was unlawful. There were certain matters, of civil concern, he hoped, rather than criminal, in which it was difficult to know which side of a particular rule of law they were upon; but he could not imagine anything in regard to which a person of the simplest intelligence could have less doubt than whether he was or was not preventing the Queen's writ from being served. He could not figure to to his mind the conditions under which a man could be ignorant of whether he was stopping the Queen's writ. Whether it was by a blow, or interposing his person as one of a crowd in front of a door, or whatever the method taken was, it seemed absolutely clear that no man could be ignorant whether it was doing so or not. Now, he thought it right that he should say one or two words on the terms of the Amendment, because, as it was worded, it had reference not only to the particular cases of Skye and Tiree, but to the "general administration of justice in the Highlands." What did that mean? It had been interpreted in two ways. It had been interpreted by his hon. Friends who had moved and seconded the Amendment and other hon. Members in their speeches in one way, which he thought was its only meaning. The meaning of administration there he (Mr. J. B. Balfour) took to be "maladministration." Theirs was a complaint against the mal-administration of justice. Some other hon. Gentlemen had said that they did not so interpret it; but while they repudiated the adoption of any such view as that, and indicated that they would not vote for it if it meant to charge mal-administration, they interpreted it as preferring no censure against anybody, but merely as complaining that the general system of Scottish criminal procedure was not good. That was plainly not what was meant, nor would that latter interpretation he appropriate, because the words were limited to the Highlands. There was not one criminal system for the Highlands and another for the Lowlands. There was one system for the whole of Scotland; and it was surely not to be regarded by his hon. Friends as a matter of such urgency as to be appropriate to be put into the Queen's Speech, if all that was proposed was an examination whether the general criminal system in Scotland was satisfactory or not. That was a large subject; but he believed the enormous preponderance of opinion in Scotland was in favour of the present system. He was not going to argue it; but he might say that it had always been the Scotch system. It was one of the stipulations at the Union that Scotland should preserve her own laws and her own Law Courts. Therefore, it was, in the strictest sense, a national system; and he believed that the great body of Scotch opinion was favourable to it. It had been from time to time amended, and he believed would admit of further amendment. If it was proposed, by the Amendment, to make a charge of general mal-administration of justice in the Highlands, that was a very wide, a very sweeping, and a very serious charge, because it was not limited to one county or one place, nor to one person or functionary. The House was asked by that general proposition to condemn, by implication and in the dark, numbers of persons whose names they had never heard, and an administration extending over a large number of counties of Scotland. Whatever might be the case with hon. Members who had no official duty in regard to the matter, he had no hesitation, having for several years held the Office which made it his duty to know how that system was being administered throughout the country, in saying that that proposition did not agree with the fact. It was not according to the fact that there was general or prevalent maladministration throughout the Highlands of Scotland; and he could be no party to affirming a proposition which he knew to be contrary to the fact. He need say no more, than there were local Judges, local Fiscals, and others doing their duties just as honestly, just as fairly, throughout the Highland districts as any judicial officers either in the rest of Scotland, or in this or any other country; and he felt sure the House would be very slow to condemn these unknown and un-named officials en bloc. But take the particular case of Skye. He was not going into detail as to the proceedings of those who were responsible for the administration there at the time these events occurred. But he must say this, that having had a good deal to do for years with the administration of justice there, he entirely agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland had said with regard to Sheriff Ivory, against whom many hard words had been used. He thought it was only fair that he should express his concurrence in what the right hon. Gentleman had said. Then, it was a matter of complaint that there had been a system of taking declarations and of separating the prisoner during certain days from his friends. He thought that was a thing that was liable to abuse. He thought it was a hardship, and within the last year or two an alteration had been made providing for the admission by the prison officials of the legal advisers or friends of prisoners. Something also was said as to an accused person being subject to a sort of private examination. Their rule upon that matter was very liable to be misunderstood; but there was nothing in it, when rightly carried out, which could be so described. The accused person, when arrested, was brought before a magistrate, and an opportunity was given to him of making a declaration; he was not required to make a declaration; he need not say one word; and it was the duty of the magistrate to tell him so, but that if he did make a declaration it might be used against him. The result was that the more knowing criminals did not make a declaration, but that innocent men generally did; because it gave the accused an opportunity, if he had a defence, to state it. When he made his statement the authorities could examine into the truth of it; and in not a few cases, if his statement turned out to be true, he was set at liberty at once. So completely was it not an obligation on the part of the accused to make a declaration, that he remembered one declaration in these terms— A person who, on being interrogated, refused to tell his name, being further interrogated, refused to answer any question. He did not think anybody could say that a person was subjected to an inquisition by a system of that kind. It was really a system for the protection of the innocent. As to what had been said about the change of venue, that was a perfectly appropriate expression in England; but it was hardly appropriate in Scotland, because it implied that there was an original venue which had been changed. That was not so. ["Hear, hear!"] The Lord Advocate had the power of directing an accused person to be tried either in the locality where the crime was committed, or in the High Court of Justiciary. It was not always easy to please people as to the place where they were to be tried, because while they had heard a good deal of complaint in regard to the persons recently brought up to the High Court, complaints had been made against him because he directed the Braes people to be tried summarily in Inverness. A statement had been made which he did not think it would be right to allow to pass uncontradicted, because it must have been made under some misapprehension. It had been said that all the persons connected with the administration of justice in Skye were in some way associated with, or dependent upon, the landlords. Now, he did not know a single person who had anything to do with the administration of the law in that island who had any such association with the landlords. ["Hear, hear!"] When the troubles began in Skye, it was laid down by the Procurator Fiscal there, as a rule, for his own guidance, that he should not take private employment from anyone connected with the land during his action in these matters, and he (Mr. J. B. Balfour) thought he was correct in stating that he had not taken any such private employment. He was sure that if his hon. Friends on his own side of the House had had the same opportunities and means that he had had of obtaining personal knowledge of the various facts of the case they would hardly have made some of the statements they had made. With those observations, he thought it right to say that an Amendment, so conceived and so expressed, he should find it altogether impossible to support.

Mr. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

said, he had listened to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the late Lord Advocate with a desire to be convinced, but had not received the satisfaction he expected. He did not think sufficient reasons had been given for refusing the inquiry asked for. The part of the Amendment that interested him was the expression that the alleged facts that they had been discussing "have caused serious concern to the people of Scotland, and demand full inquiry." He believed that such serious concern existed; and he did not think anything that had fallen from the two right hon. Gentlemen who had spoken would be sufficient to meet that serious concern. He had no hesitation in saying that the feeling in Scotland was one of widespread and intense dissatisfac- tion—["Oh!"]—with the manner in which they had been taught to believe or to suspect that the people of Skye and Tiree had been treated. He did not deny that there was a small Party in Scotland who did not share that dissatisfaction; but that feeling was very much identified with the Party who were prone to despise the people and to trample upon them. ["Oh!"] The people of Scotland knew the character of the population of Skye, and, knowing it, they felt that the fault must be either in the law or in its administration. The people of Skye were a people of intelligence and piety. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen on the other side might laugh at intelligence or piety, or at both combined. But there had been a long tradition of education in that Island; and the result was that the population there were, in point of intelligence, superior to the same class in England. He felt no shame in asserting it to be a most valuable quality in the people of Skye that they were devout and reverent. The character of their religious creed, worship, and government was well known to be conducive, not only to the formation of pious aspirations and moral habits, but also of a remarkable keenness of dialectic intelligence. Whatever might be the faults of the Presbyterian system—and he, for his part, had faults to find with it, otherwise he should not have been at that moment addressing the House—it could not be denied that, to all those who were conscientiously attached to it, it tended to give those moral and religious habits, as well as intellectual aptitudes, of which he had spoken. The people of Scotland, therefore, suspected that a gross indignity had been vicariously perpetrated upon themselves in the persons of the Skye people. They thought those people had been dragooned, driven about, trespassed upon, and generally harassed, in a way that looked as if there were one law for the rich and another for the poor; and they thought that insulting and harassing treatment of this description had an effect that communicated itself to the whole population. There were two things which the people of Scotland especially resented in this matter. They resented the uncalled-for and exasperating theatricality of sending a portion of the British Army and Navy against a half-starved population; and they resented the apparently tyrannical conduct of Sheriff Ivory, which seemed to them to have been dictated by an extraordinary egotism on the one hand, and, on the other, by something like a determination to crush the crofters in favour of the landlords. Those suspicions were shared by the people of Scotland as a whole. At all the public meetings which he had attended, allusion to what was going on in Skye had been received with shouts of execration; and he had had invitation after invitation to attend meetings in Scotland for the purpose of expressing sympathy with the crofters in their present position. That was another indication of the universality of this feeling amongst the people of Scotland. With the exception of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. J. B. Balfour) and the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell), not a single Scotch Member had risen, except to express himself in favour of the Amendment. The course adopted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate was only to be expected from a Gentleman in his official position; and, however much they might respect the right hon. Gentleman, they could not consider him as the Representative of a popular constituency in Scotland, but of one of those fancy constituencies which was not destined to immortality. If the Representatives of Scotland were representing the minds of their constituencies, it was evident that the whole of the popular part of the country sympathized with the position of the people in these Islands. One of their own Colleagues in the representation of Scotland, who shook the dust off his shoes the other night as a testimony against the degradation of that Chamber by his co-Representatives, had returned to the fold upon that particular Amendment. He (Mr. Wallace) thought that was a very striking testimony of the force of popular opinion in this matter in all the constituencies throughout the country. What reply had been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland in the way of meeting that feeling on the part of the people of Scotland, and satisfying them that no inquiry need be made into the matter? The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the naval expedition was not sent to collect rates, but to vindicate the law, which had been broken. But it seemed to him (Mr. Wallace) that the right hon. Gentleman afterwards contradicted himself as to that portion of his answer. He began by telling them that the expedition had not been sent to collect rates, and wound up that portion of his speech by telling them that the expedition had been particularly successful in collecting the rates; that it had compelled all the landlords to fulfil their obligations, and that it required in some cases three military visits to make some of the crofters pay their rates. He could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had made some confusion in his own mind when he told them that the expedition was not sent to collect rates. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be desirous of explaining how it was necessary that a military expedition should be sent for the purpose of vindicating the law that had been broken. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Clackmannan had laid it down that recourse should not be had to military aid unless in cases of sudden riot, and in cases of extraordinary emergency, to deal with which police could not be obtained, and soldiers should not be employed on police duty which was likely to prove of a continuous character. Having been taught such a doctrine as that by a competent authority, whom they all respected, he (Mr. Wallace) did not think the people of Scotland would be satisfied with the application which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made of the doctrine in connection with the affairs of Skye. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland had told them that if he had only got a sufficient body of police he could have enforced these rates without calling in the military arm.


I said nothing of the sort.


said, he certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he might have done it if there had been a sufficient number of police.


What I said was that if there had been a body of police larger than that which could be supplied by the district, it was possible they might have been able to do it without bloodshed.


That was that they could do it, since the doing of it was possible; he must say his mind was not sufficiently acute to discern the difference. The people of Scotland were familiar with these Constitutional doctrines, and were not convinced that a sufficient police force could not have done all that was required in Skye. He contended that it was possible, with a sufficient number of police, to perform the civil duty required there, and that it was not necessary to call in the aid of the military. There was no sudden riot or extraordinary emergency. The whole basis of the action of the Government in the matter had been founded, not upon ascertained fact, but simply upon conjecture and upon their own prediction; and the people of Scotland would not be satisfied with the answer of the right hon. Gentleman. It was possible that if the Government granted an inquiry the whole facts of the situation might be fully and properly drawn up, and that a statement might be made that would satisfy the people that there was a pressing necessity with the Government to employ this military force. He regretted to say that the right hon. Gentleman passed very lightly over the case of Sheriff Ivory. He must say, if that judicial officer actually conducted himself in the way described by his hon. Friends, that he was not a man of sufficient common sense to occupy the position he did. In the giving of those miscellaneous nursery decorations to men for doing their duty there was an injudicial animus exhibited. The effect of stimulating the police in this way was to tempt them into the perpetration of injustice. They would not be too finical in what they did to obtain the reward. Sheriff Ivory had also been charged with vindictiveness in some of his arrests. The right hon. Gentleman denied that Sheriff Ivory had known of some of those arrests. He accepted the right hon. Gentleman's statement; but that fact should be brought out in such a way that the people of Scotland would have an opportunity of knowing it, and that could only be done as part of the general inquiry which was asked and demanded by the facts of the case. Sheriff Ivory had shown a certain absurd sense of dignity in his whole connection with this matter. ["Divide!"] He had only one other remark to make before he sat down. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman was himself perfectly satisfied with the administration of justice in the Highlands was no reason for his refusing the inquiry. His (Mr. Wallace's) whole argument was rested upon the claims of the people of Scotland to have their righteous concern considered and satisfied in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman refused this inquiry on two grounds—because he did not believe that the Scottish judicial system required revision; and because he did not believe the allegations that had been made against Sheriff Ivory and others. There might not be much concern in Scotland about the revision of the Scotch laws, but there was a desire for this inquiry; and though the right hon. Gentleman might not believe the allegations that had been made, others did, and an inquiry ought to be granted.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 136; Noes 253: Majority 117—(Div. List, No. 9.)

Main Question again proposed.

MR. SEXTON moved the adjournment of the debate.


asked whether the hon. Member had not already spoken in the debate upon the Address?


said, he had spoken on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), but not on the Main Question.

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)

said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman would allow the first stage of the Address to be now taken. If he had any observations to make he could make them on the Report stage. Looking to the fact that the House had now been sitting three weeks, and that they had only got to the disposal of the last Amendment on the Paper, and that the Address was not yet accepted, he thought the hon. Gentleman himself and the House, and he was sure the country, would feel that sufficient time had been expended on the first debate on that stage of the Address.


said, it had grown very much into a habit of recent years to exhaust the various subjects of discussion in which the House took an interest in the various debates upon the first stage of the Address. As importance was not usually attached to discussions on Report, he, therefore, did not think that his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton), in view of the very grave state of affairs which existed in Ireland at the present moment, and in view of the fact that the Government proposed to take all the time of the House for the discussion of their Resolutions with regard to the Procedure of the House, would be justified, under these circumstances, in withdrawing his Motion, or refraining from pressing his claim to speak upon the Main Question, if he should so desire, when the House resumed tomorrow. He, therefore, trusted that the Government would not oppose the Motion which his hon. Friend had made. It was not a usual thing to oppose a Motion made just as the clock was coming to the hour when Opposed Business ceased; and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not shut out his hon. Friend from the right of speaking on the Main Question—a right which he had not yet exercised—by taking a Division against his Motion. Otherwise, they would have to adopt means to prevent that Division from being taken.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

said, there seemed to be a sort of implication in the observations of the Leader of the House that time had been wasted on the Opposition side of the House. [Ministerial Cheers.] He gathered from those cheers that that was the view of the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman. Well, he would only make one reply—namely, that there had been during the debate upon the Address 65 Conservative speeches made.

MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

said, he thought that the Government were not acting fairly in desiring to prevent discussions on subjects affecting Ireland, as since the discussion on the hon. Member for Cork's Amendment, other questions of a grave and serious character had been raised in Ireland which made it necessary for them to insist on their right to continue the discussion tomorrow. The hon. Member was pursuing this line of argument, when—

It being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till Tomorrow.