§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I desire, Mr. Speaker, to make a personal explanation in reference to a statement which was made in my absence, during the debate on the Address, by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I may say that I was in South Africa at the moment. The right hon. Gentleman commented upon some remarks which I am alleged to have made at Castlereagh, and he used words in reference to them which exactly exemplified my own case, for he said that the reference which had been made to Lord Carnarvon was most unfortunate, seeing that at the time it was made the noble Lord was at the other end of the world. The Chief Secretary said that the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall had stated at Castlereagh—"You are justified as Christians not to pay rent, whether it be a fair rent or not." I wish to take the earliest opportunity of repudiating the charge, and of denying that I ever said anything of the kind. I am glad to see the Chief Secretary in his place, and I am anxious to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman and the House that, whatever I may have said in the course of the several speeches I delivered in Ireland, I did not make use of any statement which might be converted into such a sentiment. What I always insisted upon was this—that men must not be blamed if they refuse to pay rent which cannot be made out of the land; and I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that that is a totally different sentiment to that which I am charged with having uttered. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the speech as one which I delivered at Westport; but it was one which was made by me at Castlereagh. His statements in reference to Westport are altogether inaccurate. He said that I had always advocated the Plan of Campaign, and that I had compared myself to Burghley and Hampden, who did not hesitate to cut off the King's head. Now, everybody knows that Burghley had nothing to do with the cutting off of the King's head, and that Hampden lost his life some years before King Charles lost his head. The right hon. Gentleman must, therefore, see that there must have been a mistake in the report. I have only 880 troubled the House with these statements in order to draw attention to the exceeding laxity with which reports of speeches by Government officials in Ireland are made. It is quite apparent that a danger may exist of instituting prosecutions and of sending men to prison for having made statements which they did not in reality make.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
was understood to say that the passages which had been quoted by the hon. Member were founded on reports supplied by shorthand writers. If, however, the hon. Member repudiated the statements attributed to him, of course he (Mr. Balfour) accepted that repudiation.