|CLASS I.—PUBLIC WORKS AND BUILDINGS.|
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens||15,000|
|Houses of Parliament||9,000|
|Furniture of Public Offices||3,000|
|Revenue Department Buildings||34,000|
|County Court Buildings||4,000|
|Metropolitan Police Courts||1,500|
|Sheriff' Court Houses, Scotland||6,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||35,000|
|Science and Art Department Buildings||3,000|
|British Museum Buildings||2,000|
|Harbours, &c. under Board of Trade||6,500|
|Rates on Government Property (Great Britain and Ireland)||15,000|
|Metropolitan Fire Brigade||2,500|
|Disturnpiked and Main Roads(England and Wales)|
|Disturnpiked Roads (Scotland)|
|Science and Art Buildings, Dublin||5,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||3,000|
|CLASS II.—SALARIES AND EXPENSES OF CIVIL DEPARTMENTS.|
|House of Lords, Offices||9,000|
|House of Commons, Offices||10,000|
|Treasury, including Parliamentary Counsel||10,000|
|Home Office and Subordinate Departments||15,000|
|Privy Council Office and Subordinate Departments||3,000|
|Board of Trade and Subordinate Departments||10,000|
|Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade|
|Charity Commission (including Endowed Schools Department)||6,000|
|Civil Service Commission||8,000|
|Exchequer and Audit Department||8,000|
|Friendly Societies, Registry||1,500|
|Land Commission for England||4,000|
|Local Government Board||110,000|
|Mint (including Coinage)||2,000|
|National Debt Office||2,500|
|Paymaster General's Office||3,500|
|Public Works Loan Commission||1,000|
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I apprehend that this Vote on Account will be sufficient for the Government until the commencement of July; but it certainly is a very unprecedented course that the Estimates should have been practically put off until so late a day, and that Votes on Account should have been taken. The Government can hardly complain, if they choose to adopt this course, of everyone of these items being discussed seriatim. For my own part, I am anxious that Public Business should not be impeded in any way, and, therefore, I am afraid we shall have to wait in order to discuss every one of the items until they come on in the shape of ordinary Estimates. However, in Class I there is one Estimate which, I think, we ought to test—namely, that for the Metropolitan Police Courts. It will be seen that the total amount asked for the year under this head is £6,737; and taking the sum voted on Account on a previous occasion and the amount now asked for, we see that almost one-half of the whole will be voted on Account. Now, it is not a question of how much shall be voted, or whether the money is wholly or partly expended. The question is whether this money ought to be voted at all by the House of Commons? I, and others on this side of the House, and I believe many on the other side of the House also, have always contended that this is an expenditure which ought to fall on the Metropolis itself. I remember on the last Vote on Account I called the attention of the Committee to this matter, and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Commissioner of Public Works (Mr. Plunket) replied to me that there was a set-off, because the County Courts were paid for out of the Treasury. But I need hardly say that that is no set-off of any sort or kind. In Manchester and Liverpool, and most of our large towns, there are County Courts and Police Courts, and in London there are County Courts and Police Courts, 140 and there is no set-off in saying that the County Courts in Provincial towns are paid for by the Treasury, because the County Courts in London are also paid for by the Treasury. We have the clear, hard fact, then, before us, that in all large towns the Police Courts are paid for out of the local rates, but that in London they are paid for by the Treasury. The matter has been frequently raised in this House, and there are Gentlemen on both sides who take the same view upon it that I do. Under these circumstances, I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by this sum of £1,500 which is to be devoted to the Metropolitan Police Courts.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £3,828,800, be granted for the said Services."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET) (Dublin University)
The principle upon which the Metropolitan Police Courts were handed over to the Office of Works to be maintained by them by a Parliamentary Vote was that it was considered that the business of the London Police Courts was, or might be, of a rather more than local character. It was thought that they should be dealt with on the same basis as the Law Courts throughout the country rather than on the example of the Police Courts throughout the other parts of the Kingdom. Doubtless, the Police Court in Bow Street formerly had a very wide and extended jurisdiction, its writs running all over the country. But whatever may have been the principle or policy of the arrangement made, the answer I have to make to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton is, that under an Act of Parliament the Metropolitan Police Courts have been handed over to the Office of Works, and the Office of Works has been required to purchase, hire, or otherwise provide such Court-houses, offices, or buildings as may be required for carrying on the business of the various Police Courts in the Metropolitan Police Districts. These buildings and offices have to be cleaned, lighted, and warmed by the Office of Works. Well, as I have no other funds out of which to defray the expenses of cleaning, lighting, and warming the offices handed over to my charge under the Act to which I have 141 referred, which was passed through Parliament in all its stages without comment, I am obliged to come to this House and ask it to provide means with which to give effect to that Act of Parliament. These are the grounds upon which I ask the Committee to vote this money.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
This is rather an explanation than an excuse which we have received from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I would point out to him that about two years ago it was moved that the expenses of the Parks in London should no longer be borne by the Treasury, but by London. It was agreed then that an Act of Parliament should be brought in by the then Government to throw this expenditure upon the Metropolis. If we were to refuse to pass this Vote, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would be able to bring in a Bill, and pass it into an Act of Parliament, and it would become law, by which the charge for these Police Courts would be thrown upon the Metropolis. I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman can fairly ask us not to vote against this Estimate simply because there appears to be an Act of Parliament requiring the Office of Works to look after these Police Courts, for the passing of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given reasons, which reasons experience shows us to be absolutely worthless. He might, perhaps, hold that Bow Street Police Office is in an exceptional position compared with other Police Offices in the country; but he can hardly hold that the Greenwich Police Court or the Wandsworth Police Court, both of which are included in this Vote, are more important Police Courts than those of Manchester, Liverpool, and other large towns in the country. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, this question has long been a bone of contention. I was anxious that Her Majesty's Government, who are so desirous of reform and economy and all that sort of thing, should refrain from proposing this Vote, or should say that if the money were voted for the present, they would bring in a Bill and take care that it should be borne by those who ought to bear it next year. If we receive such an assurance I shall not press the matter to a Division; but unless such an assurance is given I shall divide the Committee upon this item.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
I think the objection taken to the Vote is reasonable, and I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not made a very vigorous defence of the principle and policy of paying the expenses of the Metropolitan Police Courts out of the Vote which falls upon the taxpayer of the United Kingdom. Even had he made a vigorous defence of it, I think we should not accept his authority for the course of proceeding referred to, without having some assurances as to the future state of the matter. It is well to tell the House that the Act of Parliament throws a particular duty upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and that he has no funds with which to discharge that duty unless Parliament supplies them. That is a very good excuse for the Vote this year, but what about the Vote next year and the year succeeding? Is the United Kingdom to continue for an indefinite period to contribute to the expense of keeping and maintaining these Police Courts. I think the protest against this state of things is a most reasonable protest, coming from an Englishman; but when we consider the case of Ireland, and consider that a Vote of this kind, for the maintenance of the Metropolitan Police Courts, in which we have not the smallest interest, falls not only on the English taxpayer, but also on the Irish taxpayer, I think the charge is an anomalous and monstrous one. I think before we pass this Vote we are entitled to have some assurance as to what the future state of things is to be. Is the United Kingdom to continue for an indefinite period to contribute towards maintaining the Metropolitan Police Courts? Surely this great City in which we now are is sufficiently wealthy to maintain its own Police Courts. One would think the Municipality of London would be ashamed to come to the taxpayer, hat in hand, begging him to maintain its Police Courts—begging him to pay the costs of getting within the clutches of the law, and of punishing them when they are there, the citizens of London for being drunk and disorderly, and so on. I think this protest is a fair one. I think we are entitled to some assurance that for the future this most anomalous state of things will not be continued, and that the taxpayer of the United Kingdom 143 shall not be compelled to contribute to this purely local purpose.
§ MR. PLUNKET
I would add one word to what I have already said. I suppose that whenever the Bill for the Government of the Metropolis comes before the House, this will be one of the questions raised in the debates; but when hon. Members ask mo to undertake to introduce a Bill for the purpose of putting the cost of the maintenance of the Police Courts on the Metropolis, and to pass that Bill through the House, I must beg them to remember that this is part of a very large question. I would also remind the Committee that very early in this Session I introduced a Bill for the very purpose referred to by the hon. Member for Northampton in another part of his remarks—namely, for the purpose of handing over a certain number of the Parks in London to the Metropolitan Board of Works. I must remind the Committee that I kept putting that Bill down every day, and that it has been hardly an agreeable duty to have to wait here until half-past 1 or 2 o'clock every morning in order merely to postpone the Bill, to say "this day, Sir," when it is called on; but I have been able to proceed no further with it. If we could get some security for the withdrawal of blocks against the Bill, it would, no doubt, have a good effect upon the progress of that measure, and I am glad of this opportunity of calling the attention of the Committee and of the country to the fact that this Bill—a very small Bill, and one which I believe would involve no controversy—has been standing on the Notice Paper day after day for second reading, and night after night, and cannot be disposed of on account of blocks. As to the policy of this Police Court question, I can only repeat that that is a question to be decided when the great question of Metropolitan Government comes up for discussion in this House.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
I cannot conceive how a Government which has introduced a Bill for the handing over of some Parks in London to the Metropolitan Board of Works can have any excuse for not introducing a measure to hand over, in a similar manner, the Metropolitan Police Courts to some Metropolitan Authority. It seems to me that there might be some little excuse for imposing the cost of the Parks upon 144 the taxpayers generally. Some of us or our constituents may, on some occasion, be able to derive amusement from the Parks, and may gain some little advantage from them; but I trust very few of our constituents have the smallest desire to derive advantage from the existence of the Police Courts, or, at any rate, will desire to derive instruction and amusement from them. Probably, the tendency of the Government to render these Courts places where amusement and instruction can be derived arises from the peculiar experiences of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman), who, we may suppose, did derive a certain amount of instruction and benefit from one of these institutions. The right hon. Gentleman opposite tells us that the Bill for transferring some of the London Parks to the Metropolitan Board of Works is blocked. Well, Sir, I do not know anything about that Bill, but I suppose it is due to the fact that some London Members desire to save the pockets of the London ratepayers. I trust, at any rate, that no one sitting on this side of the House will oppose a Bill which would propose to hand over all the Parks, under proper regulations, to the proper Local Authorities. I cannot admit that there is the slightest validity in the plea put forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, that there would be difficulty in getting the Bill through the House. He seems to forget that he is a Member of a Government who do not find it difficult to keep 200 or 250 of their followers on the premises, to draw them out of the Smoking Room and the Reading Rooms from time to time, and keep them galloping through the Lobbies in order to pass a Bill without discussion. I think it is the duty of everyone in this Committee to insist that a Division shall be taken, and to insist that this question shall be fully debated, unless we have an undertaking that this system under which London goes sponging upon the whole country to do that which it ought to do itself is to be put a stop to at once for all.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 113: Majority 50.—(Div. List, No. 142.)
§ Original Question again proposed.145
§ MR. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
Mr. Courtney, I wish to direct the attention of the Government to some of the regulations with regard to coinage. Last month, when the Budget was introduced, I discussed at some length the urgent necessity of restoring our currency to a proper condition. I think I made out a good case for the reform of the Mint regulations, especially with regard to the manufacture and composition of our gold coinage. I think I showed that in these respects we are far behind Germany and other Powers. On that occasion the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), who followed me in the debate, made a most startling proposition. He suggested that we should abolish the half-sovereigns, and replace them by silver, and utilize the profit from the silver for the restoration of the gold coinage. If that proposition had been made by an ordinary private Member, it would have sufficed to say that the public would never consent to part with so useful a coin as the half-sovereign, but a proposal emanating from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer must be more seriously considered. I should like to know if the noble Lord is aware that, at least, £20,000,000 sterling of half-sovereigns circulate in equal legal tender with sovereigns; and I would also point out to him that all gold-using countries use gold coins of the value of l0s., and even less. The United States of America use a two and a half and a one dollar gold piece, although they have one and two dollar notes. Germany coins the ten mark and five mark pieces in gold, although they have there notes of as low a value as five marks. The countries which are comprised in the Latin Union have the ten franc and five franc pieces in gold, worth respectively less than 8s. and 4s. I think that if we had to choose between the retention of sovereigns and half-sovereigns, as a matter of convenience We should retain half-sovereigns, because we might possibly replace the sovereigns in part by £1 notes, and we might pass two half-sovereigns instead of one sovereign. We never can abandon the half-sovereign. I do not think any hon. Gentleman, if he had 6d. to pay, and tendered a sovereign in payment, would care to receive in change so much silver as 19s. 6d. In this country we used to have smaller gold coins 146 than the half-sovereign; we had a third of a guinea, worth 7s., and a quarter of a guinea, worth 5s. 3d. I do not recommend that we should have gold coins smaller than half-sovereigns, on account of the cost of their wear and tear. When the noble Lord suggests that we should replace the £20,000,000 sterling worth of half-sovereigns by silver, does he recollect that half-sovereigns have a full legal tender, whereas the silver tokens would only be a legal tender to the amount of 40s.? The noble Lord suggested we might make a large profit. Certainly we might make a profit of £5,000,000 sterling, but it would not be honestly made. The worst possible mode of raising money would be the depreciation of the coinage circulating in the country. The original intention was that we should circulate silver at the moderate premium of 10 per cent, not to make money by it, but in order to retain it in the country. If the noble Lord's suggestion were adopted, our Government would appear as the purchaser of something like £14,000,000 or £15,000,000 worth of silver. That would be very welcome in the silver market; but there would be a competition between Germany, the United States, and France as to which of them should supply us with the silver and take away our gold in exchange. Each of these countries have more silver to spare than this; and such a transaction as that, without an International Convention, would certainly be more dangerous to this country than any introduction of International bi-metallism, because, when the exchange had been made, there would be no greater stability for silver. We should be encumbered with a large amount of token money, which would embarrass and inconvenience our public; we should certainly have in. that case much more silver in currency than if we had International bi-metallism. I will, however, pass from that subject, and suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) that we might permit the Mint to coin a British trade dollar; that the Mint should be allowed to coin this dollar at the expense of those who sent in the silver. This British trade dollar should be a legal tender, concurrently with the Mexican dollar in the Straits Settlement and Hong Kong. It should have impressed upon it some 147 permanent emblem, such as St. George and the Dragon or Britannia, so that there should be no necessity to change the die. The advantage is self-evident. We should no longer be dependent upon foreign Mints for the currency in our own Colonies. The French have coined a large quantity of French trade dollars, and the Germans are likely to follow suit. We should then be at a great disadvantage. We know that trade generally follows the flag, and we also know that the prestige and power of a country are typified in the eyes of Natives of the East by the coins of that Power which circulate. Therefore, I trust that this small facility, which will certainly help the trade of the East, may be permitted, especially as it will be no expense to the Exchequer. I would like to refer very briefly to another very important subject, and that is, whether the time has not yet arrived when we should introduce into this country a decimal coinage? Hon. Members may be surprised to learn that every foreign country in the world possesses a decimal currency, and that it has been a benefit to the people, while we, with our insular prejudices, are left high and dry, and a good many of our Colonies with us. It can hardly be possible, in a matter of convenience in the coinage circulation, that all the world should be wrong, and that we alone should be right. This is not a new question. It was agitated something like 30 years ago. I took part in that agitation; and, therefore, I may, perhaps, be justified in speaking of it now. I believe a Resolution in favour of the introduction of a decimal system was passed in this House, and that there was a Report in its favour from a Committee. The question, however, was, as usual, shelved by a Royal Commission. It may be asked, whether there are any better prospects now than there were formerly for the adoption of a decimal coinage? I think there are much better prospects, because, not so long ago as 30 years, nor as 20 years, many of the Great Powers had not adopted a decimal coinage. Some of our Colonies, even, possess a decimal coinage—Canada, Ceylon, and the Mauritius. It must be remembered that of all the foreign countries and our Colonies which have adopted the decimal coinage not one has endeavoured to retrace the step. Another argument in favour of the proposal is that since 1870 148 the education of the working classes has been very much improved, and they could now much more readily understand the slight change which would have to be made than they could formerly. Moreover, it is a grave question for the Government whether they should compel the children in board schools to learn so useless a study as compound arithmetic. If we adopted a decimal currency I am informed that a saving of six months would be effected in the education of every child in this country. What I propose is that we retain almost every one of our existing coins. That we should retain the sovereign, divided into 1,000 milles; the half-sovereign, divided into 500 milles; the crown, divided into 250 milles; the half-crown, divided into 125 milles; the florin, divided into 100 milles; the shilling, divided into 50 milles; the sixpence, divided into 25 milles; then we should have a dime, representing 10 milles; a half-dime, representing 5 milles; and a new farthing or mille. You see only three new coins are needed to complete our decimal system. We could retain all our present coins in circulation, and that would do away with the objection with regard to the purchase of stamps, newspapers, &c, with pence and half-pence. In order, if you wish, to prepare the way for the introduction eventually of the four mille and two mille copper pieces, you might permit the French two sou and the sou to pass as four milles and two milles respectively. You have already stopped the importation of the French coins which were passed here with 5 per cent profit; but if you adopt my suggestion, and allow French copper pieces to pass as four milles and two milles, there would be no possibility of French coins being imported unduly, and you might produce a kind of Anglo - French currency—an International arrangement which later on might lead to much better things. I brought this decimal coinage question before the London Chamber of Commerce, who passed my resolution with but one dissentient. Since then at least 14 Provincial Chambers of Commerce have sent in their approval of decimalizing the pound sterling, and I feel quite sure that the movement will spread. I trust the Government will adopt my suggestions which I have so briefly made. They are the outcome 149 of 40 years' experience in all kinds of currencies. I do not think the Government need force a decimal currency upon the public, but permit it to be adopted by completing our decimal question by issuing the three coins I have mentioned. The merchants and bankers and all those members of the different Chambers of Commerce would take up the movement; they would show the Government and the public how welcome would be the change—a change which, I think, would certainly facilitate our commerce in every shape and way. If the Government were to refer the matter to a Select Committee, I feel sure my proposal would meet with approval at the hands of such a Committee, because its adoption would not only facilitate commerce, but also facilitate the education of our young people, and also prepare the way, later on, for a much larger and a very necessary reform—that is, a reform in our weights and measures.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
This is an extremely complicated question to deal with upon the charge for the Mint. My hon. Friend the Member for the Whitechapel Division of the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Montagu) very justly claims to have very great experience on this matter; but I confess I consider it open to question whether the present is a proper time to discuss matters of currency ranging from £1 notes and half-sovereigns to the new coins which he has described. The hon. Member wishes to open up the subject of a decimal coinage, and he has spoken of the decision which has been arrived at by the London Chamber of Commerce upon this matter. I shall have the honour of receiving a deputation from the London Chamber of Commerce with regard to a decimal coinage in the course of a few weeks, and I should prefer to reserve any remarks that I may have to make upon the subject until I have heard it discussed by the members of the London Chamber of Commerce and the representatives of other Chambers. As at present advised, I must admit that it would be with very great hesitation that I should approach any question of changing the coinage of this country. If there is one thing upon which the general public is extremely sensitive it is upon questions of alterations of the 150 rates of coinage and weights and measures, and the general arrangements of commerce to which they have been accustomed. I can fancy that excellent scientific arguments could be urged on behalf of the views of my hon. Friend; but when you come to practical dealing with this matter, I cannot conceive anything which would more disturb the general feelings of the public with regard to the currency than the introduction of a number of new coins, whether they are four milles, or two milles, or eight milles. or whatever name may be given to them. This is essentially one of those questions upon which it appears to me that theory and practice are at variance. According to theory, decimal coinage is excellent, and mathematicians—in and out of this House—are naturally enthusiastic on behalf of such a simple measure; but I believe that the great bulk of the traders of this country, and especially of small traders, and the bulk of the purchasing and selling public, would be adverse to any changes which would disturb the general measure of value to which they are accustomed. And I doubt whether the convenience of the great merchants and bankers, and the international traders generally, which would be furthered by the adoption of the views of the hon. Gentleman would be sufficient compensation for the great disturbance which would be introduced into the general trade. I am aware of the great progress which has been made in decimal and fractional calculations by the action of the schools; but, nevertheless, I think that to introduce a new system of calculation would be a most hazardous measure. It is only the respect which is duo to the hon. Member who has introduced this subject to the Committee this evening which has induced me to anticipate what I would rather have reserved until I had heard the views of the Chambers of Commerce on the question of the currency. I think I have intimated to my hon. Friend that the large question of £1 notes and the general revision of the coinage from the point of view of light gold and defaced silver, and from the point of view of various reforms which may have to be introduced, are occupying the attention of the Government in a very serious manner. I am grateful to the hon. Member for the valuable contributions he makes on this subject, 151 both publicly and privately. I shall be always happy to receive any suggestion he may make; but I trust he will excuse me from giving any premature declaration upon any of these extremely important questions affecting the coinage of the country.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
Mr. Courtney, I wish to say a few words upon Vote 2, Class 2—House of Commons Offices. I desire to bring under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) a matter which was raised some years ago, and that is the extremely defective library accommodation in this House. As I understand, the arrangements of the Library of this House are under an old understanding left in the hands of the Speaker; but what I and others desire is, that they should be entrusted to a Committee, as the Kitchen arrangements are left to a Kitchen Committee. The space in the Library is entirely insufficient, more especially since the numbers in constant attendance on the House have largely increased. Again, complaint is very properly made of the insufficient supply of books.
Order, order! The question of the physical accommodation in the Library and of the Library management comes under Vote 4, Class 1. Though the words, "House of Commons Offices" are used here, the item refers to the personnel of the House—to the pay of the officers.
§ MR. DILLON
I will not refer any further to the physical accommodation of the Library. On examining the Civil Service Estimates, I came to the conclusion that the best Vote, or the only Vote, upon which I could raise the question of the purchase of books and the arrangements of the rooms in the Library was the Vote for the Speaker's Department. I find that the Vote for that Department includes allowances for the librarian, assistant librarian, and all the assistants in the Library, and I made inquiry the other day, and the librarian informed me that the purchase of books, and, in fact, all the arrangements of the Library were directly under the control of the Speaker, and belonged to the Speaker's Department. I may have been misinformed. I am anxious to get opinion from the First Commissioner of Works.
There is no doubt; he question of the management of the Library and the purchase of books might be discussed on the Vote including the salary for the librarian.
§ MR. DILLON
The chief point I wish to bring under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman is that, in my opinion, the management of the Library ought to be entrusted to a Committee of the House, just as the Kitchen arrangements are, so that any suggestions as to alterations as to the Library accommodation, or the purchase or supply of books, could be directly made to a Committee which would represent all the sections of the House. I do not intend to press this matter at any length to-night; but I thought I would give notice to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works that I will raise the question at a later stage.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET) (Dublin University)
I should like to explain to the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) that I cannot answer with authority on this question, because it does not come within my Department at all. So far as my knowledge goes, this is the first time the suggestion has been made. No doubt the authorities who are responsible for the matter will consider what he has proposed, whether they agree with it ultimately or not. I wish the hon. Gentleman, however, to understand that I have no authority whatever in the matter.
§ MR. W. H. JAMES (Gateshead)
Mr. Courtney, this is a Vote which makes provision for the salaries of officials of the Colonial Office, and, therefore, I am anxious to address a few observations to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sir Henry Holland) with reference to some matters in a distant part of the world in regard to which I have put a few Questions to him at various intervals since the commencement of the Session. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do not make these observations with any desire to be hostile to him or the Government. My observations will relate to the religious persecutions in the Island of Tonga, which have attracted very considerable attention in religious Bodies, and in certain sections of the Press. Now, the right hon. Gentleman stated to me the other night that he had received a tele- 153 graphic summary of the Report which Sir Charles Mitchell has forwarded to the Government. I do not wish for a moment that the right hon. Gentleman should prejudge the question, or come to any hasty decision upon the very brief summary which Sir Charles Mitchell has telegraphed home. But this matter is not a now one to the Colonial Office. I think, so far back as the year 1883, Sir George W. Des Vœux, who was at that time Governor at Fiji, and I think, anterior to that date, Sir Arthur Gordon had called attention to the religious persecutions which existed in the Island of Tonga. Tonga is under the control nominally of King George, who is upwards of 80 years of age; but I think it will be admitted from the Reports in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman from those who are acquainted with the affairs of the Island, that this man is perfectly incompetent to form any opinion on any question whatever. The de facto Governor of Tonga is an ex-Wesleyan minister, a certain Mr. Shirley Baker, and he has been of late years complete and absolute Sovereign of the Island. Mr. Baker some years ago had a dispute with the Wesleyan Church, and he seems to have betaken himself to Tonga, and there to have set up a rival church. Mr. Baker is a man of very considerable wealth, and very great ability, and of absolutely no scruples; and I confess that the sort of proceedings which have disgraced, and do still disgrace, affairs in that Island, appear to me, so long as they are allowed to remain in their present form, a disgrace and blot upon the British name, Sir Charles Mitchell telegraphs that the statements as to these persecutions are to a very considerable extent true. So far from thinking that they have been exaggerated I believe they have been understated, and that when the whole facts of these deplorable outrages—these disgraceful and horrible outrages—are known, it will be found that the annals of religious persecutions for several centuries past will scarcely afford a parallel for anything that has occurred in Tonga. I am anxious to address the right hon. Gentleman, however, as to one particular point. Mr. Shirley Baker, who is an extremely subtle and able person, has succeeded in ingratiating himself by various methods with foreign interests. 154 I am anxious to ask my right hon. Friend that when Sir Charles Mitchell's Report is received he will consider it entirely upon its own merits and in its own interests. It appears to me that if we are a great country we should not in any way recognize or support the terrible state of things which has gone on in Tonga for the last four or five years. The Pacific Islanders Protection Act, which, in its very nature, is one of the most drastic Acts which has ever been passed by the English Legislature gives very considerable powers in the Western Pacific to Her Majesty's High Commissioner. I believe it is quite within the power of the High Commissioner to deport this de facto Governor to some other portion of Her Majesty's Dominions, and, if it does not absolutely give the power of deporting this man, so serious have been the outrages, the murders, the floggings and cruelties that Her Majesty's Government would be perfectly justified, in my opinion, in taking this de facto Governor to some portions of the Queen's Dominions where he might be tried and made amenable for these terrible offences. I hope I may have some assurances from the right hon. Gentleman that when the Report comas to him he will consider it strictly upon its own merits, and that he will not be involved in other entanglements. I cannot believe that any foreign Power will be anxious in any way to identify itself with the outrages which have been perpetrated, and which are going on now; and I believe that our taking the lead in such a course and line as I have suggested, so far from being disadvantageous to our interests with other Powers, would be distinctly to our interests. I am quite willing to acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to do what is proper and just, and I only make these observations in the hope that I may be able to strengthen his hands in the course he may take. I assure him very considerable interest will be taken by the religious bodies who have been identified with missionary work in the Western Pacific in the course he takes.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Sir HENRY HOLLAND) (Hampstead)
I am not at all disposed to dispute the facts stated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James). I have only 155 to say, that the information with regard to the alleged outrages that we have is the same of which the hon. Member himself is possessed; but I should like to assure the Committee that Her Majesty's Government are fully alive, and have been fully alive, to the importance of this subject. The moment we received any Report of these outrages Sir Charles Mitchell was telegraphed to to go to Tonga. He arrived there on the 27th of March, and reported that the King afforded him every facility to make inquiries, and all was quiet. The proceedings had then ceased, and the British interests, so far as we learned, were not affected by the recent events. I may add, that to secure a more searching inquiry, and that all legal questions should be thoroughly discussed, Sir Charles Mitchell took with him Mr. Clark, who is Chief Judicial Commissioner under the Pacific Acts. Then we come to the telegram of the 30th April, to which the hon. Member has referred, and which, I admit, is to a certain extent unsatisfactory. Perhaps, for the information of hon. Members who did not hear me read the telegram the other day I had better read it again. It is—April 30,—Returned from Tonga to-day. Send report by next mail. Full inquiry showed report of religious persecution true to a considerable extent. King promises make chiefs observe constitution as regards religious freedom in future and generally protect Wesleyans. All quiet now. Europeans in no case interfered with.The hon. Member has referred to the Pacific Islanders Protection Acts. Now, the power under which the Chief Commissioner acts, and especially the power to which he referred, the power of deportation, is given under the Western Pacific Order in Council. There is no doubt under that Order in Council the High Commissioner has power in certain cases, and one of those cases is, if a British subject is likely to be dangerous to the peace and good order of the Island, to order a British subject to remove himself, and if he does not leave, the High Commissioner has power to deport him. I need hardly say that it would not have been right for Her Majesty's Government, when instructing Sir Charles Mitchell to go out to Tonga, without a full knowledge of the facts, to order him to remove or deport Mr. Baker; and I may also say there is not 156 much encouragement to the High Commissioner to deport a man, because during Sir Arthur Gordon's time a man named Hunt was deported, and this man afterwards proceeded against the High Commissioner, and succeeded in his action. I believe he succeeded on a technical point, but still what occurred does not offer much encouragement to a High Commissioner to put into use the power of deportation. The hon. Gentleman asked me a specific question, to which I can give him an unhesitating answer. He asked me whether the Report of Sir Charles Mitchell would be considered on its own merits. I can assure him without hesitation that that will be the case. So far as I know, it is not likely that any foreign Power will interfere with our discretion in the matter; but I can assure him that the Report will be considered most carefully. Her Majesty's Government are fully alive to the importance of the question, and will take such steps as they may be advised to take on the Report. Of course, the hon. Member cannot expect me to say more until we have received from Sir Charles Mitchell his Report. I hope the hon. Member will regard my answer as satisfactory.
§ MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
I should like to revert to the subject which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). It has been pointed out previously that the librarians to the House of Lords have residences granted them. I think that if hon. Members will take into account the duties which are discharged by the librarians of the two Houses, they will acknowledge that there is no comparison between their respective duties. The librarians of the House of Commons have to do considerably more than the librarians of the House of Lords; we sit very much longer, and the Members attending this House are more numerous than those attending the House of Lords. I think it will be generally admitted that our librarians give satisfaction to all Members of the House, no matter to what Party they belong; and I think they ought to receive as much consideration as the librarians of the other House. While I am upon my feet, I should like to refer to the way in which the news room is managed. I think that the Party to which I belong have something to complain of in this matter. We main- 157 tain that every section of Members in this House have weekly or monthly periodicals taken for their special reading, whereas we have nothing whatever of the kind. When the Irish Nationalist Party numbered 85 we thought, certainly, it was time some action should be taken in this matter, and I wrote to the gentleman in charge of the news room directing his attention to the matter. I did so without any consultation with my Colleagues; but I thought I expressed my views on the subject. I certainly think that when any large section of Members read a certain organ, that organ should be taken in the news room. With that view, and when the Irish Parliamentary Party assumed its present proportions, I wrote to the Sergeant-at-Arms asking him to take in the news room an Irish paper—United Ireland was the paper to which I referred, a paper which, though it may not be approved by hon. Members opposite, is a paper of which we approve, and which we largely read. The reply I received was as follows:—Sir,—I have given your suggestion my best consideration, but I regret to have to say that I have so much reason to believe that the laying of United Ireland on the table of the news room would cause such dissatisfaction among the Members that I do not feel justified in ordering it.—I remain, yours faithfully, H. D. ERSKINE.To that letter I replied—I regret to learn that the suggestion which I made in regard to placing United Ireland on the table of the news room does not meet with your approval. I thought the wishes of the 86 Members of the Irish Parliamentary Party might have influenced you in arriving at a different decision. I have no doubt that some hon. Members might be dissatisfied at seeing United Ire/and in the reading-room, but I may point out that at present illustrated papers and other periodicals are taken which are grossly offensive to 86 Members of the House of Commons.Well, Sir, the matter has remained there since; but I think it is a proper question to ask whether the Irish Members are supposed to stand on a par with the rest of the Members of the House of Commons. I think that if we look to the action of this House we are not considered to stand on a par with the rest of hon. Members. I maintain that if 86 Members coming from any part of the country read a certain paper, and wish that paper to be taken in the news room their wishes should be acceded to. I 158 am perfectly well aware that in giving the answer he did to my suggestion the Serjeant-at-Arms only expressed the opinion of the majority of this House; but I do not think anyone will contend that the majority of this House is actuated by any fair motives towards Ireland or the Irish Representatives. Their conduct in the last few days shows that in any matters in which Irishmen are concerned they take little or no interest. I do not suppose that my raising this question now will materially alter the case; I suspect that United Ireland will not be taken in the news room; but it is as well to point out that day by day and week by week we have garbled extracts from United Ireland in the London papers. If we have these garbled extracts put before us it is only fair that the whole of the articles should be placed at the disposal of Members in order that they may arrive at the real effect of them. Let me say that before communicating with the Serjeant-at-Arms I had no previous communication with Mr. W. O'Brien, the editor of United Ireland, who, the Committee will perhaps be glad to hear, was elected today for the Eastern Division of Cork without any opposition. Well, Mr. Courtney, United Ireland appears to be a very objectionable organ to hon. Gentlemen opposite; but we have other organs in Ireland, The Nation, for instance, and we certainly submit that some such paper should be placed at the disposal of the 86 Irish Members. I am not certain that many hon. Members would read these organs as well as ourselves, but notwithstanding that I maintain that it is only right that some such paper should be taken in our news room. Are we or are we not to be placed on a par with the other Members of the House of Commons? Is it because we cannot roll up to the House in our carriages that we are to be treated in a different mode to other Members?
§ MR. FINCH-HATTON (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
Mr. Courtney, I am very glad to find myself for once in agreement with hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, and I should be very glad indeed if United Ireland were taken in our news room, and if it were always placed side by side with The Times. I think it would perhaps be as well if the back numbers of United Ireland were also taken and placed alongside The Times.
§ DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)
No doubt several hon. Members opposite would have their patience severely tried by the presence of United Ireland in the Reading Room; but we might hope that the adoption of my hon. Friend's suggestion would have the effect of bringing about their conversion. Hon. Members opposite would probably take example by our good temper under provocation, and seeing that we are able philosophically to bear the presence of The Times, and other antagonistic newspapers, in the Heading Room they would be able to bear with the presence of United Ireland and The Nation. I think the suggestion of the hon. Member for East Mayo is an admirable one. Everyone in the habit of using the Library must at times have found great difficulty in getting the books they require It is not in the power of the Library officials to do more than a certain amount of work, the Department being, in my opinion, greatly undermanned. I hope the Committee will take into consideration the suggestions which have been made, particularly that of the hon. Member for East Water-ford (Mr. P. J. Power), and that in the future we shall not have reason to complain of one-sided arrangements in the Library.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I should like to direct the attention of the Committee to an important Vote which occurs somewhat lower down in the Paper for the Office of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland. It is a matter that I deeply complain of, that in relation to the discharge of that extraordinary Office—[interruption]. Before I come to the case of the complaint which we the Members of the Irish Party have against the holder of the Office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, the most responsible of all the Offices that go to form the Government of this country, I wish to call attention to a few minor details. In the first place, it will be in the recollection of the Committee, that when the late Under Secretary for Ireland, Sir Robert Hamilton, accepted the post of Under Secretary he stipulated—or, on account of his distinguished position in the Civil Service, it was agreed—that the salary which had from time immemorial been attached to the Under Secretaryship should be raised from £2,000 to £2,500 per annum, but it was stated that this 160 should be a purely personal rise, to continue only so long as Sir Robert Hamilton should retain the post and should not permanently attach to the office, and in the Estimates from that day to this there is always a note appended to the charge for the Under Secretary for Ireland stating that the sum is a personal charge. Well, the charge in the Estimates for 1887–8—and I will ask the Committee to notice that no part of this year has or will Sir Robert Hamilton be Under Secretary for Ireland—is £2,500, though there is the usual note appended stating that this salary is personal. Personal to whom? It was personal to Sir Robert Hamilton; but how is it personal to the present holder of the Office? It is a thing very often noticed that it is very much easier to raise a salary than to reduce it to its old level, and though, in the present instance, the man on whose account the salary was raised has now gone away, the person who now holds the Office seems to think that he has as good a right to this "personal" salary as had his Predecessor. There appears to be on the face of this Estimate an attempt to smuggle in a permanent increase of £500 a-year into the salary of the Under Secretary for Ireland. It seems to me that the figure at which it has stood for so long—namely, £2,000 a-year is ample. Then there is another minor item to which I would direct attention—namely, the salary of £750 a-year, together with an item of £800 a-year for journeys between Dublin and London for an individual connected with the Irish establishment, called a draftsman to the Irish Government. I want to know who that man is, and what he does? If the work he has done has been drafting of the Crimes Bill we can take the authority of The Times newspaper as to the character of the work; but my impression is that the drafting of that and other Irish Bills is all done by the draftsman of the Government in London. It would seem from the large amount charged for travelling expenses between Dublin and London, that this individual lives perpetually in the train, and is constantly on the journey either from Dublin to London or from London to Dublin. He spent no less than £800 on railway fares and cabs. Will the Government give us some information as to who this man is, and what his work consists of, and why 161 it is necessary for him to spend £800 in travelling when he already enjoys a salary of £750? These, Sir, are minor items, and there seems to be a considerable amount of waste upon them. There is another item to which I would call attention, and which appears to me to be remarkably absurd. We know that the Chief Secretary for Ireland enjoys a salary of £4,000, and that he has a very handsome residence in the Phœnix Park in Dublin with a handsome demesne attached for his enjoyment Altogether I think that he is very handsomely compensated for his services. But he has now added to all this £425 a-year for coal. Surely, Sir, he must be the coldest man alive if he wants to burn £425 worth of coal for the year in Ireland, seeing that he has been about throe days out of the year in that country. I will leave it to the imaginations of hon. Members what fires he must keep up during the short time he is in Ireland. Now, I trust we shall have some explanation of these items of expenditure before the Committee votes the money. Of course all these are minor matters, and I shall now go to the question which really induced me to rise and trespass at some length on the time of the Committee, and that is a question as to the manner in which the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant has discharged the duties for which he draws this large salary in this House. Sir, we know perfectly well that in the whole experience of the Parliamentary and responsible Governments of the world there does not exist an officer whoso responsibilities are so vast and so varied as those of the Irish Chief Secretary. I do not think that there is in any other country, Constitutionally governed, an officer who answers for every single Department of the Government and of the administration of the country as the Irish Chief Secretary does to-day, and has done ever since the Act of Union was passed. Anyone who will take the trouble to look back to former investigations into the government of Ireland, and will notice the evidence given by such men as Sir Thomas Drummond when he was examined on this subject, will obtain some interesting information. They will see the duties that men like Sir Thomas Drummond, who applied themselves to perform those duties with a really conscientious spirit, had to perform. They will find de- 162 tailed in his evidence the duties which the Irish Chief Secretary and the Irish Under Secretary had and have to do, and will admit that the satisfactory discharge of those duties would tax the energies and abilities of the greatest statesmen who have ever been at the disposal of any Government. But, Sir, even the multiplicity of the duties that the Chief Secretary is supposed to perform in Ireland are certainly not in excess, in point of weight, to the responsibilities which he boars in this House. In this House he is responsible for everything that occurs in Ireland. Whereas in this country a number of different Ministers divide the various Departments of the administration amongst thorn, in Ireland the Chief Secretary must answer for everything. But that is not all, because in this country a great deal of the government is carried on, I might say, spontaneously. The demands on the Executive, as we know, and as the country is beginning to know, are infinitely simpler and more easily managed than are those demands with regard to Ireland, where you have a centralized system of bureaucratic administration trying to govern a people who are out of smypathy with their governors. The difficulties of government are increased in a case of the kind ten-fold from what they are in a country like this. What has been the course that has been adopted now for years by the Ministers of this and the Government of this country in dealing with this problem of providing a man, who, by his knowledge and acquaintance with the circumstances of Ireland, as well as by his ability, is able to bear this load of responsibility and discharge all these multifarious duties in a satisfactory way? We, the Irish Representatives, remember the expression of O'Connell, when he was describing Irish Secretaries. We remember O'Connell's saying that he could in no way describe them so well as by comparing them to "shave beggars." We know how he explained that phrase. The men who carried on the barber's trade, whenever a man came along who appeared too poor to pay, set aside an apprentice to shave him. That is the way in which the Irish have been governed. Men have been set apart to try their 'prentice hands in the art of statesmanship upon that which is really the most difficult and tangled problem 163 at the disposal of the Government. Our country has suffered enormously through the effects of that practice. In the present instance—in the case of the present Chief Secretary—we can hardly apply to him the epithet that O'Connell applied to the men of his day, inasmuch as he was apprenticed to certain other offices in the State before being sent to Ireland; but the practice in this instance has been hardly less evil than that denounced by O'Connell, for the present Irish Secretary was sent to Ireland for no other reason, that we can discover, except that he excelled almost all other Members of this House in his utter ignorance of that country. And what is the method he has adopted to attempt to extricate himself from the difficulties in which that ignorance necessarily involves him? What is the method he has adopted in order, as it were, to throw some cloak of decency around a state of things which might have seemed ludicrous if it had not been tragical? That a country torn asunder by contending factions, and in a state of the highest fever of political excitement, should be handed over to the control and irresponsible government of a man, who, whatever he may know of the condition of Scotland, where he was born, I suppose, or, at least, the country where he owns property, or whatever he knows of the condition of this country, where he has served as a statesman for some years, who knows nothing of Ireland, is ludicrous. Hero you have the government of Ireland handed over to a man who knows absolutely nothing about that country, and whose whole experience of it since he undertook to govern it was gained by a visit of three days, during which time, we are told, he dined with Lord Ardilaun, and interviewed Sir Arthur Guinness.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
That is not the fact.
§ MR. DILLON
I am glad to hear it. All I can is that it was stated in the newspapers. I have no other means of knowing the motions of Irish Chief Secretaries except what is stated in the newspapers. We, in Ireland, do not go near the Castle—at any rate, any man who values his good name does not go near the Castle—I have never crossed the threshold of that building, nor have I 164 ever gone near its doors. [Laughter.] Hon. Members think this a matter for laughter; but I put it to every intelligent man in this House, is that a condition of things under which you expect a country to be governed decently—I put it to every reasoning man, is it a satisfactory condition of things, so far as good government is concerned, that you find that every man who values the goodwill of the people of Ireland does not dare to set his foot in the establishment where the Government is carried on? I say that that is a state of things which seems to bring government to a reductio ad absurdum. It is no wonder, therefore, that I make some mistakes in dealing with the movements of the Chief Secretary in Ireland. At any rate, the Chief Secretary does not deny my statement when I say that his experience of the country he is engaged in governing has been limited to a visit of three days. I suppose he felt that the situation in which he was placed was an anomalous one. He found himself standing up at that Table day after day to answer Questions affecting various departments of the administration of the law in Ireland and to answer men who knew what they were asking about, and men who were instructed by their constituents to ask the Questions; he read out at that Table written answers which were put into his hands by the officials whose conduct and administration we were impugning; and when we asked him any Questions as to the correctness of these statements, we found that we might as well have questioned him on the principles of the Chinese language and the philosophy of Confucius. We found that he had no knowledge outside the written documents which were placed in his hands. I doubt whether he knows anything about the geography of the country. I should be pleased to form one of a Committee, as this seems to be a time for the appointment of Committees of Inquiry, in order to cross-examine the Irish Chief Secretary with regard to the geography of Ireland. I have not the slightest doubt but I should be able to puzzle him in the course of a quarter of an hour. That being the condition of affairs, the right hon. Gentleman cast his eyes around for some Irishman whom he could take into his confidence. He cast about for some Gentleman whose knowledge would be a cloak 165 for his own ignorance, and at last he met with the Gentleman; and, in my opinion, he has jumped from the frying-pan into the fire. For, bad as was the knowledge of Irish affairs of the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot for a moment doubt that he has not in the least improved his position by adding to his counsels and sharing his responsibilities with one of the most notorious and admitted champions of Orangeism and landlord oppression to be found in Ireland. The time has come to declare on behalf of the people whom we are sent to represent that a more scandalous mockery of Representative Government has never been enacted in this House even on Irish questions, than to see day after day at that Table rise and answer our Questions—Questions that mostly have to deal with the condition of the farmers in Ireland, and the whole administration of the law as affecting rent and the position of tenants—a Gentleman who has no acknowledged political position, who has himself, as much as any man in Ireland, brought about the condition of things which renders this interrogation necessary, and whose relations with his tenants will not bear investigation, as the result of the inquiries of the Sub-Commissioners appointed by the Government of this country abundantly testifies, and who, if there was any decency left in the Irish Government, would be one of the last men on their side whom they would ask to stand up there and answer Questions affecting rents and the administration of the law in regard to Irish tenants. Now, I think we are entitled to demand from this House, and to demand of the Unionist Members of this House, whether, in their opinion, we are being fairly treated as Representatives of the people of Ireland—considering this subject from the Unionist point of view—when we are asked to take our answers from this Gentleman? We know what the system has become; the Irish Secretary never deigns to walk into the House until the Questions are answered, and we are asked to accept, as bearing upon the whole administration of Ireland, the statements of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman), who fled from Ireland—I am now speaking in a political sense—because he knew he could not get a seat south of the Boyne, 166 and, indeed, I doubt very much whether he could have got a seat north of the Boyne either. The time, I think, has come when this question must be fully discussed, and I shall be very much surprised and disappointed if some Unionist Member does not get up in this House and give us the benefit of his opinion on this question. I shall be very much surprised if some one of them does not get up and tell us whether it is, or is not, his opinion that the future government of Ireland ought to be managed in this manner. If they are brave men, let them get up and make some declaration; if they are not brave men, let them remain silent. We, in Ireland, are entitled to say, and we shall say—"This is what you call Unionism and fair play to the people of Ireland, when the whole administration of Ireland shall be explained and expounded by an Irish rack-renting landlord, who is a staunch friend of the Orange Society—by a man whose rents have been shorn down by one half by your own Commissioners, and by a man who is threatened from day to day by a strike amongst his own tenantry!" We do not know at what moment the man standing at that Table to expound the principles of the Irish Government, and who is responsible for the proceedings of the Irish Government, will not be in collision with his own tenantry, whom the record of your own Commissioners show to be virtually in the right whilst he is altogether in the wrong. We are accused of personalities. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; I like to anticipate that argument. But, I would ask, how can we avoid being personal? I would ask, why did you put this Gentleman in this position? Do you mean that a man is to be made a Governor in a country, and to be given a potential voice in the management of the affairs of any country in a time like this, and that we are to be debarred from criticizing his antecedents and character? I do not wish to criticize his private character; but his dealings with his tenants, now that he is a Member of the Government, are no longer entitled to the cloak of privacy that usually covers a man's private affairs. When a gentleman takes an official post like that of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, his dealings with his tenantry become matter of public interest. When a right hon. and gallant Gentleman places him- 167 self in this position, I say it is legitimate and fair argument on our part to discuss his dealings with his tenantry as we are discussing them; and I contend that the records of the late Commission show that it was a shameless act on the part of the Government to place this Gentleman in a responsible position in connection with the Government of Ireland. I do not know that I need speak at length on this point. I do not think there is a Member of this House now listening to me who does not agree with me in his heart. I do not believe that there is a Conservative opposite me who doe3 not believe that it was a deadly mistake for the Government to put by the side of the Chief Secretary for Ireland in the management of Irish affairs in this House a man whose dealings with his tenantry your own Blue Book shows to be so questionable. Why did not the Government put down a Vote for this Gentleman in the Estimates? Why did they not challenge the opinion of the House before they entered upon this course? So far as my limited knowledge of Parliamentary proceedings goes, the course they have taken in regard to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's appointment is entirely unprecedented—that is to say, the course of nominating to the most responsible position in the Government—for the moment I know of no more responsible position than that which has to do with the government of Ireland—a Gentleman who has no salary, and whose nomination is thereby withdrawn from the control of Parliament and from criticism—or almost withdrawn from Parliamentary criticism—and is discussed, I may almost say, by the toleration of the Chair—I believe it to be almost unprecedented that they should create this Office, and put this right hon. and gallant Gentleman in his present position, without sending him back to his constituency, and without challenging the decision of Parliament; and I believe that by that action the Government have plainly indicated to this House and the country that they were ashamed to face debate on the character of this appointment. I do not propose, at this stage, to take up the time of the Committee any longer upon this matter; but, in my opinion, it would be impossible to exaggerate the difficulty that will arise if the Govern- 168 ment persist in carrying on the present system of replying to Irish Questions through the mouth of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet. I do not think that they could adopt a method of striking a heavier blow at the Union between the two countries. [Laughter.] Hon. Members are perfectly at liberty to laugh, because I tell them honestly that I was extremely pleased at this appointment. It is the most stupid thing that an English Government over did—an English Government whose desire is to maintain the Union; and I warn the Government that while we shall continue, on every occasion, to protest against the appointment, I, for my own part, was rejoiced that they made the appointment, and shall not be a bit sorry if they stick to it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As the attack which the hon. Gentleman has just made is upon the Chief Secretary and the Under Secretary, perhaps my hon. Friend who rose from the Bench behind me will allow me to interpose for a few minutes between him and the Committee. Before I go to the main body of the speech of the hon. Member opposite, perhaps I may allude to the subject which he began with, which had reference, if I recollect rightly, to the question of the salary of the present Permanent Under Secretary for Ireland? He told us that the salary of the late Permanent Under Secretary had been raised from £2,000 to £2,500 per annum on personal grounds; that those personal grounds had been continued to the present holder of the Office, and he asked for an explanation of the fact. Well, I may remind the hon. Gentleman that the present holder of the Office (Sir Redvers Buller) accepted the post very reluctantly on grounds of public duty, and not as a permanent appointment which he was going to hold for a great length of time, and that the salary is as personal to him as it was to his predecessor, and will not fail to be revised when the time comes for Sir Redvers Buller to retire. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to say that I did not earn the liberal salary which he seems to think I receive. I cannot help thinking that, through the whole of his speech, the hon. Gentleman seemed very hard to please. There are now two officials in this House responsible for the conduct of Irish affairs. There is the right hon. 169 and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet. ["No, no!"] They object to me because I have too big a salary, and they object to my right hon. and gallant Friend because he has no salary at all; they object to me because I know too little of Ireland, and they object to my right hon. and gallant Friend because he knows too much of Ireland. I do not know how we can over succeed in striking a happy mean that will satisfy the fastidious tastes of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Then the hon. Gentleman reproached me with having been only four days——
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think he was wrong in his three. If I recollect rightly, I have been about a week there; but I will not quarrel over hours with him. The hon. Gentleman reproached me with having been only a few days in Ireland since I was appointed to my present Office. The hon. Gentleman forgets that my presence has, unfortunately, been required in this House almost continuously since that time. He complained bitterly that I am not here every day to answer Questions; but I want to know, if my absence for that short hour in the evening is so bitterly resented by the hon. Gentleman, how it would be possible for me, consistently with the limitation that regulates all one's movements—namely, of being able only to be in one place at a time—to be in Ireland and in my place in this House to carry on the serious duties that fall to my Office at the same time? I must say that the hon. Gentleman was a little hard on me in that respect. He began by criticizing the amount of the salary that the Chief Secretary receives; and having begun in that way he went on to say that, not only in this country, but throughout the civilized globe, there was not a single official who had placed on his shoulders duties of so difficult, delicate, and responsible a character as mine. I began to think, when I heard the hon. Gentleman make these remarks, that I was the least paid official in this country, and I fully expected him to finish his speech by a Motion to the effect that the salary should at least be doubled. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to attack me for not being in my place to answer Questions. [An hon. MEMBER: Coals!] When I occupy my present post through the winter, as 170 I hope to do, I shall be able to give the hon. Gentleman some information in regard to that particular item of my salary. At present I have no information as to the amount of coal which is required to be burned in the Chief Secretary's lodge. He complained of my not being in my place to answer Questions, and he said that it was perfectly necessary that I should be in my place at Question time, because Questions of great importance were asked, chiefly with regard to delicate and important controversies between landlords and tenants. Well, Sir, when he made that remark I took up the Order Paper for to-day, which I had not seen up to that moment, and glanced at the Questions, which I had not had an opportunity of looking at. [Ironical cheers.] Well, Questions I was under no necessity of looking at, because the duty of replying to them was undertaken by my right hon. and gallant Friend. I have looked through them, and I find that there were altogether 13 Questions asked of the Department over which I preside. I see that the first Question relates to the appointment of a monitor for the Annadown National School, County Down; the second Question refers to a new Loan Fund recently established at Ederney, County Fermanagh, on the application of a parish priest, and as to whether there is a Loan Fund at Kesh, two miles and five furlongs from Ederney, and another at Lack, three miles and four furlongs from the same; and whether these Loan. Funds do or do not come up to the proper regulations? Question No. 3 relates to the grounds upon which the Board of National Education made an order in February altering the status of the workmistress of the Aughiogan National School, County Tyrone; No. 4 relates to the further examination of a certain Miss Daly, of Milltown, County Tyrone, in view of the fact that her appointment has been already ratified by the Education Board; Question No. 5 relates to a line of tramway between Schull and Skibbereen; No. 6 refers to the same tramway line; No. 7 refers to the sanitary arrangements of the Monaghan District Lunatic Asylum—no doubt, a very proper Question; No. 8 has reference to the exclusive right of the ferryage of the Derry Bridge Commissioners across the River Foyle at Derry; No. 9 relates to two 171 large wings of the workhouse at Monaghan, at present occupied by the Monaghan Militia——
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
Question No. 11, to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, deals with the eviction of 65 families by landlords within the Monaghan Union.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am numbering the Questions myself. Question No. 10 deals with the Return showing the working of the Labourers' Acts (Ireland) Order for April 5, 1887; No. 11 refers to a Resolution of the Granard Guardians, protesting against delay in making a Provisional Order for a scheme of labourers' cottages; No. 12 deals with the reported drunkenness and neglect of duty of one Joseph Watt; and the 13th and last Question is with regard to an assault committed on a warder named M'Connell, in Mountjoy Prison, on the 9th instant, by two convicts.
§ MR. CHANCE
Will the right hon. Gentleman give attention to Question No. 11 on the Paper, which he says relates to two large wings of the Monaghan Workhouse, but which really relates to certain landlords within the Monaghan Union having notified the Guardians of their intention to evict 65 families. [A laugh.]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No doubt the Question referred indirectly to the eviction of 65 families. I have not had time to look at it very carefully; but it seems to mo that what the Question primarily referred to was the accommodation in two wings of the workhouse. The hon. Member appears to think that I am guilty of a great dereliction of the difficult and responsible duties which, at the beginning of his speech, he so eloquently described to us, by not coming down at half-past 4 in the evening and answering these Questions; but I do not care who it is that is Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, whether it is a person as totally ignorant of Irish affairs as the hon. Gentleman says I am—I do not know why he said that, because, though it is true that since I have been appointed Chief Secretary I have not spent a long time in Ireland, still the hon. Member will recollect that I have been now some 15 years in Parliament, 172 and during that time I have had the privilege and pleasure of listening to Irishmen for about four hours every night—either I must be very stupid—[An hon. MEMBER: So you are.]—either I must be very stupid, or hon. Members from Ireland must be obscure, if, during these 15 years' experience, I have obtained no knowledge whatever of the country which they so ably represent—I do not care who it is who has to answer Questions of the kind I have described—I do not care who the Chief Secretary is, whether he is as ignorant as I am myself, or whether he has had as intimate and perfect an acquaintance with the affairs of Ireland as had my Predecessor in Office who represents the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell - Bannerman), who is so indignant with me, or rather who has criticized, so far as criticism is possible, the conduct I pursued in transferring part of my duties to my right hon. and. gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet——
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, the right hon. Gentleman has criticized, so far as criticism is possible; but I would submit that in dealing with Questions such as the reported drunkenness and neglect of duty of a relieving officer, or an assault committed on a warder in a prison, or the examination of a work-mistress in a National School, whoever answers the Questions can only supply information derived direct from the localities. The official answering is, and must be, simply a means of transferring to Members of this House the information he has derived from the localities; and I venture to think that in the arrangement of Business between my right hon. and gallant Friend and myself, the public suffers no loss by my transferring to him the duty of replying to these Questions. Replying to these Questions takes up about an hour—from about half-past 4 to about half-past 5 o'clock. Suppose 20 Questions are asked of a Chief Secretary—and I think that was about the number the last time I attended to reply to them—it will take, perhaps, three minutes to answer each Question, an hour in all, which is not a very long time. There will be probably about 20 other Questions, so that about two 173 hours are spent every day in replying to these queries, which have not, as a rule, any bearing upon important controversies between landlord and tenant, but which relate solely to small local matters such as I have described. No doubt, they are very proper Questions to be put to the Government; but, at the same time, they are Questions to answer which does not require any very profound knowledge of the country to which they relate, or any very transcendant abilities to deal with them properly. Then the hon. Member attacked me for availing myself of the assistance of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet, and I much regretted to hear him make several strong personal accusations against my right hon. and gallant Friend, which my right hon. and gallant Friend has already amply and fully refuted. The hon. Gentleman opposite must be aware that when he and his Friends adopted the plan of personal accusation against my right hon. and gallant Friend, my right hon. and gallant Friend—I think with becoming patience—did not condescend to answer them until, in the public interest, he was driven to do so a few days ago. Did the hon. Member opposite hear the observations made by my right hon. and gallant Friend on that occasion? Did he hear him explain that in 1881—I think that was the year——
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Colonel KING-HARMAN) (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
Yes; that was the year.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Did he hear my right hon. and gallant Friend explain that in 1881, on a rental which I believe is more than £40,000, the whole difference from Griffith's valuation was not more than £100? And is the hon. Gentleman not aware that Griffith's valuation was made at a time when prices were lower than they are now? ["No, no!"] Yes; that is so—that Griffith's valuation was made at a time when prices were lower than they are now? And is he aware that Griffith's valuation was not made for the purpose of rental, but for the purposes of taxation, and, being made for purposes of taxation, was generally estimated to be not less than 25 per cent below the letting value of the land?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I hear the hon. Member use an argument familiar with hon. Members who sit below the Gangway opposite—he objects to my statement as "rubbish." I do not know which of my propositions he objects to as rubbish.
§ Ms. A. J. BALFOUR
Does he mean to say that prices were not lower then than they are now? If he will take the trouble to look into the facts he will see that I am right. Does he deny that Griffith's valuation was made for the purposes of taxation, and not for the purpose of rental? Does he deny that, being made for the purposes of taxation, it was estimated at a figure below the letting value of the land? If he does not deny any of these things, and if he admits, as he must admit, that the rental of my right hon. and gallant Friend's estate is as I have said—if we are to condescend to discuss these personal matters—if he sees that my right hon. and gallant Friend's rental was within £100 of Griffith's valuation, or, in other words, that there was only a fractional difference between the two, will he not admit that my right hon. and gallant Friend cannot in any sense be justly accused of being a man who attempts to drive his tenants hard, or to exact from them more than they can be honestly expected to pay? I confess that I regard the attacks which have been made upon myself with perfect indifference. Every Chief Secretary for Ireland has to undergo attacks of that kind, and I am quite aware that if it were my lot—as probably it will not be—in two or three years' time to agree with hon. Members opposite on any matter upon which they have set their hearts, they would probably laud me with the same amount of eulogy which they accord to Lord Spencer and to Sir George Trevelyan, whom they attacked far more unscrupulously and violently than they have so far attacked myself. But I confess I regret the ground of attack that has been made on my right hon. and gallant Friend the Under Secretary. No man in this House knows more about Ireland than he does. No man in this House is more capable of effectively discharging the 175 duties of his Office; and if he is prepared to discharge those duties so far without reward, is that to be made a reproach to him, and ought it not to be regarded as an additional proof of the disinterested services he is ready to give to Ireland? The hon. Member opposite objects to my not being here to answer Questions. [An hon. MEMBER: We object to you altogether.] I do not appeal to him; but I appeal to other Members, in whatever quarter of the House they sit, to say whether my right hon. and gallant Friend has not discharged the duties of his Office, be they difficult or be they easy, to the satisfaction of every reasonable man? Whether he has not shown himself fully adequate to the discharge of every duty that has been intrusted to him? But I may tell the Committee that outside the House my right hon. and gallant Friend's services have been even greater than they have been inside, and my right hon. and gallant Friend has brought to the assistance of the Irish Government—and I am proud to acknowledge it in spite of the sneers of hon. Gentlemen opposite—an ability, an industry and knowledge, from which the Government derived great advantage, and which, at all events, I am glad hon. Members have given me an opportunity of acknowledging in my place.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN (, &c.) Stirling
Sir, it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) has, to-night, surpassed himself. The object of the Government, I suppose, is to obtain this Vote on Account with as little difficulty and as little delay as possible. The right hon. Gentleman has made the speech to which we have just listened, and has made very light of his duties in this House. He has read over some of the Questions——
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
He has read over the Questions addressed to him by name by the Representatives of Irish constituencies, and he has found them one and all unworthy of the notice of so exalted a personage as the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. The right hon. Gentleman has had Predecessors in that Office who have had quite as much on their hands as he has. I speak of the late Mr. Forster, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for one of the Divisions of Bristol, the right hon. 176 Gentleman's immediate Predecessor (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach)—I single them out, because they were at the same time Members of the Cabinet while they were Chief Secretaries for Ireland, which makes a material difference between their positions and that occupied by more humble persons, such as myself, who, when they held the Office of Chief Secretary, had not a place in the Cabinet. Mr. Forster and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol never, that I am aware, declined to answer Questions that were addressed to them by Irish Members in this House. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of himself or his Assistant in this House as the conduit-pipe for local information. He admits that he did not, until he rose to-night, look at the Paper to see what was on it, so that we shall know in the future, when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) rises to answer Questions, he does not speak in the name of the Chief Secretary or in that of the Irish Government, but merely in his own name. I have had myself some experience in answering Questions. I believe I had one day the heaviest list ever presented to any Irish Secretary, because I had to answer no fewer than 51 Questions. I will venture to tell the right hon. Gentleman what my experience was. I gave a great deal more than throe minutes' consideration to each of these Questions. The answers which were sent to me from Ireland were in many cases extremely unsatisfactory, and again and again I had to communicate with the officials who had furnished me with those answers. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] From watching that process again and again, grievances and evils were brought to my notice which I, in turn, had to consider and bring before my Chief—the then Viceroy Lord Spencer—and I can say honestly that I believe a great deal of good was done by the multitude of Questions put, although in this House they sometimes seemed excessive. The mere answering of a Question is not the only part of it. The object is to bring to any ordinary mind the fact of a certain grievance existing; but the right hon. Gentleman has proclaimed to the House to-night, as we might, indeed, have expected from his general manner and treatment of the subject, that he moves 177 in a sphere altogether above the consideration of these matters. Then, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the complaints that have been made of the appointment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet. I need hardly say that, on the personal part of that question, I have nothing to say. So far as answering Questions goes and his career as a Member of this House, I have nothing to say whatever against that right hon. and gallant Gentleman; but when hon. Members complain of his being appointed to take the place of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, not occasionally, but habitually and every day, what occurs to most of us is this—that although that treatment of the subject may be very suitable for Irish Questions, it would not be tolerated for one moment with regard to English Questions. What would be said if, I will say, the Civil Lord of the Admiralty were day after day to answer all the Questions addressed to the First Lord of the Admiralty, and then, when the Questions were all over, the House were to see the First Lord come in with a jaunty air and take his seat on the Treasury Bench? Why, Sir, there is no one on the other side of the House who would consider that a tolerable arrangement for one week, although if the First Lord wore ill or absent from an unavoidable cause, it would, of course, be the commonest thing in the world that his subordinate should answer the Questions for him. But not only is that the case, but the officer who has to answer the Questions is unpaid, or, in other words, has been appointed to his present position without the knowledge or consent of Parliament. There is a very strict limit set upon the number of officials who can sit in Parliament receiving salary. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) will say that this does not exempt him from the power of adding to the number of officials who do not receive salaries. Well, Sir, that may be the technical excuse, but I do not think there is much real foundation in it. If a Member of this House is appointed to even a subordinate place in the Government, though he receives no salary, he has emolument—surely his emolument does not entirely consist, of salary. He has the honour of sitting on the Treasury Bench, which, of itself, is 178 much coveted, and he has all the dignity and importance attached to a Member of Her Majesty's Government, and I see nothing to hinder the Government, on the same footing, appointing 40 or 50 of their followers subordinate Members of the Government, and thus completely getting round all the guarantees that have been laid down by the rules which at present govern these matters. These are the reasons why we find the present arrangement very extraordinary. But it adds to the singularity of the situation when we find that at the same moment that there is this double arrangement in the House of Commons it so happens that there is also a double arrangement in the House of Lords, and that the Government have, for the first time, I believe, not only a Chief Secretary in the Cabinet, but a Lord Chancellor for Ireland in the Cabinet, and that Lord Chancellor, the only reason for whose position in the Cabinet one would take to be that he should represent the Government in the House of Lords, does not represent the Government in the House of Lords, but another Member of the Cabinet is appointed for the duty. The result is that there are three Members of the Cabinet representing Ireland, two in the House of Lords and one in this House, and; in addition to these, we have the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet. These are the reasons why it does appear to us that this is a very extraordinary arrangement; and I cannot say that these reasons have been at all obviated or diminished in our minds by the speech which has just been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I have been greatly edified by the excitement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The complaint of the right hon. Gentleman is that the affairs of Ireland have been looked after by more Members of the present Government than has been the case under preceding Governments. The complaint that has been made by hon. Members opposite is, that it appears to the present Government that the interests of Ireland are of such great importance that not only the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), but an Assistant Secretary, the Lord 179 Privy Seal, and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland have interested themselves and have concerned themselves deeply in endeavouring—[Laughter.] I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair whether it is fitting that the laughter of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite should meet a statement—a statement which I am making with the endeavour to recall Parliament to the consideration of the real facts of the case? The Government appreciate the gravity of the circumstances, and the condition of Ireland at the present time. We have felt that any intellect, any skill, and any ability which we possess ought to be devoted to the solution of the great problems which the government of Ireland involves. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland is at the present moment engaged in the consideration and preparation of two most important measures relating to Ireland; and he felt it necessary, and the Government felt it necessary, that he should be assisted by my right hon. and gallant Friend on my left, who brings to his help a knowledge of the circumstances and of the condition of Ireland which hon. Members below the Gangway may not accept as being accurate from their point of view, but which is, of course, of great value in the opinion of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. What is the complaint of the right hon. Gentleman opposite? The right hon. Gentleman appears to think that because neither Mr. Forster nor Sir George Trevelyan had an Assistant Secretary, therefore it is highly improper that the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary should have an Assistant Secretary.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
The complaint was that the present Chief Secretary hands over the duty of answering all the Irish Questions to his Assistant Secretary.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Hands over the duty of answering all the Irish Questions to his Assistant Secretary. Does the right hon. Gentleman not know that the Government are responsible for every answer that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman gives? The right hon. Gentleman must be fully aware that the Government are just as much responsible for the answers that are given by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Assistant Secretary as they are for those given by the Chief 180 Secretary himself. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, when Chief Secretary himself, was not in the Cabinet, and yet his Government were bound by his answers.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
But the right hon. Gentleman was not at the time a Member of the Cabinet. He spoke only with the authority of Chief Secretary; but, nevertheless, his answers bound his Government. Well, the Assistant Secretary represents the Chief Secretary, and binds the Chief Secretary.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
We are asked whether we are going to appoint 40 or 50 Members of this Party to be Assistant Secretaries. Does the right hon. Gentleman really moan to ask such a question as that in good faith? No, Sir; he takes advantage, or he thinks he takes advantage—he does not really take advantage, because it is a remark which really recoils on himself—of circumstances and conditions that are absolutely abnormal. We have endeavoured to do our best to provide for the good government of the country, and have made what arrangements we believed to be necessary. We have come to the conclusion that some assistance must be given to the Chief Secretary, in order to enable him to give due consideration to the preparation and the submission to Parliament of measures which we deem to be of the utmost importance to the peace, the prosperity, and the happiness of Ireland. Of those measures there are two now before Parliament, and a third is in preparation; and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, never having had to produce such measures, has no idea of the amount of labour and of responsibility that the preparation of those measures involves. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that Parliament had no notice of the appointment of my right hon. and gallant Friend to the Office of Assistant Secretary; but the fact is that Parliament had ample knowledge of it.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Ample notice that such an appointment was made; and Parliament knew that it was entirely within the competence of Her 181 Majesty's present Government, or of any other Government who felt it to be their duty, to make such an appointment. I must point to a fact that the right hon. Gentleman opposite is well aware of—namely, that even if the Office to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has been appointed had been a paid one, it would not have been necessary that the right hon. Gentleman should have vacated his seat, the post not being one that renders it necessary for the holder to go to his constituents for re-election on his accepting it. With regard to answering Questions, as I have indicated, my right hon. and gallant Friend, in replying to Questions, speaks with the full authority of the Government in giving complete replies to every Question which may fairly be put to the Members of the Government. I fully recognize the responsibility of the Government in answering Questions by whomsoever they may be asked; but, while making proper provision for the answering of Questions, the Government have to discharge the higher duty of seeing that their measures are properly considered and presented to Parliament.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman opposite that no one for a moment impugns the motives of the Government in making this appointment. The question for the Committee is whether the Government have acted Constitutionally and in accordance with the law of Parliament in making it. When the right hon. Gentleman pleads in justification of the appointment the abnormal state of affairs existing at the present time, and that the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant has on his shoulders 'two important Bills—that is to say, the Coercion, and, I suppose, the other is the Land Bill now before the House of Lords—I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that Mr. Forster, when Chief Secretary, had on his shoulders not only the preparation and passing through Parliament of a Coercion Bill, but also of a great Land Bill; and that the work devolving on the Chief Secretary in those days was certainly as heavy as that devolving upon the present Chief Secretary to-day. I should be sorry if this question assumed anything of a personal character. I certainly do not consider the Chief Secretary over-paid, because I 182 consider that there is only one post in Europe which, for the anxiety and responsibility it entails, could compare with that of the right hon. Gentleman, and that is the position of the Czar of Russia. The right hon. Gentleman may very well say that no compensation can be too high for the responsibility, the anxiety, and the vexation of his Office, whoever fills it, whether a Member of the Party sitting opposite, or sitting on this side of the House. But what I wish to ask the Committee is—and this appears to be a favourable opportunity for doing it, an opportunity for which one has hitherto sought in vain—whether the appointment of the Under Secretary for Ireland is a Constitutional one or not?
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
I bow, of course, to your ruling, Sir; but as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury has attempted to justify the appointment I wished to enter a protest upon the point. I will not pursue the matter one sentence further. I should have been glad of an opportunity of saying that I consider that the creation of any new Office under the Crown, whether or not its acceptance involved the vacating of a seat in this House—for I do not lay stress on that point—without the consent of Parliament is un-Constitutional. As, however, you rule, Sir, that it is not competent for me to go into the question at this moment, I will say no more with regard to it, but will take another opportunity of calling attention to it.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
The speeches we have listened to from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, more than any other speeches which we have heard from the Tory Party for some time, show the appropriateness of the name applied to them of "the stupid Party." Both right hon. Gentlemen, in the course of their speeches, occupied a considerable time in sounding the praises of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Assistant Under Secretary—or Under Secretary—whatever he may be called. One would think, from the speech of the Chief Secretary, that the duties of the right hon. 183 and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) has to discharge in this House are duties of the utmost importance, and that he discharges them with an amount of ability which must command the confidence and admiration of this Assembly. Now, what are the duties, so far as we can see, which have been discharged by that right hon. and gallant Gentleman? Why, the merest schoolboy of a few years' experience would be able to do that which the two Leaders of the Tory Party in this House so loudly praise the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet for doing. His duties, so far as we can see, consist in his standing there at the Table and reading out to us answers prepared for him by some police constable or other official in Ireland. That is the only exercise of his extraordinary powers that we have seen in this House; and, certainly, I do not think the Government are to be complimented on the fact of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's addition to their ranks. They comfort themselves with the idea that they have got, in the right hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet, a real acquisition; but, as I have said, he is no more valuable to them than would be a schoolboy of a year's experience. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in the manner in which he treated the Questions put by the Irish Members in this House to-night, has furnished another proof that the suspicion which was in the minds of hon. Members on this side of the House, and which was given expression to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), is amply justified—namely, that he is determined to treat with contempt the elected Representatives of the people of Ireland, and therefore he has refrained from being in his place when Questions affecting Ireland have been before the House. We do not complain of having to deal with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet, as compared with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. What we complain of is that the official who replies to us is not responsible to this House or to Parliament. We contend that he should not be a mere instrument of the Government, but should be able to give effect to the answers he gives us. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the 184 Chief Secretary, standing up at the Table, in the course of his speech tonight, has shown us that so long as these Questions have been answered by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet they have been answered altogether on his own responsibility, and the responsibility of the officials in Ireland, and that the officials in this House, to whom we are to look for redress of grievances and abuses in Irish Governmental Departments, is altogether ignorant of the representations we make. The right hon. Gentleman treats with supreme contempt—with a contempt that is, if possible, more offensive than his whole bearing upon Irish matters—the Questions that are asked by Irish Members. The right hon. Gentleman pretends to have some knowledge of Ireland. We complain that while before we could very well afford to stand his ignorance of Ireland and Irish affairs, because it did not affect us, that now he is the one officer who is responsible for Irish affairs he keeps out of the House when Questions are being asked, and he never can have any knowledge of the facts to which these Questions relate. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that he made a great point when he said that if, in a few years hence, he should become a convert to our opinions upon the Home Rule Question, we should be likely to praise him just as we praised former Chief Secretaries for Ireland. I can re-assure the right hon. Gentleman on that point. We always know how to make a distinction between men who understand their duties and stick to them, however disagreeable they may be, and men who run away from them. We have often opposed Irish Secretaries, but even when we differed most from them we have seldom had to deny them the possession of courage and the possession of a sense of duty. But even if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary should become a convert to our opinions, unless he changes his policy he will never be able to get the credit of having stuck to his post. He has found it very convedient to get as a substitute a political Cerberus in the person of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet. I must say we had very little confidence in the knowledge which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary brings to bear on Irish 185 subjects; but if there is one man in Ireland whom no Chief Secretary could afford to stand up and justify before the Irish people, that man is the right hon. Gentleman's Colleague the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet, one of the rack-renting landlords of Ireland. It is an insult to the Irish representation and to the Irish people that the Chief Secretary should shelter himself behind such a personage in this House, and excuse himself from giving to the work of the Department to which he belongs and to the Irish people the benefit of qualities for the possession of which, presumably, he was appointed. The right hon. Gentleman has given us some figures as to the rental of the estate of his right hon. and gallant Colleague. I do not wish to dwell on that subject—I should be out of Order if I did; but I do not think we should not allow the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman to pass unchallenged. He stated, on information, no doubt, received from his right hon. and gallant Colleague, that in 1881 there was only £100 difference between the entire rental of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's property and the gross Government valuation. Well, but all the property in the hands of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and all that which he farms himself, is taken from the rental, but is left in in the valuation which is given. That makes a very important difference. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman does not stand up to challenge that statement. Is the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary aware that, by the information which is supplied to him, and which he gives to the House, English Members are deceived in these matters? On the strength of assurances and untruths supplied to him, he stands up and deceives the House. Then there is another important matter. Numbers of holdings on this property were let before it came into the possession of the right hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet, and were let on fines that were extorted from the tenants.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Colonel KING-HARMAN) (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
I rise to Order. I wish to know whether the hon. and learned Member is in Order in imputing untruths to a Member of this House? I wish to explain that no fines 186 have been taken on my property for three generations.
If the hon. and learned Member does impute untruth to any other Member he is distinctly out of Order.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
was understood to disclaim having imputed untruth to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
I distinctly stated that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman gave to the Chief Secretary this statement—that there was only a difference of £100 between the rental of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and the valuation of his property; but that he omitted to state that the amount of the property in his own hands was included in the valuation, while no rental was allowed for; and that in this way the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was put in a position to state an untruth to the House.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
I am in the recollection of the Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman distinctly said that I had stated an untruth.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
I never said anything of the kind. If I had made the statement I have now made to the House in the absence of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet, I have no doubt that hon. Members on the other side would have got up and denied what I have stated. But now I congratulate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that he has, by his challenge, emphasized the important difference I have pointed out, and also the manner in which the House has been deceived. Then there is another point. While part of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's estate is held at low rents by large graziers, who have extensive tracts of the estate, he has raised the rents of the smaller tenants on the other portions of his estate as often and as much as he could raise them. That is the state of facts of which he has been proved guilty by the Sub-Commissioners. I will read to the House some of the 187 rentals on the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's estate, with the reductions that have been made.
The hon. and learned Member himself, at the begining of his remarks, seemed to feel that he was going beyond the Question in entering into details, and yet he now proposes to go into matters only very remotely connected with the Vote before the Committee. It would be quite out of Order to enter into the details he proposes to state.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
I will only give the sum total of the rentals, and the valuation on a single page of the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners. Now, upon one page of these decisions I find the Poor Law valuation is £584. The gross rental was £658, and that rent was reduced from £658 to £392. That is the model landlord who is held up to our admiration by the Chief Secretary; and when we are told by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that the reason for the absence of the Chief Secretary from the House is that he is hatching important measures relating to the holding of land in Ireland, we have an idea of the spirit in which he will approach the question from the character as a landlord which he has given to his Colleague. Now, my reason for objecting to the manner in which we have been treated in regard to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) is this—that I look on his appointment as a reward for political recreancy alone. We have heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary an assurance that, at all events, there was no danger that he would come over to our opinions on the Home Rule Question. Will he give us the same assurance with equal confidence in regard to his Colleague? He is an older Home Ruler than I am. He was a Home Ruler long before I could say a word on the subject. Lately I possessed myself of the minutes of the Home Rule League—the minutes of their various meetings with the strong resolutions they passed.
One portion of this Vote is for the salary of the Chief Secretary. He has devolved a certain part of his duties on the Under Secretary, and that is properly a subject of criticism. But as the right hon. and 188 gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet is not provided for out of the Vote his character and conduct are not the subject for criticism.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
On what Vote or in what manner are we to discuss the way in which the right hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet discharges his duties?
The discharge of his duties in this House does become matter for criticism; but his character and past career as a Home Ruler do not become matter for criticism.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
Now, I shall not dwell further on this subject, which I know cannot be a very pleasant one to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet or for the Government. I hope we shall have some opportunity for voting a salary to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, in order that on the Vote for his salary we may show his Colleagues what manner of man he was. I will now only finish by saying that I believe the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has treated the House in regard to important Irish Questions is the most instructive lesson which has been given to the people of Ireland, and also to the people of England, for a considerable time. As the hon. Member who has preceded me in this debate has remarked, no Member of the Government would attempt to treat any other portion of Her Majesty's Dominions with the same contempt with which Ireland has been treated by the right hon. Gentleman. He cannot deny that he has constantly remained away from the House while Irish Questions are treated at Question time, and that he has delegated the performance of his duty in regard to answering Questions to a Colleague who is altogether irresponsible to us and to this House. I think that if the right hon. Gentleman persists in the course he has lately taken, and if he persists in showing the same contempt which he has recently displayed for Irish Questions, it will be the duty of the Irish Members to take every opportunity to drag before the people of this country the manner in which Ireland is being treated at a time when you insist on the people of Ireland keeping themselves associated with the Union.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
I am only going to 189 touch very lightly on one or two points to which the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down (Mr. T. C. Harrington) alluded, because he somewhat challenged me to do so; while, at the same time, he charged me with not being frank in the statement I made to the House the other day. There is one point in that statement in regard to which the hon. and learned Member seems to think that he has hit a blot, and which certainly needs explanation. That is that, in my statement as to the relative income and valuation of my estate, I did not include in the income my demesne and other land actually in hand. I thought that a matter of no importance in dealing with a large property of over 75,000 acres. The matter was so exceedingly small that I did not include the land referred to. Then, the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the rents as they existed in 1881 were rents fixed by my ancestors. Well, they were, and they were never raised by me. Therefore, I think it is for the credit both of my ancestors and myself that, as he has himself stated, those rents were below Griffith's valuation. Then the hon. and learned Member took up the Blue Book, and read one page to show the reduction of rent on one part of my property in the county of Longford; and he implied that I had raised my rents in the county of Longford. Upon my honour I never raised any rents in the county of Longford; and upon my honour I spent £24,000 in 1879, 1880, and 1881—the years of the famine—on my property in the county of Longford on which these tenants resided, and for that outlay of £24,000 I never received, and I never charged, one penny of interest.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid.)
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet has just stated that from 1879 to 1881 he spent£24,000 on his estates in the county of Longford, which he borrowed from the Government at a nominal rate of interest—[Mr. T. C. HARRINGTON: He never expended it.]—and which there was reason to believe was not as fully expended as it had been liberally lent.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY
I only repeated an accusation which has been made; but as you, Sir, have ruled that the ob- 190 servation I made was out of Order, I withdraw it accordingly and apologize for it. I will only say that I regret that I had not an opportunity to state in this House what I believe to be the facts of the case with regard to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. This is the first case in the history of the Irish Secretaryship in which we are placed in the position of having a nominal Chief Secretary who receives a considerable salary and does nothing in this House except jibe and flout, in pinchbeck imitation of one of his family, at the Questions of the Irish Members; and in the most supercilious manner possible meets our statements and charges with an affectation of absolute contempt. We are fully determined that we shall press for an explanation as to the appointment of this Under Secretary who has been put into the position he now occupies, and who resembles what is called in Ireland a species of "potheenboy"—one who does the dirty work of the Chief Secretary. I have heard that the Chinese used to be in the habit of flinging malodorous grenades at the enemy to prevent them advancing, and I believe the appointment of the present Parliamentary Under Secretary has been made in the same spirit, and with the same intention of flinging something malodorous before the Irish Members so that they cannot attack the Government of the day. I think, however, before the Government have got to the end of their tether, they will find that they have not gained much by appointing an ornamental Chief Secretary and an Orange Under Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said, a few minutes ago, that we should be likely to speak in the same manner of him, if he changed his opinions, that we do of Lord Spencer, now that he has changed his opinions. I cannot, however, conceive the possibility of comparison between the two men. I can conceive no manner of mental or moral measurement which would bring the two men together. I do not know how it is possible to compare or measure against each other a giant like Lord Spencer and a pigmy like the present Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary commenced his reply to the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) by reading some Questions, and asking whether he could be expected to answer such Questions. 191 Well, two of those Questions were put down by Orange Members who support his policy, and I question whether the Orange Democrats who sent those Members to this House would appreciate the supercilious tone adopted by the Chief Secretary towards their Parliamentary Representatives in this House. I do not know whether we shall have any regular opportunity of raising the question of the appointment of the present Under Secretary. I have heard it stated that the present Under Secretary, though nominally unpaid, is a fairly well-remunerated official. I have heard it stated that the present Chief Secretary is content to accept a portion of his nominal salary, and that the remainder is distributed as a gratuity to those who discharge some of his Parliamentary functions.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The statement or conjecture just made is entirely, absolutely, and totally unfounded.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY
If the right hon. Gentleman had done as I have suggested, it would have been no more than reasonable and just. I would remind the Committee that we have in this House, besides the Chief Secretary and this notable Under Secretary, two Law Officers of the Crown—one who takes some part in discussing a portion of the clauses of the Bill now before the House, while the other has done nothing for his official position. Formerly, when the Chief Secretary was absent from this House, the Law Officers have answered Questions. What I want to know is this—why two Irish lawyers, who have as much knowledge of the Irish people as the Under Secretary for Ireland, and have not, like him, been brought into conflict with the Irish people on questions relating to the land, who are, at least, as intelligent as the Parliamentary Under Secretary, and have had the benefit of a legal training, which he has not had—I say I want to know why these Gentlemen, who are responsible to this House and the country, because they are paid for the discharge of their duties, have not been put into requisition, and called upon to discharge the duties which in former times have been discharged by the Law 192 Officers? The appointment of a Parliamentary Under Secretary now is extraordinary. In former times the Parliamentary Under Secretaryship was a political appointment, and was only held while the Government by whom the holder was appointed retained Office. I believe in the time of Thomas Drummond the appointment was altogether political. That system is, it appears, to be again introduced. But it must not be forgotten that we have now a so-called Permanent Under Secretary in Dublin, as well as a Political Under Secretary in this House. When that Permanent Under Secretary goes back to the War Office, will the two Offices be amalgamated? That is what we want to know. But, in the meantime, we must protest against the appointment of an Orangeman without salary, and, therefore, irresponsible to this House. I will only say, further, that the appointment seems to have been made on the old principle of setting one Irishman against another, so that Englishmen may then go about the country saying—"See how these Irishmen agree in the House of Commons; what will they do at home?"
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I rise to move the reduction of this Vote by £1,000, as a protest against the manner in which the Chief Secretary for Ireland declines—and says that he will decline—to discharge his duty. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is utterly wrong in supposing that I quarrel with the amount of his salary. I did indeed, in the early part of the evening, say something about the amount proposed to be voted to him for coals; but with his salary I have no quarrel, provided his duties are satisfactorily discharged. What I quarrel with is the way in which he is discharging the duties of his Office; and, therefore, to enable the Committee to protest against this, I propose, as I have said, to move that this Vote be reduced by £1,000. I do not find fault with the fact that the Chief Secretary has called in help to assist him in discharging the very onerous duties of his position. I do not quarrel with any Irish Secretary for calling in the help of one or two officials in this House. On the contrary, I think the Irish Chief Secretary would do very well if he got a suitable Assistant in this House, and then went himself to Dublin for the next three months. And if he 193 had a man in this House who would decently answer Questions under his directions, I would not complain if he remained at Dublin. But what I quarrel with is the character of the help that the Chief Secretary has called in. I do not, Sir, propose to quarrel with your ruling as to the limits of this discussion; but I may be permitted to point out that your ruling has only emphasized the scandalous inconvenience of the course pursued by the Government. They have sought to create a new Office at a most critical time, and they have appointed to this Office a Gentleman whose antecedents utterly disqualify him for the Office he has been appointed to fill. And they have done this in such a manner that it is difficult to see how we can raise the question of the fitness of this Gentleman to discharge the duties of his Office, though it is impossible to contend that we should not be able to raise that question in some shape or way. I do not, Sir, wish to come into collision with your ruling; but I may be allowed to point out a few particulars in which, I think, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is singularly and peculiarly unfitted to fill the Office in which he is now placed. I wish to direct the attention of the House, in the first place, to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), because I think they were very unfortunate. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government wore actuated in this appointment by a desire to assist the present Chief Secretary for Ireland in the preparation and conduct of two or three important measures which are now before Parliament, and which they deem essential to the preservation of peace and order in Ireland. Now, I consider that to be a most ominous declaration on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. We supposed before this that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was a kind of assistant to the Chief Secretary for an hour in the evening; but now we are told that he is a Member of the Irish Cabinet, and is appointed to give advice as to measures of importance in connection with Ireland.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No; the First Lord of the Treasury did not say that. The Parliamentary Under Secre- 194 tary is not a Member of any Irish Cabinet.
§ MR. DILLON
Of course I spoke metaphorically. When I used the expression, "Irish Cabinet," I meant the Body that controls and directs Irish Business. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury distinctly stated that the chief object of calling the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel King-Harman) to the position he now occupies was, that he should assist the Government with his knowledge of Ireland and with his advice in modelling great measures to be laid before Parliament. In my ears that was a most ominous declaration, because it amounted to this, that not only were we, in the future, to look to the influence of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Thanet Division of Kent in the administration of the law in Ireland, but even in the shaping of Irish legislation in this House he was to be behind the scenes. Having that in my mind, there are certain things that have occurred in Ireland quite recently, which, in view of these facts, are exceedingly interesting. Within the last fortnight a practice has been revived in Ireland which has been renounced for three years, the practice of calling what are known as Rival Loyalist demonstrations in Ulster for the purpose of suppressing liberty of speech; and it is a most singular and ominous thing that the revival of that practice should have synchronized with the appointment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has now a potential voice in Irish affairs—our memory has been refreshed in regard to this subject by a speech which Sir George Trevelyan has delivered this evening in London. Sir George Trevelyan reminded his hearers of the time when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Thanet Division of Kent denounced him and Lord Spencer for giving protection to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), when be attempted to address meetings in the North of Ireland; and Sir George Trevelyan went on to say that the Coercion Bill was framed for the suppression of the National League. The House will see how that bears on the condition of Ireland at the present moment. When a meeting is summoned to protest 195 against the Coercion Bill, the Orangemen call a counter demonstration; the Executive denounces both meetings, and the people of Ulster are not allowed to express their opinion at all upon the Bill. A man whose past career entitles us to suspect that he is at this hour in collusion with these very Orange Societies in Ulster is now a great power in the control of the Executive; and, for aught we know, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Ireland may be telling the masters of the Orange Lodges in Ulster to summon these counter meetings for the purpose of preventing a legitimate expression of opinion in regard to the policy of the Government. Is this a state of things that ought to be tolerated? This is the reason why the political actions of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Thanet Division of Kent are brought under discussion. We are desirous of showing that we are justified in the suspicions and fears which we entertain as to what his conduct will be in the future. I think I have established some case for holding the right hon. and gallant Gentleman more or less responsible for these proceedings in the Province of Ulster. I put it to the House—to hon. Members of all shades of political opinion—Can there be a more unkind or cruel mode of proceeding than to proclaim legitimate meetings, and thus suppress the right of freedom of speech at a most critical time, simply because the Orangemen put out placards announcing rival demonstrations. This is the very thing which Lord Spencer moved armies into Ulster to prevent.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN (Isle of Thanet)
I may say at once that there is not the slightest word of foundation for the suggestion.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
For the suggestion that I have encouraged the Orangemen to call counter demonstrations.
§ MR. DILLON
Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say that there is not the slightest word of foundation for the suggestion that the policy of Lord Spencer in this respect has been departed from, and that there is an end of liberty of speech in Ulster; and does he mean 196 to say that that has not taken place since he came into Office, and that now the Orangemen are entitled to boast, as they did not dare to boast when Lord Spencer was in Ireland, that a Nationalist meeting cannot be held in Ulster? Does he deny that he denounced Lord Spencer for the action he took in protecting Nationalist meetings in Ulster?
The hon. Member is now travelling beyond the lines of the subject before the Committee.
§ MR. DILLON
Well, Mr. Courtney, I submit to your ruling; but I think the Government will show very scant consideration to the feelings of the people of Ireland if they refuse to give us some opportunity of discussing fully and fairly this appointment. It is at least unusual to make an appointment of this kind, surrounded as it is with circumstances of suspicion, at such a time; and to do it in such a way that by the technical ruling of the Chair we are robbed of our right of discussing it fully and fairly is, to say the least of it, striking below the belt. Of course, I will not pursue that branch of the subject further. I think I am entitled, however, before I sit down to answer three questions that were put directly to me or to the hon. Members who sit on these Benches by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I shall confine myself as closely as I can to the direct answers to the questions put and challenges given. I shall not enter into the details connected with those questions. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary asked me if I denied that Griffith's valuation of the property of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet was made when prices were much lower. I do deny it. He asked me if I denied that Griffith's valuation being made for purposes of taxation was made below the actual value? I do deny it. And, further, he asked me whether, in view of the statement of fact made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet, that Gentleman could be described as a landlord who acted harshly and unjustly to his tenants? I say yes; and I say that the proofs and records of the Commission show that in many parts of Ireland the rent as fixed by Griffith's valuation 197 is at the present time double what it would be if a fair rent were fixed. I say, moreover, that a man who continues to charge double rents as long as he is allowed is unfitted to be made responsible for the government of Ireland; and while I do not contend that the Chief Secretary can be justly described as the worst landlord in Ireland, I do distinctly believe that he has acted harshly and unjustly to his tenants, and that he would to-day but for the intervention of the Courts of Law, be charging many of them double the value of their land.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £3,829,300, be granted for the said Services."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I do not rise to continue this discussion in any controversial spirit, but merely to reassure hon. Members upon one or two points. It seems to appear to them that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet occupies a different position from other Under Secretaries, that he has a greater share in the administration of the Irish Department than they have in the administration of their respective Departments. I can assure the hon. Member that that view of the position of my right hon. and gallant Friend is not correct. The other question was with regard to the meetings in Ulster. That is a question which deserves the attention of the Government, and I can promise that it shall have my careful consideration.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
A discussion of this kind places us in a very inconvenient position. The Government have the great advantage of being able to tell the whole of their case; but when we attempt to answer the questions which they have raised, we are, unfortunately, by the Rules of Debate, more or less out of Order. I always listen, with pleasure to any remark that may fall from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He usually leaves a record behind him, and gives us material for further observations. He has done so in the present instance. He has told us that we complain of his salary. I am perfectly unaware of any observations of ours to 198 that effect. He says that his duties are onerous and difficult. We admit that. But we must also say that, while we do not think his salary too large for any Gentleman who adequately discharges the duties imposed upon him, we think it is too large when those duties are inefficiently performed. In the course of his observations, the right hon. Gentleman referred to our complaint that he is so often absent from his place in the House, and said that, inasmuch as we, at the same time, complained of his continued absence from Dublin, we were taking up an inconsistent position. Well, what are the facts? He is not in Ireland, and he is not in the House, except when he comes down to flout and gibe at these Benches on the Coercion Bill, or to assist the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury in the pleasant occupation of shutting our mouths with the closure. We would not object to him being in Ireland; but at present he seems to be in some place of which we know nothing. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said that, so far, the Under Secretary has received no reward. That implies that he will eventually receive some reward. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] I only hope that whatever that remuneration is it will be given rapidly, in order that we may have an opportunity of raising fairly and squarely the whole subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made one observation which was very alarming in its character. He said that the Questions on the Paper for this evening had reference solely to small local matters. But he omitted all reference to one of those Questions until twice, in a rather marked manner, I drew attention to it. It was Question No. 11, in which an hon. Member asked him whether certain landlords within the Monaghan Union had notified to the Guardians their intention of evicting 65 families forthwith? I only draw attention to this because we were informed by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that the replies of the Under Secretary were given on behalf of the Government, and immediately afterwards the Chief Secretary told us that his right hon. and gallant Friend was not a responsible Member of the Irish Administration. The Chief Secretary must recollect that we have no representative whatever in Ireland, and 199 that we have no means whatever of getting at the ears of any person there who knows about these matters. A very long experience on these Benches has shown hon. Members that applying to Permanent Officials is absolutely fruitless. We have been told that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet has discharged his duties in a satisfactory manner. I presume the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was not in the House some days ago when the Question of the evictions on Lord Granard's estate was asked. I should like to know if the manner in which that Question was answered is considered by the Chief Secretary to be consistent with a satisfactory discharge of duty? The Committee will recollect that upon that occasion the right hon. and gallant Member stated that the Ecclesiastical Authorities were responsible for those evictions; and he went on to answer a further Question in a manner which made a distinct impression upon the mind of the House that those Ecclesiastical Authorities were so responsible. I denied that statement, and I was supported in my denial by the noble Lord himself. I shall be surprised to hear that a statement of that kind meets with the admiration of the Chief Secretary. What I want to point out is this—we have had some considerable experience of Government officials, and in this House we have seen Members of the Government defend in unmeasured language Permanent Officials who afterwards turned out to be criminals of a disgusting character. We warn the right hon. Gentleman that if he makes himself the champion of all the officials of Dublin Castle they will drag him down with them. If he believes everything they say they will go from excess to excess; but if he would make some effort to get information for himself, and not depend entirely upon the officials, good results might be hoped for.
§ DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)
The remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) were amply justified, if only by the one item extracted from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. I refer to the underhand suppression of Nationalist meetings in Ulster, a practice which has been revived in so suspicious a manner by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet 200 (Colonel King-Harman). The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said that the subject was under the consideration of the Government, and I hope that when the next Orange meeting is called for the purpose of enabling some local magistrate to go and swear an information that two meetings near each other are to be held and are likely to lead to a breach of the peace, the second meeting will be suppressed, and those who attempted to hold the first meeting will not be interfered with. Irish Members are compelled to put Questions on matters of trifling importance to the Chief Secretary, because there is no permanent official in Ireland amenable to public opinion. In England such officials know that any malfeasance in office will be visited severely by public opinion, and this knowledge is a powerful factor in restraining them from committing any excesses. That is not the case in Ireland. There an official does not look upon himself as a servant of the public, but as the master of the public. That is one reason why we put Questions in this House, on what appear to the philosophical mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to be small and trivial subjects. No doubt it may be annoying to him to have to come down to this House and answer Questions on such matters; but he is paid for it, and I think he ought not to employ a journeyman to do the work for him. Certainly, if he does employ a journeyman he ought to employ one who knows his trade. The appointment of the Under Secretary is an admirable ex-ample of the manner in which the Government of Ireland is conducted. If the Government had not been infected with the usual ineptitude which followed the footsteps of those who attempt to govern Ireland against her will, they would have seen that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet was the last man in the world who should have been chosen for a post of this kind. There is not a man who is looked upon with greater suspicion than one with such a record. I remember the career of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I remember taking a very humble part in some of the contests in which he has been engaged. I think that one of the first subscriptions I ever gave was to a fund for his election expenses when he was a 201 Home Rule candidate. I would just refer to the fact that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has repudiated with great heat, and possibly with a great deal of justification, the imputation of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Tyrone (Mr. M. J. Kenny) about the money he received for his estates. I would point out that my hon. Friend only repeated an assertion which has been publicly made in Ireland, and which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not contradict.
The hon. Member is well aware that I stopped the hon. Member for Mid Tyrone from entering into that subject.
§ DR. KENNY
Then, Sir, I will not enter into that. I must, however, protest against the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. A. J. Balfour) has treated the Irish Members. The right hon. Gentleman has treated us with the most supercilious indifference. He is not entitled to adopt towards us the attitude and the manner which he is very much in the habit of adopting here. If he did not do so he would not require so often to seek protection under the wing of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), who is always ready to come forward in his best Mrs. Gampmanner on behalf of his Friends in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would, also, have much more time to give to those studies in which he appears to be so much wrapped up, if he would take more trouble to inform himself on the points to which inquiries are directed in this House, and would take some steps to curb the pride of officials in Ireland.
§ SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
I rise for the purpose of appealing to the Committee that this long and painful discussion should be brought to a close. I would make a special appeal to hon. Members below the Gangway on this—the Opposition—side of the House. I have had a long acquaintance—I may say friendship—with the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Colonel King-Harman),and I am sorry that he has been placed in the position of having his conduct called in question. I looked upon his appointment from the first moment I heard of 202 it as the appointment of an honourable man. I am utterly unable to sympathize with the proposal for the reduction of the salary of the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour). For many years I have held the opinion that the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant has far more duties placed upon his shoulders than any mortal man can discharge as long as Ireland is governed through Dublin Castle in the manner in which it has been governed since I came into Parliament. The Chief Secretary for Ireland is practically the head of all the Irish Departments in this House, and up to a short time ago he was practically without assistance. He has had to look after all the Departments which in England and Scotland are divided among half a dozen officers; and I have always thought that the step which has lately been taken of appointing an Under Secretary ought to to have been taken long ago. The proposal to-night is to reduce the salary of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, because he has an unpaid assistant. I am not going to say that in my humble opinion the appointment of the present Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, or of the assistant Chief Secretary, was the very best appointments that Her Majesty's Administration could have made; but, I think, if we are dissatisfied we ought rather to attack the men than the money. If the Chief Secretary is the wrong man, we ought to have a Resolution directed, not against the salary, but against the right hon. Gentleman himself. The salary is not too large. My belief is that the total amount ought to be increased for the purpose of paying an assistant. Holding those views, although I do think that now and then the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary does answer Questions and join in debate in a manner which somewhat irritates Gentlemen on this side of the House, both above and below the Gangway, I cannot vote tonight for the diminution of the salary which I think he is trying to earn to the best of his ability by the tenure of an Office which I certainly do not envy him for a moment.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I am sorry to continue the discussion at this hour of the night, but I wish to make only one or two obser- 203 vations. In the first place, I wish to point out to my hon. Friend who has just spoken that our contention is not that the salary of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant is too large for the work he has to do, but that—and I do not wish to be guilty of any discourtesy in saying this—he has not performed the duties of his Office, having in this differed from all his Predecessors. I must say that I think the Ministers of all Departments in this country, and especially those having seats in the House of Commons, are entirely too hard worked. That is one of the matters that will have to be reformed by-and-bye in the administration of this country. At the same time, I think that Ministers generally set a good example to the rest of the country by the manner in which they stick to their work by night and by day, and sacrifice their convenience, and frequently their health, in the performance of their official duties. Our complaint against the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland is, that he does not follow their good example. I would point out that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury attends to his duties with great assiduity, and that he is not as young a man as the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I say it in no invidious sense. But the Chief Secretary for Ireland is the only single Member on that Bench in a Ministerial position who is not here at Question time to answer Questions, and who does not take the interest in his Office, and devote that labour to it which would accord with the best traditions of this country. That is what my objection to this Vote is based upon. I dare say that the question of salary will by-and-bye come to be one of interest to Gentlemen on these Benches. We shall then be quite ready to pay more money, because, at least, five persons will carry out the duties now assigned to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. As to the question of the proclaimed meetings in Ulster, whilst I acknowledge to the full the courtesy and readiness with which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland undertook to look into that question, I must express my disappointment that he is only going to look into it now.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Man-
204 chester, E.)
I said I was looking into it.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Well, I am very glad to hear it. I would just point out that more than one of these meetings has been prohibited. That is a step which ought not to be taken, except on the advice of the highest Executive Officer, and it throws a great light on the way affairs are managed in Ireland when we hear that such a step could be taken without the knowledge and consent of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. However, the right hon. Gentleman has promised to look into the matter. As to the appointment of the Parliamentary Secretary for Ireland (Colonel King-Harman), the Committee must see the inconvenient position in which we are placed. I regret that it has been felt necessary to make anything in the nature of a personal attack upon the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. I am sure that this is not done with any willingness. But when a man is appointed to any Office he must be prepared to have his life and actions subjected to the strictest scrutiny. I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant to say that he thought an opportunity ought to be given for a discussion respecting the creation of the Office of Under Secretary for Ireland. I should like to know what opportunity will be given. I am sure that if the right hon. Gentleman can give us some assurance on that point he would put an end to this debate for the evening. I think the right hon. Gentleman will himself recognize that we are placed in an entirely unconstitutional position when we have a man appointed to high Office, and, because no salary is attached to that Office, are deprived of all opportunity of criticizing the appointment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The intention has always been to bring in a Bill which will give the hon. Member the opportunity he asks for. [Cries of"When?"] This Session.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
I must say it is a matter for regret that this discussion was not allowed, under the circumstances, to be taken earlier in the evening, because it is a subject upon which, I believe, every member of the Party to which I have the honour to 205 belong might legitimately contribute a speech. If there had been no other reason for taking part in a discussion on the Chief Secretary's salary, I consider that ample reason was given by the speech which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) made in reply to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). I look upon the conduct generally of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland as being absolutely insulting to the Irish Members. It seems to me to be nothing less than an insult, when a Representative of Ireland, according to his rights, puts a Question to the Chief Secretary for Ireland in this House for the right hon. Gentleman not to condescend to reply, but to pitch the Question down the Treasury Bench to the Under Secretary. That is a course of conduct which has never been adopted in this House before, and it is a course of conduct which will not make matters more easy in Ireland for the right hon. Gentleman or his Government, because it cannot be taken otherwise than as insulting to the Irish Representatives. The right hon. Gentleman sneers at the Questions we put on the Paper. He seems not to be aware that in so sneering he is bringing forward one of the best arguments for Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman a short time ago read out some of the Questions which appeared on the Paper to-day, and sneered in a lofty manner at their insignificance. What we contend is that you, by your system of Government, compel us to bring such matters before this House. As long as we have no Court of Appeal, but this House, it is an absolute and wanton insult for the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to sneer at our questions, and to say that they are insignificant. He knows that they are of the highest and first importance to the people of our constituencies who delegate us to ask them. I do not wish to pursue this matter further, except to say that if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland and his Government wished to get any assistance in connection with Irish matters, they might at least, if they were wise, without going into the character of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Colonel King-Harman) at all, have appointed a Gentleman who, at least, would receive the sup- 206 port and confidence of the Irish people. I challenge the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, if he wishes to test the feeling of the Irish people, to call a meeting in any part of Ireland, and ask whether it will give him its confidence. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is an outcast from the National Party, and is not a very popular member of the Party to which he now belongs, so that he is looked upon with a certain amount of distrust by all parties in the country. The appointment is an unfortunate one for the Government. This debate, short as it has been, will do some good, for it will open the eyes of the public to what we complain of in the Government of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. A. J. Balfour), whose position has been described as of such great importance, admits that he has never been a single week in our country. If anybody asked me for a definition of tyranny, I should say—"Select a man who has never been in a country for a single week, and allow him to govern it as he pleases, against the direct wishes of the people." That is what has been done here, and that is why we say that the Government of Ireland is a tyranny of the blackest kind.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
I wish to ask a Question of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. I understood him to say that the suppression of public meetings, owing to the organization of rival meetings, will have his immediate attention. I wish to ask whether it is the case that the two meetings already suppressed were suppressed without his knowledge, and without the sanction of his Government, and that the Government have reversed the policy of their Predecessors, and are defending the right of free speech and public meeting.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The policy to be pursued at the meetings rests with the authorities on the spot, but the general policy rests with the Government.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork, Co., Mid)
We are called upon to pass a certain Vote, and, for my part, I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland should not be paid like any other servant. But what we are called upon to do is to give the right 207 hon. Gentleman a character. That, Sir, I decline to do. Distinctly I decline to do it. The right hon. Gentleman has deliberately insulted Members on these Benches to-night. I simply say this. I got up to say it. I should dismiss the servant with his salary, giving him the worst character I possibly could.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 85; Noes 187: Majority 102.—(Div. List, No. 143.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. DILLON
I wish to put a question or two, and call the attention of the Committee to the extraordinary action of some officials of the Court of Bankruptcy in Ireland. The official to whose conduct I desire particularly to call the attention of the Committee is the Official Assignee; and a proceeding has been, and is, carried on in the Court almost, I believe, unparalleled. A reverend gentleman has been arrested, and has been imprisoned for two months for refusing to answer questions in a suit pending in the Court of Bankruptcy. At the time he was arrested, the petitioning creditor in Court desired to drop the proceedings and have done with them, and the bankrupt himself had disappeared from the country; so that both parties to the suit are desirous of an end being put to it, in which case, of course, the prisoner would be released from an imprisonment most injurious to the country, and attended with great inconvenience to the parish whore he pursued his ministration and to himself. The parties concerned are willing and anxious to have done with the matter; but the Assignee persists in carrying it on. I confess my legal knowledge of the point is limited; but I suppose the Official Assignee exercises a discretion he possesses; but I do say it seems a most extraordinary provision. It seems flying in the face of all common sense that there should be this deadlock and expense and general inconvenience, and that it should be maintained in spite of the wishes of the parties directly concerned. I propose to move a reduction by a sum—I do not know exactly what the salary of the Official Assignee is—but I will move a reduction by the sum of £600, to enable us to mark our opinion with regard to these transactions.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I rise to Order, Mr. Courtney. I believe the Official Assignee is not paid out of the Votes at all, but by fees from the Court.
§ MR. DILLON
The right hon. Gentleman expresses a belief. Perhaps we can be informed if this is so or not?
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
In that case, I would ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether the rules relating to the regulation of the Court and the Official Assignee have yet been published? He will remember my putting a number of Questions on the point. Have the new rules been published yet?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
The rules to which I referred, and as to which I did not promise, for I had no power to do so, have not yet been promulgated. The officials, at the invitation of the Lord Chancellor, have already drawn up certain rules.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
When is it probable they will be published? It is now several months since the question was raised.
§ MR. HOLMES
Not several months, I think. It was during the course of tie present Session. I shall be glad to obtain the information.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
I think the doctrine of the Chief Secretary for Ireland has taken us by surprise. We are entitled to the opinion of the Law Officer as to whether the Official Assignee is paid as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I am of opinion that the salary is settled by Act of Parliament; and, if I recollect aright, only a portion comes out of the Court dues. I think we are entitled to the opinion of the Attorney General for Ireland as to whether the Official Assignee is a paid official of the Crown in Ireland.
§ MR. HOLMES
The way in which the Official Assignee is paid is by a percentage of the money collected by the 209 Court, not by Court fees. I think the hon. Member will find there is no money on the Votes for the purpose.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
We quite recently had a discussion under the Estimates where an Official Assignee had his salary supplemented by a Vote of the House in addition to his fees.
§ MR. DILLON
I am not quite clear whether we can raise the discussion under some item of the Estimates. The statement of the Attorney General for Ireland makes it extremely desirable there should be that discussion, for that statement throws a flood of light on the motives actuating the Official Assignee in insisting on prolonging proceedings neither Party has any desire to prolong. Of course, if his fees depend on the proceedings going on, it is perfectly possible the official may be acting from grossly unworthy motives, and to this I am anxious to invite the attention of the Committee, for it is nothing short of a public scandal.
§ MR. HOLMES
I apprehend that the great object in this system of payment is that the Court may collect as much money as possible. The reason is to encourage the Assignee to realize as much assets as possible.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
Of course, Sir, we understand that, and of the ordinary administration of the Bankruptcy Court we do not complain. But this is a case in which proceedings having been commenced in the Bankruptcy Court, the petitioner himself wishes to retire from the case, and, refusing that permission, the Official Assignee persists in keeping the case in Court, in spite of the debtor and creditor concerned. If these proceedings are going to be sanctioned, I hope it will not be without the conduct of this official being made the subject of an expression of opinion here. It is a state of things calculated to excite the gravest discontent at the system of administering this branch of justice. I deny that in ordinary cases such a proceeding would have been resorted to, and it is only applied in this instance because something of a political character has been imported into the case. The official, influenced by his views in relation to the Plan of Campaign, takes a course he would not take in an ordinary case. So we have this anomalous state of things, that the case is at an end, so far as the parties are concerned, for the 210 man who commenced the suit refuses to go on with it, and one of the witnesses is in gaol, detained there for not answering questions in reference to a bankruptcy not really before the Court at all. We do not see even how it is in the power of the Judge to release him. It would seem that the prisoner is to remain there for ever; for I believe it was a decision of one of the Lords Justices that such an imprisonment could not come to an end until the prisoner answers the questions. We complain that all this state of things has been precipitated by the misconduct of the Official Assignee, and we want some assurance that the question shall be closely looked into and a remedy applied.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
One of these Official Assignees—a gentleman recently appointed—is a Tory of a very strong type——
Order, order! The discussion is becoming irregular. It appears that the hon. Gentleman is about to impugn the conduct of an official whose salary is not provided for in the Estimates; and, therefore, it would be irregular to discuss it.
§ MR. CHANCE
There is a sum of £50 having reference to the accounts of Official Assignees under sub-head B of Vote 23. I do not know whether that would make the discussion regular?
§ MR. P. MCDONALD (Sligo, N.)
I can point out a means by which we can legitimately discuss this question. I quite admit with the Attorney General for Ireland that the Official Assignee is paid by percentage; but there is another duty arising out of his administration, and that is the proper checking of the accounts of the Official Assignee. The checking of these accounts is expected to be made by officials of the Court of Bankruptcy who are paid out of the Estimates, therefore, on account of this, I claim the right to discuss the manner in which this checking has been done. In 1859 we had an Official Assignee, Mr. Hall, who left that position owing to the Court of Bankruptcy £5,804. That seemed a grave deficiency on his part at the time and it would have been expected——
Order, order! I thought the hon. Gentleman was going to point out a way in which the conduct 211 of the Official Assignee in respect to an imprisonment for contempt of Court could be called in question. I do not see the connection of the matter he appears to be entering upon with that matter.
§ MR. P. MCDONALD
I may, perhaps, go more briefly to the point. This deficiency arose from the fact——
I wish the hon. Member to explain exactly how he connects his observations with any Vote before the Committee?
§ MR. P. MCDONALD
The Vote includes a portion of the salaries of officials of the Court of Bankruptcy, whose duty it is to check the accounts of the Official Assignee, to see that the Official Assignees have duly reported the payments made, and the manner in which they have appropriated them. I maintain it is from the want of this checking, a duty for which the public pay, that reports were not made to the Court of Bankruptcy, and, in consequence of this neglect, deficiencies have arisen. I have mentioned that so late as 1859 one of the Official Assignees——
§ MR. HOLMES
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member; but I cannot understand what officials he is referring to. So far as I am aware there is no payment for the auditing of these accounts coming within these Estimates.
§ MR. DILLON
The point we wish to bring under consideration is one that impugns the action of the Court, what we consider a very serious maladministration of the law in the Irish Bankruptcy Court. Surely it will not be contended when the entire machinery of that Court is in the Estimates we are debarred from raising this? I am not lawyer enough to say what official is responsible for this maladministration; but I do not suppose it is intended we should be shut out from debating a serious failure of justice when the whole of the expenses of the Court appears on the face of these Estimates?
I am not quite sure to which maladministration the hon. Member refers. Is it to the case of imprisonment for contempt?
§ MR. DILLON
It is that of which I complained at first, and out of it arose the imprisonment for contempt, that in 212 the Court of Bankruptcy, proceedings having been instituted by a creditor for recovery of debt, the petitioner, subsequently, through his solicitor, desired to withdraw from the proceedings; but the Court and, as I believe, by the influence of improper motives, would not allow proceedings to stop, and they go on ad infinitum so far as we know.
This maladministration, assuming it to be such, is totally distinct from that raised by the hon. Member for North Sligo (Mr. P. McDonald).
It is the matter involving the imprisonment for contempt of Court, and it cannot be discussed under the Vote as it appears to be due to the action of the Official Assignee, who is not provided for by the Vote, and there are no grounds for calling attention to it.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
We are not pointing to this conduct of the Official Assignee. I will show in a moment how important it is to draw attention to this matter. We are pointing to a case tested in the Court of Bankruptcy, and the petitioning creditor in this case wishes to withdraw—he has abandoned his position. But the case goes on. He has no money to meet the expenses incurred in Court by the proceedings going on, and the House will have to vote the money, as I suppose we are voting money for similar cases. We have to vote money for maintaining litigation that both parties wish to drop.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
On the point of Order, Sir, as regards the Official Assignee. Having regard to the fact that the Official Assignee is not paid directly by this House, whether he is not responsible to the Judge, whose salary is directly concerned in the Vote, will it not be possible to discuss the conduct of the Assignee?
§ MR. DILLON
No, Sir. On the previous occasion you ruled that we could not discuss the conduct of the Judge when I was under the impression we could do so, not appreciating the dis- 213 tinction between the Vote of the Committee and the charge on the Consolidated Fund. I submitted at once to the ruling; but the charges for the Courts are voted in the Estimates, and I believe that we might discuss the conduct of the official of the Court of Bankruptcy.
§ MR. P. MCDONALD
If I might be allowed to call attention to the case of Mr. James, I think it would directly and immediately show that there has been a want of the performance of duty on the part of an officer of the Court in not checking the accounts of Mr. James, and that the Official Assignee became a defaulter under circumstances we might discuss.
The case introduced by the hon. Member for North Sligo is totally alien from the other point under the notice of the Committee, and has no reference to it. Imperfectly informed, as I am, I am not able to say whether it could or could not be discussed. The substantial point raised was in reference to the committal for contempt, the action of the Official Assignee, and that apparently does not come within the cognizance of the Committee, as the salary of that official does not come in the Vote.
§ MR. CHANCE
In reference to the committal for contempt, there is an item for the expenses of the Court messengers who went down to arrest the rev. gentleman, in the sum we are voting, together with the expenses of conducting Father Keller to gaol. Will it not be open to the Committee to discuss the circumstances under which such expenses were incurred?
§ MR. DILLON
I submit to your ruling, Sir, in reference to the committal and detention of Father Keller; but I do trust the Government will give us some concession in the matter I will now bring forward. I recently visited my friend in prison, where he has been for two months. There is not a man in Ireland, I do not care what his politics may be, who has not the greatest respect for this gentleman, and does not believe that he went to prison from high and honourable motives. I found that he was being treated in a way that is perfectly disgraceful and a public scandal. I found that he is locked up in a small room for 22 214 hours out of the 24, and obtains two hours exercise in the prison court. I may speak upon this, for the Vote includes £20,000 for Irish Prisons. The prisoner shares with another a very small room, and when taking exercise by marching round a yard, is not allowed to speak under pain of being reported for punishment. I could hardly believe that a man in his position could be so treated as if he were a criminal. He is not in prison for any crime, he is not a prisoner in the ordinary sense; he is simply detained on technical grounds, not having answered questions put to him. It is a monstrous scandal that this gentleman should be treated like a felon; and if the ordinary rules do not meet the case, then a special rule should be applied, and he should be allowed reasonable exercise, and to receive visits in the evening; in fact, he should be treated without that gross brutality to which he has been subjected. The Government will facilitate the passing of the Vote if they will get up and say frankly that this gentleman shall be treated with humanity and every consideration consistent with his detention. I may say that the Rev. Father Keller never wrote to me, or made any complaint of his treatment; and I was perfectly horrified to find the treatment to which he had been subjected, and I asked him why he did not write to me, that I might bring the subject to the attention of the House. I feel considerable confidence that if I had an opportunity of bringing the matter under the attention of the Government, they would no longer tolerate such a condition of affairs.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid I can give no pledge to the hon. Gentleman, beyond the one I have already given. When this question was brought before the House on a former occasion, I promised that I would inquire into the whole question of prison accommodation and rules. That pledge I now repeat, but I cannot go beyond it.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
If the right hon. Gentleman has given that pledge, has he taken any steps whatever to carry it out? It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to take his time in making these inquiries; but let him remember that all this time there is confined in prison one who stands infinitely higher in the hearts and estimation of the Irish people than the right hon. Gentleman is ever likely to stand, 215 and that that man is having all kinds of indignities heaped upon him. I say that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman is calculated to inflame the minds of Irishmen against your system. After his attention has been called to the treatment extended to one who stands foremost amongst the Irish Priesthood, who has been specially honoured by his Bishop since his imprisonment commenced, and who will, undoubtedly, one day be himself a Bishop of the Diocese of Cloyne, the Chief Secretary, although he promises to inquire into the matter, allows several weeks to pass without commencing his investigation; he does not take the trouble to inform himself how the rev. gentleman is being treated. Perhaps he will relegate the duty to his right hon. and gallant Colleague, to whom he has already entrusted the task of answering Questions, and then we shall see the Champion Orangeman of Ireland going down to the gaol to inquire into the treatment of Canon Keller. Now, Sir, it is a very singular fact that while the Prisons Act of 1877 compels the Prisons Board to make provision for the treatment of prisoners detained as first-class misdemeanants, no rules whatever have yet been drafted by the Prisons Board in Ireland under the provisions of that Act. Of course, it does not matter how they treat their ordinary prisoners. If it is only an ordinary prisoner—say, for instance, an Irish Member of Parliament—the Board can pursue that line of conduct with impunity, and this House will approve and applaud the conduct of the Governors in heaping indignities upon him. But, Sir, I would point out that Canon Keller is not imprisoned for contempt of Court; he is merely imprisoned under a statutory provision in the Irish Bankruptcy Act enabling the Judge to detain any witness who refuses to answer a question put to him. It is a mere statutory power of detention; it is not imprisonment for contempt; yet a gentleman detained under such a provision is, for 22 out of every 24 hours, locked in a miserable little cell, and shut out from air and exercise, while during the two hours he is allowed exercise he has to march round a ring, like a horse in the hands of a trainer, a warder being put in the centre of the circle to keep order among the persons allowed this exercise. Do you think that such a system of 216 imprisonment, that such a method of treating rev. gentlemen in that position, of treating ministers in whom the people have so much confidence, is calculated to endear your system of administration to the Irish people, or to make men loyal? No doubt when the rev. gentleman comes out of gaol he will speak very strongly on your system of administration. What on earth is the reason for treating in this manner two clergymen who have committed no offence, who cannot by any possibility defeat the ends of justice, and who cannot defeat the process of law in any way? Why should these two clergymen, while taking exercise in the same yard, be prevented speaking to one another? I cannot see how the Prisons Board can possibly justify their action. In no country in the world, except Ireland, would such a system be tolerated. You would not dare treat a clergyman imprisoned for similar causes in England in this way. No; it is only the Irish people that you dare insult in that way. Now, Sir, quite recently we had occasion to bring the case of Canon Keller before the Courts in Ireland by an application for Habeas Corpus to go to the Superior Courts. To do that it was necessary for us to communicate with him. We found that the Prisons Board—who were supposed to have special rules for the treatment of prisoners such as these—would not allow Father Keller facilities for seeing his counsel. Such an extraordinary state of things could not occur in any other civilized country. If you have a man in gaol awaiting his trial for a crime, however serious it may be, you allow his solicitor, or counsel, to have free access to him for consultation with reference to his case. But here you have a clergyman detained, not for any crime—not even for contempt of Court—and what do the Prisons Board say to his application for permission to see his counsel? They say, if you were awaiting your trial for a crime, however heinous, you should have every freedom to see your solicitor or counsel, but because you are not a criminal, because you have committed no offence, we cannot deal with your case, and we must deny you the right to see your counsel in private. If he comes to see you there must be a warder present, to listen to your conversation, and to check it, if, to his untutored mind, it appeared to be his duty to interfere. I say that such a 217 system is calculated to bring discredit and disgrace upon your system, and to perpetuate the hate which already exists in the minds of the people against that system. But, in addition to his treatment in prison, I feel bound to call attention to the manner in which the rev. gentleman was arrested and dragged to gaol, which affords another example of your vicious system of government. The officers of the Bankruptcy Court, when they ordered his arrest, knew very well that Canon Keller had no knowledge whatever of the affairs of the bankrupt in reference to which he was called.
Order, order! The question is the treatment of Father Keller in prison. The hon. Member is going beyond that.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
I did not intend to do anything of the kind, Sir. I was referring to the circumstances of the Rev. Canon's arrest, because I happened to be a witness of it, and I took it to be a portion of his gaol treatment. But I need not pursue the subject further. I can only say that I am surprised at the manner in which the Government have treated our remarks on this subject. I do not know anything calculated to reflect more discredit upon them than that at a time when they are endeavouring to make special provision for the repression of crime in Ireland, they should offer an open and deliberate insult to the people of that country by detaining this rev. gentleman as a prisoner, and by preventing him free access to his counsel, simply because he is not in gaol on a criminal charge or for contempt of Court. I hope that the Chief Secretary for Ireland has not said his last word on this subject; it would, indeed be a serious thing if he allowed it to go forth to the country that he was unable to interfere in this matter. The Prisons Board is in no way responsible to the people of Ireland; they may be said to be the creatures of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Fully a month has elapsed since he promised to inquire into the statement as to the treatment in prison of these rev. gentlemen; he has not yet done so; are we to understand that he is unable to devote his very great mind to inquiring into this very small matter of detail? Are Father Keller and Father Ryan, under these circumstances, to be left in gaol until their healths are broken, and to be sent back to their 218 people in a state which will invoke curses upon your system of prison treatment?
§ DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)
I venture to join in the appeal of my hon. and learned Friend. Let them consider the principle underlying this imprisonment. I maintain it is not intended to be punitive Here are Father Keller and Father Ryan—men accustomed to load healthy lives—locked in a cell 22 out of 24 hours. Is not that punitive? Is it not calculated to break down their healths? My experience in life tells me such treatment constitutes a very great punishment, and one which invariably produces serious constitutional effects, wherever it is prolonged to any extent. The Prisons Board is, I am informed, composed of three men, the Chairman being the Hon. Mr. Burke, whose removal is recommended by the Prisons Commissioners, because they found him to be so entirely out of sympathy with the times. This Board met in Dublin, and it was recommended that the rules governing Father Keller's imprisonment should be considerably relaxed, and that he should be allowed two or three additional hours' exorcise daily; but the recommendations were never put into effect. The House would like to know why that is the case. No doubt the very rigorous imprisonment will be most detrimental to a man like Father Keller. He desired to see me, and I went to the prison, but I was turned away. The Prison Governor refused to allow me to see him. I do not complain of the action of the Governor, he was most courteous; but I do quarrel with the prison rules. I do think no rule should compel Father Keller to see the prison doctor when he prefers his own. This is an example of how the prison rules are interpreted. The Prisons Board, like other Irish Boards, is an autocratic body; it is not responsible to the people. I appeal to the Chief Secretary for Ireland to use his influence with the Prisons Board. If the Government had a sparkle of intelligence they would not hesitate to relax these rules and make them as lenient as possible, and not make a man, who is undoubtedly a political power in the country, more of a martyr than he has already become through their action. The Government seem to have no idea of taking into consideration what are the motives actuating a man in Father Keller's position, they ignore the feel- 219 ings of the people among whom he lives and by whom he is beloved. It is not to be denied that in every constitutionally governed country it is the duty of the governors to try and find out what are the reasonable aspirations of those over whom they are placed and to secure that, as far as possible, their legislation shall come within the spirit of those limits. But the very opposite line of conduct marks the acts of the British Government in Ireland. I would appeal, Sir, to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to descend from the pedestal on which he has placed himself, and to consider these matters which affect poor mortals. Let him give his great mind to see how things are managed in Ireland, and if he will only devote some thoughtful consideration to it, he will acquire a more intimate knowledge of the men over whom he is placed.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I have risen for the purpose of pointing out to the Government the extremely unfair position in which they put English Members by taking part Votes on account. If we discuss in fulness any Vote to which we have objection, we put ourselves under the suspicion of desiring to obstruct the Business of the Government; but if we allow large sums of money to be voted without question we put ourselves in the position of not doing justice to our constituents. There are several Votes and several matters involved in the Vote on Account which I have already raised by Question in this House, and in regard to some I have given Notice of my intention to raise a discussion of them when the Estimates are considered. I do not intend to do it at this stage; but if, on another occasion, it is found necessary to take a Vote on Account instead of submitting the Estimates in the ordinary way, I give notice that I must, at any risk, raise the points I wish to have discussed.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
I really think that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland cannot have considered the question. If it be true that a month ago an appeal was made to him relative to the treatment of this Gentleman—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Although a statement to that effect has been twice made, I was unwilling to interrupt hon. Members. But it is a fact I never made any such promise with regard to Father 220 Keller, nor did I say anything on this matter a month ago. A few days ago, while the Committee was on the first clause of the Crimes Bill, I gave a general pledge to look into the question of prison administration.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
But it is the fact that two rev. gentlemen are at this moment in prison in Ireland. At this time too, there is a clergyman in an English prison for contempt of Court. I know for a fact that the treatment in the two cases is as different as possible. If this is to continue how can the Government hope to reconcile Ireland to British rule? Can there be any rhyme or reason for the supercilious answer of the right hon. Gentleman? Surely he might give us some comfort by assuring us that there will be expedition used. In my opinion, there ought not to be an hour lost in which the feelings and indignation of the Irish people can be justifiably aroused, yet the right hon. Gentleman will leave the Committee in doubt as to whether he has already initiated an inquiry, or whether he proposes doing so before Whitsuntide. He does not give us the slightest indication that in his mind he deems this question to be one of urgency. There are, I believe, few questions which more appropriately might engage the immediate attention of Parliament than the treatment of gentlemen confined under these conditions in Irish prisons.
§ MR. CHANCE
Two Irish priests are in prison charged with no offence whatsoever; they are subjected to considerable indignity; for 22 out of 24 hours they are locked in a miserable damp room, what little exercise they are allowed they have to take as felons, and if for the whole two hours they do not choose to keep on their feet they are led back to their rooms and again locked up. The letters which they receive and write are opened; if the contents are considered objectionable they are suppressed. I can perfectly well understand why these two priests are detained in prison. It is because they have advocated a certain Plan of Campaign. The Government tried to tackle that plan in the open with the powerful weapons of jury packing, a paid public Press, and a full bar of Crown lawyers. They 221 failed miserably; and, therefore, they took the most despicable course of catching Catholic clergymen, asking them questions they would certainly refuse to answer, and treating them as felons for that refusal. I would remind the Committee that these priests, in refusing to betray their Plan of Campaign, acted precisely in the same way as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) when he refused to betray his Plan of Campaign.
Order! order! The hon. Member is suffering himself to wander very far from the subject.
§ MR. CHANCE
I understood that the subject was the treatment in prison of Father Keller, and I wanted to point out the causes which, in my opinion, led to that treatment. I also wanted to point out that there were no rules specially framed for the treatment of these prisoners, and to suggest it was in the power of the Castle Authorities to frame such rules. If that line of argument is out of Order, I will not proceed with it.
I have instructed the hon. Member that he is perfectly at liberty to discuss the treatment of these gentlemen in prison.
§ MR. CHANCE
It is perfectly impossible to carry on the discussion in that way. This is the third or fourth time to-night that Irish Members have found it impossible to raise distinct and important issues. I trust that the Government will have the manliness to meet us in open fair square fight, instead of acting in this miserable, mean, and degraded manner.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)
Will the Government say whether the treatment of a clergyman confined in England or Scotland for contempt of Court, is the same as that to which Father Keller is subjected. There is now a clergyman imprisoned for contempt of Court. Does his treatment differ in any way from the treatment accorded to Father Keller?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I have no reason to believe that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Abrahams) has stated what is incorrect. I have no knowledge of the facts of the case, but I believe the treatment is of precisely the same character.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
My information is from the public prints, and there it was stated that this clergyman is allowed to see his friends, and that every luxury is provided for, and every consideration shown to him.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
I wish to say a word or two on what strikes me as a legal matter arising out of this Vote, on which I should like to hear the opinion of the Attorney General for Ireland. I put a Question on the matter a few days ago, and it does appear to me to be a very important subject. As I understand it, there are two classes of prisoners who are treated in a somewhat exceptional manner—untried prisoners, and what are called first-class misdemeanants. It is perfectly plain that persons who are committed for refusing to answer questions do not come within either category—they are not untried prisoners, because they are charged with no offence, and cannot possibly be tried; they are not committed for contempt, because that is not the form of the warrant under which they are held in custody, and the statistics under which they are committed do not describe their offence as contempt of Court. That being so, I wish to be informed why the Prisons Board have taken it upon themselves to treat these gentlemen as if they had been committed for contempt of Court? For my part, I deny that the Board have any right whatever to do so. It seems to me that these persons constitute a third and perfectly distinct category of the prisoners whose case is not met by the prison rules as they are at present drawn up. That being so, and. these being privileged prisoners, as I may call them, and the Prisons Board having been put, in a certain sense, to choose whether they would treat these gentlemen as untried prisoners, or prisoners committed for contempt, I want to know why they have selected the severer régime? I respectfully submit that it was perfectly open to the Board to have treated these gentlemen as untried prisoners, a category which is quite as applicable to them as the other. The section under which they are imprisoned does not describe their offence—if I may call it an offence—at all as contempt of Court. It simply authorizes the Judge before whom they may be examined to commit them to prison for refusing to 223 answer questions, and that is altogether different from the ordinary cases, either of persons committed for contempt by the High Court, and by the Common Law power which the Inferior Courts have. I hold, therefore, that the Prisons Board have exceeded their powers in this matter; or, at any rate, they have exercised, and are exercising them, if they have any discretion, in a perfectly unwarrantable fashion. I say it was perfectly open to them, when they were deciding in what manner these gentlemen should be treated, to have said—"As the law stands they are not convicted prisoners, nor untried prisoners, nor persons committed for contempt, and we will put them in the category of untried prisoners." This is a very important matter. We have been for several weeks past discussing the 1st section of the Crimes Bill. [Cries of "Order!"] I think this is perfectly relevant; because the persons who are committed for refusing to answer questions at the secret inquiry will be in exactly the same position as the two gentlemen who are now in gaol. The section of the Petty Sessions Act under which prisoners will be committed for refusing to answer at the secret inquiries are equally silent as to the category in which these persons will be placed in prison. It does not describe the offence as contempt of Court, but leaves the question of treatment for the Prisons Board to decide. That being so, I ask the Attorney General for Ireland, whose attention I drew to this matter some time ago, to explain to this Committee on what ground the Prisons Board took it upon themselves to say that these prisoners are prisoners committed for contempt of Court, and to refuse to rank them as untried prisoners.
§ MR. HOLMES
I do not wish to prolong this debate; but with reference to the question which has been asked me, my answer, I hope, will be satisfactory to the hon. Gentleman. This question has not now arisen for the first time. Ever since the year 1859 this has been a matter which, from time to time, has had to be dealt with by the Prisons Board and the Irish Authorities. Prom that time down to the present, persons who have refused to answer questions in the Higher Courts have been treated as if they were committed for contempt of Court. And for a very good reason, 224 because they are committed for contempt of Court. The Superior Courts require no Statute. When a witness will not answer he is committed; but when a Statute called into existence the Bankruptcy Court in Ireland, power was given to imprison persons for not answering questions, just as the Superior Courts have power to commit for contempt of Court——
§ MR. HOLMES
Yes; but the two things do not differ in the slightest degree, and if a witness declines to answer questions the offence is really of the same character as contempt of Court. It is essentially a similar offence. You cannot draw any distinction; and, therefore, as I say, the rule which has been followed since 1859 is justifiable.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland that he is very much at sea in this matter. I do not complain of that, for we all know that the Bankruptcy Law is a thing which very few lawyers go to the trouble of studying. But if he will examine the matter, he will see that there is the greatest distinction between an ordinary case of a witness refusing to answer a question and a witness committed for contempt. The two things are treated in different ways. There are two different Schedules attached to the Bankruptcy Act setting out two different forms. One of them, Schedule W of the Act of 1867, sets forth the refusal of the witness to answer. The other, Schedule Y, is the form of warrant for the committal of a person for contempt. If the two things are one and the same, the draftsman would not have thought it necessary to put two separate Schedules to the Bill giving two different forms of warrant. The fact is, that under the old Bankruptcy Law there was this power to imprison a witness who refused to answer, or to sign his depositions, and the whole of the depositions had to be set out in the warrant for his committal. What took place was this—that a section was introduced in the Act by which it was made unnecessary to set out the depositions in the warrant; and it became only necessary for the Judge, in making the order for the committal, to refer to the number 225 of the question on the depositions. That is precisely the case in Father Keller's imprisonment. The question is set out on the face of the warrant numerically, thereby taking the offence out of the category of contempt of Court. So it is treated by the Judges. I have been arguing the question during the last few days before the Judges of Ireland, and they are not disposed to dismiss it in the very summary way which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland wishes to do now. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may allow me, also, to point out that the Prisons Act of 1877 gave power to the Prisons Board to make orders in cases of this kind, and there is no need to go back to 1859, and to say that the practice then followed has been continued up to the present time, when the additional powers given to the Prisons Board in 1877 are taken into consideration. What I complain of is, that while there are two sets of rules to meet the case of prisoners who have not been tried, or prisoners who are not sentenced for any definite offence, the Prisons Board have elected to treat Canon Keller and Father Ryan under the most severe of those sets of rules. The first-class misdemeanant was originally the imprisoned debtor, and, of course, no one can deny that there must be some question of punishment attached to imprisonments of that nature. Then there is the case of prisoners awaiting trial who are allowed certain privileges to which the first-class misdemeanant is not entitled, such as full access to his counsel and his medical adviser, and the right of free correspondence. The person committed for contempt is, on the other hand, restricted to a great extent as to his correspondence, nor is he allowed free access to his counsel or his medical adviser. Could there be anything more absurd than to contend that one whose offence is not sufficiently great to place him within the category of committal for contempt of Court is not to have the same right as a man who is charged with a heinious offence, but who has not yet been brought to trial? If these rev. gentlemen were in prison awaiting trial on a grave charge, they would have free access to their counsel and medical adviser, and free correspondence. These privileges are denied because the Prisons Board refuse to carry out an Act of Parliament, 226 and indignities are inflicted upon them which were never contemplated at the time the Bankruptcy Act was passed. I do not think we should be doing justice to our constituents if we were to rest content with the answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and I think we are entitled to a further answer. I, therefore, beg to move that you report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. T. C. Harrington,)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.