§ Clause 2 (Extension of summary jurisdiction).
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 19, after "or," insert "to compel any person or persons by means of threats, intimidation, or violence."—(Mr. King.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
In supporting the Amendment I desire to point out that we have already decided that it is a criminal conspiracy for anyone "to compel or induce any person or persons not to fulfil his or their legal obligations." We now come to a very distinct and separate question, whether it shall be a criminal conspiracy to compel or induce any person or persons—Not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land, or not to deal with, work for, or hire any person or persona in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation.732 We have to ask ourselves what a conspiracy is. It consists of an agreement, a means, and an object. No doubt, the mere act of an agreement is in itself a conspiracy; but I need hardly point out to anybody with a grain of common sense that there cannot be criminality in an abstract agreement, and that the criminality of an agreement must be judged of either by its means or by its object. In this case the object of the agreement is, as I say, to prevent persons from letting, hiring, using, or occupying land, or from dealing with, working for, or hiring any person or persons. That object in itself cannot be criminal, because, at the present moment, anyone is perfectly entitled to refuse to let, hire, use, or occupy land, and so on. That being so, we have to consider whether the means are such that criminality is imported into the matter. What are these means? We have adopted the word "induce." If that word stands part of the clause, an agreement to use inducement to effect a lawful and legitimate object will be declared by the section to be a criminal conspiracy. Now I deny that inducement can ever be criminal. In strict legal language the word "induce" excludes any idea of fear or fraud, and the inducement cannot be criminal unless the object imparts criminality. But the object is not criminal; therefore I am forced to the conclusion that if the clause stands in its present shape we shall have declared that it is criminal for two or three or more persons to obtain lawful objects by moral suasion. That would be an atrocious state of things. Supposing several people induce a testator to give a legacy of £100,000 to a certain person, does anyone say that because they have agreed to "induce" the testator the will will be void? If, under this clause, it is not intended, under such circumstances, to declare that an absolute crime is committed by persons who induce a testator to make a will, but it is intended to say that it is a crime to induce a person not to let, hire, use, or occupy land, is not the proposition preposterous? There is no doubt in the world that the object of the clause is to protect landlords, and to give them extraordinary legal remedies against people who refuse to let, hire, use, or occupy this land. Simple agreements to obtain a perfectly lawful object by means that 733 up to the present moment are legal, are to be declared illegal, and persons taking part in such agreements are to receive six months' imprisonment with hard labour at the will of two Resident Magistrates who are under the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
The Amendment is a different one from that which we had under consideration yesterday; but, at the same time, it would seem that the principle which governed the Committee in disposing of the Amendment yesterday should influence it now in disposing of this Amendment. It seems to the Government that the same arguments that were used yesterday are equally applicable to this Amendment. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hackney (Sir Charles Russell) moved words yesterday to provide that any person who should "conspire by violence or intimidation" to do the things specified in the sub-section should be liable to the penalties of the clause, and another hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. R. T. Reid) moved to leave out the word "induce," in order to confine the section to persons who compelled others to do the things specified therein. The Committee rejected both those Amendments yesterday, and the same grounds which led the Committee to reject them ought to lead it to-day to reject the present Amendment, inasmuch as its object is to limit the action of the subsection—not in regard to the fulfilment of legal obligations, as was the case with the Amendment yesterday, but in regard to letting, hiring, using, or occupying land, and so on—to persons who compel others by means of "threats, intimidation, or violence." What we propose to do in the section is not to alter the law in the smallest degree from what it is now, but to enact that those means which apply now to the attaining of an object could be punished under indictment as criminal conspiracy shall, under this Act, be punished by summary jurisdiction. Such a case as that referred to by the hon. Member—the case of agreeing to induce a person to make a will—could not be punished under indictment, and will not be touched by this measure,
§ MR. CHANCE
I did not speak of the persons being punished; but I said would anyone say that the will would become void through adopting the means employed in this agreement?
§ MR. HOLMES
No; it would not; neither would an agreement to induce a person by moral suasion to refuse to let, hire, use, or occupy land be a criminal conspiracy. It would not be a criminal conspiracy now, neither would it be a criminal conspiracy under the Bill, because, as I have pointed out, the clause only renders punishable by summary jurisdiction what is now punishable by means of indictment. The hon. Member says that if we pass the clause as it now stands you will make it a criminal offence, punishable by summary jurisdiction, to agree to induce a person to attain a lawful object; but that is not the fact, for it is not an offence punishable by indictment at the present time to combine to effect a legal object by legitimate means.
§ MR. CHANCE
There is a great distinction between the object of obtaining the non-fulfilment of a legal obligation and the object of obtaining the non-performance of an act that a person is perfectly entitled not to do. There is no obligation pre-existing as the hiring of land. We are told that this clause will not make it criminal to do any act which is not criminal already; but that I altogether deny. A criminal conspiracy is to agree to adopt means to attain an object, either one of which must be criminal—either the means or the object. But, under this clause, to agree to attain by legal means—that is to say, by inducement—a lawful object may be made a criminal conspiracy. No one denies that we have these three things under the clause—agreement, means, and object. Inducement is laid down as the means. What question can arise outside the limits of these three things I utterly fail to conceive. We are told that an Amendment has been introduced and accepted by the Committee which will prevent a new offence being created under this Act. But if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) will take the trouble to refer to Mr. Justice Stephen on Criminal Law Amendment, or to the same autho- 735 rity on Conspiracy, as given in pages 124 and 125 of Roscoe's Criminal Evidence, he will there learn that, in the opinion of Mr. Justice Stephen, reasons must be found by the Judge for declaring it to be criminal to combine to do an act which, in the opinion of the Judge, is politically or socially dangerous. And yet you are giving powers to two nominees of the Government, and investing them with the powers which Mr. Justice Stephen says the Judges already possess. Any combination which the Judge declares to be criminal is already punishable by law. By this Bill you are making the Resident Magistrates Judges, and giving them despotic power to declare an agreement criminal, and you point out clearly that a combination or an agreement to induce a person not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land is a criminal conspiracy.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)
If this Amendment had been in principle decided, or came close to being decided, by the determination which the Committee arrived at yesterday, it would not be necessary for me to trouble the Committee much upon this question, because I should not be able to bring myself to repeat an argument with reference to it. Such repetition only weakens the position of a speaker in a case like this. On the other hand, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, I think, rather underrated the argument of my hon. Friend (Mr. Chance), and did not sufficiently appreciate the distinction he wishes to point out. But, whether there is or not a distinction to be drawn between the 1st and 2nd parts of the sub-section, I would suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this clause will have a serious effect upon the Ulster Tenant Right Custom which has prevailed for the past 100 years. The Ulster tenants have combined to refuse to take farms where the tenant right was not adequately recognized by the landlord; and clearly the sub-section under discussion, as it now stands, would render such combination a criminal conspiracy in the view of any Resident Magistrate who chose so to construe the provision. I cannot allow to pass without protest anything which would cast upon Ulster the stain that its tenants have been living in a criminal conspiracy for the past 100 years. I have known cases in Ulster in which farms have laid vacant for 20 years in 736 consequence of refusal to recognize the tenant-right custom. I have known a case where a Protestant has been evicted from a farm in a Catholic district, and a foot would not be put into it by a Catholic farmer; and I have known a Catholic evicted in a Protestant district with a precisely similar result. I have known farms, under these circumstances, lie idle for 20 or 30 years, the owner merely disposing of the grazing of it. But few persons were mad enough to refuse the Ulster tenant right in the face of such a spirit as that. Then, what will happen now when evictions take place, and the landlord assumes possession of the land, the tenant forfeiting for a year's rent his 15 years' possession? The landlord will have 14 years of another man's property, and he will probably desire to get the land in occupation again to his own advantage. Whatever your laws may be, there will, certainly be a higher law—that of honour and respect for another man's property, which will never be broken by the people of Ireland. What is the use of passing Criminal Laws to make men do a certain thing, which, though not criminal according to the law, is far more criminal in their eyes than that which this measure would make criminal, and which involves a greater penalty, from a social point of view, than the breaking of the law? I wish to draw a clear distinction between the decision we arrived at yesterday and the point raised to-day. I think the hon. Gentleman who put down the present Amendment was well advised. I believe I am correct that the hon. Member took the advice of those most able and experienced in these matters before moving the Amendment as to the form in which it should be brought forward. I admire the ingenuity with which he tried to reconcile his Conservative principles with what I consider his kind heart, for he has shown himself kind-hearted in this matter—he, at least, has been in Ireland and knows what we are. It is an extraordinary thing that we should now be supporting an Amendment moved from the other side of the House. I can understand the Committee saying that it is a conspiracy to induce a man not to do a thing which he is under obligation to do, and which a third person has a right to have performed. In that case there is a duty on one hand, 737 and a right on the other; and if a conspiracy is got up to break the relations of the two men mutually bound to each other, there is some argument to be offered for making it criminal, because the conspirators would be without a reasonable excuse. But take the case of a farm which is vacant. There is no obligation on anyone to take it. A man may be induced not to take it, and pressure may be put upon him to refrain from taking it. The farmer primâ facie may do what he likes with the farm; he may accept a person as tenant, or refuse him, just as he likes, and no one can complain; and equally the person sought to be induced or persuaded has incurred no duty with regard to its acceptance or refusal, and the person who induces or persuades him clearly should not be held criminal. It is a different thing where, in the words of the Amendment, a person is "compelled" by means of "threats, intimidation, or violence," not to take a farm. There is an obvious distinction between the 1st and 2nd part of the sub-section. In the one case a person is prevented from fulfilling a legal obligation. A man is compelled to do that which it is a breach of duty to do, and which it is a breach of another man's right to have done; and there may be some ground for calling that a criminal conspiracy. In the other case, you suppose a man who has a farm, which he has a right to let in the best way he can, but there is no duty on the community to take it, nor is there any obligation on any individual to do so, therefore there is no breach of any right of the landlord. But to go further than that, though the Amendment deals only with the question of land, there are many cases where it is the duty and right of a man to induce others not to buy at a particular time, or sell at a particular time, and to put up prices at a particular time. This right is recognized in England, and I must say I do not believe the commercial prosperity of England would have been at all what it is to-day if you had put shackles on the right of trade combinations. I only rise, however, to distinguish between the two parts of the sub-section—namely, the fulfilling of legal obligations—which we dealt with yesterday—and the taking of land with regard to which no legal obligation exists. To my own knowledge, the Ulster tenant right has been preserved by a practice which 738 I firmly believe, if this law had been passed years ago, would have been held to be criminal, and would have had the effect of throwing one-half of the tenant farmers of the Province into gaol.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
I think that having regard to the quarter from which this Amendment comes the Government have received it with very scant courtesy. It would, indeed, be a curious result to see the clôture applied to it by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury; but we may take it, having regard as I say to the quarter whence it come, that the right hon. Gentleman will not think it necessary to take that course. I agree with my hon. Friends that we are forced to support this Amendment by the decision of the Committee last night on the proposal to omit the words "or induce." I think it is perfectly plain that there is a substantial distinction, not merely of form, but of fact, between the present Amendment and that moved last night by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Sir Charles Russell). The Attorney General for Ireland tells us that what is intended to be struck at by this clause is the use of illegal means. He says that this clause will not be operative in the case of any innocent combination, and that unless the means which any body of men combining together take to effect this object are illegal, this clause will not apply. I meet the right hon. and learned Gentleman on that ground, and I ask, if it is his view that this Bill should not apply save in a case where illegal means are used to further the object of conspiracy, will he consent to insert in the sub-section now under discussion, after the word "induce," not, perhaps, the words proposed in the Amendment, but words which will carry out his own expressed intention? Will he accept such words as "or induce by illegal means?" He says he does not want to limit the clause in the manner pointed out in the Amendment of one of his supporters. He says he does not want to limit it to threats, intimidation, or violence. Let him, at any rate, take means to carry out his own view, and to make his declaration perfectly plain. Let him put something in the Act of Parliament by which the uninstructed Resident Magistrates, who will have the administration of this 739 clause, will see plainly what the Government want. I think we are entitled to an answer on that point. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says it is not intended that this Act should strike at any combinations to induce any persons by illegal means to do a legal act; and that being so, I ask them to embody in the words of this clause some expression which will make their intention perfectly plain, and from which the Resident Magistrates, who will afterwards be the administrators of the new law, will have the conclusion of the Government forced on them that this section is only to be used where there has been a conspiracy to induce persons to do an illegal act, or to induce persons to do a legal act by illegal means.
I think the hon. Gentleman, like his predecessors, is travelling rather beyond the permissible scope of this Amendment. The Committee have already refused to admit the words "or induce," and also to define conspiracy "by violence or intimidation." Those two principles govern nearly the whole of the section, and the present Amendment is only admissible on the argument that in dealing with land there is a special necessity for the making of a definition.
§ MR. CHANCE
On the point of Order I should like to point out that the Amendment to strike out the words "or induce "had reference to preventing a person from fulfilling a legal obligation.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
I quite accept that explanation from you, Sir. It is quite evident, however, that the words this Amendment proposes to introduce only seek to govern the words of the section which deal with the letting, hiring, using, or occupying of land. We agree upon that, and I was under the impression that what I was saying, though general in its character, had a particular application to conspiracies as affecting dealings with regard to land. I come now to the words conspiracy to induce a person "not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land." What is the motive of these words—what is the meaning of this section which the Government have introduced in the Bill? On what ground have they based the necessity for this clause? The motive 740 power the Government have used to press this Bill through the House is the undue intimidation as to the letting, hiring, or selling of land which they say has prevailed in Ireland. I venture to say that without the allegations they have made in regard to this undue intimidation a Bill of this kind would have been scouted from this House and this country. And, that being so, I ask is it not monstrous that while their whole case is founded on allegations of intimidation, they should push this Bill a step further than the extent to which their case of intimidation would chow it to be necessary? If their ease is that it is owing to intimidation that farms cannot be let, and that tenants combine to obtain reductions of rent, and their case is that it is owing to intimidation that combinations for these purposes, which would not otherwise exist, are so powerful in Ireland, I say, then, why not limit the clause to that particular point? I maintain that without the impetus that this Bill receives from these allegations of intimidation, it would have been impossible for the Government to have introduced it in this House, and it would be impossible for them to defend it before the country. At any rate, before they can ask the Committee to extend the Bill on the provisions of this clause beyond this question of intimidation, they are bound to make out a specific case outside "threats, intimidation, and violence," for the necessity of such extension. They have not attempted to do anything of the kind. They have not attempted to show that, apart from threats, intimidation, or violence, there are things which make such a clause reasonable. In all the wildest appeals we have heard from the opposite side of the House—and we have heard some most reckless assertions from that quarter as to the condition of Ireland—there has not been a single attempt to show that, apart from the question of intimidation, any case for this clause exists. If that is the case, are we not justified in asking that the Government, who found this Bill on allegations of the existence of intimidation—and found it on nothing else, for we are told that they do not rely on statistics of crime—shall limit it to the particular matter they allege as its origin? I do not think the Government are treating us fairly in this matter. We are not 741 content with their general allegation as to the necessity for making this clause wide enough to introduce every possible class of offence. They do not even prove the existence of offences such as this Amendment will deal with. It seems to me, when such enormous powers are given and confirmed by a Bill of this kind, the Government are bound to produce justification, not merely for every clause of it, but for every line, every word, and every syllable it contains. Liberty should not be restricted, the Constitution should not be cut in upon, except to the extent for which a case been made out for it. If the Government complain that offences of a particular character exist, I submit that any remedy that Parliament applies should be limited to the case they make out. It is an old maxim in connection with the construction of Acts of Parliament that, in order to find out the object of an Act, you ought first to learn the mischief with which it is intended to deal. Now, I maintain that the remedy this clause provides is not limited to the mischief of which the Government complain. My complaint is that they extend the remedy far beyond any mischief they allege, and make it wide enough to include a vast variety of cases in regard to which they have shown no necessity for the clause. I say, therefore, if the words "or induce" had been left out of the clause, the section would have been sufficiently stringent to effect the avowed object of the Government. The Government case is amply vindicated by the adoption of the word "compel," and I think, if the section were limited to that word, the answer given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would be complete. But so long as they continue to retain in the section the use of the words "or induce," involving and describing acts which are not in themselves criminal, we shall be warranted in asking that where the object in view is not illegal, and where the conspiracy is a mere conspiracy to induce persons to do or not to do what it is perfectly legal for them to do or not to do, that then, at any rate, the House will step in and provide that some illegality shall be pointed to in the means taken to effect the object before the clause shall pass in its present form. 742 If the Government can make out a case for anything beyond what is in this Amendment, let them make it out; but certainly, up to the present, they have not attempted to do so. Until they have done so, I hold that we are justified in asking the Committee to limit the application of the clause.
§ MR. CHANCE
The Amendment, as it stands on the Paper, reads—"To compel any person or persons, by means of threats, intimidation, or violence." I fear that if we insist upon this Amendment, we shall be told that modification of this part of the section was refused, because we wished to confine it to threats, intimidation, or violence. I would ask to leave out of the Amendment the words "by means of threats, intimidation, or violence." We shall have a distinct issue then as to whether to compel a person to do or not to do what he has a perfectly legal right to do or not to do shall be rendered criminal or not. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that the word "induce" in this section is distinctly a description of method and means, and that the object not being in itself criminal, and it being necessary that the criminality should be found in the means here stated, the word "compel," and not "induce," should apply. If the clause is passed without this alteration, it will be for the first time the erection of a combination to induce persons to attain an object which is lawful into a criminal conspiracy. I would ask the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland whether it is contended that the words "or induce" do not constitute a description of the means and method of the object of a conspiracy? I do trust the Attorney General for England will deal with that question.
Does the hon. Member move to omit from the proposed Amendment the words ''by means of threats, intimidation, or violence?"
§ Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, after the word "persons," to omit the words "by means of threats, intimidation, or violence."—(Mr. Chance.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."743
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I would ask the Government whether, under these circumstances, they cannot see their way to accept the proposed Amendment.
§ MR. CHANCE
My object in moving this is that we may have a clear issue before us, and that we may leave no loophole of escape to the Government, who might say that they were compelled to reject it, because it would render the magistrates unable to arrive at a conviction for certain descriptions of unlawful combination.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
The Committee will understand my reason for not taking part in this discussion. It was that I consider the reasons which have been advanced more than once against the limitation of this section apply equally to the present proposal. I quite admit that it is a substantial modification which is now proposed, still the objections already taken will apply to it.
§ MR. CHANCE
The words have not yet been omitted from the Amendment. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would be good enough to permit them to be omitted, we should be delighted to hear how he can defend the application of the word "induce" to the series of acts contained in the clause which are perfectly legal.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
I do not see the use of leaving these words out if the Government are not going to accept the Amendment. If a number of men residing in a certain district see in their neighbourhood a man harshly dealt with by his landlord, they may say amongst each other—"What a shame it is! See how this man has been treated." Then, one may say, "I won't take that farm," and another may say, "Neither will I," and in this way there may be a combination not to hire, use, or occupy the land. Is it not preposterous to call that a criminal conspiracy? The inducements to which this clause will apply will cover the action of members of a Temperance or any other society who may say—"We will agree not to have a man in our association if he does so and so, or if he does not do so and so, and we will not hire or occupy his land." If the words it is proposed to leave out in the Amendment were omitted, we should give the Government power to proceed against 744 these men, and to inflict upon them the punishment of law because a man was expelled from their ranks for going against the principles to which he subscribed, and which he had before his eyes when he entered their society.
I have been in error in permitting the original Amendment to be moved at all. I have already pointed out that the words "compel or induce" have been adopted, and these words, I find, govern all the words which follow in the section. I had thought that a variation might be introduced with respect to dealings with land, but I see that the words of the section are—To compel or induce any person or persons either not to fulfil his or their legal obligations, or no not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land,and so on. The words "either" and "or" clearly indicate that the word "induce" applies to the whole of the section.
§ MR. CHANCE
This Amendment is not ours. It is on the paper in the name of a Tory Member, and we, in his absence owing to illness, undertook to move it for him. I am not responsible for the wording of it, and all I can do on behalf of that absent Member is to submit to your ruling.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
In the words as they originally stood in the Amendment, would it not be competent for us to discuss whether it shall be an illegal conspiracy to "compel" a person not to do certain things, instead of "compel or induce?" Could we not take out the word "or," so as not to limit the second part of the section?
No; that could not be done, inasmuch as the word "either" governs the section as well as the word "or."
§ Original Amendment, and proposed Amendment thereto, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY
I propose, in line 19, after the word "occupy" to insert the words—Sell or exercise any customary privilege, usage, tenant right, easement, or profit a prendre in or over.I propose this Amendment to meet the case of a combination of landlords in Ireland to prevent the tenants exercising the rights given by the Irish Land Act, and also to meet a case which is very common of organized interference with receivers of rent in regard to the cus- 745 tomary privileges and rights of tenants in various parts of the country. These organizations are carried on in a very respectable manner, so far as outer eyes can see, and by very respectable people; but their effect is to injure others, and interfere with the rights which are secured to them by law. These things are done openly, so that in their case there is no necessity for a Star-Chamber inquiry. I am afraid that, considering the character of the Judge who will have to decide the cases, even if this Amendment were accepted it would be of little use; but I move it as a protest against what I see will be one of the effects of this clause—namely, the destruction of the Ulster Tenant Eight Association. There will be, under this clause, cases of continual warfare; but, as a rule, the individual landlord can act against the tenant, so that the conspiracy will only be on the side of the tenant as against the landlord.
In order to make sense, the hon. Member must move to admit the word "or" before the word "occupy."
In page 2, line 19, leave out "or occupy," and insert "occupy, sell, or exercise any customary privilege, usage, tenant right, easement, or profit a prendre in or over."—(Mr. O'Doherty.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
I cannot understand what case the hon. Member has made out for this Amendment. He has stated very fairly and frankly that he proposes in some way to protect tenants against the operations of open associations which are not formed by illegal means. I should imagine that he wishes to direct his Amendment against the Commons Preservation Society, whose object is to prevent squatting; at any rate, I do not think he has made out a case for his Amendment.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY
At any rate, it is a great thing to have got from so high an authority as the hon. and learned Gentleman an expression of opinion that there can be combinations of landlords for the protection of their rights.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
In my judgment, the Amendment is one which, even if it were carried, the tenants would not be able to put in operation. The landlords have the appointment of the Resident Magistrates, practically speaking, and naturally the magistrates would not put this section into operation against their patrons, even if they had the power. However, I did think that we should have had from Her Majesty's Government some expression of disapproval of the practice on the part of some landlords of preventing tenants from availing themselves of the right to sea-wrack and bog. The difficulty that I see with regard to all those Amendments—though I quite approve of their object—is this, that if we passed 50 of them we should not derive any benefit, because the magistrates in the districts will be the landlords' henchmen, and will not carry out the clause against them. I do not regret the refusal of the Amendment by the Government, because even if it had been accepted, it would never have been put into operation, but would have been wrested in some way by the landlords against the tenants, I trust my hon. Friend will not persist in his Motion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
On behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for South Kilkenny (Mr. Chance), I beg to move the insertion of the Amendment which stands in his name—namely, after "land," in line 20, to add "within such proclaimed district." I propose this Amendment, because I think the section should only apply to the criminal conspiracies specified when they take place within the proclaimed districts.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 20, after "land," insert "within such proclaimed district."—(Mr. T.M. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
I cannot accept this Amendment, as it would involve the manifest absurdity of excepting from the operation of the clause a conspiracy in a proclaimed district to commit an offence just outside that district. It is neces- 747 sary to retain the clause as drafted in order to maintain the efficiency of this section.
§ MR. CHANCE
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says he cannot accept the Amendment, because it is necessary to protect the efficiency of the powers of Section 1. This is the argument upon which the Amendment is based, that you declare that it is only necessary to protect people within certain defined limits from illegal acts, or, rather, from acts against which by singularly unconstitutional methods you desire to afford protection. The presumption is that you wish to leave persons outside those proclaimed districts to the adequate protection of the ordinary law. It is for that reason why I do not see that a conspiracy within a proclaimed district to commit acts which are not in themselves illegal outside that district should be punished as are offences specially legislated for in the case of proclaimed districts.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I maintain that the magistrates in Cork should not have power to deal with a conspiracy in Donegal—that they should not have power to bring to Cork a man from Donegal, or send to Donegal a man from Cork. The Act reads—"Any person who shall commit any of the following offences in a proclaimed district, etc.," and amongst the offences is a criminal conspiracy. Well, a conspiracy may take place in an organization having branches at Cork, at Donegal, and elsewhere. Is it to be permitted that a man can be brought from Donegal to Cork simply because he belongs to an association which has a branch in each place? If the section is allowed to stand as framed you might have witnesses dragged all over the country. There is some confidence in the Common Law as it exists at present, for in those conspiracy cases which were committed in Galway, Monaghan, Clare, and Kerry, the defendants were tried in Dublin, and which, of course, involved considerable expense in railway fares and so on; but if you are to have people dragged indiscriminately all over the country, the effect will be infinitely worse.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY
I am afraid there is an idea that there is some virtue in a Proclamation; but no earthly good would 748 be gained by carrying this Amendment, because the Proclamation would be widened so as to include both the conspiracy and the land. I do not see that the adoption of this Amendment would promote the object for which it is moved. Looking at the matter in the best way I can, it seems to me desirable to have the Proclamation issued in as limited a manner as possible. I think, therefore, that this Amendment should be withdrawn.
§ MR. CHANCE
The Proclamation must be issued by the Lord Lieutenant in a certain manner, and we have yet to discuss what the Proclamation shall be, and whether or not it shall be under the control of Parliament. My hon. Friend is prejudging this matter, and has taken upon himself to suppose that it will be competent for the authorities to enlarge the area covered by the Proclamation as they choose. If we decide that the Proclamations are to be under the control of Parliament, this will be impossible. The case of the Government is that in certain disturbed districts it is necessary to protect people by extreme methods. Admitting this case, I say that the real danger of conspiracy is to be found where the conspiracy can become effective for some particular object. If the land in respect of which a conspiracy is on foot is not in a proclaimed district, but in a peaceful district, then I say that a conspiracy fructifying into crime should be tried, not by this extraordinary summary jurisdiction, but by an ordinary Court of Law. I say it is reasonable, if we are to have special Courts of Inquiry under this Bill, that we should only have them to try offences that occur in specially proclaimed districts. They should not trench upon the ordinary law until the ordinary law has been found insufficient. I say that the Government should not, under cover of protecting people in a disturbed and proclaimed district from an offence, punish offences committed in a peaceful district where, according to their own showing—that is to say, by the absence of a Proclamation—the ordinary Courts of Law are sufficient for the maintenance of law and order.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I beg to move, after "land," in line 20, to insert "dealt with in the Land Act of 1881." This 749 Amendment is put down by me, because the Government have been saying that the character of the trouble in Ireland is agrarian, and that if the agrarian difficulty were got rid of there would be no trouble in Ireland. I propose, therefore, that they should deal with nothing that is not agrarian—that the clause shall not have a wider application than the clauses of the Act of 1881. I cannot see that the Government can have any difficulty in accepting the Amendment, as the Act of 1881 applies to all land that is a source of trouble and annoyance in Ireland. There may be land on which houses are built in towns, and common lands, to which this section would apply without this modification. But I think the land subject to the jurisdiction of the magistrates should be such land as forms a portion of that which you yourselves say makes the agrarian difficulty in Ireland.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. HOLMES
I cannot agree to accept this Amendment, as it would leave untouched the Boycotting of grazing land taken for the summer months. The clause would not be sufficiently stringent if it were a mere reproduction of the corresponding clause in the Act of 1882.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, after "land," to leave out from "or" to "occupation" in line 21. The words I propose to leave out are—Or not to deal with, work for, or hire any person or persons in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation.These words deal with a difficulty which is shortly expressed in the word '' Boycotting," and that is the point to which I wish to attract observation. I think the offence of Boycotting is sufficiently dealt with and met by the second subsection of this clause. The matter is not one with which we are dealing for the first time. Boycotting has been in existence since the year 1879, when the word was coined, I think; and in the year 1882, when the Government of the 750 day were passing the Crimes Bill, they most carefully considered this matter, and framed a clause of their Bill which they considered amply sufficient to deal with it—namely, the Intimidation Clause, which Her Majesty's Government have adopted almost in identical terms in Subsection 2 of this clause. The point I make is this—that if the powers taken in 1882 were sufficient for the Government of that day to suppress Boycotting, the Government of to-day, who profess that this Bill is a milder measure than the Crimes Act, ought to be content with similar powers, neither more nor less. Her Majesty's Government have not made up their minds as to this question of Boycotting. Lord Salisbury told us that no legislation could put down Boycotting; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us on the second reading of this Bill that the Crimes Act did put down Boycotting, and that three months after the lapse of that Act Boycotting was introduced to some fabulous extent. I must assume that the latter opinion, being the more recent, expresses the mature view of the Government. If they consider that the powers taken in the Crimes Act were effective and sufficient for the purpose of putting down Boycotting, and if this is a milder measure than the Bill of 1882, why are they not content to introduce into this Bill the same provisions, no more and no less, than the Government of the day introduced into the Act of 1882? Let me point out that Subsection 2, as it stands at present, is amply sufficient to meet any difficulty that can be said to arise, and the Government can have no apprehension that its scope will be cut down by the tribunal to which they hand over its administration with such confidence. I remember, under the Act of 1882, defending a number of persons against the charge of intimidation under the clause to which I refer; and I remember one case where I appealed from two Resident Magistrates to the County Court Judge, and where we solemnly discussed the whole question of Subsection 2 for two days, the Judge reserving his judgment, and telling us on the next day that, in his opinion, the effect of this sub-section was that no one in Ireland could go anywhere and open his mouth to deal with any aspect of the agrarian difficulty, no matter how mild 751 the language he employed, without running himself into the meshes of this clause. He told us that while this clause was in force every man who spoke on a platform in Ireland without having a lawyer at his elbow ran a great risk of making the acquaintance of a plank bed, and thereupon he sentenced my client to two months' imprisonment. Now, that being so, the wording of this Subsection 2 being of such a searching character, what more can the Government possibly want? Is there any possible phase of this Boycotting difficulty which is not met by either of the portions of this Sub-section 2. It makes it illegal, with violence or intimidation, to compel any person to do any act which he has a legal right to do, or a legal right to abstain from doing, or to abstain from doing any act which he has a legal right to do, and it makes it illegal to use violence or intimidation towards a person, in consequence either of his having done any act which he had a legal right to do, or of his having abstained from doing any act which he had a legal right to abstain from doing. That covers every conceivable case which can possibly arise under this offence of intimidation. That being so, I ask cannot the Government be content with the enormous power which this sub-clause gives them? What case have they made out for a more stringent enactment dealing with the subject of Boycotting than was made out in 1882 by the late Government when they were passing the Crimes Bill? They have not contended that the clause in the Crimes Act was found inefficient in any way. They have not ventured to offer any illustration, or give any instances, in which the clause contained in that Act was not amply sufficient for every purpose in dealing with those offences; and, that being so, I say that they are exceeding the bounds of moderation in not being content with this very searching clause of the Act of 1882, and in taking up, under this clause dealing with conspiracy, fresh powers to enable them to deal with the very same class of offences. I think that is the view under which we may properly ask the Committee to omit these words which I here propose to leave out. I cannot expect the Government to agree with the reason that it is monstrous to bring up every person against whom even a whisper of Boy- 752 cotting is heard, and try them before the sort of drum-head tribunal proposed in this clause. I, therefore, address to the Government a reason drawn from their own Bill which they may fairly be expected to consider, and attach some weight to.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 20, after "land," leave out from "or," to "occupation" in line 21.—(Mr. M. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
I quite agree that, if we could assent to the argument of the hon. Member—namely, that there is no necessity to go beyond the Act of 1882; that there will be no necessity for the introduction of these words. But we have over and over again pointed out, and we maintain the same ground now, that in our view there are important matters which it is essential to prevent, with which the Act of 1882 did not deal. It may be—and this is one of the arguments—that there may not be individual intimidation; but persons may meet together, and, without performing the acts themselves, may provide money or inducements or adopt other measures commonly practised by associations to compel, or induce others to take the steps complained of. I think it is desirable to have regard to these matters of conspiracy, and therefore I hold that the Act of 1882 is not sufficient.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
If these words in Sub-section 2 did not include the cases the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to then I could quite understand the objection to the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I think the words "now punishable by law" have very little meaning or protection as to this clause, because, under the judgment of Lord Fitzgerald, we know perfectly well that the words "now punishable by law" really amount to no protection at all. I would draw the attention of the Attorney General to two of the words it is proposed to strike out—namely, "work for." Now, to compel or induce anyone not to "work for" a person goes a great deal further than the circumstances of the case would seem to require according to the argument of the Attorney General. Under the words 753 in this clause if a certain number of workmen induce their fellow workmen—not by intimidation, not by violence or threats, but merely induce—not to work for their employer because of some legitimate reason, they will be punishable under this clause. The hon. and learned Gentleman shakes his head. I know that, according to his argument, that would not be so, and if the word "compel" stood alone I should agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman; but we have here the word "induce," about which there has been a great deal of argument, and that makes all the difference in the world. Under the word "induce" there may be legitimate reasons for one workman trying to influence another, and under the clause as it stands the magistrates—nay, even under the judgment of Lord Fitzgerald at the present moment, the magistrates will be entitled to say that inducement brought to bear upon a body of men not to continue working for their employer will be subject to the penal consequences attached to this clause. Under the Act of 1882 Boycotting is dealt with under the head of intimidation. Acts which are calculated to put any person in fear were condemned, and the same result might be efficiently attained by adhering simply to the word "intimidation" in this clause. The definition of the word "intimidation" at the end of the Bill would be sufficient protection; but as you have deliberately refused to put in intimidation, and give the protection which is conveyed in the definition of the word at the end of the Bill, I think I am perfectly entitled to say that any mere trades unionism, in the legitimate sense in which it has been explained in this House over and over again, would bring those indulging in it under the provisions of this Bill. The Government do not want to accept this Amendment, because they want to go a great deal further than is expressed in the words of the measure. But, at any rate, I am glad that a protest has been made, because, if it does nothing else, it will enable us to refer to the attitude of the Irish Representatives in any action we may have to take in the future—it may justify us in the position we may have to assume before the Resident Magistrates.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I would ask the Government what is the use of their 754 putting in this sub-section? It is absolutely useless. You have in a subsequent sub-section the words "Any person who shall wrongfully and without legal authority use violence or intimidation." Your word "intimidation" there covers the whole thing. You say any person who shall do this to a person to make him do an act which he has a legal right to abstain from doing, or to abstain from doing an act which he has a legal right to do shall be summarily prosecuted. Well, to intimidate a person to abstain from doing that which he has a legal right to do covers the words that it is proposed to leave out—namely—Not to deal with, work for, or hire any person or persona in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation.I may be told that, in the one case, the offence is conspiracy, and in the other it is not; but, surely, all you want to do is to punish the offender, and why should you not effect your object in the easiest manner? This drafting is perfectly absurd; all the filigree work of your draftsmen here is absolutely needless, so far as your Resident Magistrates, who will have to administer this measure, are concerned. Do the Government think that they can reach, under the words proposed to be left out, persons whom they could not reach under the 2nd sub-section—do they desire to punish men under the Conspiracy Clause for doing that which, if done by each man singly, would be perfectly legal? Suppose a man goes round to a village to sell his cow, and he cannot get anyone to buy it, is every person who refuses to buy it to be punishable under this section?—because there is your conspiracy at once. You have all conspired not to buy the cow. That appears to me to be perfectly absurd. Yet that seems to me to be what the clause provides for, for it says—To induce any person or persons not to fulfil his or their legal obligations, and not to deal with anyone in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation.That takes in absolutely everything. I am entitled to buy my cows from whom I like; but under this section I may be punished for agreeing not to buy them from a certain individual. Am I to be told that the Government are to forestal the market, so to speak—to rigg the market—in the interests of particular 755 persons? If a landlord sends his pigs into the market and fails to get a purchaser, are you going to punish everyone who refuses to buy except at their own price? That is what the clause really comes to. The idea in this clause that it is to be a criminal act ''not to deal with" a person is most grotesque. Lord Salisbury's speeches are stuck up in letters of gold, I presume, at your firesides. If you read them, you will see that he says that you cannot, by legislation, interfere with Boycotting. He says that you cannot compel people to associate with a man—that if a man goes into church, and the other people present do not desire his society, no Act of Parliament that you can pass can compel them to pray with him. But apply this clause in this way, and you will see how iniquitous it is. If a man has cattle to sell, under the ordinary law you cannot compel people to buy them; but under this clause you will be able to do so. They may refuse to "deal" with him, and "deal" means "buy." Do let the Government consider well our proposal so far, at least, as "deal" is concerned. This word seems to me a repeating-rifle sort of thing—or rather, I should say, it is a grape-shot—it hits everywhere. To compel a man to sell you the necessaries of life is a very different thing from compelling a man to buy them, and yet that is what this section effects. It goes up and down—it affects buying as well as selling. It is absurd to say even that Boycotting ever prevented persons from purchasing. Even the Primrose League does not prevent people from purchasing from their own political friends. You can always buy from people of your own way of thinking; but compel persons to sell things if you like; do not say, however, that I must deal with a certain person. I will not. I will not buy anything because it is the landlord's—whether it is his pigs or potatoes, unless, indeed, I can get them at my own price. Why do not you pass an Act saying that these things shall be sold at such a price, and that if that price is not given it will be intimidation or conspiracy. I say this word "deal"—and you should add "or sell"—is a preposterous thing to put into this section. You may make a man sell, but to compel a man to buy is a thing that all the King's horses and all the King'3 men cannot make him do. He 756 may have no money—he may plead the Bankruptcy Clauses of your Land Bill. I do ask the Solicitor General for England to make some statement on this matter, to give us his view of the section, and tell us what it means.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
MR. E. T. REID&c.) (Dumfries,
I am sorry that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hackney (Sir Charles Russell) is not here for the purpose of moving the Amendment in his name, to which he attaches, and I think many of us attach, great importance. In his absence he has asked me to move the Amendment on his behalf. I wish to say that the object of the Amendment is to prevent that which is unquestionably an evil in Ireland. The object we have in view is to enable the tenant-farmers in that unhappy country to know the landmarks by which they may distinguish between lawful combination, as far as this Act is concerned, and combination within its meshes. I know it may be said that some forms of combination may be crime for summary punishment; but we say give us some idea of what that crime is, however imperfect, by which the tenants may know how they can keep outside the penalties of the Bill. This subject has already been, to some extent, discussed on an Amendment already brought forward, and in that which I have to say I shall endeavour to avoid going over the old ground, although it is impossible absolutely to avoid going over it. There have been several Amendments proposed tending in this direction. Among others an attempt was made to provide that no combination should be punishable unless the means used were violence and intimidation; it was also proposed that the clause should be limited to cases of compulsion. These Amendments have not been accepted. We are, therefore, now practically fighting in the last ditch, and, perhaps, I may say without any great hope of success, but still with the view of making clear the point at issue between the Government and ourselves. I propose that in the Courts of Summary Jurisdiction that one man should not be punished for doing a thing which is innocent in the eye of the Criminal Law, merely because some other person combines with him to do the same thing—that unless the 757 means employed, or the thing aimed at. constitute a crime, persons should not be punishable for combining together. Now, there are some peculiarities I desire shortly to touch upon in the law of Ireland, with regard to conspiracy, contained in a few sentences in a summing up of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, which distinguish the law of England from the law of Ireland, that is to say, so far as I know the law of England. I think no Judge in recent times has ever put in England the Law of Conspiracy to anything like the same use as that to which it has been put in the case of "The Queen v. Parnell." That learned Judge pointed out in that important trial that conspiracy consists in an agreement by two or more to do an unlawful act, or to do an act by unlawful means. I would point out that by the term "unlawful" it is not intended to confine the meaning of the term unlawful to what is in itself criminal. The learned Judge says—If, for instance, a tenant withholds his rent, it is a violation of the right of the landlord; but it would not he a criminal act in a tenant, though it would be a violation of a right; but if two or more agree to do that act there would be a criminal act.I think it follows, from the law as here laid down, that it is possible, according to Irish Law, that there should be a conspiracy punishable which does not in any way involve a criminal object. Such a conspiracy might compass an unlawful end; but it is no more criminal than my refusal to carry out a bargain I may make with a cabdriver. There is one other matter referred to in the same judgment—namely, the extreme ease with which evidence is received in cases of this kind. The Judge said—I have to inform you that in the law of conspiracy there is no necessity that there should be an express act of conspiracy, but that the parties might then and there personally attempt to carry out the alleged purpose. It might be that the conspirators have never seen each other, and yet at law they are parties in a criminal proceeding.That decision will not, I think, be disputed to be the Law of Ireland at the present time; and I say it has never been equalled and never rivalled by any decision in England of the like severity. It must, however, be remembered that this will be the Law of Conspiracy in Ireland before whatever tribunal a case arising out of the Act may come. Now let 758 me apply that to the payment of rent. There is a land war going on at the present time in Ireland. Let me suppose that 40 or 50 tenants on an estate did not pay the rent. Then if it can be inferred that there was combination among them not to pay rent, that would be a criminal conspiracy according to the law of Ireland; and, further, it will not be necessary to show, in order to insure conviction according to the judgment of Lord Fitzgerald, that they have put their heads together or even that they are acquainted with one another; and notwithstanding that it is possible they may be found guilty because they have done a criminal act. This is the consequence I wish to avoid under this Bill, and if I am right in the view I take—namely, that this judgment of Judge Fitzgerald is the law, will the Government explain how it is that they can contend unless the present Proviso be adopted, that tenants, combining for the purpose of refusing to pay rent, which may be an unjust rent, are free from the meshes of this clause, or in other words, how this clause will not be available for the purpose of imposing criminal consequences upon the non-discharge of civil liabilities, a policy which I believe has been universally condemned? Whatever any man may think with reference to the propriety of refusing to pay rent, and I have never defended the non-payment of rent if honest and fair, no one can say that the non-payment of rent is criminal, and it is an abuse of language to speak of it as either a crime or an offence of such a character as deserves to be treated in an exceptional manner. I have referred to the fact that there is in Ireland a land war. It is a war, a contest, or conflict substantially of the same character as that which was waged in England between employers of labour and those persons who work for wages. The difficulty which existed in that case was solved in 1875 by a clause exactly the same as that which I am moving on behalf of my hon. and learned Friend. There must be Gentlemen in this House who recollect a keen, legal, and social contest waged around that question, and how it was settled by declaring that if there was intimidation, if there was violence or undue compulsion, then the law might interfere in a criminal way; but if there was persuasion or the 759 mere pressure of social exclusion, then the law would be prevented from interfering. In the Act of 1875 the following section was introduced to regulate the relations between workmen and their employers. It was to the effect that an agreement or combination between two or more persons to do, or procure to be done, any act in furtherance of a trade dispute between employers and workmen, should not be indictable as conspiracy, if such act committed by one person would not be punishable as a crime. Now, the similar clause which I am about to move, and which, mutatis mutandis, will be identical in principle is this—Provided that an agreement or combination by two or more persons to do or not to do, or procure to be done or not to be done, any of the matters aforesaid, shall not be punishable under this section as a crime if such doing or not doing by one person would not be punishable as a crime according to the existing law.The parallel is absolutely complete, so far as the principle of the proposed clause is concerned, and I desire to point out why the parallel of circumstances is substantially identical. It has been said by the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann) and other Gentlemen in the course of this debate, that there is a great difference between the two cases, inasmuch as in the case of those who are tenants in Ireland they would retain possession of the land, which, it is said, belongs to the landlord. Now, it is undoubtedly the case that they would retain possession of the land; but that does not make any difference at all. To begin with, the land is partially the property of the tenants, and therefore not exclusively the property of the landlords; but to rely upon that is to rely on a method of argument which utterly destroys all chance of arriving at a satisfactory analogy between the two cases. What I have heard with regard to trade disputes is, that you have a large number of poor people who have a struggle between themselves on a point in which they are mutually interested. That being so, I am unable to see what is the difference between these two classes. Now, in justice to the proposal which I present to the Committee, I appeal to non. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly to those of them who are willing, if they can, to prevent this Bill being made the means of wresting from the tenants of Ireland rents which they can- 760 not pay, that while fighting intimidation, fighting violence, still more fighting against crime, that they should not allow this law of conspiracy to be so worked as to impose on the breach of a civil obligation the penalties attaching to a criminal offence. There is one other proposal in the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend on which I wish to address to the Committee a very few words. It is the second Proviso of the Amendment—That this sub-section shall not be held or construed to create any new crime, and no person shall be punishable for conspiracy thereunder, unless it be proved that the purpose of such conspiracy was cither (1) the commission of a crime, or (2) the attainment of some object by means which are criminal according to the existing law.Now, as far as the first part of the second Proviso is concerned, I dare say it will be said that it has already been met by the words of the Amendment of the Attorney General for England; but I desire to point out to the Government that if they wish to try to meet Members who have honest objections to this Bill, they should admit such words as are in the first line of this Proviso, which make clear what we think is doubtful, and which, according to their own Law Officers, cannot affect the clause. This would limit the application of the punishment under the clause to every conspiracy which either attains, or seeks to attain, a criminal end, or seeks to attain a lawful end by criminal means. If this Bill be a Bill for the suppression of these crimes, surely it is never intended to leave the definition of them to the new tribunal. We are not seeking to codify the law in any sense; we are only trying to limit that part of the law which is to be entrusted to a strange and novel jurisdiction. The ground on which I press this on the Government finally is this, as I have said before, that this is a case in which, unless great care be taken, it is most likely that the operation of the new jurisdiction will be to do that which is contrary to the principles of the Trades Unions Act, and, as I think, to the principles of Common Law generally—namely, to interfere by means of the Criminal Law between two parties to a civil contract, one of whom is alleged to have broken his contract.
In page 2, line 22, after the word "Law," to insert the words—"Provided that an agree-
ment or combination by two or more persons to do or not to do, or to procure to be done or not to be done, any of the matters aforesaid, shall not be punishable under this section as a crime if such doing or not doing by one person would not be punishable as a crime according to the existing Law.
Provided further, that this sub-section shall not be held or construed to create any new crime, and no person shall be punishable for conspiracy thereunder, unless it be proved that the purpose of such conspiracy was either (1) the commission of a crime, or (2) the attainment of some object by means which are criminal according to the existing Law."—(Mr. Robert Reid.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOE IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
The hon. and learned Member for Dumfries will remember that he has in the course of his observations referred to the fact that the Law of Conspiracy has already been treated of in the progress of this Committee. I think we have had four or five discussions on the subject, and under the circumstances the Committee will not, perhaps, be surprised if the Government do not propose to reiterate the arguments they have already put forward. The hon. and learned Gentleman has made an observation which has more than once been made in the course of this debate—namely, that the Law of Conspiracy in Ireland seems to differ from the Law of Conspiracy in England. Now I have on one or two occasions denied that position, and I must deny it again. Of course the hon. and learned Gentleman must know that the law of the two countries is theoretically the same with reference to this matter. The Common Law of the two countries is the same, and any decision given in England would be received and quoted in the Courts of Law in Ireland. But, as far as I can gather from the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the suggestion that there is a difference between the laws of the two countries is to be deduced from some observations taken hero and there in the charge to the jury by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald in the case of "The Queen v. Parnell." Now I remind the Committee that those utterances of the Judge were not the final judgment upon any specific point of law raised before him. The charge was a long one, lasting over some hours, and the report which was in the paper was, I believe, never corrected by 762 the Judge himself. It is, no doubt, quite possible to take two or three sentences from a charge of that length and derive a meaning from them which would be entirely different from that which was in the mind of the Judge. It is necessary to look at the whole of the charge, and I contend that the instructions given to the jury by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald and Mr. Justice Barry were precisely similar to that which would have been given by any Judge in England. And it amounts to this—that, if the evidence produced in that case is to be accepted, it is quite sufficient to constitute a criminal conspiracy according to the law of England; and I think if the hon. and learned Member would read the evidence he would, beyond all doubt, come to the conclusion that if that evidence were true the crime of conspiracy had been committed. He has referred to two particular points which were dealt with by the learned Judge. The first was the proposition that if two or more persons combine to do a certain act they might be guilty of criminal conspiracy, although if one person committed the act he would be guilty of no offence whatever. Now I do not think you can find anything in any interpretation of the English Law of Conspiracy which would show that that is not in harmony with the English Law. I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will see that if there be a combination among men to make property perfectly useless to the owner, and they determine to carry out the intention so that it shall be useless, the combination ought to be punishable. Therefore it seems to me that the proposition laid down is in entire accordance with English Law. The other point in which the hon. and learned Member found fault with the statement of the learned Judge was that persons might be held to be engaged in a conspiracy with people whose names they did not know and whom they had never seen. Now, I think that is also a proposition for which there will be found to be foundation in the law. I gather from the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman that if the law of Ireland was the same as the law of England his objection to the clause would not exist, or, at all events, not exist to such a degree as it does now. The hon. and learned Member has argued that it was reasonable to insert 763 the clause of the Trades Unions Act of 1875 into this Bill, and there I differ from the hon. and learned Member again, and for the reason that it seems to me that the conditions are essentially different. In a Trade Union dispute the workmen merely combine in reference to a matter primâ facie under their control—that is to say, their own labour in the future, whereas here the combination is with regard to something—namely, the land which, as the hon. and learned Member himself has admitted, belongs partly to the landlord. But even on the theory of dual ownership, the tenants' ownership can only exist as long as he fulfils a particular obligation. The combinations in Ireland refer to the land, which, according to the hon. and learned Member's argument belongs to two parties, and the tenants combine together for the purpose of retaining the whole of it for themselves. That seems to make the difference between the two cases complete and to leave no analogy between the case dealt with by the Act of 1875 and the present case. As far as I can judge, the first part of the Amendment of the hon. and. learned Member is already in our Bill by the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General. As far as the 2nd section of the Amendment is concerned, we can say no more than that we define in the Bill the object of the conspiracy, not attempting to codify the means of aiming at such object in any way. Having given our reasons why we cannot admit the Proviso of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I venture to express a hope that the rest of the discussion may be taken as quickly as possible.
§ MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
The statement, which has been made by the Attorney General for Ireland by way of answer to my hon. and learned Friend, is that this particular section applies to land and does not apply to work. It must have escaped entirely the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, that one of the very things provided for by the section to which this addition is proposed to be made, is exactly the same as is the subject to which reference has been made, both by the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. E. T. Reid) and the Attorney General for Ireland. It is not a question 764 of land alone. The Bill has these words "or not to deal with, work for or hire any person or persons in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation."
§ MR. HOLMES
As far as the law with regard to Trade Unions is concerned, there is a special section in the Bill with reference to that.
§ MR. WADDY
That is not all the question. What I am endeavouring to point out is, that in order to make an argument against the clause we are told that this is only an Act relating to matters connected with land. That I deny, and say that directly we come to Section 7 of the Appendix, we find it is not to apply to land only, but also to matters of trade. Therefore, I say that the whole argument of the Attorney General for Ireland falls to the ground at once. But this is not the real question; the difficulty we feel, and in respect of which we cannot get any answer, is much broader and wider. It is that this Law of Conspiracy is one of the most objectionable, doubtful, and dangerous branches of our law which we have been endeavouring for years for the purpose of this country and Ireland also to get within due limits, as far as it is possible, to define it. And now you are proposing to establish a now series of offences, and when you establish those offences and bring them within the reach of this exceedingly dangerous branch of law you refuse to define what they are. It is a principle that every penal Statute shall be construed as strictly as possible, and when we ask you to do that, we are told in almost so many words that you really will not do it; that it is not safe, and that you decline to codify the law. No one wants you to codify the law. If you were dealing with the whole law you might say that, but you are here dealing with only part of it. You are now establishing an entirely new set of offences, and when we ask for a clear and definite statement of what these offences are, we cannot get them defined. I wish to point out that the real danger arises very much from the forum before which these matters are to be tried. You have quoted one paragraph from the very learned work of a learned friend of mine, which is cited against us constantly in a very learned fashion—But let me remind you that it is true there may be oases in which acts done by several 765 persons under agreement ought to be punished, although the same acts ought not to be punished if done without agreement.We agree; but the paragraph which follows is one which you seem to forget. It is to the effect, that these offences ought to be specifically and carefully defined. Now this is the one thing which I want to drive home; you will not define the offence; you will not allow these people in Ireland to know when they are in danger; you are going to establish a new jurisdiction of a novel character before which these offences are to be tried, and that is why we call upon you to let them know where they are going wrong. We are told that it is very difficult to codify the law, and yet these extraordinary difficulties are thrown in the way of our carrying out this improvement. We are told by an eminent authority that there is great danger in this law and the working of it, lest the Judge should be tempted to declare it a criminal offence to combine to do anything which is opposed to his political or social views. When we know that this is recognized by trained lawyers and Judges, and when we know that you are going to leave the clause in the hands of Resident Magistrates, then I think it is really too bad, seeing that time after time we have asked you to throw something like a lighten the subject, that the Government should say—"You have asked for it before, but we cannot give it." But, inasmuch as this is a new Statute from beginning to end, we shall continue to ask, perhaps in vain, for such information as is necessary for us to understand your Bill, and particularly on behalf of those persons who are to be ruled by it.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
This is one of the Amendments to the Bill which it may be said will divide the sheep from the goats; it will distinguish between those who are prepared to support a measure for putting down crime, and those who are prepared to support a measure for putting down the tenant farmers in Ireland. It is an Amendment which raises a principle incontestable in itself, and which, I venture to say, is one that is not in harmony with the best part of English Law. Mr. Wright's book has often been referred to in the course of this discussion, and I am surprised that the Government have not learned a lesson from that book. Mr. 766 Wright shows that there is no such thing as Common Law conspiracy in the sense in which Common Law is generally understood; he shows, also, beyond the shadow of doubt, that conspiracy was developed by the Star Chamber, and that it was not a part of the Common Law. This is not the first time that the House of Commons has had before it the subject of conspiracy. It has been before the House on its merits when it was raised without any Party feeling or any sinister object and viewed purely as a question of law. The question was raised by the Conservative Government in 1880, and what were the provisions with regard to conspiracy which the Conservative Government proposed as a codification of the English Law? This will be found in Sections 361–2 of the Criminal Code introduced by Sir John Holker, the Attorney General for England in 1880. Now, these provisions are very remarkable, because they are provisions which are drawn on the line of Mr. Wright's book; they are provisions which are entirely in harmony with this Amendment, and if the Government would accept them in substitution for their criminal clauses in the present Bill, I venture to say there would be very little difficulty in carrying the Bill through the House. Clause 360 of Sir John Holker's Bill provides that everyone is guilty of crime and liable to five years' penal servitude who conspires with any persons to commit any crime punishable with penal servitude. The second clause provides that conspiracy to do what is not punishable with penal servitude shall be visited with a penalty of two years' imprisonment. Beyond these, the only provision was to deal with conspiring to prevent the collection of rates or taxes; everyone was to be guilty of crime, and liable to two years' imprisonment who conspires to prevent the collection of rates and taxes, the levying or collection of which is authorized by law. With that provision also we do not quarrel. These are the things which the Tory Government of 1880 specified in bringing before this House in a codified form, what they considered to be the Law of Conspiracy, and I think they have there an example which they will be doing well to follow in the present case. But they have not done this for a reason which we can all understand, a reason which I have stated to be, that this Bill 767 is not intended to put down crime, but is a Tory measure to aid the landlords in extorting exorbitant rents.
§ MR. HENBY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I am sorry to see that the Government are disposed to reply to this Amendment by silence. I can quite understand that there have been Amendments put forward in the course of the Committee stage on this Bill with regard to which the Government would be justified in at once announcing their decision, and asking the Committee to divide upon the question; but this, I think, perhaps, is the most important Amendment which has been moved upon this clause, and possibly the most important Amendment to the clause on the Paper. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he would consider this case a little more fully than, perhaps, he has hitherto done, and not ask the Committee to come to a decision simply upon the non possumus of the Attorney General for Ireland? I am not going to discuss the Law of Conspiracy, which has, no doubt, been fully discussed on recent occasions; but it was hardly fair, on the part of the Attorney General for Ireland, to say that this is the same question which has been raised over and over again. I do not think it is. The Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Hackney (Sir Charles Russell), which was moved with so great ability by him, assumes the law to be what the Attorney General for Ireland says it is; it takes it for granted that the law is the same in Ireland as in England. It is not the argument that the law is to be altered; my hon. and learned Friend says that in England there is a protection afforded against the unjust application of the law in certain cases, and the purpose of this Amendment is to ask that that protection may be afforded in Ireland. We are agreed with reference to the first great principle of the Law of Conspiracy—namely, that it is conspiring unlawfully to do an unlawful thing; that the second is conspiring unlawfully to do a lawful thing; and then there is the third distinction, of which we have heard so much lately—the combination of two or more persons to do a thing which would not be unlawful if done by one singly. We do not dispute the law. I will not argue Judge Fitzgerald's charge; but we say that in England, after a long 768 and protracted struggle, a protection has been given against an unfair application of the Law of Conspiracy to a specific class of persons dealing with their own industry, and we ask that the same protection should be given in Ireland. I would put this case before the Chief Secretary, because it is one which was set up by a great authority on this question. He said, on this question, that the sub-section which was then before the Committee assumed that to be a crime which was not a crime—namely, a combination to effect a breach of contract. Upon that point at the time the whole Liberal agitation turned. The workmen claimed the right to break their contract singly and jointly, and to induce others to do the like, subject only to proceedings which might be taken in a Civil Court. Now that is precisely the case of the tenants in Ireland; they claim the right to break their contract singly, and induce others to do the like. This was the very question afterwards successfully dealt with in the House of Commons by the efforts of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) and the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), and others. The principle was accepted by the Conservative Government, and the legislation was embodied in the Act of 1875. It was admitted on all hands, notably by the Conservative Government, and particularly by Sir Richard Cross, that the law which made breach of contract criminal did not apply as against workmen. We say that the principal, almost the sole, industry in Ireland is the cultivation of land, and that it is just as much a staple as the manufacture of cotton in Lancashire; and iron in Staffordshire, and that the workmen in Ireland are entitled to the same protection in Ireland in respect of their combinations to keep up the value of their labour as the workmen engaged in England in those industries. An hon. Member opposite said the other night that the difference between the two classes was, that in Ireland the men were working with somebody else's property, whereas in England they were working with their own. The Attorney General for Ireland said just now that a man had a right to make what terms he could with reference to his own labour, but that it does not apply to the price which 769 a man pays for the use of land. My hon. and learned Friend pointed to the dual ownership of land in Ireland; but I do not think that that does much to strengthen the case; I think the argument would be as strong without that. I think where you have an industry which cannot be made valuable without the labour of another, it would be right to bring it under this clause. But the question in England was not with regard to the man's own wages, it was with regard to the wages of other people. What was done in England was not to establish the right to protect their own contracts, but the right to induce others to break theirs. The principle of strikes is this—the employer wants to reduce wages; there are always a number of men who are willing to go on at the reduced wages; but the heads of the industry say no, it is the interest of the class that we should not have the wages reduced; and therefore they apply strong measures in their own interests in order to compel their fellow-workmen not to work at the rate of wages which the majority judge to be inimical to the trade. It was under those circumstances that the Legislature stepped in and said that the men should not be punished for the act of combination. Sir James Stephen has well put this case. He said that the Act of 1875 protects all combinations in furtherance of trade disputes, and with respect to such questions, provided positively that no crime should be treated as indictable conspiracy, unless the Act agreed upon would be criminal if done by a single person. That is what Sir James Stephen sums up as the law of this country in reference to trade disputes, and that is what we ask shall be the law in reference to these land disputes in Ireland. If the act is a criminal one between men, let it be criminally dealt with. We do not say a word against that. That is not our meaning; but we do mean that where it is a case of simple combination to break a contract, then we say unless that offence is not criminal if committed by one man, it is unfair and unjust to make it criminal when done by four, five, or 20 men in combination. Now, I ask the Government for a moment to strip this question of a good deal of the prejudice which has been involved in it. I ask the Government to agree that the tenants of Ireland, who work with the raw 770 material of land, should have the same protection which after a long struggle was granted to the workmen in England. The Act of 1875 has been found to work well in this country. There have since that Act was passed been fewer strikes, and a better state of feeling between the employers and workmen; and therefore I hope that the Government will look at this question from a statesmanlike point of view, and not strain the Bill into an instrument of oppression for the enforcement of civil contracts.
§ THE CHIEF SECERTARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The circumstances which the right hon. Member has referred to as the reason for the passing of the Act of 1875 are not, in my opinion, analogous to the present position in Ireland. The ground of adoption of the principle of the Act was that, by a series of judgments in Court, and the unfortunate extension of the law in England, the Law of Conspiracy was made to apply in a very harsh manner to the case of the workmen; and what you have to show is that there is some corresponding extension which has been found to be unfair to the tenants of Ireland, and if that were proved to have taken place, there would be something in the contention of the right hon. Gentleman. We say there is no such analogy or extension with regard to the tenants in Ireland; and it is on that ground that we refuse to make this an opportunity for either altering or codifying the Law of Conspiracy. If it had been shown that the Law of Conspiracy had been interpreted either by Irish or English Courts harshly, and was of an oppressive character, then as I have said, there would have been more strength in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman; but there has been no such attempt. I admit we should be most cautious in dealing with the Law of Conspiracy at all; but as we do not attempt that, the right hon. Member must allow us to pursue what we consider to be the expedient course of leaving the Law of Conspiracy as it is, because there has been no adequate reason for engaging in the Herculean task of codification.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
I think the right hon. Gentleman is capable of being answered in a single sentence. He said if it were a fact that 771 the Irish Law of Conspiracy had been proved to be as harsh towards the tenants in Ireland as the English Law has been to the workmen in England, that then there ought to be protection given. I take that to be his proposition. But the Law of Conspiracy has not hitherto acted harshly towards the tenants in Ireland, because they have had the protection of trial by jury. Whatever doc-trine the Judges may have laid down on this subject, it was necessary that when a harsh interpretation was placed upon the law that it should come before a jury. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that English Judges have put a harsh interpretation on the law, which bore harshly on British artizans. There have been cases of unjust interpretation by the English Judges; and I myself have got those judgments overruled in principle and practice. Well, the doctrine is the same in Ireland. The Irish tenant, up to this time, has had the protection of juries of his own class, which has prevented injustice being done. But we say, if you remove the protection of trial by jury from the Irish tenants, and place the law in the hands not of Resident Magistrates, but at all events, of Judges, without the protection of trial by jury, then you are almost certain to get the same result as you have had in England. That is my answer to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He said—"Prove me the danger in the past;" but it is not danger in the past that we are dealing with—it is danger in the future, arising out of a specific provision of this Bill, against which we think adequate protection should be given.
§ MR. A. COHEN (Southwark, W.)
I have only one observation to make on the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. I think the hon. and learned Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Waddy) showed that that argument was of a very insufficient validity, because the clause we are now considering is not limited to land at all. If the argument were good for anything, the Attorney General for Ireland ought to be ready to strike out all words except those relating to land. But let me give an example, which I think the Committee will at once see has a most important bearing on the whole Irish Question. Suppose 100 tenants were to agree together that they would not allow anyone to take land from a 772 landlord who has evicted his tenants for non payment of rent, can any lawyer say that such an agreement would be indictable for conspiracy? I defy any lawyer who has studied the law with great care to say that would be so. That shows the correctness of the view which is stated in Mr. Wright's book; and I say that if the Government have read it, having referred to that book in connection with the 1st clause, they ought to come to the same conclusion at which the author has arrived—that is, that the whole Law of Conspiracy is Judge-made law. I say that when the Legislature is asked to pass a measure which we were informed the other night by the Chief Secretary for Ireland is a permanent measure, and if by that measure it is intended to give the Resident Magistrates in Ireland summary jurisdiction over a certain class of offences, it is the absolute duty of the Legislature to take care that those offences are clearly defined, or that they are only such offences as are known to the English Law, and clearly as ascertainable according to that law. But it is admitted and proved beyond doubt that, according to English Law, it is extremely doubtful what are and what are not indictable conspiracies, and we ask the Government to tell us what they mean. Do they mean to make any conspiracies indictable other than those which are not crimes to-day, because they are not criminally done by individuals? If they say that that is their intention, then they ought to tell us what other specific offences they intend to include; and if that is not their intention—and I do not believe they have quite made up their minds—then they are bound to accept our Amendment.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I gladly accept the challenge of the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour). He said—and I heard him with surprise—that if it could be proved that there had been in Ireland the same harsh exercise of the Law of Conspiracy as was admitted to have taken place in regard to English artizans, he would admit we had a case for this Amendment. I gladly accept the challenge, and I am perfectly astonished that the right hon. Gentleman could make such a challenge in the face of the debates that have taken place. Such a statement coming from the Chief Secretary for Ireland is 773 ample proof of the necessity of repeating some of these matters over and over again. I do not intend to read at any length extracts from the now famous charge of Justice Fitzgerald, which has been so repeatedly referred to in this House; but I must read a couple of passages from that charge. What did Justice Fitzgerald say in regard to the Law of Conspiracy? He said—Now, gentlemen, having dealt thus shortly with the information, let me unfold to you what the Law of Conspiracy is, and how it bears on the case.The case at issue was the combination of the tenants of Ireland to obtain a reduction of rents. Then Justice Fitzgerald gave a definition of conspiracy which has been often quoted. He said—If, for instance, a tenant withholds his rent, that is a violation of the right of his landlord to receive it, but it would not be a criminal act, though it would be a violation of a right; but if two or more incite him to do that act, their agreement so to incite him is by the law of the land an offence.Can anything be more clear or more distinct than that? I maintained the other day, and I repeat now, that that definition of the Law of Conspiracy includes within its scope every single meeting that has been summoned in Ireland, whether in Ulster or Munster, for the purpose of getting a reduction of rent, because there cannot be the slightest doubt that on all those Northern estates, where there was no question of Nationalist organization, the speakers at meetings did incite their brother tenants to withhold their rents for the purpose of getting a reduction. Now, Sir, I noticed that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) attempted in his speech to explain away the charge of Justice Fitzgerald. He endeavoured to water it down, for he said it was very unfair to fix upon certain short extracts from a long charge thus, and pin a Judge to them as an expression of his opinion. Justice Fitzgerald is a man eminently able to distinguish between the different portions of his address; and in the first place, he laid down what the law was, then he proceeded to apply it to the facts of the case. But I do not rest myself there. It has been my fate to have been three times tried in Ireland for criminal conspiracy. The first time I was tried 774 by Justice Fitzgerald, and the charge from which I have quoted was the charge in the case. I was then tried before the Queen's Bench in Dublin by Chief Justice O'Brien, and in that trial I was convicted because there was no jury, and I was sentenced in heavy bail, which the Government failed in estreating, because they were met by the barrier of a jury. But, Sir, in my second trial, before the Queen's Bench, i was convicted of criminal conspiracy. On what charge? On this charge, and no other—that I had incited tenants in Ireland to withhold their rents with the view of getting a reduction. I tried to put in the plea of justification on account of intent; but Chief Justice O'Brien, and, subsequently, Justice Murphy, declared they would allow no evidence bearing on the intent, as the intent was nothing to the point. They precluded me from examining witnesses as to my intent. Chief Justice O'Brien took up the charge of Justice Fitzgerald and made it the basis of his judgment. He said that was a definition of the Law of Conspiracy laid down by one of the most distinguished of the Irish Judges; it had become classical, and would become an authority in all future cases. That was my second experience of the Law of Conspiracy in Ireland, and I admit I approach the consideration of this case from a totally different point of view from that from which it has been discussed for the last half-hour. I am not a lawyer, but, I am sorry to say, I am learned in the application of the law. My third trial was before Justice Murphy, so I have the widest experience of the views of the Irish Judges. Now, what occurred at my third trial? Justice Murphy pursued precisely the same course as Chief Justice O'Brien—he quoted the charge of Justice Fitzgerald, said that charge had now become classical, and was a definition of the law in which all Irish Judges would in future go when trying cases of conspiracy. He said that on the one issue whether I had incited tenants to withhold their rents with a view of getting a reduction, I was guilty of the crime of conspiracy, and he distinctly directed the jury to convict. What saved me was the same thing that has saved many men, and nullified the Law of Seditious Libel in this country—namely, the moral sense of the jury. Although the jury 775 were not farmers, they refused to take the definition of the law from the Judge, and they decided that I was not guilty of any crime. It is monstrous for the Government to argue as if they are simply leaving the law as it stands. What did the Chief Secretary for Ireland say? He said he declined to attempt to define the Law of Conspiracy. "We think we are justified in leaving the law as it stands to be interpreted by a competent tribunal." Those were the words of the Chief Secretary for Ireland—"to be interpreted by a competent tribunal." That is to say, that this law, which has exercised the greatest Judges of England, which has been matter of the highest controversy in this House for years, is to be relegated for its interpretation to a bench of Irish magistrates, and this House, which did not hesitate, when called upon in the interests of English working men, to override and reverse the decisions of the most learned lawyers in England, now hesitates to place any limit or restriction upon the jurisdiction of these competent tribunals in Ireland, to whom the unfortunate tenant-farmers are to be handed over. Now, Sir, the Chief Secretary for Ireland dwelt with great force on what he considered to be the fact—that there is no analogy between the case of the Irish tenant farmer and the case of the English artizan. I completely and absolutely deny that any man has a right to make such a statement. No analogy! I fail to see how there can be analogy between any two cases unless there is between these two. Strongly as the case was put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), they failed to put it as strongly as it can be put. Why is it that a demand was made in England for the protection of men labouring for wages only? Because your farmers are capitalists; they employ labour with their capital, and therefore the demand for protection for their employment came from the labouring men. What is the analogy which is absolutely strict? It is that four-fifths of the farmers of Ireland are absolutely working men, earning wages out of the land. Well, if they are deprived of that land they are reduced to beggary and starvation. And allow me to re- 776 mind the Chief Secretary for Ireland what this comes to—what the application of such theories comes to. It comes to this—that the fact is, men are legislating for a country the conditions of whose population they are unacquainted with. Let the Chief Secretary for Ireland come down to East Mayo, where there is, practically speaking, no wage-earning population, and he will see the absurdity of saying that the same protection should not be afforded to the tenant farmers of Ireland as is afforded to the labourers of England. They accuse us of exciting these people to hold other men's property while refusing to pay for it. Have the landlords not got their legal rights? Have we incited, in a single instance, the farmers of Ireland to resist by force of arms, or by force of any kind, the enforcement of legal rights? Nothing of the sort. The legal remedy is always open to the landlord, and he can, by legal process, recover possession of his property; and, therefore, it is monstrously untrue to say we incite these people to hold another man's property; and in the end the landlord, under the law as it stands at present, can get a great deal more than his just rights. If the tenant refuses to pay an exorbitant rent, the landlord can not only take back his property, but he can also take from the tenant the whole of his property, and that is what is being done in Ireland every day. It is a monstrously illusory argument to tell us the tenants of Ireland are holding other men's property because they do not of their own free wills walk out of their farms. They remain in possession of their holdings, but the landlords have a tremendous remedy by which they can recover their property—a remedy they have shown they are not slow to use. It remains for the Government to tell us on what real and substantial grounds they deny that the tenants of Ireland stand in precisely the same position to the general population of Ireland as the artizans of this country do to the general population of England. It remains for the Government to tell us on what ground they refuse to the tenants of Ireland the same protection they have given to the artizans of England. In my opinion, the Irish tenant has a stronger case for protection than the artizan of England, because the latter is free to go and 777 labour where he likes—he carries his fortune at his fingers' ends; but the poor tenant of Ireland is chained to the one spot of earth, not only by sentimental feelings—which are enormously strong—but by property, which he must leave behind and be robbed of if he leaves the spot. His position is much more defenceless and weaker than that of the artizan of England, and, therefore, I say he deserves greater protection under these circumstance. I utterly fail to understand on what grounds the Government persist in their present position. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland distinctly stated that if we could show that this harsh assertion of the Law of Conspiracy had been made against the Irish tenants he would admit we had a strong case. I contend that we have fully shown the fact to him, and now I earnestly ask him to give a reason why he should persist in rejecting this Amendment. There is only one other point I desire to refer to. I am not sure whether it was the Chief Secretary for Ireland or the Attorney General for Ireland who said the supporters of this Amendment had overlooked the provision protecting trades unions in Ireland. Why do you need to protect trades unions by a special provision if this Act is not to deprive Irish farmers of the rights you have secured to English labour? The very existence of that provision is the condemnation of this clause; it is a declaration that by this Act you mean to say that the tenant farmers of Ireland—the small tenant farmers of Ireland who constitute four-fifths of the population—are inferior beings, not fit to stand on the same footing as their English bretheren, and it is by that declaration alone you will see the condemnation of your Act in the eyes of the working men of this country.
§ MR. A. J. WILLIAMS (Glamorgan, S.)
I have listened with the greatest interest to the whole of this debate, and desire to address a few words to the Committee. A great deal has been said of the book which has been written by Mr. Wright upon the Law of Conspiracy. I cannot help thinking that the book has been, more referred to than read. I have, whilst the debate has proceeded, carefully read and re-read that admirable work, and endeavoured to realize exactly how the matter stands with re- 778 ference to this branch of English juris prudence. It seems to me the arguments in this case have too technical a character. Let me try to present the state of affairs as far as this particular section is concerned. As Mr. Wright points out, the whole of this branch of the Criminal law is Judge-made—it is exclusively the product of the judicial mind. Excellent as judicial legislation has been with reference to Commercial Law, unfortunately, in dealing with Criminal Law we always find that the judicial mind is rather in favour of arbitrary treatment. The state of the law with reference to combination is this—First of all we have combinations to do what, if done by one person, would be Lawful, by means which would be lawful. It is agreed on all hands that such combinations are lawful. Then we have agreements by workmen not to work except on certain terms; and here I come to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) which seems to me to be utterly opposed to the principles of criminal jurisprudence with reference to combination. As I understand the law laid down by Mr. Wright, it is not the Common Law, and never has been the Common Law of this country, that combinations by workmen not to work except upon certain terms are illegal. The trade combinations which have been referred to were made distinctly illegal by old Statutes, and it was based upon these old Statutes that our Judges directed juries to convict. It was in consequence of the decisions in these cases that the Masters and Servants' Act of 1875 was passed. It is distinctly stated in Mr. Wright's book that all combinations of this kind were perfectly legal, with the single exception of the combination of the trades union. I will upon this point give an authority which is highly respected in this House—the authority of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James). In the debate upon the Masters and Servant's Act, in 1873, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said—In punishing what the law called conspiracy we were punishing what working-men called combination. They were bound to combine, and their experience was that without combination all attempts to improve their condition were hopeless. The gas stokers were punished because admitting their right to combine, they had combined to break a contract, and because 779 under Section 14 of the Master and Servant Act that was a criminal offence. It would not have been criminal on the part of any other subject of the Realm, but it was criminal in them."—(3 Hansard,  607.)So much for legal combinations by workmen or others to improve their position. Now we come to the combinations which are distinctly criminal. A criminal combination to do something is either to do something which is criminal or to do something which is perfectly legal by criminal means. It is only the intermediate class, a very large and varied class of combinations, which is left at large under this section, and which we, on this side of the House, say should be clearly defined. I am quite willing to admit that there is the greatest difference between the dicta in. reference to this class of cases of learned Judges on this side, and learned Judges on the other side of the Irish Channel. I wish to be perfectly fair, because it is very important we should realize the true bearings of the case. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) has mentioned some cases. Perhaps the Committee will bear with me while I mention one or two cases in corroboration of this view—A conspiracy to injure a man in his private property, a conspiracy to prevent all customers coming to his shop, what is that but a civil injury? A conspiracy to injure two men combining to interfere with a man's civil right is indictable.What does Mr. Wright say in reference to that dictum of Mr. Justice Erle?" It is conceived," says Mr. Wright—That these expressions, for the most part only amounting to a question or a doubt are not sufficient to establish exceptions to the principles involved in the decisions given before.Namely, that a combination to injure is not criminal unless criminal means be used. Now, Mr. Courtney, it is precisely this class of case in which it is admitted on the Treasury Bench that the act is not, per se, in itself illegal, but in which something may be done which may possibly be injurious or unlawful, that we are asked to deliberately withdraw from the only safeguard which, for generations, has preserved the humbler classes in this country from the injustice which would have been done them if these dicta had not been actually withstood by juries, I was greatly surprised to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney 780 General (Sir Richard Webster) say he thought two of the Irish Resident Magistrates were better than 12 jurymen in England or in Ireland. I am sure Liberal Members do not wish to make any reflection upon the competency of the Resident Magistrates of Ireland; but I think every sensible man will admit that those questions of nicety and delicacy, involving the greatest Constitutional consequences, are questions which should not be withdrawn from juries. I quite agree with my right hon. and learned Friends that if we must have this odious Act the Government ought at least to define the criminal acts which they are going to create.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
Mr. Courtney, I desire to say a very few words in support of the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. R. T. Reid). I think that no one can read the remarks of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald in the Parnell case without coming to the conclusion that he goes very far beyond any decision of English Judges in similar cases, that he has laid down a doctrine which goes very far beyond the Law of Conspiracy as defined in any of the law books or decisions of English Judges, and without questioning the law of that learned Judge, I cannot but think it would be very desirable that his ruling should be revised by the Superior Court, either the Superior Court of Ireland or the Supreme Court of England—namely, the House of Lords. At present, the ruling of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald must be taken as conclusive, and it is absolutely certain that that ruling will be accepted as the law by the Resident Magistrates in Ireland. Well, now there will be no appeal under the clause before us, if it is passed in its present shape, except to a single Judge—namely, the Judge of the County Court. There will be no possibility of appeal from the Resident Magistrate to the higher tribunals of Ireland, or even of England. It will be quite possible when this clause is passed into law that the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) may be summoned before a magistrate and committed to prison for six months for merely recommending tenants to combine for a reduction of rent. It is quite possible that anybody in the position of the hon. Member maybe summoned before one of the Resident Magistrates in 781 Ireland and sentenced to prison for six months with hard labour, without the possibility of his appealing to the higher tribunals of either Ireland or England. That would be a great scandal, one of the greatest scandals possible in the country. It is surely very undesirable any such thing should take place. For my part, I think that the case of the small tenants of Ireland for protection is even a stronger one than that of the labourers of England, because they have an interest in the property of the holdings in respect of which the dispute arises; and having that interest it is most important that they should be put in a position in which they can freely combine for the purpose of obtaining just rents in respect of their holdings. The clause which is now before us prevents them having that free power of combination, and it is for that reason I most strongly oppose it, and earnestly hope the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. R. T. Reid) will be passed. I have put a question to the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes); but as yet neither he nor any Member of the Government has ventured to answer it. I put this question—Suppose 50 or 60 small tenants in Ireland, feeling themselves unjustly treated in regard to rent, combine together, and four or five of the leading men summon the tenants together and advise them to strike against their rents, will the four or five men be liable to be summoned, under the clause as it stands, before a Resident Magistrate, and to be convicted and sent to prison with hard labour? No answer has as yet been given from the Government Bench to that question, and I presume, therefore, it cannot be answered; because under this clause, as it stands, it will be possible to commit these men to prison. I say that is a position precisely similar to that of the labourers of England before the Act of 1875; and if the analogy holds good, as I believe it does, we ought to give the same protection to the tenants of Ireland as we have given to the labourers of England under the Act of 1875. There is no law in any country in Europe in which a similar Law of Conspiracy exists. Even in India people cannot be convicted of conspiracy under such conditions. I maintain that the law of Europe and of India is opposed to the clause now before 782 us, and, therefore, I hope the Committee will agree with the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I must say the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite is not, in my judgment, calculated to shorten discussion. Mr. Courtney, this is a Bill you would not apply to niggers, and yet you mean to apply it to Irishmen; and when that right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre)—a Privy Counsellor, an ex-Cabinet Minister—refers to the fact that hon. Members of this House may get certain imprisonment, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite, who weep over a wounded land-grabber, and who groan in spirit if the tail of a cow is cut off, think it is calculated to promote discussion in this House by gloating beforehand over the action of their Resident Magistrates. Now, let me say that, whatever this House of Commons may do, whatever hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway may think, and whatever Rules you may enforce, we will fight you as long as we can sit on these Benches. I tell hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who, in a half-drunken condition, try to howl us down——
Order, order! The hon. and learned Gentleman must be more respectful to the House than use language of that kind. [Ministerial cries of "Withdraw!"] It would greatly assist the Chair if hon. Gentlemen would not proffer their assistance by cries of "Withdraw!"
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
I rise to Order, Mr. Courtney. I wish to ask you if the hon. Gentleman should not withdraw that expression?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I would respect a ruling made by you, Sir, under any circumstances. If it will please hon. Gentlemen opposite I will withdraw the expression; but I must say we will not sit here and be howled down by hon. Gentlemen opposite when the liberties of our country are under discussion. No matter what the consequences or what the penalty may be, so long as we are here we will protest against this Bill. If you howl us down you must 783 take the consequences. I know no Assembly in Europe where conduct such as that of hon. Gentlemen opposite would be tolerated for a moment. We are here in a minority, it is true; but we are fighting for the liberty of our country, and for hon. Members who call themselves Gentlemen——
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
When we are dealing with one of the most important, abstruse, and delicate questions that ever came before any country, are we going to have our men howled down by men who have not even taken the trouble to read the Bill, who know nothing about it—who are, in fact, absolutely incompetent to pronounce an opinion upon it? I say it is a public scandal, and I tell them that, whatever the consequences may be, it is not by howling that they will pass this Bill. Now, Sir, we have to sit here while they are away at dinner. We have to argue these points while they are indicting letters, possibly denouncing us to The Times. Let any one of them put his finger upon some particular portion of the debate, and say this is irrelevant or that is irrelevant, and not deal with us by a system of howling which has become a disgrace to them and the country they belong to.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 1 80; Noes 263: Majority 83.—(Div. List, No. 166.)
§ MR. MARUM (Kilkenny, N.)
I beg to move to insert after "Law" in line 22—Provided, That no agreement or combination shall amount to any such criminal conspiracy unless some act, other than such agreement or combination, be done to affect the object thereof by one or more of the parties to such agreement or combination.I do not propose to travel over the ground which has been covered by previous Amendments. My Amendment simply provides that a person shall be guilty of some act other than the act of entering into an agreement before he shall be said to have engaged in a criminal conspiracy. The provision I propose is to be found in the American Code.
In page 2, line 22, after "Law" insert "Provided that no agreement or combination shall amount to any such criminal conspiracy unless some Act, other than such agreement or combination, be done to effect the object thereof by one or more of the parties to such agreement or combination."—(Mr. Marum.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES) (Dublin University)
This Amendment would introduce a change in the law, for which we have got no precedent in this country, nor, as far as I am aware, has it been suggested in any code or by any authority that such a change should be made in this country. I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will not press the Amendment to a Division.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
The right hon. and learned Gentlemen has admitted that this Amendment would introduce a change in the law, because an overt act may be done in coming to—in producing an agreement, and that overt Act, without producing an agreement, would be quite sufficient evidence of conspiracy; but without entering in the slightest degree into the advisability of introducing the change, he refused to support this Amendment on the ground that there was no precedent whatsoever in any code or elsewhere for a provision requiring an overt act other than the Act which creates the agreement for which conspiracy could be charged. On that point, I think I can refer him to the existing Code of Indian Law which bears out the principle which this Amendment seeks to introduce. If he would be good enough to refer to Act 45 of the Governor General of India, passed in the year 1860, and if he looks at the 5th chapter of that Act, Sections 178 and 179, he would find it laid down that an offence or offences constituting conspiracy may be conspiracy followed up by an overt act; and in Sections 107 and 108, that no conviction for conspiracy can be had unless conspiracy and some overt act have been shown. But I might point out further, that the Indian Law not only supports this Amendment, but it absolutely goes on to provide that no conspiracy shall be punishable unless either by means or by object that conspiracy tends to the commission of an offence which would 785 be a crime if committed by one person. That Indian Code, which is at present the law governing the action of many millions of Her Majesty's subjects, contains the very principle which the Amendment of my hon. Friend seeks to introduce. It has been fully recognized in India since 1860, a period of nearly 28 years; and I think it is full time that such a principle should be recognized in Ireland.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)
The Committee will observe that the act is not an act to be done by the person charged with an offence. The limitation which my hon. Frined wishes to put upon the crime, as it is to be dealt with by the Resident Magistrates, is such a conspiracy as has gone so far that an act or an attempt to carry out the object of the conspiracy shall be done. Surely that is not much of a limitation. It may be in the words of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Holmes), a change in the definition of the Law of Conspiracy if we were here denning the Law of Conspiracy; but what this section is doing is denning that part of the Law of Conspiracy which is to be dealt with by Resident Magistrates, and, surely, when we seek to put a limitation—when we seek to put one condition upon the conspiracy that is to be dealt with by Resident Magistrates, it hardly lies in the mouth of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that here we are seeking a change in the definition of the law. The Government are themselves responsible for this Amendment. They choose deliberately to avoid the technical word "conspire." That word they have changed, or rather they have discarded, and they have put in "take part in," and surely it is little enough that the taking part in should be taking part in something which has gone so far, at least, as either to attempt to compel, or an attempt to induce—that something should have been done more than the mere taking part in. In my opinion, if a Resident Magistrate finds that a discussion has gone on among some tenants in a small room as to whether they should apply to their landlord for a reduction of rent, and that they might say—"Yes, we should, and we should not pay our rent until we send in a memorial"—that thereupon the Resident Magistrate would say that is conspiracy, yet no act will have been done 786 more than the mere conversation of the men and their agreement to do a certain act. There is a very remarkable part of the law in regard to the very highest offence. The offence of treason must be evidenced by an overt act. Surely, if such a condition was required with regard to treason, and offences against the Sovereign, some such limitation should be imported into the Law of Conspiracy that has to be administered by two Resident Magistrates in Ireland. I think my hon. Friend was right in moving the Amendment. I think the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland was wrong in saying that this was an effort to introduce change in the definition of the Law of Conspiracy, and if we do not ask, as we do not ask by this Amendment, that an act shall be proved against the person himself charged with an offence, but simply on the part of some one of the conspirators, we are not asking the Committee to sanction anything which is extraordinary.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
As I desire to report progress in order to take two Bills which must be taken this evening, I hope the Committee will come to a decision upon the Amendment as soon as possible.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I think the request of the right hon. Gentleman is not unreasonable, and I would join in his appeal to come to a decision as soon as possible.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
Before you leave the Chair, Mr. Courtney, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he intends to take this Bill on Monday next. It will, I think, be rather unreasonable to keep a large number of Members in London for one day next week who would otherwise go home, when you might allow other business to be done. No real progress will be made on Monday, because it will be impossible almost to keep the necessary 787 number of Members in the House to enable the Government to do that.
§ MR. MARUM (Kilkenny, N.)
The right hon. Gentleman must bear in mind that it takes two days for Irish Members to go to and return from Ireland.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I announced that the Bill would be taken on Monday, and I am afraid I cannot draw back from that announcement, having regard to the convenience of hon. Gentlemen generally. I propose, however, not to take the Bill on Monday fortnight, that is to say, on the 6th June, but to take Supply instead. The object of hon. Gentlemen will thus be secured in some measure, and I trust that arrangement will meet with satisfaction. Perhaps I am hardly in order in going further. ["Go on."] Well, Sir, with the permission of the House I wish to say that on Monday the 6th June it is proposed to take Supply, the Budget Bill later, and subsequently the National Debt Bill. ["What Supply?"] In accordance with an arrangement made with the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Post Office Estimates will be taken first, and then in the ordinary course, Class 1 of the Civil Service Estimates.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury when all the Papers relating to the Whiteboy Acts will be in the hands of hon. Members. We are now coming-near that portion of the Bill which deals with the Whiteboy Acts, and the putting down of Amendments will be rendered very difficult unless we know what the charges under these Acts are.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
We will give the House full information before we arrive at that portion of the Bill which refers to the Whiteboy Acts. Any assistance which the House requires for the discussion of these Acts will certainly be given.
§ MR. CHANCE
I understand no progress will be made with the Crimes Bill on Tuesday next—at the Morning Sitting on Tuesday.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
That is the intention of the Government. The Bill will be put down for Monday and will be taken on Monday, and I hope, notwithstanding the anticipation of the hon. Gentleman, that considerable progress will be made with it. We shall then adjourn consideration of the Bill until Tuesday the 7th June.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.