§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
said: Mr. Speaker, in moving the rejection of this Bill, I will endeavour to confine myself directly to matters directly bearing upon the question at issue, and thereby to confine my remarks within moderate compass, avoiding altogether all allusions to imputations and accusations, on which a good deal, perhaps, might be said, if it were convenient to the House that it should be done, in respect to the course of former proceedings on the Bill. Now, Sir, I must endeavour to consider the Bill with regard to what it is and also in its relation to Irish policy. As respects its relation to Irish policy, I am of opinion—and perhaps that opinion is shared even by many who sit on the opposite side of the House—at all events it is my own conviction—that the Bill now before us is the alternative to a policy of what is termed Home Rule or self-government for Ireland in Irish affairs, and likewise, that being so, it is a great mistake to treat this Bill, which is called a Crimes Bill, and more popularly called a Coercion Bill, as if it were a Coercion Bill of the ordinary character. In my own opinion, Sir, it marks a new era—and a disastrous era—in the history of coercion, and perhaps I may be permitted to refer to a declaration which I was empowered to make on the part of the Government which was in Office in April, 1886, in two very short passages, where I ventured to point out that the coercion in use up to that time had not attained its end, and that what we had probably to contemplate was, that if we continued upon the lines of coercion it must be coercion of a new description, and I said:—If it is to attain its end, it must be differently maintained, and maintained with a 86 different spirit, courage, and consistency compared with the coercion with which we have been heretofore familiar … If coercion is to be the basis for legislation, we must no longer be seeking, as we are always laudably seeking, to whittle it down almost to nothing at the very first moment we begin; but we must, like men, adopt it, hold by it, sternly enforce it, till its end has been completely attained—with what results, peace, goodwill, and freedom I do not now stop to inquire. Our ineffectual and spurious coercion is morally worn out."—(3 Hansard,  1041–2.)And, Sir, it does appear to me, that the distinction is a broad one between the two kinds of coercion to which I referred. The old coercion was aimed at crime, The new coercion—I will not deny that it includes crime in its aim—but it passes beyond the aim at crime, and it aims at association. Association is the only weapon whereby the many and the poor can redress the inequality of their struggle with wealth, influence, power and administrative authority. This is a broad and a most important distinction to which I will call the attention of the House further on in terms calculated, so far as I can find them, to make it clear to the House and to the country; but my first contention is this—that this Bill has been introduced and has been brought to its present stage, and will, no doubt, be carried on through what still remains of its progress—has been brought in without any case whatever to justify the introduction of it, even had it been a Coercion Bill of the ancient fashion, directed simply against crime. Now, I wish to found myself on that allegation, not upon the use of vague and general terms, but upon statements which the House can check, and which it is in the power of opponents to confute if they be untrue. For my first statement, which I have had occasion to make at various times during the events of the present year, is one that cannot altogether, I think, be deemed unworthy of attention. It is this—that we who are inflicting special and restrictive criminal legislation upon Ireland belong to a country which has more crime than Ireland has. I have made that assertion repeatedly, and an hon. and learned Member of this House, who has treated me with a most perfect courtesy, addressed a letter to The Times, in which he said that as this assertion had been repeatedly made, he thought it was material that its inaccuracy should be exposed, and that hon. Member pro- 87 ceeded to expose the inaccuracy by comparing crime upon a basis, which, in the first place, as he has since admitted, included serious or gross errors; and, in the second place—when no other refuge was left—by comparing the crime on a basis of the aggregate number of offences committed in the country, including all those which it has never been usual to include in the records of permanent and serious crime—namely, those which are not indictable offences. I confine myself, as has been invariably done, to indictable offences, and I do not look to those acts which are differently classified in different countries, and which generally belong to the department of what is called abroad "correctional police" rather than to the category of crime. Speaking of crime proper, I find in round numbers that the case stands about thus—that in England the convictions—of which I am now speaking alone—would represent something under one in 2,500, in Scotland something under one in 2,000, and in Ireland a trifle over one in 3,000. That is as relates to convictions. It may be said that the law in Ireland is not so effective as in England. Therefore, I next look to committals, and the statement relating to committals as undergone the ordeal of public discussion, because an hon. Member of this House replied to the hon. Member who had questioned my estimate of crime, and the truth and accuracy of his statement has been admitted. With respect to committals, the case as I understand it, stands thus—in Ireland there were 2,155 persons committed, against 14,062 in England and Wales. That proportion would represent the number of 54 for England and Wales upon a given population, against 44 for Ireland; or in round numbers, still more simple, the proportion of about 11 to nine in favour of Ireland. Well, then, Sir, it may be said that in Ireland crime is winked at, and many persons who commit crime are never discovered nor committed to prison on account of it. Then, Sir, I would take the amount of indictable offences committed in the respective countries. There I find they stand thus. In Ireland 6,961 indictable offences, representing, I believe, about 139 for a population of 10,000. In England and Wales 43,692 indictable offences, representing 169 in a population of 10,000. We 88 thus make good the proposition, which is to say the least singular—namely, that the three countries which are more largely afflicted with crime are invading, and permanently invading, another country where crime is less rife than it is with us. But then it will be said, and said with some truth, that crime in Ireland, crime of a certain kind, has a peculiar character such as it does not present in England; that it stands in relation to popular feeling and social order in a manner in which it does not stand on this side of the Channel. Sir, that is true. But this is also true; that it has always been held necessary that in order to justify a Coercion Bill there should be in Ireland a state of exceptional crime and outrage. I am now quoting the phrase which was used, and well used, not very long ago—I think at the last Election—by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord John Manners). He said there must be exceptional crime and outrage to justify coercion, and that, unless the crime and outrage be exceptional, you will hear nothing of a Coercion Bill. Well, Sir, in this House an attempt was made to interpret these words as signifying that there was a difference in the character of Irish crime as compared with the character of crime elsewhere. But that is not the basis on which Coercion Bills have been introduced in this House. They have always required, and Ministers have been required, to show a state of crime exceptional for Ireland—exceptional as compared with the state of crime and outrage at other periods in Ireland itself. I am quite certain that position cannot successfully be assailed. There is no exceptional state of crime and outrage whatever in Ireland at this time which, according to any of our Parliamentary traditions and the well understood doctrine and practice of the House of Commons, can constitute a warrant for the introduction of a Coercion Bill, even in the old sense of a Coercion Bill—namely, a Bill directed against crime. Now, Sir, what is the state of crime at the present time? In the year 1885 there were 916 agrarian outrages specially reported by the Constabulary. In 1886 there were 1,025. I have to regret that on a former occasion I stated that the number of outrages was the same, and I was taken to task by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for 89 Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) for having so stated it. I do not think I owe any apology to the right hon. Gentleman on this ground. He began by neglecting his duty altogether. He failed to lay before the House what it has been the established custom of this House for the Irish Minister to do—namely, to produce an authentic and official statement of the condition of Ireland with respect to the number of crimes and outrages when the plea is made for the introduction of a Coercion Bill. Having done that, we were left, as he kindly told us, to hunt up for ourselves and make up our own statistical accounts. A friend very kindly performed that office for me, and gave me a return which represented two years, which were as nearly identical as possible. Having some suspicion of my statistics, I signified that I should be obliged to the right hon. Gentleman if he would correct me if I were wrong. But he deliberately refrained from correcting me, and had the good taste and ingenuousness in his reply to charge me with having laid these inaccurate figures before the House. I take these figures as they are, and I say they constitute no case whatever for the introduction of a Coercion Bill, even in the old sense of coercion. An increase of 10 or 11 per cent in the year 1886 as compared with the year 1885 is not an augmentation which has ever been alleged as constituting an exceptional state of circumstances, still less can it be alleged when we recollect that the year 1886 was a year of exceptional pressure and distress, and that exceptional pressure and distress, other circumstances being equal, was morally certain to produce an increase of crime; and, for my own part, I think we have every reason to feel well satisfied that the increase of agrarian crime in 1886 compared with 1885 was so small an increase in the circumstances of distress and pressure that prevailed in the country. Well, Sir, but no attempt has been made to reply to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne(Mr. John Morley), who called the attention of the House to this very significant circumstance; in the last five months of 1885 the Party now in power were in power. In those five months they did not deem the state of Ireland to be such as to make it their duty to introduce a Coercion Bill. In the first five months, and in much the 90 greater part of those five months—namely, until the time of the Election—they were in every way disparaging coercion, and taking much credit to themselves, which I had every disposition to give them, for endeavouring to govern Ireland without the use of this odious instrument. In the first five months of 1887 they find a necessity for introducing a Coercion Bill—a Coercion Bill of such a character as has never been known to this House. Was there, then, a great increase or any increase at all of crime in the first five months of 1887 as compared with the last five months of 1885? On the contrary, there was a decline in the latter period as compared with the former in 1885, when they did not find a Coercion Bill necessary. In the five months of 1885 there were 474 offences. In 1887, when they did find a Coercion Bill necessary, the offences were 387.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Which months of the year? We brought in the Coercion Bill before those five months had expired.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The first five months of 1887 and the last five months of 1885. I believe the comparison of months is a fair comparison, because I am not aware of anything that periodically bears on the increase of crime except the length or shortness of the day. Therefore, Sir, instead of an increase of crime, we have a decrease of crime in the periods which alone we can compare in a manner to throw light upon the views and policy of the Government with respect to crime and coercion, and this comparison exhibits the astounding change that has taken place in their views. With respect to the two years, that small increase in 1886, as compared with 1885, was an increase which might reasonably have been expected from the increase of distress, and is altogether insignificant with respect to the proposal to make it the basis of a Coercion Bill. Then, Sir, the Government have one other refuge, and that is to fall back upon the year 1870, and show that in the year 1870 the number of reported agrarian crimes in the preceding year was smaller than the number reported in 1886. That is quite true. In 1886, as I have said, the number reported was 1,025, and in 1869 the number reported was only 767. What, then, were the circumstances in which the Coercion Bill 91 against crime was introduced in 1870? Sir, they were these—that agrarian crime a short time before—and I must say that I am rather surprised that no Member of the Government should have turned these figures to account, or thought to exhibit the real state of facts by showing the rate of increase of crime at that time—has been almost extinct, but had begun to grow with fearful rapidity, and that growth was observable, not only from year to year, but from quarter to quarter, in such a manner as might well and reasonably alarm the friends of social order. There is a question raised as to the different modes in which the Constabulary have reported crime at one period and at another period. I do not think it has any bearing upon the argument I am now making, because the crimes, I believe, are taken according to the responsible statements made to Parliament, which exhibit with accuracy the grounds upon which Parliament adopts a certain course of legislation. The point in 1870, as I have said, was not simply the height to which agrarian crime had reached, but the rate at which it was increasing; and what was that rate? I have shown that this year there is, as compared with the time when the same set of politicians were in Office and did not think coercion necessary, a large decrease. What was the case in 1870? In 1866 the number of reported agrarian offences was 87. That was increased rapidly in 1867–8–9. In 1869 the number was 767, or nearly ninefold what it had been in 1866; and even in 1869 itself the movement was most remarkable, because, while in the first quarter of 1869, from January to March, there were 101 reported agrarian offences, in the last quarter, from October to December, which may fairly be compared with the same quarter, there were 540 such offences. Thus the increase of agrarian crime was more than fivefold within the course of a single year. What plea or shadow of justification do these facts afford for the introduction of the present Bill, which is introduced upon a stationary condition of crime at a time when there is less increase of crime than there was at the period when the Government thought there was not sufficient ground for proposing coercion? What were the facts of the case in 1870? The House of Commons almost unanimously passed 92 that Act. There were many Members from Ireland at that time representing popular constituencies. Yet many of them supported the Bill, while not above 12 of them voted against it. It was an accepted Bill; but this Bill, for which such urgency has been pleaded and all the liberties of the House of Commons suppressed, is opposed by a large minority of this House, and, as far as I can judge, a minority not likely to decrease. I say that it is plain by the most unequivocal and conclusive evidence, that if we have any sort of regard to the traditions of liberty or of Parliamentary usage, there is not to be alleged in support of the present measure, even if we consider it as a Coercion Bill of the old stamp—there is not to be alleged any of the justification which has always by previous Parliaments, and even by previous Governments, been considered essential to warrant the invasion of the liberties of the people, and to warrant a slight—if not an insult—to Ireland. Had this Bill been simply a Crimes Bill, I venture to give a confident opinion that the 40 odd nights which have been spent upon it would have been reduced, by three-fourths. But it is not a Crimes Bill to which this persistent opposition has been offered. It is a Bill of the new fashion, of the new coercion, which has now received, for the first time, the support of a majority of the House of Commons. I must confess I resent the statements sometimes made, impugning our conduct as opponents of the Bill, that we have done the same thing ourselves. We have not done the same thing ourselves. I do not raise the question whether what we have done is right or wrong. Fifteen months ago I publicly confessed in the House the failure of what we did, and I urged Parliament to take a better and a wiser course. If there be those who have been parties to former Bills, and who think those Bills to be of the same character as the present Bill, they are perfectly justified in saying so; but we are entitled to lodge an earnest and warm protest against that assertion, because the Bill we have now before us is of a character entirely different. But, now, to some extent the admission is made that the Bill is of a different character. The answer made by the Government is this—"True, we have put forward some rather staggering proposals, but then 93 look at our safeguards." Now, what are these safeguards? One of the most extraordinary and unprecedented proposals ever made to Parliament in this country—such a proposal as I believe no Tory Government ever ventured to make in the days before the passing of the Reform Act—is that which makes the Viceroy of Ireland—that is to say, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Chief Secretary of Ireland—if he is a Cabinet Minister and the Viceroy is not, which makes the Chief Secretary the master of the whole law, and of the right of association in Ireland. It is alleged that there is an admirable safeguard, and the safeguard is that there may be an appeal to this House. Well, the House must be summoned if it was not sitting. That argument may have some effect with those who are greatly satisfied with the manner in which the majority of the House has estimated the value of Irish liberties. This appeal appears to us to be of a very moderate value indeed; but whatever it is, it is nothing but a partial remedy applicable to the proposal in its altogether novel form, and constituting, it appears to me, an outrage on the principle of public freedom. I am surprised at the boldness of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, though I am bound to admit that his boldness has modified very considerably. I was surprised when he claimed, as a very important safeguard, the fact that some of the provisions which Parliament adopted in 1881, and put in motion directly and by its own authority over Ireland, are now made dependent upon the right hon. Gentleman making them necessary. That is a difference which the right hon. Gentleman may think important, but which, in my opinion, was hardly worth being even mentioned in debate. It is admitted, then, that this Bill contains the gravest novelties. How stands the case? I have the words of the right hon. Gentleman the late Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) as I took them down at the time; and I at once made them the subject of notice to my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Sir Charles Russell). I said to them—We have now got an admission which, 94 at any rate, is of the greatest value. The words were these—There is no offence punishable under this Act except such as is already a felony or misdemeanour—that is what I should have called a Crimes Act—or as is constituted an offence under the 2nd Clause of this Bill dealing with intimidation.I am not absolutely certain as to the word "second;" but it is immaterial, as the second clause did deal with intimidation. We therefore have it upon the declaration of the Government—at last the clear and unequivocal declaration of the Government—that offences are constituted under the clause of this Bill dealing with intimidation which were not criminal offences before. Therefore, our original allegation against the Bill was justified. What was the defence setup by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary? It was a defence with regard to which I hardly could have supposed for a moment that it would impose upon any portion of the House, and it was a defence entirely destructive of the position of his right hon. and learned Colleague, the late Attorney General for Ireland, because it amounted to a denial of what that right hon. and learned Gentleman had said. The right hon. and learned late Attorney General had told us that there were acts which were constituted offences under the clause of this Bill dealing with intimidation. He used those words. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I have witnesses to sustain me in my allegation, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the late Attorney General, though the matter has been debated in Parliament, has had the good sense and good faith not to deny it. New offences are constituted. We have it out of the mouth of the Government itself, and it is too late to make denial. What was the expedient to which the right hon. Gentleman resorted? He said that certain words in the beginning of the clause enacted that the conspiracy must be a conspiracy of a nature now punishable by law, and he actually relied upon those words to overturn his own Attorney General, Does not the right hon. Gentleman suppose that we are aware that there are two things in question, one the nature and 95 manner of the agreement which is the conspiracy, and the other the nature of the acts to which the agreement refers. The nature of the agreement, I grant you, must be the same as under the present law, and that is the effect of the words quoted by the right hon. Gentleman; but the Acts with respect to which the agreement is to be made are changed by this Bill. And what are they? They are acts of exclusive dealing, which are thus defined—To compel or induce any person or persons either not to fulfil his or their equal obligations, or not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land, or not to deal with, work for, or hire any person or persons in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation, or to interfere with the administration of the law.Now, these words are a comprehensive description of what is known as "exclusive dealing." Exclusive dealing, I am sorry to say, is very largely practised in this country, and exclusive dealing is also cruelly practised in Ireland towards any Protestant who is disposed to show himself a Home Ruler. A short time ago I gave an instance of an Irish clergyman who was reduced to beggary for the offence of being a Home Ruler, and after I mentioned that case I immediately received in my correspondence offers from Ireland to make me acquainted with the particulars of many other cases. But whatever this exclusive dealing may be, there are two things to be said of it—it is far more pardonable on the part of the poor and the weak than on the part of the great, the rich, and the powerful; and, secondly, it has never been a crime by our law. It is a social evil; it is a mischief which ought to be brought to a close by the passing of sound laws, and by the progress of manners and civilization; but it ought not to be constituted a crime. At any rate, if it is to be constituted a crime, it ought to be so constituted impartially and universally. But you would not dare to lift a finger in defence of such provisions for England and Scotland. However rampant exclusive dealing might become amongst us, you know very well that you would have to look on in silence and in apparent indifference. I have a word to say as to the favourite doctrine of those who are opposed to our policy of giving autonomy to Ireland. Their favourite doctrine is this—that Ireland ought not to have any 96 Legislative Assembly of its own; but ought to enjoy equal rights with the rest of the Kingdom under a United Parliament. I wish to apply this test of equal rights under a united Parliament to the matter that is now before us. I say that in England, Scotland, and Wales any man is free to induce as much as he likes, and to combine with others in inducing other persons—Not to fulfil his or their legal obligations, or not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land, or not to deal with, work for, or hire any person or persons in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation.These are rights of Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen, which you are going to deny to Irishmen, and having denied them, you are going to say that Ireland ought not to have a separate Legislative Assembly of her own because she is blessed with the privilege of enjoying equal rights with those enjoyed by the other parts of the United Kingdom. Now, this touches a point which it is important should be made clear. An Amendment was moved with the object of extending the immunities granted to trades unions in England to tenants in Ireland. It was proposed to grant the Irish tenant in respect of his holding the same description of immunity as is now enjoyed by a member of a trade union if he does not fulfil his obligations to his employer in the course of any dispute connected with his trade. I am at present making no complaint of the rejection of that Amendment, because I admit that there are certain differences between the cases of the tenant in Ireland and the workman in England. But my hon. and learned Friend the late Attorney General moved an Amendment providing that no person or persons doing any of the things mentioned in the clause should be chargeable with conspiracy in respect of any such act unless such act would, if done by one person alone, be punishable as a crime. This is the right enjoyed by every member of a trade union in England and Scotland in regard to labour contracts, and I say that this same right ought to be extended to the tenants of Ireland. But this right, which was deliberately and I believe at last unanimously given to England and Scotland, is now denied to Ireland. I now desire to refer to Clauses 6 and 7, which, with Clause 2, make up the parts of a great plan—I 97 am inclined to call it a great conspiracy—against the right of association in Ireland. The right of association to induce exclusive dealing is struck at by Clause 2, and the right of association for almost any public purpose—so large and elastic are the words of Clauses 6 and 7—is placed in the hand of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. If I were an Irishman and I joined a political association it would be for the right hon. Gentleman to say whether I became a criminal by that Act. I am not to be permitted to bring him into Court, to challenge him to a contest in which he would have all the advantage of public administrative authority; I am not to be permitted to obtain even publicity for the motives of his proceedings which may remain hidden away in his own breast; it is for him, dispensing with Judge, jury, counsel, and witnesses, to say whether I am a criminal or not. Am I then not justified, after what I have said, in stating that there are two kinds of coercion—the old and the new—and that the new coercion is in the term of art, no doubt, a vast improvement, for it is more crafty, it is more insidious, it is more searching and far reaching? It goes beyond all the wits that were ever possessed by the framers of the old Coercion Bills; and it strikes at the very root of public right in that one grand subject of association, which is the heart and pith of public right for a country like Ireland, and to withdraw which is fatal to its public liberty. My contentions, then, are these—There are no facts at all to justify, in the slightest degree, one even of the old-fashioned Coercion Bills, which is no more to be compared with the present Coercion Bill than a watch of the time of Queen Elizabeth is to be compared with the best watch manufactured by Mr. Dent to-day or yesterday, or than a coach of the time of Queen Elizabeth is to be compared with the best coach manufactured at the present day. There are no facts to justify one of the old-fashioned Coercion Bills; and if that process is to be performed by the Government which has been spontaneously performed by every previous Government at the earlier stages of the discussions on those painful matters, it has got to be performed by them now under challenge and, for the first time, on the third reading. If there are no facts to justify the old Coercion Bills 98 much less are there facts to justify the new, which creates new crime, for I would rather have a hundred new crimes than have even one new crime carried over to the secret and irresponsible cognizance of the Minister sitting in secret, subject to all the political influences which must naturally act upon him and convert him into a substitute for the judicial tribunals of the country and the rights enjoyed by us all before those tribunals. I beg to remind the House of what I have said—so far at least as I am able to judge, this Coercion Bill is the alternative to a large measure of autonomy for Ireland. We are not going to have a Coercion Bill in Ireland because Ireland is disturbed, but because we have refused to give Ireland the management of strictly and properly Irish affairs. I understand that basis of fact. You have refused it, the majority of the constituencies—that is to say, of the English constituences—outnumbering the rest and constituting the lawful and Constitutional majority in Parliament; but do not disguise the consequences. We predicted at the time when the Irish Government Bill of last year was introduced, according to the best of our forethought, that there was no alternative but coercion, and no alternative but a new and sterner form of coercion. Many of those who conscientiously objected to our course indignantly denied the justice of that prediction, and declared in this House while announcing their objections to that measure that they retained all their old and all their rooted aversion to Coercion Bills for limiting Irish liberty and crimes. What has become of all those protestations? With the single exception of Sir George Trevelyan and one or two other hon. Members I am sorry to say that the predictions have been fulfilled not only in the degree but very far beyond the degree in which I could have supposed it possible that they would have received fulfilment, and the country will have to be made to understand that the real and the true and the only option before it is between a just and liberal autonomy for Ireland, wisely regulated in details but founded on the great principles that you have applied throughout your Empire, and a system of coercion on the other side more grievous than any that has yet been put forward—more grievous, Sir, not only by the creation of new 99 crimes, not only by substituting Executive discretion or indiscretion for the regular and public action of the tribunals in respect of the most sacred rights, but likewise by that which of all others is most odious among the provisions of this Bill, the stamp of permanency which you have chosen to institute, thereby adopting the principle of what on all former occasions has been recognized as a painful and a temporary necessity, of which Parliament would not allow the existence except for the shortest period, and with a regular provision for resuming its consideration. But now the rule—the established state of things for Ireland—is to be this permanent Bill, as an exemplification of the equal laws and equal rights enjoyed by Ireland under the blessed Bill now before us. Why, Sir, are we to make this grievous mischoice? Is the state of the country such as you now have it, such as you are asserting it by the overwhelming force of a Government majority, so precious and so valuable in your eyes? What I conceive to be the principle of old Constitutional struggles is that the resisting Party—what would then be called the obstructing Party—were usually fighting for something that, at any rate, even if the time had come for it to pass away, was more or less great and noble in itself. Sometimes it was the Protestant religion, sometimes it was the establishment of Church and State. On the first Reform Bill, wise men, many very wise men, said—"Beware how you interfere with the representative system, which has maintained more uniformity than you find in any other country in the civilized world." Perhaps America had not at that moment fully accomplished their view. Even in the miserable controversy, as we may now call it, on the Corn Laws, multitudes of advocates of the Com Laws when that controversy began conscientiously believed, however erroneously, that they were maintaining a system by means of which the scale of subsistence and of remuneration for the British labourer was maintained at a higher rate, and that he would lose these advantages. There was always, at any rate, some decent—sometimes even some honourable or some glorious—illusion for which those opponents were contending. What are you contending for? Is there one who will rise from that Bench who will say that the state of the 100 case between England and Ireland for 700 years of British mastery is anything but, upon the whole, a discredit, misery, and shame? [Cheers and cries of "No !"] That is a curiosity which I should like to store up in a museum. Are there any in the House who consider that the great and noble political genius of England, which has spread her fame throughout the world, which has earned for her honour and praise even from enemies, which has made her a rallying point for those who are struggling for their freedom—that this great and noble genius, which everywhere but in Ireland has achieved such glorious works, may likewise point to Ireland and say—"In a case where the strong had to deal with the weak, where Ireland was at no time strong enough to assert herself against me, where I had my own way so far as Imperial power could give it, how well can I look at the result?" In the whole Empire, spread throughout the world, there is but a portion—I will not enter now into a controverted question with respect to the great mass of our Oriental fellow-subjects, though for my own part I should be ready to make the assertion for them—but there is not a piece of the Queen's Dominions, not so much as a square yard, which she holds by force, but she holds Ireland by force. After 700 years of mastery you have not yet learnt that mastery carries with it responsibility. If I am to descend from higher motives, I own there are two considerations of a very practical character which come home to my mind, and they appear to me perfectly undeniable; first of all, that the present system of Irish government is the cause of enormous charge to this country. I have had something to do with the finances of this country, and I do not hesitate to say that millions a year are to be saved by substituting a sound for an unsound system in the government of Ireland—that is, by granting to Ireland a free, though a guarded, liberty of managing her own concerns. The expenditure of vast sums of money might be saved which is now used for the purpose of earning and aggravating discontent, which grows year by year with the increase of civilization and with the general decrease of crime. I do not understand why it is so precious in your eyes. I do not suppose that anyone will deny that Ireland and Irish affairs 101 are the great cause of the melancholy, lamentable, and disgraceful paralysis of Parliament. There I imagine we are all unanimous, but you cling to that miserable mischief as if it were a treasure and a delight. I cannot understand it. You know that the literature of the world is against you. [Cries of "No !" and cheers.] Will the hon. Gentleman, whom I have not the honour of seeing, have the kindness to mention to me a single author in European literature who has reviewed the relations between England and Ireland, and the history of those relations, and who says that their condition is honourable to England? I do not understand him to answer the challenge. But, perhaps, what he means is not that the literature of the world—which is the expression of its permanent judgment in these matters—is not against us, but that the literature of the world is quite wrong. Gentleman opposite have the faculty of wrapping themselves up in a self-content of that nature. To me I confess it is one of the most grievous and painful considerations that I know. I do not speak of newspapers, because I presume that upon all subjects there will be great varieties in the mere momentary opinion of the day. I have not intentionally exaggerated; I have sought to inform myself, and so far as I am able to judge, whereas there were men who would have defended the conduct of Austria in Italy, and whereas there were even men who would have defended the conduct of Russia in Poland, you will hardly find—I have never known yet that you would find in a single case—a writer worthy of bearing that name who has—as I have said—reviewed the case between England and Ireland, and who is ready to give you the benefit of his support. There is a broad and marked distinction between this case and the other great Constitutional struggles in which the Party opposite has in numberless times past gallantly engaged and has uniformly been defeated—there is this one very broad and marked distinction, that in this case I do not understand what it is they profess to be fighting for. I see that they profess to be fighting for one thing at least—namely, the union of the Empire—in which we are most desirous to join, and in which we think it as ridiculous to charge disunion upon us as they think it riduculous to charge disunion upon them. In these things we 102 ought to be united. In this present controversy they appear to me to be fighting for something which means nothing but hatred between the two countries, which means nothing but to produce waste of public treasure, which means nothing but stopping the transaction of your own vital and necessary business; and, finally, which means nothing but incurring the judgment and condemnation of the civilized world. Sir, these things cannot last. In the faith that they will not last, and in the faith that every single manful protest will tend to bring them nearer the day of their doom, I move the rejection of this Bill.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months. "—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) who has just sat down concluded his speech by asking a question. He asked us what was the cause for which we, on this side of the House, were fighting, and he drew a parallel between the Unionist Party of to-day and the Conservative Party of previous times, to the disadvantage of the Unionist Party of to-day. I will tell right hon. Gentleman what I conceive ourselves to be fighting for. We may be under an illusion; but it is, at all events, an ungenerous illusion. We believe that in passing this Bill we are doing that which is necessary, whether Home Rule be granted or be not granted, for preserving the rights of minorities in Ireland—of preserving those elementary principles of law without which Ireland, be it associated with this country or be it divorced from this country, never can be a prosperous country. And we believe more than that; we believe that by passing this Bill, which is a necessary preliminary to all other measures for the amelioration of the condition of Ireland, we are taking an essential and a necessary step towards preserving a united Empire, for which the right hon. Gentleman professes to have so great a regard. Now, I am afraid I am put up at rather an 103 inconvenient time; but it is necessary for me, in following the right hon. Gentleman, to proceed step by step through, the speech to which we have just listened. The right hon. Gentleman began by telling us, to my great surprise, that the policy we are pursuing is an alternative policy—a policy alternative to Home Rule; and, therefore, he himself, by anticipation, answered the question which he put at the end as to what it was we were fighting for. If it be true that this policy is an alternative policy, there is no further recommendation required to commend it to the favourable attention of the House. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to bring in, as if it was relevant to the issue before the House, the general crime in England as compared with the amount in Ireland. I am not going to follow him through his figures on that point; but it appears to me the whole quotation is perfectly illusory and totally irrelevant. When some hon. Gentleman gets up from the other side of the House and tells us that in agricultural England intimidation exists in the sense in which it exists in Ireland; when he tells us that in agricultural England crime cannot be punished because witnesses are intimidated; when crime cannot be punished because juries refuse to do their duty—when he can get up and point to such lists of agrarian crime as those which have been laid on the Table of the House in the last two years, then it will be time for the right hon. Gentleman to get up and ask us why in common consistency we do not pass a Coercion Bill for England; but until that time come, how foolish it is to ask us to abandon a remedy which we think suited to the evils of Ireland, or to apply it to England, for which we think it is not suited by reason of any evils existing in this country.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then the right hon. Gentleman, attacked me for the method in which I have dealt with statistics, and he told me I have not followed a practice universal with all my Predecessors, and did not bring forward special statistics in order to justify a Coercion Bill. I must remind the right hon. Gentleman of what I have before had to tell the House. The existing system of statistics in Ireland was adopted in 1881, 104 and in 1882 it was considered adequate by the right hon. Gentleman to the facts so furnished, and I conceive myself not departing from the line of my duty if I follow the precedent which he set with regard to special statistics. But the right hon. Gentleman went on to accuse me of personal discourtesy to himself, because I had not corrected him across the floor of the House with regard to some statistics which he erroneously gave the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I entirely forget the incident to which the right hon. Gentleman refers; but I may remind him of the facts connected with that error, which was that the figures were not correct, and if I did not correct them across the floor of the House they were corrected by a Cabinet Minister; and yet, after that correction, the right hon. Gentleman again came down to the House and again repeated the incorrect figures. The error in the amount of crime was about 106 agrarian offences. Now, 106 serious crimes may not seem much to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. They were agrarian. But 106 is very much in excess of the total.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, 109 is very much in excess of the total amount of agrarian crime existing in Ireland before the right hon. Gentleman began that series of Irish reforms of which he is so proud. While I am on statistics, I must refer for a moment to the use which the right hon. Gentleman has made of statistics, which I think has created very serious misconception in the country. The House may recollect that the right hon. Gentleman came down here and gave us some figures with regard to evictions in Ireland during the present Reign—allegations founded on the authority of a gentleman whom he described as an eminent statistician.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right; he gave 105 the authority, and the authority was a certain Mr. Mulhall. I was astounded at those figures; they were such as I think nobody the least acquainted with Irish statistics would have known to be correct. I have examined this point, and will the House believe me when I say that in those figures Mr. Mulhall's method of proceeding had been his. He has taken the Government Return, which gave him in two columns the number of families and the number of persons evicted. He has deliberately selected the column containing the number of persons; he has treated that column as if it consisted of families, and he has chosen to assume that the Irish family consists of seven persons, and he has multiplied the number of evictions by seven in consequence. And those are the figures which, on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman, are now quoted in newspaper after newspaper; they receive a currency which they never would otherwise obtain, and they are used in every quarter of England to excite prejudice against the landlord class and to throw additional weight of disgrace upon English rule in Ireland. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to attack the statistical defects of our Bill. The right hon. Gentleman must be perfectly aware that while I have always maintained that we have a justification for our Bill founded on statistics alone, we have never relied upon these chiefly or principally. We have always relied in large measure upon that condition of social disorganization and tyranny to which the right hon. Gentleman himself, so far as I can recollect, made not a single allusion in the course of his speech. But, Sir, what is the case upon the figures? On a previous occasion I pointed out that if we had no justification on the figures for our Bill the case of the right hon. Gentleman in 1870 must have been bad indeed. The actual figures of grave crime were, in 1869, 370.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I believe it was. I may say (in reference to Mr. W. E. Gladstone's frequent interruptions) that I refrained very carefully from interfering with the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech. I believe that the figures, according to Mr. Fortescue's statement, are exactly 106 these—In 1869 (excluding threatening letters), 370, while in 1886 they amounted to 767. So, if our case is bad, how bad must the case of the right hon. Gentleman have been when he passed the Coercion Bill in 1870? But the right hon. Gentleman says that we do not found our arguments on the positive statistics, but on the increase in the relative amount of crime. He would say that we should be justified in introducing a Bill in 1870 because crime was increasing, but that we were not justified now, because, although there has been an increase, it has not been very great. I traverse altogether the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman appears to be in the frame of mind that all the Irish criminals have got to do is not to increase the amount of crime, and that if they do not increase it the amount must be considered normal, and ought not to be considered by English statesmen. We do not take that view. We take the view—and I think it is justified by common sense—that if agrarian crime exists to this extent, combined—as it is combined—with intimidation and disorganization, it requires the instant attention and care of the Legislature, whether crime be increasing or not. Observe to what absurdity the opposite contention lands you; 1870 was a year in which the great reforms of the right hon. Gentleman had not had time to operate. The Irish Church Bill was passed the year before, and the Irish Land Bill was passed the same year; but they could not have produced their full ameliorative effects. The Land Bill of 1881 was in the dim and distant future; and, therefore, the contention of the right hon. Gentleman amounts to this, that in 1870 an amount of crime—not much more than half what it is now—was not to be tolerated, but that now, when this House has been occupied in passing measure after measure for the amelioration of Ireland, we are quietly to acquiesce in a state of things incomparably worse than the right hon. Gentleman supposed that he was justified in legislating for in 1870. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to make an observation which he has made in public before, and which deserves the serious attention of the House. He told us that there would have been no obstruction to this Bill if we had consented to modify 107 it in the direction which suited himself.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the right hon. Gentleman said—" If we had consented to omit certain provisions, to which he took strong exception."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I said, if the Government had brought in a Crimes Bill, and not a Bill against associations, in my opinion they would not have spent more that a fourth part of the time they have now spent.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman differs from what I said. If we reduced the Bill to the condition of a Crimes Bill by omitting certain provisions to which he objects, and if we omitted those provisions, he promises us that we should have got the Bill through the House much earlier. If a threat of Obstruction is to be used in that manner, a more deadly blow is struck at the independence and usefulness of this House than has ever been aimed at it before. The right hon. Gentleman went on to quote a statement which he says he heard from the late Attorney General for Ireland—Mr. Justice Holmes. I do not think he gave the date, but that is not material. The statement which he has put in the mouth of Mr. Justice Holmes is that under Section 2 of the Act new crimes are created. I feel certain that Mr. Justice Holmes never made any assertion of the kind, and the reason I say so is that I was in constant consultation and communication with that Gentleman throughout every stage of this Bill. He has over and over again assured me in private of what the present Irish Attorney General (Mr. Gibson) will assure the House—that under Section 2 of the Bill no new crime is created. It is true that in a certain technical sense, which I explained before to the House, Clause 6 does create a new offence. It creates a new offence exactly in the same manner as the proclamation of the Riot Act creates a new offence, and in no other. I do not speak from my own legal knowledge, but I am advised by those in whom I have confidence that under Clause 2 no new offence is created. The right hon. 108 Gentleman appears to draw a very wide distinction between this Bill and the previous Bills which he has had a hand in passing; and he made a very powerful and eloquent reference to the fact that the whole execution under Clause 6 would rest in the Executive of Ireland, embodied in my person, and that he had a very moderate amount of confidence in the way it is to be exercised. I am not going to defend beforehand the manner in which the powers of this Bill are to be exercised; but I deny that in giving the Executive powers of that kind any new departure is made in exceptional criminal legislation for Ireland. I think the right hon. Gentleman, before making this statement, ought to have revived his recollection as to the contents of previous Coercion Acts. Under the Act of 1870, it actually is in the power of any magistrate, on suspicion, to commit a man for six months' hard labour because, being out in suspicious circumstances, he does not choose to give au account of himself. Does any provision in this Bill approach the severity of an enactment of this kind? But that is not all. The right hon. Gentleman, when he talks of special criminal legislation for Ireland, has only taken account of the Act of 1882. Has he forgotten the Act of 1881? That Act was a simple and short Statute, which put in the hands of the then Irish Executive the power to imprison whom they liked for what they liked on suspicion, and for such time as they chose.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Without cause shown, it rested on Mr. Forster to imprison whom he liked under the Act of 1881—a power not only in excess of that given to us by this Bill, but so far in excess that there is no common ground of comparison between the two. The right hon. Gentleman, both in and out of the House, has told the people of the country that we are departing absolutely from all Liberal traditions in the matter. He says the things we propose to do under this Bill have never been done by a Tory Government. No, Sir, but they have been done by a Liberal Government, the head of which was the right hon. Gentleman himself.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, it is perfectly true that in those days the minority of the House were in the habit of supporting the Government of the day in the maintenance of law and order. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to draw a comparison between trades unions and the combinations of tenants in Ireland. I cannot conceive a greater insult to the trades unions of this country than to compare them with the organizations of which he spoke. Those organizations are half political in their object—that is a small matter; but the political object at which they aim is the dismemberment of the Empire. One of the political means by which they seek to attain that end is the avowed destruction of a particular class in the community, and they are supported by money obtained from persons living in America, of whom the best thing that can be said is that they are hostile and bitter enemies of this country. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that Boycotting is allowed to the trades unions in this country.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is perfectly true that the right hon. Gentleman described it as "exclusive dealing," but he will, perhaps, allow me to use the more familiar expression of "Boycotting." He says, in effect, that Boycotting, or exclusive dealing, was not forbidden by law to trades unions. I am informed, however, that conspiracy to Boycott is an offence at common law by the law of this country as well as by the law of Ireland. It is, therefore, actually illegal at this moment. But notice this great difference between the case of the trades unions and the case of the Irish tenants. Trades unions are forbidden by law to do certain things in the way of coercing fellow workmen—to picket and annoy. In Ireland Boycotting corresponds to picketing and annoying; and if we carry out the Act of 1875 in Ireland with regard to tenants, there was not the slightest doubt that the Legislature would think it necessary to prohibit Boycotting in their case as picketing and annoyance were forbidden in the case of trades unions. I think that the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten some of his own statements. On May 24, 1882, the right hon. Gentleman used these words— 110What is meant by 'Boycotting?' In the first place, it is combined intimidation. In the second place, it is combined intimidation made use of for the purpose of destroying the private liberty of choice by fear of ruin and starvation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—In the third place, that being what 'Boycotting" is in itself, we must look to this—that the creed of 'Boycotting,' like every other creed, requires a sanction; and the sanction of 'Boycotting,' that which stands in the rear of 'Boycotting,' and by which alone 'Boycotting' can in the long run be made thoroughly effective—is the murder which is not to be denounced."—(3 Hansard,  1551.)There is a further passage of great interest. The right hon. Gentleman said—I may have said, and I say now, that I have a perfect right to deal with one man rather than another, and even to tell people that I am doing so; but that has nothing to do with combined intimidation exercised for the purpose of inflicting ruin and driving men to do what they do not want to do, and preventing them from doing what they have a right to do. That is illegal, and that is the illegality recommended by the hon. Gentleman; and it is plain that those who recommend and sanction such illegality are responsible for other illegalities, even though they do not directly sanction them."—[Ibid 1552.)I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take the moral of the last sentence. But what do we think of the right hon. Gentleman's attitude in this case? The right hon. Gentleman has thought it right entirely to alter his policy on the Irish Question. Of that I make no complaint; let him do that if he pleases, and let him also drag the whole of his Party with him in that remarkably sharp curve which he has described. That is a matter to be settled between him and his followers. But what I complain of is that when he thinks fit to change his opinion the whole system of morality under which we live is to be changed also, and that what was wrong, immoral, and illegal in 1882 is to become legal, moral, and right, and to be sedulously and religiously preserved by the United Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman, while on the subject of statistics, that while in the two months of the beginning of this quarter, with regard to which the statistics have been 111 laid on the Table, a decided improvement is visible in Ireland, due, I believe, entirely to the bringing in of this Coercion Act. Unfortunately in the month that has just ended, and for which the statistics are not on the Table, there has been a relapse, due almost entirely to the inflammatory speeches of Mr. Davitt. The actual figures, broadly speaking, are these—During the 18 months which immediately succeeded the dropping of the Crimes Act of 1885 the average per month was 52 serious crimes. The monthly average during the June quarter was 48, showing a very small improvement. But during this June, I am sorry to say, serious crimes have risen to 62, or 10 in excess of the monthly average between 1885 and 1887. And while in last June the number of serious crimes was 62, in the June which preceded the Act of 1870 the number of serious crimes was six. The right hon. Gentleman tells us we are interfering with the liberties of the Irish people by passing unequal laws which we dare not extend to England. Well, an appeal to liberty has been from time immemorial the stock peroration among baffled statesmen. But before we take in vain the most honoured name in the whole political vocabulary it would be well to ask what is the kind of freedom that we are supposed to interfere with. Is it the freedom whose progress is marked by general security, by the increase of public credit, by the decrease of pauperism, by the decrease of poverty, by the decrease of crime, by the increase of mutual goodwill, by the exercise of each man's right to do that which it is his lawful right to do, and by the unrestricted reign of law? Is that the liberty which the right hon. Gentleman recommends, or is it that miscalled liberty which is dogged by crime, which controls lawful action; is it the freedom of the Moonlighter to pursue his midnight assassinations, and which is marked by the impotence of the law and the omnipotence of terrorism? That is the freedom which the right hon. Gentleman asks us to bow down to, and to pay worship to. But we cultivate that other freedom whose fruits are prosperity, individual liberty, and social harmony; and it is as a contribution to that cause that we ask the House now to read this Bill a third time.
§ MR. C. R. SPENCER (Northampton, Mid)
said, he must protest as strongly as he could against a Bill which he considered, notwithstanding the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, to be absolutely unnecessary and unjust. The right hon. Gentleman attributed the decrease of agrarian crime in Ireland to the introduction of this Coercion Bill; but he (Mr. C. R. Spencer) believed the quiet state of the country was due to the fact that the Irish people felt that the majority of the English people were in unison with them, and that they had the support of the popular constituencies of this country. In 1881 there was a very large amount of crime in Ireland, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted; and when the Liberal Party had to pass a Crimes Act at that, period it was with sorrow and not with jubilation, and also because they felt that it safeguarded liberty as much as possible under the circumstances, while at the same time it was only of temporary duration. No doubt Bills of great stringency had often been introduced for the government of Ireland; but he believed this was the first which was unlimited in duration, and he had heard no good reason assigned why it should be made perpetual. He did not believe that the people of this country would approve an exceptional Act of that character being applied to Ireland for ever. He had seen something of the working of a Coercion Act in Ireland, and, although he believed that it had been justly and fairly carried out, he did not feel that such legislation had done good in the long run for Ireland. He felt that something must be done for Ireland in the way that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had sketched out.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, he wished to call attention to the fact that when the Cloture Resolution was under discussion he supported an Amendment upon that Resolution, which had for its object to exclude from its operation any alteration or amendment of the Criminal Law. He remembered on that occasion that the arguments which were used by those who took that view were that the security and safety of the country, as depending upon its Criminal Law, was 113 a thing which should not be lightly or rashly interfered with, and yet the first and the only application of the closure system in that House had been to carry through a measure of a very drastic character, effecting a considerable alteration in the Criminal Law of Ireland. The present Bill was a Bill which largely dealt with the condition of jury trial. Now, he ventured to say that the Bill which they were now passing was one which in America and many other Legislatures it would be impossible for the Legislature to pass, or, if it were to pass, it would not have the effect of law. In the 6th amended Article of the American Constitution, it was said that in all criminal prosecutions the accused should enjoy the right of a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime should be committed. They were about to deprive Ireland by this Bill in perpetuity of certain rights by means of the operation of a Closure Rule which went on the basis of other Legislatures, but which, when operating upon the Criminal Law, without the safeguards such as he had indicated in the American Constitution, was an exceedingly dangerous thing. There were three characteristics of the Bill which were wholly objectionable. In the first place, it struck at association, and in the case of Irish tenants made action punishable which would not be punishable in the case of English trades unions. The words were—"To induce any person not to work for any person in the ordinary course of trade." This which was thus rendered criminal in the Irish tenant was exactly what was permitted to the English trades unionist. It was remarkable that when the trades unions outrages took place in this country, precisely the same language was used with respect to trades unions, which then were not legalized, as was used now of the Irish Nationalist Party and of the National League. The next evil of the Bill was that it made the Criminal Law in any portion of Ireland dependent upon the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant. In this there was great danger, for the Government would have the power to suppress as criminal any any political association which might be opposed to them. The Bill would make free political life in Ireland impossible. The progress of civilization had largely 114 consisted in the substitution of definite law for discretion; yet here, at the absolute discretion of the Lord Lieutenant, that was to say, of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Balfour) an action might be criminal or not, and the method of procedure by which the accused was tried might be this one day and that the other. The third great evil of the Bill was that the changes which it effected in the law were not to be temporary, but permanent. This Bill proposed to hand over not the women of Regent Street, but the whole people of Ireland to police evidence and police magistrates. With regard to riotous meetings, he believed it would be dangerous to entrust the Resident Magistrates with the powers conferred on them by this Bill. Their definition of "riotous" was not to be trusted. In Dungannon a gentleman had been prevented from addressing a meeting from his own doorsteps, and what was a perfectly peaceable meeting was proclaimed. Sometime afterwards he went to a meeting at Omagh, and found the walls placarded by the Loyalists, calling on their supporters to assemble in their thousands to oppose the rebels and assassins. It was deemed unadvisable to prevent an English gentleman from addressing a meeting there, and so a meeting, attended by 12,000 people, was held without any disturbance whatever, though 400 police and about 200 soldiers were stationed in the town. It would have been proclaimed, he believed, if no English Member of Parliament had been present, for its circumstances did not differ from that proclaimed a few days previously at Dungannon. This Bill attempted to grapple with Boycotting. It was quite impossible for any law to do so successfully. In Ulster there was a considerable amount of Boycotting of Home Rulers, and no attempt would be made by the Government to put this down under the power conferred by the Bill. A friend of his had told him that he had in his linen factory four overseers who were Orangemen. In the course of his business it was necessary to take apprentices to those overseers, and he took one of the most promising boys in the factory, and brought him to one of these overseers. The overseer took the boy; but a few days afterwards told the employer that he would not keep the boy, because he "would not teach 115 any of these Papists a trade." The employer insisted on his keeping the boy, and the result was that all four overseers went away from Belfast and left their employer in the lurch. Did not that sort of Boycotting deserve proclamation and punishment as much as any other? Did it not as much as any other deprive its victim of the opportunity of earning a living? He did not believe either could be prevented by law. They would probably be told that by this debate on the third reading they were obstructing the reforms which the Government wished to introduce; but if the Government would show them their reforms, they would help to carry them through the House, as they had done in the case of the Coal Mines Regulation Bill. The fact was all that the Government really wanted to carry was this Coercion Bill. On that side of the House they opposed the Bill because they wanted to get at the Business of England; they did not believe that the eternal question of Ireland would be got rid of merely by passing this Bill. They had opposed this Bill in the hope, which had now proved vain, that they would induce the Government to abandon a policy which had failed for nearly a century, and might induce it to bring in remedial measures for Ireland, which, even though they might not solve the Irish question, might, at least, secure a breathing time for English reforms. They based their claims for justice, with regard to English legislation, on the representative system of England, and they could not ignore the representative system of Ireland, and hoped that their own would not also be ignored. The Government had, by their policy, driven the people of this country into greater solidarity with the people of Ireland, because the former perceived that they could not get justice for themselves so long as they refused justice to the Irish people. The Government might succeed by this Bill in stifling Ireland's voice of complaint, although he doubted it; but they would not succeed in silencing the organized utterances of England's sympathy with Ireland, which now surged and rose like the voice of many waters.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (London)
said that having taken no part in the long debates on this Bill, he begged to congratulate the Chief Secretary for 116 Ireland upon the perseverance and ability with which he had conducted this measure through the House, and the more especially was he pleased with the result, as he understood hon. Members opposite to imply on former occasions that no legislation should take place while the present Government were in Office. ["No, no!"] He maintained that this was not a Coercion, but a Peace Preservation, Bill, and on that ground he had given the Government a loyal support in their endeavour to pass it. In 1881 he and the Party to which he belonged had supported the measure introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, because he had always held that when a Government, on its responsibility, came down to the House and said that they wanted power to maintain law and order, it was the duty of every Member to support them under such circumstances. The way in which the present Government had been treated by the Opposition contrasted very unfavourably with the treatment accorded to the Government of six years ago. Times had changed, and hon. Gentlemen now opposed the principles they advocated in 1881; but the Party he belonged to was a loyal Party, who would give their assistance to the Government of the day in support of law and order, no matter how much, they might differ with them in other respects. He thanked the Government that they had under the greatest difficulties persevered in carrying this Bill to its third reading.
§ MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's Co., Ossory)
said, that the hon. Baronet who had just sat down (Sir Robert Fowler) had told them that the Party opposite was a loyal Party. Well, there were two points of loyalty—loyalty to the Crown, and loyalty to the Constitution. He began to think that those who sat on the Irish Benches were as loyal to the Crown as hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they were loyal to the British Constitution which the Tories by the methods they had pursued in that House and by that Bill had abrogated. There was a feeling on those Benches that hon. Members opposite hated them, and there was much in their conduct to give rise to that feeling; but he could not help thinking there were many hon. Gentlemen among the Conservatives in England, and also on the Benches opposite, 117 who did not believe the falsehoods which had been circulated concerning the Irish Members, and who believed in their secret hearts that the Irish Members in opposing that Bill had been acting throughout from, a sincere desire to do what they believed to be the best for their constituents and the country. He believed that as the result of this Bill serious crime would be increased, and that the power, influence, and prestige of what Lord Hartington had called the Revolution any Party in Ireland would be augmented, and he would tell them why. The Irish tenants had been taught by the Parliamentary Party to look for protection from unjust evictions to combination; but by that Bill the Government were seeking to do away with combination. As sure as they prevented the tenants from being able to combine so surely would crime and the old state of things before the National League was started and the present Party arose be revived and intensified. The Government had laid the meshes of their Bill so carefully that some Members of the Irish Nationalist Party would be entangled and would be sent to prison. Did they suppose that was the way to make the Bill succeed? The only result would be that a halo of glory would be thrown around those men, and their influence would be increased. It was a high moral duty for the Members of his Party to make this Bill a failure. They intended to carry on this agitation for their rights as a nation, no matter how much they might curtail their liberties. When they appealed to the people of this country they would remind them of all that Ireland had suffered, and the response which the Government would receive to their Coercion Bill would be very disappointing indeed. The Tories not very long ago had stated that coercion was unnecessary, and yet they were passing the moat drastic Coercion Bill ever introduced into the House. It remained for the Irish Members to drive the Government one step further and make them acknowledge that they could not govern Ireland by coercion, and that the only method to govern that country was by conciliation and good will. Another reason they should oppose the Coercion Bill was because it abrogated the rights and privileges of the British Constitution, which they were anxious to retain,
§ MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid
said, that astonishment had sometimes been expressed that he, as a Roman Catholic, should be found amongst the opponents of Home Rule; but Cardinal Cullen was just as much opposed as he was to Home Rule, as was evident from a passage from the writings of the Cardinal, in which he said that the movement for Home Rule sprang from the same spirit of revolution which the Holy See had condemned when it manifested itself in Italy, and in which moreover he went on to predict that if ever the liberty and the interests of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland were attacked, it would be by an Irish Parliament. He (Mr. De Lisle) had reason to believe that many Irish Bishops and priests held the same view as Cardinal Cullen, and he had also reason to believe that his (Mr. De Lisle's) opinion was shared by the great majority of educated Roman Catholics. That House was now going to pass a Coercion Bill as it was called. Well, in a certain sense it was a Coercion Bill, for so long as the Irish endeavoured to realize a separate Irish Nationality, he should always stand up for coercion so far as to prevent Irishmen from violating the laws of the United Kingdom. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) said that he was fighting for the unity of the Empire, and asked what they on that side of the House were fighting for? He (Mr. De Lisle) would never disguise his sentiments. What were they fighting for? He was not prepared to say that they were fighting merely for the unity of the interests of the Empire. The federation scheme might embody a very good principle; but at present they were fighting for the unity of the United Kingdom. They believed it was essential for the welfare of England that only one Parliament and one Executive should exist in these Islands. So long as a separate Parliament was the aim of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and the Party who followed him, the right hon. Gentleman would receive his most earnest opposition. The hon. Member then referred to a manifesto put forward by an Irish Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, declaring it to be the first and most sacred duty of an Irishman to rebel against the English Government. As a reward for these sentiments he had been promoted to the responsible position 119 of president of Thurles seminary by Archbishop Croke. Thurles was, next to Chaynooth, the largest ecclesiastical college in Ireland. The Plan of Campaign had also been spoken of by an Irish Roman Catholic ecclesiastic as almost emanating from Divine inspiration; and probably when hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway obtained an Irish Parliament, its walls would be decorated by a picture representing the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) receiving the Divine afflatus. He himself was one of those who held that before any remedial measures could be effectually applied to Ireland they must restore law and order and social morality in that country. Addressing the Grand Jury, Mr. Justice O'Brien only the other day had given a very graphic description of the condition of the County of Clare He said—All accounts concur in representing that no kind of improvement whatsoever has taken place. All these reports lead me, I regret to say, to the inevitable conclusion that this County of Clare possesses the had distinction of being the worst part of all Ireland in respect of social disturbance and disorder.If that was so, County Clare would probably also have the distinction of being the first county to be proclaimed under that Bill. The learned Judge went on to say the Reports—Lead me to the further conclusion that the County of Clare is worse at present than it has been at any time before. The record of the actual crime is not the worst evil you have to deal with. You know there is another and a greater evil that stares you in the face every day, and that is the evil of intimidation, open or unexpressed, that permeates the whole of this community.The object of that Bill was to get rid of that constant and cruel petty tyranny which made life in many parts of Ireland absolutely unbearable. The authors of the miseries which the Irish people were now undergoing were those who for political purposes were making war upon the landlords. The object of those persons was to ruin the Irish landlords, and with the Irish landlords they would ruin all classes in the country. Such persons were the greatest enemies of their own fellow-countrymen. He thought that he had said enough as an Englishman and a Catholic to establish the position he had taken up. In the most earnest hope that peace and prosperity would be restored to our unhappy 120 Sister Country, he intended to give his most cordial support to Her Majesty's Government in this matter.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN (Cork Co., N.E.)
Mr. Speaker, I have not the slightest notion of endeavouring to criticize the performance of the hon. Member who has just enlivened the proceedings of the House. I can assure the hon. Gentleman, for my own part, that I do not hate him, as he seems to suppose; but on no account whatever can I so love him as to treat him as a very serious or formidable opponent. However we may regard him, we may very well give to what he has called the superior race the credit of having produced the hon. Gentleman and of having produced the arguments to which he has treated the House. Sir, I rise because I do not like to allow this Bill to pass without saying some few words in protest. I may say from the point of view of those in Ireland on whom I dare say the weight of this Bill is intended to fall—and before I say anything on the subject I will first of all say that I believe there is nothing in the whole career of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) which will have made a deeper impress upon the Irish heart than his brave and steadfast defence to the last hour to-night against this disgraceful Bill. It was impossible, Sir, to listen to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman without feeling upon which side in this quarrel—in this controvesy—is the magnanimity and the greatness, which, I confess, if I were an Englishman, I should like to see characterizing the statesmen of a powerful Empire like this. The right hon. Gentleman has been assailed almost as scurrilously as the Representatives of the Irish people—assailed because he would not hold his arms, and because he did not attempt to tie our arms also while the liberties of the Irish people were being outraged in this House in every way they liked, and as infamously as they liked, by a majority of not 100 men of this House, who were elected, I say, not to rush a Coercion Bill through the House, but to prove that coercion was unnecessary. Yes; I say these men undertook to prove to England that Ireland could be governed by this Parliament upon equal and upon sisterly terms with England. The right hon. Gentleman has been attacked for his resistance to this 121 Bill; but I tell you that if the object of this Bill is not merely one to trample down our unfortunate people—if the object of this legislation, as those who promote it pretend it is, to bring peace and goodwill between these two countries, the action of the right hon. Gentleman, his brave resistance to this Bill, will do more, and has done more, to tranquillize Ireland—to drive enmity to England from Irish hearts—has done more in that way than this Coercion Bill could do if every clause of it could be administered with a rod of iron for the next 100 years in Ireland. Sir, if this Bill is received in Ireland without any outbreaks of passion or despair, you will have to thank the stringency of its provisions—not the stringency of your clôture—you will have to thank the thorough-going and determined resistance the Liberal Party gave the Bill through every stage of its course through the House; and I will tell you why, because it has brought home to the minds of the Irish people that there is now a great Party—a great English Party in this House that will not stand by and see our unfortunate people trampled down and crushed down under the heel of every landlord whipper - snapper. [Ironical cheers.] I hear hon. Members opposite jeer—they seem to imagine that the clôture is an invention solely for the benefit of the Tory Party; but, Sir, I would tell them that the friends we have got in this House now are the Party that has been in power in this Empire for the greater part of the century, and it is not altogether impossible that they may be in power again. The Spalding election, at all events, shows this much, that Englishmen have now begun to insist upon examining this question and inquiring into this question themselves; and they are beginning, the moment they have begun to examine it seriously, to revolt against the lying stuff—the poisonous stuff—that has been poured into their ears. The Irish people recognize that a spirit of friendliness towards Ireland is arising in English minds, and they reciprocate it honestly; and whatever troubles there may be before us in Ireland—and there are a good many in the way of petty tyranny and suffering and oppression—but whatever there may be before us in Ireland we are glad to 122 find that Englishmen are willing to risk something, to sacrifice something, in order that the two peoples may shake hands in friendship, and our answer is—so are we ready to meet them halfway, and more than half-way; and, whatever may be the régime of the right hon. Gentleman the Dictator for Ireland within the next few months, no amount of provocation, no amount of defamation from The Times newspaper, will drive us from that position. I do not know whether I should be in Order in referring very briefly, as I should like to do, to my own experiences within the last month or two among the men—[Interruptions]—If hon. Gentlemen opposite heard me out they would perhaps economize their jeers. I should like to say something of my experiences among the men of the great and powerful nation whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) is so fond of speaking of as foreign conspirators. I hope I may be in Order in doing it, because I believe it has a most vital, powerful, and direct bearing upon this Bill; and I tell you, if you only knew the men, the millions of men, who are branded as foreign conspirators, and whom Englishmen are taught to regard as murderers and assassins, that opinion of them would soon vanish. I admit they are foreign, technically; who made them foreigners? If they have been conspirators for Ireland, it is legislation like this that has made them conspirators, and it is legislation of this sort that would keep them so, and that would rankle the sense of bitterness that runs in these men's hearts. I tell you this—and I think we may fairly claim that we have not disguised our thoughts from friends or foes, whether they were pleasant or unpleasant to hear—I tell you here to-night, with solemn sense of the responsibility, that if you want to make friends of that great Irish-American nation—[laughter]—and in spite of the jeers of hon. Members opposite, I will say that truer or nobler or sincerer friends never poured out their lives and substance in any good cause—I tell you, if you want to conciliate these men—to make them friends and not to insult them and revile them—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has placed it in the power of England to do it. How 123 long that may be true while this brutal Coercion Bill is in force I do not undertake to answer—I am not sure I can answer even for myself; but with my life I answer that it is true to-day; and I only wish that hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they are not utterly blinded by Party interest—I will not say baser considerations—would only go out there and see these men for themselves, and not trust to the foul and miserable and infamous libels that are circulated here in England for the purpose of poisoning and aggravating the soreness between the two Countries. That is the point you have reached to-day in the relations between the two Countries; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian may esteem it one of the proudest—aye, the proudest achievement of his life, for it is a point which no English conqueror ever reached before in Ireland with all your armies and all your Coercion Acts—you have conquered, you have won the good opinion and the goodwill of many a million of Irishmen who three years ago could scarcely bear to hear the name of England without a curse, and I say it would be a miserable day's work and an unhappy day's work for the two Countries if by the operation of this wretched Bill you sacrifice and destroy all the work that the right hon. Gentleman has done. If you do that, and you may easily do that—if you do that for what? Let me ask you for what? To enable something like a couple of dozen of landlord desperadoes in Ireland—men like Lord Clanricarde and Colonel O'Callaghan; professional firebrands like Hamilton, who is carrying out evictions at Coolgreany to-day—all to enable these men to boast that they can enforce their rights against our poor people—their legal rights which your own legal tribunals have branded as dishonest, and which your own Tory Prime Minister the other night in the House of Lords disclaimed and reprobated and felt ashamed of. Well, Sir, I do not, of course, pretend to say to what extent this Coercion Act is going to be successful in Ireland; I can hardly help thinking that the taunts that are sometimes addressed to us on the subject, when men boast of the powers of coercion in Ireland, that they are not very brave, that they are a little premature. I confess that if I were an Englishman I 124 should be a little ashamed of some of the taunts that are levelled at us, who are fighting against and struggling against frightful odds. You have destroyed 3,000,000 of our population within this generation. You have weakened us down to less than 5,000,000 to-day. Our own people, the very flower of them, are still flying from the unfortunate country at the rate of 2,000 a week. You have 40,000 bayonets at the throats of the unfortunate people who remain. [Cries of "No !"] Yes; and our only satisfaction is that you pay for them too. You have disarmed us of every weapon—you are disarming us now of our organization—you are disarming us of the poor weapons of our tongues and our pens. You have gagged the Representatives of our own people in this Parliament, and even with all that apparently your minds are not very much at ease. Some of your foremost statesmen are not above bragging with all these savage Coercion Acts and loyal armies and spies that you will succeed in trampling us down. [An hon. MEMBER: Speak up !] I will—you will hear me, I promise you. I am commenting upon the gallantry of some of your Party in bragging as of a great achievement that would redound to the honour of England—that you will be able by all these Bills to show our unfortunate people that they are to be plundered by rack-renters like Lord Clanricarde and Colonel O'Callaghan of rackrents which I will say not a man of you could stand up honestly and defend. That may be all very gallant. I do not say it may come to pass; possibly it may. I do not think it will. I do not intend entering here to-night—it is not necessary for me to enter—into the reason why I believe that decimated though we are, and poor though we are, and crushed though we will be under this Bill, that the Irish people will be a match for this Coercion Bill. That, at all events, is my belief. I do not believe you are going to crush us. I cannot pretend to have the smallest apprehension that you are even going to crush the Plan of Campaign, nor to talk of crushing the spirit and organization and power of the Irish race throughout the world. You cannot do it. You are not going to coerce us into crime, and I confess—I do not know—I suppose it would be out of Order, perhaps, for me to speak my full mind about the subject, 125 but I confess I hardly think that it would not be a fit title for this Bill—of course I do not impute that it was so intended by the men who framed it, but I say it is the inherent and innate tendency of this Bill—that it is a Bill to coerce us into crime, which does not exist—a Bill to bolster-up the forlorn and disgraceful libels and forgeries of The Times—a Bill to play the game of these virtuous politicians who have nothing but words of insult upon their lips for us now—who two years ago or less were not above bargaining for our votes—aye, and in one memorable instance aspiring to be our National apostle. You are dealing with a spirit which is beyond the powers of such men as these, and perhaps a little beyond their comprehension. You are not dealing merely with a handful of us here, nor with a few thousand poor tenants in Ireland, but you are dealing with a spirit—well, somehow I cannot, without something like a chill, speak in this place, before this audience, of what is sacred to us, but this much I will say, that you are dealing with a spirit which has its life in the history of ages long gone by, and which will live as long as there is blood in the heart of one Irishman. You are dealing with a spirit which the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has already half conciliated—which it will conciliate altogether if you let it, but which I tell you you will never suppress. There is only one thing I feel almost as well assured of, and that is that the sooner this Act is put in force, and the more savagely administered by Sergeant Peter O'Brien, of Dublin, the sooner honest men and generous men in England will rise up and drive that Government from their wicked and dishonouring work in Ireland, and will back the man who repudiated this Bill, and I say it here tonight, who has closed, and closed for ever, the heart-rending and shameful story of this Government, and hatred and wrong between the two countries.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said, that last year he ventured in the House to state that he had 85 reasons for objecting to Home Rule in Ireland, and that those 85 reasons sat below the Gangway opposite. He would ask any right-minded man who had listened to the speech which had just been delivered by the hon. Member for North East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) whether the 126 Irish Loyalists had not some ground for objecting to place themselves under a Government in Ireland of which the hon. Member for North-East Cork would be a prominent Member. The hon. Member for North-East Cork occupied a distinguished position in the Separatist Party. He was now one of the principal lieutenants of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). His words, therefore, must have considerable weight from the fact that he occupied that position. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and his Friends had the habit of tolling them that if they only passed a Home Rule Bill and placed the Government of Ireland under the authority of the hon. Member for North-East Cork and similar persons Ireland would become a loyal, a peaceful, and a happy country, devoted to the British Crown. These observations were made in the House of Commons and to the English constituencies. It was the English edition of Home Rule, but he (Colonel Saunderson) did not believe that the commonsense and the patriotism of either the House of Commons or the English constituencies would be carried away with such a muddy flood of saponaceous lather. It was his duty as an Irish Loyalist to draw the attention of the House of Commons and of the country not to speeches made within those walls, nor to those made within the borders of the English constituencies, but to the harangues made in their native country by the patriots sitting below the Gangway opposite, and he was happy to know that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had furnished him with a specimen of the love which he bore to the Party which he hoped would soon have supreme authority in England. The hon. Gentleman had just come back from America, and in his speech he asked whether he would be in Order if he gave some of his experiences in that country. He listened with great attention to the hon. Member, but he heard nothing whatever of those experiences. The only thing which the hon. Member told the House was that on the other side of the Atlantic there was a powerful race which once lived in Ireland but were now living in America; and then he went on to say that we had hunted the 3,000,000 Irishmen from their native country to become exiles in 127 a foreign land. When an Englishman left his country he was called an emigrant, but when an Irishman left his country he was called an exile. He had never heard that in the German House of Representatives the Germans attacked their Government because an enormous number of emigrants left Germany every year to seek increased prosperity in America and other lands. Would the hon. Member wish to bring back these 3,000,000 of more or less prosperous Irishmen out of the United States and place them in the wilds of Connemara, Galway, and Cork? Would he get up and say deliberately, loving his countrymen as no doubt the hon. Member did, that he would have them leave their thriving occupations in the United States and come back again to the mud cabins of Connemara? The hon. Member went on to say that he and his Friends were ready to meet the Loyalists half-way. He would like to say what that half-way house was. Coming back from America the hon. Member landed in Cork and the first thing he did was to make a speech which he (Colonel Saunderson) would proceed to quote from. The paper from which he would quote was United Ireland, whose authority the hon. Member would not dispute. The hon. Member said—The last night I slept in America one of the last messages I had was a message to Charles Stewart Parnell with a cheque for £5,000 of English money. This is the work of our friends in America; this is their pledge. I have given them a pledge in return on your part, and it is this, and I do not fear to repeat it here to-day, that come what will, whatever little wretched terrors of coercion like Mr. Balfour—whatever bogies or terrors of coercion he may shake in our faces, I pledged for you in America and you will redeem the pledge—I promise here to-day that this cause will go on and that all this great Army of Irish freemen will march unconquered and unconquerable until we have trampled down the Loyalists in the last ditch.There they were. Parenthetically he might remark, and the House would understand, that Irish landlords, at any rate, objected to that. He (Colonel Saunderson) would have the House mark what followed—And until we have hauled down the flag of Orange ascendancy and of English rule for evermore from the highest pinnacle in this land.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, that as the hon. Member was the editor and proprietor of the journal from which he quoted, the hon. Gentleman ought to have exercised more accurate supervision in the management of his paper.
MR. W. O'BEIEN
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will allow me to say that owing to my absence I have not been of late able to interpose in any way in the management of United Ireland.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, that he would accept at once the correction of the hon. Member. Still, at any rate, the hon. Member hoped in the immediate future to trample all Loyalists "in the last ditch" and to haul down the flag of England and Ireland. That was the love which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian by his policy had aroused in the breasts of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. He would turn for a moment to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. When he heard that the right hon. Gentleman proposed to move the rejection of the Bill he did not try to imagine what he would say, for no mortal man could imagine that; but he imagined what he would not say, and he was absolutely correct in the supposition he arrived at. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman would make an eloquent speech—he always did that—and he knew that he would allude to the various difficulties of government in Ireland. But he knew also that the right hon. Gentleman would not say one single word about the National League, or about the terrorism and coercion which it exercised in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his oration, gave no indication why it was, and when it was, that he changed his opinion of hon. Members below the Gangway who were now his Friends, and of the organization which, in the immediate past, he had blasted with all the force of his eloquent denunciation trumpeted throughout the country. Neither in that House nor in the country, as far as he was able to learn, had the right hon. Gentleman ever indicated why, or when, it was that this wonderful change took place which he imagined must have taken place before the right hon. Gentleman consented to place hon. Members below the Gangway in supreme authority in Ireland—with a Parliament in Dublin—and to believe 129 that the creation of the National League Party would tend to the happiness and prosperity of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman was a master of the art of political shunting, and he turned the attention of the House and the country from the main issue, which he objected to and did not like to confront, to a side issue which he found more to his taste and which could be more easily dealt with. Thus the right hon. Gentleman spent a large portion of his speech tonight, not in dealing with the main issue, but in dealing with crime and statistics of crime, which, he said, alone could justify a Coercion Act. He (Colonel Saunderson) had never heard right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench say that it was the amount of crime in Ireland that justified the introduction of this Bill. Nobody who knew Irishmen believed for a moment that they were naturally a criminal people. He believed that they were naturally averse to crime; but it was when they were maddened into excitement that crimes were committed which would sully the annals of any land. That was not the issue to be decided. It was rather this—What authority was to rule in Ireland? Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite hoped to get rid of the landlords, and by getting rid of them getting rid also of that dual ownership which was supposed to be a curse to Ireland. There was something worse than the dual ownership of land; the dual ownership of Ireland was at stake; it was owned by the National League and by the Queen; and what Parliament had to deal with was an organization which had usurped the authority of the law of the land, established its Courts all over the country, summoned before its Courts those who did not obey its edicts, and asserted its superiority to the Law Courts of the land. Her Majesty's Government had felt that unless they adopted the policy of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, which was surrender to the National League, it was absolutely imperative on the House of Commons to reinforce the law of the land and to make it supreme in Ireland. So long as the Irish remained a law-abiding people, so long the Bill would remain a dead letter. He had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, hoping to hear some 130 instance of how the Bill would interfere with any law-abiding man; but the right hon. Gentleman never touched upon that point, but contented himself with saying that the Government was passing a Bill for Ireland which they would not dare to propose for England or Scotland. That assertion he (Colonel Saunderson) denied; for if the same organization existed in England that existed in Ireland, if the English tenantry had their cattle killed and houghed in the field, if their houses were burned and their lives were not safe, Parliament would quickly pass a Bill to deal with such a state of things. That was all the Government proposed to do in Ireland. The Bill would not interfere with any real liberty except the liberty of the criminal to commit crime, except the liberty of the political agitator to preach treason, which would be put down by the strong hand in England, in Ireland, or in Scotland. The object of the Bill was to enable tenants to enjoy the gifts Parliament had already conferred on them, to enable them to buy and sell without let or hindrance. The Bill would not be used for trampling down the liberties of Irishmen, or interfering with them in the ordinary business of life; but it was a Bill to deal with an organization which had proved to be the curse of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian never mentioned the National League; but he spoke euphemistically of combination. He did not mention Boycotting; but he spoke of exclusive dealing. Yet, when he was Prime Minister, he had said that the path of the former League had been tracked with blood, murder, and outrage; he treated it as a criminal organization, and he put it down. The right hon. Gentleman never mentioned the present organization, founded for treasonable and felonious purposes, maintained by money sent by the avowed enemies of England in America; but he proposed to place Ireland under its authority. Lord Spencer once said at Newcastle that remedial measures for Ireland had been passed that were so strong that it strained the loyalty of many English Members to carry them; and yet the effective operation of these remedial measures was prevented by those who wanted to get the government of the country into their own hands. The pre- 131 sent Government intended that these measures should be allowed to take effect; they intended to prevent any organizations setting its foot upon Her Majesty's subjects and depriving them of their just right to enjoy the remedial measures passed by Parliament. It was the object of hon. Members opposite to prevent attention being concentrated on the issue whether Parliament or the National League was to be supreme; they wanted to divert the gaze of the public to the Irish landlords, whom they knew to be a rather unpopular class. They had chosen two test cases—Glenbeigh and Bodyke. At Glenbeigh an arrangement was progressing between the landlord and the tenants when a League meeting was held, and the parish priest was so disgusted by what followed that he called the people slaves. It turned out that an English lawyer into whose hands the property had fallen had made a most generous offer—namely, to accept one half-year's rent for six years' arrears due. At Bodyke the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) informed them the people did not adopt the Plan of Campaign.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said, the statements of the hon. and gallant Mem-were very inaccurate. What he had said was that he did not interfere until he was sent for to Bodyke, five months ago, and the tenants adopted the Plan of Campaign on his advice.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, that made his argument the stronger. He wished to show that the Bodyke estate was chosen to test the Plan of Campaign. It was not his business to defend Colonel O'Callaghan. He believed Colonel O'Callaghan went as far as the law would permit in asserting his rights. But there were redeeming qualities in him which had not been mentioned. When he came into his property there were £6,000 of arrears due which he wiped off. Then there were the Bodyke evictions. Now, he hated evictions, and tried to avoid them. But these evictions were on the judicial rents, and he was astounded to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) hold up to execration the whole class of Irish landlords because one of them chose to hold by the bargain which the right hon. Gentleman himself had made. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that Colonel O'Callaghan was a type of Irish 132 landlords. He (Colonel Saunderson) might just as well say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby was a favourable specimen of English statesmen. He hoped for a favourable result from the passing of this Bill, because it would relieve the tenantry of Ireland from the grinding tyranny of the National League. He had before alluded in that House to the men Troy who gave evidence on the Cowper Commission, but who were afraid to give their names; but so soon as this Bill had been introduced they at once consented to their names being mentioned in that House. He had recently had a letter from one of these men, in which he said they wrote a letter appealing for justice, or, if not, for mercy, to an hon. Member of that House who was Secretary of the Land League in Dublin, and got no answer.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
There is not a word of truth in the statement that these men ever wrote a letter to me.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
If the hon. and gallant Member does not believe my word, I can tell him that the people of Ireland will believe my word before they will believe that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, he would, of course, take the hon. Member's word that he did not receive such a letter; but the letter might, nevertheless, have been written. The men said they wrote it, and he believed them. At any rate, they got no justice from the National League—who would listen to no appeal—by which they had been fined and ruined. It was with cases of that sort that this Bill would deal. The tenants were ground down and tyrannized over by the League much more than by landlords, and the Bill would relieve them from that tyranny. Now, he wanted to ask a most serious question. How was it that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian came to change his mind? How was it that as his alternative scheme for the government of Ireland he proposed to place in supreme authority men whom he had previously branded in his speech at Edinburgh as unworthy of confidence? The right hon. Gentleman in that speech had urged the danger of a state of things in which it would be in the power of the 133 Nationalist Party to say to the Liberal Party—" Do this, or do that." It would not be safe, he said, to enter into consideration of the principles of a measure at every step of which the Irish Party might threaten to turn them out to-morrow. Yet, when he got into power, the right hon. Gentleman was himself the first to fall a victim to this temptation. The right hon. Gentleman, in a recent letter addressed to the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), said that his position was exactly the same as it was on the 8th of April, 1886. The right hon. Gentleman was geographically in error. His mind might be in the same position, but his seat was now on the other side of the Table. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his coadjutors were able, as the Representatives of the Irish people, to demand in the name of the Irish people a measure which it would be very difficult to show that he had ever condemned. Why, the right hon. Gentleman must have forgotten all his speeches for six years when he was thus whitewashing the men whom he had subjected to such, terrible denunciations a few years ago. If hon. Gentlemen opposite, in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, were unworthy of confidence, were marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire a few years ago, when there were only 40 of them working—now there were 86 of them—did he forget absolutely those terrible denunciations? All he could say was that the right hon. Gentleman's ideas of morality—especially political morality—were absolutely diverted, and were not such as he could accept. Had the Nationalist Party changed in their methods and their objects? To show that they had not he would quote the hon. Member for North-East Cork and another celebrated Leader of the Party, Mr. Davitt. At Bodyke Mr. Davitt showed that he had not changed one iota since the right hon. Gentleman uttered those words. Mr. Davit said—I trust every young man here to-day will have registered in his heart a vow which I made 30 years ago, to bear in my heart towards England and English government all the concentrated hatred of my Irish nature.If that Party was unchanged, he (Colonel 134 Saunderson) confessed he could not reconcile the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian with loyalty to the Crown, with loyalty to the Empire, and with loyalty to the Union. He had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman had persuaded himself, from his point of view, that he was taking a conscientious and patriotic course, and he admitted that many of the right hon. Gentleman's followers probably held the same opinion; but he believed that they were led away by the glamour of a great name and great eloquence. He believed that when, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman went to another and more peaceful scene—[Cries of "Oh, oh !" and "Order !"]—he was not speaking of Heaven; he was speaking of the House of Lords, then he believed the cause which the right hon. Gentleman now maintained in the House of Commons would die a natural death. Far be it from him to wish any evil to the right hon. Gentleman. It was true that they were political opponents, but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman might long be spared to sit on the Opposition Bench. He looked upon the right hon. Gentleman as the sheet anchor of the Unionist Party. The right hon. Gentleman might persuade himself that he was taking a patriotic course in pursuing a policy which he (Colonel Saunderson) regarded as being destructive of the best interests of the country; but it was his duty to tell the right hon. Gentleman that in his view, and in the view of those who sympathized with him, the right hon. Gentleman was pursuing a course which indicated that he was willing to betray and to sell his country.
§ SIR EDWARD REED (Cardiff)
I desire to say a few words before this Bill is read a third time. It is not a very happy sign of the times that the speech which we have just listened to is so entirely satisfactory to the bulk of the Party opposite that they do not require to hear any more upon the subject. In my opinion, the speech to which we have just listened is of a kind and description which is fast passing out of date and losing its power, and some better reason for the pressing of a Coercion Bill through Parliament will have to be found than any which the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Saunderson) has adduced. It is rather an extraordinary circumstance in itself 135 that the very reasons which are adduced by the Government for the pressing forward of this Bill are precisely the reasons why I am most strenuously opposed to it. Now, we are told that this Bill has been brought into the House and pressed forward in the interests of Imperial unity—of the unity and power of the Empire. I am one of those who think that the power and unity of this Empire rest upon the power and greatness of this Parliament. I am of opinion—and it is now passing beyond the region of opinion, and becoming with me a matter of fact—that the measures which have been necessary in order to carry this Bill through this Parliament have been such as to strike a permanent blow at the authority and influence of this House. And if I were asked to find out one among all the disintegrating influences which are operating on this Empire at the present time; if I were required to point to that which, in my judgment, is doing the most harm to the Imperial power of this country, I should point to the debasement of this Parliament which this Bill has made necessary in order to secure its passage. I cannot help asking myself sometimes, how far ahead have the Government looked in connection with this matter? I myself am one who would not, as a lover of Imperial power and unity, yield one iota to any right hon. Gentleman or hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House. I am one of those who listen to speeches like the one we have just listened to, and who witness the hilarity which has been exhibited by the Tory Party over that speech, with regret and alarm and with shame, for I regard such speeches as marks of the deterioration of this House. Now, let me ask the Tory Party opposite whether they have considered what will be the consequence in future days of the adoption of the closure, and of the other measures which we have had put into force in the pressing forward of this Bill? When a democratic majority comes into this House, and, as possibly may be the case, seeks to carry a measure inimical to the rights of property of the country, what precedent will they require for forcing their measure through Parliament but this precedent which the Government have set them in pressing forward this Bill? The power they will use is the power this Government has placed in 136 their hands. Before the late Government fell, and when the question of Home Rule for Ireland was before the country, I was asked, why are you going to vote for that Bill? and the answer I gave was—" I am going to vote for the Bill in the interests of Parliament and the country, and of all the Empire." I gave that reply for this reason—that it was a palpable necessity that you should either give a system of government to Ireland which would satisfy the Irish Representatives in all that was reasonable and proper, whether they remained in this House or went out of it, or resort to measures which can only be carried by an invasion of Parliamentary freedom, and of all that has made the Parliament of England memorable, venerable, and worthy. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) whether, when he leaves Office, when his Government is overthrown, he will leave this Parliament in the same condition as he found it in when he entered Office? This Parliament has been, in my judgment, degraded and weakened to a most frightful extent by the practices resorted to. I am quite aware that there existed in this Parliament possibilities of obstruction, and methods and habits which were exceedingly injurious to the credit and power of Parliament. Do not imagine I for one moment conceal that fact from myself; I am perfectly aware of it. I am perfectly aware that the state of things which existed during recent Parliaments could not have been maintained; it must have been got rid of in one way or another; and the question was, whether the change was to be brought about constitutionally, and to the satisfaction of the people of the country, or to be brought about unconstitutionally, and to the injury and hurt of Parliament and the Empire? I should like to know what the great Colonial Parliaments are beginning to think of this Parliament? [Ministerial ironical cheers.] Yes; but let me point out to hon. Gentlemen opposite who treat that remark derisively that they are, by their present tactics, creating issues which they have not yet had to face. For example, it may well happen in the pursuance of your present methods that you may be silencing the voice of the Representatives of the great towns in this 137 country in matters of this description. I confess I have not sought many opportunities; but I have had, before now, no opportunity, although representing, I believe, more people than any other borough Representative in this House—I have had no opportunity of saying a word on this Bill. If you adopt methods by which the Representatives of the great boroughs and counties of this country are silenced in this House, what will be the consequences? They will appeal to their constituents, and they will do more, they will decline to be silenced. I maintain that it is not within the Constitutional right of the majority of this House to silence the minority whenever they please; and if they attempt to do so it will lead to rebellion such as we have never had in this country, because it is the function of Parliament to meet together to discuss, with whatever fulness the Representatives of the people desire, all questions which come before them. Now, I should like to revert to one or two points which have been incidentally mentioned in the speech to which we have just listened. I must confess that, of all the extraordinary doctrines to which I have listened in the debate on this Bill, the most extraordinary is that this Bill will hurt nobody but those who break the law. But this consideration neglects some of the fundamental facts of human nature and life. Suppose it to be true, as I believe it to be, and as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) pointed out to-night, that the liberties of the Irish people are to depend upon the will of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant—suppose you put me in that position, and tell me that all the time I do not break the law I am safe, but that I hold my freedom and liberty at the will of the right hon. Gentleman, I shall not care whether I am a law-breaker or not. I should regard such a state of things as an infringement on my natural right to freedom; and, whatever you say about law and order, I should fight against any man's individual will as my law. Therefore, I maintain that, in pressing such measures as this forward in the interest of what you call law and order, you are really assailing the very foundations of law and order, because you are removing not only the inducement the people have to obey the law and preserve order, but 138 you are raising their spirit against the law. The reason I have not much fear about this Bill being worked very mischievously, or lasting very long, as some people imagine it will, is that I am perfectly sure this Bill and its advocates will be swept away from power in the country because of this Bill and legislation of this kind. It has been boldly asserted to-night by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Saunderson) that if the people of England felt similar dissatisfaction, and resorted to the same means as some people of Ireland show and resort to, such a Bill as this would be passed for England, Why, everybody knows that the English people would never submit for a day or an hour to any Bill of this description under any conditions whatever; and the Irish people would never, and never ought, unless compelled by force. What obligation are Irishmen under to live under the condition that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant shall be the master of their liberty and freedom? What obligation has any Irishman to live peaceably under a state of things in which it rests with a Lord Lieutenant to create a law for him, control him, and to judge and deal with him as he pleases? The only justification, in my judgment, for such a Bill as this would be found in the fact that the Irish people were base enough to submit to it quietly. If I could believe that any free people in this age, with a free Press, with a Parliamentary right, could submit to the situation in which this Bill will place the people of Ireland, then I should believe they would have demonstrated their inferiority; and if they do not agitate against such a measure as this during every hour of its existence, in my opinion they will be unworthy of their ancestors, and unworthy of the present generation. I have not the slightest fear of this Bill prevailing, because I am certain its character has only to be brought clearly to the notice of the constituencies of this country and the constituencies will sweep it away. I am sure the people of England, when they come to understand this question, will never allow such an Act to continue in operation. I do not wish to exaggerate a single case, and I do not think I do so, when I say that we see, from recent events in Lincolnshire, that the people, when 139 they become informed of the nature of the case, will not permit the continuance of this Bill. My own opinion is that this Government will meet its fate because of this Bill, and I believe it will meet its fate before long. I do not think the Head of the Government, or the majority on that side of the House, have proved themselves lately very good judges of public feeling and sympathy. There have been signal instances in which they have proved themselves incapable of discerning even what the manifest sense of the House was; and I believe that in connection with this measure they are blind to the feelings which it will arouse in the country when the country comes to understand it. I believe that no one will stand a shadow of a chance on a Liberal platform who does not, in any future election, denounce this Bill as an infringement of the rights of the people of a great portion of the United Kingdom. That is my own firm conviction. [A laugh.] Yes; I have not trespassed many times upon the attention of the House in reference to this Bill, and I do not hesitate to say exactly what I think about it. Another remark that fell from the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Saunderson), or, rather, slipped from him, was very significant and true. He said that this Bill is to be used to put down political agitation. It is true that he added the words "to promote treason." We know what that means—to promote what he calls treason. Now, this is the age—this is the House—in which it is boldly declared that a measure is being passed to put down political agitation; and the Government think they are going to stand for long, and stand strongly, on such a basis as that? I think it is one of the most futile suggestions possible. I have great sympathy with the Government. ["Hear, hear !"] Yes, I have; because I know the Government have to deal with remarkable evils, and very great evils; and in what I am saying I am merely, as I think the House will admit, pointing out what will be the consequences of this measure. I believe the Government have made an entire mistake in proposing such legislation, and I think, from the indications I have observed, they are now arousing themselves to the fact that the country is beginning to ask, why has all this time been wasted upon a measure 140 of this description? They say it is on account of obstruction. Well. I should like to ask the Government whether any man upon that Bench ever doubted not only that resistance would take place, but that it would be the duty of the Irish Members to resist to the utmost possible extent a measure of this kind. Why, to suppose that they did not know that such a measure as this would take many months to pass is to accuse them of an amount of political incapacity which, I believe, it would be libellous to impute to them. The whole pretence that this Bill has been a long time in passing on account of obstruction is hollow and unreasonable. The marvel to me is that it has not been very much longer in getting through its stages, considering the presence in the House of 85 Irishmen, all of whom would have been traitors and renegades to their country, and to their constituents, if they had not done everything in their power to oppose this measure. Therefore, the Government are, and they must remain, in the view of the country responsible for the whole time which this Bill has taken up, and they ought to be very thankful they have got it through without any greater expenditure of time upon it, although, I believe, they ought to very much lament the means they have resorted to. I declare it appears to me that no evil could have befallen this Empire comparable to the evil which has befallen Parliament. Nothing the Irish people could have done could have worked the Empire more damage, more harm, than have the tactics resorted to in the passing of this Bill. There is one other remark I wish to make, and if I am not very consecutive in my observations, I hope it will be attributed to the fact that I am noticing a speech which was remarkable for its want of consecutiveness. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Saunderson) thought it was sufficient to say—he said it with great unction and force, an unction and force which seemed entirely disproportionate to the strength of his argument—that the evictions to which he was referring have taken place under judicial rents. That is the sort of argument adduced. I do not want to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews), and to refer to an unpleasant incident of recent date; but what does seem to me is, that 141 the Government fail to look beneath the superficial aspects of questions, or to see the reality. The other night the whole House felt perfectly well that the Home Secretary was speaking the absolute truth, and laying down a correct legal doctrine, though the speech he made failed to satisfy the House. What the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Matthews) failed to do was to peer through the outside technicalities of the question, and get at the root of it. This is what they fail to do who say that these evictions are based on judicial rents. What does that matter when you are turning people out-of-doors, out of the homes they may themselves have built? I do not think meanly enough, not only of Irish people, but of anyone in this United Kingdom, to believe that they would be turned out willingly or with acquiescence from property which is, in many instances, more their own than it is that of the person who is turning them out. I believe that the Government will have to get rid of these technicalities and their officialism, and deal a little more practically with this question. I say this because I have had opportunities of coming into contact with them asses of the people. The position I have always taken up with the approval of the people is that the Bill itself is wrong; that it puts the nation in a wrong, painful, and dangerous position; that it invites disorder, because of the fact that it has been carried by measures injurious to this Parliament, and likely to work immense mischief to the very people who have adopted the means resorted to. I believe that the Government are hollowing the foundation upon which they stand; and they will find out, and that very speedily too, that when the people of England awake to the actual situation they will decline to keep right hon. Gentlemen opposite in power as tyrants over any part of the United Kingdom. They will say, make such arrangements as you can for the protection of interests; but you shall respect the feelings of the people, because it is only by this means that you can keep Parliament and the country great and respected among nations.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
Mr. Speaker, I should not have intervened in the debate upon the third reading of this Bill had it not been for 142 the very extraordinary statements made to-night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). I think it only right that as I am, to a certain extent, responsible for what has been said to be the legal aspect of the question, I should, without further delay, comment as authoritatively as I can upon some of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was in a somewhat peculiar position a few nights ago, when we were discussing the question of the perpetuity of the Bill—when we were discussing an Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) as to whether the Bill should be made perpetual. We pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that that question depended to a great extent, if not entirely, upon the question of the evils against which the Bill is directed; and I ventured myself to point out to him that it was necessary he should make good his words, at some time or other, that this Bill was directed against political associations and not against crime. We have heard to-night the attempt of the right hon. Gentleman to make good his position. I ask those who listened to his speech, and who followed his references to the clauses of the Bill, singular and vague as they were, whether the right hon. Gentleman made good in any sense at all the observation he has often made that this Bill is directed against something other than crime? The right hon. Gentleman referred to a very extraordinary statement, or to a supposed utterance of Mr. Justice Holmes, when he was Attorney General for Ireland and occupied a seat in this House. Now, I had the honour of being associated with Mr. Justice Holmes for the last three months in endeavouring to put before the House the legal aspect of the clauses of this Bill. I have been in consultation with him repeatedly outside the House, and of course been associated with him upon this Bench night after night; I have heard his statements in the House, and do not believe that any such statements as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian attributes to him can be found in any of the speeches of my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Justice Holmes), [Cries of "Oh, oh !"] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen who cry "Oh, 143 oh !" will kindly give me the date upon which the statement was made—indeed, some hon. Members have said they will endeavour to supply us with the particulars; but hitherto they have wholly failed. It must be borne in mind that hon. Gentlemen themselves have admitted that upon some evening shortly afterwards Mr. Holmes denied the use of the words attributed to him; and it is, to say the least, unfortunate that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid. Lothian should have been made at a time when Mr. Justice Holmes is no longer in the House, and, therefore, is unable to reply Now, I will give my view of the Bill. I am responsible for my utterances, and they can be checked by hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite. I say there is no new crime created by this Bill—I say there is no new offence created by this Bill; but I say, and I have never denied it for a single moment, that the mode of punishment, the mode of detecting crime, is new—that is to say, new provisions are inserted in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, said to-night there are three classes of offences which are touched by this Bill—felonies, misdemeanours, and then he used the words triumphantly as being the words which he alleges were used by Mr. Justice Holmes, "offences constituted by this Bill." It certainly was a very inapt observation for any lawyer to have used. We know perfectly well there are sections in which the words "offences punishable under this Act" are used, and in which distinction has been drawn between, felonies, misdemeanours, and offences punishable under the Act. But if my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Holmes) used the expression attributed to him, I am quite certain it was with reference to some such question as that now under discussion—namely, the way in which particular clauses should be applied. He never used them for the purpose of indicating that new offences were created. But I do not want to shield myself, under the responsibility of my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Holmes). I will submit to any hon. Member opposite who will answer me fairly, from a lawyer's point of view, whether the provisions of the Bill are not exactly in accordance with what I say? Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian referred to Clause 2. He admitted that 144 the section of the clause which he considered Mr. Holmes was referring to was Section 2, or Clause 2 of the Bill now before the House. Now, Sir, what are the sub-sections of that clause to which the right hon. Gentleman referred? They are two, and I do crave the attention of the House, because I wish these matters to be argued out fairly and squarely. The 1st sub-section relates to criminal conspiracies now punishable by law, and I do not believe there is a lawyer in the House who values his reputation who will get up and say that the whole of the 1st sub-section is not governed by the words "criminal conspiracy now punishable by law." How did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian deal with it? Instead of taking the whole sentence and seeing what were the governing words, he read out the words—To induce any person or persons either not to fulfil his or their legal obligations, or not to let, hire, or use, or occupy any land, or not to deal with, work for, or hire any person or persons in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation.And then he went on to use the argument, which I do not think anybody will consider valid—namely, that in England anybody may induce a person to any extent he likes, that in Scotland anybody may induce any person as much as he likes, but that the same right is denied an Irishman. [Mr. BRYCE: Hear, hear !] The hon. and learned Member says "Hear, hear !" Will he get up and say that the whole of this sub-section is not governed by the words "criminal conspiracy now punishable by law?" No one has a right to take up the section, and for the purpose of argument break it up into two parts, and allege that the offence is to induce a person not to fulfil his obligations. The offence is a criminal conspiracy to induce a person not to fulfil his legal obligations. I am perfectly acquainted with the law of England, and I have ascertained what is the law of Scotland on this subject; and I assert it is wholly untrue to allege, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) did to-night, if he means to refer to Clause 2, that in England it is not a criminal offence to conspire to compel persons not to fulfil their legal obligations. [An hon. MEMBER: He did not say so.] I agree he did not say so, because he left out the 145 governing words of the clause, "criminal conspiracy now punishable by law." I leave it to the judgment of the House whether that is fair argument. The answer to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman is this—that if persons in England or Scotland at the present time enter into a conspiracy which is contemplated by this sub-section they commit an offence against the Criminal Law. When it was suggested that someone might think of a new kind of crime, what did the Government do? They inserted the words "now punishable by law," for the purpose of showing that new crimes were not contemplated, but that that which constituted a criminal conspiracy should still do so. I pass to the next sub-section, and here, again, the right hon. Gentleman certainly did, to my mind, fall into a most extraordinary mistake. He indicated to the House that intimidation of the character contemplated by Subsection 2 was a new offence, and he suggested that that was the new offence which was contemplated, or which was referred to, by Mr. Justice Holmes. The right hon. Gentleman supported his argument by some analogies drawn from the Trades Unions Statutes, and suggested that what we are endeavouring to do is to place on the tenants of Ireland greater obligations than we are willing to put on the people of England. I think the right hon. Gentleman confused, for a moment, the Conspiracy Subsection with the Intimidation Sub-section. If he was dealing with the Conspiracy Sub-section, I might again point out that the whole clause is governed by the words "criminal conspiracy now punishable by law; "but if he was dealing with the Intimidation Sub-section, it occurs to my mind he cannot very recently have read Section 7 of what is commonly called the Trades Unions Act, or the Act of 1875, with reference to the Law of Conspiracy. Sub-section 2 says—"Any person who shall wrongfully, and without legal authority, use violence, or intimidation," &c. Now, Section 7 of the Act of 1875 lays it down that anyone who, with the view of compelling any other person to abstain from doing what he has a legal right to do, or vice versâ, uses violence or intimidation towards him, or his wife, or his children, shall be liable to punishment under summary jurisdiction or by indict- 146 ment. That was the section referred to by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) when he spoke to-night of "picketing and molesting" in connection with trades unions. The words of the two sections are, practically speaking, identical from the point of view in which I am now considering the question—namely, the using of violence or intimidation to or towards any person or persons. If you bear in mind that in this Bill we are simply dealing with the object of the intimidation, with the object of the violence which we desire to put an end to, I say that this section and the 7th section of the Act of 1875 are practically identical. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian says that a new offence is created by Sub-section 2, I respectfully and emphatically deny it; and I say, except in that the offence of intimidation well known to the law, the offence of using violence well known to the law, is properly described in relation to the evil intended to be met, there is no creation of new crime. My right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Holmes) can no longer reply in this House; but I assert that no such statement attributed to him was ever made by him. Now, I wish to make a few observations on one or two other points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, because I am unwilling to allow any doubt or any uncertainty as to what is our view in regard to this matter. In support of his general allegation that this Bill is a Bill not against crime, but against political associations, the right hon. Gentleman said that if it had been a Bill against crime three-fourths of the time taken up in the discussion of the Bill would have been saved. [Mr. BRYCE: Hear, hear !] The hon. and learned Gentleman cheers that statement; but has he looked through the Amendments we have been discussing for the last few months? Has he got in his mind what the character of those Amendments was? And, what is more important, does he remember the clauses of the Bill upon which the discussion took place? The Amendments which were discussed for weeks and weeks were directed to those parts of the Bill which solely had to do with the punishment of crime, directed to those parts of the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman has to-night said were 147 perfectly legitimate. But what he says is that the Bill goes beyond the punishment of crime, and in some mysterious way steps into the region of what is called political organization. Whether the right hon. Gentleman is right or wrong, I assert—and I was present almost constantly during the debates upon the Amendments—that the Amendments were not directed to the part of the Bill which is supposed to have to do with political associations, but were directed to the parts which have to do with crime. Then the right hon. Gentleman made a most extraordinary statement, which I cannot allow for one moment to pass without notice. He said that the Bill was such that it put into the power of the Lord Lieutenant, or the Chief Secretary, to say that he, the right hon. Gentleman, if an Irishman, was to become a criminal beyond recall. The imagination of the right hon. Gentleman is most extraordinary. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Saunderson) that the right hon. Gentleman seems to reason himself into thinking that these extraordinary views are the result of calm and impartial consideration; but to say that the Lord Lieutenant, or the Chief Secretary, sitting in a secret chamber, can make the right hon. Gentleman a criminal beyond recall is, I submit to this House and to the country, language of the grossest exaggeration. What are the powers of the Chief Secretary? Is it true that this Bill enables either the Chief Secretary or the Lord Lieutenant to make a man a criminal beyond recall at his own will and without the slightest responsibility or publicity with regard to the act? Why, Sir, what is the state of the facts? The Chief Secretary, who is a Member of this House, must be prepared to justify his action, because, if he acts under Section 6, the Proclamation must be laid on the Table of the House within a very few days. He must show that he has been satisfied that there has been an association formed for the commission of crimes, for carrying on operations for or by the commission of crimes, or for encouraging or aiding persons to commit crimes, or for promoting or inciting to acts of violence or intimidation, or for interfering with the administration of the law or disturbing the maintenance of law and order. Every one of these 148 things are offences now. Every one of these things, if done now with criminal intent, are offences. If the Lord Lieutenant issues a Proclamation, the Chief Secretary has to justify the action of the Lord Lieutenant in this House. Does anyone suppose that the Chief Secretary, or any Government, would be so ridiculously absurd in their conduct, so ridiculously misguided, as to issue a Proclamation unless they were prepared to justify it by facts? [Laughter.] All I can say is that if hon. Members below the Gangway think that a Government which would so behave would be able to stand long they have not very much studied the history of this country. May I remind the House what the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was? The argument of the right hon. Gentleman was that the Lord Lieutenant was being substituted for the judicial tribunals of the country. Now, Sir, remembering that the action of the Lord Lieutenant has to be justified in this House, it does occur to me that it is not very many weeks ago that the right hon. Gentleman was declaiming against the Judges and juries of the land, and telling the House of Commons they were not fit persons to be entrusted to enter into inquiries under Section 6. To say that the Lord Lieutenant is substituted for the judicial tribunals of the land is, again, to use language of exaggeration. The Lord Lieutenant does not punish crime. The Lord Lieutenant, who is responsible to the Executive Government, and who acts under the advice of the Chief Secretary and the Cabinet, thinks it right, having information before him, to put into force the provisions of the Bill. The Chief Secretary must be prepared to justify the action of the Lord Lieutenant; but the punishment of offences rests with the tribunals, either constituted by the general law of the land, or by this Bill. Nobody will tell me that the Lord Lieutenant or the Chief Secretary has power to sit in judgment on the individual whom he has caused to be arrested. Every lawyer knows perfectly well that anybody offending against this Bill after a Proclamation is liable to be tried in the ordinary way. To suggest that the Lord Lieutenant is substituted for the ordinary judicial tribunals is exactly the same thing as to say that the magistrate 149 who reads the Riot Act is substituted for the tribunals that try the rioters afterwards. I have endeavoured to make the matter clear. I have endeavoured to make the House understand that it is against crime this Bill is directed; and I again challenge those who may speak in this debate after me, as I have more than once challenged the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), to point out that the Bill is directed otherwise than against crime. Now, Sir, let me say but one word more with regard to one or two matters to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. He told us that the state of facts does not justify the introduction or the passing of this Bill, and yet, at the same time, he admitted statistics showing that in 1886 crime was in advance of that which, in his opinion, justified the Coercion Bill of 1870. Sir, is Ireland more populous in 1887 than it was in the year 1869? Is Ireland supposed to have benefited in any measure at all by the legislation of the right hon. Gentleman? If things are, on the admitted figures of the right hon. Gentleman, worse and far worse in 1886 than they were in 1869, I am justified in appealing to the language of the right hon. Gentleman whose name has been already mentioned—Mr. Fortescue—who said in 1869 that the condition of things was intolerable, and that no step ought to be spared by the Government which would put an end to it. I Furthermore, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) told us that not-withstanding all which had been done, I think he said during the last 700 years, certainly for the last 100 years, notwithstanding his own legislation, this country held Ireland by force, and I believe that statement was cheered by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. "We have heard of slanders on the Irish people. We are said to have slandered the Irish people in order to introduce this Bill. I do not think there could be a much greater slander upon a people than to speak of them as a nation that is only held by force. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say there are not hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen in Ireland? It is known perfectly well that there are; and I say that the people who have to be restrained by force are not really subjects 150 of the Queen, but are those who, as I have said more than once in the course of these discussions, would go a very considerable distance towards declaring themselves the open and avowed enemies of Her Majesty the Queen. I suppose it will not be denied that there are persons against whose acts any Executive Government would be justified in taking most stringent measures to defeat any design which may take the form of rebellion. In regard to the supposed perpetuity of this Bill, I have pointed out that the Chief Secretary has stated that though the power of putting the provisions of the Bill in force has no limit of time, the operation of the Bill is most distinctly limited by the action of the Executive having regard to the condition of the country. If previous Crime Acts have failed, it has been, to a very great extent, because they were only passed for a short period. If the Act of 1882 had been in force at the present time, we should have had probably very little need now for acting under its provisions; it would be the means whereby of itself, so to speak, law and order would be maintained. The reason why the former Acts failed was not because of anything inherent in the Acts themselves, but because when they came to an end they had been allowed to expire without due consideration of what would be the effect of allowing them to elapse, and without considering that the necessity for them would again spring up. If I am right in saying that this Bill is directed against crime, the whole objection to the Bill, on the ground of its perpetual duration, is to a great extent removed. I have, in a matter of fact way, placed before the House what is our view of the case, and no one can say afterwards that the opposition to the Bill rests upon any supposed admissions or assertions made by my right hon. and learned Friend the late Attorney General for Ireland. Now Mr. Justice Holmes, in the course of discussion, made, in effect, the same statements as I have. Those statements I have made on my own responsibility, knowing that I shall have to submit those statements to the judgment of those who are well able to pronounce judgment upon them. We have brought in this Bill for the purpose of carrying out what we believe to be the duty of 151 the Government. The hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed) has prophesied the most evil things respecting us. He has told us that we are going to meet our fate. We shall, of course, meet our fate; but the hon. Gentleman has not gone so far as to tell us what our fate is to be, although, I suppose, he means that we have ruined the Government by introducing this Bill. All I can say is that, having done what we believe to be our duty in introducing our Bill, we are ready to meet our fate in the sense indicated; but, whatever that fate may be, I do not think that any hon. Member will believe that it has been brought about by introducing this Bill. We have determined earnestly to grapple with crime. [An hon. MEMBER: And something more.] If the hon. Member can show where the more is, it is not even now too late to amend the Bill. I repeat that it is not too late to alter the clauses of the Bill if it is directed against political associations; but we have pointed out over and over again, and wearied the House by so doing, that the Bill is intended to be put in operation against crime. I say again that we have determined to do our best to put down crime; we have determined to put down terrorism in Ireland; and with those intentions Her Majesty's Government, if they are called upon to meet the terrible fate pictured by the hon. Member for Cardiff, will do so with resignation and without a single regret. I say it will not in any way cause them the slightest feeling of hesitation or fear because they have been told by the hon. Gentleman of the sudden fate impending over them. We do not suggest or believe that the Bill will cure all the evils existing in Ireland; but we do believe that, without the salutary effect of such provisions as these, the introduction and successful operation of remedial measures is impossible, and it is in that belief, and because we are determined to grapple with crime and to put down terrorism, that we have introduced this Bill, and intend to press it to the third reading.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. Bryce.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.