HC Deb 25 March 1887 vol 312 cc1477-587


Order read, for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the Amendment proposed to the Question [22nd March], That the introduction and several stages of the Criminal Law Amendment (Ireland) Bill have precedence of all Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion, including the Rules of Procedure, whenever the Bill shall he set down for consideration by the Government as the first business of the day."—[Mr. William Henry Smith.)

And which Amendment was, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House declines to set aside the business of the Nation in favour of a measure for increasing the stringency of the Criminal Law in Ireland, whilst no effectual security has been taken against the abuse of the Law by the exaction of excessive rents."—(Mr. John Morley.)

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

said, that whatever might be the result of the Division upon the Amendment before the House, hon. Members would be of opinion that already the discussion had been of great service to the House and the country. It had forced the Government to lift the veil from a portion of their policy for Ireland, and to disclose to thorn part of their intentions with regard to land legislation. It had also enabled his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) to follow suit upon the Government, and to announce on his part, or on the part of the Government—ho was not quite sure which—a fuller explanation of the Government land measure, giving them greater detail than was supplied by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. A. J. Balfour). He could not but comment on the extraordinary Constitutional novelty of this course. Never in his recollection had such a course been pursued in that House as that of a right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench expounding at greater length than the Government themselves a Government measure. Nor had it ever occurred that a Government had sat by without protest and heard the announcement of their own intentions from a right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench. Probably they might have further explanation of the same kind from the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) later on. he ventured to hope that they might have some further announcement of a Ministerial policy from that other Member of the Dissentient Liberals who for the moment appeared to be in the confidence—if not in the Ministry—of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham devoted some part of his speech to proving his own consistency in regard to coercion, and to throwing some doubt on the consistency of many of his former Colleagues. The right hon. Gentleman said he had voted in 1881 and in 1882 for coercion, and that in 1885 he was prepared to support another Coercion Bill. No doubt, the technical record showed the right hon. Gentleman to be perfectly consistent; but the right hon. Gentleman did not go on to say that there were certain Members of the Government in 1885 who were strongly opposed to a policy of coercion. Some information on that point was at the same time derived from statements which appeared in The Birmingham Daily Post—which were regarded as authoritative—and which were certainly never denied. On the 22nd of May, 1885, The Birmingham Daily Post announced that— The opposition of Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Charles Dilke to a policy of coercion is unmistakable, and the Radical section have made up their minds that the fullest extent they can go is that the Crimes Act shall run for one year only. In the event of the Government not taking this step they will resign their places. Some time later the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) addressed a meeting, at which he informed thorn that, with the Liberals, coercion was a hateful incident, but with the Tories it was a policy. A subsequent announcement connected him with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and Sir Charles Dilke in. taking up that attitude. He could not say whether that was accurate, but it was not denied. He had the privilege of being a Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham at that time, and was closely associated with him in many political aims and objects up to the period that the Home Rule Question was brought before Parliament by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). He then thought that the right hon. Gentleman and he agreed on a great many subjects, and especially on the subject of coercion; and if anyone had then foretold that the right hon. Gentleman might in the year 1887 be prepared to support a Coercion Bill brought in by a Conservative Government, he would have considered such a suggestion as that of a madman, and would have asked him to leave his room. Like the right hon. Member, he had voted for coercion in 1881 and 1882. When the Coercion Bill was introduced in 1881 the circumstances were very different to what they were at present. Crime was rife throughout Ireland; witnesses would not come forward, and juries would not convict. He soon found out, however, the mistake he had made in voting for the Bill, and he had ever since regretted having done so. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) himself went over to Ireland at the beginning of 1882, at the suggestion of the late Mr. Forster, and he saw the mischief that coercion was doing. he went to Loughrea, and was struck by the amount of crime that prevailed and the relations that still existed, in spite of coercion, between landlord and tenant. He was convinced that coercion was doing infinite mischief throughout the country, and he recollected suggesting to the late Mr. Forster at the time that it would be wise to drop coercion, to release the suspects, and to pass an Arrears Act. The Government did not do so then; but later on they carried an Arrears Act, accompanied, however, by a Coercion Act, which resulted from the Phoenix Park murders. Any person protesting against that Act at that time would not have been listened to; but even then he had great and grave misgivings as to its advisability. He believed that it would have been better then to trust only to the Arrears Act. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that the Crimes Act of 1882 had been a success; in his opinion any good that had taken place had been the result of the Arrears Act. It might be that the Crimes Act drove agitation below the surface; it had, at all events, created a strong feel of disaffection against the Government, and led to many evil results. One effect had been entirely to destroy the Liberal Party in Ireland. Then came the proposal in 1885 to adopt another Coercion Act, and during the time that the Members of that Government were discussing whether there should be one or not, it turned out that the Tory Leaders had secretly come to a determination to oppose the renewal of coercion, and had made an agreement with the Irish Members below the Gangway, the result of which was that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was turned out of Office. When the Tory Government came in they did not propose coercion, and the sequel justified them in that course. It was quite certain that while Lord Carnarvon was Lord Lieutenant a very great improvement took place, which was oven greater during Lord Aberdeen's term of Office. Well, he would ask—what had arisen between that time and the present to justify a return to coercion? All the difficulty which had since happened was duo to the fact that the Government would not accept the measure proposed by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) last autumn, and had failed to meet the demands of the Irish Members to remedy the defects of the Land Act of 1881, and provide for the extraordinary agricultural emergency. He could not agree with his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham that the Land Act of 1881 had been a gigantic failure In his opinion it had been, on the whole, a just and sound Act; it had already done a great deal of good, and it would be the foundation of more good throughout Ireland. The Land Act had not created dual ownership of land in Ireland, as some appeared to think; it had only given legal sanction to a state of things which existed in Ireland, not only in Ulster, but in other parts as well. It should be remembered that the Land Act had come into existence amid considerable difficulties, having been pre- ceded by a Coercion Bill, which had predisposed the Irish people against it, and in that way done much to prevent its success. Another mistake was that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had neglected to consult Irish opinion in the framing of that Act, and also with regard to the Amendments which had been moved to it. If they looked at the debate upon the Act they would see that it had been moved by Irish Members to include leaseholders and the tenants of town parks, and it had also been contended that the term of judicial revision was too long, and that it should be reduced to five years. These contentions had been affirmed by Lord Cowper's Commission, whether the Government accepted them or not. Other Amendments had been pressed by hon. Members below the Gangway, which the House would not listen to; and it was his belief that if on that occasion they had listened to the Irish Members, and taken information on the subject of Ireland from them, the Act would have been to a great extent, if not wholly, a settlement of the Land Question, and would have been a remedial measure of far greater importance than it had actually been. As it was, however, the Act had been a measure of the greatest importance to Ireland. It had reduced rents to a very large extent, and had produced what he might call a common denomination, which would make it much easier to deal with the question in future. The great fall in prices which had taken place had not been wholly unexpected by hon. Members from Ireland. For shortly after the Land Act was passed the hon. Member for Cerk, at a Convention held in Maryborough on the 16th September, 1881, made a remarkable speech, and one which showed there were wise men in Ireland who predicted the difficulties which were coming. The hon. Member for Cork in that speech said— He thought the tenants had better not go into the Courts for the purpose of getting a rent fixed. Rents, he said, for the statute term of 15 years were dangerous for the tenants to enter upon. They were at the commencement of a new system of American competition in corn and wheat, and no one would know whether before 15 years Irish land would be able to pay the rents or not. If they went into Court and asked to have a fair rent fixed, and that application were granted, the statutory tern would be fixed for 15 years; and if after five or six years they found they were unable to pay the rent fixed, what position would they be in for obtaining the moral sympathy of the world if the landlord was able to point to their own action as the cause of these intolerable and impossible rents? That was an interesting statement for the hon. Member to make, and a wise prediction of what had actually occurred. Nobody now would deny—after reading the evidence given before Lord Cowper's Commission—that a very serious emergency had arisen in Ireland, resulting in very great difficulties to the tenants of that country, and imposing upon that House the necessity of providing a remedy. The Commissioners had not only pointed out the very serious fall in the prices of agricultural produce amounting to 18½ per cent, but also a number of other concurrent circumstances tending to increase the difficulties of the tenant. The question then was, whether the whole of the less which the tenants had admittedly sustained ought to fall on one of the two parties to the dual ownership of land? Parliament had legalized a system of dual ownership, but they must take that system with all its conditions; and one of those conditions was this—that if a serious fall of prices occurred wholly unexpected after the determination of rent, it was not fair or just that the whole of that less should fall only on one of the parties. It was, therefore, incumbent upon Parliament to do something to amend the Land Act of 1881, and to meet the difficulties of the tenant farmers. Now, all the difficulties which formed the foundation of the Government's measure of coercion arose from the agrarian question. Those difficulties would have been far greater but for the very great pressure put by the late Chief Secretary upon the landlords to reduce their rents, and for which he ought to have the gratitude of the people of Ireland, and also of this country. What had occurred on Lord Clanricarde's property was an illustration of what went on in Ireland. Some time ago he stated publicly that Lord Clanricarde had declined to make any abatement to his tenants; that he had reason to believe his Lordship's own agent—Mr. Joyce—had recommended that there should be an abatement; and that if he had done so the whole country would have been quiet. Lord Clanricarde wrote to the papers to say that he was untruthful in making such a statement, and that the statement was not in accordance with fact. On turning, however, to the evidence before the Royal Commission, he found he was fully justified in his statement. Mr. Joyce stated before the Commission that he had recommended Lord Clanricarde to make small abatements of rent, but that Lord Clanricarde had declined to do so; and he added, in answer to a question put by Mr. Knipe, that "if that abatement had been given the whole country would have been quiet." The consequence was that evictions took place, scenes of disturbance ensued, and £1,400 was spent by the Government in car hire for the conveyance of the police and bailiffs engaged in them. Eventually 74 persons were sent for trial in connection with these disturbances, and by means of packed juries, were sentenced to terms of imprisonment varying from 12 to 18 months. Later, in consequence of a strong letter from the Chief Secretary, Lord Clanricarde consented to make a reduction of 20 per cent; but there could be no doubt that if he had done this a few weeks before the disturbances in question would have been completely avoided. In his opinion, the story of the conduct of Lord Clanricarde and the Woodford evictions constituted a monstrous case of injustice, and what he asked was this—was it right and just to give any further facilities to men like Lord Clanricarde to exact rents, or was it not wiser, in the circumstances of Ireland, to legislate in the interest of the tenant farmers at the present time? He thought there could be but one answer to that question. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had enlarged and explained the Government proposals with regard to land legislation; but even with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation it was difficult to understand the exact nature of those proposals. It would appear that something in the nature of bankruptcy proceedings was to take place—that the Court on eviction was to be entitled to proceed upon some equitable bankruptcy jurisdiction and to remit rent in certain cases. That might be a very large or a very small proposal. If it was a large proposal, it most closely approximated to the scheme of the hon. Member for Cork; if, on the other hand, it was a very small one, it would be totally useless. He urged the Government to consider whether on the whole it would not be wiser at once to adopt the proposal of the hon. Member for Cork—supported as it was by the recommendation of Lord Cowper's Commission—rather than the proposal which they had now under consideration, which appeared to have come to them from the right hon. Member for Birmingham, and which, in all probability, would be inadequate for the occasion. His right hon. Friend very well and sufficiently explained the pro-sent position of the Liberal Party with regard to the Motion before the House, and the question of coercion when he said—and he thanked him for the words, which seemed to suggest his own ideas and wishes on the subject, if he were not trammelled by other unfortunate connections— The Liberal Party object to any measure in the nature of a Coercion Bill until, at all events, the remedial legislation which they desire has been successfully passed. That appeared to exactly point out the present position of the Liberal Party on the subject. His right hon. Friend proceeded to state the principal arguments on which this was founded; but he omitted altogether one of the most important arguments on which they based their present objection to the proposal of the Government—namely, that coercion, especially at this moment, would inevitably ruin the remedial measures. It was on this point mainly that he relied for his objections to the course of the Government on the present occasion, and for his contention that by proceeding to coercion they would do infinite mischief to the present condition of Ireland. That was the strongest reason which weighed with him against coercion at the present time, it was, he thought, the lesson which they learnt from the legislation since the Act of Union. The cause had been the same in nearly every case; Irish grievances and Irish demands had been refused at the time when the demands were made in a Constitutional way. In consequence agricultural agitation and disturbance and outrage had occurred. England then found it necessary to legislate; but while remedying the grievances it had associated its remedies with coercion. he knew that it had been the doctrine of a certain class of Whig statesmen from early times—of whom the noble Mar- quess the Member for Rossendale was now the exponent—that we must put down disorder in Ireland a "judicious mixture" of coercion and remedial legislation; but it had always been an unsound one and a great mistake, and it would have been far wiser in every ease to have postponed coercion, at all events, until they had seen the effect of their remedial measures. It was the doctrine of Lord Grey and Mr. Stanley in 1833, and of many other statesmen since; but it had always failed, and always would fail. He would quote on this point a few words from a Conservative statesman, delivered in 1833, on Lord Grey's Coercion Bill. The tithe agitation was then raging violently in Ireland, and the Government had promised to legislate on the subject; but meanwhile they brought in a Coercion Bill to put down disorder. Mr. Bulwer Lytton, afterwards Lord Lytton, in a very remarkable speech, said that— The question is how disorder and anarchy in Ireland are to be put down. The Government say by coercion tempered by concession. I say by concession, and concession only. I am sure that no people on the face of the earth can be governed by the system which His Majesty's Ministers propose. To-day coercion—to-morrow concession …. You flatter yourselves, that under shelter of those laws you will be able, with effect, to apply your remedial measures: it is just the reverse—they will blight all your remedies, and throw their own withering shadows over all your concessions."—(3 Hansard, [15] 1234–1238.) All the remedies tried by the Liberal Government failed till Lord Melbourne came into Office, and dropped coercion and took the Irish Leaders into his confidence and governed Ireland through them. The same lesson resulted from every other attempt to precede remedial measures with coercion. But there was one other argument he would state, and that was that the present occasion differed from any other that had hitherto occurred when Coercion Acts had been carried. he had searched through all the cases of the 86 Coercion Acts which had been passed since the Act of Union, and he found that there was not a single Act which had been passed by a Party vote, or otherwise than by the most unanimous vote of the English and Scotch Members. In the few cases where it had been tried to carry such a measure against any largo section of English and Scotch Members it had failed. Thus, in 1834, Lord Grey was compelled to withdraw his second Coercion Bill, and had to resign Office, because a majority of the Liberal Party was against him, and Sir Hubert Peel was defeated in 1846 on a Coercion Bill by a combination. But there had not been a single case in which a Coercion Bill had been carried otherwise than by practical unanimity. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had already pointed out that in no single case had a majority of the Irish Members been opposed to a Coercion Bill. The Act of 1833 was carried by a majority of 466 to 89, of whom 41 only were Irish Members. In 1881, 36 Members only voted against coercion, of whom three only were English Members and 33 Irish. In 1882 the Coercion Act was carried by 383 to 45, of whom nine only were English Members. The Government were now going to attempt to carry a measure against 86 out of 100 Irish Members and the great bulk of the Liberal Party. Had they considered the cost of this, and appreciated the results? A measure going to Ireland with the practically unanimous vote of English and Scotch Members would carry great force with it; but a measure going to Ireland carried by a Party vote, and with five-sixths of the Irish Members against it, would carry no weight and no sanction. It could not but have most serious effects. he should fear to predict the consequences. An hon. Friend of his quoted three nights ago a passage from Lord Macaulay in favour of coercion. he preferred Lord Macaulay when he spoke in opposition. There was a remarkable passage of his spoken at a time when it was proposed to put down the repeal agitation by force. He said— Force will not suffice. You cannot govern a gallant nation by the Law of Quarter Sessions; because it is in vain, though you have law on your side, if you have the people against you. There is only one power that can make the law strong, and that is the consent of those for whom the law is made. This was a consideration of a serious character; and he asked the Government—ho asked the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale—to consider the effect of the measure they were now about to propose—to consider its effect in Ireland when going to it with that little sanction. He was lost in wonder at his noble Friend, as one of the traditional Whigs of the country, adopting so perilous a course—one so opposed to every principle of popular government. In his humble opinion the Coercion Act could not fail to be mischievous in the highest degree. It would aggravate a hundred fold the difficulties in Ireland; and, worst of all, it must absolutely ruin and blight the prospects of whatever principle of good there might be in the best of remedial measures.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said, it had been stated last night by the hon. Member for North Derry (Mr. Mulholland) that it was the opinion of the Unionist Members for the Province of Ulster that no drastic measure of land reform was required by that Province. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) desired to take the earliest opportunity of dissociating himself from the statement made by the hon. Member, and to state to the Government and to the House his conviction that, unless a very drastic measure of land reform was introduced and carried, the Ulster tenant farmers would be totally destroyed and lost. Hon. Gentlemen among whom he sat appeared to be perfectly clear as to the course they ought to pursue on this matter. He wished he could share their feelings and enjoy their apparent peace of mind. The Party to which they belonged had forged most of the 86 Coercion Acts which had appeared on the Statute Book. They were asked to believe that now they had turned over a new leaf, that they had entered upon a now stage, and that they were done for ever with all that sort of thing. They proposed the sharp and decisive remedy of throwing the Irish problem into a seething cauldron, and trusting that what went into the cauldron black would come out white. Like the illustrious author of The Apologia, they went through seas of trouble when they did their own thinking; but, like that eminent man, now that they had learnt the virtue of obedience and the duty of surrender to authority, all was peace, and they saw their way clear before them. For himself, he did not share their clearness of sight, nor had he their seeming peace of mind. He approached the consideration of the question unfettered by any Election pledges. [Ironical cheers.] The jeers of hon. Members below the Gangway pleased him more than their cheers; and, what was more to the purpose, they pleased his constituents better. Not having learnt the Irish Question by means of a holiday tour, he was aware, in June and July last, that the National League aimed at making all government in Ireland impossible; and on every platform on which he stood he declared, and with the warm approval of those who listened to him, that if the law proved weak and unsuitable, he would vote to strengthen it and make it suitable, and to make it apply to priest and peasant alike. That, he supposed, was flat blasphemy to hon. Members below the Gangway. What was he to do under those circumstances in the present emergency? He had listened with admiration to the speech of the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley); but what was the pith of it? The right hon. Gentleman, on Tuesday night, admitted that one-eighth of the total area of Ireland was in a disturbed state. When the Assizes had to be adjourned, when trial by jury was admitted to be a farce, when contracts were openly scouted, when shop debts were almost irrecoverable, and ordinary morality was set aside, the disturbance of social order could not be denied to exist over that area. But what of parts of the country not included in that area? They were told by holiday tourists that the National League was a Constitutional body, and on all-fours with the Liberal Federation or the Conservative Association. Let them take a local branch of the National League and see what was their ordinary Sunday work. He was not quite certain that a good many hon. Members had not been humbugged in Ireland. He would tell them what the National League did. He would take a local branch outside the prescribed district, and show what their Sunday work was, and he was speaking of what he knew. A judgment in a family dispute was solemnly given by the Master of the Rolls in Dublin, and the local branch of the League presumed, on the following Sunday, to sit and reverse that judgment, and the authority of the local branch of the League was of more weight and power than the decision of the Master of the Rolls. That was Constitutional action, was it? Did the Liberal Federation do work like that? He would take the same local branch of the League. Three tenants sold their interest in their farms three years ago, and went to America. They came back to Ireland a few months ago and claimed their farms; and on Sunday the local branch of the League ordered the solicitor to produce the deeds, and sat in judgment on the question whether the farms should be restored to men who had got the money for them and gone to America. Was that the kind of work which the Liberal Federation or the Conservative Association professed to do? How about Boycotting? Respecting that, he wished to quote the testimony of the Rev. Canon Griffin, of Millstreet, who was not very popular with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway; but it did not follow that a priest, because he dared to be an honest man and refused to bow the knee to the Baal of the National League, was not to be believed in that House. When examined before the Commissioners, Canon Griffin was asked—"And rents are being paid?" He answered— Well, I must say that during the entire agitation the rents were fairly paid, and any disturbances that took place in that district were not caused so much by disputes between landlords and tenants as by trade jealousies, which caused a great deal of Boycotting. Asked whether he could give any information as to Boycotting, he said— That has been very extensively practised in my parish, and, in fact, it has been the curse there for the last five or six years. Asked—"Does it continue in the same force?" He replied—"Yes; it does." Next he was asked— Is it aimed at persons who transgress the edicts of the League, or on what account is it effected? He answered— It commenced, I think, through trade jealousy in the town against one shopkeeper who was a very large trader there, and a very large farmer, but not a laud-grabber in any way. He further stated that the man's trade was nearly ruined as far as his shop business was concerned; and also that the school in the town was Boycotted and broken up, because the schoolmaster was a witness in a case of Boycotting, tried at Cork Assizes, and simply told the truth. The system of Boycotting was followed by murders, which were its ultimate sanction and only authority, and it was in issuing Boycotting notices and edicts that the local branches of the League spent their Sundays. Was that Constitutional work? But they were told that outrage had diminished; that there was no such case now as there was in 1881 and 1882 for increasing the stringency of the Criminal Law; and they were asked for statistics showing the cause assigned for the demand for coercive legislation, when, as it was said, outrage had diminished. But what did the cessation of outrage moan? It was, to a great extent, true that it had ceased; but to his mind the fact covered a terrible truth. Why had outrage ceased? Because of the alliance between the National League and the official Liberal Party in England. That alliance never could have been maintained had crime and outrage stalked red-handed through the land. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen had better wait until he finished the sentence. The conscience of the Liberals of England would not have tolerated it; therefore, the outrages ceased, and intimidation and Boycotting took their place. But the power that could stop outrage in that way must have some knowledge of the criminals. If the League had the power to restrain them, how fearful was its guilt in the past—how terrible would be its responsibility in the future Admitting the truth as to the extent of the area referred to by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley), he, for one, held that a case had been made out for interference of some kind. He was told that coercion had always failed. He asked, did the Westmeath Act fail? Did the Act of 1882 fail? When did these outrages cease? They ceased when they got the power to change the venue and when the treason-mongers and the murderers were brought from the South and West of Ireland to Green Street, Dublin, for trial. ["Oh, oh!"] He was speaking that which he knew, and he said that the Act of 1882 did its work as well as any Act that ever passed, and that the evil system began afresh when that Act unfortunately expired, and when hon. Gentlemen on that (the Conservative) side of the House refused to Lord Spencer the power which they ought to have given him. Well, what shape should the necessary interference now take? The right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne declared for land reform as against what he called coercion. he (Mr. T. W. Russell) himself was in favour of land reform of the most drastic character. he did not believe that either the Act of 1870 or the Act of 1881 had been a total failure; he never would subscribe to any such statement inside or outside that House, and he should like to know what the state of Ireland would have been if they had not had the Act of 1881? He, too, had read the evidence taken by Lord Cowper's Commission; and, with that evidence before them, the Government would have been culpable in the | highest degree had they introduced a Bill for increasing the stringency of the Criminal Law, and allowed the Land Question to drift. That, however, was not their declared policy. They proposed to deal with crime, to restore freedom to the individual, to enable. every man to exercise his judgment freely and without fear, to bring to swift and stern justice those who represented the "Constitutional" Associations of the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Rowntree); and, believing in the policy of restoring the reign of law and dealing at once remedially and effectively with the Land Question, he, for one, should vote for urgency on that question. But he should do more than that. he should vote for urgency as required by the Government; but he would wait to see the Crimes Bill before he would make up his mind whether he would support it or not. What did he gather from the responsible Minister for Ireland in that House? This—that the Government intended to bring forward a Land Purchase Scheme. That appeared to be what was wanted to finally settle the Irish land difficulty. Now, he did not think there were half-a-dozen Members in that House who did not believe that a purchase scheme of some kind was at the bottom of the whole question. he was not prepared to throw the slightest obstacle in the way of such a scheme. Let them take any witness they liked in the Cowper Report—and he had carefully gone through all the evidence that was taken before the Commission—and they would find that they one and all declared for Land Purchase as the solution of the Land Question. Well, that was going to be done—or, rather, the Government had announced that they were going to try to carry such a scheme of purchase, and it was for that House to say whether or not that plan should be adopted. He was not going to cast stones at anyone on the Opposition side of the House; but it seemed to him that it ill became certain hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Benches near him to sneer at the proposal of the Government to admit the leaseholders to the benefit of the Land Act. Who but the Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House had kept the leaseholders out of the provisions of the Land Act of 1881? He, therefore, welcomed the promise of the Government in regard to the leaseholders, who had borne the burden almost until they could bear it no longer. They were the flower of the tenantry of Ireland, and he rejoiced that the Government had consented at last to listen to their passionate prayer. The hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), in the course of his speech last night, said that he would give the landlords of Ire-land his note of hand for as much land as he wanted. The hon. and learned Member was then speaking as if he were speaking on behalf of the farmers of Ulster; but he (Mr. Russell) must tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that he had no authority to speak for the farmers of that Province. As soon as they got the opportunity, the farmers of Ulster sent the hon. and learned Member to Longford, which was not in Ulster. The farmers of Ulster were willing to pay a fair price for their holdings. What was the present campaign in Ulster? It was not a "No Kent" Campaign, but it was a "Fair Rent" Campaign. The hon. Member who stated, or insinuated, in that House that the tenant farmers of Ireland, and especially of Ulster, did not wish to meet their engagements did them an injustice; and in the name of the farmers of Ulster he (Mr. Russell) repudiated any such characterization of their hopes or wishes. he apologized to the House for intervening in the debate; but, speaking in the name of law-abiding people in Ulster, he considered that a case for urgency had been made out. He hoped that the Government would deal resolutely and firmly with crime, and not only with crime, but with incitements to crime as well; but, at the same time, they should not let out of their mind the thought that that was not the solution of the Irish difficulty. The solution rested on the Land Question; to that Ministers must bend themselves, and in that they must succeed, if they would solve it.

THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. T. D. SULLIVAN) (Dublin, College Green)

said, the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. T. W. Russell) was a temperance orator. Of the temperate nature of the man the House had many opportunities of forming a judgment. That hon. Gentleman had ruined the temperance movement in Ireland. He ruined the temperance movement in Ireland he was sorry to say, by his violence, his folly, and his fanaticism. The hon. Member said the hon. and learned Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) had no right to speak for the tenant farmers of Ulster. Who, forsooth, had that right? The Irish Nationalists were the majority of the Representatives of Ulster, and, therefore, they or any man among them had a better right to speak for the people of Ulster than the hon. Member. The hon. Member sneered and jeered at Members who paid flying visits to Ireland; but the hon. Member had not long been in that country himself, and if he ventured to correct the impressions of those who paid flying visits, then the Irish Members who were born and bred there must take leave to correct the impressions of the hon. Member. They were natives of Ireland, like their forefathers; but the hon. Member was not. In saying that, he had no desire to throw any imputation whatever upon the land of his birth. Time was when Scotland and England seemed to be very hostile to the rights and claims of Ireland and its people; but, happily, that state of things had passed away, and they were now proud to recognize that since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian introduced his Home Rule Bill a happy change had taken place in the feelings of the English and Scotch people. Ireland had now honest sympathizers in Britain, but the Party opposite desired to make the feeling of animosity eternal. What was it they argued? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. W. Russell) had admitted—for he could not deny it—that outrages had greatly declined. But they were confronted with this state of circumstances—that if crime was prevalent that was a serious accusation against the Nationalist Members; if crime was not prevalent that was worse again. They had been told that the Irish National League had subjugated the country, and that it was because of that subjugation there was an absence of crime. If it was a fact that 87 years after the Act of Union the National League—unsupported by bayonets or cannon—was able to supersede the written law of the British Parliament in Ireland, what evidence did it give with regard to the system and the condition of government that had prevailed in that country during all that time. He maintained that outrages and disturbances were inevitable in any country that was misgoverned, misruled, and grievously oppressed. Could they have in any part of the world such a system as that of Irish landlordism, and have peace, happiness, or contentment among the people. Could they have such a system of rule as that of Dublin Castle, and have no crime or outrage in the country? Such a thing was impossible. Some hon. Members seemed to revel in accounts of shootings, maimings, and murderings; and they would, apparently, be miserable if they could not do it. It was becoming a stale trick to produce a letter from someone whoso name could not be revealed. The last time it was done the trick produced little sensation, and it appeared to be nearly played out. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) said that 86 jawbones were the weapons of the Irish National Party. When it came to a question of jaw or a question of bone, the hon. and gallant Member should be the last man to open his mouth, for he (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) ventured to say that in the matter of bone and of jaw the hon. and gallant Member was able to hold his own with any man on this side of Crim-Tartary. If Ireland was in a state of disorder and of disturbance and of anarchy, he asked who had the ruling of the people? If Ireland was in a state of anarchy and disorder, it was the fault of the British Parliament. It was admitted, and could not be denied, that the people were pretty much what circumstances and what history had made them. Who had had the making of the Irish character for so many hundreds of years? Who had had the ruling of these people, and why were they now found to be disaffected—or what the Tories called disloyal—engaging in combinations regardless of the law of the land and preferring very much the law made for themselves by themselves? The ruling of Ireland had been in the hands of the British Parliament for many a long year, for 87 years since the passing of the Act of Union, and a pretty mess indeed they had made of it. Was it not time to make a change? Had not this experiment of ruling Ireland from London by the votes and decision of people who know nothing of the country—was it not time that that experiment, which had proved an utter and a disastrous failure, should be given up, and that recourse should be had to another and yet untried course which there was every reason to believe would produce very different and very much happier results? If Coercion Bills had not been tried before by all means try them; but if 86 or 87 of them had already been tried, and if at the end of them all Ireland was now in the condition in which she was represented to be, was not that fact a condemnation of the British system of rule and of their 87 Coercion Bills? After the new Coercion Bill was passed, and after its period expired, what was to be the state of things in Ireland? It was alleged that by virtue of this impending Act of Parliament the Government could put a largo number of Irishmen into gaol. That was no new experience with the Irish people. The very centres and leaders of Irish National opinion in Ireland—a thousand of them were formerly put into gaol, and what was England the better for it to-day? Had the heart of the Irish people been intimidated thereby? Had the spirit of the Irish race been suppressed? Had the desire for Irish National independence been extinguished? Not a bit of it. By the Government's own showing the condition of Ireland to-day was, according to their point of view, as bad and as barren as ever it was. In these circumstances he read a condemnation of the system of rule, or rather of grevious misrule and hateful oppression, inflicted upon that country so long by the dominant power of Great Britain. He denied that there was anarchy in Ireland. He denied that the moral condition of the country was inferior to that of any other country on the face of the earth. He did not wish to go into unpleasant or invidious comparisons; but he challenged comparison between England and Ireland with regard to all crime and all offences outside the range of political and agrarian matters. There was a good deal that was disturbed, unsatisfactory, and unpleasant in relation to those two things; but the explanation was to be found in the state of agrarian and poli- tical legislation. He had heard frequent references in that House to the Ten Commandments. Any references to the Ten Commandments were usually cheered to the echo by the virtuous Tory Party; but, taking the Ten Commandments all round, he asserted that they were as well observed in Ireland as they were in England. They were as well observed by the peasants, and the labourers, and the farmers of Ireland as they were by the Tory aristocrats and the créme de la créme of the English aristocracy. The Tory Party liked to take their Ten Commandments with a certain abatement—with quite as large a reduction as the Irish tenant demanded off his rack-rent. The evidence of that could be seen in London day after day, and night after night—evidence of which they could read in the newspapers every day of the year, and these splendid Gentlemen who choose to relieve themselves of a very considerable degree of the latter half of the Ten Commandments cheered every reference to the Decalogue as if hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House were to be silenced thereby. On the behalf of his countrymen, and of those who represented them, he challenged the highly moral and exceedingly virtuous Tory Party with respect to the Ten Commandments, taking them all round. In the eyes of the Government anarchy consisted in the non-payment of rents, and in the payment of rack-rents they found the fulfilment of the whole Law and the Prophets. If the Irish people only paid rack-rents they might do anything else they pleased, but by not paying them they were denounced as worse than the publican and the heathen. He considered it the right and the duty of the Irish people to resist the payment of these infamous exactions. The men who tried to extort those rents from the Irish tenants ought to remember one at least of the Ten Commandments, which told them, "Thou shalt not steal." What had they been doing in Ireland for ages but stealing and plundering from the hard-working, the laborious, and the industrious classes of the country, and living in ease and luxury upon money they had never earned, by exacting rents upon land which they were pleased to call their own? At the very best, the landlords were only the part owners of the soil of Ireland. Many of them had had their fee simple paid 10 times over, and had rented the people upon their own improvements. They had confiscated these improvements, and he was justified in calling them thieves and robbers. What sort of persons wore these Irish landlords who were perpetually appealing to the House against the tenant farmers of their country? In no country—except, perhaps, in Turkey—had there been so ruthless, so worthless, so vicious, and so bad a class as the Irish landlords. In England the country gentlemen held a certain position, and fulfilled certain duties. In Ireland they were simply an affliction and a burden upon the people—they did the people no service; they set them no good example. He would quote the description which appeared of the Irish landlords, not in any Nationalist newspaper, but in The Times. The Times, writing some years ago, made use of the following memorable words— It is no earthly use to go on abusing the Irish landlords. Their names stink already to the ends of the earth. We might as well go on expatiating for ever on the vices of tigers and wolves as to be saying every day what we think of a class which for selfishness and cruelty has no parallel, and never had a parallel, in the civilized world. Those words were not published in an Irish Nationalist paper. They did not come from United Ireland. They did not come from The Nation. They did not come from any organ of sedition and disaffection. They came from The Times newspaper, and he hoped would be treated accordingly.

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

What is the date?


It was some time towards the end of the year 1852. But he had yet to learn that the character of those gentlemen had beneficially changed since. The leopard had not changed his spots, and the character of the landlord class to-day was what it was then, save in so far as their power for cruelty and mischief had been restrained by the strong hand of the British Parliament. But he would, with the leave of the House, give them a more modern quotation—it came from a not unsympathetic source, being an extract from an article published in The Contemporary Review in January, 1882, and written by Professor Mahaffy, of Trinity College, Dublin. Professor Mahaffy described the Irish landlords as a most worthless, idle, and uneducated class, and described them as reading what they considered safe and sound newspapers, though in many cases these papers advocated views the very opposite of those held by members of their class, and gave the following illustration— An old M.P., who resides now in Dublin revisited some time ago the county which he had represented in Parliament, and upon going into the country club—an exceedingly Tory club-saw on the table The Pall Mall Gazette. As the paper had passed for more than six months into the hands of Mr. Morley as editor, and was producing almost daily his well-known articles on the Irish Land Question, my friend asked some members present how it was that they still took in The Pall Mall Gazette? They answered, of course, why not? It is the best and ablest Conservative paper—it always expresses our views precisely. He asked them had they observed anything odd about it lately? Had they read the articles on the Land Question? They said they had, but had noticed nothing strange. At last one man said, for the sake of appearing more shrewd on the question than any of the others. Yes, by the way, now that you mention it, I did think there was something odd about some of the articles I read lately; but, of course, as it was The Pall Mall Gazette I knew it was all right. The Professor than stated that these people really had no idea beyond foxhunting, sporting, and idleness, and seemed to think education a superfluity and unnecessary. He said— How often when I have been urging on parents the necessity of sending a boy to school have I heard the fatal formula, 'Oh, he doesn't require to go,' expressed in a tone of assumed modesty, as if I had made a social blunder by presuming that I he boy was, like most of us, obliged to work for a living. What does he want with education?' said an old lady to me once in the same connection—'Isn't he a tine handsome boy?' and can't I keep him till he grows up? Then he will go over to England, and perhaps some rich lady will thrate herself to him.' That was the class of gentleman for whose benefit England was keeping Ireland in suffering misery, disgrace, and discontent. They constituted the "loyal minority" in Ireland. By going on in the same way England might always have a loyal minority in Ireland, but she will never have a loyal majority. It would pay England better if the majority in Ireland should at last have a taste of freedom, and of righteous justice, even though the loyal minority might consider themselves greatly and cruelly outraged thereby. The Bill that was to be brought before the House might be the result of imprisoning many a brave and honest man in Ireland who could easily be made out a criminal under the provisions of the Act. But he asked the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind this practical consideration—Will it help the landlords to recover their rents? No, he said it would not, but it would only create exasperation, it would cause suffering; it would excite a feeling of vengeance in the minds of many a cruelly wronged man, and the landlords of Ireland would be no nearer to their rack-rents in the end. He warned the House of this, although whenever an Irish Member gave utterance to words of warning honestly spoken; whenever an Irish Member said to the Government "Do not have recourse to this cruel and oppressive legislation, because the inevitable consequence will be disturbance and outrage and crime," he was immediately charged with suggesting and inciting these disorders; but he had noticed, whenever other men declared that if a certain Act was passed by the House that it would be followed by disorder and disturbance in the North of Ireland, that these men were not called to Order in the same fashion. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), speaking the other night, rebuked the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) for using language of this character, although, with his usual manliness and candour, the noble Marquess acquitted the hon. Member for Cork of any intention to incite to disorder, but added that the hon. Member for Cork, while prognosticating crime and disorder, should have uttered serious words of warning against them. But why was not the same rule applied all round? Why did not the noble Marquess condemn the men who declared that if a certain Act were passed it would be followed by civil war in Ireland? Why did not the noble Marquess condemn these men because they did not, in the same breath, or at any time at all, say that disorder was a hateful thing and merited the condemnation of all men? Why did not the noble Marquess carry his wise advice to all points of the compass, and apply it to Lord Salisbury, who said of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who was then in Office— The Prime Minister and his Friends are meddling with edged tools of whose sharpness they have no conception, but which they will painfully find out if they pursue their insane career? This resulted not exactly in edged tools, but in the paving stones of Belfast. Lord Salisbury, speaking at the Westminster Palace Hotel, on Saturday, May 15, said— I have no doubt that he, Colonel Saunderson and the Ulstermen mean what they say, and if the time shall come they are the men to do what they say. Was not that an incitement to violence and outrage in the North? And the result was seen in the Belfast riots, which immediately followed. These were the direct results of such suggestions addressed to these excitable people by Lord Salisbury and by Gentlemen on the other side of the House who now held Office. He (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) desired to say, in all honesty and all sincerity, that he feared the result of the coercive legislation about to be proposed. The result of any suppression of open political organization in Ireland, or interference with political writing or freedom of speech in Ireland, would inevitably be a recourse to secret councils, secret organizations, and the most terrible and deplorable crimes. He did not pose as a prophet when he said that. There was nothing new in it. It had not only been stated over and over again, but it was the teaching of history; it was a plain fact, written large over the history of Ireland, to which the eyes of hon. Members opposite, in some unaccountable way, were utterly blind. The Prime Minister, in a speech delivered a few days ago in Willis's Rooms, remarked that the Irish Leaders of the present day said very little in Ireland about Irish nationality, and that they seemed to have lost sight of the ways and means by which other peoples considering themselves aggrieved sought to obtain justice and freedom. He thought those were very ill-conceived words on the part of the Prime Minister, for they amounted to a plain incitement to the Irish people to have recourse to the pike and gun. The right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary had quite recently in that House used language which was exactly the opposite of that used by his uncle the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman said that certain quotations from the speeches of Irish Members were enough to prove his proposition, which was, in the first place, that the League aimed at political objects wholly alien to the question of combination for the purpose of exacting a fair rent; and, in the second place, that it aimed at this treasonable end by the spoliation of a particular class. Inasmuch as the uncle and the nephew wore both engaged in the government of Ireland, they might as well take a little more pains to harmonize their views. The Irish Members were accused of being paid agitators—it was said they were carrying on agitation for the purpose of gain. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] He would like to know from the hon. Member opposite who cheered his words whether the Business of the British Government and Parliament was worked out on the voluntary principle? He would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House of Commons was in receipt of any salary for his services? He would like to know if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary got any little consideration? He would like to know if there was a man on the Treasury Bench who did not draw pay from the pocket of the British taxpayers for serving his Queen and his country? Besides, there were many English and Scotch Members who, directly or indirectly, either themselves or through their relatives, were receiving pay, profit, and emolument. This imputation against the Irish Members would not stand for a moment under the consideration of a right-minded man. References were being made to American dollars. So long as the Irish landlords were getting the dollars they had no objection to them. The rack-rents of Ireland had been mainly paid by the earnings of hardworking Irish labourers in England, and by the savings of the Irish race in America. Long ago the rack-rents would have broken down but for the folly of these people in sending home the earnings of their hard toil and labour in foreign lands to pay those impossible rack-rents which the land itself never made, and the exaction of which was oppression and robbery. If they turned to the Blue Book of the Cowper Commission, they would find the story of a poor tenant, who asked the landlord for time until he got money from his children who were in service in England. What right had the landlords to the earnings of that man's children? No right whatever. The landlord had perhaps a legal right to some share of the profits of the farm, but he had no right to the earnings of the sons and daughters of his tenants in other parts of the world. Thank God, the day was near when that accursed system would come to an end; and oven the proposed Land Bill of the present Tory Government, no matter how miserable and inadequate a measure it might be, would be another nail in the coffin of Irish landlordism. The Plan of Campaign had been censured in that House. His own opinion was that under circumstances of so much oppression and wrong there never was in any part of the world a public movement conducted with so little crime. They did not deny that there had been crimes—lamentable and disgraceful crimes—arising out of this unfortunate condition of things in Ireland; but it was impossible that such a condition of things could exist in any part of the world without crime. His hope, his trust, and his desire was that they might be near the end of the present unhappy condition of things. The only way he saw to end it was not in the invention of new Coercion Acts—not in a meddling and peddling with the Irish Land Question—but in the large, the safe, and the healing measure of Homo Rule, and putting into the hands of the Irish people the right to adjust, to consider, and to manage their own affairs. He had no doubt whatever that the mind of England was coming round to that view of the case. He believed in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, that the flowing tide was with them. There might be little signs of it just now in that House, but the fact was there nevertheless; and in that connection he was re-minded of the words of one of their English poets— For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, Seem here no painful inch to gain, Far off, through creeks and inlets making, Comes silent, flowing in, the main. He hoped, and believed that the flood was rising, and that the two islands would soon be surrounded by a sea of peace, which would ebb no more.

MR. CURZON (Lancashire, Southport)

said, the speech of the right hon. Member who had just sat down was amusing, rather violent, and very discursive. The point before the House was a very small one, and was confined within narrow limits. It was not the question whether coercive legislation, or, as be preferred to call it, quoting from the speech of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in 1881, "protective legislation"—for, in his (Mr. Curzon's) opinion, this Bill would protect far more numerous classes and individuals in Ireland than it would coerce—it was not the question whether these protective measures or remedial measures should exclusively occupy the attention of Parliament, but which of the two had the prior claim upon the time of that House '? The Government accepted the Report of the Cowper Commission, and intended to make it the basis of legislative proposals. The attitude of hon. Members opposite with reference to this Commission interested him greatly. When the appointment of the Commission was first mooted it was sneered at and derided by hon. Members; but now they had changed their minds. [Home Rule cries of "No!"] He was speaking of hon. Members above the Gangway, who had changed their views with respect to this matter just as they had changed them on almost every conceivable point. They now endowed the Report with an almost canonical authority, and quoted carefully-selected and garbled passages from the evidence of individual witnesses with as much reverence as if they were inspired. The Government was at least so much in harmony with hon. Members opposite that they did not ignore the Commission, for they had heard from the Chief Secretary that the principal recommendations of the Commission would be embodied in legislation. But the main question now before them was not whether there should be remedial legislation; the question was whether the Land Bill that had been promised, or the Crimes Bill, should be given priority. A Government had no right to make such a demand as was now made unless they could declare that they had tried and exhausted all the ordinary forces of law, and could show that, while, endeavouring to fulfil that duty, they had acted, not only with justice, but with patience, toleration' and forbearance. He appealed to hon. Members opposite whether the late-Chief Secretary for Ireland had not shown in the discharge of his duties exemplary patience and humanity? They might feel certain that such a man would not have contemplated proposing to the House repressive legislation if all the ordinary Constitutional means of governing the country had not been tried in vain. Then the Government ought to be able to satisfy the House that they could make out a strong case, resting on plain and incontrovertible facts, and proving the incontestable need for exceptional powers. He felt sure that the present Chief Secretary would be able to make out such a case. Unreasonable complaints had been made that this statement of the Chief Secretary had not yet been delivered. Had he, however, attempted to make it in the course of that debate, he would have been out of Order. The statement would have been delivered before now but for the dilatory Amendment of the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). In calling the Amendment dilatory, he did not allude to the intention with which it was brought forward, but to the practical effect of its introduction. He trusted that hon. Members opposite would believe that it was with extreme reluctance that those on his side of the House approached legislation of this kind. The Government had been driven to this sorrowful necessity by the inexorable force of circumstances, which had been largely shaped and controlled by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. It could not be a pleasant thing for a Government to signalize its first year of Office by the introduction of a Crimes Bill, and it was not a pleas-ant thing for now Members to find that their first year of Parliamentary life was to be signalized by the duty of supporting such a measure. [Ironical Home Rule cheers.] Hon. Members opposite were inclined to laugh when observations of this sort wore made on his side of the House. The other night the right hon. Member for Newcastle made a remark which he was sure he would have readily withdrawn if he had known the pain it gave to hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches. He said Members on the Ministerial Benches were fond of reminding the House of the villainy of the Irish people; and when he (Mr. Curzon) and others cried "No, no!" the right hon. Gentleman leaned over the Table, and, pointing at thorn, said— Oh, yes; the whole of this Bill is based on the theory that the Irish people are in-corrigible He wished he could purge the minds of hon. Members of this baseless assumption. The Party to which he belonged gave full credit to their opponents for sincerity; and they respected the right hon. Member for Newcastle because they knew that he was consistent and converted on the subject of Home Rule at a time when all those Gentlemen who sat round him and now clamoured in his wake were steeped in original sin; and when even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was engaged upon his famous 15 years' process of incubation over the wrongs of Ireland. Why should not Gentlemen on his side of the House be given credit for sincerity in their turn; why should they always be taunted with this supposed inherent belief in the depravity of the Irish character? If the Ministerial measure were considered to presuppose the immoral character of the Irish people, the enforcement of the Eighth Commandment in any civilized community must be held to presuppose that the bulk of the people were thieves. He admitted that sometimes they were likely to form unfavourable impressions of the Irish character from the exhibitions of it seen in that House. If they were compelled to form a diagnosis solely from the symptoms seen be-low the Gangway opposite, it might not be a very flattering one; but he could assure hon. Members from Ireland that a far higher opinion was entertained of their constituents than of themselves. On his side of the House, then, they repudiated the insinuations of want of feeling and humanity which were directed against them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had contended that there was no analogy between the year 1881 and the present time. But if priority was claimed for the Land Question now, as it was by hon. Members opposite, why was it not claimed in 1881? The answer was that the state of Ireland as regarded crime was infinitely worse then. But, he asked, was the state of the Irish tenant better? The ground on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle said a Land Bill should have priority was that the state of the Irish tenant was urgent and extreme; but in 1881 the Irish tenant was in an infinitely worse condition. He did not enjoy the advantages of the Land Act of 1881, or the Arrears Act of 1882, or the various Purchase Acts. On all points and in every particular the position of the Irish tenant was infinitely worse in 1881; yet, in spite of this fact, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian did not hesitate to claim precedence for criminal over remedial legislation. The right hon. Gentleman would have none of this analogy, and begged them to find out another precedent. He had endeavoured to follow that advice, and would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the case of Sir Robert Peel in 1829. In that year he met Parliament with the statement that he intended to propose the repeal of Catholic disabilities; but before that he insisted on passing a coercive measure for the suppression of the Catholic Association. He would read an extract from the speech of Sir Robert Peel on that occasion defending the priority of coercive over remedial measures. His words were— Until the ascendancy of the laws in Ireland was vindicated he did not think they ought to be called upon to take into consideration the question of concessions. It was not intended on the part of the Government to propose any measures until this essential object should have been accomplished. Those words might be used with equal force by Her Majesty's Government at the present moment. Upon the analogy of 1829, if not upon 1881 and 1882, he thought everyone would admit that if the Government were erring they were erring in very good company. It was further urged by hon. Members opposite that remedial measures, if they were introduced concurrently with, or posterior to, repressive measures, would be discredited and ineffective. He understood however, that whilst the Crimes Act was was intended to strike at the criminals of Ireland, the remedial measures would apply to the tenants of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian defended his claim for the precedence of his Criminal Bill in 1881 on the ground that— It was directed against those who may not unfitly be called the dangerous classes, and who might not unjustly be described by harsher terms. Those were not the men to be converted by remedial legislation. What they feared was personal consequences, and it was for the power of administering those consequences that they pleaded, and whether they had a sufficient ease or not, it was idle to talk of governing the minds of such men by what was termed remedial legislation. Now, the Bill of the Government was directed against those self-same dangerous classes; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle said it was a Bill levelled at the tenants of Ireland. That suggested a connection between the tenants of Ireland and the dangerous classes. It was a curious thing that it should fall to one who was accused of having an incurable belief in the inherent villainy of the Irish character to repudiate such an insinuation. The Crimes Bill of the Government would not touch the tenants qua tenants, but only in so far as they chose to join the criminal classes of Ireland. Did hon. Gentlemen opposite say there were no dangerous classes in Ireland? They did not. Then they observed a creditable moderation. But they had heard again and again the statement that there was no exceptional lawlessness in Ireland, that there was nothing but sporadic disturbance in certain districts. When those statements were made about the law-abiding state of their country, he was constrained to ask whether hon. Members opposite read the daily papers. He was not speaking of publications which could, by any possibility, be said to be prejudiced or partial. he did not refer to the publications of the Loyal and Patriotic Union, nor to The Times, but to papers edited and under the control of hon. Members opposite, such as United Ireland and The Freeman's Journal. [Cries of "Read!" and "Quote!"] If he had known that the House would have given him permission to quote he would have come down prepared with bushels. He thought it impossible that anyone could read those papers and still talk of the absence of lawlessness in Ireland. Nor was it possible to read the speeches made by hon. Members opposite when St. George's Channel was between them and the English authorities without coming to the same conclusion. Hon. Members opposite reminded him of an ancient deity, the god Janus—they had two faces, one of peace and the other of war. They wore the face of peace when they wanted to dupe and cajole the English House of Commons, but they were the face of war in Ireland when they wanted to hound on and inflame the Irish peasantry. Let hon. Members read the speeches made in Ireland by Mr. William O'Brien, a gentleman who was cheered on that side of the House, because he was what he was—namely, a perfect firebrand of sedition in Ireland, scattering sparks of lawlessness and disorder wherever he went. It appeared to him that hon. Gentlemen opposite made a mistake which was not uncommon—they saw one set of facts with extreme and almost abnormal clearness; they saw the misery and distress that prevailed in many parts of Ireland; they saw the hardships of evictions; they saw the unjust cases where tenants, perhaps, received an insufficient reduction of rent or no reduction at all—they saw these things, and, feeling them profoundly, they came to that House and built upon those facts a moving and pathetic appeal. But there was another set of facts of which they saw nothing—that the greater part of Ireland was at the present moment given up to a successful rebellion against the law of the land. Various reasons had been given for the absence of serious crime in Ireland. They had been told by the right hon. Member for Birmingham that the fear of the bullet had made the use of the bullet unnecessary. It was said that violent outrages were not committed, because no man was so foolhardy as to place himself in the position of a possible victim. That explanation was advanced by many much better informed Members than himself (Mr. Curzon), but there was another explanation which had not yet been given. What was the particular quality and complexion of the crimes that were not now committed? They were precisely those very crimes with which the existing law, weak and impotent though it might be, was still strong enough to grapple. The average Moonlighter was the most contemptible specimen of humanity on the face of the earth, but even he obeyed the first instinct of Nature—the law of self-preservation. He worked with a mask on his face, he skulked behind hedges and fired through windows, and conducted his operations under the convenient shelter of the night. Whatever danger he inflicted on life and limb he never endangered his own skin. The absence of open murder, assassination, and outrage in Ireland was due not so much to suddenly acquired scruples on the part of the Moonlighter, as to his timidity and personal alarm.

MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)

What will this Bill do for him?


said, he hoped it would put him in the position he ought to be in—in a gaol of the country. He was, further, quite prepared to admit a greater part of what had been said on the other side, to the effect that lawlessness did not largely prevail in Ireland at the present time. The majority of the people were "law-abiding;" but the law which they respected was not the law of the land but the law of the League. Facts showed that whatever might be the case with regard to crimes of violence, outrages did exist, and the administration of justice had very nearly ceased in Ireland; and there was an absolute repudiation of all social contracts, at any rate of contracts relating to land—those very contracts which the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian said last night—and he was cheered to the echo for saying so—that it was the primary duty of the Government to maintain. The House would, no doubt, be told, as they had been told over and over again, that coercion was no remedy for the wrongs of Ireland. He admitted that. They had often heard in the House of Commons about the wrongs inflicted upon Ireland by England in the past; they might or might not be real and genuine and deplorable, but that was not the question now before the House. They had been told that a large number of those wrongs had been inflicted by Statute law, and that this law was hated by the Irish because it came to thorn in a foreign garb. But whatever might be the wrongs inflicted upon Ireland by England in the past—and he believed that they had been expiated by honest repentance on the part of the present generation, and by an ample atonement on the part of the British Parliament—the sum total of all those wrongs, whether real or imaginary, would not approximate to one-tenth part of the wrong which would be inflicted on Ireland by England at the present moment if the British Govern- ment allowed all law, Statute law and the moral law, to be trampled under foot. It was because he believed that the proposals of the Government were intended to re-enact, by the agency of the Statute law, the moral law which was now in abeyance in Ireland that he would support the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury and vote against the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle.

MR. H. GARDNER (Essex, Saffron Waldon)

said, the hon. Gentleman had admitted that a Government bringing forward such a measure as a Coercion Bill ought to state the facts and the evidence on which they relied. But this was just the course that nor Majesty's Government had not taken. It would have been quite possible for the Government to have introduced their Bill, and laid before the House the grounds upon which they based it before asking that it should have precedence. He was by no means opposed to all coercion, and did not deny that circumstances might render exceptional repressive measures necessary. But before the Government asked for special facilities for such a measure, they ought clearly and distinctly to make out their case. In the present instance they had failed to do this, and he could not support them, especially as it was to be noticed that this was the first occasion on which it was proposed to bring in coercion against the views of a majority of the Representatives from Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had not met these two points, but had shown himself as very anxious to hide the iron hand of the Government under the velvet glove—under the promises of land legislation. Exceptional repressive measures such as the Government were about to introduce ought not to be levelled against political opponents; but it was the National League that the Government were really aiming at, and not the prevention of the small number of outrages that now took place in Ireland. With reference to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay), he should like to know whether, if the hon. and learned Gentleman was not going to vote for coercion, he was going to vote for conciliation? The hon. and learned Member had said the proposed legislation was not coercion, because it meant the emancipation of a large portion of the Irish nation. From whom had the hon. and learned Gentleman gathered that? Had he learnt it in Ireland? Or from the Representatives of the Irish people? He thought the voice of Ireland which the hon. and learned Gentleman heard must have been that of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson). The hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) had accused the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) of half-heartedness in opposing this Motion. He would remind the hon. and learned Member that although the verdict of the constituencies was against Home Rule, yet the other side received from the constituencies no mandate in favour of coercion. If there were any half-heartedness it was on the part of Her Majesty's Government, who were hounded on by the hysterical screams of The Times, and by the fiery eloquence of such full-blooded enthusiasts as the noble Lord the Member for North Devon (Viscount Lymington). For himself, he refused to be a party to handing over a blank cheque to a Government of forcible feebles who were being urged to their destruction by a Brummagem Strafford and a bogus Castlereagh. They were told that if this Coercion T5I11 were passed the Government would bring in remedial measures. This was like using a cane to a sick child, and promising to call in the doctor in three months; but he had no confidence in the sort of parental despotism which the Government sought to set up. It was because he held this Coercion Bill to be against the interests of law and order, and because he believed the policy of the Government tended rather to separation than the union of the Empire, that he felt it his duty to protest against the introduction of this Bill.

MR. C. W. GRAY (Essex, Maldon)

said, that the Government had been charged with preventing matters in which the House was interested from being brought forward; but the fact was that the Irish Question had gone on for Session after Session, until there were a vast amount of English matters blocked in a way that was becoming unbearable to the constituencies of this country. By the course they had taken the Government improved the chance which English Business had of obtaining the attention of Parliament. No one could sympathize more than he did with the small farmers of Ireland; but he was sure that the interests of the farmers would never be advanced by allowing laws which remained on the Statute Book to be broken. He was most anxious that everything should be done to improve the position of Irish occupiers of land; but he could not believe, as they were told, that an abatement of 20 or 30 per cent in rents of £2 or £3 a year would bring contentment to Irish peasant homes. If something was to be done for the Irish peasants, they should be first shown that the law must be upheld, and then a remedy should be found for their distress. He thoroughly believed, and he had always maintained, that it was far more for the interest of the working classes that the law should be upheld with firmness than it was for that of the rich. If Ireland had been so badly treated as had been represented—and that she had not been treated fairly in connection with many matters he would be among the first to admit—he thought that the Leaders of the Opposition ought to bear in mind that, during the 35 or 40 years they had been in power, they had allowed so many Irish grievances to exist of such a nature, that it was now said that they almost justified breaking of the law. He sincerely hoped that this subject would be treated as a matter of emergency, and that the Government would enforce the maintenance of the law, and relieve the poor people of Ireland, or of any other part of the United Kingdom, from the tyranny of their neighbours, who would not allow them to have those liberties which every Englishman ought to be able to enjoy, merely because they differed from them on a question of politics. If the Irish Members opposite would agree that the stamping out of crime was in all countries a matter of urgency, and would put forward reasonable demands, they would speedily gain the car of Conservative Representatives for those demands, and would also have the support of the English constituencies in obtaining a remedy for the misfortunes and grievances under which their country had undoubtedly suffered to a considerable extent.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

The hon. Member for the Maiden Division of Essex (Mr. Gray), who preceded me in this debate, assured the Representatives of Ireland that, if they came to this House and told us what Ireland really wanted, he and those who acted with him would try to meet their wishes. Why, Sir, the Government which the hon. Member supports have sent their own men to make inquiry in Ireland, and have proved that, so far from listening to the representation of the Irish Members, they will not even listen to their own Commissioners. The hon. Member seems to think that the Government in taking, as they propose to do, what will practically be the whole time of this House till after Whitsuntide, are taking the best course to help private Members. It is more reasonable to say that there are enormous arrears of legislation urgently demanded by Great Britain. And there are vital reforms, which it is essential to the welfare of Englishmen to obtain, and which they rightly think to be quite as urgent and important as any of the questions affecting Ireland. I should be out of Order if I discussed these reforms; but I am expressing the opinion of the whole House, when I say that the disastrous position of the agricultural interest, the revision of local taxation, and technical education for the people of this country, are matters of urgent and immediate importance. What I maintain is, that whatever may be the pledges of hon. Members, whether for or against coercion, hon. Members on all sides of this House have pledged themselves to their constituents to do their utmost to press forward these reforms. The utterly unprecedented number of Bills and Resolutions on the Order Book show that hon. Members are willing and anxious to throw all their energies into this work. Well, Sir, I think, wholly irrespective of coercion, it was imperative on the Government, in the face of such circumstances as these, when they asked for the whole time of the House to make a complete and conclusive statement of the arguments which led thorn to take this course. But no statement, no coherent argument has been offered. The First Lord of the Treasury does not agree with the Chief Secretary, and the Chief Secretary does not agree with himself. The First Lord of the Treasury gave the House to understand that the whole of Ireland was in a state of disorder. But after the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for New-castle-on-Tyne (Mr. John Morley), the Chief Secretary had, in the beginning of his speech, to allow that disturbance was only local in Ireland, and did not cover more than one-eighth of the country; and yet, as he went on in his singular, haphazard harangue, and readied higher flights of rhetoric, he spoke of the whole fabric of society in Ireland crumbling to its primeval atoms. If the Government have failed to tell us why they need coercive powers, they have as conspicuously abstained from defining what sort of coercion they are going to introduce. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) last night showed an extreme anxiety to supply something of the backbone which the Government so woefully lack; but he felt himself obliged to take an attitude of temporizing scepticism, and would not pledge himself to take this leap in the dark and vote for the Bill of the Government till he saw what it was. And yet, at the same time, he was so illogical as to urge his Unionist Friends to support the Government on this occasion, and to give thorn the power to force the House and the country to take this leap in the dark. The only thing that was clear was that the Government were determined to persist in the fatal error adopted last August. The House will remember that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), in the speech which ushered in his brief Leadership, declared, as the policy of the Government, that they would treat social order as a thing apart, and not as dependent on remediall egislation. Ireland could wait, and they would send Commissioners to inquire into the real aspects of Irish questions. Then, at Bradford, the noble Lord gave as the apology for the delay of the Government that they would not legislate "until they knew." Well, our contention is, that they will not legislate even when they do know. They have sent the best men they could to Ireland, they have given them carte blanche, they have enabled them to call the most capable witnesses; an exhaustive inquiry has resulted in a volume of evidence which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) rightly characterizes as the most important document on the condition of Ireland ever laid before this House. And yet, Sir, we find the Government ready to east to the winds the practical recommendations of their own Commissioners, and to give the preference apparently to brand-new theoretical schemes from that Birmingham mint; with the ever changing political currency of which we were so familiar last spring, when, as hon. Members will recall, each week there was a new issue, with a new die and a new superscription. As I have said, the Government is persisting in their policy of August in spite of their own Commissioners' Report. If we could gather anything from the speech of the Chief Secretary, it was that he would firmly maintain the sacred-ness of contracts, and uphold the judicially fixed rents. That makes one call to mind once more the remarkable speech of the Prime Minister at the beginning of the last Session. Lord Salisbury said, in the House of Lords, that if rents had really become impossible, the loss by the difference between the possible rent now, and the rent judicially fixed, should fall, not on the Irish landlords, but on the State—that is, of course, on the taxpayers of England, Scotland, and Wales. Now, if the Chief Secretary were in his place, I should challenge him, and ask him, why he has not the courage of his convictions, why he cannot carry out such a policy, which would at least be equally fair to tenant and to landlord? Why, Sir, can he not adopt the recommendation of his own Commission, and at once carry out a revision of the judicial rents; and, why can he not also bring in a Bill to make good the difference out of the Consolidated Fund? The answer is obvious. It is cheaper, and easier, and less risky to coerce the poor Irish tenant, who is far away, and weak, and helpless, who is groaning under the semi-Russian despotism, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham once so eloquently denounced, and who is, as that right hon. Gentleman pointed out, at the mercy of 30,000 bayonets. It is easier, I say, to do this than it is to face the free and independent taxpayer of Great Britain, who is at our doors, who has free speech, free right of meeting, and who will challenge the action of the Government and insist on a just consideration of his claims. Does the Report of the Commission justify a resort to coercion? The Commissioners do not recommend coercion, but only a firm maintenance of the ordinary law. Last night we were treated to a singular display of fraternal criticism from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham on the right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne. He quoted a passage in which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley) said that it was not inconsistent with, that it was part and parcel of the Liberal creed not to hesitate to deal with outbreaks of violence. But, Sir, that is just the difference. We Liberals and Radicals are always prepared to deal vigorously with outrage and crime. We do not need to call for un-Constitutional powers. We hold that coercion is the avowal of weakness. Liberalism and Radicalism are strong to repress wrong, because they have a strict regard to justice And I would say, what I am sure on Members on this side of the House will confirm, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne showed in that short period in which he was Chief Secretary for Ireland (that period which will remain a bright page of Irish history) just this quality. He had but one great opportunity, and that was afforded him by the disgraceful and sanguinary riots at Belfast—riots which, I have no hesitation in saying, were the direct and obvious result of the reckless and inflammatory address of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. My right hon. Friend showed firmness, justice, and impartiality in dealing with the Belfast riots. I do not think any of us doubt, that if similar occasions had arisen in the Catholic Provinces of Ireland, he would have shown the same resolution and the same impartiality in putting down public violence But happily the rest of Ireland was peaceful. They had learned the lesson of hope, and had fixed their trust on a great Englishman and a great English Party. The Government have a still stronger warning in the separate Report of Mr. Knipe, which has been so long delayed, and was only laid two days ago on the Table of this House. Mr. Knipe says— I think that any attempt to meet agrarian crime and outrage, which unfortunately prevail in certain districts, by any fresh coercive legislation will now, as in the past, not only fail to secure the tranquillity of the country, hut will inevitably end in seriously aggravating the present difficulties. The real source of trouble, he pointed out, was the strained relations between landlord and tenant, because rents had become impossible. It was at the Rent Question that the Government must strike, if they wished to pacify and gain the confidence of the Irish people. I would beg the attention of Liberal Unionists to Mr. Knipe's advice; for Mr. Knipe is speaking not as a Nationalist, but as an Ulster Liberal Unionist. The Government have disregarded Mr. Knipe's advice, and seem to have made up their minds that coercion is the best way to improve the relations between landlord and tenant. They have determined to crush by force the combinations of the tenants against rents which the Government's own Commission prove incontestably to be unjust. They scorn to think the happiest solution of Irish difficulties is to drive, by force, the tenants of Ireland into whichever of the gigantic, universal, compulsory schemes of State purchase has been excogitated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham for the present emergency of the Government. What is the real reason the Government have thrown over their own advisers? It is the old reason, the exasperation of failure. The Government, the Unionist Party, as it calls itself, has missed a golden opportunity. It is easy to denounce and deride the objects of the Unionists. But it is possible also to state the Unionist creed in noble and generous terms. And I have no doubt there are Unionists in this House, who would find the ideal of Unionist policy in words used many years ago in "another place"— We contracted, when we assumed the dominion of Ireland, a solemn duty, that we would give to that country the same amount of benefit as it would have received from an independent domestic Legislature, really representing the wants, the feelings, and the wishes of the Irish People. If the Unionist Party last summer, when they had the clear and undoubted facts before them, when they were fresh from that "irreversible and final verdict of the country," of which we heard so much, when they had that magnificent majority at their backs; if they had seized the occasion for proving that they were the true friends of the suffering Irish people, then it was just conceivable, from the standpoint of a Unionist, that they might have won for themselves the noble title of being the salvation of Ireland. They have preferred to leave the work and the reward to the National League, and their failure is complete, and that is the key-note of their cry for coercion. What is the spirit in which the Government approach this task? Why, in the speech by the First Lord of the Treasury, and in that of the Chief Secretary also, there is not a word of sorrow or regret—not a single apology for their proposal to abridge the Constitutional liberties of Irishmen. I am almost tempted to wonder whether any Member of the present Government has read and considered the speeches of past statesmen who have proposed coercive measures, such as the noble and generous speech of Lord Grey in 1833, when he spoke with pain and sorrow at the necessity he felt, and said— Such powers are only to be exercised in extraordinary circumstances, and are such as, if permanently established, are incompatible with free institutions; if resorted to on all occasions, must prove destructive to every free Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne referred the other night to the singular evidence which Captain Hamilton, the hon. Secretary to the Property Defence Association, gave before the Royal Commission, and I will read to the House the last answer which that Gentleman gave—an answer which seems to me to stamp him as the apostle of prompt and pitiless eviction. In reply to the question, "What further suggestions he wished to make?" Captain Hamilton said— The only thing that occurs to me is to make the law as short as possible. What I always do is to sell the farm at once; the hold the tenant has is the six months allowed under ejectment for redemption, and that is one thing that, if it could be prevented, it would be of great advantage. In view of the combination among tenants banking their money, the only way is to show them that they must pay, whether they bank or not, and the only terror you can hold over the tenants is to say, 'I will sell your farm, and knock down your house, if necessary.' It seems to me that it is in the temper of men like Captain Hamilton, rather than in the grave, and dignified and apologetic spirit of great statesmen like Lord Grey, that the Government are introducing their proposals. We are face to face with coercion, that does not explain, does not apologize for itself—with coercion impenitent and unredeemed by a single touch of generosity. But I may venture to say also we are face to face with coercion in its unhonoured decrepitude, with coercion in the sere and yellow leaf, which the strong and whole-some breezes of democracry will promptly sweep for ever into the dust, which is its fitting resting place. It was hard to understand how the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham could support the Government in so miserable and so ruinous a policy, when one remembered the forcible words of a speech delivered only a year or two ago, in which he bitterly characterized the want of sympathy Lord Salisbury showed for the sufferings of the Irish tenants. The difference between all the circumstances when coercion was last resorted to, and the present situation, when no reason, substantial or otherwise, had been put forward for such a course, was enormous. I would wish to ask the Liberal Unionists, in the face of this enormous and striking contrast, whether it would not be wiser for them in time to reconsider the vote they are about to give; whether it would not be wiser for their own future interests; whether, apart from interest and on the higher ground of conscience, it would not be better in view of the pledges many of them had given again and again on public platforms throughout the country; and whether they are really determined to identify themselves with a failing and a hopeless cause, and resolved to go into the Division Lobby in support of a policy to which they saw the entire democracy of the United Kingdom were opposed. I do not know that I can more appropriately conclude these remarks than by quoting some weighty words from the noble speech delivered by Lord Grey in 1846 on the state of Ireland, in which he denounced the un-wisdom and the hopelessness of the policy of coercion persisted in by the Conservative Ministry of that day. It seems to me that every word applies with equal force to the present Ministry on the present occasion. After pointing out that the Tory Ministry of 1846 re- fused to supply any real remedy for the miseries of Ireland, Lord Grey said— Her Majesty's Government propose only to go on with measures such as those we have tried over and over again—measures which have allowed all the evils of Ireland to go on, as I have shown, and rather to get worse rather than better. They propose doggedly to pursue the old and beaten track. How, then, can they expect that it should lead to any but the accustomed termination? Two words, 'money' and 'coercion,' seem to describe the whole policy of the Government. … Both have been tried over and over again, and we see in the state of Ireland the most convincing proof that by themselves they hold out no hope of success."—(3 Hansard, [84] 1347ߝ80.)

MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's Co., Ossory)

said, the Government exercised a wise discretion in not putting up any of their Members to reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), because that speech completely pulverized the case of the Government. He said the case of the Government, but practically the Government had no case at all, and it could not be said even by their best friends that the Government had seriously tried to make a case. he had heard many speeches from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), but he had never heard the right hon. Gentleman say anything yet—he had never yet heard the right hon. Gentleman say anything that was pointed, that was forcible, that was conclusive; and he thought when they considered the demands the Government were making on the House, no speech could be more feeble or more pointless than the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman took refuge in generalities. He said that Ireland was disorganized, and that expression seemed to serve him in good stead, for he used it several times during the course of a short speech. He said that juries were intimidated and that criminals were going about the country scot-free and unpunished, though Judges had declared they ought to be convicted. He (Mr. Macdonald) did not know what particular instance the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind—if the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind any instance at all with regard to the necessity for coercion, viewing the condition of the country. It seemed to him that the observation was made in that kind of vague talk in which the right hon. Gentleman usually indulged; but he remembered a ease pretty distinctly in which an Orangeman committed a murder which was declared to be such by a Judge—and yet a jury of Orangemen acquitted the prisoner. Whether it was to meet such a case as that the Coercion Act was introduced he did not know, but if so, the right hon. Gentleman's friends in the North of Ireland would not be thankful to him.

MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

Will the hon. Gentleman name the ease he refers to?


The case of the Walkers. He did not think the case for the Government was very much mended by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It seemed to him to be more like a speech in a young men's debating society, rather than of the character they were accustomed to listen to from Ministers. With regard to the Chief Secretary's description of the National League being merely an alias for the Land League, he pointed out that there was a vast distinction between the old Land League in operation in 1880–81, and the National League which existed now. Many of the most prominent persons associated with the old Land League were no longer connected with the National League. The persons who were connected with the National League were hon. Members of that House, and they could be brought to the bar of the House and of the public opinion of the country to account for their conduct if they pursued any course which deserved serious censure. He contended that no case had been made out for coercion. No exceptional crime existed in Ireland as a whole. There was disorder in a few districts, but this was solely due to the action of the landlords. If the Government, therefore, introduced reforms neutralizing the action of the landlords, they would get rid of whatever disturbance might exist. Hon. Members who contended that if the land system in Ireland were reformed or settled there would be an end to the demand for Home Rule, must be singularly ignorant of Irish history, and particularly of the events that had happened in that country during recent years. The very soul of Irish agitation for a long period had been the demand for self-government. In 1843 the great agitation of O'Connell was based, not on a reform of the land system, but on the repeal of the Union; and so in 1885 the hon. Member for the City of Cork, as the Leader of Home Rule, doubled his strength in that House on the same demand—he would say the indestructible demand—of the Irish people for self-government. That was still the great want of the people of Ireland, and until it was granted there would be no satisfactory settlement of the difficulty. Not a few hon. Members must have been puzzled to discover the real object of the coercive policy of the Government. It could not be the suppression of secret societies, for it. had been shown that there were none, and it could not be in consequence of the general prevalence of crime, because since 1880 there had been an enormous decrease of crime in the country. This had been proved to the House by the production of very remarkable statistics, and the charges of the Judges to the Grand Juries throughout Ireland might be adduced in. strong confirmation of the statement. It was, therefore, not the state of crime in Ireland which induced the Government to bring forward a Coercion Bill; neither could it be on account of Boycotting, be-cause Lord Salisbury himself had told them that Boycotting was a thing which no law could deal with. Moreover, Boycotting was in full force last autumn; and, if the practice could be reached by coercive legislation, why was not such legislation proposed then? he could only suppose that the Coercion Bill was to be introduced in order to prevent the carrying out of the Plan of Campaign; but even if they made it too dangerous for the Irish Members to do so, the people themselves would be quite able to carry out the Plan, in spite of all their repressive enactments, by means of secret combinations. Further, he warned the Government that even if they obtained the exceptional powers which they demanded, they would never break the spirit of the Irish people, who had resisted all the efforts made through many centuries to accomplish their subjugation by force, and would still continue to do so. He trusted the House would not assent to the Motion of the Government, whose object it was to destroy all hope of peace in Ireland.

MR. HOWORTH (Salford, S.)

said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Macdonald) always secured the sympathetic attention of the House and set an example to some of his Friends in the earnestness with which he spoke, but which had carried the House a long way from the issue before it. He would like, with the permission of the Speaker, to draw the attention of the House to the very simple issue which was before it. They were not there to discuss hypothetical measures, which the hon. Member had presented, or to discuss that measure on its details. They were there to discuss the graver question, whether law and justice had been paralyzed in Ireland, and whether paralysis of law and justice justified the Government of this country in asking for exceptional advantages in prescribing great remedial measures. Before he addressed himself in a few words to the direct issue, he would like to say a word or two about the incident which occurred the previous evening, and in which he thought he should secure the sympathy of some hon. Members on that side of the House. It seemed to him that after the brilliant speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that it was distinctly the duty of some Member on the Front Bench to get up and reply to it. He and others felt that the fact of the dinner hour intervening at 8 o'clock was not a sufficient excuse for Members on either Front Bench to refrain from speaking when some one of great experience was, and authority in the House had presented the case from the opposite side, not merely to the Benches they saw around them, but to the country. It seemed to him that it was not fair to their own people outside the House, nor quite fair to hon. Members who represented Conservatism there, that that speech should have gone by default for two or three hours, as it would appear to the country as if the great conjurer—who had conjured so often with the House—had no one on the Opposition Benches who was competent and willing to answer him. The only excuse, if it was an excuse, was that Ministers were addressing, possibly, Benches. They had in the Reporters' Gallery, however, friends who performed many services on many occasions, and who formed the conduit pipe between that House and the country, and who would take good care that whatever was worth repeating and reporting was reported duly the following morning. Hon. Members were not there to perform an intellectual and political parade. They were there to answer each other on the one side of the House and the other. Now, having said this, he should like to refer to one or two parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which an answer had not yet been given. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by a very dexterous side issue, which had nothing whatever to do with the issue before the House. He occupied one-third of his address in showing that the parallel between the cases of 1881 and 1887 did not hold good, and for this reason—that whilst he introduced his measure at the beginning of the Session, the present Government introduced it two months after the Session had commenced, and when they were in the middle of a discussion on the affairs of the country. The fact that the Bill of 1881 was introduced at the beginning of the Session, when there was, therefore, more time to discuss it, seemed to him to demand loss instead of more urgency than when such a Bill was introduced later on. Besides, two months, it must be remembered, had been occupied in preparing the machinery necessary before they could pass the Bill which they deemed to be most essential for the community if it was to be preserved from disintegration. This was the preliminary part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech; but he went on to challenge the Government that the state of Ireland did not justify exceptional advantages being given to the Government to carry a measure of repression. He should quote a few extracts more powerful and more judicial than anything hitherto laid before the House. The authorities he would quote were in an absolutely neutral position. He proposed to read two or three short sentences from the addresses of several of the Irish Judges to the Grand Juries in Ireland, not two, or three, or 10 years ago, but within the last few weeks; and he believed the extracts would prove the best epitome available of what was the real condition of things in Ireland just now. He began by quoting the charge of Mr. Justice O'Brien. Addressing the Grand Jury at Ennis, County Clare, on February 27, Mr. Justice O'Brien said— I find by the returns compiled by the Constabulary that even with regard to the undetected crime there is a large increase since the time of the last Summer Assizes over the corresponding period of last year. … From the returns before me I have come to the conclusion that law, to a great extent, has ceased to exist in the county. The common rule of obedience which exist in every civilized State is abrogated and replaced by an influence fatal to industry, fatal to prosperity, fatal to every interest connected with the welfare of the community, and an influence that is becoming dominant here elsewhere through a want of courage and firmness in meeting it. The same Judge, addressing the Grand Jury of Kerry, on March 9, said— I grieve that it is not in my power to announce any change for the better in the state of this county. On the contrary, there exists even at this moment an extraordinary state of things of an unprecedented description—nothing short, in fact, of a state of open war with all forms of authority, and even, I may say without exaggeration, with the necessary institutions of civilized life. These returns before me present a picture such as can hardly be found in any country that has passed the confines of natural society and entered upon the duties and relations and acknowledged obligations of civilized life. The law is defeated—perhaps I should rather say has ceased to exist. Mr. Justice Lawson, addressing the Grand Jury of County Mayo at Castle-bar, on March 10, expressed regret— That he could not congratulate them on the condition of the country. So far as he could judge from the official returns, the county appeared to be in a state of disorganization. The existing state of things was most unsatisfactory, and, according to the report made to him, approached as near to a revolt and rebellion against the existing authorities as anything short of a civil war could do. These were appalling statements to which he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) would address himself, instead of indulging in rhetorical by-play. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would avoid appealing to the elaborated rhetoric, to which he had possibly devoted many hours of preparation, and rather bring to bear on those extracts that spontaneous genius which was at his command—extracts, however, which he would not have the courage to contravene. These statements of the Judges presented a state of things so terrible in the condition of Irish society that they must feel that it was not only the duty of the Government but of every Member of that House to assist the Government to find some way out of it unless society was to become disintegrated. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had laid down the extravagant and extraordinary theory that people were not to obey or be controlled by a law when they were not in sympathy with it. What, he should like to know, would have become of the Slave Trade of the West Indies if Parliament had not gone directly in the teeth of the prejudices of the slave owners. At every turn in their history they had been continuously legislating for the great benefit of the people in the teeth of the prejudices—the immoral prejudices of large portions of the people. Another statement from the Benches opposite was really remarkable, and it has been repeated as if it had some peculiar virtue in it—that no Act for the purpose of restoring order had hitherto been passed in this House by a Party vote. The fact was true; and why was something like a Party vote about to be exercised on this occasion? Because this was the first time in the history of our country that a large and responsible Party, with great traditions, found itself allied with the forces of disorder. It seemed to him that we were in a very critical condition indeed, when a great Party like the Liberal Party was found adding its weight to those who would like to see anarchy produced in Ireland, and refused to assist the Government in passing a law which was called for, not by partizan opinion, but by the opinion of independent observers like the Judges. Apart from those considerations, it seemed to him that they were bound to accept the Government for the time being as the best judge of what was requisite when the question was one of maintaining order in any part of Her Majesty's Dominions. If the Government made a grievous mistake in miscalculating the position, they would be held responsible presently when they were brought before the bar of public opinion. He thought it was the duty of all hon. Members to support the Government when they were asked that exceptional advantages should be given to this measure, and to vote in favour of a proposal which was rational, which was fair, and which commended itself to the judgment of every man who retained some love of order and of peace.

MR. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester, S. W.)

There have been many remarkable circumstances in connection with this debate; but I think one of the most remarkable is the exhibition of self-restraint which we find in hon. Members opposite. It appears to me that the Government, as a preliminary to passing a repressive measure for Ireland, had passed a repressive measure for their own Followers. My hon. Friend the Member for South Salford (Mr. Howorth), however, will not subject himself to that discipline, although one would have thought he might have done it more easily than others, because he so often instructs us with his pen. Instead of subjecting himself to that discipline, he, himself, becomes a disciplinarian, and he undertakes to lecture the Bench behind which he sits for a gross neglect of duty. Well, I think there is some reason for the complaint he makes of that Bench; for I have never known, on an occasion so important as this, so many able speeches from one side of the House, and so very few from the other. The question before us to-night is one of great simplicity, and is perfectly intelligible. It is, whether we shall grant to the Government the whole time of the House, in order that it may pass a Bill which it could not readily pass unless we granted them that favour. The peculiarity of it is, that nobody knows anything about the provisions of the Bill. I have a strong feeling that there is no Legislative Assembly in the world that has any degree of self-respect which would bind itself hand and foot in favour of passing a measure which it has never seen. I see my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) before me. He is a reasonable man. He recently belonged to a rational Party. May I not ask him whether it would not have been a manly and respectful course towards this House, that the Government, before asking for the whole time of the House, should have introduced their Bill, and should have read it a first time? I do not know whether there are precedents for the course which the Government are taking; but, whether there be precedents or not, this course is contrary to reason and common sense. It must be allowed that, considering the gravity of the occasion, no case has been made out. When the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith) sat down, that was the first thing my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) said, and in the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) there was scarcely a sentence endeavouring to make out a case. The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Brodrick) certainly did more than his Predecessors; but I understood that his case was mainly that there are combinations in Ireland that ought to be put down. Then I seemed to get a sort of explanation why the Government had been so reticent. They know that there are millions of men in Great Britain who will have no sympathy whatever with the Government, when they find that their object is to put down combinations against excessive rent, seeing that the poor tenant has no tribunal to which to appeal. The Government is loss original than most Governments. It has loss courage than most Governments. It scarcely dares to take responsibility for its own acts. It is always leaning on the broad shoulders of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). The Leader of the House seemed to excuse the course he was taking because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian introduced a measure of coercion in 1881. The Party opposite and the Government may be wise—may be right in following precedents which have been set by the late Prime Minister; but I will undertake to say that oven he is not infallible, and they may follow him sometimes when he has been totally wrong. In the precedent of 1881 I believe the Liberal Government was utterly wrong. It was preparing to pass a great land measure for Ireland; but, before it passed that measure, the Government had exasperated the Irish people to the utmost degree by taking the course of giving precedence to a Coercion Bill. Now, I undertake to say that what the Liberal Government did in 1881 had much to do with strengthening the hands of the Nationalist Party; and I believe what the Government is doing now will have precisely the same effect. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) last night declared his belief that we required a remedial measure, and we required also a measure for the strengthening of the Criminal Law. When I heard the speech of my right hon. Friend I was reminded very much of the clever people we see in circuses riding a couple of horses at the same time. He seemed to me to have one foot upon the Tory, and another foot upon the Liberal, horse; but I could not help thinking that he leaned rather more kindly to the Tory horse than to the Liberal one. He made an extraordinary statement—a statement winch he would not have made unless a great change had come over the temper of his mind. He said that in 1881 he had supported a coercive measure; that he had supported a coercive measure in 1882; and that he would have supported a coercive measure in 1885 if the Government had not broken down. Now, the intimate Friends of the right hon. Gentleman know perfectly well that he supported the measure in 1881 with the utmost reluctance. They have an absolute belief that, if he had had his way, he would have said—"Give us a remedial measure first." Even last night he admitted that the coercive measure had failed, and that the remedial measure had failed to do much of the good it might have done if it had stood alone. But with regard to 1885, we have heard a speech to-night from my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), who knows a good deal of what took place in 1885; and it was then currently stated, and, as he says, never denied, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham either gave in his resignation to the Prime Minister, or threatened to do it, because of the attempt to enforce another coercive measure. Now, this will be one of the most memorable Sessions that any man in this House can remember, and it will be memorable in this way—that we have a Tory Government supported by so-called Liberals, and that that Tory Government has twice asked the whole time of the House—the first time in order that it may gag the Imperial Parliament, and the second time in order that it may forge fetters for the Irish people. It seems to me that the subject would form an admirable cartoon for some of the pictorial papers of the day I voted in 1881 against the coercion mea-sure of the Liberal Government. I have to make no apology with regard to that. I voted with a very small group of Members—I am not sure whether there were more than half-a-dozen English and Scotch Members who went into the Lobby at the time. I shall vote tonight against this attempt to pass a coercive measure; but I shall not vote with half-a-dozen Members. I shall vote with a great and powerful Party. In that short time—it is only six years ago—in that period of six years, we have made enormous and rapid progress. At that rate of progress, the time is very near at hand when Ireland will be governed by reason and by justice, and not by the rude force of coercive legislation which the Government to-night is endeavouring to apply.

SIR HENRY JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)

I desire in the brief period during which I shall occupy the attention of the House to state the reasons which cause me to differ from the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), and also from the reasons which he gave in support of it. It will be my endeavour to find reasons for that difference, not so much in questions of policy as in divergence in respect to the principles which ought to govern all who apply themselves to the consideration of this question. I am glad to mark that my right hon. Friend, in the terms of his Amendment, does not for one moment dispute that it. is necessary to strengthen the law. He makes no objection to the proposition which the Government has submitted to the House that the condition of Ireland is such that it is necessary to strengthen the law and the machinery which enforces it; but the Amendment directly and distinctly states that the time has not yet come when that alteration in the law should take place My right hon. Friend, in his Amendment, only asks for postponement—that the measure for strengthening the law should be put off until remedial measures are passed. Thus the question at issue between us ought to be a narrow one. But I am afraid, from the reasons which he has given in support of his Amendment, that there are questions of grave difference between my right hon. Friend and those who support him, on the one hand, and those Members who support the Government, on the other. I have sought to learn from my right hon. Friend what are the motives which have induced him to move this Amendment. he has told us, in plain and distinct words, that the object of his Amendment is to render support to those combinations which he says are the sole protection of the ten-ants in Ireland. I ask my right hon. Friend whether there are any combina- tions over which he desires to throw the protection of this Amendment, save the National League and those who have combined to promote the Plan of Campaign? I know of no other; and so I understand that the Amendment, which has received the highest sanction in the enthusiastic support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), is an Amendment moved on behalf of the National League and the Plan of Campaign. In order to make clear two points of difference between my right hon. Friend and myself, I will call attention to one other proposition which has been submitted to the House. He has told us what are the objects of his Amendment. He is anxious to redress grievances, as he calls them, in preference to punishing offenders. These are the words of my right hon. Friend— I am less anxious, anxious as I am, to secure vengeance against 100 or 200 ruffians, than I am to secure the rightful and humane treatment of the poor tenants in Ireland. The issue is plain and distinct. Whether there are 100 or 200 ruffians, or 500 or 600, can, in principle, make no difference whatever. It would be petty and technical to discuss his proposition on such a ground. Nor is the number of tenants that may be affected, the question which my right hon. Friend wishes to submit to the House. I will give him a thousand, or let him take any number he chooses. I say that it is a fair construction of what my right hon. Friend said that he would put aside, at least for a time, the necessity of bringing criminals to justice whatever their number may be—that he will be careless of either their detection or their punishment until a remedial measure is introduced into this House. [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen behind me shout an emphatic "No!" But these are the terms of my right hon. Friend's Amendment. ["No, no!"] The proposition is made in his own language. [An hon. MEMBER: No; the right hon. Gentleman said "less anxious."] My right hon. Friend said that he would allow the ruffians, be their number what it may—["No, no!"]—to go unpunished until a remedial measure is passed. If that be not his purpose, there is no one who would be more ready to disavow it than my right hon. Friend. What he has stated, he has stated with all the honesty of his nature, and I know he will adhere to it. Let me repeat it again in his own language— I am less anxious, anxious as I am to secure vengeance against 100 or 200 ruffians, than I am to secure the rightful and humane treatment of the poor tenants in Ireland. That is the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. He holds that these ruffians, number what they may ["No, no!"] ought to go unpunished until a remedial measure is passed. ["No!"] If that is not his purpose, why has this Amendment been moved? It has been moved for the purpose of securing remedial measures first, and then proceeding to the detection and punishment of crime. I am sure my right hon. Friend would be the first to wish that our friendship should not prevent me from discussing with him closely and critically what his proposition really is. To him it moans simply that so many persons whom he calls "ruffians" should go undetected and unpunished. ["No!"] That is the proposition which my right hon. Friend has submitted to the House. ["No!"] I can explain his words in no other way. Sir, to my mind, there are other and graver considerations. For myself, I admit that it is of comparatively small moment that individual criminals—in some cases—should go unpunished; for instance, if from want of testimony, or the perverse-ness of juries, or the individual action of jurors—or from whatever form it may occur—criminals here or criminal there go unpunished because conviction cannot be obtained. That is a comparatively small matter, but if the escape of criminals be systematic; if it proceeds from organized action, then it affects, not only the criminals, but also the State. It becomes not only a question of the criminal who escapes, but of those who are the victims of crime. For every one of these criminals who, upon the theory and suggestion of my right hon. Friend shall, for a time at least, continue his career unchecked and unpunished, represents not only the impunity of individuals who might be named in numbers, but the over-awing of the whole community of the loyal and well-disposed. It represents a life of terror and misery when no man's life and no man's property are safe, and when the hours of every passing day must be hours of fear and wretchedness. We claim not only that criminals should be punished, but that the innocent and loyal subjects of the Queen should be protected. [A laugh.] A sentiment like that is jeered and laughed at, and I am asked to be a party to an alliance with such men. I decline to join in an alliance with men who can laugh and jeer at the suggestion that it is the first duty of every Government—of every civilized State—to afford all the protection that the law and the authority of the Government can afford to those who require protection. There are other considerations besides the protection of the weak, which my right hon. Friend ought to have placed in the scale of the balance he hold between these two classes of measures. It is not only the protection of individuals who are without protection against organized combination, unless the law should afford it to them which has to be considered; but a great issue is raised now in respect to the very character of the community in which the law is to be administered. It is not only that the state of Ireland ought, I think, to create alarm in the minds of men; it is the countenance that has been given to those acts of crime and illegality that alarm the minds of those who are anxious for the maintenance of the law. we have heard something like a distinct expression of praise of illegality. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fife (Mr. Asquith), in the remarkable speech he made last night—a speech which was devoid of promise only because it was so full of the realization of success—in that most able speech my hon. and learned Friend reminded us that we are legislators, and that we are not moral censors. But I must remind some of my hon. Friends who sit around him that there is a danger of being worse than moral censors, and that is of being immoral censors. When I hear of hon. Members saying that, whilst they care not that the Plan of Campaign is illegal and criminal they give it their moral sanction, I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that it would be well if they would recollect that they are legislators, and not irresponsible censors. But there is a treatment of this combination which I regard as being worse than an express sanction—it is the conduct of men, on many of whom grave responsibility rests, some of whom have been Ministers of the Crown and know the responsibility of having to maintain law and order. Desiring to speak with, the greatest consideration of my old colleagues, I wish they had spoken a little more plainly on the subject, and given support to the maintenance of the Queen's authority by condemning what they admit to be illegal. It is said you may condemn by faint praise; so you may also praise by faint condemnation. Those who would convert the men who commit crime and illegal acts into "village Hampdens" are men on whose shoulders the greatest responsibility lies. The question now is not one of mere figures; it is not whether the crime we have to deal with is of this character or that. We have not only to detect 100 or 200 criminals or ruffians. Differing from my right hon. Friend, we have not only to protect those who are unable to protect themselves, unless covered by the law's great and powerful authority; but we have here to try this great question—when illegality is rife, when illegality is supported by express words and by covert words, when, for the first time, the Queen's authority is repelled with contempt under a covert alliance with men who have been Ministers of the Crown—are we to make the admission that nothing is to be done, or are we to stand here with the confession that we have been bullied by anarchy into dealing with measures of remedial legislation? [Cries of "Oh!" from the Irish Members.] I scarcely expect the assent of hon. Members below the Gangway to that proposition. I could not suppose for a moment that it would be accepted by those who are anxious that no steps should be taken to recall the authority of the law and of the Crown, when the law is defied and treated with contempt, and when it is admitted that the Queen's writ does not run in many parts of Ireland. It is not from that point of view we have to deal with this question. The issue is very clear. We are dealing with a very grave and serious question which affects the very character of the nation. There are some of us who think the first duty of the Government is to protect the subjects of the Queen by the law. we admit that there is a duty cast upon the Government to redress wrongs and grievances; and the question is whether the proposition which has been made to the House that your first duty is, before you restore law in to its proper position and authority, to consider the grievance of a class, or whether, on the other hand, your duty is not first to reassert the deposed authority of the Crown, and then to proceed, in a generous spirit, with the remedial measures. It has been said, in support of the Amendment, that you must not punish the crime that proceeds from the demand for a redress of grievances—that you must first remove the grievances which are alleged to he the causes of crime; that you must satisfy the demands made, and only then can you proceed to frame now laws or improve the machinery of the existing law for the enforcement of the punishment of offenders. What a monstrous proposition, for see what it means? Let there be a demand for the redress of a grievance, just or unjust—although it may be assumed to he just—and it will be inferred that you will not give redress unless it be supported by crimes; and then, if there be criminals to be dealt with, then the grievances of a class, the redress of which is demanded by criminals, will be redressed, and that upon the terms which they dictate, and after all this has been done you may begin to vindicate the authority of the law. Thus, the concession of the principle of the Amendment creates demands for the remedy of class grievances, and creates the criminals who will thrive unpunished upon the grievances. If that is so, the principle involved in the issue is immunity from the punishment of crime for political reasons—an immunity which is inconsistent with the maintenance of government in the State. There is nothing so disastrous to the maintenance of good order as the knowledge that impunity for crime exists. I am anxious to quote, on this subject, a high authority whoso words will have the full approbation of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt). I believe I shall be able to show that I am supported step by step in the proposition I desire to lay before the House, by the words of my right hon. Friend. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will recollect the views he entertained and expressed in 1882, and I think that it may be of advantage to many hon. Members who sit on this side of the House to refer to them. In 1882, my right hon. Friend said— The main cause of crimes is the expectation of impunity—an expectation which, in Ireland, is too well founded upon terrorism and its consequences. My contention is that the impunity which is suggested by the Amendment, and which is involved in the proposition that you should never punish criminals whose crime may proceed from a demand for a redress of grievances until the grievance itself is removed, is an impunity founded too much upon the terrorism which exists in Ireland at this moment. The hon. and learned Member for Fife (Mr. Asquith), whoso speech I refer to with pleasure on account of our long personal association, asked what must be the feelings of the Liberal Unionists now, and suggested that we must be suffering much from the pangs of conscience. He asked who was the director of our consciences? I say with pride that for years the director of my political conscience was the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian; he formed, to a great extent, the political views I held; and in the campaign of 1882 it was from him we learnt most of what formed our conscientious views of what was best to be done on behalf of the people of Ireland—especially for those who needed the protection and the support of the law. It is from what I learned from my right hon. Friend, that I believed that my conscience will have no such pangs as my hon. and learned Friend spoke of. My right hon. Friend then said— Am I to be told that such intimidation—not trivial intimidation, but intimidation in furtherance of the objects of illegal combination—intimidation which does not express the silly and foolish wish of an individual, but the set purpose of large and powerful bodies of men; am I to be told that that is one of the objects beneficial to the public welfare, for the sake of which we are to look with tolerance and indulgence on the failure of the Jury system? I remember the appeal which my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian made to the constituencies. [Cries of "Oh!"] I trust there is nobody who supposes that I enter into this controversy with a view of showing that some of my former Colleagues have changed their opinion. I believe that any Member of Parliament—and especially one who belongs to the Liberal Party—may, from the necessities of political life, rightly change his views from time to time on questions of policy. It is a petty and paltry argument to call attention to words spoken here, and words spoken there, and to show how widely they differ from previous utterances. If that creed had been accepted, the Liberal Party would have lacked its flexibility, and would never have been able to adopt its policy to the necessities of the people, and would have been unable to accomplish the good which it has effected. If our policy had been an invariable and fixed one, it would not have been worthy of the Liberal Party. But on questions, not of policy, but relating to great principles and the necessities of government, there can be, and there ought to be, no change. No one can believe that [the demands of policy can ever change the fundamental principles upon which government should be conducted. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle said the other night that he was very unwilling to draw an indictment against the landlords; but he certainly drew as grave an indictment as it was possible for anyone to draw against those who are now his Colleagues. Wittingly or unwittingly, he brought a most grievous charge against those who are acting with him. He charged them with having for five years, as a powerful Government, acted directly in opposition to Liberal principles. I do not know whether my right hon. Friends will entrust me with their defence. If so, I will do my best for them; but there are, undoubtedly, two or three cases which present extreme difficulty. There is, first, the case of my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). How to defend him I scarcely know. I heard him this evening explain the limits of his personal connection with measures of coercion. He told us that he was innocent of the charges made against him and other right hon. Members, and that in his heart—in his inmost heart—he had never been a supporter of any exceptional measures for the suppression of crime.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I did not say that, I said that I had supported by speech the first Coercion Bill.


Yes; but in a most reluctant manner.


I said nothing of the kind. I said that I supported the first Coercion Bill of 1881 in a speech, and that it was after that that I refused to support similar legislation.


I am sure that my client is right and that his advocate is wrong, and I will accept his instruction. But my right hon. Friend distinctly stated that, after giving that vote in 1881, he reflected, he visited Ireland, went among those who were suffering under the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and then expressed to the late Mr. Forster his conviction that coercion must never be applied again. He knew then that our measures ought to have been of a remedial character, and that repressive measures should have been abandoned. The right hon. Gentleman, in fact, poses as a penitent who has discovered the error of his ways. But what strikes me with amazement is this. Although he says that in 1881 he gave a vote in favour of coercion, he has found himself unable to take that course since. He says that he lamented the vote which he then gave; and yet, although the time that has elapsed since the speech of my right hon. Friend, this afternoon, has been short, I have been able to discover that in the year 1882 he recorded no less than 87 votes in favour of coercion—which is a very fair amount for a penitent. I am not complaining that my right hon. Friend or any Member should change his opinion on a question of policy; but when Members do so, had they not better say so? I will now leave my right hon. Friend, in his state of penitence, to account for the 87 votes which he gave in 1882. But there is a worse case yet, there is another criminal—my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt)—who offered me a few minutes ago a general retainer. What am I to say for him? I can only offer him advice, and I advise him that the only safe course to pursue is not to plead to my right hon. Friend's indictment. I advise him to remain mute, not of malice, but out of regard to truth. I know that the person remaining mute is judged to be contumacious, but still this offence will not be much regarded by my right hon. Friend. I know, too, that the punishment for contumaciousness of that kind is that you have heavy weights placed upon your chest; but I am sure my right hon. Friend must already have felt some very heavy weights in the neighbourhood of that part of his heart which covers his conscience. Let me recall to my right hon. Friend, before he undertakes his own defence, an incident which occurred in the year 1882. I had the great advantage of constantly acting with my right hon. Friend in 1882; I very often accepted his directions. In fact, to use the phraseology of a sport, he used to put me on as a change bowler whenever he wanted to take himself off. And so I learned his style of delivery, and, although I sometimes thought that it was a little high-pitched, I recognized that it was very effective. Well, I remember that on the 14th of June, 1882, precedence having been given to the Crimes Bill for the purpose of hurrying it through the House, a Bill called the Arrears of Rent Bill to give relief to those who had not received the full benefits of the Land Act—a Bill which was, no doubt, much required, and which was a remedial measure—was placed after, and not before, the Crimes Bill. On the 14th of June, before proceeding with the Crimes Bill, the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) rose in his place, and appealed to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby to delay the measure for one single day in order that steps might be taken for the relief of evicted tenants, on whose behalf the hon. Member told a far more serious tale than can be told now. My right hon. Friend had then the responsibility of Office, and an appeal being made to him to stay the Crimes Act for one single day in order to enable the Arrears Bill to be brought in, what was his reply? "No," said my right hon. Friend—I wish I could imitate him either in words or gesture. He is but scantily reported, but I will reiterate the effect of his words—"No," said my right hon. Friend in effect—"not for one single day will I stay the Crimes Act. I admit the truth of all that has been said as to the necesssty for the Arrears Bill; I know the hardship and misery that are being inflicted by evictions, but there is a paramount duty placed upon me—I have to maintain law and order in this country. I have to take care, before relief is given to a special class that the law is enforced and that, the condition of the population shall cease to be one of terror and wretchedness in consequence of the impunity with which crime can now be committed in Ireland." Is not the spirit that animated my right hon. Friend then the spirit that ought to animate him to-day? I ask him to revert in thought to the position which he took up when it was his duty to administer the law. If he stood tonight in the same position in which he stood in 1882, would not, I ask him, his line of conduct be precisely the same? I ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby now, to be careless of obtaining the advantage of a moment—I ask him, and men like him to consider that there are greater considerations than obtaining cheers from any quarter of the House. I cannot pass, unnoticed, the statement which my right hon. Friend made in support of his indictment—that all Crimes Acts have been useless and have failed. I admit that with regard to the policy of the Act of 1881 he proved his case, but he knows that that Act was admittedly a mistaken and an ill conceived Act. It was not a Crimes Prevention Act, it was a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. It was an Act which could succeed only by terrifying men. [An hon. MEMBER: It did not terrify anybody.] I agree that it did not terrify those it was intended to terrify. Hon. Members played their game with the cards on the table, and did not run away; but after one year the error which had been made was remedied. The measure of my right hon. Friend was conceived and drafted not on account of that sad and terrible occurrence of the 6th of May. [Cries of. "Oh!" from the Front Opposition Bench.] My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney disputes that statement. Well, I know when the Bill was drafted, for I saw it on Sunday the 7th of May, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, in print. I have heard the statement made that that Bill was drafted and pressed through the House on account of the dreadful occurrence which happened in the Phoenix Park. It was nothing of the kind. The Bill had previously proceeded from the Cabinet, and had re- ceived its sanction, and the first draft of it was placed before me on Sunday the 7th of May. Therefore that Bill was framed to meet the wants of Ireland, and did not result from the Phoenix Park assassinations. I want the House to see, for a moment, the effect of that Bill. Sir, in the six months before it came into operation the number of agrarian crimes in Ireland was 2,548; I take the corresponding period of 1885, when that Act was still operative, and I find the number had fallen to 373, and out of those as nearly as possible one-half were merely the sending of threatening letters. I am told that has nothing to do with this Crimes Act. But those who had the greatest experience of that Act, as its operations drew to a close, came to the conclusion that its wise and equitable provisions ought to be renewed in order to maintain peace and order in Ireland. I believe it is true that Lord Spencer said Ireland could not be governed without it; and I know it was true that though statements were made that the Conservative Party would not support the renewal of the Act when my right hon. Friend for whose defence I am still acting, in the month of November, 1885, on the eve of the General Election, made a celebrated speech, he took the same view. In that speech there is one sentence which, as long as I live, I shall never quote, lest it should annoy my right hon. Friend. The effect of that speech was that in stating his charge against the Conservative Party he said they were not prepared to retain the wise and equitable provisions of the Crime3 Act, but they were going, for Party purposes, to abandon their loyal fellow subjects in Ireland. I know by whom I am to be followed, and I apologize to the House for the long time I have occupied its attention. I can only say that to me there are graver considerations involved either than the treatment of Ireland or this Amendment, which I fear is being fought on strictly Party lines. Sir, this is a question that affects not only the Irish criminal, not only the Irish peaceable subject, it is one which affects every member of the community living in this country; but there must be men in the furthest dependency of the Crown, men who turn their thoughts to their home and ask themselves whether—in that central power which controls not with physical force the vast possessions of the Queen—whether there will not be men amongst them, the great majority of this House, who will not do their best to preserve the integrity of the Empire and the authority of the law.


Sir, I believe that the first duty of a man who has been unjustly accused and who has been properly acquitted, is to return thanks to the most able counsel by whom he has been defended. That that defence has been able, and that it has been successful, I should be the last to deny, or, by disputing it, to cast any imputation upon, or do any injury to, the professional reputation of my right hon. and learned Friend. I remember a story connected with the trial of Horne Tooke. he was defended by Erskine, and thinking that Erskine was making a very bad defence, he sent him a note, saying—"If you go on in this way, I'll be hanged if I don't defend myself "; to which Erskine replied in another note, "you will be hanged if you do." I am content to leave my defence in the hands of my right hon. and learned Friend. But we have more serious matters to discuss, and as it is getting late, I think we had better come to the Resolution and the Amendment, upon which no very great light I think has been thrown by the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend. I always think it is best, in a great controversy of this kind, to try to understand and to state fairly the position of your adversary, and then to state your own. If I understand the proposition laid down by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, it is this—that the first duty of civilized society is to enforce the law. Is that a correct statement of the proposition of the hon. Gentleman opposite? I take it that it is. But let us clearly understand that the position has been fairly stated. It will be observed that it is a general proposition without limitation. There is no question as to what the character of the law is, or whether it be a law that works justice or injustice. It is a general proposition that it is the duty of the Government to enforce the law, because it is the law. To that sentiment, in that general form, I oppose an absolute denial. If the law be a good law and a just law, it is the first duty of civilized society to enforce the law; but if, on the other hand, it is a bad law, which works injustice, it is not the first duty of civilized society to enforce that law. [Cries of "Oh!" from the Ministerial Benches and interruption.] I have stated your proposition; allow me to state mine. It is not the first duty of civilized society to enforce that law; but the first duty of civilized society is to abrogate or amend the law. I desire no fairer issue than that. To enforces the law whether it is just or unjust is the Tory principle; to amend and reform laws which are unjust is the principle of the Liberal Party. It must be so; and thus I will answer my right hon. and learned Friend on the whole proposition contained in his speech. If it be the fact that the crime with which you have to deal is the direct and immediate outcome of an unjust law, surely if you amend the law non constat, that any coercion will be wanted at all. You may deny that crime is the outcome of the law; but if it be the fact that it is the outcome of an unjust law, the best way to get rid of crime which is due to an unjust law is to amend the law, and thus get rid of the cause of crime. That is a clear proposition, and I am ready to take my stand upon it. [Cries of"Oh!" in which some hon. Members on the Opposition Benches joined.]


Order, order!


Surely on one's own side of the House one might expect courtesy. I am referring to the interruptions of a Liberal Unionist, who ought to be content with the other advantages he possesses. I will illustrate my meaning by an instance from my own experience in early political life, when my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) sat with me below the Gangway opposite. At that time Trades Unions were practically illegal. The law of conspiracy had been so strained by the Judges that almost every combination of the labouring classes was criminal, and very cruel and unjust sentences were passed. I was associated with my right hon. and learned Friend in obtaining an alteration of that law, and in taking away the criminal action attributed to such combinations by the Law of Conspiracy, which was a most unjust law. But what would have been the attitude of my right hon. and learned Friend if at that time any Government had intro- duced a Coercion Bill more effectually to suppress trade unionism. We took a contrary course; we first addressed ourselves to altering the unjust law. That is the course which we desire to follow now. I will not pursue that part of the subject further, because it was fully dealt with yesterday in the admirable and consummate speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith), who is, I believe, a pupil of my right hon. and learned Friend. I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend upon his pupil; and I feel that the principles which the hon. and learned Member for East Fife has enunciated are those which were entertained by my right hon. and learned Friend in his early youth; and I will only say that the hon. and learned Member for East Fife appears to have acquired all the earlier and better manner of my right hon. and learned Friend. Of course, it is a great grief to us to find some of our Friends in disagreement with us on this subject. I do not see my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) here to-night. We are not, it seems, to have his support. But I confess—and I bear in mind—the blessing which has been pronounced upon those who expect nothing—namely, that they are not disappointed. We had no right to expect the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. Last autumn, immediately after the General Election, and on the formation of the present Government, the right hon. Gentleman very accurately described his political position. He said— I am not going to vote for an Amendment the carrying of which will be equivalent to a vote of censure on the Government. I am not going to do anything which will turn out this Government. [Cries of" Go on!"] I will go on, Sir; I cannot remember the exact words but it is to this effect. "I will do nothing which will in any way be an advantage to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian." I had no wish to state that; but as hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to have desired that I should do so, I have no objection to comply with their wishes. Then it is quite plain that whatever this Bill was, whether there were to be remedial measures or no remedial measures, no Motion whatever, to disturb the present Govern- ment, would meet with the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. Last night, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham undertook to explain the views of the democracy of England on the subject of coercion. Well, Sir, with the greatest respect and regard for my right hon. Friend, I must tell him that the Liberal Party do not recognize in him the right to declare the opinions of the English democracy. The English Liberal Party look more for their "light and leading" in a different direction; they look to the statesmen whom my right hon. Friend abjures and refuses to follow. What the English democracy think of the views of my right hon. Friend we are able to some extent to judge we have tested it lately in a borough in Lancashire. My noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and I are personally and politically connected with the great county of Derby, and we have heard the opinion to-day of Derbyshire. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham is a man of great abilities and great capacity, but he is engaged, at this moment, in what my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) very properly described as a dangerous performance in political equitation. He is trying to ride two horses at once; he is trying to pose as the confidential adviser and authoritative agent of a Tory Government, and at the same time he claims to be the chief monitor and sole dictator of the Liberal Party. Well, it is impossible to reconcile those two positions. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham must make his election between the two. What claim has my right hon. Friend to speak for the Liberal Party? Of course I may be answered—"What's in a name?" [An hon. MEMBER: Hear hear!] The hon. Member is quite right. We, at the present moment have a Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of the Tory edifice the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the pillar within while my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham is the buttress outside. In that way the Government is well supported. But the doctrine which was preached last night by my right hon. Friend was not always the Birmingham doctrine. There is another right hon. Member—I mean no disre- spect to my right hon. Friend; but he will pardon me for saying—a greater Member for Birmingham who has spoken on this question, and who had and has great claim to represent the opinions of the democracy of England. Well, Sir, speaking in the year 1867—[A laugh.] I have thought that hon. Members opposite consider that previous opinions ought to be quoted; no matter at what time they may have been expressed, and why I have mentioned the date is, that it was in the very height of the Fenian insurrection when Ireland was in the most dangerous condition that any man has ever known, and compared with which its position now is tranquillity and peace. Speaking at that time the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) used those words— I entirely disagree with those who, when any crisis or trouble arises in Ireland, say you must, first of all, preserve order, you must put down all disloyalty and disobedience to law and assert the supremacy of the Government, and then consider the grievances complained of. This has been the case in Ireland for a number of years, and the great preserver has been the gallows and the gibbet. That was the Birmingham doctrine in those days. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) passed in review the policy and the acts of the Administration of which he was himself a Member. He condemns all remedial measures. He says of remedial measures that they have all been failures, and there is only one part of the policy of the Government for which he expressed unmitigated admiration, and that was the coercion policy of the time. He does not agree with my right hon. and learned Friend in the distinction he drew between the Habeas Corpus Act of 1881 and the Crimes Act of 1882. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1881, he says, was a capital Act, because it put the Leaders into prison. [An hon. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member opposite is of that opinion, and I presume he expects that that will be the object and effect of the Bill the Government is about to introduce. But I think that expression of opinion was a rather extraordinary one coming from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. I think that, when he expressed his admiration of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and of the putting of all the Leaders of the Irish Party into prison, there is one man who ought to have been here to listen to the expression of the somewhat tardy repentance of my right hon. Friend—a man whose premature decease is regarded on all sides of the House with regret. Mr. Forster, I think, ought to have been here to hear that expression of opinion. The whirligig of time brings about strange things, and certainly a more extraordinary statement never came from a more remarkable quarter. I do not agree in the opinion of the policy of the then Government that is formed by the right hon. Gentleman. I admit that the Act of 1881 did not completely succeed, and I will say a word directly as to the causes of its failure; but that the Coercion Act failed in the objects it had in view I do entirely agree, and in that I have the concurrence, frequently publicly expressed, of Lord Spencer, who had to administer it. But how was that Coercion Act to which my right hon. Friend refers with so much exultation, and the shutting up of the Leaders of the Irish Party, treated by hon. Members opposite? I remember a speech of the right hon. Member the Chief Secretary for Ireland in which he described that Act as infamous. But who was the ringleader in the infamy? It was the very man who now says that the shutting up of the Loaders of the Irish Party was the proper tiling. If you want any information with regard to the Kilmainham Treaty, you cannot do better than apply to the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. Last night my right hon. Friend said that he was extremely anxious for a reform in the Irish land system, and so vital and so essential does he regard that reform to be, that he says that, unless it is carried into effect, he will not support even this Government. But let me refer to another right hon. Member for Birmingham. In this morning's paper, in which the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham appears, there is published a letter from the senior Member for Birmingham, in which that right hon. Gentleman says that he does not think there is any need for another great land settlement for Ireland, which would merely be used by the rebel party in Ireland as a weapon for obtaining Home Rule. What a pity it is that we cannot get, even in the select circle of the Members for Birmingham, an accord upon even central principles. If they cannot agree on this point among themselves, how can they expect us to agree with either of them? The right hon. Member for West Birmingham has complete confidence in the remedial measures of the Government; he seems to have divined the nature of the land measures of the Government by a sort of second sight. the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was not satisfied with the exposition of those measures which was made by the Chief Secretary; he thought that the explanation was imperfect, and he gave us a revised edition of the Government plans. He tells us that he approves of those plans in their substance and in their method. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the Coercion Bill is to be passed with rapidity through this House, and that the Land Bill—the remedial measures of the Government—are to be introduced in the House of Lords. the right hon. Member for West Birmingham has evidently unlimited confidence in the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman stands sponsor for the House of Lords, and he promises us in their name that they will pass a complete and satisfactory measure dealing with the Irish Land Question. For my own part, I should have more confidence in the right hon. Gentleman's assurances if I could gather from his remarks that he was himself going to conduct the Bill in "another place." I should not be in Order, and I have not time to go into details as to the proposals of the Government, but the real and material proposal of the Commission of Lord Cowper is the reduction of judicial rents. The hon. Member for the Southport Division of Lancashire (Mr. Curzon) said that the Government have accepted the Report of the Cowper Commission and their recommendations, and that they are going to reduce rents in accordance with the proposals of the Commission. But are they going to do so? I gather that they are not. I understand, from the rather vague allusions of the Chief Secretary, that the Government are going to make some change in the proceedings in bankruptcy. I did not quite understand those observations, but they have been somewhat expanded and more fully explained by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. Now, what is the grievance which is complained of in Ireland? It is that, owing to the fall in prices, the Irish tenants are unable to pay their exorbitant rents, and accordingly the Cowper Commission have recommended that those rents should be reduced. But the Government are not going to reduce those rents; the exorbitant rents are going to be continued, and they are going to better the position of the unhappy tenants by making bankrupts of them. That is the remedial measure for Ireland which the Government have borrowed from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman has many amiable qualities, but I think that that which most distinguishes him is the bump of philoprogenitiveness. He is very remarkable for the fecundity of his brain, and he is also conspicuous by his parental fondness for everything he produces he once supplied us, as a bantling, with a Bankruptcy Bill, and I really do believe that my right hon. Friend is now convinced that the sum of human felicity is to become a bankrupt under his auspices. In the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, this is the cure for all the ills of Ireland—namely, to enable the oppressed tenant, who is unable to pay his exorbitant rent, to become a bankrupt. That is the first article of the Birmingham programme. By offering the solatium to a ruined tenant, under exorbitant rents, of becoming a bankrupt, we are to restore peace to Ireland. I leave the rest of the Birmingham programme in despair. The suggestions are very ingenious, but so numerous that it is impossible, at this late hour, to get through them. It is somewhat like a rainbow in the variety of its hues; but when you endeavour to grasp it, beautiful as it is to look at, it disappears with the swiftness of a meteor. The Government demand urgency for the measure; but I venture to say that the Government first of all have been extremely prudent on the subject, and they have not yet told us why they demand urgency for their measure. No Government before them has ever made such a demand without laying the condition of Ireland before the House. I know that in 1881 Mr. Forster made a full statement on the subject to the House. [Cries of "No!"] It is difficult to prove a negative; but I know that that has been the usual course. Why, then, do you refuse to lay Papers on the Table now? Is it because you know you have no case? Why have you taken this course? The Government, in my opinion, are altogether discredited with reference to their statements on the subject of Ireland. They were challenged last September, and they stated then that there was no occasion, in any way, to deal with judicial rents. They stated that the fall in prices could not possibly have affected the judicial rents. We were told the very opposite by the Members from Ireland, who know Ireland. But the Government argued—"Oh, the valuer must have anticipated the fall of prices in fixing the judicial rents." Why any man of common sense could have seen that no man could have valued on such a basis as that. In this Blue Book there are a dozen Assistant Commissioners who come and tell you that they did nothing of the kind. Mr. Grey, the chief valuer, said, in answer to a question, that if they anticipated anything they anticipated a rise of prices in the valuation. What do you think of a Government that comes and makes such a statement? Why, they had nothing whatever to do but to write a letter to Dublin asking the Assistant Commissioners whether they had or had not anticipated a fall of prices in their valuation; and they would have got an answer from everyone of them saying that, so far from that being the case, they had not done anything of the kind. the Government were so ignorant, careless, and reckless, that, in the face of Parliament and the country, they made a statement on that subject which was entirely without foundation. They were supported, no doubt, by several of their | Party. There was the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson), who has a great knowledge of wool, and who demonstrated that there could be no occasion for any reduction in rents. And, of course, there was the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald) and the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman). who came forward and demonstrated that it was all nonsense—that there was no occasion for considering the case of the tenants at all, and they refused all redress. There is in this Blue Book the evidence which contradicts that in every way. The Government, then, does not come into Court with clean hands in considering the condition of Ireland, after the manner in which they behaved last September. Well, now, the facts are clear. The present rent payable by law by the tenants of Ireland is not a fair rent. It is an unfair rent. Every eviction in Ireland is, therefore, primâ facie unjust. It is an eviction for an unfair rent. [Cries of "No!"] Every rent based upon those prices at that time is an unfair and unjust rent. ["No!"] Hon. Members say "No!" Parliament thought it right, and I will presently state why Parliament thought it right, to fix a fair rent; and it is now proved that that rent is not a fair rent. Now, I will toll the Government that under that state of things, in my opinion, the first thing to do is not to coerce these poor people into the payment of impossible routs. Your first object ought not to be to make it easier for the landlords to exact those rents; and your first object ought to be to make those rents fair. That is a reasonable proposition. You may say that rents are too high elsewhere—in England, for instance. No doubt the legal rents in England are too high; but we do not interfere with these. Why? Because we can trust the English landlords to do justice to the tenants, [A laugh.] Yes. The English landlords have given reductions far greater than the additional 15 per cent which is demanded in this Report. the Irish landlords, because Parliament have compelled them to do this act of justice, are always crying out about spoliation. Yes, there has been spoliation; but; of whom, and by whom? Why, Sir, we were told that, under the Act of 1881, by the judicial rents since fixed, the landlords have been deprived—as they say, lobbed—of something like £600,000 a-year. Now, who was it that was robbed? In my opinion it was the people, who before that time were made to pay £600,000 a-year, which they ought not; to have paid. In Ireland, where the landlords have had power to do so—I am obliged to say this because it lies at the root of the whole question—the tenants never have had fair play. That is the root of your whole legislation. That is the root of the agitation in Ire- land, that is the cause of the combination in Ireland, and that is the cause of the crime in Ireland; and unless this House understands that, and, unless the English people understand it, they will not understand the Irish Question. That is the story of this Blue Book. It is told in every page of the evidence. There is one piece of evidence given by a gentleman who, up till very recently, was a Member of this House—a man of very strong Tory opinions, and I think a loading Orangeman—I mean Mr. Macartney. At page 223 he is asked—" You say there are some landlords who have not given a reduction of judicial rents? "His reply was "There always are hard landlords who raise the rents as long as they can." Now mark this sentence for, coming from Mr. Macartney, it is a very remarkable sentence—"That was the cause of the agitation in Ire-land." That, Sir, is the opinion of an Orangeman and a Tory who knows Ireland well. "That was the cause of the agitation in Ireland." Well, Sir, Mr. Knipe, in his Report, of which the Government seem to have taken so very little notice, says exactly the same thing. we hear it said in this House that ail the landlords have shown such great consideration for the tenants. I wish I thought so. the Blue Book shows that that is not the case—that the number of instances in which it has been done are the exception and not the rule. Mr. Knipe says— The landlords, with a few honourable exceptions, have failed to meet by prompt reductions of rent the serious fall in prices, or to recognize the serious losses to their tenants, and to this may be attributed the combination and the resistance to eviction which has taken place and is likely to happen. Now, that, in my opinion, is a very fair example of the evidence contained in this Blue Book. I am sorry to say it is a very old story and a very shameful story. By the Union the British Parliament placed in the hands of the Irish landlords weapons of oppression which they never possessed before the Union. I have here Mr. O'Connell, in 1846, quoting a series of statistics which, very shortly after the Union, were passed in favour of the landlord of Ireland and against the tenants. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth) challenged me to produce the authority of the Judges. Here is an extract from a Judge—Baron Pennefather—soon after the Union, who said— The entire landlord and tenant code goes to give increased facilities to the landlord. It never entered the head of the Legislature to make provision for the tenant: and all these enactments, at least 32, are invasions of the Common Law, without any declared intention to invade. What was the consequence of that? In the same year another Judge, Mr. Justice Fletcher, in his charge to the Grand Jury of the county of Waterford, July, 1814, said— What is the wretched peasant to do? Hunted from the spot where he had first drawn his breath, where he had first seen the light of Heaven, incapable of procuring any other means of subsistence—can we be surprised that, being of unenlightened and uneducated habits (education having been denied him by the Penal Code), he should rush upon the perpetration of crimes followed by the punishment of the rope and the gibbet? Nothing remains for peasants thus harassed, thus destitute, but with a strong hand to deter the stranger from intruding upon their farms, and to extort from the weakness of their landlords—from whose gratitude and good feelings they have failed to win it—a sort of preference for the ancient tenantry. In 1846, Lord John Russell held exactly the same language. Speaking after the Devon Commission had sent in its Report, he said— However ignorant many of us may be of the state of Ireland, we have here (in the Devon Report) the best evidence that can be procured, the evidence of persons best acquainted with that country—of magistrates of many years' standing, of farmers, of those who have been employed by the Crown—and all tell you that the possession of land is that which makes the difference between existing and starving among the, peasantry and that, therefore, ejections out of their holdings are the cause of violence and crime in Ireland. In fact, it is no other than the cause which the great master of human nature describes when he makes a tempter suggest it as a reason to violate the law:— 'Famine is in thy checks, Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes, Upon thy back hangs ragged misery. The world is not thy friend, nor the world's law; The world affords no law to make thee rich; Then be not poor, but break it.' —(3 Hansard, [87] 507–8.) That was the language of Lord John Russell. Now, Sir, the English Parliament, from the time of the Union until the year 1870, passed many and many a Statute in favour of the landlord, but never lifted a finger in favour of the Irish tenant. It was the legislation of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian—so bitterly opposed by the Irish landlords, so violently denounced by the Tory Party, so mauled and mangled by the House of Lords—which was the first attempt on the part of the British Parliament to do its duty towards the country it had undertaken to govern. It is true, then, as Sir Redvers Buller said, that what law there was in the country was a law, not for the poor, but for the rich. And that sentiment was expressed by a man who knew Ireland better than Sir Redvers Buller—I mean the late Lord Clarendon. Everyone who had the happiness of knowing Lord Clarendon knew that he was a man of the highest and most generous sentiments. He had been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and in 1867, the last year of his honoured life, he described the acts of the landlord in the confiscation of the tenants' improvements as "felonious acts." That is a perfectly true description; and I am sorry to say that, in this Blue Book, too, there is a great deal which deserves the same epithet. In 1879 there came a period of great distress. That gave birth to the Land League; it gave origin to the Land Act of 1881. But what did these Land Acts mean? They showed that you could not trust the Irish landlord to deal with the Irish tenant. You have not legislated for fixity of tenure and fair rents in England. Why? Because it is not necessary. You have established fair rents in Ireland because you cannot allow the Irish landlord to fix a fair rent. But if circumstances have shown that the rent is not a fair rent, is it not the bounden duty of of Parliament to see that the circumstances which led to that error should be corrected? Unfortunately, the persistent ingenuity of the landlord has defeated all attempts on the part of the Legislature to do justice to the tenant. In 1870, after the Land Act was passed, they forced, as this Blue Book will show, leases upon the most unjust terms on the tenants in the North of Ireland. We had a speech from the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) tonight, and how did he speak? He said that unless a very drastic measure of land reform were introduced and carried for Ulster, the tenant farmers of that Province would be destroyed. The Blue Book proves three things—first of all, that the rents are impossible; and it also proves, by the mouth of many witnesses, that where fair abatements of rent have been made, the tenants have been willing to pay. That is almost universal in Ireland. It shows, also, that even the tenant-right—the most valuable possession of the tenant—has been either destroyed or greatly lowered in value by the fall in prices; and, I am sorry to say, that page after page is full of examples of the harsh and cruel treatment of the tenants under the existing law. We have heard of the pressure of the Government upon the landlords. It is not necessary for the English Government to exercise pressure upon the English landlords. Why was it necessary in Ireland? We have heard of the pressure put upon the tenants by the League. This Book shows, and I deeply regret it, that throughout the length and breadth of Ireland, in most cases, the full judicial rents have been exacted. In my opinion, this is a monstrous injustice. Now, this Bill—I do not say in its intention, but certainly in its effect—will be to give the landlords greater power to enforce those rents. ["No!"] You cannot deny that. ["Yes!"] Well, how can you deny it? What is the evil which you are aiming at and striking against? Is it the difficulties which now exist in the way of collecting those rents? Then, if you proceed with this measure, and until you have amended the law, it is perfectly plain that the effect of your legislation will be to give greater facility for the collection of those rents. The inevitable result upon the Irish tenants will be, in my opinion, to inflict the greatest and the cruellest injustice, They have suffered a great deal already. They will suffer a great deal more. Who has demanded this legislation at your hands? I am very much afraid that your principal inspirers have been the Irish landlords. [Cries of "No!"] Yes; I very much suspect it, because we have seen the demand made in the evidence of Captain Hamilton, the Honorary Director of the Property Defence Association. He tells us that what is wanted to restore peace in Ireland is that you should leave the tenant no hope. The whole case is summed up in that single sentence; and, in my opinion, if this Bill is passed, it will leave the tenants no hope. If you ask me whether I approve those combinations as the methods of giving some hope to the tenants, I tell you "No." I do not approve combinations, and I do not approve the pressure of the Government. That is not the way to deal with the matter. It is the duty of Parliament to give the tenant hope. It is the duty, and the first duty of Parliament, before everything else, to give the tenants hope and to give them justice, and that is what is demanded in the Amendment. We say, "Before you take measures to enforce unjust rent, there is a far higher and a prior duty, and that is to provide against their use for the purpose of injustice." Then, I say, there is no case for coercion. You have made out no such case. I challenged a comparison, and the Government evaded that comparison between the case made out for coercion on former occasions and the case now. If you refer to The Times of 1882, my answer to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) is that it is idle and absurd to compare the conditions of 1887 with the conditions of 1882. The case for outrage is so faint, that The Times newspaper—the great organ of coercion—is obliged to invent one, and when it has invented the outrages, it can always find the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) ready to endorse them. As far as I know, there is only one part of Ireland which can be justly described in the strong language which has been employed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that is the Protestant City of Belfast. That is a city in which there is constant and violent disorder; and if the Government came forward and said that the state of Belfast was such that we must have a Coercion Bill there, on the ground that we cannot trust the juries, that the police are being attacked, and every sort of violence is going on there, I confess that I should have thought they had made out a strong and plausible case. I fully admit that there are difficulties in the way of the enforcement of the law in Ireland; but I do not want to remove those difficulties by coercion, if I believe, as I do believe, that in remedying the evils from which those difficulties arise, you would not require coercion at all. That is our plain and simple case. You may not believe the facts as we put them before you; but you will find them in the evidence and in the finding of your own Commission. Our case is simply this. We believe that whatever may be the amount of disturbance and crime, happily, the amount of crime and outrage in Ireland is not large. The Member for South Tyrone used a very singular argument on this point. He said— I know that there has been no crime, hut that is because of the alliance of the Members for Ireland with the Libera Party. Well, if we have done nothing else, we have done more than your Coercion Bill will do. We have put down outrage and crime in Ireland already; but we say that there is no evidence of crime or disturbance, or resistance to the law, except that which arises immediately out of unjust rents. Then, surely, if you make those rents just, if you remove the cause from which the crime immediately proceeds, if you remove the cause of grievance, and remove it at once, you do not need any Coercion Bill at all. The work the Commission was constituted to perform will have been accomplished, and your Coercion Bill will be totally unnecessary. That is the case upon which we press this Amendment. You state that there is an urgent demand for coercion. We say "No; "we believe that the cause of the evil is to be found in a particular thing, which particular thing you may remove, and ought to remove at once, and that if you will only do that first, then coercion will be unnecessary. It is for that reason that I support the Amendment, and oppose the Motion of the Government.


Mr. Speaker, the most interesting part of the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) seems to me to be the exhibition of the changes which the whirligig of time has produced in the opinions of the ex-Home Secretary and the present Parliamentary Counsel of the National League. I was deeply interested in the view which the right hon. Gentleman took of the duties of this House and of the country with regard to the maintenance of law and order, and I reverted to the time when the right hon. Gentleman himself was Home Secretary and when he had the support of both Parties in this House in maintaining law and order. [Interruption.] I think that hon. Members from Ireland and hon. Members below the Gangway opposite will admit that it is the bounden duty of the Government to speak on this occasion. They would not be doing their duty, and would be wanting in courtesy to hon. Members, if they neglected to answer the speeches which have been delivered. Therefore, although I have no wish to appeal for the indulgence of hon. Members below the Gangway, I think it would conduce to the proprieties of debate if the Representatives of the Government were permitted to state their views on this subject. We owe it to hon. Members from Ireland, we owe it to the House itself, to speak fully upon this occasion; and if we have not risen in great numbers from these Benches, it is because we have been anxious to give every facility to every quarter of the House to take part in the debate on this most important subject. Great changes have been produced in the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby. he wishes that the laws should be maintained in proportion as they are considered just by those who live under them. I believe I am rightly interpreting the right hon. Gentleman. When he was Home Secretary did he think that the laws he was engaged in administering and the rents which were collected during that time, were considered to be just by the Representatives of Ireland? Does he not see that the complaint made against the laws which he administered was essentially the same as that now made against the laws which the Government are administering? The two cases are precisely alike. Just rents, the right hon. Gentleman says, are to be established. Who is to define what is a just rent? Does the right hon. Member for Derby agree in his estimate of a just rent with hon. Members who sit not far from him? Docs he believe that if he were to say what he considers to be a fair rent he would gain the assent of the majority of the Representatives of Ireland? He spoke of just rents and he spoke of reductions; but he gave no hint of any standard except the fluctuating standard of the popular feeling at any given moment, and he refuses to assist the Executive Government in maintaining the law whenever it docs not coincide with that fluctuating standard of justice. That is the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby. I should like to be permitted, if the House even at this late hour will give me its attention, to reply to some of the speeches which have been made, and especially to the charges which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has brought against Her Majesty's Government. The first of these charges, as I gathered from the right hon. Gentleman, was that the Government, having wasted the time of the Session up to this moment, are now proposing to suppress the individual initiative of hon. Members. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if it has been the fault of the Government that individual initiative has been suppressed up to this time? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] I presume that "Yes" comes from an hon. Member who has been present during most of the discussions, and who, therefore, has an advantage over the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, who has not yet been able to honour us with a sufficient amount of his presence in this House to render us the aid of his authority in making more progress. We are charged with suppressing individual initiative. How were the first three weeks of the Session spent? Were they spent by Her Majesty's Government in prolonging debate? Sixteen days or more were spent on the Address in deference to the views of private Members who wished to prolong that debate. What was it that we were next engaged in? We are charged next with having engaged the attention of the House in the consideration of Rules of Procedure—Rules of Procedure which had the assent, I believe, of the Front Bench opposite, and to which they once attached so much importance that they considered it necessary to devote a Supplementary Session to the subject. Does the right hon. Gentleman really consider that the Government are to blame because at this stage—a stage which, we admit, is late, and which we deeply regret that we have not been able to arrive at sooner—we are obliged to ask for the whole time of the House to press on the Business of the Government? We contend that the blame rests on other shoulders. We complain, and we complain with justice, that we have received no assist- ance from the regular Opposition in getting on with our work. [Mr. GLADSTONE made an observation which did not reach the Gallery.] My light hon. Friend gives me an enthusiastic cheer. I thought it was a tradition of the regular Opposition that they should assist Her Majesty's Government—the Executive Government of the day—in promoting the Business of Parliament. But, however that may be, I throw back upon the Opposition the charge which they have levelled against Her Majesty's Government, that it is by our action that individual initiative has been suppressed; and if we now ask, as we are entitled to ask, the House now to make that great sacrifice of time which we regret having to ask for, it is because that sacrifice is indispensable in the public interests. To hear the right hon. Member for Derby speak, one would think the state of Ireland was not at this moment what we may all call intolerable. He seemed to view with indifference the state of things in Ireland at the present moment. Both the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), as well as the right hon. Member for Derby, speak of the diminution of crimes and outrages. They seem only to be able to read crimes when they are written in letters of blood. They do not seem to realize the fact that the administration of justice is almost entirely suspended at this moment in certain portions of Ireland. They seem to have no sense of this, and they seem not to think it of much moment that jurors can scarcely go into the box without having to make their choice between perjury and ruin. Look at the jurors. [Cries of "Hear, hear! "from below the Gangway.] Yes, now there comes a cheer. The administration of justice is discredited in Ireland at this moment. [An hon. MEMBER: Packed juries.] Yes, you complain of packed juries; others complain of juries who will not convict, although the evidence of guile is strong and conclusive. The position of the administration of justice—the position of juries in Ireland—is that in some cases they do not command the confidence of the Representatives from Ireland, and in other cases they do not command the confidence of the public generally. We see, therefore, that trial by jury in Ireland is discredited, even in the eyes of hon. Members who interrupt by speaking of packed juries. Have you confidence—[" No, no!" and "Name!"]—have you confidence in the administration of the law by juries in Ireland? [Cries of" No!"]


Order, order!


If not—and you cannot deny it when I ask you—then I say that the moment has come when the Government must deal with the matter, and must restore to Ireland that fair administration of the law which shall command the confidence of the public generally. The House will have noticed how, from point to point, hon. and right hon. Members on the other side have spoken as if the object of this Bill were simply to provide better means of enforcing rents. That is not the view of Her Majesty's Government. It does not approach, in any degree, the views of Her Majesty's Government; but I should be surprised to learn that an ex-Home Secretary and an English lawyer was content with the present administration of the law in Ireland. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian made a further charge against Her Majesty's Government. He pointed out to us the extraordinary difference that there was between the present position and the present demands of Her Majesty's Government and those to which he was a party in 1881 and 1882. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I said 1881.] In 1881—and he asked us in his solemn tones—and his demand was repeated by the right hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) and others—whether we were prepared to face the fact that now, contrary to what was the case in 1881, we should pass a law of this kind in the teeth of 85 Representatives from Ireland, and in face of the further fact—I admit that it is a most significant one—that the regular Opposition also were opposing us. Well, now, as regards the representation of Ireland; is it contended by the right hon. Gentleman that if the great majority of the Representatives of Ireland are opposed to a measure which is necessary for the due administration of justice, we are, on that account, to flinch from our duty? This is the point which is put to us. You have 85 Members from Ireland. They will oppose your Bill. Therefore you ought not to propose it or else you are sinning against the first articles of the Liberal creed. Well, suppose my right hon. Friend were in power, and that the law were grossly disobeyed in Ireland, would he consider that the presence in this House of a majority of Irish Members, who were opposed to it, would constitute a bar to proceeding with a measure of this kind? If not, why then does he urge that against us, as at the present moment? But he has another argument, which is a more formidable argument, I admit. He says— Have the Government realized that there will be three-sevenths of the whole of this House which may be opposed to a measure of this kind. Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Government have realized that fact with the deepest regret, and with the fullest knowledge of the consequences which it implies. They see, for the first time, I believe, in the history of this country, ex-Prime Ministers and ex-Home Secretaries refusing. [Opposition cheers and counter cheers.]

MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

Not before time.


I did not catch that.


I said, "Not before time."


It is time that those who have been charged, as Ministers of the Crown, with the administration of justice, with seeing that the laws are obeyed—it is time, says my hon. Friend below the Gangway, that they should desert the Government of the day, and range themselves under the standard of disorder. I admit that it would be unfair at this period of the debate to inflict many quotations on hon. Members; but in answer to the cry made below the Gangway—and in order to show the House and the country the real position of this matter—I entreat the House to listen for a moment to the words of my right hon. Friend. The House will see what we have to deal with now, and what he had to deal with in 1881. These are the words of my right hon. Friend, in 1881— It is not with the people of Ireland that we are at issue. Our firm belief is that the people of Ireland, and especially that the mass of the tenantry of that country, are earnestly desirous to make full trial of the equitable provisions which, with great labour, effort, and resolution, Parliament has introduced into the law of the land. That is our belief also. That with which we are struggling"— and I call the attention of the House to this point— is a power which presumes to go between the people and the law, and which tolls them how-far, when, and how, and upon what terms they are to have the benefits which Parliament intended for them all without restriction and without reserve. That is our case. We, too, are struggling with a power which presumes to come between the people and the law, and tell them how far they shall go. We have, I repeat, no fear of the people of Ireland in the mass. What we have a fear of is lest some should be corrupted by demoralizing doctrines, and lest—and it is the greatest fear of all—more, and many more, should one by one be terrified out of the exercise of their just Constitutional rights, and unhappily induced through intimidation, and from no other motive, to make over their private liberty and the exercise of their civil rights into the hands of self-constituted dictators, and to place those rights under the unknown provisions of an unwritten law dictated by nothing but arbitrary will. Well, Sir, what is the meaning of the Bill which we seek to introduce? It is to protect the people of Ireland, as my right hon. Friend wished to protect them, against arbitrary interference at every stage with their private affairs by self-constituted dictators who wish to exercise the "unknown provisions of an unwritten law." The occasion on which these words were spoken was the time when my right hon. Friend found it necessary to put into prison the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) lest he should frustrate the objects of the legislation of my right hon. Friend, who made the announcement of the arrest in these terms— I have been informed that towards the vindication of law, of order, and the rights of property, of the freedom of the land, of the first elements of political life and civilization, the first step has been taken in the arrest of the man who, unhappily, from whatever motives they may be—and I do not challenge these motives—motives which I cannot examine and with which I have nothing to do, has made himself, beyond all others, prominent in the attempt to destroy the authority of the law, and to substitute what would end in being nothing more nor less than anarchical oppression exercised upon the people of Ireland. I have read this extract because it contains practically the case of the Government. What we have to do is to attempt to break down the oppression under which the people of Ireland are suffering, and to protect them from the self-constituted dictators who are now ruining the prosperity of Ireland. It has been said over and over again—and I regretted that my right hon. Friend should lend the countenance of his authority to such a statement—that the measure of the Government was intended simply to enable the landlords to enforce the payment of their rents; and I think he said to bring pressure to boar upon the tenants—I think that was the phrase. How did he know?


I quoted one of the witnesses—Sir Redvers Buller.


Yes. I want to say a word on that point. My right hon. Friend quoted Sir Redvers Buller; but he never told us to what extent he agreed with the views of Sir Redvers Buller. He put Sir Redvers Buller into the witness-box.

Several hon. MEMBERS: YOU put him in.


He is your man.


The right hon. Gentleman says he is our man. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as anyone that a Commission summons before it whomsoever it chooses. The Commission summoned Sir Redvers Buller to give his independent evidence. But curiously enough, my right hon. Friend said—"The views of Sir Redvers Buller are diametrically opposed to yours," and then he says—"He is your witness." Does my right hon. Friend mean to say he was our witness?




Oh! His views are "diametrically opposed" to ours, and yet he is "our witness." But I wish to call attention to the great dialectical skill with which my right hon. Friend dealt with that point. He put Sir Redvers Buller into the witness-box, and he quoted what Sir Redvers Buller said, to the effect that the law in Ireland looked after the rich and did not look after the poor. I hear a cheer from my right hon. Friend.


I read the words.


Yes, you read those words; but you made no comment upon those words. It is dangerous ground. [A laugh.] Yes, but you will not laugh, I think, when I put the point to you. They are dangerous words to be quoted by my right hon. Friend, unless he intended either to endorse them or to differ from them. An hon. and gallant officer had said that that was the state of the law; but he was quoted by one who was a much greater authority than Sir Redvers Buller; he was quoted by one who was a party to the legislation of the last 20 years. I should like to know, and I think that this House and the country would like to know—and much more are the people of Ireland entitled to know—whether the right hon. Gentleman endorses the statement that the laws in Ireland have looked more after the rich than the poor?


Hear, hear!


They have? And who but my right hon. Friend has been mainly in power, and has for 20 years past had the chief hand in making laws for Ireland. To make a point in debate my right hon. Friend was prepared to sink his own individuality, his own authority, his own experience, and his own knowledge, and simply to put forward suggestive quotations from one part of the evidence of one of the witnesses before the Commission, when he must have known that that evidence was contradicted by his own legislative acts. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] I hope, even at this time of the night, to clear up this point, because it is one which is likely, and naturally likely, to inflame the people of Ireland. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman will endorse, on the floor of this House, the statement that the laws of Ireland have been made simply to benefit the landlords? Has not my right hon. Friend striven with the greatest energy and devotion to pass law after law on behalf of the tenants of Ireland? There was the law of 1870, there was the law of 1881, the laws of 1882 and of 1885, and now he wishes to allow the dictum of Sir Redvers Buller. [Interruption.]


Order, order! I appeal to hon. Gentlemen to give a patient hearing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


I regret that the hon. Member for Northampton does not think that I ought to be fairly heard.


I said, Sir, that Gentlemen opposite chose to talk exceedingly loudly to drown my right hon. Friend's speech.


I have been for a good many years in this House, and it has never been my wish to intrude at great length upon the time of the House, But I have now a duty to perform, and with all respect to hon. Members opposite, I say I should not discharge it if I were to resume my seat. I know it is my duty to my right hon. Friend to take notice of his speech. Now, is it true? I want to know this—is it true that the laws have done nothing for the tenants of Ireland? Is it true that they have not looked after the tenants? What did my right hon. Friend say in 1881?— It is commonly said that the iniquity of the Irish Land Laws is a main reason for legislating on Irish land. Equity and iniquity may be in great part comparative. But if we are to proceed on that principle of comparison it is an exaggeration to describe the Land Laws as iniquitous. The Land Laws of England are laws at any rate under which this country has lived and has been contented and remained prosperous, but the Land Laws of Ireland are chiefly different from those of England in the special conditions which they give on behalf of the tenants. And these words of my right hon. Friend were spoken before the Land Act of 1881, before the Arrears Act, before the Purchase Act, which enables tenants to become the owners of their holdings while paying actually less than their present rent. It was not without reason that my right hon. Friend declared on a subsequent occasion, that— A law had been passed for the sake of Ireland, with respect to the relations of landlord and tenant, as to which he might say that the civilized world did not record its equal. This House has during the last 10 years done its host to improve the condition of the tenants in Ireland. And besides, the laws having been passed for the benefit of the tenants of Ireland, the laws have not been administered in a sense hostile to the tenants of Ireland. Would my right hon. Friend indorse the view that the interests of the tenants have not been looked after, when he considers the action of the Commissioners and the Sub-commissioners throughout Ireland and the great reductions of rent which have been made? The tenants may now complain that these reductions are insufficient. But I maintain that the administration of the Act of 1881 has been, and has been intended to be, a been to the tenants of Ireland; and it is not in such circumstances that my right hon. Friend is justified in quoting, without comment, the saying that the law of Ireland looks after the rich and does not look after the poor. I wish to protest in the strongest manner against the assertion that the legislation which the Government are now proposing is simply in the interests of the rich. I have read from the previous speeches of the right hon. Gentleman that it is the duty of the Government to relieve the people of the country from self-constituted dictators. It is that duty which we are seeking to fulfil. Our Act will aim at the suppression of the fearful curse of Boycotting which prevails still over a great part of Ireland, and not only in those unquiet counties of which the right hon. Member for Newcastle spoke. The right hon. Member for Newcastle minimized the quality of crime, as it is called by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and the geographical area of crime. I do not know whether he has read the whole evidence of the Blue Book. But that Blue Book gives instances of labourers being obliged to refuse work when they were starving, because the farmer was Boycotted and might not employ them. I have evidence which I will put before the House at a more seasonable time to prove that every class in Ireland—tenants, farmers, shopkeepers, labourers, every class—suffer from the fearful tyranny which is at present existing and against which it is the bounden duty of this House and of Her Majesty's Government to make a stand. And it is a libel on our intentions to say that it is simply for the sake of enforcing rents that we are acting. We would wish and we hope to decrease the number of evictions. It will be our endeavour to accomplish that most essential object; but evictions have not only been due to the action of the landlords. Evictions have taken place with all their tragical accompaniments because agitators have prevented compromises between tenants and landlords; and then when they had broken down compromises, and when the evic- tions took place under tragical circumstances, they gloated over those tragical circumstances, and did their best to delude the people of England into the belief that it was simply to the action of the landlords that they were due. Re-member the case where a priest spoke of his "poor slaves," and where he regretted himself that the compromises which had been offered had not been agreed to. [An hon. MEMBER: What did General Buller say?] I should like to read a few quotations from General Buller. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian said he did not flinch from reading the evidence of General Buller, but he did not read it all. There were some very significant points which I remember in General Buller's evidence. General Buller said, "Intimidation is rampant in this country." An hon. Member interrupted me by saying, "What did General Buller say," when I was speaking about evictions. He wanted to turn me from that delicate point, that it is due to the National League that many of these evictions have taken place. Their action is not to prevent evictions and to secure compromises between landlords and tenants, but to compel the tenants to take a course which many tenants, if left to themselves, would not take, but which, when taken, forces the landlord to evict. I heard of a case yesterday where the tenant went to the agent of his landlord and offered him his rent and paid it. [Cries of "Name!"] Name! I will tell you about the name presently. I will tell the case first. The tenant went to the agent of the landlord and said— I will pay you the rent, but serve me with a notice of eviction. Send me all the legal notices which you have sent to my neighbours, because, otherwise, my life will be in danger. And this tenant paid his rent; but he wanted to be served with a notice of ejectment lest he should be exposed to the dishonour of being known to pay his debt. [Cries of "Name!"] Yes, the name. I will give you the name when we have passed this Bill. When you have ceased to Boycott witnesses who tell the truth I will tell you the name; but I am not prepared to hand over the tenant to the tender mercies of the League. Our opponents are continually asking us for witnesses and for cases. Do they not know—have they not acquired sufficient experience during their term of Office to know—that in these cases to produce your witnesses is to expose them to the vengeance of the National League? It is the great disadvantage under which the friends of law and order labour. I admit it. Hon. Members opposite always cry "Name!" because they know that the entreaties of these men who wish to pay their rents is that their names may not be published. And why? It is in the Blue Book—lest they should be shot. It is against transactions of this kind that the action of the Government is directed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle speaks of these combinations as spontaneous and natural, when, as a matter of fast, many tenants are notoriously coerced, and when a tenant the other day, who paid his money to the trustees under the Plan of Campaign, said that he never thought he should see a shilling of it back. You say those are spontaneous combinations. Then why are hon. Members opposite, why is Mr. O'Brien, rushing all over the country in order to stir up these spontaneous combinations? No! these combinations are no more spontaneous than the supposed cases of spontaneous generation. They are worked up by the agitators in Dublin, who have exorcised that kind of coercion throughout Ireland which it is the intention and the bounden duty of the Government, if they receive the support of this House, to break down. We are asked why we do not, in the first place, produce our remedial measures? I think I can give a conclusive answer to that question. We may be guided in this matter by experience as well as by reason. We are guided by the experience that the ruling political forces in Ireland have always endeavoured to frustrate remedial legislation. And why? Because they have political, and not only agrarian, ends. I have already alluded to the fact that when my right hon. Friend had carried the remedial measure of 1881 the first step which he was compelled to take was to put the hon. Member for Cork into gaol lest he should frustrate the effects of that remedial measure. What security have we—that remedial measure having been succeeded by a No Rent Manifesto—that the most beneficial purchase scheme which we could pass would not be followed by a No Price Manifesto? The fact is this, and I wish the country to understand it, that the agrarian question is being utilized by the Nationalist Party in Ireland in order to dupe the democracy of England as to their ultimate aims. Matters were progressing fairly up to November last; but it does not suit the book of hon. Members from Ireland that there should be peaceable progress in that country. What have they to prove? They have to prove for the success of their scheme—and I entreat the House to bear this in mind—that Ireland is ungovernable by Saxon law. Therefore they produce disorder. And how can they best produce disorder? By constantly agitating the agrarian question. In order that they may produce this effect, they trade on the aversion to landlords, and disguise their schemes of Home Rule by putting that aversion prominently before the people of this country. The first stage in their programme is disobedience to the law. That is followed by disorder, and they know that disorder may be followed by despair, and despair they hope will be followed by separation. We have arrived at the stage of disobedience to the law; we have arrived, I am sorry to say, at the stage of disorder; but we on these Benches have not arrived at the stage of despair. We shall proceed with our remedial legislation, and we shall proceed, undeterred by the fear of those anarchical forces, strengthened though they may be now by the countenance of the regular Opposition—we shall proceed with the intention that these forces shall not frustrate our remedial measures, because we shall endeavour to take the necessary steps to defeat such attempts to frustrate them. We are told that our repressive measures will fail. That is one of the statements that we hear most frequently. But unless we first have the means of frustrating the endeavours which will be made to checkmate those remedial measures, it would be useless to undertake them at all. That is why we demand urgency for the reform of the Criminal Law, and that is the single reason why we proceed first with our demands for that which is not coercive legislation, but legislation to render remedial measures possible. But again, I ask, if we do not and cannot pass the measures we have in view, what is the alternative? I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian the Leader of the Oppo- sition—and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby think is the alternative if we cannot pass those measures? The alternative is the continuance of disorder, and if they are prepared to regard that alternative with equanimity, it is because they might point to triumphant disorder as a clenching argument for Home Rule. That is the point which is to be proved, as I said before, that we cannot govern Ireland. [Irish cheers.] I accept those cheers. It is to be proved that we cannot govern Ireland. The English democracy is to be told that we cannot settle the agrarian question. You do not wish the agrarian question to be settled by any remedial legislation. You wish the difficulties to continue; you wish the disorders to continue, and to make those disorders the argument for handing over Ireland to the Nationalist Party. I have heard of a Party who were described once as "marching through rapine"—[Interruption by the Irish Members]—"as marching through rapine"—[Renewed interruption]—"to disintegration." You cannot entirely dispute the truth of words which fell from your present Leader. Even those cheers, which seem to be sweet Celtic music in the ears of my right hon. Friend, cannot set aside the fact that the Nationalist Party were described as "marching through rapine to disintegration." Luckily they did not reach that goal; but where did they march to? Where are they now? They have marched with flying colours and beating drums into the camp of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and now, under his command, the allied forces intend to march, if they can, through disorder to Home Rule. But the voice of the country issued its command at the last Election. It had the Unionists to bar the way. That is the mandate we have received. The defence of order is the defence of the Union. What we ask of the House is to give us the necessary powers for the maintenance of both.


I rise, Sir, to make a protest, although I do not intend to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, in view of the fact that hon. Members from Ireland have been almost entirely shut out from this debate. [Laughter.] Well, I suppose hon. Gentlemen will admit that Members from Ireland have some interest in this debate—they will admit that the Irish Representatives are entitled to speak in this debate, though they have not taken any pains or trouble to allow us to speak, having, on the contrary, done their best, by the arrangements between the Front Benches, to prevent us from speaking. When I heard that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had decided to close this debate on Thursday night, I made up my mind that it was useless for any Irish Member to attempt to intervene at all; but when the right hon. Gentleman was good enough, out of his great bounty, to extend the discussion to this evening, I thought it might be possible for my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) to have an opportunity of speaking. Well, Sir, it has been quite impossible for my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast to speak. I willingly gave up my claim to speak. My hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) also gave up his claim to speak. We did this because we were confident that my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast would have represented our opinions and vindicated our position even better than we could have done ourselves. But we are in this position to-night—that no prominent Member of our Party has been allowed to speak to-night, except the hon. and learned Member for North of Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy). who got up at a quarter to 12 o'clock last night, when almost every Member of the Conservative Party walked out of the House in a body. [Cries of "Sullivan!"] I call a debate, conducted under these circumstances, a mockery and a sham. When you talk about your desire to hear us, and to give us fair play—when you say you desire to hear an expression of our views before you strike us down—I say that I do not believe these protests and those expressed desires. Before you take this Division to-night, if I move the adjournment of the debate, I shall, I suppose, be told that I am interfering with the convenience of about 600 Members of the House, who have come down to divide on this question to-night, and I shall be told that it is impossible to allow me to interfere with their convenience in that way. Nevertheless, I say that we have not been heard, and that if this Division is taken to-night, and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury refuses the Motion with which I intend to conclude, it is a very curious sample of your English fair play. You are in such a desperate hurry, either to get your Coercion Act, or to go on your Easter holidays—I do not know which—that you refuse us an additional night for the discussion of this important question, notwithstanding, as has been shown over and over again, that what you are proposing is in violation of all precedent, and that in the course of its consideration we have been treated to two voices, one from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who told us that nothing at all was to be done upon the Land Question, and the other from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), who told us that a great deal was to be done upon the Land Question. I ask is it, or is it not, right that the discrepancy between these two right hon. Gentleman should be cleared up? I do not quite know what our position is. I shall not know what it is when we go into the Division Lobby. I do not know whether I ought to believe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, or the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I do not know, indeed, whether I ought to believe either of them. I do not know whether either of these Gentlemen has made up his mind on the question, and I do not know whether, having made up his mind yesterday or the day before yesterday, he has not unmade his mind yesterday or to-day, or that he will not unmake it to-morrow. Before we vote away the whole time of the House for Her Majesty's Government, they ought, following precedent, to have placed us in possession not only of the nature of their repressive legislation, but also of the nature of their remedial legislation. That was the course adopted in 1882. In that year, before the Government moved for precedence for the Crimes Act, the Crimes Act had been read a first time, and not only read a first time, but read a second time; and not only that, but the Arrears Bill had also been introduced, and the second reading of it had been moved, and one night's discussion had been taken upon that stage. But now you would hurry us into the Lobby without having regard to that precedent. You ask us to go and vote blind, and not only do you ask us to do that, but you ask your own deluded followers to go and do the same, and I suppose they will obey you. I suppose that the consciences of hon. Gentlemen opposite will be as elastic as the consciences of Members of largo majorities usually are, and I suppose these Gentlemen will be satisfied to vote blindly upon this question without further inquiry. But that is not our position, and I submit that we are entitled to further information than that which has been given by the right hon. Gentleman. In view of the extraordinary discrepancy of statement between the two right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, one from this side and one from the Treasury Bench, I submit that we are entitled to that further information of which we have not received a single atom in the heated harangue of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Therefore, Sir, as one of the Members from Ireland who has a right to speak upon this question, and who is interested in this question, I, on behalf of 86 Irish Representatives, only three or four of whom have, so far, been allowed to take part in the discussion, bog to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Parnell.)

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I think the hon. Member must have anticipated the answer which it is my duty to give him. he will remember perfectly well that I rose on Wednesday evening and remarked on the silence of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Hon. Gentlemen from Ireland have not availed themselves of the opportunities they had of taking part in this debate. [An hon. MEMBER: Opportunities on a Wednesday Sitting!] The hon. Member complains that opportunities have not been afforded to his Colleagues from Ireland to take part in the debate; but I have noticed that the hon. Member himself has been absent during the greater part of the debate. [An hon. MEMBER: So have you.] I have been hero almost without exception, and I have remarked the absence of the hon. Member from the debate for the last four days.


It is very curious, Sir, but I have also noticed the absence of the right hon. Gentleman.


I have not been absent from the House more than an hour during the whole of the debate, and I can say this—that neither the hon. Member himself, nor the hon. Member for West Belfast, has, at any time, risen during the last four clays. If they had risen, Sir, and could have caught your eye, I should have exerted whatever influence I may have over Members on this side of the House to have induced them to give way to those hon. Gentlemen. Seeing that hon. Gentlemen from Ireland have not availed themselves of the opportunities they have had of speaking in this debate, and seeing that this is the fourth night of the discussion, I do not think it would be right or proper to permit further discussion at a period of the Session when progress is required in the interests of the Business of the country. we should not have proposed this legislation if we had not felt its necessity and importance. I have stated repeatedly that we feel it to be our bounden duty to ask the House to proceed, with as little delay as possible, with the consideration and disposal of this great and important question. We cannot, therefore, consent to further adjournment at this stage of the debate, and I must, therefore, ask the House to come to a Division on the question before it at once.

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

It is following rather a dangerous course to make remarks upon the presence or absence of individual Members during more or less of the period occupied by political debates. When the right hon. Gentleman opposite has had more experience in his present position—["Oh, oh!" and interruption.] I wish to know, Sir, if I am disorderly in saying this? When the right hon. Gentleman has had more experience in his present position, he will find that observations of that kind are apt to be a good deal resented; they are liable to unintentional inaccuracy, and are not found to contribute to progress or harmonious debate. What I notice, as the result of much observation, is that there is much greater jealousy when these observations proceed from persons in great authority who are Leaders of the House. The hon. Member for Cork has observed that the Irish Members—the leading Irish Members—have not spoken in the debate beyond a very limited extent. I do not remember whether the hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) and the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) are the only Irish Members who have spoken; but the right hon. Gentleman says that others might have risen and taken their chance of coming into the debate. That is true; they might have done that if they had chosen to establish a competition for that purpose; but then the effect would have been to shut out English and Scotch Members; and I think it was quite natural on their part to wish that the cause of Ireland, as they view it, should be defended by English and Scotch Members as far as it possibly could be. I think it would be most to the convenience and advantage of the House that we should not divide on this Motion for Adjournment—that is to say, that it should not be pressed to a Division. It is always a sign of the thickness of the fray when there are hostile Motions made for the purpose of adjournment on one side and resisted on the other. I can perceive that the fray is about to be thick enough; and particularly, I must say, after the very remarkable charges which have been made in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury—not altogether against myself, or against my Colleagues on the Front Opposition Bench, but against what he calls the Representatives of the Irish National League. I should wish very much that the Motion should not he pressed to a Division; but I am quite sure there will be fairness enough in the House to bear in mind this fact—that, in considering the further stages of the Bill, the Irish Members have as yet been hardly heard on the subject, and that full opportunity should be afforded to them for expressing their views. We have spent a greater number of nights in the introduction of the Bill than happens in most cases. There have been low instances in which a greater number of nights have been consumed; but I am bound to say that, in this instance, that fact is entirely and exclusively duo to the precedent sot by Her Majesty's Government in asking the House for urgency, without letting us know, in some official form, what it is they propose to do. I trust that we shall do all we can to keep down the heat of the moment, and that this side of the House, especially hon. Members below the Gangway, will be content to allow the Main Question to be put, and will urge on a future occasion that which I think they are entitled to stand upon—namely, that up to the present time the voice of Ireland has been very little heard on this question.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House has, on this occasion, singularly and deplorably departed from what, in justice, I must admit is his usual courtesy. In my opinion, his reference to my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) was a violation of the ordinary rules of courtesy which are observed and allowed to opperate on Members of this House. The right hon. Gentleman has felt himself entitled to refer to the fact that, during a portion of the evening, my hon. Friend was absent from the debate. Now, I feel bound to say that, though it is a matter of common knowledge that the health of my hon. Friend has been far from robust, his attendance in the House, not only this evening, but since the debate opened, will compare most favourably with that of almost any Member of the Government, and of most Members of this House. It must also be borne in mind that, while my hon. Friend attends here voluntarily in the performance of a duty, his attendance will compare favourably with that of any highly-paid official of the Crown, some of whom have scarcely been seen here at all. What adds particularly to the incivility of the remark of the right hon. Gentleman is the fact that on a recent occasion, for an entire night, the Irish Members were expected to debate important Irish questions in the absence of the Ministers who ought to have been present to answer them. Not only were right hon. Gentlemen not here, but nobody could tell where they were. The right hon. Gentleman has done me the honour of making some personal reference to me. He has paid me a compliment which I do not deserve. He says that if I had risen to-night he would have used his influence—an influence which I am afraid, however, is not always effectual with his followers—to procure a hearing for me from the House. I did intend to speak this evening; but, certainly, what occurred early in the evening was not favourable to effective debate. The attendance after the opening speeches was extremely thin, and I had ascertained that my right hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) desired to address the House, and I had no wish to put myself in competition with him, although, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone)) has told the House, in the remaining stages of the Bill it may be necessary for us to put ourselves in competition with English and Scotch Members. I also noticed the fact, which I have no doubt was noticed by hon. Members opposite, that a very able Member of the House—the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham)—rose six times, and, although for obvious reasons a speech was expected from him, he failed to catch your eye, Sir. Under those circumstances, I did not feel that if I had risen I could have any certainty that I would be called upon by the Chair. I desired to address the House at a period of the evening when the House was full, and the minds of hon. Members were likely to be influenced by the arguments which might be adduced; but what did I find? We all know that what takes place in the dinner hour is only in the nature of an intellectual excursion, and has no practical bearing upon the real progress of Business. But I learned during the dinner hour that the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) was to speak; that he was to be followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt); and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) was to close the debate. The whole time of the House was therefore appropriated, and under the circumstances I did not feel called upon to rise, nor did I feel any certainty that, if I had done so, I should have been called upon. But although a Division may be taken to-night—for I do not imagine, after the appeal which has been made to him by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, that my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) will press the Motion for Adjournment—the Irish Members will take very good earn that on the next stage, and indeed upon all subsequent stages of the Bill, whether English Members rise or not, or whether we rise first or last, we shall be fully and effectively heard upon this question.


In asking the leave of the House to withdraw the Motion for the adjournment of the debate, in deference to the request of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, may I be allowed to explain, in regard to the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury respecting my absence this evening, that I distinctly stated I had given up my right to speak to my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), and I fail to see what relevancy the remark of the right hon. Gentleman as to my absence during a portion of the evening has with the matter. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian thinks that a Division ought to be taken to-night, I ask the permission of the House to withdraw the Motion for Adjournment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 349; Noes 260: Majority 89.

Addison, J. E. W. Bethell, Commander G. R.
Agg-Gardner, J. T.
Ainslie, W. G. Bickford-Smith, W.
Ambrose, W. Biddulph, M.
Amherst, W. A. T. Bigwood, J.
Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L. Birkbeck, Sir E.
Blundell, Colonel H. B. H.
Anstruther, H. T.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Bond, G. H.
Baden-Powell, G. S Bonsor, H. C. O.
Baggallay, E. Boord, T. W.
Bailey, Sir J.R. Borthwick, Sir A.
Baird, J. G. A. Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.
Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.
Balfour, G. W. Bright, right hon. J.
Banes, Major G. E. Bristowe, T. L.
Baring, Viscount Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.
Barnes. A.
Barry, A. H. Smith- Brookfield, Col. A. M.
Bartley, G. C. T. Brooks, Sir W. C.
Bass, H. Brown, A. H.
Bates, Sir E. Bruce. Lord H.
Baumann, A. A. Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.
Beach, W. W. B.
Beadel, W. J. Burghley, Lord
Beaumont, H. F. Caine, W. S.
Beckett, E. W. Caldwell. J.
Beckett, W. Campbell, Sir A.
Bective, Earl of Campbell, R. F. F.
Bentinck, Lord H. C. Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Chamberlain. R.
Bentinck, W. G. C. Chaplin, right hon. H.
Beresford, Lord C. W. de la Poer Charrington, S.
Clarke, Sir E. G.
Cochrane-Baillie. hon. C. W. A. N. Fry, L.
Fulton, J. F.
Coddington, W. Gardner, R. Richardson
Coghill, D. H.
Colomb, Capt. J. C. R. Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.
Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.
Gedge. S.
Cooke, C. W. R. Gent-Davis. R.
Corbett, A. C. Gibson, J. G.
Corbett, J. Giles, A.
Corry, Sir J. P. Gilliat, J. S.
Cotton, Capt. E. T. D. Godson. A. F.
Courtney, L. H. Goldsworthy, Major General W. T.
Cranborne, Viscount
Cross, H. S. Gorst, Sir J. E.
Crossley, Sir S. B. Goschen. rt. hn. G. J.
Crossman, Gen. Sir W. Gray, C. W.
Cubitt, right hon. G. Green, Sir E.
Currie, Sir D. Greenall, Sir G.
Curzon, Viscount Greene, E.
Curzon, hon. G. N. Grimston, Viscount
Dalrymple, C. Grotrian, F. B.
Davenport. H. T. Grove, Sir T. F.
Davenport, W. B. Gunter, Col. R.
Dawnay. Colonel hon. L. P. Gurdon, R. T.
Hall, A. W.
De Cobain. E. S. W. Hall, C.
De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P. Halsey, T. F.
Hambro, Col. C. J. T.
De Worms. Baron H. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.
Dickson, Major A. G.
Dimsdale, Baron R. Hamilton, Lord E.
Dixon, G. Hamley, General Sir E. B.
Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Dorington, Sir J. E. Hanbury, R. W.
Dugdale, J. S. Hankey F. A.
Duncan, Colonel F. Hardcastle, E.
Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H. Hardcastle, F.
Hartington, Marq. of
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Edwards-Moss, T. C. Havelock - Allan, Sir H. M.
Egerton, hon. A. de T.
Elcho, Lord Heath, A. R.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards
Elliot, hon. H. F. H.
Elliot, Sir G. Heaton, J. H.
Elliot, G. W. Heneage, right hon.E.
Ellis, Sir J. W. Hermon-Hodge, R. T.
Elton, C. I. Hervey, Lord F.
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Ewing. Sir A. O.
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Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J. Hill, A. S.
Fellowes, W. H. Hoare. S.
Fergusson, right hon. Sir J. Hobhouse, H.
Holland, right hon. Sir H. T.
Field. Admiral E.
Fielden, T. Holloway, G.
Finch, G. H. Holmes, rt. hon. H.
Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G. Hornby, W. H.
Houldsworth, W. H.
Finlay, R. B. Howard, J.
Fisher, W. H. Howard, J. M.
Fitzgerald, R. U. P. Howorth, H. H.
Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J. W. Hozier, J. H. C.
Hubbard, E.
Fitz - Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W. Hubbard, rt. hn. J. G.
Hughes, Colonel E.
Folkestone, right hon. Viscount Hughes - Hallett, Col F. C.
Forwood, A. B. Hulse, E. H.
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Fraser, General C. C. Hunter, Sir W. G.
Isaacs, L. H. Muncaster, Lord
Isaacson, F. W. Murdoch, C. T.
Jackson, W. L. Noble, W.
James, rt. hon. Sir H. Norris, K. S.
Jardine, Sir R. Northcote, hon. H. S.
Jarvis, A. W. Norton, R.
Jennings, L. J. O'Neill, hon. R. T.
Johnston, AV. Paget, Sir R. H.
Kelly, J. R. Parker, hon. F.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Pearce, W.
Kenrick, W. Pelly, Sir L.
Kenyon. hon. G. T. Penton, Captain F. T.
Ker R. W. B. Pitt-Lewis, G.
Kerans, F. H. Plunket, right hon. P. R.
Kimber, H.
King, H. S. Plunkett, hon. J. W.
King-Harman, Colonel E R. Pomfret, W. P.
Powell, F. S.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T. Price, Captain G. E.
Puleston, J. H.
Knightley, Sir It. Quilter, W. C.
Knowles, L. Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.
Kynoch, G. Rankin, J.
Lafone, A. Rasch, Major F. C.
Laurie, Colonel R. P. Reed, H. B.
Lawrance. J. C. Richardson, T.
Lawrence, Sir J. J. T. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Lawrence, W. F. Ritchie, rt. hn. C. T.
Lea, T. Robertson, J. P. B.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Robertson, W. T.
Robinson, B.
Lees, E. Ross, A. H.
Legh, T. W. Rothschild, Baron F. J. de
Leighton, S.
Lewisham, right hon. Viscount Round, J.
Hoyden, T. B.
Llewellyn, E. H. Russell, Sir G.
Long, W. H. Russell, T. W.
Low, M. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Lowther, J. W. Salt, T.
Lubbock, Sir J. Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. M.
Lymington, Viscount
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Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
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M'Calmont. Captain. J. Shaw-Stewart, M. H.
Makins, Colonel W. T. Sidebotham, J. W.
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Mayne, Admiral R. C. Swetenham, E.
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Milvain, T. Tapling, T. K.
More, R. J. Taylor, F.
Morgan, hon. F. Temple, Sir R.
Morrison, W. Theobald, J.
Mount, W. G. Thorburn, W.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R. Tollemache, H. J.
Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Mowbray, R. G. C. Tottenham, A. L.
Mulholland, H. L. Townsend, F.
Trotter, H. J. Wiggin, H.
Tyler, Sir H. W. A Williams, J. Powell-
Verdin, It. Wilson, Sir S.
Vernon, hon. G. R. Winn, hon. R.
Vincent, C. E. H. Wodehouse, E. R.
Walsh, hon. A. H. J. Wolmer, Viscount
Waring, Colonel T. Wood, N.
Watkin, Sir E. W. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Watson, J. Wright, H. S.
Webster, Sir R. E. Wroughton, P.
Webster, R. G. Yerburgh, R. A.
West, Colonel W. C. Young, C. E. B.
Weymouth, Viscount
Whartou, J. L. TELLERS.
Whit, J. B. Douglas, A. Akers-
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Craig, J.
Acland, A. H. D. Craven, J.
Acland, C. T. D. Crawford, D.
Allison, R. A. Crawford, W.
Anderson, C. H. Cremer, W. R.
Asher, A. Crilly, D.
Asquith, H. H. Crossley, E.
Atherley-Jones, L. Davies, W.
Austin, J. Deasy, J.
Balfour, Sir G. Dillon, J.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B Dillwyn, L. L.
Barbour, W. B. Dodds, J.
Barran, J. Duff, R. W.
Barry, J. Ellis, J.
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Biggar, J. G. Ellis, T. E.
Blake, J. A. Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.
Blake, T. Esslemont, P.
Blane, A. Evershed, S.
Bolton, J. C. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Bolton, T. U. Fenwick, C.
Bradlaugh, C. Ferguson, R. C. Munro-
Bright, Jacob Finucane, J.
Bright, W. L. Flower, C.
Broadhurst, H. Flynn, J. C.
Brown, A. L. Foley, P. J.
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Jordan, J. Playfair, rt. hon. Sir L.
Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.
Plowden, Sir W. C.
Kennedy, E. J. Portman, hon. E. B.
Kenny, C. S. Potter, T. B.
Kenny, J. E. Power, P. J.
Kenny, M. J. Power, R.
Kilcoursie, right hon. Viscount Price, T. P.
Priestley, B.
Labouchere, H. Provand, A. D.
Lacaita, C. C. Pugh, D.
Lalor, R. Pyne, J. D.
Lane, W. J. Quinn, T.
Leahy, J. Rathbone, W.
Leake, R. Redmond, J. E.
Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S. Redmond, W. H. K.
Reed, Sir E. J.
Lockwood, F. Reid, R. T.
Lyell, L. Rendel, S.
Macdonald, W. A. Reynolds, W. J.
MacInnes, M. Richard, H.
Mac Neill, J. G. S. Roberts, J.
M'Arthur, A. Roberts, J. B.
M'Cartan, M. Robertson, E.
M'Carthy, J. Robinson, T.
M'Carthy, J. H. Roe, T.
M'Donald, P. Roscoe, Sir H. E.
M'Donald, Dr. R. Rowlands, J.
M'Ewan, W. Rowlands, W. B.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Rowntree, J.
M'Lagan, P. Russell, Sir C.
M'Laren, W. S. B. Russell, E. R.
Mahony, P. Samuelson, Sir B.
Maitland, W. F. Schwann, C. E.
Mappin, Sir F. T. Sexton, T.
Marum, E. M. Shaw, T.
Mason, S. Sheehan, J. D.
Mayne, T. Sheehy, D.
Menzies, R. S. Sheil, E.
Molloy, B. C. Shirley, W. S.
Montagu, S. Smith, S.
Morgan, rt. hon. G. O. Spencer, hon. C. R.
Morgan, O. V. Stack, J.
Morley, rt. hon. J. Stanhope, hon. P. J.
Mundella, right hon. A. J. Stansfeld, right hon. J.
Murphy, W. M. Stepney-Cowell, Sir A. K.
Neville, R.
Newnes, G. Stevenson, F. S.
Nolan, Colonel J. P. Stevenson, J. C.
Nolan, J. Storey, S.
O'Brien, J. F. X. Stuart, J.
O'Brien, P. Sullivan, D.
O'Brien, P. J. Sullivan, T. D.
O'Connor, A. Summers, W.
O'Connor, J. (Kerry) Sutherland, A.
O'Connor, J. (Tippry.) Swinburne, Sir J.
O'Connor, T. P. Talbot, C. R. M.
O'Doherty, J. E. Tanner, C. K.
O'Hanlon, T. Thomas, A.
Tuite, J. Wilson, H. J.
Vivian, Sir H. H. Wilson, I.
Waddy, S. D. Winterbotham, A. B.
Wallace, R. Woodhead, J.
Wardle, H. Wright, C.
Warmington, C. M. Yeo, F. A.
Watt, H.
Wayman, T. TELLERS.
Will, J. S. Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.
Williams, A. J.
Williamson, J. Morley, A.

Main Question again proposed.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

Sir, I rise to move the Amendment of which I gave Notice at the commencement of this day's proceedings, which is that at the end of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) the words "except on Friday" be added. The House has just agreed, by a considerable majority, to give the Government a large portion of our time for the consideration of a Coercion Bill for Ireland, and I now ask the House to consider in what position private Members are placed. The Session has already lasted about two months, during which time private Members have not had a single day at their disposal. It may fairly be estimated that the discussions on the Coercion Bill will last two months. I take that as the minimum, and during that time private Members will get no day. We are told that after this Bill is disposed of there will be remedial legislation for Ireland. It is my individual opinion, and that of hon. Members on this side of the House who support the Government, that this legislation will also occupy two months, and that the Government will probably ask for the whole time of the House for the purpose. Then we are told that the Government intend to bring forward the rest of the Procedure Rules. These will require for their discussion another two months, and then there is Supply, for which towards the end of the Session the Government invariably ask for all the remaining days. This will make a total of eight months, during which private Members are not to have a single day for their Motions. I think it is not advisable to stretch the rope too tightly, and therefore I hope that my Amendment will be accepted. On Fridays many useful Motions are brought forward; Motions become Bills which, having been read a second time, pass into law, and it is in this way that on Fridays is sown the seed of future legislation. I observe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick (Mr. Marjoribanks) has on the Paper a very useful Motion in connection with harbours, for which he has obtained next Friday by ballot; and another hon. Member has a very useful Motion to make on the same day with regard to divorces. It is obvious, however great may be the desire to facilitate the Government endeavours to crush out all our liberties, that we ought to take into consideration the position of our sailors and the wives of our people. I take it as proved, again and again, that when the rope is drawn as I have said too tight, by taking every single day from private Members, there is a tendency to produce anger in the minds of those who think they are unfairly treated. Surely one day in the week is not too much to ask for the use of private Members. I point out to the First Lord of the Treasury that we have still in our hands the power to move Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman must know that there are 40 Members who will stand out, and who, if he does not give us one day a week, may be under the painful necessity of moving the adjournment of the House. we have acted with unexampled generosity throughout this discussion. We might have divided the House again and again, and the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) has made it clear why he should demand the adjournment, in order to continue this debate on Monday; but we were generous, and allowed the Division to be taken. I hope that the First Lord of the Treasury will agree to this trifling modification of the Motion which I propose.

Amendment proposed, to add, at the end of the Question, the words "except on Friday."—[Mr. Labouchere.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


I fully appreciate the generosity of the hon. Member for Northampton, and the extent to which he desires that the Government should have every possible facility for proceeding with the Business, as well as his anxiety to forward this debate. But I cannot think that it would be to the advantage of the House, nor would it be consistent with the spirit of the Motion which the House has already affirmed, that the exception which he suggests should be made. The feeling is that the House should proceed with their present Business de die in diem, and on that account I must resist the Amendment of the hon. Member.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

The hon. Member for Northampton, in making the Government an offer which would have allowed them to proceed with other Business on Friday, had no intention of testing their views with regard to Procedure; but, by refusing that offer with a sneer at the generosity of my hon. Friend, they have shown the true value at which they appraise the Procedure Rules. I trust the House will arrive at a perfect understanding on this point. We were told that the Rules of Procedure were the great object in the mind of the Government, and that they were all of them almost equal in importance The Government having refused the proposal of my hon. Friend, and seeing that urgency is required for the discussion of Irish matters, I take it to be an invitation to Members on this side of the House to consider ourselves free to put in force such portion of the Rules of the House as yet give us the liberty to move the adjournment of the House at Question time in order to discuss matters relating to Ireland. I have not the slightest doubt, under the circumstances, that my hon. Friends will be most happy to avail themselves of the constructive liberty which has been so kindly and generously conceded to them by the Leader of the House, and on behalf of my hon. Friends I beg to tender the right hon. Gentleman my warmest thanks.


I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of the proposal of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere); at the same time, I do not think there is much to be gained by taking another Division at this hour. There is, how-over, one consolation. I have sat in this House for some years, and I have arrived at the conclusion that the time of the House is not likely to be occupied so much with this Coercion Bill as we might have anticipated before the last Division. This Bill is aborted before it is formed. The legions of the Government are deserting; neither the Government troops nor the Liberal Unionist troops will face the guns of the constituencies. I believe this Bill—[Cries of"Order! "]—I am giving reasons against the continuance of this discussion, which I am entitled to do. I am really acting in the interest of the Government; I am extending to them my compassion. There was a great fear on this side of the House that this Coercion Bill would take up a large part of the Session. I do not now think it will. I think that, although we must go through the struggle, the Bill is practically dead. The Government may go on for a time with a sort of suspended animation; but the division of a Party which cannot count on their supporters to stand by them on such a Division as this must be approaching completion. Therefore, if I were in the position of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, I should take that consolation to heart, and believe that before long we shall be delivered from the phantom of coercion, and go at once to the remedial measures of the Government, when I think we may hope that the time of the House would soon be free,


Having regard to the hour, Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put. Resolved, That the introduction and several stages of the Criminal Law Amendment (Ireland) Bill have precedence of all Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion, including the Rules of Procedure, whenever the Bill shall be set down for consideration by the Government as the first business of the day,