§ ADJOURNED DEBATE. [THIRD NIGHT.]
Order road, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [28th March],
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make better provision for the prevention and punishment of Crime in Ireland; and for other purposes relating thereto."—(Mr. Arthur Balfour.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
said, he rose to discharge what he believed to be a responsible duty, to say, once for all, that the Party to which he had the honour to belong would resist to the utmost the Algerine code which the Government were attempting to force upon the people of Ireland. They believed that this code was unjustified by the circumstances, that it was calculated to sow dissension in Ireland between class and class, and creed and creed; that it was calculated, furthermore, to foster and nurture animosity between England and Ireland, to lower the national pride and hurt the national feelings of Irishmen, and to create discord between the people of the two countries. He would, at the outset, draw a strong distinction between Her Majesty's Government and the country which they were supposed to represent. He stated from his personal knowledge a fact for which, if untrue, he would deserve serious reprehension, that at the last General Election Her Ma- 1878 jesty's Government had no mandate from the people of England to force coercion on Ireland. He could not but think of an incident which occurred on the very day on which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland rose to ask leave to introduce his Bill. Just as he was approaching the Table for the purpose a cheer, from below the Gangway greeted him. He did not understand that cheer. It was in recognition of the arrival of a new Member (Sir Walter Foster), who was returned by an immense majority because he professed to be opposed to coercion. He believed that they were backed up in their opposition to this measure not only by the people of Ireland, but by the sentiment of the majority of the people of England, Scotland, and Wales. The fact of the appointment of the right hon. Gentleman to his present position of Chief Secretary was the strongest argument against coercion. If Ireland was on the verge of social revolution, as had been represented—if it was in a state of rebellion and Boycotting—if things were reduced to chaos in that country, why was not an experienced statesman versed in the matter and having a knowledge of the Irish people appointed? Why was a Gentleman chosen for the post who knew less about Ireland than he himself knew about Central Asia? If that was the state of affairs in Ireland, he could not believe that the Prime Minister would have disposed of the Chief Secretaryship in the same way as he would dispose of a family living in his gift. Never in his experience had he witnessed a more pitiable spectacle than that presented by the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench when asking leave to bring in this Bill. He was framing an indictment against a whole people to deprive them of their liberty, to send some of their Representatives—as some of their Representatives assuredly would be sent if this Bill passed—to prison, and to check public agitation, and yet he actually did not know his own case. He could not have properly digested or even read the evidence before him, for he could not tell the places or the circumstances. He did not even know the names of the Irish Judges whom he quoted. Mr. Justice Murphy was with him "Chief Justice Murphy," and agrarian outrage was "agricultural outrage." He called the charges of the Judges "reports," and 1879 the reason was quite plain. In England the Judges never delivered political charges, and the Chief Secretary thought that the Irish Judges were a higher class of policemen making reports, He (Mr. Mac Neill. declared that if the right hon. Gentleman were placed on a school board examination as to the ordinary and political circumstances of Ireland he would be deservedly plucked. The right hon. Gentleman had been bolstered up by all the calumnious tittle tattle of the informers and police spies, paid hacks, and backstairs secret agents of Dublin Castle. It never occurred to him to investigate the truth of his stories. He spoke of the old man of 80 years of age, who wished to be kept on the jury panel that he might do a good turn to a friend. Why, he (Mr. Mae Neill) had heard that story at least eight years ago. It was the calumnious stories of the smoke-room of the Kildare Street Club that he was forcing on the people of England; but a club story had never before been used as an indictment against a whole nation. Then they had from him the midwife's tale. That showed the weakness of the Government's ease—an old wife's tale. When asked for his authority and for names and dates, the right hon. Gentleman relied on his responsibility as a Minister of the Crown. That was what they complained of. They said he was not responsible to the Irish people. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman carried on its own face its thorough and perfect condemnation. The right hon. Gentleman expected to be the master of the Irish people. He would be nothing of the kind. He would only be their gaoler. He would be merely a puppet in the hands of the permanent clerks of Dublin Castle. The statements of the Irish Judges were mere obiter dicta in no way connected with the administration of the law. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland was preparing their Reports, why did he not give Judge Lawson's report of what took place at the Winter Assizes at Omagh, when Judge Lawson said the two Walkers should be found guilty of murder and nothing else? The jury there disagreed, and the Walkers were sent to Belfast to be tried safely and securely. Why did not the Attorney General give them Baron Dowse's report in Tipperary? Because this was 1880 not an investigation. This was a proposal to put the Government in power. They did not want to toll the people the real truth. They wanted to give a certain complexion for Unionist, or, rather, official ends. Why was Baron Dowse—an old friend and political supporter—omitted? That was not grateful of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. When Baron Dowse stood for Derry the Attorney General was his counsel.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
I deny that I ever was his counsel at Derry or anywhere else.
§ MR. MACNEILL
said, he accepted the correction. the Attorney General was. however, present at a banquet to commemorate the return of Baron Dowse, for Londonderry, in 1868. The learned Baron then defeated Lord Claud Hamilton, and inflicted therely one of the greatest blows ever sustained by the Tory Party in Ireland, and the present Attorney General of the Conservative Government celebrated the happy event. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said that the legitimate opposition was not in favour of coercion. What was the meaning of that? That this question of coercion—the question of the political life and death of the Irish people—was reduced to a Party question; and he said that the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench had made it so. In 1885 the then Conservative Government announced its intention not to renew the Crimes Act. The arguments then used by the Tory Party were precisely the arguments which wore now being used against them. The Attorney General for Ireland had accused Lord Spencer when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland of the wilful murder of the boy Giffen, who lost his life in an Orange riot. He said that the blood of Giffen was on Lord Spencer's head.
§ MR. HOLMES
I never made any statement imputing murder to Lord Spencer, and I never insinuated anything of the kind.
MR. MAC NEILL
said, he would pass that by. He might be wrong; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman made a distinct allusion to Lord Spencer in reference to Giffen.
MR. MAC NEILL
Certainly. He came now to the tremendous difficulties which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to encounter among his new friends lest he might wound their susceptibilities. He would refer to the Home Secretary, whom he would call the Home Rule Secretary. That right hon. Gentleman, now a supporter of coercion, had first got into Parliament by abusing and holding up to ridicule the administration of law in Ireland. He found in The Times of the 21st of November, 1868, the following statement:—Mr. Henry Matthews is elected for Dungannon and ranks as a Liberal, but his Liberalism is a cross between Toryism and Fenianism.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! the career of the right hon. Gentleman or references of the sort which the hon. Member is now making, have nothing whatever to do with the introduction of this Bill.
MR. MAC NEILL
said, he would submit to the Speaker's ruling, and would not pursue that subject further. He would now proceed to examine some of the provisions of this Bill. The abolition of trial by jury meant the entire abolition of the Constitution, and there was no evidence to justify it. It insured the determination of questions of fact by persons influenced by the Crown. Resident Magistrates who were to be substituted for a jury in certain cases were clearly subject to that influence; they held their positions at the pleasure of the Crown, and might be dismissed at any moment. They would simply be puppets administering justice with their eyes fixed on the Treasury Bench—the justice which would be dealt out by Dublin Castle. It was nothing more nor less than a blasphemous parody of justice. In 1852, Archbishop Whately, himself an Englishman, speaking of Ireland, said—The Lord Lieutenant's days and nights are wasted on intrigues and Party squabbles, on the management of the press and the management of fetes, on deciding what ruined gambler is to have this stipendiary magistracy, and what Repealer is to be conciliated by asking his wife and daughter to that concert.These were the men who were to have the lives and liberties of the Irish people at their disposal. The proposal to change the venue and bring prisoners for trial to England was a step 1882 which would receive almost universal condemnation. Such a thing was unknown in England. The reason was that jurors were competent witnesses and might give evidence on a trial in which they were sworn as jurors. It was to enable a garbled tale to be told without detection that the expedient of changing the venue was to be resorted to. The proposal to bring over Members of the Irish Bar at the expense of the Government, for the defence of prisoners, was noteworthy. Lord Castlereagh was the first person who had assailed the independence of the Bar in Ireland. He writes—We have good materials among the young barristers, but we cannot expect them to waste their time and to starve into the bargain. I know the difficulties, and shall respect them as much as possible in the extent of our expenditure, but I cannot help most earnestly requesting to receive £5,000 in bank notes.It appeared on the face of the Cornwallis Correspondence that a member of the Bar who had appeared for most of the prisoners in the State trials of that time had sold the secrets of his clients to the Crown. Again, there was to be no limitation to the Coercion Bill, and Ireland was always to be in a degraded, inferior, and abject position. Charles James Fox once said—I would rather see Ireland wholly separated from the Crown of England than kept in subjection by force. Unwilling subjects are little better than enemies.Even Pitt, if he were alive to clay, would scorn the proposals of the Government, for in his speech proposing the Union he said the two countries were to go hand in hand, and that the Union was to be the consolidation of a great Empire They knew how lamentably and miserably that expectation had failed. It was not to the interest of right hon. Gentlemen opposite to have Ireland a contented, happy, and prosperous nation, for if the Irish difficulty were removed, the Liberal Unionist defection would be at an end, and their posts and places would be gone. Lord Brougham cautioned Parliament not to undertake to cure Irish distress by anything in the shape of penal enactments. He said—The greatest mockery of all—the most intolerable insult—the cause of peculiar exasperation against which I chiefly caution the House, is the undertaking to cure the distress under which she (Ireland) labours by anything in the shape of 1883 new penal enactments. It is in these enactments alone that we have ever shown our liberality to Ireland. She has received penal laws from the hands of England almost as plentifully as she has received blessings from the hands of Providence. What have those laws done? Checked her turbulence, but not stifled it. The grievance re-re-maining perpetually, the complaint can only be postponed. We may load her with chains, but in doing so we shall not better her condition. By coercion we may goad her on to fury, but by coercion we shall never break her spirit. She will rise up and break the letters we impose, and arm herself for deadly violence with the fragments."—(Lord Brougham's Speeches, vol. iv,p.45.)He asked were Her Majesty's Government, for considerations of Office, going to gamble in the flesh and blood of human beings. He believed the people of England would rise in the majesty of their might and prevent such an outrage. He and his friends were entering upon that contest with light hearts and strong courage; they had the people of England at their backs and the great Liberal Party on their side, and they would emerge from the fray a victorious, a self-governed, and a free people.
MR. DELISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
said, that he was about to bring forward some serious charges, which, however, he thought himself justified in making, not only because he had his own important constituency at his back, but because he had unfortunately the honour at that moment to represent not only the Roman Catholic Tories of England, Scotland, and Ireland, but also the English, Irish, and Scotch Roman Catholic Unionist Liberals. He thought he should have no difficulty in demonstrating that, from his point of view, the Government had no other course open to them than to strengthen the law against lawbreakers in Ireland. He should confine his remarks to three authentic documents—the Report of Mr. Knipe, one of the Members of Lord Cowper's Commission, the general Report of that Commission, and the Papal Encyclical on the Christian Constitution of States. Hon. Gentlemen opposite claimed to represent the Roman Catholic Church; but he knew that he was stating the opinion of a great number of Irish Catholics when he said that that claim was totally unfounded; but, be that as it might, it was sufficient for him (Mr. Do Lisle) if he could justify his vote to his own conscience and to his constituents. In Mr. Knipe's Report he stated 1884 that he believed the purchase of their holdings by the tenants would tend to the preservation of law and order; that the tenants themselves would organize to put down outrages; and then, on the authority of the District Inspector of Castleisland, he stated that the police were perfectly powerless to enforce the law and put down outrages in that district. Well, if the police were powerless in any part of the Queen's Dominions, he maintained that they had a right to call for an improvement in the procedure of the law. Then he found in the evidence of General Buller that he was asked, "Do you think that the improved state of the country is due to the fact that the power of the League has decreased?" He replied, "No," adding that if the League could it would prevent the payment of rents. General Buller said he believed that the improvement was because the tenants were getting abatements. He (Mr. Do Lisle) contended that if the League prevented men paying their rents, then it was an illegal organization, and ought to be suppressed. If the Bill proposed to suppress the League it would have his support. He would next call the attention of the House to the statistics as to the depreciation in the value of Irish agricultural produce and of live stock. He found that the value of agricultural produce was, in 1855, £03,000.000; in 1881, £46,000,000; and in 1886, £31,000,000 the value of live stock was, in 1881, £51,000,000, and it was, in 1880, only £11,000,000. How could it be supposed that any political measure like Home Rule could give comfort and prosperity to a country which was suffering from such a depreciation in the value of its produce? The remission of every farthing of rent would not enable the people in many districts of Ireland to live. If the figures produced proved anything, they proved that there were two possible courses open to them. One was that the real remedy was a certain amount of protection to agriculture; but if this country would not have recourse to a certain amount of agricultural protection in order to enable the agriculturist to live and thrive, then there is no other alternative but emigration. He could not see anything disgraceful in emigration. He saw hon. Members opposite. He did not suggest that they should emigrate; but he should 1885 like to see them encouraging their; friends to go to America, or our Colonies, make fortunes there, and then come back to buy properties and become good citizens of the United Kingdom. In the language of the Report which he had referred to, this subject was touched on in the evidence of Mr. Hamilton, who said that the West of Ireland could not be improved until it was brought within reach of civilization by railways; that that, if done at all, must be done by the State, and that the best remedy would be emigration, but that the people would not emigrate. Mr. Knipe did not agree with the other Commissioners on the subject of coercion. In his view, any attempt to meet agrarian crime by coercion would not only fail to secure tranquility, but would aggravate disorder. But later on in his Report there was a passage which proved that the Government were right, because he there advocated the establishment of a Court of Assessors to fix rents which would and should have coercive powers both on bad landlords and bad tenants. So that it was merely a question of what coercion, and by whom it should be applied. If the National League would abandon that word "National," and state itself to be what it now professed itself to be, a Poor Tenant's Protection Society, or even an Aborigines' Protection Society, then they would have no quarrel with it. It was because it called itself "National," and because of the ulterior purpose which that name seemed to imply, that all the steps which it took were suspected and required to be watched with vigilance by the Government. And more than that, the action of the Government was not only justified by the Report of Lord Cowper's Commission, but that Report showed that the Government would be deserving the severest condemnation if they did not pursue the policy represented by the present measure; a policy in which he was certain that they would have the support of the electors of the United Kingdom if they only had the courage to act on their convictions. In page 7 of that Report he found a description of that new weapon of war—Boycotting. He regretted to say that Bishop Bagshawe, the most judicious Bishop of Nottingham, had in an address delivered on St. Patrick's Day, defended Boy- 1886 cotting if it were judicious—as if any amount of judiciousness could make a thing which was illegal to be right. Truly a judicious Bishop! He regretted that a Bishop of his Church still gave any support to a system of which it was said in that Report of Lord Cowper's Commission, that people were more afraid of being Boycotted than they were of the decisions of Courts of Justice. That was an intolerable state of things, and no Government would deserve to last for an hour which allowed people to be more afraid of private combinations than of the Courts of Justice. Then it was said that in certain districts the law was not supreme. That no Government could allow to endure. Further on in the same Report was a description of the sufferings of Boycotted persons, whoso lives were said to be made a burthen to them, as none were allowed to supply them with the necessaries of life. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) seemed to think that as only 800 persons wore Boycotted, so small a number of persons whose lives were rendered miserable had no claims to the protection of the Government. That, however, he denied, nor could he conceive anything more degrading to a Government than to allow the state of things which now existed in Ireland in reference to Boycotted persons to continue. If we could not enforce the law, better give it up altogether. What was the justification which had been put forward of the system of Boycotting? It had been characterized by hon. Members opposite as an innocent trade union intended to protect Irish tenants against excessive and unjust rents, and to compel bad landlords to reduce their rents. But he would not admit this assertion, which had, in fact, been successfully controverted by a letter in The Tablet newspaper of January 8 from, perhaps, the most eminent Catholic layman in Ireland. But be that as it might, it could not be denied that some 60 agrarian murders had followed the adoption of the practice of Boycotting; and a New York paper had advocated its enforcement by dynamite, by dagger, and by poison. He might say by way of parenthesis that there was no question here at stake between Protestant and Catholic—a Catholic might well support the policy of the Bill before them 1887 without incurring the censure of the Church. While upon that point he might call the attention of hon. Members to a passage from the letter already referred to, who maintained that the result of the struggle now going on in Ireland would he to separate the Irish Church of the future from the Irish Church of the past, to join it to the Jacobinical Societies of the Continent to defeat the demand for a religious education which statesmen must needs distrust, when they saw from what corrupted sources it proceeded, to substitute a hollow for a sincere Catholicism, and to hurry a revolutionary Ireland along the same path as revolutionary France. Returning to the Report of Lord Cowper's Commission, which favoured emigration as the best resource for Ireland if Protection was rejected, it would be seen that the last page but one of the Report showed that the Government were not only justified, but were compelled to take action on the lines of the legislation they were asking the House to adopt, for they said, that such steps were necessary in several parts of the country, and that in the interests of all classes, in order to maintain law and order, which were then grievously outraged. That disposed of the allegation which was sometimes made that in proposing this legislation the Government were disregarding the Report of the Royal Commission. On the contrary, they were acting in strict conformity with the recommendation of that Commission. They had been told that it was impossible for a Catholic to vote for this Coercion Bill, but on the strength of Mr. Knipe's Report and the Report of the Royal Commission, he felt justified in giving his vote for this measure. They were told that, in the face of the opposition of the Catholic clergy of Ireland, it would be impossible for any length of time to maintain the government of England in Ireland. Well, the object of the Supporters of the Bill was to restore peace, quiet, brotherly love, good feeling, and true citizenship in Ireland. [Mr. DILION: They never existed.] If they never existed then their object was to create them; but he denied that the assertion made by the hon. Member for East Mayo was true. He had spent some pleasant weeks in Ireland in the year 1870, when he had many opportunities of observing and conversing with the poorest classes, and 1888 found that there was then no misery, but as much peace, prosperity, and contentment in Ireland as there was in England. He now approached the last division of his speech, and in entering upon it he might say that he was not about to attack the Holy See; but he maintained that he was justified in attacking any of the Queen's subjects if they appeared to be wanting in their allegiance to Her Majesty. He asserted that the Irish Catholic Bishops and Irish Catholic priests who opposed the administration of the law owed as much duty and loyalty to the Crown of England as the humble men-servants and maid-servants who swept the dust from those scats. In his opinion, by the course which they had taken, some of the Bishops and clergy of the Catholic Church in Ireland had, tried by this principle, committed serious aberrations from their duty; but he should not think himself justified in pointing out those aberrations, unless he could also suggest the remedy. He admitted, however, that if the Catholic clergy of Ireland were for ever going to use their influence in opposition to those who sought to restore law and order in that country, the efforts of the latter would be well-nigh hopeless. Cardinal Newman had pointed out that—For three hundred years it has been the official rule with England to ignore the existence of the Pope, and to deal with Catholics in England, not as his children, but as sectaries of the Roman Catholic persuasion. Napoleon said to his Envoy—'Treat with the Pope as if he was master of 100,000 men.' I am entering into no theological question; I am speaking all along of mere decent secular intercourse between England and Rome. A hundred grievances would have been set right on their first uprising, had there been a frank diplomatic understanding between two Great Powers. The world's politics has its laws; and such abnormal courses as England has pursued have their Nemesis.Well, the Nemesis which England was suffering from owing to her treatment of the Holy See, was the presence of Gentlemen opposite. As he, as an English Catholic, was going to vote in favour of this Bill, he thought that it was his duty to justify his conduct. The hon. Member was then proceeding to quote the Papal Encyclical on the Christian Constitution of States in order to show how the Pope, if properly approached, would deem it his duty to secure the co-operation of the clergy in the maintenance of law and social peace, when—]
§ MR. SPEAKER
, interposing, said: The relations between the Catholic clergy and the Holy See and between this country and the Pope do not appear to me to be relevant in discussing the introduction of the Crimes Bill.
MR. LIE LISLE
said, that in that case he would proceed to show that the conduct of the Catholic clergy in Ireland, which, by some, was thought to be a justification of the present state of things, was in truth a justification for the measure of coercion now before them. At a meeting held at Kilkenny, and reported in The Kilkenny Journal of September 29, 1886, at which more than a dozen priests were present, the Rev. Mr. Costigan spoke as follows:—What do you propose doing? You talk a good deal about landlordism; but what do you determine to do before you separate—[A VOICE: 'Kill the landlords']—I would not physically kill any man [Cheers]—but there is another way of Killing a man. You can make his life a second death. I hope the citizens of Kilkenny will not physically kill anyone; but I will leave them to do as they like the other way. I hope you will understand me. [' We do.'] My opinion of the Nationalists of Kilkenny is very high. [Cheers.] I never thought that there could be such numbers as I see before me turned out at a moment's call. It was only yesterday that the notice was Sent out, and you have come here in your hundreds to declare your undying hatred of land-lordism—[cheers]—and to declare that while there is one drop of blood in your veins you will be true to the flag you have unfurled to-day, which means the total extinction of landlordism with all its cruelty and horror in this land. [Cheers.]That was the teaching of a minister of religion, and yet this gentleman had not received the censure of his Bishop, nor had his Bishop received the censure of the higher authorities of the Church. In another instance, at a meeting at which Mr. Shoehy, M.P., was present, another parish priest, the Rev. John Garry, said—They had come there to-day to take a look at the ruined home of one of their fellow-tenants, and declare that they believed in the Plan of Campaign. They believed that the persons who devised that plan were almost under Divine inspiration, for there was no other means by which the people of Ireland could be saved from extermination.He would next call attention to a speech delivered on the 31st August, 1881, at a meeting hold at Crosspatrick, by the Rev. Michael Duggan. This rev. gentleman said—It had fallen to his lot to say a few words to them on land-grabbing and grass-grabbing. Evic- 1890 tions and processes of eviction were now the order of the day. Thanks to the Land League, land-grabbing had been put down to a great extent. Public opinion and the spirit of the people are entirely opposed to it; at least, the right-minded and the honest men of Ireland. What was the practice in early days? If one neighbour was breaking down, another neighbour was sure to keep a close eye on him, and would have a whisper with the bailiff and the agent. It often happened that both the agent and the bailiff were bribed, and a rack-rent was promised to the landlord to evict the tenant and give the farm to his grabbing neighbour. The bailiff, therefore, was the man they had to dread most. It was a common practice long ago to give them presents. He would not recommend any honest, upright man to be a bailiff or a local agent, because the spirit of the times was now such that any honest, upright man would not look en apathetically and sec his neighbours and fellow-countrymen downtrodden and walked upon, He would not, of course, recommend them to Boycott them, because the Crimes Act was in being now; but he would tell them what they could do. They were not bound to walk with them, or to marry them; but he would tell them that they were bound in charity—to bury them.This speech, the last sentence of which came near to an incitement to murder, was referred by a Roman Catholic gentleman, Mr. Thomas Eyre, to the head of the diocese, and then, receiving no satisfaction from him, he wrote to the late Cardinal MacCabe, the Archbishop of Dublin, who, in reply, said—It is very humiliating to find priests so unmindful of their sacred obligations as to use the language attributed to the one you refer to. I have no authority to interfere in the matter; but I will forward to Propaganda, with my own observations, any document you wish to place in my hands.That was done, and the matter was referred to Archbishop Croke, who replied—I have just got your communication, dated 30th December, and really cannot gather from it what precisely you complain of on the part of Rev. M. Duggan, unless, indeed, it be that in common, as you say, with the speakers at the Crosspatrick meeting, he is alleged to have made some unpleasant remarks about bailiffs and Emergency men. Unfortunately, as you know, bailiffs have never been popular personages in Ireland, and I never heard anyone complaining of a speaker at a public meeting because he had denounced them, seeing that it is done every day, both in the Press and on the platform. Father Duggan made no special reference to your bailiffs, for he knew nothing of them; nor did he mention your name, for he did not know of your existence; and I do not, therefore, see what special locus standi you have in this matter. I should not hesitate to bring Father Duggan to order had he said or done anything to injure or insult you.1891 The moral guilt of Boycotting ceased to; exist, in the opinion of Archbishop Croke, because Boycotting was practised every day. He never hoard of such theological debauchery before. he had detained the House at some length, and had said some things which other Catholics said in private, but did not say in public. He had been accused and vilified by the Nationalist Press of America and Ireland because he said in public what he said in private. He said in public what he said in private because, it suited his nature to do so; and if a higher justification of his nature in this particular matter were required, he need only quote from the Encyclical Letter on the Christian Constitution of States the words of Leo XIII.—namely, "Likewise it is unlawful to follow one line of duty in private and another in public." He (Mr. De Lisle" would give his vote for the Bill, and he would do everything he could to assist its progress until it was carried triumphantly through the House. he would do so in the firm and earnest conviction that under its provisions no honest, no loyal, no law abiding Irishman would suffer the slightest diminution of his rights and liberties; and he would do so with the fervent hope and prayer that it would be a terror and a stumbling-block to every evil-door.
§ VISCOUNT KILCOURSIE (Somerset, S.)
, in opposing the Motion, said, that in a speech made on a former occasion (Friday last), and which had not yet been replied to, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) had asked whether they had confidence in the administration of the law by juries in Ireland, and had told them that if they had not they could not deny that the moment had come when the Government must deal with this matter, and restore to Ireland that fair administration of the law which should receive the confidence) of the public generally. He (Viscount Kilcoursie) would now ask, what did the right hon. Gentleman mean by fair administration of the law? Did he moan the just administration of a fair law, or the fair administration of an unjust law? If the former, then he answered the question of the right hon. Gentleman strongly in the affirmative, but not otherwise. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Members of the 1892 Liberal Party were strongly desirous of the just administration of a fair law; but the case was different if the right hon. Gentleman, in using the words "fair administration of the law," meant the fair administration of an unjust law. He did not know what course the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) might pursue in reference to the question under consideration; but he was very clear in his own mind of the vote he should give, if that right hon. Gentleman, great as his name was, were to bring forward a measure of coercion preceding remedial legislation. By every single word that he had uttered in that House, and by every action he had ever done in that House, the right hon. Gentleman had shown, not only that force was no remedy, but that the remedy must in every case precede force. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said the Bill was intended to protect the people of Ireland. who were the people of Ireland whom the Bill would protect? the people of Ireland he understood to be the 3,000,000 persons who lived in that country—not a class, but every class in Ireland. But it was, according to Sir Redvers Buller, to the National League, and not to Coercion Bills, that the great majority of the people of Ireland looked for their salvation and protection. the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had also said that the Bill was to break down the oppression under which the people of Ireland were suffering. If by that he meant the breaking down of the landlord oppression of which Sir Redvers Buller spoke, then he (Viscount Kilcoursie) should see so me reason for the Bill. But he failed to see that the Bill offered any adequate protection to the tenants of Ireland, compared with the protection that at that moment was being offered to the land-lords of Ireland. Referring to the quotation made by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, of Sir Redvers Buller's words, to the effect that the law in Ireland looked after the rich and did not look after the poor, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that those were dangerous words to be quoted by his right hon. Friend, unless he intended to endorse them, or to differ from them; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer taunted his right hon. Friend with having been principally in power for many years, and 1893 therefore with being chiefly to blame if the law was not equal with reference to the rich and poor in Ireland. All he (Viscount Kilcoursie) had to say, as one who had been a humble follower of the right hon. Gentleman for the last quarter-of-a-century in that House, and before he entered it, was, that he should never have been his follower for a single moment if his right hon. Friend had acknowledged that the laws in Ireland were equal as between the rich and the poor. It was because the right hon. Gentleman had acknowledged that they were not equal that he had followed him—it was because during the whole course of the time he had been Prime Minister his right hon. friend—although he had not accomplished all that he could wish—had endeavoured to alter the laws of Ireland so as to make them more and more equal between rich and poor. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had made an amusing remark with reference to the Celtic music which was so sweet in the ear of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. He (Viscount Kilcoursie) presumed the Scottish music which the Chancellor of the Exchequer heard when he was in Edinburgh was not very much to his taste; and, possibly, the English music which the right hon. Gentleman heard not long ago at Liverpool was also not particularly to his taste. But if the right hon. Gentleman were to go to Ireland, he might hear some of that Celtic music to which he had alluded, which would be still loss to his taste. he would call the attention of hon. Gentlemen to several passages in the evidence given before the Royal Commission by Sir Redvers Buller, especially that in which the witness declared his belief that, in one part of the country, they could never have peace unless they created some legal equipoise, or equivalent, that would supply the want of freedom of contract which now existed between landlord and tenant. Why was it that there was a disturbance when hon. Members on the Irish Benches went down into the country? He was justified in his contention that what was passing in Sir Redvhrs Buller's mind was that these districts never would have been disturbed at all had there been an equipoise between the landlords and tenants. What wore the forces against which the Government 1894 were contending? They were contending against forces which no Government before had over encountered when bringing in a Coercion Bill. They were contending not only against the great majority of the Members from Ireland, but against the Archbishops and Bishops, against men of well-known standing in the Catholic Church—men beyond suspicion in their character—against the whole liberal Party in this House, which was something, and against the whole Liberal Party outside that House, which was more. They were contending against the opinion of the whole civilized world, in America, Canada, and Australia. Even if the Coercion Bill were approved in America, Canada, and Australia, the mode in which it was brought in, before, instead of after, remedial measures, would condemn it in the opinion of every civilized human being, East, West, North, and South. It might be said that the great majority of the Irish tenants were poor, ignorant, and misled; but thon they were misled by those whom they respected most. It was possible, even probable, that they might be misled by the lowest class of agitators in Ireland, persons who had no business in Ireland at all, persons who, if the late Government had its way, would not be in Ireland now. He was not going to enter into the question of Homo Rule; he simply said that those men had no business to be there. But there was a class of lecturers, whom hon. Gentlemen opposite called agitators, but whom he preferred to call lecturers, composed of Members below the Gangway, Archbishops, Bishops, and priests. What were their arguments? The first strong argument which these lecturers used against the Bill was, that this was the 86th Coercion Bill since the commencement of the century, and that every one of those Bills was a failure. Nay, more; they said that the last of these Bills, which was supposed to be a success, had been proved by Lord Salisbury to be a failure. What was it Lord Salisbury said at Newport? he said—The effect of the Crimes Act has been very much exaggerated. While it was in existence there grew up a thousand branches of the National League, and it is from them that those difficulties proceed with which you have to contend.1895 Then they were told that—The provisions in the Crimes Act against Boycotting had a very small effect." "I have seen it stated,'' added Lord Salisbury, "that the Crimes Act diminished Boycotting. It is not true.Would the present Crimes Bill be more successful in diminishing Boycotting? Then Lord Salisbury said that the Crimes Act "did not diminish outrage." They had in Ireland a population four-fifths of whom were Catholics, and what was the proportion of the magistrates? The great majority were Protestants, and, in spite of the fact that they were Protestants dealing with Catholics, they had to come there to obtain augmented power for the Protestants over Catholics. Next there was the case of the two men sent to Ireland, and there was a suspicion amounting to belief that Lord Carnarvon, Sir Redvers Buller, and Sir Robert Hamilton had gone to Ireland with preconceived notions in favour, to a great extent, of the class with which they were associated; but they had left that country with very different feelings. One of them remained, however, in evidence, a standing rebuke to right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He had read in the leading Sunday journal—Let the truth be brought home to Irishmen that England has put her foot down and the agitation for Home Rule will die away.Put her foot down on what? On the necks of the Irish people? He could imagine nothing more calculated than that, read from an Irish pulpit, to arouse the passions of the Irish people. A more insulting and impudent paragraph he had never read. The fact that the Coercion Bill had been brought in before the remedial measures had awoke in America an amount of enthusiasm which could never die out. There had been some letters in The Times with regard to Parnellism and Crime. With regard to these letters let him say this—They might be true, and for the sake of argument, and for the sake of argument only, he would suppose now that every one of the statements was true. It ought to have been the policy of the Government not to have united the regular Opposition with those whoso hands were stained with blood, if they were really so stained; it ought to have been the policy of the Government to have separated the Opposition from those of whom it was said that they were in a greater 1896 or lesser degree responsible for the crimes that had been committed. But what had the Government done? They had joined the Opposition hand in hand with those of whom some professed to believe that they were steeped in crime. Thus were joined together the Home Rulers and the anti-Coercionists of today, the Irish Members below the Gangway and the Opposition Members above it, with the exception of those Members of the Opposition who constituted a small minority. Great as was his objection to the Bill, it was as nothing to his objection to the clause for changing the venue of the trials from Dublin to London. It was a great misfortune that the view which would be taken of crime in this country in the future would not be the same that it had been in the past. Hitherto, crime had been condemned by both sides of the House because it was crime, and because it was felt that the laws were equal to all. We had not stopped to ask how a jury was constituted, and who were the members of it. We had simply asked what was the evidence, and whether a man was guilty on that evidence. With the change of venue to England, the question in the future would be not "What was the evidence?" but "Who formed the jury?" and it would be a most unfortunate circumstance that we should ever be brought to ask such a question. By that proposal the Government had carried politics into the Criminal Courts of this country. He could not be accused of being mealy-mouthed with reference to crime and outrage. He was one of the first persons to write in one of the most popular daily newspapers to condemn the language used by an hon. Member who sat below the Gangway; and in consequence he had exposed himself to no small measure of misrepresentation and obloquy. What he went through in consequence of those letters was known only to himself but he could assure the House it was no small infliction. Under similar circumstances, he would write similar letters; but the position had now very greatly changed, for the Chief Secretary, by his language and manner in that House, had menaced the Irish Members, and the Government had menaced the Opposition by introducing a Crimes Bill at that time before attempting remedial legislation, If the Government had 1897 first attempted, by a remedial measure that was adequate, to abolish dual ownership in Ireland, and if they had then tome to the House and said, "We have done our best, and we have failed," they would have a fair ground for appealing to the Opposition to support a Coercion Bill, and he would have supported them, so far as was in his power: but, by pursuing an opposite course, they had placed the hands of Opposition Members in the hands of the Irish Members below the Gangway. If, through the conduct of the Government, language were used which he disapproved, and if outrages were committed, however great his regret and that of others might be at their occurrence, they could not condemn the parties engaged in them, for the action of the Government placed both him and them in a position in which they could only shrug their shoulders, and throw the blame on the Ministry. The Bill was uncalled-for; it was doomed to failure; it was un-English, and the "eternity" written upon and claimed for it would be measured by the duration of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. DALRYMPLE (Ipswich)
said, that though the Government would, perhaps, best be served by the continued silence of its independent supporters, yet the country was entitled to hear what some of them had to say in support of the policy the Government had thought it their duty to inaugurate. He would bring no charge of unfairness against the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Kilcoursie), neither would he follow him with quotations from Sir Redvers Buller's evidence. Taking from its context an answer of Sir Redvers Buller here, and another there—for you might make his evidence prove anything you like—you might show that Sir Redvers Buller held that Irish tenants have suffered many ills, and it cannot be denied they had. It might be shown that Sir Redvers Buller expressed an opinion that the tenants suffered under oppression, and so they did. The Government said—and he (Mr. Dalrymple) strongly supported the statement—that the oppression was that of the National League. The noble Viscount had explained, in the remarkable speech to which the House had just listened, how it was for a number of reasons he had supported the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian 1898 (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and he said he held with the latter, that the laws in Ireland, as they affected rich and poor, were unequal. If so, it was the obvious commentary upon that, that it was to the right hon. Gentleman and his Government that we, in a large proportion, owed the legislation of recent years; and it was strange that, holding such a sense of the inequality of the laws, he made no effort to remedy the evil. The noble Viscount, in citing the opposition to the Government measure, claimed opposition from the whole of the civilized world—a wide and general statement difficult to accept. He quoted Bishops and Archbishops: and certainly there was the charm of novelty in hearing, from the other side, the opinion of an Archbishop put forward as a convincing argument. The noble Viscount went further, and made a statement that in consequence of the action of the Government a very different view would be taken of crime in the future than had been taken in the past. The House was familiar with the allegation that violence and outrage, connected with agrarian disputes, were not crimes; but the House was scarcely prepared for the declaration from the Front Bench that hereafter, if crimes and outrages were committed, they would be met only with a shrug of the shoulders. He only regretted that the usual occupants of the Front Opposition Bench were not present, so the House could not judge by their manner if they accepted the statement of the noble Viscount. He (Mr. Dalrymple), however, trusted it was not generally shared by them. From some of the speeches delivered from the other side, it would seem that there was no cause whatever for action on the part of the Government; but by what was by courtesy called the regular Opposition—though a more irregular Opposition never existed—there was no denial of the fact that there was interference with the exercise of legal rights; that to some extent, indeed, there was a condition of anarchy and crime in Ireland; but they said—"The laws are to blame, and you would not accept our particular panacea of Home Rule." But, as he had said, the responsibility for the state of the law rested with those who made such a failure as the legislation of 1881 has been. It was a curious and extraordinary doctrine to lay down, that because the 1899 laws were said to be unjust, therefore they were not be obeyed and enforced. He could hardly conjecture the state of things that would rise should such teaching acquire general acceptance. Last night the House had from the hon. Member for West Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) a defence of Boycotting, on the ground that it existed in England, instancing the Church of England as Boycotting those who did not belong to it, and that his brother was excluded from the magistracy of Bradford. To hear the remarks of the noble Viscount, it might be supposed that, had the Government introduced remedial legislation first, repressive legislation would have received careful consideration at the hands of the regular Opposition.
§ VISCOUNT KILCOURSIE
In regard to remedial legislation, what I said was if I considered it adequate.
§ MR. DALRYMPLE
A judicious qualification to apply to it; and probably the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister would have added other qualifications. But right hon. Gentlemen opposite condemned the proposed legislation of the Government before they had an idea what it was; and it was perfectly certain they were quite prepared to condemn any legislative proposal of the Conservative Government. There had been contemptuous references to the opinions of the Judges; but hon. Members might remember with how much impressiveness the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), whom nobody expected to find consistent, had, not two years ago, in July, 1885, denounced those on that (the Ministerial) side of the House for not accepting the opinions of Judges; and it was his duty, at all events, he said, not to allow the Judges and juries of Ireland to be thrown over by the Government of the Queen. It was not, however, the Government that had thrown over the Judges now; but it was what was called the regular Opposition. He sometimes wondered what these right hon. Gentlemen would have said had the Government not brought forward some such measure as was now before the House. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian would have compassed sea and land to make one proselyte against them. Who knew what stores of vituperation had been lost to the country, because the Government 1900 had taken the present step? There was no knowing what would have happened in the circumstances had not the Leader of the Party opposite and other right hon. Gentlemen become what they were now—Home Rulers, and allies of the hon. Member for Cork. The House was familiar with the prejudices caused by the word "coercion;" but he held that the word, as misrepresented on the other side of the House, was grossly misused for the purpose of prejudice, exaggeration, and mere irritation. The word "coercion" was freely used; but this was not a Bill of coercion, but of protection. There would be no coercion to men who obeyed the law, any more than the new Rule of the House would affect any Member who desired to place his knowledge, information, or even humour at the service of the House. The Rule would only affect those who transgressed the rule and principle of debate. Last summer, standing upon an eminence overlooking the town he had the honour to represent, he had some of the prominent buildings pointed out. "What is that red brick building far below?" he asked. "Oh," said his informant, "that is the Coercion House." That was a use of the word that conveyed the truth; but there was no Coercion House or Coercion Bill for law-abiding subjects. There was, however, coercion of the strongest kind for those who broke the law, and infringed with violence their neighbour's rights. There had been a diminution of crime in Ireland, it was contended, and anyone who cared—and all must care—for the welfare of Ireland would rejoice if that were true; but when it was stated that, for crime, there had been substituted agitation of a Constitutional sort, that he absolutely denied. Admitting the diminution of crime, yet the condition of the country was such that un-Constitutional influences were at work preventing the exercise of public and private liberty. Again, Unionists were constantly told that the great majority of the Irish people were against them. When so much stress was laid upon the National representation in the House he sometimes doubted whether there was liberty enough to allow of a real representation of Irish opinion. The fact was sometimes overlooked that the minority against the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) was a largo one. The Return of the Elections for 1885 showed that, 1901 out of 575,000 electors, in round numbers only 295,000 supported the hon. Member for Cork, the remainder voting against him, or abstaining from voting, so that only a little more than half the electors were actually supporters of the hon. Member. They had had many recantations recently, such as they had from the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid) the other day, and last night the hon. Member for West Bradford recanted the support he had given to repressive legislation; and it was in reference to the latter that he recalled a statement of a mischievous character. The hon. Member said that in 1882 repressive legislation was hurried on, and the Party supported it because of the sad calamity of that year in Phoenix Park; but let the House and the country recollect that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury, Lancashire (Sir Henry James) had said, and his words made a great impression, that he saw the draft of the measure that was proposed simultaneously with the occurrence of the sad event referred to, showing that its preparation was quite apart from the murders, nor was it hurried thereby. The truth was, the hon. Member for West Bradford was one of those Members of the House never in the wrong. He supported strongly a particular policy when proposed by his own Leader, which he condemned when it was proposed by his political opponents; because meanwhile his Leader had adopted a policy of Home Rule, or some later nostrum for the pacification of Ireland. Those who opposed the measure now incurred a great responsibility. It was a matter of supreme importance. It was no mere Party demand, though he held strongly that that Party would gain most in the long run who most completely effaced itself for the common welfare at a moment of common peril to all.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
said, it was not a frequent thing for him to intrude himself on the notice of the House; but he felt that the important nature of the proposal made to Parliament by Her Majesty's Government fully justified the humblest among Members in taking part in the debate, to state to the House, and through the House to their constituents, some reasons why he, and those with whom he acted, 1902 should oppose with all their force the measure the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. A. J. Balfour) desired to introduce. Prom speakers supporting the Government, he often heard charges made against right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of inconsistency. They were taunted with recantation, and changing their opinion and their policy; but if some of the hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House were led against their inclination to support a policy of coercion in 1881 and 1882, he held it to be no disgrace to any of them to declare that they would return to the natural policy of their Party in opposing coercion, after experience had shown them its utter and constant failure. By what means, through what influences, was the policy of the Government in 1881 and 1882 obtained, and what induced hon. Members sitting below the Gangway to support the Ministry of the day? One reason was that they had the utmost confidence in the integrity, the intention, and the determination of the Ministry of that day to apply remedial as well as coercive measures to Ireland. That faith in the intention of the Government was not misplaced. It was fully and amply justified by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone)—the policy he proposed to apply to Ireland during the Session of last year. And why were they so suspicious of the policy of the present Government; why had they so little confidence in the proposed remedial measures which it was understood were to follow the introduction of the Coercion Bill? It was perfectly fresh in the memories of hon. Gentlemen who sat in the House in the last Parliament that the Conservative Party, when occupying the Opposition Benches, were goading the Ministry of the time with all their influence, clamouring constantly for coercion; but when the Government proposed their measures of relief, then it was seen that the steam of the Conservative Party had spent itself in coercion. Delay and debate on every clause and line of the remedial legislation then introduced was the order of the day with Members of the Opposition. What reason had they to believe that the Government would recant from their ancient policy of coercion without relief? They had no evidence whatever of it. They had a description given of the Bill 1903 by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland; and he (Mr. Broadhurst) should say it was a Bill which for its severity had never been equalled. ["No, no!"] He had yet to learn that any Ministry had ever before proposed to suspend the liberties of a nation in a permanent form. Even the worst of all previous Coercion Acts had been limited in time; but the Government proposed that for their present Bill there should be no limit whatever. What confidence could they have that the Government, having obtained the power to coerce a nation, would show equal industry and equal anxiety to produce and bring forth their measures of relief? They were told that a measure of relief to the Irish tenants for some of the oppression which now weighed upon them was to be introduced some time this week in "another place." the very fact of a measure of relief being introduced in "another place" was sufficient to at once condemn that measure. What measure of relief could they expect to emanate from the place across the way? ["Oh, oh!"] They know that the treatment of measures of relief by the House of Lords, whenever such measures had left the portals of that House, was that all shape, all form and power for good, had usually been removed from them; and, therefore, they had no confidence whatever in that House as a place to pass measures of relief for the people. What did the Government mean by asking the House of Commons to give them every facility for passing a strong measure of repression, before they introduced into that House some evidence of their earnestness to redress the wrongs of the Irish tenants. He took down, at the time the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was speaking, some of the words in which he described what his Bill was to be when it saw the daylight. If he (Mr. Broadhurst) were correct in his notes, he understood the right hon. Gentleman to be quoting from the terms of the measure itself, and not to be generally describing it. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the Lord Lieutenant—or, at least, so he (Mr. Broadhurst) understood him—was to have the power of deciding what were dangerous associations, and then to apply to Parliament to issue regulations and control with regard to them. What 1904 were dangerous associations? The Lord Lieutenant would have to define what a dangerous association was. There were very few Lord Lieutenants that he (Mr. Broadhurst) know anything about into whoso hands he should like to trust the definition of what was a dangerous association. Why, there was not a Radical political association in the country but what was looked upon as a dangerous association by the Conservative Party.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Dangerous associations will be defined in the Bill by the purposes for which they exist.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, they would not be able to tell how far the power of the Lord Lieutenant was weakened, or controlled, or lessened, until the measure of the Government saw the daylight. At present, he could only discuss the Bill by the scanty information which it had pleased the Chief Secretary for Ireland to submit to the House of Commons. Now, he would remind the House that there was a dangerous association in this country in 1832, when the Dorsetshire labourers met in council to declare that 6 s. per week wages paid to them by the landowners of that part of the country were insufficient to maintain themselves, their wives, and families; and that was considered to be a dangerous association. And what followed the meeting of the dangerous association? Its victims were sent by the Government of the day into penal servitude for a great number of years. He (Mr. Broadhurst) had that day the great pleasure and satisfaction of knowing that he had been for 30 years a member of what, for more than 20 years out of that time, was described as a dangerous association, and one which was controlled by the law of the land. That dangerous association had since become a part of the Constitution of the country, and to-day its members were protected by the law; but how had they won that protection? It was by persisting in the policy of carrying on agitations which were, under the old law, described as illegal and dangerous to the well-being of the community. And how did they know that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would not, in Ireland, give the same liberal interpretation as to what were dangerous associations—aye, even a much wider interpretation—to that which was given 1905 in the case of trades unions in England? And then the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland also told the House that one of the chief features of his proposed Bill was to deal with and destroy intimidation in Ireland. What was intimidation? Who was to describe and define what constituted intimidation? So far as he (Mr. Broadhurst) knew, there had never been any very clear definition of what constituted intimidation. he know that, during the period before the trades unions of this country became lawful associations, for one man to sneeze at another was liable to be construed into an act of intimidation; and for looking at one another, for speaking to another man and woman, the wives of workmen in this country were imprisoned under the detestable law. Was it possible that the Government could expect that friends of his, who were at the heads of their respective trades unions, could agree for one moment to any such proposals as were contained in their Bill, which sought to re-establish in Ireland all the worse features of the old laws of this country, and which wore passed to restrain workmen from exercising their just rights and their full liberties as citizens? What his experience of prosecutions for intimidation amounted to was this—that, in the case of disputes between capital and labour, they very frequently enabled what were called the wastrels of society to concoct cases against honest workmen, and, by persecution and prosecution, to send honesty to gaol, while laziness and worthlessness were at large. That was the net result of his experience of the law as to intimidation during its reign in this country. What were the consequences of freeing the people, of making combinations and associations of all kinds perfectly free and open? The result had been this—that whereas, previously to that measure of freedom, prosecutions were constant, since freedom had become the law prosecutions were exceedingly infrequent, and they scarcely ever heard of any of the so-called offences being committed. The most serious part of the Bill of the Chief Secretary for Ireland to his mind, however, after the proposal that all these combinations or associations between the people should be illegal, was the proposal to transfer trials of the victims into a country and among 1906 a people who had no knowledge of the sentiment, who had no knowledge of the people, and who, therefore, to the best of the belief of the Government, might be safely relied upon to find verdicts of guilty. When that part of his Bill was unfolded by the right hon. Gentleman, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the Opposition side suggested that the cases should be sent to Alder-shot for trial. But he thought the Government would be doing much better, and coming much nearer the old and ancient laws of the dark ages, if they ordered the trial to take place at the Old Bailey, a name associated with prosecutions, and prosecutions of the worst and most infamous description. Therefore, the Old Bailey was the most natural place to try Irish prisoners if they were to be brought to London at all. But he would like to ask the Government whether they imagined that London jurymen were going to constitute themselves the executioners of the victims of rack-renting landlords in Ire-lands? He believed the Government would find out their mistake if they attempted to pass that part of their measure into law. They would then find that they had been grievously mistaken, and that jurymen of London would repudiate being called on to do the dirty work of Dublin Castle, and to carry out oppression as instituted in Ireland. The fact was that the people of this country were heartily sick of the gory work of Irish oppression. He was there to confess that he did vote for measures of coercion under circumstances which he had previously described. But he had already stated the reason which led him so reluctantly to follow a great Minister in that policy, and had fully justified the course he and others took upon that occasion; and ho, for one, at any rate, had the less cause to regret the policy to which he was then a party, since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had inaugurated a policy of freedom and equality for the Irish nation. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane), speaking the other night of the severity of the measure introduced by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, expressed the opinion that the Government could pass the Bill as it stood. He (Mr. Broadhurst) did not think so. Its members were fall- 1907 ing away in an unmistakable manner. The hon. and learned Member who sat for the Woodstock Division of Oxford (Mr. F. W. Maclean), speaking on Tuesday night, had described the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian as being like the tide when it was ebbing fast away. That appeared to be quite contrary to the facts. The tide of the right hon. Gentleman was rising fast throughout the country. In five bye-elections since the General Election Liberal Members had been returned by vast and increasing majorities. [An hon. MEMBER: St. George's, Hanover Square.] he was surprised at any hon. Gentleman alluding to a constituency like that of St. George's as gauging the measure of popular opinion in this country. He (Mr. Broadhurst) would as soon think of going to the House of Lords, and asking for the registration of public opinion on the Land Question, on the Church, or on the privileges of birth, as he would think of going to St. George's, Hanover Square, to test the public opinion of the country upon any great popular question. He said the tide was rising in favour of the Liberal Party, and the tide of the Government was receding. While the majorities of the Opposition were increasing, those of the Government wore decreasing. In that House they had seen hon. Gentlemen not recanting, but returning to the fold to their first faith, to their natural position, and that would be found to go on increasing. The Government knew, as well as any of the Opposition knew, that some of the main features of their Bill must be cut out before they could hope to secure for it a second reading. The Government knew the significance of the meeting which was announced to take place to-morrow (Thursday) of what were called the Liberal Unionists. The Government knew very well that whatever the orders of that meeting were, they would have to obey them. That order, he felt sure, would be that the Government must lighten their measure, and cut out many of its objectionable provisions; and, unless they at once agreed to adopt those conditions, they and their measures too would have to change places within a very short time. He apologized for troubling the House so long; but on a measure of such an extraordinary character, such unheard of severity, as that which had been 1908 introduced by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, it was the duty of every hon. Member of the House, no matter how humble or obscure he might be, to make his opinion and the opinions of his constituents clearly and forcibly known, to declare that he would, to the best of his ability, prevent such a measure ever being passed into law.
§ MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
said, he agreed in the view that it was the duty of even the humblest Members of the House to express their opinions against the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government. He felt certain that the very large majority of his constituents would endorse his opinion that the measure was useless and unnecessary, and was being forced through the House with indecent haste. The landlords themselves were fairly content with the manner in which their rents were coming in. One of his friends met returning from the Continent a week ago a noble Lord who had property both in England and in Ireland, and who said his Irish rents had only been reduced by 20 per cent, while he was not receiving his English rents at all. There was no abnormal condition of crime in Ireland, and the statistics given by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) were not of a character to cause special alarm. They represented a state of things which could be met by ordinary legal proceedings. In looking for the reasons which had induced the Government to propose this measure, they would see the handiwork of the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and his brother Colonels. Those men of "blood and iron" were perpetually urging their counsel upon the First Lord of the Treasury, and he never heard the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh addressing the House without thinking of the scene in Hamlet where Hamlet's uncle was pouring poison into the ear of the King. If hon. Members could not imagine the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) arrayed in the Royal purple, they might recall the play of Faust, and see in the scene between Mephistopheles and Martha a picture of what took place in that House. It was to the pernicious counsels of the military contingent sitting behind the First Lord of the Treasury that they owed, to a great extent, the introduc- 1909 tion of this measure; but the Liberal Unionists were also largely responsible for it. No such measure could have been brought forward by the Government without the consent of the Leaders of the Liberal Unionists, who might be described as the Tory Members of the Conservative Party on the Opposition side of the House. Upon them rested a serious responsibility, for which the Government would call them to account. Some of the followers of the Government seemed to have a very vague and foggy notion of why they would support the Bill. If, as one of them alleged, the Irish tenantry could not earn a livelihood even were they relieved from all rent, was it not unnecessary, cowardly, and dastardly for any Government to bring in a measure of coercion? As they all knew, the severe fall in prices had caused rents to fall into arrear; evictions had followed, and outrages ensued upon evictions. Before the French Revolution, in exactly the same way agrarian outrages took place, and in every country where the peasantry were alienated from the possession of the land it was always found that until they righted themselves such deplorable occurrences would reproduce themselves. In a passage which had been frequently; quoted, Sir James Caird had said that if the prices of agricultural produce in February, 1886, were continued the economical rent would disappear from the holdings of 538,000 tenants in Ireland. There had, however, since been a very considerable fall in those prices, and therefore the tenants were much worse off. The falls in prices were as follow:—Barley, which in 1886 cost 13s. 1½d. per barrel of 2241b., was this year 12s. 7½d.; beef, 52s. 6d. per cwt. in 1886. was now 46s. 3d.; pork, 41s. 3d. in 1886, 38s. In 1887 hay had fallen from 3s. 2d. per cwt. to 2s. 6d., straw from 2s. 9d. to 2s. 1d.; while butter, which had been 90s. in 1886, had through accidental circumstances risen this year to 103s. With regard to the "anecdotal" remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), and his instances of Boycotting in Ireland, he (Mr. Schwann) would like also to be allowed to give the result of his first experience of this offence. Being at one time in Fermoy, he was asked by his Loyalist friends to attend a sitting of the Court there, the inducement held out to 1910 him being that he would hear a case of Boycotting, which would give him some insight into Irish character. He accordingly attended the Court, and he heard a person named Punch charged by a certain Captain St. Leger Barry—who was a magistrate—with having refused to serve him in his shop the week before. Mr. Punch was a grocer, and, as was often the case in Ireland, combined that trade with the business of liquor selling. Mr. Punch absolutely denied the statement, and summoned Captain Barry for perjury. No attempt was made at defence, but it was unnecessary to say that Captain Barry was not committed to the Assizes for perjury. The offence had been committed in Captain Barry's own Court when application for renewal of his licence was made by Mr. Punch. That was a sample of the manner in which the law was administered in Ireland, not only by the present Government, but by ail Governments. They all used the engine of the law to promote their own political ends. There was in Ireland—as Sir Redvers Buller had stated—one law for the rich and another for the poor. In fact, the laws there were principally for the rich. No doubt there were cases of Boycotting in Ireland, but offences of that nature were not unknown in England, as those who were familiar with the operations of the Primrose League were aware. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Yes; that was a melancholy fact, and he knew no reason why hon. Gentlemen should not hear it stated, however unpleasant it might be to them. he complained that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in giving his cases of Boycotting, had often referred to the offenders being "drunken fellows," and pointed out that the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) would experience great difficulty in converting the Captain Barry to whom he had alluded to teetotal principles. With regard to the proposal of the Government to transfer the venue of Irish trials from Ireland to England, he agreed that it would be an insult to the Irish people if it were carried out, and held that it was one which they should resent in the highest degree. It would be going back to the legislation of the middle ages, and he thought the Government had taken a most unfortunate step in embodying such a proposal in their measure. They would have to retract it, he believed; in fact, he was con- 1911 vinced that when the Bill came out of Committee—if it ever did come out—it would bear a very feeble resemblance to the scheme which originally went into Committee. The Government were taking a false stop in bringing in a measure for coercion at the present moment. They were attempting to interfere with the legal rights of the Irish people, and this action would unquestionably be resented by the country at large. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had appealed to "liberty." Well, they were becoming accustomed to that sainted name being used in the House in support of measures which one would have thought it would have been impossible to vindicate. The closure, forsooth, had been promoted by the Government in order to foster "liberty of debate," and now coercion was proposed as a means of advancing the liberty of action of our Irish fellow-subjects. But he believed there were happier times in store for Ireland, and that no very great period would elapse before a true union would be cemented between the two peoples. He believed that the remedial measures of the Government would be small, and would be found altogether unsatisfactory. However, ere long Ireland would receive real liberty, and some Irish patriot—the hon. Member for Cork, the hon. Member for Mayo, or the mighty Davitt—would be able to raise a statue to Liberty in Ireland, and in unveiling it would be able to say, with President Cleveland—This is a statue of Liberty, no longer grasping in her hand the thunderbolts of terror and death, but holding aloft the light of liberty which illumines the way of man's enfranchisement.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) (Middlesex, Ealing)
Sir, I think that hon. Gentlemen who spoke from the opposite Benches must have felt some inconvenience in their endeavours to discuss the provisions of a Bill which is not before the House. The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) said it seemed to him that the object of the Bill is to subject to pains and penalties all those who, like himself, had been connected with trades unions. The hon. Member admits that he voted for the Coercion Bill of 1882, and I assume that the hon. Member had at that time as much regard for trades unions as at this, and I can assure the hon. Member that he and his friends and all connected 1912 with those associations will be just as free to carry on their operations as under the Act of 1882. There seems to be a great difference of opinion whether or not the Government have made out their case for the introduction of this Bill. I wish, in the few observations I shall make to lay before the House the facts concerning which there is no dispute on. either side, and I shall be perfectly ready then to leave the House, and, if necessary, the public outside, to draw their own conclusions from those facts. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) asserted that we had not substantiated the shadow of a case. But what the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members below and above the Gangway opposite forget is what last year the right hon. Gentleman, in moving the second reading of his Home Rule Bill, distinctly gave as the foundation of his measure. What was the argument that pervaded and permeated that Bill and the speeches which he made in introducing it? the right Gentleman said over and over again that the first and primary duty of any Government that came into Office was to restore social order in Ireland, and he admitted that everyone was agreed on that point. I will take just one passage from many that he used to show how clearly he laid that proposition before the House. He said—The Bill is proposed in order to meet the first necessity of civilized society. Social order is not broken up in Ireland, it is undermined, it is sapped, and by general and universal confession it imperatively requires to be dealt with.He then described his remedy, which he preferred to ours because it dealt not only with symptoms, but with, causes, and he concluded thus—We all agree upon this, that social order in Ireland imperatively requires to be dealt with; but when we come to the method, then, unfortunately, our differences come into view."—(3 Hansard,  596.)What were the proposals by which the right hon. Gentleman sought to restore social order in Ireland? He proposed to restore social order by handing over the whole of the administration of justice and of law to those who he admitted had brought the law into disrepute; and in making those proposals he and the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley)—who knew what they were about—made pro- 1913 vision for the consequences of that peculiar method of restoring law and order, because in the Bill there was a special clause by which all those civilians and Judges who were connected with the administration of justice wore to have special facilities and precautions taken for getting out of the country; and the right hon. Member for Newcastle himself admitted that special precautions would have to be taken with reference to the police records, because if the names of those who had assisted the police in detecting crime were known, their lives, under the new system that was to have been set up, would not have been safe there. The right hon. Gentleman gave us distinctly to understand that he would not commit or entrust the police records to the new authorities. All of us took a certain part in popular meetings during the last Elections, and I contend that of all the proposals which the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian made, there was none that was found to be so repugnant to the just instincts of the working classes of this country as the proposal to hand over the whole administration of law and justice in Ireland to the enemies of both. [Cheers and Home Rule dissent.] That proposal, therefore, is dead and buried. [Cries of "No, no!"] I say it is practically dead. The hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill), who opened the debate to-day, said that the Government were, without pretext, proposing an Algerian Code for the Irish people. When the present Government came into Office we were perfectly aware of the difficulty of the Irish problem; and, acting on the advice of his Colleagues, my right hon. Friend the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) undertook an arduous and thankless task, because it was admitted by hon. Members on both sides of the House that there was not one man in the House who had greater knowledge of Irish affairs, or who was more likely to be able to carry on the government of that country to a successful issue without recourse to anything beyond the ordinary powers of the law. My right hon. Friend spoke twice upon the subject this Session, and informed this House and the country that he believed it would have been possible to dispense with this measure if it had not been for 1914 the action of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. A Member of that Party well capable of representing it went over to Chicago—I mean the hon. Member for North Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond)—who, whenever he speaks in this House, speaks with ability on behalf of his Party. That hon. Member the other night did not dispute the quotation from his speech at Chicago, in which he laid it down as a fundamental proposition that not only was the government of Ireland by England impossible, but that it was the duty of Irishmen to make it impossible. The hon. Member for North Wexford, following up that proposition, addressed an audience in December last in a speech that was reported in The Enniscorthy Guardian of December 11, and conveyed it to his audience as tidings of great joy. He said—We have every reason to congratulate ourselves to-day on what is nothing short of a most important victory for our people and our cause.What was that victory? Why, that the hon. Member and his Friends had so conducted themselves as to render it necessary for the Government to introduce a Coercion Bill. The hon. Member said—When Mr. Gladstone was defeated in England last year, and when the Tories came into power, they boasted that they could govern Ireland by means of the ordinary law…. Home Rule was defeated at the last Election in Great Britain, and I say advisedly that if in the face of that defeat the Tories had been able to rule Ireland with the ordinary law the result would have been in England and Scotland to throw back our cause perhaps for a generation, and to give the lie direct to the prophecy of Mr. Gladstone…. We have been able to force the Government to give up the ordinary law and fall back once more on coercion…. I believe that the day they propose a Coercion Act, that moment shall be their death-knell, and will herald Mr. Gladstone's opportunity to power once more.[Cheers.] Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheer that sentiment are annoyed with the Liberal Unionists because they are at one with us. Is not that speech an explanation of why they act with us? That agitation in Ireland was not carried on for the benefit of the poor tenants, but that the Government which might discharge the primary duty of maintaining social order in Ireland might be torn to pieces, and that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian might be able to resuscitate the policy of 1915 his Government which was emphatically repudiated by the country six months before.
§ MR.J. E. REDMOND (Wexford, N.)
I am sure the noble Lord would not wish to misrepresent me. I would ask him—Did I not express in that speech my appreciation of the conduct of the people in preserving social order, and did I not say that the triumph of our policy lay in the fact of the utter absence of lawlessness and crime?
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again. What I understood him to say was that I had congratulated the people on an important victory, that victory being that we had conducted ourselves so as to render a Coercion Bill necessary.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
Yes; and the agitation was managed so cleverly as that there should not appear to be an increase of outrages. [Laughter.] Those who laugh will understand why the Government do not rest their measure entirely on the amount of crime included in the statistics. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian the other day said that no case was ever presented to the House on such unsatisfactory and meagre statistics of crime; and he proceeded to draw an elaborate analysis between the amount of crime perpetrated last year in connection with agrarian offences and the amount committed this year. He complained, and perhaps with some justice, that the figures had been substantiated to the House by which he could draw a comparison off-hand between the two years—that he had been compelled to do so himself, and the result of his calculation was that there was an increase of agrarian crime, independent of threatening letters, of only six offences in the past year over the preceding year. Now, I have looked into the matter and I am afraid that in his calculation he has fallen into a serious blunder. he has over-estimated the number of threatening letters in 1886, and under-estimated those in 1885; and the result is this—that the number of offences, other than threatening letters, in 1885 was 489, and in 1886 it was 607. It will be generally found that of the offences connected with agrarian out- 1916 rages about 50 per cent can be taken to represent threatening letters. The agrarian offences in the past year were 1,025. Since 1869 there are only four years in which agrarian outrages have been greater in number than they were in 1886—namely, the years 1870, 1880, 1881, and 1882. In every single one of those years the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was in Office; in every one of those years he either demanded from Parliament, or had in operation, a stringent Coercion Bill. But he says you must rely on criminal statistics, and that this House has never assented to a Coercion Bill unless it has full and satisfactory statistics before it. Now, the one year in which the amount of agrarian crime was smallest in the whole annals of Ireland was 1867. There were then 87 agrarian offences, of which 32 were threatening letters; and, therefore, if there was a year in which it would have been impossible to obtain the assent of Parliament to a Coercion Bill it was that year. In that year the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian came down and demanded the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the greatest interference that can be made with the Constitutional liberty of the subject; and he carried the Bill through all its stages in a single Sitting.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
Yes; it was in connection with Fenianism; but does the hon. Member tell me that Fenianism is dead now? No one will dispute that the Land League and the National League are the same; their organization is the same; their leaders are practically the same, except that a certain number were who were associated with the Land League were compelled to leave the country when the Crimes Act was in operation. The right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) has changed his opinions; but he has left a valuable record of the statements of fact he made as Home Secretary, and of the reasons he gave why the Government, of which he was a Member, were bound to consider and to take action on them. On the 9th of March, 1881, in Committee on the Peace Preservation Bill, the right hon. Member for Derby said— 1917I do not accept the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they say that there is no Fenianism now. My case is that the present movement is nothing else than Fenianism. We have evidence abundant and complete that it is nothing but Fenianism under another name. Its objects are precisely those of the Fenian conspiracy. The reason why we adopt summary jurisdiction without reference to juries in Ireland is that we consider, in the present state of Ire-land, summary jurisdiction should be exercised, as it was under the Act of 1370, without the alternative of trial by jury, as under the Act of 1875."—(3 Hansard,  676–7.)On the third reading of the Bill on the 11th of March, 1881, the right hon. Gentleman said—Am I right or wrong in saying that this Land League organization is really Fenian and Fenian in its character? I say exactly what I believe about the matter. It is perfectly true, as the hon. Member stated, that the Fenian organization endeavoured in former times to attack the English Government by open force; but, having found that that course could not be successful, it is my firm conviction that exactly the same object has been, and is being, prosecuted by other and more indirect methods. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) said that the Land League had three objects in view—first, to paralyze the Government; secondly, to obstruct Parliament; and, thirdly, to supersede the action of the law. Hut if they had accomplished these objects, they would have done all that the Fenian organization contemplated—they would have overthrown the Constitution as much as if they had attacked it successfully by open force.And in the same speech the right hon. Gentleman said—I speak of the hon. Member for Tipperary. I have no right to say that he has any connection with the Fenian organization. I do not know it, and I cannot prove it; but his language in Ireland was precisely that which was used by the Fenian organization. We have been told that the Land League is a vigorous movement for Constitutional purposes. If that were.so, I should strongly condemn any man or any Government that would interfere with it. But is that so? When we see men seeking the support of arms to assist their purposes, and find members of the Land League in communication with Communism in Paris, and Fenianism in America, then, I say, the maxim applies—'Noscilur ex sociis.' Can anyone be blind to these facts? I did not intend to detain the House so long; but when the hon. Member asks us why it was that the Liberal Party came to the conclusion that these measures were necessary, and necessary, too, to press them forward through the House of Commons by means which I regret as much as any man can do, I say it was because they were convinced that the state of things in Ireland was not for the welfare of the country, and I may add because the Liberal Party never has had, and never will have, anything in common with Communism or with Fenianism."—(3 Hansard,  842–3–4.)Not only are these the avowed objects of the National League, but the very argu- 1918 ment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle has been that the League is likely to obtain its object, and therefore we had better give way at once. I do not say that Fenianism occupies now the same position that it did formerly, but it is a factor which has to be taken into consideration. It is asserted that the object of this measure is not to restore social order so much as to enable landlords to exact impossible rents. That statement is accepted, if I may judge by the silence with which it is received. I do not wish to go at length into the Land Question. I have always said that the agitation in Ireland was agrarian and not political, and if you can eliminate the agrarian element from it agitation will succumb. This is the only agitation which has lasted, and it is because it is associated with the Land Question. When remedial proposals are made it is essential that we should understand what are the difficulties of the Land Question in Ireland. They do not arise from defects of the law, as far as occupying tenants are concerned, because the law is more favourable to them than it is in any other country in the world. But they arise from the physical and economical conditions which surround the agriculture of Ireland. There are two sides to the Land Question in Ireland, and we in this House only get one of them. In the hilly districts there is much moor and barren land under cultivation; and in the valleys and other parts there is as rich grazing and pasture land as is to be found in any country in the world. It is on the barren soil of the mountainous districts that you have a prolific and congested population. The object of the Land League in the Plan of Campaign has been to utilize the indigence of the tenants in the poor districts, to force the tenants in the richer districts not to pay the rents they otherwise could pay, and, having thus amalgamated the interests of those who live on the rich lands with the interests of those who live on the poor and barren lands, to utilize the Land Question as a lever to raise a political agitation, and in obtaining national independence. Therefore, when any proposal is made to deal satisfactorily with the Land Question, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway naturally object, because it deprives them of a fulcrum by which they hope to overthrow the 1919 Union. We are asked why we do not deal with the Land Question first. In answer I will quote a sentence from page 7 of the Report of the Royal Commission—The people are more afraid of Boycotting, which depends for its success on the probability of outrage, than they are of the judgments of the Courts of law. This unwritten law in some districts is supreme.Will anyone dispute that? Turning to page 8 I find it asserted—The decision of that Court (the Land Court) is absolutely binding on the landlord, but public opinion in many parts of the country does not recognize any binding effect of such a decision on the tenant, who, if dissatisfied, may join a combination for the purpose of obtaining a still further reduction.So long as that is the state of affairs, it is useless to set about amending the law in Ireland until the Government has secured that the law, whatever it is, shall have more attention paid to it than at present. That is the reason why we were compelled to introduce this measure first. It is asserted that there are landlords in Ireland who will endeavour to make use of the powers which the Bill confers for the purpose of evicting their tenants. There may be bad landlords who may attempt to utilize a stringent law. The Government, therefore, propose to introduce immediately into the House of Lords a Bill which will reader it almost impossible that any increased facilities for landlords acting harshly towards tenants can be claimed under this Bill. We further propose, later on, to introduce a larger measure for the purpose, if possible, of settling the Land Question. It is sometimes assumed that landlords and all connected with them uphold the existing system in Ireland. I, myself, have never been enamoured of the existing system. It may be described in a sentence. You have 35 tenants to one landlord. In discussing the system the tendency is to cultivate popularity rather than a sense of justice. A demand is made in certain quarters to reduce the rents fixed by the Land Courts because prices have fallen. Yes; but will you propose to raise reduced rents if prices should rise? [An hon. MEMBER: NO, no!] the hon. Member who says "No" is not guided by a sense of justice; and so long as you have 35 tenants to one landlord there is, to my mind, a very serious obstacle to the smooth working of the land system 1920 in Ireland. I believe that the system of large estates in England has worked well for agriculture, although, possibly, it has not produced very good results to the owners. But a system of large estates, to my mind, can only work well when the holdings are of such a size that the landlords can make the permanent improvements. In Ireland many holdings are so small that it is impossible for the landlords to do that. This is one of the great difficulties of the problem. That which is of advantage to the single holding is not un-frequently detrimental to the whole estate. Then there is unnecessary friction between landlords and tenants, and this is not for the public good. Therefore, I have always hold that it was for us, as the only practical conclusion, to devise some system by which the present system of land tenure should be put an end to. This result may be desired by the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends, but it is obstructed by the light hon. Member for Mid Lothian. I am sorry to introduce anything of a personal character into this debate, but a practice has arisen amongst certain hon. Members which I think is contrary to the practice of the House—and almost an abuse of its forms—of making attacks on individuals without giving notice the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) the other night attacked different landowners, and among them myself and my family. He said—It was believed that the Hamiltons were anxious to have a Coercion Act because without such an Act they could not levy their tents. They were regarded by their own tenants and by the Ulster farmers as rack-renters.The hon. Member went on to speak of what he regarded as the unhappy relations between the Duke of Abercorn and his tenants, and to wish for some means by which this unfortunate state of affairs could be put an end to. The hon. Member for East Mayo was distressed, not for the first time, at the relations between the Duke of Abercorn and his tenants, and he objected not because the relations were bad, but because they were so good. [An hon. MEMBER: Prove it.] I am going to prove it. Before the Redistribution Act of 1885 was passed North Tyrone constituted a separate constituency, and the tenants of the Duke of Abercorn formed a large proportion of the voters in that 1921 constituency. On behalf of these rack-rented and down-trodden tenants first appeared the present hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy). Another distinguished Member of that Party took his place—the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon)—who then made exactly the same statement as he had made in the House of Commons, and all these tenants, so far as they knew, voted against him. These Gentlemen spoke in ignorance of the condition of these tenants. They were all well-to-do, independent men. At the Election in 1886 fresh tactics were resorted to. It was no use starting a fullblown Nationalist, and so a hybrid article was produced in the shape of a gentleman whoso one claim to the recommendation of the tenants was that he had been a Sub-Commissioner, and in the course of his duty had somewhat favoured the tenants.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. I wish to know whether an attack on Judges in this House is in Order? Whether the noble Lord is in Order in saying a Judge of the Land Court was in favour of the tenants?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I do not gather that the noble Lord makes any reflection on a Judge of the Superior Court. The Sub-Commissioner is not a Judge of a Superior Court.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to ask whether it was allowable to attack a Judge of an inferior Court in this way?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I am not making any attack; I am merely stating what is a fact—that Mr. Wylie was recommended as an Assistant Commissioner who had been a friend to the tenants. But the rack-rented, downtrodden tenantry supported the brother of their landlord. But why was this charge made? It is simply ridiculous to say that my brother or my family want a Coercion Bill to assist them in obtaining their rents. There is no property in the North of Ireland in which tenant-right is higher in value. This charge was made in order to hold up to public obloquy those whoso public duty it is to support this Bill by suggesting that they are actuated by personal motives. The hon. Member for East Mayo told us in plain language what he intended to do, and in so doing he furnished the strongest personal argu- 1922 ment that could be advanced in support of this Bill. He informed us that he intended to promote the Plan of Campaign, and that, if he was put in prison, upon the Chief Secretary would rest the responsibility for any outrages that ensued. Can any Government tolerate such action, by which the laws are defied, and when Judges attempt to enforce their jurisdiction their messengers are maltreated? The hon. Member asked how he could be expected to take any interest in Imperial affairs when his country was going to ruin. The part in which it is going to ruin is that in which his authority is supreme. Strong unconscious testimony has been given by an hon. Gentleman opposite below the Gangway as to the situation resulting from the repudiation of contracts. The hon. Member for North Donegal said that tens of thousands of writs of merchants and shopkeepers were rotting for want of service. [Cries of "Why?"] Do you suppose that repudiation of contracts can be confined to contracts made with landlords? The reason given for the statement was that so many police were engaged in the assistance of the landlords. That is exactly my point. When you teach the people to repudiate their obligations to the landlords you will find they will repudiate their obligations to other people. Hon. Members of the House have little idea of the kind of terror under which hundreds of people in Ireland had now come. They have no notion of the sort of tyranny exercised by some of these Land League Courts. The Central Land League has set certain forces in operation throughout the country, and now in many cases it finds it cannot control those forces. In the answer to Question No. 18,592, there is a reference to a case in which the hon. and learned Member for West Donegal (Mr. O'Hea) appeared as counsel for one of the parties to the suit. The case is stated in these terms in the answer—A farmer let a forge to three men, smiths, on these terms—they were to make a money payment and to shoe his horses. This occurred at Ovens, a place within a few miles of the City of Cork. The man was Boycotted and the smiths refused to work for him, and no smith would work for him, although he was a member of the Land League himself. He was then obliged to send his horses into Cork to be shod. Then he brought a process against the smiths for breach of contract, and the damage done to him by being obliged to send his horses into Cork. In the case he told us how he came to be Boycotted. 1923 He said there was a property in the Court of Chancery and a receiver was appointed, and the receiver put up the grazing of some of the land to let, and there were four proposals sent in for the grazing by four members of the Ovens Land League. One was put in by the cousin of this man, and thereupon his brother Leaguers got him Boycotted, and they refused to allow any one to speak to him, and the plaintiff in the case before me was Boycotted because he spoke to his cousin who was Boycotted.In this case the hon. Member for West Donegal appeared to protest in the strongest manner against the tyranny of the local League. This shows that a local institution has been set up which cannot be restrained. Hon. Members can have no case against the Government when the Government asks for power in certain localities to put down local associations which make so abominable a misuse of their power. In another ease a tenant paid his rent but asked for a writ of eviction, offering to defray all the legal expenses, "Because," he said. "if it is known that my rent is paid my life will be in the greatest danger." To show how iniquitous this system of intimidation is, I may mention another case, reported in United Ireland, where a branch of the Land League in the County of Tipperary passed a resolution to the effect that they would retain their present Poor Law Guardians in office if they pledged themselves that in future when the interests of the League were involved they would be guided by the decision of a majority of the branch. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian endeavoured the other night to draw a distinction between the National League and the Land League, and he assorted that the difference between the two was that the Land League had advocated the payment of no rent, whereas the National League merely advocated a reduction of rent; and the right hon. Gentleman laid great emphasis upon this distinction as justifying him in giving a support to the National League, contrary to the action which he took in regard to the suppression of the Land League. But I will remind the right hon. Gentleman that the hon. Members for Cork and East Mayo were not put in prison for issuing the "No-Rent'' manifesto. That manifesto was issued afterwards; but that which in the opinion of the late Prime Minister justified him in putting those hon. Members in prison was, that they stood between 1924 the people of Ireland and the beneficial legislation which he had passed, and that they did so by advocating the doctrines of public plunder. The object of the Plan of Campaign is to substitute for rents which the tenants have covenanted to pay, or which the Land Courts have settled that they should pay, such rents as they may agree upon themselves. "What is the operation of this grievous and bad system? We cannot have a better illustration of it than what occurred in the case of Lord Lansdowne's tenants. Lord Lansdowne has two properties, one in Kerry and the other in Queen's County. The conditions of these two properties are the reverse of one another. On one estate the tenants are very poor and the holdings small, while on the other the holdings are large and the tenants may be described as country gentlemen. On the first-named estate great reductions of rent wore made, whereupon the tenants on the other estate refused to pay the rents unless the same reduction was made in their case. Lord Lansdowne very properly refused to grant this demand, and among the tenants who allowed themselves to be evicted was one gentleman who owned racehorses, and who had been a magistrate. All that the Government contends for is that the conditions which surround the contract between landlord and tenant shall be even. I think I have shown that there is a system of intimidation and terrorism existing in certain parts of Ireland which threatens to engulf social order throughout Ireland unless it be stopped. As to the administration of justice, I heard the hon. Member for East Mayo ask how he could expect a fair trial if the jury was composed of his political opponents. But how could he expect a fair trial if the jury was composed of his political adherents? We are taking measures by which we hope to be able, to a certain extent, to maintain the jury system, and, at all events, to insure that decisions shall be given in accordance with the evidence tendered in the Courts of Law. We are told that the proposed legislation will fail. We are told that we are unwise to bring in this measure, and we are also told that, since the Union, 87 Coercion Acts have been passed. But the reason why so many Coercion Acts have been allowed to lapse between the 1925 years 1800 and 1887 is that, in most instances, they were passed for a temporary purpose, and that, having done their work, they were allowed to lapse. Hitherto it has been the practice of the Opposition, when an appeal is made to them to enable the Government to carry out law and order, to respond to that appeal. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian based his refusal to respond to the present appeal upon one precedent alone, and I will ask hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to look carefully at that precedent. It is that of the action of Lord John Russell in 1846, who refused to grant the powers which the Government of the day asked for, and who came into Office in consequence. Within a few months Lord John Russell and his Colleagues asked for and passed exactly the same measure which they refused to pass the year before.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
In the second year they passed another similar Act; in the third year they suspended the Habeas Corpus Act; and, lastly, they put on their trial and convicted a considerable number of the Irish Members through whose co-operation they obtained Office. We are told that we want this Bill in order to abolish all personal and Constitutional liberty in Ireland. Sir, we ask for these powers because we believe we had a mandate at the last Election. We were put into Office in order that we might maintain the union between the two countries. the present attack upon the Union is subtle and insidious. It is hoped that social order and the authority of the law may be engulfed in the agitation which is now going on, so that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian may ultimately be able to appeal to the country and to say that Ire-land is so demoralized that there is no hope or help except by repealing the Union. One hon. Gentleman to-day said that our only object in bringing in this Bill was to retain Office; he said that was the solo motive which led us to refuse to allow them a separate Parliament in Ireland. If the hon. Gentleman had looked into the composition of this House, he would have discovered that, if any single thing could give the 1926 Tory Party an absolute majority in this House, it would be the adoption of the measure of last year. If we were actuated by those personal motives which are attributed to us, we ought to take action exactly the reverse of that which we are taking. Our object is not to take away Constitutional liberty from the Irish people, but to restore it to them. We have associated with this measure others which are remedial in their operation, and we hope, with these materials, to renovate and restore social order in Ireland and from that foundation work out the prosperity of Ireland and the unity of the Empire.
§ MR. COLERIDGE (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
said, the claim of the Tories and of the Unionists, when they went to the country at the last General Election, was that they intended to deal with all parts of the United Kingdom with fairness, impartiality, and equality; but now the Government had disregarded all those promises and pledges, and come to the House with a measure deliberately prepared for the purpose of depriving one portion of the United Kingdom of those liberties which the other portions enjoy, and which the Government dare not take from them. And, further than this, they proposed not only to deprive the present inhabitants of Ireland, but their sons and grandsons for generations yet to come into the world, of those advantages and liberties which they dared not propose to deprive the inhabitants of the other portions of the United Kingdom. That was a strong order to ask the House to consent to, and he thought a proposal of that sort ought to have been supported by better arguments than the miserably weak and contemptible tu quoques which had been laid before the the House. There were many Liberals in House now-a-days who were too young to be tarred with the coercion brush; and it was no argument to toll them the Liberal Party, or some Liberal Leaders had in other days—happily past and gone—and under other circumstances, advocated and carried out measures of coercion. That, Sir, was no argument at all to hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, for the spirit which animated them and the spirit which animated Tories and Coercionists was wholly different. The principle which animated Liberalism was the principle of growth and progress, whilst the prin- 1927 ciple of Toryism was a principle which stood still. He should be glad to see those Liberals who formerly advocated coercion coming forward with candour, acknowledging their past errors, and saying—"We are not going to go wrong again as we did in the past." When they were asked to grant this extreme measure of coercion for Ireland, it should first be proved that it was necessary; but when they asked for means for an examination of the crimes upon which the Government founded the necessity of their Bill, they were told that the Government did not stand upon the number of crimes committed, and that that was not the point upon which the demand for coercion was to be argued out. A wretched little list, however, of what he might call slightly exaggerated Prim-rose League cases was produced, mostly from quarters which were open to considerable and reasonable suspicion; and then they were favoured with remarks of Irish Judges. But for Englishmen to understand the value of the remarks quoted from the charges of Irish Judges, it was necessary that they should first of all understand the difference between the data upon which English and Irish Judges founded their charges. English Judges charging English Grand Juries did so upon the authority of the list of crimes before them in the calendar, and of the depositions which they had before them, giving full particulars of all those crimes; but the charges of Irish Judges were, he understood, not based upon a similar state of facts, but upon the hearsay statements of Irish officials, placed before them under the seal of secrecy and confidence. It was upon such flimsy pretexts as those that the House was asked to deprive the Irish people of their liberties. When it was proposed to deprive a people of their liberties, the country would naturally like to know what was the motive power which was forcing on this measure of coercion, and he had no hesitation in saying that the motive power was the landlords, who had found it difficult to collect their rents, and who hoped to make use of these coercive proposals to carry out their own purposes, and to extract higher rents from their tenants. He opposed any measure of coercion, and he confessed he had no belief in the remedial 1928 legislation which they were told was to follow. Last Session they were told by the Government that they admitted that there was a case for inquiry, that an inquiry should, therefore, be made, and if the allegations made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) turned out upon inquiry to be true, nothing should stay the hands of the Government in applying a remedy. he did not speak without authority on the matter. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), after denying the accuracy of the statements made by the hon. Member for Cork, went on to say—I quite agree that, if the hon. Member for Cork had proved his case, Parliament ought to interfere to maintain the tenants in their holdings, and that neither the season of the year nor our own labours ought to excuse us from dealing with the subject.But in the face of that statement what did the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary do? He denied the fall in prices, and he opposed the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork, which, he characterized as "an act of gross injustice and confiscation to the landlords of Ireland." But it having been proved by their Commission of Inquiry that the statements made by the hon. Member for Cork were true, and his proposals just, the Government now tell the House that they proposed to deal with the subject in a Bill about which the House knows nothing and in "another place" about which they knew too much. But if the Government were in earnest in proposing that remedial legislation, what would become of the assertion that the proposals of the hon. Member for Cork would inflict gross injustice upon the landlords? Could it be believed that they were in earnest, and that they intended to pass a remedial measure carrying into effect the ideas of the hon. Member for Cork? The answer appeared to him to be found in the fact that there never had been a single suggestion made for remedying, for improving, the condition under which Irish land was held by the tenants that had not been invariably either maimed, mutilated, or rejected totally by the other House to which it was now proposed to give the initiative in the Government legislation. They threw out the Bill framed upon the Report of the Devon Commission— 1929 a landlord Commission—in 1813. A similar Bill was introduced in 1853 and rejected, and a well-known Tory statesman then said it was notorious that the House of Lords would pass no such measure of reform of the Land Laws, and that the Government who introduced such a measure and pretended that they were going to pass it, was guilty of an imposture and a sham, and he (Mr. Coleridge) had now no hesitation in saying that to tell the country now that the other House was going to pass the remedial measures foreshadowed for Ireland was an imposture and a sham. There was, however, one Liberal, or so-called Liberal, who had found salvation in that "other place." The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), to the surprise and horror of his former associates, had expressed his faith in the other House passing a satisfactory remedial measure for Ireland. Well, faith had been falsely and irreverently defined as trying to believe what you know to be untrue; and he (Mr. Coleridge) thought that at the present time that definition might, without injustice, be applied to the faith held by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman believes that a good and thorough remedial measure is going to pass that "other place," when he knows very well that it is not—when he knows it to be untrue. the right hon. Gentleman must be a different person to the Mr. Joseph Chamberlain who made a speech some time ago, in which he said of that" other place "—They have mangled or postponed, or thrown out from the first to last, from the time of the Union to the present day, every Bill which was intended to secure to the Irish tenant his fair interest in the land which he tilled, and to give him some guarantee for the product of his industry and his thrift.It was now said that the law, just or unjust, must be maintained before any remedial measure could be carried out; but that was said originally in our contest with our American Colonists, and with what results? Lord Mansfield thus explained his position in the House of Lords, while admitting that the impolicy of the taxes imposed in 1767 had been the cause of the trouble and confusion which he then deplored—Proceed then, my Lords, with spirit and fairness. When you shall have established your 1930 authority it will then be time to show your lenity.The Government of those days entered upon a contest in which they were defeated. He (Mr. Coleridge) never disguised from himself the fact that it was practically possible to govern a country by a policy of "Thorough." They might make a desert around them and call it peace, and might produce a temporary and sullen tranquillity; but to carry out that policy there must be no faltering. They might depend upon it, that if the effects were to be produced in Ireland which were produced by the old Cromwellians—if those effects were to be reproduced in the 19th century, hon. Members opposite and the Government must devote themselves to the work with the same merciless spirit, thoroughness, brutality, and indifference to bodily suffering and liberty which distinguished the Cromwellian statesmen and soldiers. The effects produced by Cromwell could not be produced unless they should display again the temper and spirit of Cromwell. Well, he asked, had the Government fully considered the matter? Had they resolved to treat the Irish people consistently and continuously with the same sternness as the Cromwellians did? What were they going to do, for instance, with those tenants who defended their homes and refused to leave their farms, or if, after having been turned out and driven from them, crept back again? In the Cromwellian days they could be sold into slavery or hung. That was the real policy of "Thorough," and it was carrying such a policy to its only logical conclusion; but were the Government of to-day prepared to carry out their policy of "Thorough" to the same conclusion? Were hon. Members prepared to see this Bill carried out to the same logical conclusion? It should he remembered that in Cromwell's days England had to deal with a country ruined by faction, and far less powerful and civilized than it was now. To-day not only was Ireland better educated and more civilized, but there was a large Irish Party in the House of Commons, and a large number of supporters in the British Colonies, in America, and in England. Moreover, the Government, besides dealing with the Irish Party, would have to deal with the vast majority of the masses of 1931 the English people. There was a curious old book which he came across the other day and the writer found fault with the Cromwellians because they wore not "Thorough" enough. He said—"If they have a dram of rebellious blood in them, you cannot believe that the Irish will be driven like geese by the mere wagging of a hat upon a stick." Therefore he was confident that they had now happily come to a time when the policy of "Thorough" could no longer, by any possibility, be carried into effect. In the Cromwellian days the Government wont to the extremity of taking away the discontented people from Ireland and replacing them by people of an English race; but even that extreme and detestable policy failed, for the sons of the Englishmen who were sent over to replace the banished Irish people became the strongest opponents of the tyrannical Teutonic rule. They had now, however, come to a time when men could not be banished and others substituted, although, if they could, past experience did not encourage a trial of the experiment; and he believed the Government would find that in proposing this Coercion Bill they were forging a weapon which would break in their own hands; it would prove to be a mere cardboard weapon, like their Paper Union. Irish Members in that House had been sneered at on the ground that they were representing, not their constituents in Ireland, but people in other countries; but if he were an Irishman, he should consider it one of the most glorious boasts of the Irish race that, spread over the world, in whatever country they might be, they changed the sky and not their home, and that the pulse of Irish nationality beat as high at the extremities as at the heart itself. If the Government were to carry this measure out to its logical consequences there must be no parleying with their General Bullers or Captain Plunketts; there must be no County Court Judges exercising discretionary powers; there must be no prisoners carried to gaol escorted by cheering crowds and consoled by applauding Archbishops. The Government must pursue the policy they had begun to the bitter end. They must be stern, merciless, pitiless. What a helpless, hopeless policy! They had allowed the landlords to mount the box, and the landlords must drive the coach of the Government over any roads, 1932 through any mire. When all was done the Government would find Ireland in a state of ferment and exasperation. That was a policy which he should oppose with ail his energy, because it was the policy of an impotent, a resourceless, and a class-ridden Government.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. Labouchere,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.