§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Londonderry)
rose in his place, and asked for leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely, the departure from the long established practice in Irish County Courts by the new system of increasing sentences in Criminal Cases on Appeal, as in the instances of the Reverend Mr. M'Fadden, P.P., Mr. Blane, M.P., Mr. Flanagan, Messrs. Coffey, Kilmartin, and O'Higgins; and, also, to the different method of treating prisoners convicted of the same offence.
The pleasure of the House not having been signified—
§ MR. SPEAKER
called on those Members who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and not less than 40 Members having accordingly risen:—
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said the question which he wished to bring under the notice of the House was really one of urgency, seeing that, so far as Ireland was concerned, it involved a new system of hearing appeals from convictions, under the Crimes Act, which had never prevailed in England. Certain County Court Judges in Ireland, upon hearing appeals, had not only confirmed the convictions, but increased the sentences. This was an entirely new departure, which would not be tolerated in England. Questions had been put to the Government on the subject, and the House was coldly told that there was no settled practice one way or the other. Surely if the course pursued in Ireland was a proper one, and was in conformity with the practice in England, it was surprising that in a House containing so many English lawyers, magistrates, and Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, no hon. Gentleman would get up to tell them of any cases in recent years in which the prisoners making an appeal for a remission of sentence were answered by having the penalty doubled. Although he was no lawyer, ho had lived long enough in this country, and had watched 344 the progress of affairs with sufficient attention, to know that it had never been the practice here. He wished to know, therefore, how it was that this new practice had suddenly sprung up in Ireland, and how it was that within a very few days there had been five, six, or seven striking examples of this now theory of British law in connection with Courts of Appeal? Within a very few days—and that was why he called it a matter of urgency—there bad been numerous cases of appeal which had been heard by the County Court Judges and answered by an increase of sentence. He considered it was necessary for the House of Commons and the English public to know what was going on in Ireland, and whether it was right and Constitutional to make a criminal appeal like a game of double or quits. If that was to be the practice in future, he thought the House of Commons should distinctly understand it, and the English public have an opportunity of saying whether they approved of it. The first appeal to which he proposed to call attention was the case of Father M'Fadden—a model parish priest, a philanthropist of the purest kind—whose acquaintance he was proud to possess, and who was well known to many Englishmen. In the poor region in which he served as parish priest he had been the means of saving more lives than even the right hon. Gentleman's system of government had been the means of extinguishing. Well, Father M'Fadden made a speech—which he did not propose to read—which led to his arrest, and after the case was heard by the magistrates the rev. gentleman was sentenced to three months' imprisonment. He would not discuss whether that sentence was right or wrong. Father M'Fadden appealed to a higher court, presided over by that eminent lawyer and consistent politician—Dr. Webb. Dr. Webb, like other lawyers, had—changed his opinions. He was not, however, going to find fault with the learned gentleman for that; it was not, perhaps, for the House of 'Commons to bear too heavily upon men who changed their opinions; but when Father M'Fadden was brought before Dr. Webb his appeal was answered by increasing the sentence from three to six months. He was unable to say what induced Dr. Webb to think that the original sentence was not heavy enough. To some 345 extent the bitterness of the sentence was mitigated by allowing Father M'Fadden to be treated as a first-class misdemeanant; but the punishment was, nevertheless, increased from three months to six. The same Judge had before him his hon. Friend the Member for South Armagh (Mr. Blane). His hon. Friend had been sentenced to four months' imprisonment for a speech he had delivered. The learned Judge drew a distinction in that case. He considered his hon. Friend the greater criminal of the two, because he did not live in the precise region in which the speech was delivered; he was only an Ulster man. No doubt, the hon. Gentleman was speaking in an Ulster county, and was Member for a division of an Ulster county, but because the speech was not delivered in the actual division he represented, the learned Judge regarded him as a kind of intruder or invader of the district, and appeared unable to understand what concern an Ulster man could have for the well-being of any part of Ulster except that which he lived in himself. Dr. Webb accordingly increased the sentence from four months to six, with the additional stigma of not allowing the hon. Gentleman to be treated as a first-class misdemeanant, but regarded as an ordinary criminal. His hon. Friend was taken away in a third-class carriage, and thrust into a common gaol. He thought the House would admit that these were two remarkable cases. He came next to the case of John Kilmartin, Timothy Coffey, and Thomas O'Higgins, who had been sentenced by the magistrates to six weeks' imprisonment with hard labour for advocating the Plan of Campaign. They appealed against the sentence, and the appeal was heard in Galway, on Monday, by Recorder Honn. Mr. Honn wound up the case very briefly by increasing Coffey's sentence from six weeks to four months; Kilmartin's from six weeks to three months; and confirmed the judgment in O'Higgins' case, but relaxed the sentence by allowing the prisoner to be treated as a first-class misdemeanant. In none of these cases was there any new evidence whatever. No additional facts were imported into any of them to alter the complexion of the case from the day it was brought before the Minor Court and decided there. There was, also, an 346 appeal the other day at Ennis, in the case of a man named Flanagan, who had been sentenced to three months' imprisonment for having refused to sell bread to a Boycotted person. He did not propose to enter into that case, nor to say whether the sentence was just or unjust. He would only make this remark—that, upon going through the case, he could find no evidence or suggestion that the prisoner, in his refusal to sell bread, had been acting in obedience to any kind of organized conspiracy, or in concert with anybody whatever. Whether rightly or wrongly, he seemed to have acted entirely on his own motion. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for what he did, and the case was heard on appeal before Judge Hicks, who went through the evidence, and wound up by saying—I will inflict upon you the full term the law can inflict, and I sentence you to six months' imprisonment with hard labour.All those cases had occurred within a few days. In the same newspaper in which he found a record of these cases, he found that the Viceroy had intervened by one act of mercy in reference to a sentence, but it was only in a case where a man had murdered his wife—none of your unpardonable political offences. Then they had this fact before them—that this practice, which he pronounced to be, if not absolutely illegal, an entirely new system in Ireland, growing up with such frightful rapidity that six or seven cases had occurred within the last few days. He did not believe that the House of Commons had appreciated the extent to which this practice was carried, and he was quite certain that the English people knew little or nothing about it. If they did know, he was satisfied that the judgment of all the intelligent men and women in England would declare that this was not what was understood by the privilege of appeal. It had always been thought that a right of appeal was given to a prisoner so that the sentence might be submitted to a higher tribunal in the hope that the punishment might be mitigated; and he ventured to say if the English people knew that while this was undoubtedly the principle in England, minor and obscure Judges in Ireland were allowed to reverse that principle, and to make the right of a prisoner to appeal nothing more or less than a revolting game of double or quits, 347 they would express a very strong opinion. Why did not the Crown appeal, and plead that the original sentence was too mild, and that justice required that it should be made heavier? If the Crown never did that, with what right and justice could it be urged that it should be within the principle and proper sphere of Irish County Court Judges to double the sentence of magisstrates upon prisoners? If this state of things were allowed to go on the whole spirit of the law would be perverted, and a bitterness of the worst kind would be aroused in the minds of the Irish people. He remembered, a great many years ago, hearing the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) denounce a certain change which had been made in the practice of the country as a gigantic innovation. Whether this was a gigantic innovation or not, it was a dangerous innovation, and one distinctly opposed to the spirit of the law. Those who represented the Irish people were anxious to maintain unchallenged the right of a prisoner to appeal. At any rate, they had still their right of appeal to the House of Commons, and it was for the purpose of testing in some way the opinion of Parliament, that he brought forward the Motion and asked the House to mark its objection to this now principle, which would not merely close the gates of mercy, but would open the gates of wanton and despotic action.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I do not see that the hon. Member has connected his observations with the latter part of his Motion, which refers to the different methods of treating prisoners convicted of the same offence, and does not afford sufficiently definite ground for moving the Adjournment of the House. If the hon. Gentleman will omit that part and confine the Motion to the first part he will be more in Order.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
I am quite prepared to do that, Mr. Speaker.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Justin M'Carthy.)
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin. Unisity)
said, he would venture to submit that the only question raised by the speech of the hon. Gentleman which the louse could for one moment entertain 348 was the question whether or not the conduct of the Judges in Ireland, in the exercise of the jurisdiction recently conferred upon them, had put in force powers which had not been entrusted to them. It was in vain to ask the House to go into the details of the individual cases referred to by the hon. Member, and to ask the House, in the utter absence of any reliable material, to form an opinion as to whether the County Court Judge, in each individual case, assuming him to possess the power to increase the sentence, had exercised that power wisely and justly upon the evidence before him. He had observed in one portion of the speech of the hon. Member a suggestion which, he thought, afforded a clue that might enable the House to understand how the question presented itself to his mind: The hon. Member said that, to his mind, the privilege of appeal was one which a convicted person possessed of going to a higher tribunal in the hope of having his punishment mitigated. [Mr. JUSTIN M'CARTHY: Hear, hear!] The hon. Gentleman said "Hear, hear!" and he could quite understand how the question presented itself to the mind of the hon. Member if he understood the right of appeal in that sense. That was not, however, what the law understood by this right of appeal. The appeal granted under the Petty Sessions Act, which was incorporated in the Act of last year, was not an appeal in the ordinary sense, but was in reality a re-hearing. The case was re-heard upon evidence, some of which might be new. He had no means of knowing how much of the evidence in the cases brought before the County Court Judges referred to by the hon. Member was new; but he might inform the House that the entire evidence was taken de novo. The case was heard, not on an appeal, as the hon. Member understood the law, but as a re-hearing of the entire case, and it was the duty of the County County Judge, without regard to the decision originally given, to pronounce the sentence which, in his opinion, on the evidence before him ought to have been originally passed. He would remind the House that this provision of the Statute regulating appeals from summary convictions had been incorporated into the Act of last year. The hon. Member asked a question which might have some bearing on 349 his own contention—namely, why the Crown did not appeal if the sentence was considered too light? By the Act of 1851 the right of appeal from the Justices to the Quarter Sessions was given to either party in civil cases, and to the party against whom the order should have been made in other cases. In the Act it was provided that it should be lawful for the Court of Quarter Sessions to entertain the appeal and confirm, vary, or reverse the order made by the Judges. The Act of last year conferred on the County Court Judges the jurisdiction in this respect possessed by Quarter Sessions, and it was the duty of the County Court Judge, upon the evidence brought before him, to exercise his discretion independently of the sentence which the Court below might have pronounced. If he was wrong in his law, and if the County Court Judge possessed no such jurisdiction, there was a very simple method in which the question could be tested very expeditiously and satisfactorily, seeing that it was open to any prisoner who had been illegally convicted to apply for a writ of habeas corpus and have the question tested. He had been asked yesterday, and it was some satisfaction to him that others had been asked the same question with the same result, to inform the House of the number and the proportion of cases in which sentences on appeal had been varied in the direction of an increase of the penalty. He had ventured to point out, and he would de so again, that that information could only be arrived at by going through the records of each Court and carefully examining them. Such knowledge did not exist at the present moment in the mind of any Officer of the Crown. There was no person who could be expected to possess information on the subject, and the information could only be obtained by examining the records of each Court, for the given period. But he could state from his own knowledge that where an appeal existed in the nature of a rehearing in civil cases in the Court of Appeal, it was a matter of frequent occurrence that what the hon. Member called "the game of double or quits" was played, and that the appellant sometimes obtained a more unfavourable decision. An appellant has sometimes found himself when he came to the Court of Appeal in the position of 350 having a decision in his favour on some point reversed and a more unfavourable decision given. That was so now that appeals were re-hearings, but the same course could not have been pursued so long as the appeal continued to be an appeal in the sense understood by the hon. Member—namely, an application to a Higher Court to have a decision varied in favour of the appellant. Once they established the principle that the appeal was a general re-hearing of the case, then an appellant would always know that when he went to the Court of Appeal he ran the risk of having the decision varied adversely to himself. It was, as he had said, in the power and within the jurisdiction of the County Court Judge upon the evidence before him on appeal to pronounce the sentence which the Court below, assuming the same evidence to have been before it, ought to have pronounced. That was the duty of the County Court Judge under the Statute, and it was impossible for the House to go behind that principle and to deal with individual cases without proper materials to guide them in discussing whether that duty and that discretion had been properly performed and exercised.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, that as ho had ventured to put a Question to the Home Secretary on this subject yesterday and to the Attorney General to-day, he hoped he might be allowed to intervene for a few moments in the discussion. It was impossible for anyone who had heard the Answers of the Home Secretary and the Attorney General to come to any other conclusion than that neither of those learned Gentlemen was able to adduce a single instance in which an appeal in England to a Court of Quarter Sessions had increased the sentence of the Court below. He was quite certain that if they could they would have done so. He had put the same question to persons inside and outside the House who had had a long experience of Quarter Sessions work, and he had received the same answer from all of them—namely, that in no case in a criminal appeal had the sentence of the Court been increased, and he was of opinion that no case of the kind could be adduced The Court of Quarter Sessions in England had the same power as the Solicitor General for 351 Ireland claimed for the County Courts in Ireland, but the sentence of the Court below in a criminal appeal had never been increased. Perhaps the reason why sentences were not increased at Quarter Sessions was because the law did not give the Crown the right of appeal. The appeal was only given to the accused, and he held, therefore, that it was an appeal given in the interest of prisoners who had been convicted. He believed that was the reason why the Court of Quarter Sessions had never exercised the power of increasing sentences. Under these circumstances, he thought the House ought to scrutinize very carefully the practice which had just been inaugurated in Ireland. He was told that the practice in Ireland formerly was the same as in England, and that no case could be adduced of the Court of Quarter Sessions or the County Court Judge increasing the sentence until within the last few days. But within the last few days they had found three County Court Judges increasing the sentences. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) had alluded to those cases, and he (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre) did not propose to go into them at any length. It was, however, an extraordinary fact that three County Court Judges, almost on the same day, should for the first time have increased the sentences passed by the Court below upon certain prisoners. The first case mentioned was the Ennis case, where three men were prosecuted for refusing to supply food to Mrs. Maloney. They were sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment with hard labour by the Court below, but the sentences had been increased from six weeks to three months with hard labour. Now everybody knew that the question of Boycotting, or refusing to supply provisions, was a very doubtful matter in the Criminal Law. He believed he was right in saying that only in a very few cases had there been prosecutions of that kind under the Coercion Act. He had been unable to discover more than three cases under that Act, although Boycotting was a very common thing in Ireland. In each of these three cases the sentences inflicted were very small, not more than four or five weeks' imprisonment without hard labour, but in the Ennis case the sentence 352 imposed by the County Court Judge was for the first time the full sentence given under the Act—namely, six months' imprisonment with hard labour. Yet the evidence was precisely the same as that which was given in the Court below, and there was no earthly reason, as he could perceive, for increasing the sentence. Next there was the case referred to by the hon. Member of Father M'Fadden and Mr. Blane. Now, everybody knew that Father M'Fadden was the most popular man in the North of Ireland, and had done more to save the lives of the tenantry in that district than any other person. It was a most serious matter that a man of that character should have his sentence increased by the County Court Judge from three months to six months. Then there was the case of Mr. Blane, who was charged with the same offence as Father M'Fadden. He did not propose to enter into the facts of the case, and he only alluded to it for the purpose of showing that in that case also the sentence was increased from four to six months, and it was not accompanied by the mitigation in Father M'Fadden's case, that the hon. Member was to be treated as a first class misdemeanant. He could not understand why the priest should be treated differently from a Member of Parliament for the same offence. He would not, however, pursue that matter, because he would be entering upon a subject which the Speaker had ruled out of Order. This practice of increasing the sentences was a serious innovation, and would tend to diminish the confidence of the people of Ireland in the administration of justice by the County Court Judges. In the discussion of the Coercion Act last year, no mention was ever made nor was it over suggested that power should be given to the Court of Appeal to increase the sentences. As had already been pointed out, it had always been considered that the appeal was in the interests of the prisoner and not in the interests of the Crown, and although technically the Judge possessed the right to do so, it had never been the practice in any case he bad been able to discover to increase the sentence. He thought the Government ought to give some explanation why this new practice had suddenly, at a moment's notice, sprung up in Ireland. It would point to the suggestion or suspicion that the 353 new practice was in some manner due to a suggestion from headquarters. It was hardly possible that three Judges could at the same time have come to the conclusion that it was necessary to depart from the old established practice, without some such suggestion or hint.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he did not intend to deny that the Court to which the appeal was made had technically the power of doing what had been done in these cases. If it had not that technical power there would be no necessity to come before the House, as the hon. Member for Londonderry had done, with a Motion for Adjournment; but the men imprisoned would, by motion before the Supreme Court, take advantage of their rights. He believed that the technical power, as defined by the Statute, was contained in the words which were nearly, though not literally, the same in Ireland as in England. The Court of Appeal had the power—To confirm, to reverse, or to modify a decision, or to remit the matter to the magistrate who had made the decision.Then there were words contained later, and which provided that the Court to wich the appeal was made might exercise any power which the Court of Summary Jurisdiction might have exercised. But clearly the intention in allowing the appeal was to give the person who made the appeal the opportunity of having his sentence modified, reversed, or confirmed. If there had been any intention on the part of the Legislature to give to the Crown the power which was so often exercised in France, and which was part of their ordinary procedure, there would have been specific authority to aggravate and increase the sentence, just as there were express words allowing the sentence to be modified or reversed. The three things which were given to the Court of Appeal were the power to modify, to reverse, or to confirm; and, although in practice it might be necessary that the Court to which the appeal was made should possess every power which the Court of Summary Jurisdiction possessed against whose order the appeal was made—although it might be necessary that the Court should have that technical power, it had certainly never been intended that it should be exercised for the purpose of increasing the sentence. Nor 354 had it been so considered in this country. He would not take upon himself to say, and it would be unwise to say, as he had not investigated every case of appeal, that there had been no case in which a sentence might not have been increased; but he felt quite sure that he was within limit, and would be confirmed by the Law Officers of the Crown, when he said that it was almost unknown for sentences to be increased which had been passed under summary jurisdiction by the Court to which the appeal had been made. Sentences had been reduced often, confirmed often, modified often, and men had been ordered to come up for judgment when called upon; but the cases in which sentences had been increased were so rare that he did not happen to know of any. There was a possibility that such power might have been exercised; but all the references he had been able to make went the other way. It was almost the invariable practice, if, indeed, it were not the invariable practice, to make the decision en the appeal a decision either in diminution of the sentence, or a quashing the conviction, or of sending it back to the magistrates, or confirming it. It was almost unknown that there should have been such an aggravation of the sentence as found in the circumstances quoted by the hon. Member for Londonderry. He would take the liberty of saying that in the opinion of the people with whom he had come in contact in this country that, as there had been some sentences which had been quashed, the Judges of Appeal, who were hostile to those appealing, had increased the sentences for the purpose of deterring men from going to the Court of Appeal in order to obtain a modification of sentence. He would suggest that if that opinion was well founded it was a terrible matter; and the mere existence of such opinion was a matter which the Government ought not to disregard. There were many matters connected with these appeals which the English public were beginning to notice. They noticed that the highest Court of Jurisdiction in Ireland had quashed sonic of the convictions on the ground that the magistrates did not possess the same confidence of the Irish people as the ordinary magistrates, because they were exceptionally appointed magistrates, giving decisions under exceptional circumstances, subject 355 to exceptional influence, and in exceptional relation with the Executive authority, acting sometimes in a judicial capacity and sometimes in an administrative capacity. Rightly or wrongly, the English people fancied that there was a Party tendency in these prosecutions; that the Judges did not hold the scales of justice fairly—that was to say, that those Resident Magistrate Judges were looked upon with the greatest favour by the Administration themselves—namely, the present Castle Government in Ireland, who were more ready to insure a Party victory than to deal out even-handed justice. He hoped the Government would do him the justice to recognize that he had interfered very little in matters of controversy between them and the Irish Members who sat around him. There were, however, some subjects on which he considered it his duty to speak out, and it was because he had contended for the even-handed administration of justice in. England that he felt doubly bound to speak out when he arrived at the conclusion that it was not justice but prosecution that was being meted out to the struggling people of Ireland.
§ MR. DARLING (Deptford)
said, he should not have intervened in the discussion if it had not so happened that he had gained some experience at Quarter Sessions. He thought hon. Members, when they complained that no precedent was to be found for the increase of a sentence where there had been an appeal from the conviction in England, had forgotten the extraordinary rarity of appeal from a conviction coming to Quarter Sessions. He had practised for more years than hon. Members might think at Quarter Sessions, and he had been frequently concerned in appeals against orders of affiliation, and in cases of the conviction of publicans for offences against the Licensing Laws; but he did not remember a case while he practised at Quarter Sessions in which there was an appeal from the conviction for theft, or in such cases as ordinarily came before a magistrate sitting in a Court of First Instance. It was, therefore, not remarkable that the Law Officer of the Crown for Ireland, when challenged, should not be able to put his hand on a group of cases in which the sentences had been increased. [A laugh.] Hon. Members laughed as if they knew more upon the 356 subject themselves. It would have surprised him, and probably would have surprised hon. Gentlemen opposite, if the Solicitor General for Ireland could have put his hand on many cases in which there had been an appeal against conviction at all, except for the offence of permitting drunkenness in licensed premises. He thought it was greatly to be deplored that the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) should have delivered the speech to which the House had just listened. There could be no fair reason in his judgment for charging the Government with any kind of interference. [Cries of "Oh!"] That was his opinion at any rate, and when the hon. Member for Northampton said that those who sat round him held opposite opinions, his (Mr. Darling's) reply was that hon. Members who sat round him held opinions that were directly opposed to those of the hon. Member.
said, he had not spoken of the opinion of hon. Members sitting around him, but he had spoken of the English opinion with which he had been brought in contact outside the House.
§ MR. DARLING
said, that ho too had come in contact with public opinion outside the House, although that opinion might by no means have been the same as that with which the hon. Member came in contact; but, perhaps, he and the hon. Member did not meet the same people. Certainly, it was not to the effect that the Government had given itself over to the persecution of any class of people, or had manifested any spirit of unfairness in carrying out the Act of last year. He maintained, in the presence of the Government, that hon. Members opposite bad too readily admitted the state of the law. The right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) and the hon. Member for Northampton, who generally interfered in matters of law, although sometimes without much success—[Cries of"Question!"]—There could be no question about that. He thought they had too readily admitted that there was no doubt about the law in regard to this case. It might be true that a case could not be found, but it did not prove much to say that it was impossible to find convictions in any number. For his own part, he thought the question was more open to 357 doubt than the right hon. Gentleman or the hon. Member for Northampton seemed to think. The hon. Member for Northampton had quoted words from the Act; but the Act he read was the English Act. The Irish Act 14 & 15 Vict. c. 19, s. 74, did not use the words "confirm, reverse, or modify," but the words used were "confirm, vary, or reverse" the sentence. If hon. Members would refer to that section of the Act they would notice that towards the end of it provision was made for carrying out the sentence of the Court, and they would see it was arguable that the man to be committed. to prison in execution of a sentence was committed upon the conviction of a magistrate sitting in a Court of First Instance. If that were so, it was a conviction and order to carry out a particular sentence, and the prisoner could not possibly be sentenced for a longer period than that contained in the original sentence. Under these circumstances he was certainly surprised to hear hon. Gentlemen opposite admit that technically the law gave the County Court Judges power to increase sentences. Instead of hon. Members founding their arguments on a legal basis, they proferred—and this was the worst of these Irish questions—to rely upon arguments ad misericordiam. Now, where was the grievance? If an Englishman were wrongly convicted he appealed to the Courts of Law. What were the Courts of Law for? What was the Court of Queen's Bench for, unless it existed on the assumption that the Courts of First Instance and secondary Courts decided wrongly sometimes? In England it was admitted that they decided wrongly honestly. Why should not hon. Gentlemen opposite admit the same thing in regard to Ireland? If anything had been overlooked, if any power had been exercised which should not have been exercised by law, then Father M. Fadden and the other prisoners had only to go to the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland and get as good justice as could be obtained in the Court of Queen's Bench in England. Instead of doing that hon. Gentlemen opposite said they thought the sentence was perfectly justified by the law; but they chose to say that the law should not prevail because Father M'Fadden was a philanthropist and one of the best men in Ireland. It was very unfortunate that everyone who 358 got into trouble in Ireland turned out to be a philanthropist, and one of the best men in the country. What advantage was there for arguing upon such a basis as that; either the grievance was a legal grievance or it was no grievance at all? If in the Act of Parliament the word "vary" meant to have the right to increase the sentence, it was no grievance that that had not been done formerly, but had been done now. He did not suppose that persons in Ireland—rev. gentlemen of a philanthropic turn of mind, who committed crime, and were sentenced to three months' imprisonment, would be at all deterred because the sentence was increased to six months. Their grievance was a legal one, or no grievance at all, and, after all, it would much better become them to take their appeal to a Higher Court than for their friends to come to the House of Commons, and speak of them as philanthropists, who had been put into third-class carriages like pickpockets, as though no respectable people ever travelled in that way. If they had any grievance known to the law, it was better that they should bring it before a Higher Court, and have it redressed. If they could not do that, notwithstanding the remarks of the hon. Member for Northampton, the English people would come to the conclusion that Irish grievances were, like Irish action, outside the law, and because they were outside the law the English people would not sympathize with them.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
I think the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has shown that he entirely misapprehends the grounds on which this complaint is made. He has said—and no doubt it is a conception he has derived from Quarter Sessions, at which he told us he has principally practised—that either there is a legal grievance, or there is no grievance at all. That is not the complaint at all, nor do I think that that is the view the people of England will take of this question. I will not say whether the proceedings of the Court are legal or not. It is not necessary to determine that question here. The Solicitor General for Ireland has expressed a confident opinion that that is the true interpretation of the Statute. I think there might be good ground for raising such a doubt as that which the hon. and learned Member who 359 has just spoken raised. But for this purpose that does not enter into the question. We are willing to assume that this jurisdiction exists in the Court, and may be assumed to exist in a similar Court in England. We know that there are a great number of unused powers in the law of England—rusty weapons of brutal tyranny, which, if they were brought out and used against the English people, the English people would not tolerate for one moment that they should be employed either by the Courts, or that the Executive Government should allow them to be carried out. There are many such powers as these; they undoubtedly exist, and the employment of unusual powers for the purpose of turning the Criminal Law into an engine of brutal and ferocious oppression, however legal it may be, is unconstitutional. The meaning of the word "unconstitutional" is this—that it is an unusual and unexampled use of a power that cannot be defined as being technically illegal. That is what unconstitutional action means. Unconstitutional action may be taken by the highest power in the Realm if powers that cannot be legally disputed are used in a manner that has passed into disuetude. That would be unconstitutional action on the part of the Crown. There might, I imagine, be unconstitutional action on the part of Parliament if it were to assume its powers and privileges that it was not in the habit of assuming. There might even be unconstitutional action on the part of the Courts, if, in the exercise of unusual powers, they used them in a manner in which they were never used before; and over that unconstitutional action of the Courts there would remain the power of the Minister to advise the Crown to remit sentences of that character. I venture to say that if any Quarter Sessions in England had used their power in a manner in which it had never been used before for the purpose of cruelly oppressing the subject, there is no Home Secretary in England who would not have remitted that sentence, and no House of Commons that would not, if necessary, have made him do it, if he refused. -Why, Sir, over and over again the Executive Government in England, by the power of the Home Secretary, has restrained the action of magistrates and of Courts where it was thought their 360 practice was falling into a system that was injurious to Society and to the community. I may be forgiven if I refer to a class of cases with which I was myself connected as Home Secretary. I found that magistrates, no doubt from not having sufficiently considered the matter, were sending children of tender age to prison by scores. I found to my horror and surprise that many children of eight were being sent to gaol, and were confined to a solitary cell. Well, what did I do? I remitted the sentences, and the practice soon disappeared without any change in the law by the action of the Executive, and a practice which everybody recognized as injurious to the community was practically restrained. I believe that at the Home Office the rule still continues, that no sentence of imprisonment on a child under 12 shall be carried out without being reported personally to the Home Secretary, and brought under his notice. Therefore I say it is perfectly idle now for the Executive to plead ignorance of, or that it has no connection with the introduction of these novel practices in the law. It is their business to take cognizance of them. It is for that very reason that they are armed with the power which the Crown has over sentences of this character, and they cannot refuse the responsibility which for that very reason attaches to them. No Home Secretary can be allowed to say he did not know of any practices of unexampled severity being introduced into the Criminal Law, and would not use the prerogative of the Crown placed in his hands to restrain their exercise. That is the view that we take of this matter, quite apart from the technical right of the Court to carry out these sentences. Can anybody doubt what the facts are? As to what the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last said about the rareness of appeals at Quarter Sessions, that is contrary to my experience, gained, not at Quarter Sessions, but at the Home Office. Certainly at the Home Office I became constantly acquainted with appeals in criminal cases, carried from the magistrates to the Courts of Quarter Sessions. I particularly remember cases connected with convictions under the Game Laws. Does anybody believe that when you find the Law Officers on the Front Bench opposite getting up one after 361 another, and saying they do not know—they cannot be certain without having Returns prepared—do you believe that if such a case were known by anybody, the Attorney General would have known it, or, if not, would at least have been able to find it out by to-day? Do you suppose that the Solicitor General is so ignorant of the practice of his profession as not to be acquainted with such cases if they really existed? The truth is, that magistrates and Quarter Sessions in England would have been ashamed of such transactions. To suppose that you can introduce a novel practice of this sort without violating all the rules that ought to regulate the administration of criminal justice is a proposition which cannot be sustained. Then what is the conclusion? That you are introducing into Ireland, to whom you promised equal treatment, an exceptional system of cruel brutality in the administration of justice which has no paragon and no example in English practice. This question of appeal comes to us in a rather suspicious garb from the hands of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He began this policy of appeal by an act of deliberate bad faith with this House. He made a solemn pledge that he would give an appeal in every case. The pledge that he gave—he gave it personally to myself, and therefore, I recollect it—he broke. Sentences under the Coercion Act began to be passed in Ireland, and in some instances, in order to obtain a right of appeal, the accused persons asked that their sentences might be increased so that an appeal should be allowed. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary soon afterwards made a speech at Birmingham which contained very significant hints that it would be extremely convenient if sentences were of such a character as not to admit of an appeal. It was a curious circumstance—I do not say there was any connection between the two things—but immediately the sentences conformed to the Birmingham speech, and we have seen how the appeals have been worked in Ireland. There were some Judges, of course, who were more merciful than others. That will always happen. Appeals were taken to Judges who were in the habit of remitting or lowering the sentences. But you can quite conceive that it would be a convenient thing to make people afraid of appeals, even in cases where 362 appeals were to be given; and what could be more convenient than to introduce a new practice into your criminal procedure? To tell a man who wished to appeal that if he appealed he would very likely get his sentence doubled would deter him from appealing, because it would depend very likely on the person before whom he was brought as to whether the sentence was diminished by one-half or doubled. There was every probability that a practice of that kind would be a very wholesome deterrent against any man daring to appeal against a sentence imposed on him in Ireland. In such a state of things, do you believe that the Irish people are likely to have confidence in the administration of your law? I say they will not, and they ought not. It is an administration of the law which is contrary to all the principles and sentiments which are known to the humanity of the law as it is practised in England. I say you are doing, by conduct of this character, everything you possibly can to shake the belief in the administration of the law both in Ireland and in England, and all you can do to prevent the restoration of that peace and order of which you are constantly talking, but which, it seems to me, your system of administration is undermining and destroying for over. I am endeavouring to explain to the hon. and learned Member for Deptford (Mr. Darling) that the question is a very different one from the technical and Quarter Sessions view. It is a question which touches much higher principles than that; it touches the belief in the justice, the humanity, and the equality of the administration of the law as it is dealt out to the Irish people and to the English people. It is because we think that this practice which is carried out in Ireland is wholly alien and repugnant to the sentiments which are entertained in this country, that we protest against its being applied to Ireland as an additional instance of the inequality of the treatment which you mete out there.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I am one of the admirers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) who have watched with considerable regret his decline and fall ever since the unhappy day when, at a moment's notice, he changed the opinions of a lifetime. I 363 noticed with regret—I have long noticed with regret—that he has thought fit, in adopting the opinions of his new allies, also to adopt their morality. I noticed with further regret, in the speech he has just delivered, that he has not only adopted their morality, but also their style. I never heard a happier, a more felicitous, a more perfect imitation of the style of United Ireland than that which I have heard in certain parts of the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just thought fit to deliver to the House. The right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to repeat an accusation which has been a thousand times refuted. I shall not think of occupying the time of the House with any subject so absolutely irrelevant to the question before us. But I must say a word, not in defence of myself, but in defence of those other individuals whom the right hon. Gentleman has coupled with me in his violent and unscrupulous attack—[Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT dissented]—yes, in his violent and unscrupulous attack. The right hon. Gentleman has insinuated, and more than insinuated—following in this the unfortunate example of the right hon. Gentleman who sits near him on the Front Opposition Bench—the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre)—that the action of the County Court Judges in Ireland is, in some obscure and insidious way, receiving inspiration from Dublin Castle. That insinuation is a foul libel upon an honourable, an able, a learned, and a most independent class of men. On the Bench opposite me, I see more than one right hon. Gentleman who has held the Office of Irish Chief Secretary. I see one right hon. Gentleman, at least, who has given public testimony to the independence of County Court Judges in Ireland. Will one of those right hon. Gentlemen get up and say that, since they left Office, men whom they were proud to defend when they were in Office have sunk to the level which was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman? County Court Judges in Ireland are absolutely and in every possible respect now, as they have always been, independent of the Government of Ireland. Their independence and their learning have been recognized by successive Chief Secretaries belonging to different Parties in the State, and I reject, as a foul libel and aspersion on their character, the insinuations which 364 have just been made by two right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench. Now, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down made some allusion to the legal aspect of this question. I have noticed that the right hon. Gentleman is not always fortunate in his legal allusions. He talked of the increase of sentences, or the power rather under which the County Court Judges have increased the sentences, as being the use of a rusty and disused weapon.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I did not say so. I said there were many rusty, disused weapons in the English law; but I did not say that this was one.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Under those circumstances, I think, if Mr. Speaker had seen that the right hon. Gentleman was straying so far from the point as to be so totally and absolutely irrelevant, he would have called him to Order. If the right hon. Gentleman did not think that this power was a rusty and disused weapon, in what connection did he use the epithet? What relevance had it to the question? I now accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as indicating that the use of this power is the use of a weapon which is not rusty, but which is still bright. You reject the first alternative; allow me to pin you to the second. This is a power which the right hon. Gentleman frankly admits has been given to County Court Judges, or, rather, to the Court of Quarter Sessions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to admit it. It was specifically admitted by the right hon. Gentleman who sits near him, and I think it would be well that they should come to an agreement on their law, as they have with regard to the line of attack which they have adopted on this question. This power; as the right hon. Gentleman himself owns, has been given to the Judges by Statutes which are in no sense antiquated. The Statute in England under which this power is given dates no further back than 1879; it is not more than 10 years old, and the powers given under it have been given in language so specific and so precise that it is perfectly impossible to suppose for 365 a moment that the Legislature was not cognizant of what it was doing when it gave these powers to the County Court Judges. But allow me to point out that there is a difference between an appeal given in Ireland and an appeal given in England. In England appeal is given to a tribunal not necessarily learned in the law. It is from magistrates not learned in the law to a tribunal which is not learned in the law. In Ireland the case is different under the Crimes Act, because the Legislature has rightly decided that that appeal shall not lie to Quarter Sessions generally, or to any tribunal composed of laymen, but that it shall be tried solely by competent lawyers, who, by virtue of their office, are absolutely independent of the Executive in any shape or form. The right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to describe the action of a learned Judge as "brutal, savage, and furiously oppressive," and as "cruelly oppressive." In my opinion, this House is never worse occupied than when it is attempting to act the part of a Court of Law. It never, in my opinion, is making a worse use of the vast powers entrusted to it, than when it attempts to discuss, without the evidence or the safeguards attached to a Court of Law, the sentences passed by the Judges of the Courts of Law, and surely the abuse of that power was never grosser than in the case of a man who has held the Office of Home Secretary, and who describes, so far as I know, without any knowledge of the facts of the case, without any examination of witnesses, or any documents before him to enable him to judge of the case—who describes the action of a competent, independent, and learned lawyer, as being "savage, brutal, and furiously oppressive." I shall not imitate the action of the right hon. Gentleman; I will only say, so far as I am cognizant of the case, of the circumstances in which the offence was committed, and the character of the offence, and the character of the action of those who committed it, that I absolutely and totally differ from the conclusion to which the right hon. Gentleman has arrived. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has larger means of information on this subject than I have; but I think that before he, acting as a Court of Appeal in this 366 House, without any knowledge of the facts, so far as we know, wishes to and pronounces this censure on the Judges in this particular case, he might recollect that he speaks, not from his own character, but from his position he speaks with some authority in this House, and that he is setting an extremely bad example. If it be true, as is not denied by any lawyer in the House, that the County Court Judges in Ireland have thrown upon them a statutory obligation to rehear eases; if they find themselves dealing with cases about which a vast amount of political and Party excitement has been aroused in Ireland, and has been attempted to be aroused in England; if they find that the Court of First Instance, whose decision they have got to revise, consists of gentlemen who have been subject to the most violent and monstrous attacks, not only in their own country, not only in their own Press, but in England, by English politicians, and by English newspapers; if they find themselves, in these circumstances, obliged to re-hear the cases of men who have committed offences of the gravest kind, are we to refuse them the power—when we compel them to rehear the cases—can we say that they are doing any more than their duty if they modify the sentences in certain cases and increase those that have been given? So far as I can understand the duties which are imposed upon those Judges, they would be absolutely failing in the obligation imposed upon them if they did not approach the consideration of these important cases with minds perfectly unbiassed by the decision in the Court below; they would be failing in their duty if they did not devote themselves simply to the evidence brought before them, and if they did not pass sentences on the offenders proportionate to the offence committed. It is not only for this reason; it is also because I think that this House is entering upon a most dangerous course in erecting itself, under the impartial presidency of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, into a Court of Appeal for revising sentences passed by perfectly competent Judges, not only upon that, but upon the particular ground that those Judges would have been failing in their duty if they had not approached these cases with perfectly open minds, 367 that I ask the House to reject unequivocally, and by a large majority, the Motion for Adjournment.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I quite agree with those who may hold that we ought to do anything rather than desire that the time of this House should be occupied in considering the proceedings of Courts of Justice in an adverse or critical sense. This may be an evil, but there are greater evils, and one greater evil is when the proceedings of Courts of Justice are conducted not in the spirit of justice but in a spirit requiring the exercise of the high functions of this House as a Grand Court and inquest of the nation, before whom every man's grievance may be brought, and where no man's grievance is to be sent away unheard. We have had the advantage of the intervention in this debate of the hon. and learned Member for Deptford (Mr. Darling), who informed us, in the first place, that it was no wonder that examples of the aggravation or enlargement of criminal sentences were not to be had in England, because there were no such appeals.
§ MR. DARLING
I did not say there were no such appeals. I said they were very rare, and so rare that I could not recollect one.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I believe the hon. and learned Gentleman said that he practised largely before Quarter Sessions, that he had superior knowledge in these cases, that he was well informed as to the practice before Quarter Sessions. and that there were no such appeals within his knowledge. There are Quarter Sessions all over the country, and, as is well known, especially in some districts, there are cases under the Game Laws which come before Quarter Sessions. Then it is most extraordinary, if the hon. and learned Member thinks that there are cases of such appeals, although rare, and if we have the positive testimony of my right hon. Friend who was connected with such appeals as Home Secretary, that, if such appeals exist, there cannot be produced, by the whole wisdom and knowledge of Gentlemen opposite, one single case in which the Court of Quarter Sessions has enlarged the sentences of the Court below. The hon. and learned Gentleman, who says, as a lawyer, he feels extremely diffident in the consideration of this 368 question, proceeded to give us some principles of law, and his principle of law was that either in this case there is a legal grievance or there is no grievance at all. How am I to interpret those words? Is the hon. and learned Gentleman prepared to pledge himself to that principle. Courts have a discretionary power in certain cases to inflict a minimum penalty, which is a very small term of imprisonment, or a maximum penalty, which is very large, and where a Court has exercised its undoubted power to inflict maximum penalties in ail cases, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman, with his legal knowledge and from the high position in which he looks down upon the ignorance of us laymen, there can be no grievance at all. The question we have to argue is quite serious enough without arguing that point. When no instance can be produced by the united ingenuity and knowledge of the whole Party opposite and the Law Officers of the Crown, when no single instance in the wide range of judicial practice is deduced from England or Scotland of the enlargement of criminal sentences on appeal, are you, who say you are advocates of equality of law and equality of right as well as of equality of administration between England and Ireland, prepared to stand up in your places and defend this remarkable practice, which, for the first time within our knowledge, has been introduced? The Solicitor General for Ireland says that these are cases of re-hearing; but is not an appeal to Quarter Sessions a re-hearing? [Mr. MADDEN assented.] Yes, it is. Therefore the powers of a Court of Appeal in England are as wide as the powers of a Court of Appeal in Ireland. The practice of the Courts of Appeal in England has been uniform and under no consideration to enlarge the criminal sentences of the Court below; but in Ireland, in the relations in which we stand to her, and when you are agreed in saying that the proper mode of governing Ireland is not to give her a Legislature of her own for the management of her internal affairs, but to govern her from Westminster so equitably and mildly and generously and equally that she shall have no reason to complain—it is now in this matter of criminal justice that you introduce this violent and odious inequality without one single instance from the whole of 369 your knowledge of British practice to support it. The Solicitor General for Ireland says—"You are acting in the absence of knowledge of what took place in these cases; there may have been new evidence." Is there any new evidence? If there had been new evidence he would have known it. He did not assert it, because he could not assert it. Had there been, the Solicitor General for Ireland would have told us, and therefore we conclude that there is no evidence in the case, and the suggestion that there might have been new evidence is an idle and empty pretext, with no bearing whatever upon the subject. The hon. Member who moved this Motion did so in terms of singular moderation, and I, for my part, should be very glad if we could look to the enormously important principle which is involved in this question rather than upon the question whether the particular exercise of the discretion was in each case justly and well exercised; but when we are told by the Irish Solicitor General that we have not got the evidence before us, we reply, if it is in his power to do so, let him place that evidence before us. And when the Chief Secretary for Ireland says he shall be glad to place before us a full account of the proceedings in the case of Mr. Blunt, let us encourage the Government to take that course, and let them place before us that evidence which will remove the ground of complaint. The Solicitor General for Ireland quoted the Act under which this power is exercised in Ireland. He quoted very fairly from that Act the provision which gives the power of appeal exclusively to that party to the issue on whom the sentence has been passed. Is there no light thrown upon the intention of Parliament by the provision of that enactment; does not the exclusive grant of the power of appeal to the person on whom sentence has been passed clearly show that it was a power of appeal intended to be exercised in favour of that party, and to be exercised, of course, in the maintenance of justice, but in favour of that party if justice had miscarried, and not exercised in the aggravation of that sentence? When Parliament granted this power, if it was intended that there should be a practice of enlarging these criminal sentences, is it not plain that the power of appeal, as it was where the parties stand on an 370 equality, would have been given likewise to the Crown? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has been criticizing, as he generally does, the morality of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt). Morality is the text of almost every sermon delivered by the right hon. Gentleman in this House, and he has taken upon himself, almost since his official infancy began, the business of teaching morality to those who were here long before he was. His assumption may be very graceful and appropriate, but I wish to see how it is applied. He says we have adopted a new morality, and evidently, in his sense, a debased morality which we have borrowed more or less from the Nationalist Members representing Ireland. Well, I ask what kind of morality is that which treats the maintenance and breach of faith as matters of such indifference as to require no reference in this House?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I said it was irrelevant to a question of this kind—a question which has been discussed ad nauseam.
§ MR. W. GLADSTONE
As far as my memory serves me, the right hon. Gentleman did not speak of it as irrelevant to this question.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I beg pardon; I went so far as to accuse the right hon. Gentleman of being out of Order in introducing it.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
As I understood the right hon. Gentleman he did not say that, and if he did I humbly contest the question, with regard to my right hon. Friend's reference to a breach of faith in respect of the power of appeal in Ireland; and I say that in discussing that question it cannot be doubted that we have the right, and are bound to allude to the history of this right of appeal. My right hon. Friend charged the Chief Secretary—and has rightly charged him—with a breach of faith.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to ask you, Sir, whether it is relevant to the Motion before the House to discuss the action taken by the Government in connection with the Bill passed last Session?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The question is raised as to whether the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) has observed some promise which he made on the 371 subject of appeal, and therefore the allusion which has been made seems to me to be relevant to the subject now before the House.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The subject, I know, is disagreeable. I leave it to the right hon. Gentleman's own reflections. But I am compelled, in considering the use made of the power of appeal on this occasion and under this Statute, to refer to the history of this power. Now, it has been set up that there is to be a re-hearing, quite irrespective of the position of the party sentenced by the Court below. I ask whether there is the smallest doubt—at any rate in this House, and in this particular case—that the power of appeal which has been given was given entirely in the interest of the person who received the sentence? It was asked in his behalf, and it was given as a concession to him, and it is stamped upon it that Parliament intended it to be given to him, whereas it has now been wantonly and cruelly used against him. The promise was given as my right hon. Friend has stated, without exception; when the power was conferred, it was given with exception, and we claim that the reservation put upon that promise was a breach of faith with this House. The right hon. Gentleman thinks, forsooth, that that is irrelevant to the question before the House; but it is a vital and essential point when we are considering this power of appeal. Well, Sir, the power was given with exception. And what do we find? We find in Ireland that the first attempt was made to evade and nullify this power of appeal by accumulated sentences—a trick of the meanest character—the dishonour and discredit of which I will not attempt to divide between the Government and the authorities in Ireland, for I know not how to divide it; but I say, in looking at the transaction, that anything more mean and miserable, more worthy of the contempt of every honest man; nay, of almost every dishonest man who would not have descended to such a trick as that—cannot be conceived. That power was given as I have described, and when it is exercised two sentences are passed together of one month each, so that the person shall be imprisoned for two mouths, and yet not have the right of appeal. This is irrelevant in the opinion 372 of the right hon. Gentleman. Sir, it is part of the melancholy history of this Statute and of its administration, and of what has been done since. I admit frankly that I do not desire the intervention of this House in matters such as these; but this intervention, unfortunately, in such Acts, and in the administration of the law carried on as it is now in Ireland, has become a matter of necessity. The cumulative sentence passed in order to invalidate and nullify the right of appeal was made the subject of special notice in this House, and I rejoice to say that it has not been made in vain. The Government saw that this method of procedure, at all events, would not do, so another has been devised, I do not say by the County Court Judge—I am persuaded that the great body of those gentlemen are fair-minded, impartial, and independent—I do not say by whom; but I say, translating this into English, the meaning is that the Government say, first of all, we promise you appeal, then, without right or title, we restrain the promise we have given; when the power is passed in its limited form we endeavour to escape from and invalidate it by the accumulation of sentences; we have drawn down public indignation against that practice; but our resources are not yet exhausted, for we possess another power—namely, the power of enlarging sentences in Courts of Law, which will make you think twice and think thrice before you resort to the use of this power in future. My right hon. Friend, according to the Chief Secretary, complained of this as a disused power. Sir, he never complained of it as a disued power; he complained of it as a power which has never been used at all, and one which has now for the first time come into action. But I think that the effect of this intervention of the hon. Member for Derry (Mr. M'Carthy), and the public attention which will be given to this practice in consequence of the present discussion, or in consequence of future discussion, will be this—that the hon. Member for Derry has, I believe, struck a death blow at this probably not illegal, but this outrageous action—outrageous in defiance of practice, of policy, and precedent, and totally impossible in England or in Scotland, but good enough, you think, for Ireland, so long as the people of England are dis- 373 posed to tolerate it. Had we received information that the practice prevailed in this country, I quite admit that the basis upon which we proceed would have been entirely altered; but there has been a total failure to produce anything of the kind. The Attorney General is going to speak. He said to-night there is no practice established one way or the other. If there is no practice one way or the other, it must mean that there are cases both ways. But has he a case in which the Quarter Sessions in this country have enlarged a criminal sentence on appeal? If he has not, if there is no such case, I say there is an established practice. Until it can be shown that the practice varies, that it is in this direction at one time and in that direction at another time, the practice is established. The practice is that there is no such power exercised in England; and, there being no such power exercised in England, it ought not to be exercised in Ireland, unless, indeed, you wish to exhibit what Mr. Disraeli used to call "an organized hypocrisy"—a pretence that anything in the nature of equality of right or treatment is to be accorded to the people of the Sister Isle.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
Mr. Speaker, I am not sorry that the speech to which we have just listened has been delivered in this House, but I confess it is very difficult for anybody to control his language when he has to reply to such a speech, in which, as I will show, innuendo, accusation, and insinuation has been hurled without foundation against everybody who is responsible for the government of Ireland and for the administration of law and justice in that country. There have been three or four very serious charges made—three or four charges so serious that the right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to sum them up by characterizing the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in this matter as nothing better than organized hypocrisy. Let us consider for a few minutes whether there is a shadow of foundation for the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman—a suggestion which the right hon. Gentleman is not now entitled to withdraw. I take up those charges, and, although I cannot approach, and never shall be able to approach, the right hon. 374 Gentleman in power of language, I venture, in my poor way, to throw back those charges upon him, and to say there is no foundation for them. A charge which he introduced for the first time, and which, from one point of view, may be regarded as the most serious he has made, is the charge connected with the fact that cumulative sentences have been inflicted. It is suggested that a sentence was passed for one month and another sentence for another month, and that this has been done with a view of depriving the person sentenced of the right of appeal; and the right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to say in this House, with all the responsibility of his years and experience, that this is "a trick of the meanest order"—[Cheers]—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) cheers—and that every honest, and even every dishonest, man would have contempt for it.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
Almost every dishonest man: I will accept the correction. What does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) think of that statement? In this House not many weeks ago—I can scarcely think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has forgotten the fact—we produced chapter and verse to show that on more than one occasion, under the Crimes Act of 1882, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division, being then Chief Secretary for Ireland, exactly the same course was taken as that to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. Is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division an honest man or a dishonest man? I did net notice he cheered when we heard the vociferous cheers from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The fact is this—if I may have the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian—[Mr. GLADSTONE was conversing with Sir GEORGE TREVELYAN]—I am entitled to it—
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
The fact is, it is only by imputing the basest 375 and meanest motives without foundation that the right hon. Gentleman is in a position to make charges against us. I am not one of those who care to look back on the past and simply talk about change of mind, but I say that when a Gentleman in the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian seeks from his great height to wither with contempt everybody, especially a lawyer, who has thought fit to urge his opinion from this side of the House—when the right hon. Gentleman ventures to make accusations against men who regard their honour and their conduct as conscientiously as he does his, he should at least be careful, lest his Government, the Government of which he was the head, lest his Irish Secretary has been guilty of the same mean and contemptible conduct with which he charges us. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division will not misunderstand me. I impute no such motives to him. I am perfectly certain he would have scorned and repudiated the suggestion that he had winked at, or been a party to, or connived at, any judgment being given by a Judge in Ireland for the purpose of depriving any person of a right of appeal which he would otherwise possess. But with regard to this charge, I say again—it may be very convenient for the right hon. Gentleman to hold a conversation—[Mr. GLADSTONE was conversing with Sir GEORGE TREVELYAN]—but it cannot be necessary that there should be so much conversation—with regard to this charge I say, and I will repeat it later on, that there is not a shadow of suggestion that either the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland or any Member of the Government moved hand or foot, or interfered directly or indirectly with the action of the persons who inflicted these sentences. On the contrary, in the speech made in the House a few weeks ago and in the speech made at Birmingham to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) referred, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland distinctly repudiated the suggestion, and no one ever attempted to say the right hon. Gentleman spoke untruthfully. There is nobody who is so anxious to cast a veil over what he has said in the past as the right hon. Member for Derby, and therefore it 376 is singular to find him returning to a charge which has been proved on two previous occasions to be unfounded. The right hon. Gentleman said the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was guilty of a breach of faith—that he broke the pledge he gave as to the right of appeal when the Crimes Bill was before the House. I believe I know as much about the passing of the Crimes Act as any Member of the House, and I say—I have said it before—there is not the slightest foundation for the charge of breach of faith—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"]—accusations, at any rate, in Courts of Justice are not established by cries of "Oh!" But we do not regard the House of Commons for this purpose as a Court of Justice—in fact, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has admitted as much; he considers it a place where every grievance may be aired. Now, what is this particular grievance? Early in the discussion on the Crimes Bill the question of appeal arose, and the question then came up whether there should be special provisions as to appeal inserted in the Bill, or whether the ordinary law of Ireland in regard to appeal should be applied. I assert, and I can prove it by Hansard, that what was stated was this—that there should be given the appeal which is now in the Bill—[Cries of "No!"]—well, I am perfectly willing to be answered. But let the House observe that this has nothing to do with the special case before the House to-night. No one pretends to say, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian does not suggest, there was any pledge that there should be any other than a rehearing. I assert that the law applicable to cases of re-hearing is perfectly well-known. It was enunciated by Mr. Justice Blackburn many years ago in a well-known case; it was law at the time the Crimes Act was passed, and so much is the law known that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was obliged to open his observations to-night by saying he could not dispute the right of the tribunal to increase the sentence. But if there is anything in the charge of breach of faith it must be put in this way, that, whereas it was intended there should not be a re-hearing, if rehearing involved this power, the Crimes Act has been framed and then worked 377 so that the Court of Appeal should have this power which was not given to it.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The hon. and learned Gentleman does not appear to have understood me. The breach of faith of which I spoke was this: that the Chief Secretary for Ireland undertook upon my invitation, and upon my pointing out the difficulty of cases like those of combination and so on, to give the right of appeal. The right hon. Gentleman said—"I admit the truth of that argument, and I will give an appeal to the County Court Judge in every case, whether the sentence is for a month or more than a month." Afterwards that promise was withdrawn, and no appeal was given when the sentence was for under a month.
The Rouse is perfectly aware that was not in the least the point of my argument. This sentence was a three months' sentence. The right hon Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said—"You have been guilty of a breach of faith, and you have worked this Act in a monstrous and outrageous way." I have already repudiated the statement that there has been a breach of faith on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in the matter of including or excluding any particular case for appeal. I had passed from that, and I was referring to what was said as to the way in which the Court of Appeal was to exercise its power. Not only was there no suggestion of breach of faith, but there never had been any discussion on the matter. We imported into the Bill the provisions of the Act which I think is called the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act. I mention this because it is so easy to make accusation; but charges of this kind ought to be founded on facts, and not on statements and innuendoes. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian says that when it was found that one method would not do, another was devised. He does not say by whom? [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman cheers that. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to suggest now that he did net mean to charge Her Majesty's Government with influencing the County Court Judges in the course of their conduct?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I said nothing of the kind—not a word. ["No, no"] The right hon. and 378 learned Lord Advocate says "Oh" Let me tell him—
THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I said "No," not "Oh."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I took the acts and I translated them into words without endeavouring to inquire whose acts they were, and I adhere to that translation.
I leave the House and the country to judge. The County Court Judge has been guilty, according to the right hon. Gentleman, of disgraceful conduct.
SIR RICHARD EBSTER
The speech at Birmingham has been referred to. It has been suggested that that speech amounted to a nod which was understood. Now, just let the House remember the right hon. Gentleman's words:—"They found that method would not do." Who found it would not do? The Executive Government? What did the right hon. Gentleman mean when he said "they found it would not do?" Did he mean the County Court Judges or the Executive Government? He is impaled on the horns of a dilemma. What did he mean by saying—" I will not say by whom?" Why did he not say by whom?
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
He says "Because I do not know." Why has not the right hon. Gentleman the common honesty to get up and say by whom? He said, with that shrug of the shoulders, which we so well understand, that the great majority of the County Court Judges in Ireland are still as honest and as independent as they used to be. Did he mean to found his accusation against the residue of the County Court Judges? [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: No.] No: he repudiates that. There are only two parties to this transaction, and as it is not the County Court Judge it must be the abandoned and corrupt Executive. But it ill becomes those who have had to administer similar Acts, under circumstances which may not have been as trying, or which may have been more trying, who have been guilty of identically the same conduct, to have the audacity to charge the 379 Executive Government with corrupt practices. At any rate, if they do, they should do so straightforwardly, and not by insinuating that "another method was found out, we do not know by whom." Mr. Speaker, we must be pardoned for saying that we do not allow these accusations, when once made, to be merely withdrawn. We require them to be proved, or else we expect that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will admit that they made them without very substantial foundation. But there is a third charge, and a very serious one, made by the right hon Gentleman. He said there were greater evils than questions of law, and here, I think, I may encourage my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. Darling) that he need not heed the very sarcastic and somewhat ungenerous criticism of the tight hon. Gentleman. Every lawyer on this side of the House has suffered from that at some time or other. Lawyers on the right hon. Gentleman's own side are angels of light and mercy, but lawyers who are opposed to the right hon. Gentleman are unfortunate men whose arguments are legal quibbles. I suffered from that sort of criticism before I had been long in the House, but I have learned to disregard it. What is the right hon Gentleman's charge? There are greater evils, he says, than the proceedings of Courts called Courts of Justice. May I ask the right lion. Gentleman to give me his attention—I am entitled to his attention—[Mr. GLADSTONE was conversing with Sir GEORGE TREVELYAN]. The greater evils are when proceedings in Courts called Courts of Justice are conducted otherwise than in a spirit of justice. What is the meaning of the suggestion called Courts of Justice?" Why was that delicately turned expression" called Courts of Justice" used? Because the right hon. Gentleman meant to say they were falsely called Courts of Justice: that they are Courts of Justice in name only.—[Cheers from the Irish Members.]—I have never asked hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to do otherwise than express their opinions freely; but we do expect an ex-Prime Minister of England, we do expect one who has had much to do with the Government of Ireland to be able, if he charges a body of men for whom in one breath he expresses respect, with acting on principles which are contrary to the principles of justice, 380 to bring forward the facts on which he makes the accusation. Now, the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), in a speech the moderation of which I admit, which spirit of moderation has not been followed by any of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, did not allege or suggest that the County Court Judges had been guilty of personal injustice. I did not understand him to suggest that they had acted corruptly or improperly. The charge that the Judges had been advised by other persons—meaning, of course, the Chief Secretary for Ireland—has come from the Front Opposition Bench, and not even from the Mover of the Motion for the adjournment of the House. Sir, I assert that there is not a shadow of foundation for the suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, or any Member of the Government, has interfered with the action of the County Court Judges. It is a foul slander upon as honourable a body of men as ever administered justice, and it is a foul slander upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland; and I say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, when he charges Her Majesty's Government with indirectly devising this new method of hideous oppression, and with introducing odious inequalities, should, at least, produce some facts if he wishes the House to believe him. I have dealt in strong language, I admit, with the three charges made. I repudiate them one and all. I say there is not the slightest shadow of foundation for the House coming to the conclusion that the Executive have interfered with the judicial action of a single one of the magistrates or Judges in Ireland; and I say, further, that this House, until it sees it has grave and substantial ground on which it can impeach their conduct, ought to support the men who have the obligation and duty and responsibility of carrying out the law, and ought to do its utmost to see that their authority and impartiality are neither impugned nor impaired. Whatever may be the result of the Division, of which we have no fear, I am satisfied that the Motion will fail in its object, which can only be to make those who are called upon to administer justice in Ireland fear that if they carry out the law fearlessly and without restraint they may be subject 381 to this kind of animadversion in the House of Commons. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have thought fit to suggest or insinuate that the practices complained of had been advised by the Government. That we indignantly repudiate; and we say again to right hon. Gentlemen—"If you mean to make this charge, make it explain and straightforward language; do not hide your own responsibility under the suggestion that you do not know who has been guilty of the practices which you are only too glad to condemn, while, at the same time, you dare not charge them against the Government."
§ SIR CHARLES RUSSELL (Hackney, S.)
It is matter of regret that my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster) was not able in the course of his speech of half an hour's duration to devote even one minute to the consideration of the question before the House. My hon. and learned Friend's mind seems to have been so completely possessed with the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that he had no time for the consideration of other topics. He seemed to have been so completely mastered by the passion of indignation at the charges of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian that—One master passion in his breast, Like Aaron's serpent, swallowed all the rest.The subject of the Motion is the departure of the Irish County Courts, by a course of doubtful legality, from the established practice by increasing the sentences in criminal appeals. Has my hon. and learned Friend ventured to deny that that was a departure from the long established practice? Has he ventured to deny that the system of increasing sentences in criminal cases on appeal is a new system? The whole substance and strength of the argument addressed to the House in support of the Motion remained altogether untouched, unmoved, and unanswered by anything said by my hon. and learned Friend. It stands conceded that the elaborate researches of the Attorney General and those acting with him have been powerless to produce one single case in which, where the right of appeal has been exercised by the convicted person, that appeal has been 382 made the means of increasing the original sentence. Whatever may be said about the general practice, the special history of this Act gives abundant point to the complaint which we make. The charge made against the Chief Secretary is, that having given a pledge he broke that pledge. The Chief Secretary distinctly pledged himself that an appeal should be given to those convicted under the Act, an appeal such as existed in England. In that I am corroborated by the recollection of the right hon. Member for Derby, who remembers the Chief Secretary, as I also remember him, in answer to a question, saying that there would be an appeal in every case from the exercise of the summary jurisdiction under the Act. Upon referring to Hansard I find that on the 17th of May last, the Chief Secretary pointed out that in the Bill as drawn, the Act of 1882 had been closely followed, so that there was no appeal unless a sentence of above a month's imprisonment was passed, and added—"We propose to give an appeal in every case." That is unmistakeable language, because the context shows that he had in his mind the fact that under the pre-existing Act there would not have been an appeal unless the sentence exceeded a month. The hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) interjected these words interrogatively, "Without any cumulative sentences?" and the Chief Secretary answered, "There will be an appeal in every case to the County Court Judge." The pledge was given, but it was not carried out. The provision that was actually inserted was this—A person prosecuted before a Court of summary jurisdiction shall be liable to six months' imprisonment, and shall have the same right of appeal as ho would have had under the Summary Jurisdiction Act.That Act does not give an appeal in every case, and is more restricted than the corresponding English Act. I say this is a very grave matter, but I cannot follow my hon. and learned Friend in his appeals to passion. We have established the grounds on which the Motion is based—namely, that this is a departure from long established usage not merely in Ireland, but I believe, in Scotland, in England, and in Wales, and I say that it is particularly important in the present state of Ireland, when the administration of the law is odious to the majority of its people and 383 is opposed by the majority of its Representatives—by such a majority as I do I not think can be equalled in the history of any legislative question in this country—in such a state of things as that it is especially desirable that there shall be no additional grounds of grievance and complaint, and that there shall not be added fuel to that flame of discontent in the form of distrust and hatred of the law which your odious Act and your disreputable administration of it have brought about.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
If the House will allow me, Sir, I desire to say a word or two in answer to the appeal made to me by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. He said, with great truth, that I had on a former occasion stigmatized a particular proceeding in Court of Justice in Ireland as a very mean trick.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Quite so; the hon. and learned Gentleman also says that I repeated the charge to-night. It is quite true I listened to the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that occasion, and it did not appear to me then to at all touch the point; but, looking to his speech as reported, it appears to me that the report has been considerably enlarged and made much clearer than as I thought I heard the speech. However, that may have been my fault. All I wish to say now is, that I cannot profess to change my opinion of an Act, whether done by our Government or by any other Government; but I entirely agree that if there was a similar act done during our Government, I, personally, am completely put out of court, and can have no right to make any charge against the present Government. That I beg to say in the most explicit manner.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
It is, I think, necessary that I should make a few observations after what appears to me to be the very well -judged and well-conceived words that have fallen from my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). The first I have heard of the case which was referred to by the hon. and learned Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster) was a month ago from the mouth of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not complain in the least of the manner in which 384 the Attorney General brought the case forward. As far as I am concerned, he acquitted me of all sinister intentions. The first time I heard of the case was this Session. If at the time it actually occurred, an Irish Representative had got up in the House and stated his case with the moderation of the hon. Member for Derry (Mr. McCarthy), and had urged the Government to acknowledge that that was an abuse of the strict letter of the law, I should not have waited for any words from the opposite side of the House in attack, or from my own side of the House in defence. I should have got up at once and stated that if the thing had been done, it was wrongly done, and should not be done again. What is the state of the case now? Why, not only once or twice, or at long intervals, but in as many as six cases, in three or four consecutive days, this power of increasing sentences has been used in what I cannot but consider a barbarous manner. I should have imagined that the only course for the Chief Secretary to take would have been to do at once what he has not done—to prove that the exercise of this power was to the public advantage, or, failing that, to get up at the desk and say that what had been done was indefensible, and that it should not occur again. If it is not indefensible, the Chief Secretary ought to have offered a valid defence for it. I listened to every word of the Chief Secretary, and I could only find one sentence in which he defended it. That sentence was long, wordy, and eloquent. But I took down accurately a line and a-half, and I understood him to say that these County Court Judges had been abused most cruelly by the English Press and by English politicians, as well as by the Irish Press and by Irish politicians; that when men to whom this had happened found themselves in the position of Judges of appeal, because they had been abused as he described, they ought to inquire most carefully into the case, to re-hear it from beginning to end, and then to attach to the crime the punishment they thought it ought to bear.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The persons I said had been abused were not the County Court Judges, but the Resident Magistrates.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
I will only offer this observation, that I think it is unfortunate in dealing with these 385 judicial matters to say anything about abuse, either in England or in Ireland. When a case like that of the hon. Member for Derry is put before the Rouse quietly, it ought to be met with a powerful defence, a defence which would clearly prove to the satisfaction of the House that it was for the public advantage that in Ireland, of all countries, the Court of Appeal, when appealed to by criminals, should raise their sentences, instead of either keeping them as they were or diminishing them. If ever there were sentences which ought not to be increased, they are these sentences in Ireland. I know something about them. Take the case of the hon. Member for South Armagh (Mr. Blanc). The other day I was in the Library, writing a letter, when I saw a young man standing near me. He looked so pale and ill that I said to him—"Well, when are you going to have your Easter holidays, and what are you going to do?" He said to me—"That is a matter that does not concern me, because I am going to Ireland to serve my four months." He went on to tell me that last year he had brought a charge against a Resident Magistrate in his executive capacity, as well as I can remember, for not using due precautions to protect the Catholics and Nationalists at the time of a riot. I think he said—though of that I am not certain—that he moved in Committee of Supply to reduce his salary for that. Well, it was before this very magistrate that he was sent for trial. He already had had, he told me, 11 days in prison on remand; he was going back to serve his four months; and now on the top of that he has got two more months, and is to be treated as a common misdemeanant. Now, I cannot sit down without begging Members of Parliament to remember what sort of men these Resident Magistrates are, and what sort of men their Colleagues in Parliament are. They are men with like feelings with ourselves, and with like tastes with ourselves. Let hon. Gentleman remember what six months of hard labour—six months as a common misdemeanant—is to anybody, and let them remember what it is to an educated man, whose whole crime is that he has asked League men to belong to the National League. When, in old days, I defended Irish Judges, I took care that they were 386 Judges who had not been appointed by my own Government to the County Court as strong political partizans, or to the High Court of Justice as strong Orange partizans—as was the case with Judge Holmes. I spoke of them highly, because I felt that our hands were clean in these appointments. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General has brought up against me one single case of accumulative sentence that occurred in my time. That is a specimen of the sort of arguments with which Lord Spencer and I are assailed. Here, out of many thousands of cases, one only is cited. When I remonstrate against imprisoning Members of Parliament, and against their sentences being increased on appeal in this arbitrary and wholesale manner, I am told—"But you imprisoned Members of Parliament." Well, Sir, we reduced crime in Ireland in six months from 3,000 cases to 500, and we imprisoned one Member of Parliament—not under a Crimes Act. That may have been right or it may have been wrong. The present Government, however, have in six months reduced 380 cases to 280, and, in that time, they have imprisoned one-sixth of the Representatives of Ireland. And what we ask today is that the sentences on these Members of Parliament and on the humbler men who follow in their train ought not, in defiance of all precedents and legal practices, to be increased by the arbitrary will of a County Court Judge.
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITII) (Strand, Westminster)
I desire to say very few words with reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Sir George Trevelyan) He has made a statement as to what he would have done had He been aware of certain circumstances when he was Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. I am sure the House will gladly accept his statement of what, to his mind, would have been his duty five years ago had ho been aware of the facts. We accept the statement in the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman thought fit to make it. But the facts were known—there was no question abort. them. We knew what had occurred in those cases which were charged against the officers of the law in Ireland and against the Resident Magistrates, under 387 precisely the same circumstances as these cases which have occurred recently, and with regard to which such unfortunate, such marked, and, as I venture to think, such unjustifiable language has been used. Now, what is the aim and purpose of this debate? It is to discredit the law by all the authority of the names of men who formerly were bound to maintain and administer that law. Their object is, as we have said, by innuendo to suggest that the Judges are actuated by corrupt and improper motives. ["Hear, hear!"] That is cheered by hon. Members opposite. I understand that cheering. Hon. Members below the Gangway on the opposite side desire to discredit the administrators of the law by every possible means. It is part of the object of their existence. They also desire by every possible means to intimidate the Judges in the discharge of their duties. [Cries of "Order!" from the Irish Members.] They wish to prevent the Judges from discharging plain, simple duties—from dealing with sentences on appeal, and matters which come before them in the ordinary course of their work according to the light of their own consciences. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh at all allusions to conscience. I am not blind to the facts. I am well aware that any allusion to absolute conscientious duty on the part of those who have to administer the law is always received with derision in that quarter. But let me ask, is this House of Commons prepared, when it is in possession of only the slightest materials, to censure the action of Judges, the great majority of whom, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has said, are men of probity with the highest sense of duty—men with the highest sense of personal obligation to their country and their Queen? But the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow says:—"Oh, yes; all those whom we appointed as Judges were men who deserved the confidence of the country and of Parliament, and their judgments certainly ought not to be impugned by this House or any other tribunal, but you—the Executive Government of this country—make appointments which may be questioned, and the action of these gentlemen may fitly and properly be questioned because they were appointed from corrupt and improper motives." 388 That, I think, is the first time that any Executive Government in this country has been charged with appointing to judicial posts men who are not actuated by the highest sense of duty and of obligation. Men are taken out of this House—from both sides of the House—and are put upon the Bench; Governments in succession appoint them, and for the first time we hear it charged, and that by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the nominees of the Government, those they have placed on the Bench, are guilty of corruption, impropriety, partiality, and incapacity to discharge their duties. I trust the House will by a sufficient majority repudiate such suggestions as these, and will vindicate the ancient tradition of Parliament to maintain the independence of the Judges of the land.
The House divided:—Ayes 165; Noes 219: Majority 54.
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Craig, J.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Crawford, W.|
|Allison, R. A.||Crilly, D.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Crossley, E.|
|Asher, A.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Duff, R. W.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Ellis, J.|
|Austin, J.||Ellis, J. E.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Ellis, T. E.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Farquharson, Dr. R.|
|Barran, J.||Fenwick, C.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Ferguson, R.C.Munro-|
|Bolton, J. C.||Finucane, J.|
|Bradlaugh, C.||Firth, J. F. B.|
|Bright, Jacob||Flower, C.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Flynn, J. C.|
|Brown, A. L.||Foley, P. J.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Foljambe, C. G. S.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Foster, Sir W. B.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Fowler, rt. hon. H. H.|
|Burt, T.||Fox, Dr. J. F.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Fuller, G. P.|
|Caldwell, J.||Gardner, H.|
|Cameron, J. M.||Gill, T. P.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Gladstone, right hon. W. E.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Carew, J. L.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Causton, R. K.||Grey, Sir E.|
|Cavan, Earl of||Grove, Sir T. F.|
|Channing, F. A.||Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F. S. A.|
|Childers, right hon. H. C. E.||Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.|
|Clancy, J. J.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Harrington, E.|
|Conway, M.||Harris, M.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Corbet, W. J.||Holden, I.|
|Cossham, H.||Hoyle, I.|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||Hunter, W. A.|
|Illingworth, A.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Jacoby, J. A.||Palmer, Sir C. M.|
|James, hon. W. H.||Pease, A. E.|
|Joicey, J.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Jordan, J.||Picton, J. A.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.||Power, P. J.|
|Kennedy, E. J.||Price, T. P.|
|Kenny, C. S.||Priestley, B.|
|Kenny, J. E.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Kilbride, D.||Reynolds, W. J.|
|Lalor, R.||Roberts, J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Roberts, J. B.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Robinson, T.|
|Leahy, J.||Roe, T.|
|Leake, R.||Roscoe, Sir H. E.|
|Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.||Rowlands, J.|
|Rowlands, W. B.|
|Lewis, T. P.||Rowntree, J.|
|Lyell, L.||Schwann, C. E.|
|Macdonald, W. A.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Simon, Sir J.|
|McArthur, A.||Smith, S.|
|M'Cartan, M.||Stack, J.|
|M'Carthy, J.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|M'Carthy, J. H.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|M'Donald, P.||Stewart, H.|
|M'Donald, Dr. R.||Stuart, J.|
|M'Laren, W. S. B.||Sullivan, D.|
|Mahony, P.||Summers, W.|
|Maitland, W. F.||Sutherland, A.|
|Mappin, Sir F. T.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Mayne, T.||Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.|
|Menzies, R. S.|
|Morgan, right hon. G. O.||Tuite, J.|
|Morgan, O. V.||Warmington, C. M.|
|Morley, rt. hon. J.||Watt, H.|
|Mundella, right hon. A. J.||Wayman, T.|
|Murphy, W. M.||Will, J. S.|
|Neville, R.||Williamson, J.|
|Nolan, Colonel J. P.||Wilson, H. J.|
|O'Brien, J. F. X.||TELLERS.|
|O'Brien, P. J.||Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.|
|O'Connor, T. P.||Morley, A.|
|O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Ainslie, W. C.||Birkbeck, Sir E.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Blundell, Colonel H. B. H.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. S.||Bond, G. H.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Boord, T. W.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.|
|Baring, T. C.|
|Barnes, A.||Bristowe, T. L.|
|Barry, A. H. Smith-||Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Brookfield, A. M.|
|Bates, Sir E. Brown, A. H.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Burghley, Lord|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M.E. Hicks-||Campbell, Sir A.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Carmarthen, Marg. of|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Cavendish, Lord E.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Chamberlain, R.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Clarke, Sir E. G.|
|Bickford-Smith, W.||Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N.|
|Coddington, W.||Heath, A. R.|
|Coghill, D. H.||Heaton, J. H.|
|Collings, J.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Colomb, Capt. J. C. R.||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Corbett, A. C.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Hobhouse, H.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Holloway, G.|
|Cross, H. S.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Darling, C. J.||Howard, J.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Hubbard, hon. E.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Hughes Colonel E.|
|De Cobain, E. S. W.||Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Hunt, F. S.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hunter, Sir W. G.|
|Dixon, G.||Isaacson, F. W.|
|Dixon-Hartland, F. D.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Donkin, R. S.||Johnston, W.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Kelly, J. R.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Kennaway, Sir J. H.|
|Duncan, Colonel F.||Kenrick, W.|
|Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H||Kenyon, hon. G. T.|
|Kenyon - Slaney, Col. W.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Kerans, F. H.|
|Egerton, hon. A. J. F.||Kimber, H.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||Knowles, L.|
|Elliot, G. W.||Lafone, A.|
|Elton, C. I.||Lea, T.|
|Ewing, Sir A. O.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Farquharson, H. R.||Lees, E.|
|Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.||Legh, T. W.|
|Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-|
|Field, Admiral E.|
|Fielden, T.||Lethbridge, Sir R.|
|Finch, G. H.||Lewis, Sir C. E.|
|Finlay, R. B.||Lewisham, right hon. Viscount|
|Fisher, W. H.|
|Fitzgerald, R. U. P.||Llewellyn, E. H.|
|Folkestone, right hon. Viscount||Long, W. H.|
|Forwood, A. B.||Lowther, J. W.|
|Fowler, Sir R. N.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Fulton, J. F.||Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.||Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.|
|Gedge, S.||Maclean, J. M.|
|Gilliat, J. S.||Madden, D. H.|
|Godson, A. F.||Maple, J. B.|
|Goldsmid, Sir J.||Marriott, right hon. W. T.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.||Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-|
|Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Goschen, right hon. G. J.||Matthews, right hon. H.|
|Gray, C. W.||Maxwell, Sir H. E.|
|Green, Sir E.||Mayne, Admiral R. C.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Mildmay, F. B.|
|Gunter, Colonel R.||Milvain, T.|
|Hambro, Col. C. J. T.||More, R. J.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.||Morrison, W.|
|Mowbray, R. G. C.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Mulholland, H. L.|
|Hamilton, Col. C. E.||Norris, E. S.|
|Hamley, Gen. Sir E.B.||O'Neill, hon. R. T.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||Parker, hon. F.|
|Hardcastle, E.||Pearce, Sir W.|
|Hastings, G. W.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir H. M.||Plunket, right hon. D. R.|
|Powell, F. S.||Taylor, F.|
|Puleston, Sir J. H.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Quilter, W. C.||Theobald, J.|
|Rankin, J.||Thorburn, W.|
|Richardson, T.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Ritchie, right hon. C. T.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Robertson, Sir W. T.||Trotter, Colonel H. J.|
|Robertson, J. P. B.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Round, J.||Vernon, hon. G. R.|
|Royden, T. B.||Vincent, Col. C. E. H.|
|Russell, Sir G.||Waring, Colonel, T.|
|Sandys, Lieut-Col. T. M.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Saunderson, Colonel E. J.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Selwin-Ibbeston, rt. hon. Sir H. J.||Wharton, J. L.|
|Seton-Karr, H.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H.||Williams, J. Powell|
|Sidebottom, J. W.||Wilson, Sir S.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Sidebottom, W.||Wood, N.|
|Sinclair, W. P.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Smith, rt. hon. W. H.||Wright, H. S.|
|Stanhope, rt. hon. E.||Wroughton, P.|
|Stanley, E. J.||Yerburgh, R. A.|
|Stephens, H. C.|
|Stewart, M. J.||TELLERS.|
|Sutherland, T.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Swetenham, E.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|