§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding £7,712,800, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1889, viz.:—
|CLASS II.—SALARIES AND EXPENSES OF CIVIL DEPARTMENTS.|
|Land Commission for England||3,000|
|Local Government Board||135,000|
|Mint (including Coinage)||25,000|
|National Debt Office||5,000|
|Paymaster General's Office||7,500|
|Public Works Loan Commission||3,500|
|Registrar General's Office||16,000|
|Stationery Office and Printing||210,000|
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he did not intend to occupy the time of the Committee then, but he thought it necessary to state that the Notices which appeared on the Paper in his name, especially the one which related to the police, would not be brought forward then, because he had no wish to delay the proceedings of the Committee. They would, however, be brought forward in the Autumn Session. He thought it right to make this statement, so that his silence might not be misunderstood.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
said, the Committee were now asked, on the 3rd of August, to vote a sum of £7,712,800 for the Civil Service and Revenue Departments on account. Her Majesty's Government had put off the question of Supply until the very last moment they possibly could, and he ventured to think that in doing so, they had acted not only unwisely but also unconstitutionally. Whenever the postponement of Supply until late in the Session could possibly be helped, it ought to be. He believed that the course which had been pursued might have been helped, and that it was not necessary to have at that late period of the Session an enormous arrear of Supply. The postponement of Supply had the effect usually of keeping hon. Members in attendance throughout August and sometimes far into September. In this instance it necessitated an Autumn Session. Now, it was well known that Supply was the most Constitutional Business of the House, and he thought that if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had been in his place, he would have concurred in the remarks he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) was now making. He was sure that his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury would also concur in them, and would be of opinion that if there was anything that could facilitate the progress of Supply, it was the bounden duty of the Government to adopt it. It would appear from the inquiry of the Public Accounts Committee into the Navy Estimates, that it was quite possible to have those Estimates laid on the Table at a much earlier period of the Session. This year the Public Accounts Committee had not had an opportunity of fully investigating the proposals for a new 1429 mode of placing the Navy Estimates before the House, and when a question was put to the Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Forwood), who was under examination before the Committee, he replied that, if ordered to do so, the Navy Estimates could be prepared and ready at an earlier date. He trusted that the First Lord of the Treasury would consult with the heads of the Departments with the object of securing that the Estimates should be ready to be placed on the Table not later than the day of the assembling of Parliament in February, so that the House might proceed as soon as practicable to the consideration of them. Hon. Members must be aware of the great waste of time which took place between the meeting of Parliament and the Easter holidays. He thought that period might be turned to good account on proceeding with the Estimates. He was sure that if the First Lord of the Treasury came to the conclusion that it was desirable to amend the proceedings of the House in reference to Supply, he would receive every assistance from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He trusted to receive an assurance from his right hon. Friend that he would consider this important question and provide in future that the Government, so far as they were able, would proceed with the Estimates at an earlier date.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, he would reply at once to the appeal of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the North-West Division of Sussex. It had always been his view that it was the duty of the Government to consider the Estimates at the earliest possible moment. It sometimes happened, however, that events prevented the speedy discharge of that duty. When he said that, he did not wish to complain of the circumstances which had compelled the Government to ask for an Autumn Session, although he must say that he wished Questions were sometimes discussed at rather less length. To his hon. and gallant Friend who said that the Estimates ought to be laid upon the Table on the first day of the Session, he would point out that there was a Standing Order of the House which prevented the Estimates from being presented until after the Address in reply to the 1430 Speech from the Throne has been disposed of, and undoubtedly one cause of the delay in the presentation of the Estimates in recent years was the extreme length of the debate on the Address. The object of his hon. and gallant Friend was a most reasonable one, and his (Mr. Smith's) first effort next year would be to induce the House to consider Supply, so that substantial progress might be made before the Easter adjournment. In making that effort, he trusted that he might rely upon the assistance of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
said, he thought it was hardly reasonable that the Committee should be called upon to vote millions in one night at the end of the Session. This money would probably be cheerfully voted for the Army and Navy and Government Offices; but in these days of depression, he should like to see something done for the poor in this city and the country. He wished to say a few words upon the subject which had been alluded to by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), and which the hon. Member had reserved to himself the right of entering into in the Autumn Session—he meant the question of the London Police. The question had come on upon several occasions, but had never been discussed in a formal manner; therefore, with the leave of the Committee, he would advert to a few of the occurrences which had recently happened in the Metropolis, and would endeavour to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House the importance of the subject. He could not help thinking that some of the disagreeable incidents which had occurred since the time the Government first took upon themselves the invidious task of interfering with public meetings in public places might have been avoided if the Chief Commissioner of Police had been more fitted to rule the force under his command, and had not thought fit to act as a pro-consul might do in a distant part of the Empire. He had already criticized some of the recent acts of the Chief Commissioner of the Police, and he should now like to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the system which had been recently inaugurated of treating the 1431 citizens of the Metropolis as if they were conquered people, or as if a Coercion Act like the one in Ireland existed, had the sanction and authority of the Government, or whether Sir Charles Warren was himself solely responsible for the initiation of this policy? Did the Home Secretary know that it was becoming unsafe for a policeman to be alone in the suburbs of London; that within the last two or three months, owing to the unfortunate feeling which existed, it had been found necessary to double and treble the patrols? He wished to ask the Home Secretary whether he proposed, before the House reassembled in the Autumn, to give a guarantee that something would be done to allay the state of irritation which might culminate and become dangerous at any day in the Metropolis which the conduct of Sir Charles Warren was causing. It would considerably lessen the tension if the points in dispute could be argued in a case submitted to the Court of Queen's Bench without delay, or if an undertaking could be given that the Bill which had reference to them would be discussed not later than the Autumn Session? He desired to know whether the frequent reports in newspapers, and the questions which had been addressed to the right hon. Gentleman by Members of that House as to the conduct of the Police, had engaged his serious attention? He wished to know, further, whether the attention of the right hon. Gentleman had been called to the fact that Sir Charles Warren had become so unpopular that even on such an innocent subject as Palestine he could not get a fair hearing? Was it true that he had stopped all promotion in the Force, and that he had dismissed 20 men upon a very frivolous pretext? He would not detain the House longer in the matter; but he would conclude his remarks by saying that all this feeling of irritation, which might become dangerous if it were not attended to speedily, might have been avoided if something had been done to check the action of a man who seemed absolutely unfitted to exercise the functions he had been pitch-forked into, and whose conduct he could only characterize as that of a psalm-singing, sanctimonious swashbuckler.
§ MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
said, he did not intend to say any- 1432 thing with regard to the police, but he wished to make a very serious charge against the hon. Member the Secretary of the Local Government Board (Mr. Long) for certain action he had taken in his official position. He (Mr. M'Laren) had given Notice for some time of his intention to draw attention to this matter, and he had communicated with the hon. Member himself. He now desired to move formally the reduction of the hon. Gentleman's salary by a sum of £100 for the purpose of raising the question. He would state in a few words his reason for taking that course. His charge against the hon. Member was that he had been guilty of reprehensible conduct in his official capacity, conduct unworthy of the office he held and of his high character in that House. The hon. Member in the course he had taken had associated himself with the Political Secretary to the Treasury, who was a Member of the Government, occupying a highly responsible position. The act of the hon. Member which he condemned was done on behalf of the Government, and he had no doubt whatever that it was done at the wish of the Government. It seemed to him almost certain that the First Lord of the Treasury himself must have known and approved of the very certain action, which he intended strongly to condemn. He maintained that it was the duty of the Government, and of the humblest Member of it, to guard the honour and dignity of the House.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he bowed to the ruling of the Chair; but his introduction had not taken more than two minutes. He had wished to show, in the first instance, that the action to which he desired to draw attention was official action, and he then proposed to give the Committee full details of what the action was. He wished to know whether he would be in order in taking that course?
If the hon. Member will come to the point at once, it is 1433 probable that he may be in Order. Is the hon. Member prepared to state a primâ facie case of grievance?
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, his primâ facie case was that it was official action on the part of the Secretary of the Local Government Board, and that what he did was done on behalf of the Government.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, the action he condemned was that the hon. Member, in his official capacity, acting on behalf of the Government, went down in most peculiar circumstances to speak at a meeting held at Rochester in support of the Member who represented that town. He was prepared to show, from what the hon. Member himself stated, that he was acting on the part of the Government.
It was no part of the duty of the Secretary of the Local Government Board, in an official capacity, to attend meetings anywhere, and this could not, therefore, be an official act.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, the proof that the act was an official act was contained in the statement that the hon. Member was sent down by the Government, and said he spoke on behalf of the Government. It was for that reason—namely, because the Government were implicated in a serious way, that the matter came fairly under the cognizance of the House. He thought he was justified in moving the reduction of the salary of the hon. Gentleman by £100, in order to raise a debate to obtain from the Government what their view of the matter was.
It would be quite impossible to sustain successfully that this action on the part of the hon. Member for the Devizes Division of Wiltshire (Mr. Long) was official action. If the hon. Member persists in moving the reduction of the Vote, for which no Parliamentary motive can be assigned, it will be an abuse of the Privileges and Rules of the House.
§ MR. M'LAREN
I should certainly abstain from doing anything which can be characterized as an abuse of the Rules of the House. Would it be an abuse of the Rules of the House if I moved the reduction of the salary of the hon. Gentleman by £100 without any further statement on my part?
In my opinion, any Motion for which no Parliamentary reason can be assigned would be an 1434 abuse of the Rules of the House. No Parliamentary reason has been assigned at this moment, and therefore I could only regard it as an abuse of the Rules of the House. I am not armed with any statutory power to prevent the hon. Member from making the Motion, notwithstanding that I regard it as an abuse of the Rules of the House. It is for the hon. Member himself to consider whether he ought knowingly to make a Motion which, in the opinion of the Chair, is an abuse of the Rules of the House.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
asked whether, if the Secretary of the Local Government Board had stated that he did something as a Member of the Government, that assertion would not make it an official act on the part of a Member of the Government?
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he was not prepared to do anything which, in the opinion of the Chair, could be characterized as an abuse of the Rules of the House. He would, therefore, not make the Motion he had intended to submit for the reduction of the Vote, and which Motion he had every reason to believe was fully in Order. He had performed a duty on the part of himself, and on behalf of a considerable number of other Members. He believed that the action of the Secretary of the Local Government Board had been seen with the greatest pain and regret.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, he would only express the surprise, which he believed to be shared by many others, with which he had heard of the conduct of the hon. Gentleman. An hon. Member occupying an important position in the Government, and so justly respected in that House——
§ MR. JAMES STUART
said, that in that case he would pass entirely away from the subject to that on which he had risen to say a few words. He joined with the hon. and gallant Baronet who spoke at the beginning of the discussion (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) in lamenting the progress which had been made in Supply, and the necessity for taking Votes on Account. One objection to a Vote on Account was that it was exceedingly unsatisfactory, because it gave rise to 1435 desultory and fragmentary discussions, when a variety of miscellaneous subjects were presented in a mixed form to the Committee. The point upon which he had reason to say a few words had connection with the question referred to by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), who, as well as himself, had given Notice of his intention to move a reduction of the Vote for the Metropolitan Police. He intended to follow the course which had been taken by the hon. Member, and would refrain from touching upon the question at any length. At the same time, he considered the question to be one of very considerable importance to the Metropolis and to that House; but they had no desire to enter into it just now, because they had no wish to raise a fragmentary and piecemeal discussion, but a thoroughly efficient and complete one directed specially to the points with which they would have to deal, and with which they were perfectly prepared to deal. He thanked his hon. Friend the Member for North-West Lanark for what he had said, and he thought the Committee would agree with him in considering that the remarks of his hon. Friend had been full of good sense and self restraint. All sides of the House would agree that, as far as possible, the Metropolis ought to be properly governed. He believed, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government believed, that a desirable step towards a settlement of the questions involved in the matter would be a decision marking distinctly the rights of the people in reference to the use of Trafalgar Square. There was a belief that, at present, there existed an opportunity of having a case taken before the Court of Queen's Bench. It was the fact that a similar case was prepared some time ago, but a technical objection was taken to it by the Solicitor to the Treasury. If the Solicitor to the Treasury had abstained from bringing forward that technical objection, the case might have been decided. He would, therefore, appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury, that in the interests of the public and in order to obtain a solution of the question in a satisfactory manner, he should give such advice as was in his power to the authorities connected with legal matters on behalf of the Home Office and Scotland Yard not to interpose technical 1436 difficulties in the way of securing a decision upon the subject by a competent and high tribunal. On the contrary, it was preferable that the Government should assist his hon. Friend and others who were concerned in the matter in getting it finally settled. He had risen to speak upon the point immediately after his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton had resumed his seat, but he failed to catch the eye of the Chair. It was that point, and that point only, that he wished to urge just now; but he wished, in conclusion, to repeat the reason why he did not proceed in the matter now was because he and his hon. Friends who were acting with him desired that there should be an efficient and a complete discussion of the matter by itself, and not complicated by the other questions which a Vote on Account included.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
said, he desired to say a few words in reference to the subject which had been referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that it was very much to be regretted that the practice of takig Votes on Account should be growing, whereby the House was prevented from discharging the most important part of its duty—namely, that of thoroughly criticizing the expenditure of the country. He sympathized with the remark that had been made by the First Lord of the Treasury as to the time that was often wasted in debates at the commencement of the Session in connection with the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. He hoped that in future more time would be devoted in the early part of the Session to the consideration of the expenditure of the country. It was most objectionable to find at the end of the Session a Motion asking them to vote nearly £8,000,000 of money on account. He thought it was a scandal to be called upon to vote large sums of money without adequate discussion or adequate care. He could not but think that the necessity for this Vote might have been avoided in the exercise of greater care on the part of the Government.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
said, he had no desire that the Committee should be detained, and therefore he would 1437 answer the question which had been put to him at once. He should have no objection whatever to have a case stated by the magistrate for the opinion of the Queen's Bench Division with reference to Trafalgar Square; whether, however, it would settle the point which the hon. Member desired to raise he could not tell. In his judgment the matter had already been decided; but there could be no possible objection to a case being stated for the opinion of the Superior Court. The hon. Member for North-West Lanarkshire (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) had made somewhat better remarks with regard to the Chief Commissioner of Police.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
said, that his remarks only applied to the Chief Commissioner of Police, and not to the rank and file.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, it appeared to him that the Chief Commissioner had discharged a difficult duty at a difficult time with singular energy and courage, and that the people of London ought to be extremely indebted to him. As to the alleged unpopularity of the police, that he begged entirely to controvert. Undoubtedly, it might be disagreeable to some persons like the hon. Member for North-West Lanarkshire that the police should not allow them to do as they liked in Trafalgar Square; but he was absolutely convinced that with the great mass of the population of London they had not at all lost their popularity. On the contrary, the extraordinary patience and forbearance shown by the police under extreme provocation had earned to them additional respect from all law-abiding citizens who constituted the great mass of the people of London. He would, of course, keep an open mind as regarded Trafalgar Square in respect of the point the hon. Members desired to raise; but he must inform them that until the present decision of learned Judges on two occasions were reversed, he should consider that there was a strict right on the part of the police to act as they had done. He could not admit that they had transgressed the law. He quite understood that sort of feeling entertained by the persons whom the two hon. Members opposite in one sense represented. No doubt, a certain number of persons, numerically insignificant in comparison to the population of London, attached great importance to 1438 the practice of meeting in Trafalgar Square, and, to a certain extent, he sympathized with the feeling. But, on the other hand, all reasonable people must feel that although in one sense Trafalgar Square was convenient from its situation for those who went there to hold meetings, yet it was extremely undesirable that there should be congregated upon so populous, so busy, and so wealthy a spot, such an assembly of dangerous characters as must inevitably collect if public meetings were allowed there. Those upon whom was thrown the duty of maintaining order in the Metropolis without any desire to interfere with the exercise of a legal and Constitutional privilege, felt that its exercise in Trafalgar Square was most undesirable and fraught with danger to the community. As regarded the observations that had been made with respect to the discipline of the police, he must observe that if every decision of the authorities was to be reviewed in that House, the maintenance of discipline in the Force would become impossible. He could assure the hon. Member that any representation made to him personally at the Home Office would receive his most careful attention, and that no effort would be wanting on his part to prevent the police from going beyond the law, although, no doubt, the law would have to be firmly enforced.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
said, that on the question of the right of public meeting there was one observation which would occur to any Member of common sense. No popular agitation either in regard to that House or anything else was ever brought into being by the action of one man, nor was it delayed by the action of one or two men. He would point out this fact, which he thought had not been sufficiently insisted upon—namely, that while the Home Secretary asserted that Trafalgar Square was an unsuitable place for holding popular demonstrations, it must be borne in mind that Hyde Park was a most inconvenient spot for those portions of the people who came from the South and East of London, and who would have to traverse some miles of the most populous and aristocratic streets in the Metropolis. He presumed that the Home Secretary was not so sanguine as to believe that next winter there would not be a considerable number of unemployed in 1439 London, honest working men who could not get work to do. These persons had hitherto considered it their right to meet in Trafalgar Square, and he wished to ask the Home Secretary if he contemplated with much pleasure the task next winter of having to drive those men out of their meetings in that place to which they considered that they had a right? He would also ask hon. Members whether they thought they would be able to get over the cold weather in the winter without a considerable augmentation of the distress that was now existing?
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said, the Home Secretary had told them that the London police were popular with the citizens of London. He had no desire to controvert that statement; but not the most sanguine Minister on the Front Bench, not even the Chief Secretary, with his boundless belief in his own power of doing good in Ireland, could possibly say that the police system was popular in Ireland. The Committee were asked, in a summary and inconvenient manner, to vote large sums of money on Account. He joined in the protest which other hon. Members had made against the system of taking Votes on Account. The system had now become regular, and, in his opinion, it had a strong tendency to become unconstitutional. It deprived hon. Members of the right at the proper time of voting and discussing the expenditure of the money of the taxpayers. They were now asked, at this late period of the Session, to pass a third Vote on Account for close upon £8,000,000. The present system, which was largely made available by the Government, came to this—that the Representatives of the people were called upon to vote for the money and then to discuss the Estimates when the greater portion of that money had been already spent. He considered that to be a bad system, and a system which under no circumstances could possibly work well. The First Lord of the Treasury had held out some hope that possibly next Session a better state of things might prevail. He sincerely trusted that it might, but that was no reason why they should not protest against the present system which the Government seemed so much inclined to take advantage of. They who represented the taxpayers and people of Ireland had naturally a very great interest in these Votes, so far as the Irish Esti- 1440 mates were concerned. In former years it had been their duty from those Benches to draw attention to much of the mal-administration of the law in Ireland and to the iniquities which were perpetrated in the name of law. It was impossible, however, when they were called upon to vote money on Account for every Department of the Public Service in Ireland to raise anything like a satisfactory discussion. They were asked to cover too much ground in too short a space of time. Instead of being able to concentrate their attention upon a particular Vote, and ask the Committee their opinion upon it, they were required to vote money upon every Public Service in Ireland, including the Lord Lieutenant's Household, the Chief Secretary's salary and office, the County Valuation and Boundary Survey, down to the smallest Department of the Public Service. He maintained that it would be far more convenient to the Irish Members, and far more advantageous to the Representatives of the Irish people in that House, to have a certain definite Vote discussed in a proper manner when the Estimates themselves came up for consideration, instead of having them placed higgledy-piggledy in one Vote, and being asked to vote so much upon them, until an opportunity was afforded for discussing the Estimates properly. There were several Votes in the Estimates upon which these Irish Members would have a great deal to say. Indeed, there was not a single Department they would not feel justified in calling attention to, and in connection with which they could not point out many serious grievances and abuses. For instance, on Vote 22, they were asked to vote a sum on account of the Lord Lieutenant's Household. He would remark upon that Vote that it struck him as very strange that the present Lord Lieutenant should require a household in Ireland at all, because, so far as his knowlege was concerned of that distinguished nobleman's length of occupation of the Vice-regal Lodge, he should say that decent furnished lodgings for the Lord Lieutenant would be suitable accommodation for the amount of time the noble Lord spent in Ireland, and as to the attention he devoted to the affairs of the Irish people, furnished lodgings in some place convenient to Dublin would be quite sufficient to make provision for. Never- 1441 theless, they were asked to vote £2,000 for the Lord Lieutenant's Household. The Lord Lieutenant spent the greater portion of his time in England. That part of his time which he spent in Ireland was distinguished by his attendance at cricket matches and in getting himself photographed. It was an advantage, no doubt, for the people of Ireland that they should have an opportunity of knowing what this estimable and good-looking nobleman was like. He thought it was far more important that they should have a Lord Lieutenant who would make himself acquainted with the affairs of Ireland, and exercise some control over the subordinate officials who at present were running amuck in the name of law and order. They should either have a Lord Lieutenant who was a real practical official, and did work of benefit and advantage to the country, or else the taxpayers should not be asked to vote large and increasing sums of money for services which they looked upon as a farce. As to the Vote for the Chief Secretary, it was highly inconvenient that they should be asked in a Vote on Account to discuss that right hon. Gentleman's tenure of office, and the various abuses which they maintained were connected with it. It would be necessary to get entirely beyond the bounds of a free discussion on a Vote on Account, if they were to go into this subject as it really deserved. The total Estimate for the Chief Secretary's Office was £20,147, and they were asked to vote that evening no less a portion of it than £16,000. Many Members on those Benches felt a natural anxiety to inquire into the enormous expenses connected with the Chief Secretary's office in Dublin. All of them felt a natural desire, and he did not think the right hon. Gentleman him self would dispute their right, to criticize many of the acts of the right hon. Gentleman's administration and many of the abuses connected with the present system in regard to which he drew his salary. He had no desire to enter into the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman at any length. He admitted that it would be inconvenient to do so in connection with the Vote on Account; but he would point out one salient feature in regard to the right hon. Gentleman's tenure of office, which it was the right hon. Gentleman's proud boast and pri- 1442 vilege to have made a special feature of his administration. He referred to the total and contemptuous disregard displayed by the right hon. Gentleman for any expression of public opinion in Ireland, and the extraordinary manner in which he ignored every representation which was made to him, and either denounced it as inaccurate or ill-founded, treating it both inside the House and in the public Press with a contempt that certainly could hardly be regarded as the proper treatment which a statesman ought to award to the opinions of public Bodies in Ireland and to those of the Representatives of the Irish people. Various matters had been brought under the notice of the Chief Secretary; for instance, the fact that Coroners' juries in Ireland passed verdicts, after patient and lengthened investigations; but those verdicts were invarirbly quashed by order of the right hon. Gentleman, or denounced and contemptuously disregarded. They had had an illustration of that that evening. Representations had been made by public Bodies, Town Councils, Town Commissioners, and Poor Law Guardians as to certain facts; but those representations were utterly ignored by the right hon. Gentleman, who paid more attention to an official whisper from the lowest official in Ireland than to the opinions of those who were responsible public Bodies in Ireland. Last year two Members of that House were on their trial in the town of Tralee, when a certain Resident Magistrate, not unknown to fame, Mr. Cecil Roche, after leaving the Court House, headed a body of Constabulary and committed a most unjustifiable and unprecedented assault upon the people. That assault was witnessed by a large number of persons, including magistrates, town councillors, priests, and others. Indignant protests and resolutions were passed by the Town Commissioners, the Harbour Board, and other public Bodies against the conduct of the police. Those protests were for warded to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary; but did the right hon. Gentleman pay attention to them? Did he give to those representative Bodies the small mercy of a courteous reply? No. It was part of the right hon. Gentleman's newly-inaugurated policy to make a naturally high-spirited people amenable to his whip and lash, and 1443 to ignore their representations as if they had been presented by so many negro slaves, or people who were not worthy of attention upon any subject. Did the right hon. Gentleman think that he was advancing the cause of law and order in Ireland by such a course of procedure, or that he was carrying out the duties for which he was paid a large salary? Some time back a series of protests were forwarded by public Bodies in Ireland in the County of Cork in regard to the imprisonment of the Mayor of Cork. The Mayor of Cork was sentenced to a fortnight's imprisonment by two Resident Magistrates under the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act; whereas if the Mayor of Cork had committed any offence, he ought to have been brought before the Court of Petty Sessions. The Cork Corporation with a Charter 500 years old, the Harbour Commissioners, the Poor Law Board, and the City Grand Jury all forwarded resolutions upon the subject, and protested against the arbitary proceedings which had been resorted to. Did they get a courteous answer? Nothing of the kind. Only a flippant or rather insolent observation at the very next public meeting addressed by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman treated with contemptuous disregard the representation of every public Body in Ireland, notwithstanding that those Bodies were representative and combined all the high qualities for administration which the Government were looking forward to in establishing Local Government in this country. The only persons who appeared to be entitled to the right hon. Gentleman's high esteem were individuals who were non-representative. The representatives of Local Government elected by the people, and some of them on rather high franchises, as Town Councillors and Town Commissioners, were passed by with the greatest contempt. Then, again, the right hon. Gentleman attacked the public Press of Ireland, although in doing so the right hon. Gentleman gave neither text or proof,—nothing save his contempt for them; probably under the impression that that high-minded treatment would make him regarded with more awe in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had attacked every public journal that came across his path which had the temerity to stand between him 1444 and the system of despotism it was his boast to administer. The Freeman's Journal had commented from time to time on the cowardly and unjustifiable attacks which had been made on the people. Among other things The Freeman's Journal commented upon a proceeding in the Ennis Court House not many months ago. What did the right hon. Gentleman say in reference to The Freeman's Journal? He not only denounced the account given by The Freeman's Journal or the proceedings, but he accused The Freeman's Journal of constant and habitual mendacity. The same treatment was awarded to every other newspaper in Ireland which through its own reporters ventured to give a more truthful account than that which was supplied by official, interested witnesses. They were at once brought under the lash of the right hon. Gentleman's indignant wrath, and they were denounced as no better than a pack of scribbling liars when they ventured to lay a clear statement of facts before the country at large. If he had known that this Vote was coming on, and if he had thought it right in a Vote on Account to criticize the right hon. Gentleman's mal-administration in the important position he occupied, he could have given the House a great many examples to show that instead of being conducive to the maintenance of law and order, the inevitable tendency of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman was to promote a state of things which the Irish people would not be human and would be less than men if they did not resent. There were other Departments in connection with this Vote on Account in regard to which he should have a word to say, and he again repeated his regret that the Estimates should have been delayed until so late a period of the Session. There was a Vote for the Public Works Office of £10,000. He did not see the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury present. If he had been there, he should have liked to draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman to this Vote in connection with several matters which had been made the subject of question in that House, and which were matters that excited a great deal of attention in Ireland. One important matter had reference to the Ballycotton Pier. There had been numerous complaints in Ireland that the Commissioners of 1445 Public Works carried out certain works that were intended for the public good in a most inefficient manner. A large sum of public money, amounting to £20,000, had been voted in connection with Ballycotton Pier, a work that was intended to benefit the fisheries. Ballycotton Pier was situated within a comparatively short distance of the fishing-bank upon which a large quantity of herring, mackerel, hake, and cod, as well as other fish, were caught. The construction of a good pier was necessary in order to make the fishing a safe occupation, and it was intended to connect Ballycotton with a station on the South-Western Railway. In the construction of the pier, no less a sum than £20,000 had been spent, in addition to a large sum which had since been paid for extras. The works had been done by the Commissioners of Public Works, but fault was found in the locality that the work was badly done. In consequence, the County Jury refused to take it over, and a report had been made by the County Surveyor and sent to the County Grand Jury. His hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) had called attention to the matter by Questions addressed to the Government, and he had done so himself; but what did the Public Works Office do when there was a strong conflict of opinion between themselves and the local Bodies as to how the work was done? They were asked to appoint some public officer, some independent engineer, to send in an impartial Report to the Government. Nevertheless, they sent down their own engineer to inspect the work which had already been done by their own engineer and passed by him. He maintained that when the county surveyor or the Local Authority made strong remonstrances, and pointed out that the work was done improperly, it was desirable, in the interests of the Public Service, and in order to allay any suspicion on the part of the locality, that the Board of Works should secure an inspection by an independent engineer. The importance of the matter had been pressed upon the Secretary to the Treasury; but the hon. Gentleman was under this disadvantage—that he naturally knew nothing personally of the work, and could not be as well acquainted with the matter as either the hon. Member for Mid Cork or himself. The people of 1446 the locality certainly regarded the whole matter as a job. There had been many complaints in reference to the execution of works in connection with piers in Ireland. No doubt the Commissioners of Public Works were rendering valuable services; but, at the same time, there could be no doubt that a considerable amount of jobbery had been perpetrated under the protection of that Department, and much dissatisfaction had been felt and expressed at the way in which public works had been undertaken in Ireland. He was unable to say where the defects of the system were. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had introduced two Drainage Bills; but he had never shown an overwhelming anxiety to press them forward or to secure their discussion at a reasonable hour. If all the drainage works in Ireland were to be placed under the Public Works Commissioners, it was felt that the Department ought to be entirely re-organized and new blood introduced into it. There were some other matters he should like to comment upon; but he had no desire to detain the Committee at further length. For instance, there was the Vote in regard to the Registrar General's Office. In connection with that Vote last year, the Chief Secretary gave a sort of guarantee to the hon. Member for West Mayo (Mr. Deasy) and himself, that he would cause an inquiry to be made as to the manner in which the Registrar General collected statistics in reference to the prices which regulated the sale of agricultural produce. He was not aware that any change had, as yet, been made, and on consulting Thom's Almanac, he found that the prices quoted there, which were taken from the Registrar's Returns, were quite as fallacious and misleading this year as they had been in previous years. He was quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary knew nothing personally of these things. That, however, was the curse of the system, and, although the right hon. Gentleman was unable to get all the details in connection with the Returns, they did, undoubtedly, affect the people of Ireland in a very important degree. It must be borne in mind that the Sub-Commissioners, in fixing judicial rents in Ireland, went entirely on the prices given by the Registrar General, and quoted in Thom's Almanac; but it had been pointed out to the Govern- 1447 ment 12 months ago, that the prices quoted in Thom's Almanac had been in excess by 20, 25, 30, and, in some cases, by 50 per cent of the prices quoted for the local markets. If the Committee had not been discussing a Vote on Account, he should have been prepared to give statistics proving every one of his assertions. The hon. Member for Mayo did so 12 months ago, and it was impossible for anyone acquainted with agriculture in Ireland not to see that the prices given from the Registrar General's Returns in Thom's Almanac were not the prices obtainable in the market. Another important item dealt with in the Vote on Account was the Estimate for Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions in Ireland, and if it had not been a Vote on Account, he should have had much to say upon the Charges for Criminal Prosecutions. Instead of those prosecutions being instituted in the Court of Petty Sessions, wherever it was possible to do so, they were brought before the newly-constituted Coercion Courts. The consequence was that men charged with crime were not brought before the unpaid magistrates, who, no doubt, however pre-prejudiced they might be, were, at least, independent of the Government influence. The consequence was that the Vote for Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions was largely swelled. He asked the Committee to take note of the amount of these charges for the present year, and if the beneficent system inaugurated by the Chief Secretary was to continue, he ventured to predict that the Vote would be much larger next year than it was now. Perhaps, as long as the British taxpayer paid the piper, the Irish people could not object to the amount of the Vote; the system was all they could object to. But, in this case, they were not only Irishmen at the right hon. Gentleman's mercy, but Representatives of the taxpayers, and it was, therefore, in their interests to point out how this Vote was connected with an infamous system of administration.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman that the question of prices was a very important one in connection with the whole system of these Returns in Ireland, and with the consent of the Treasury a new and very 1448 elaborate system was about to be adopted in regard to the prices obtained for agricultural produce in a manner which he hoped would prove satisfactory.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
said, he rose for the purpose of calling attention, in connection with the Vote for Law Charges, to a case which he had once or twice introduced to the notice of the Chief Secretary in the form of a Question—namely, the case of Mr. Latchford, who was now undergoing a sentence of imprisonment passed on him by Mr. Roche and another Resident Magistrate in a Court constituted under the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act. He would state the circumstances of the case as simply and shortly as he could. Mr. Latchford was a Justice of the Peace, a Protestant, a man of considerable wealth and position in the neighbourhood of Tralee, and the owner of four or five corn mills. A few months ago he constructed a new steam mill, and obtained permission from the Town Commissioners to lay down pipes to supply his boilers with water from the River Barrow. In the neighbourhood there was a rival millowner, a Mr. M'Cowan, who contended that the permission given to Mr. Latchford to lay down his pipes was ultra vires, and disputed Mr. Latchford's right to lay them down. In consequence of that dispute proceeding were taken by a Motion for an injunction in the Rolls Court in Dublin. While those proceedings were running their course, Mr. Latchford was advised by a local solicitor that he had a right to alter the pipes. On the 22nd of June he attempted to effect that alteration, but he found the rival millowner on the spot. Scuffling and a good deal of strong language ensued, and Mr. Latchford was forced to retire. Now, it was in consequence of his part of the proceedings that on the 25th June the summons was eventually issued against Mr. Latchford. The Committee would see the position, and that Mr. Roche was in a very high- 1449 handed and unjustifiable way asserting by main force, rightly or wrongly, a legal right which had not then, although it had since, been settled by the Rolls Court. He (Mr. John Morley) did not for a moment defend Mr. Latchford's action; but he hoped the Committee would recognize the origin and nature of the transaction. Evidence was given as to Mr. Latchford's conduct in the so-called riot of June 25 by constables in the Crimes Act Court. One of those constables, named Riley, said that he saw a number of people assembled at the weir; that he immediately went to the barracks and returned at 3 o'clock; that 100 or 150 people were there at the time, and that all was quiet; that about five minutes past 3 o'clock Mr. Latchford with from 80 to 100 people arrived, some of whom were cheering, and that he thought Mr. Latchford was at the head of them. A regular mêlée followed, some of the men being thrown into the river, and there was great excitement. The constables specified four charges of assault, but said the spectators did not seem to be in terror or alarm; indeed, they rather enjoyed the scene. Another constable testified very much to the same effect, and said that Mr. Latchford during the whole of the proceeding did his best to keep the people quiet, and when there was a hand to hand encounter jumped into the water to separate the parties. He added that the number of police present was so small that he believed that it would have been impossible to keep the people quiet had it not been for Mr. Latchford. He (Mr. John Morley) said there was nothing agrarian, nothing political, and nothing really serious in the whole affair. Mr. Latchford had apparently committed an assault on the man Tackerberry, and he did nothing more. There were several magistrates present in the House at that moment, and he would ask them what would have been done in England if a disturbance of that kind had taken place? Was it conceivable that anything occurred there to justify resort to extraordinary repressive legislation? Certainly not. Mr. Latchford would have been dealt with under the ordinary law in England. No summons was issued against Mr. Latchford for 10 or 11 days after the occurrence. If the case was so serious, how did it come about that there was this considerable delay? 1450 However, in due time the summonses were issued, the circumstances were reported to the Divisional Magistrate—Colonel Turner—who received the information from the constables or other persons. Colonel Turner wrote a very unwise letter, which had already been published in a newspaper a week ago. He said that when he received the information and the report made upon ex parte information, he thought Mr. Latchford ought to be made a prompt example of. That was, in his mind, upon his own avowal. He did not summon Mr. Latchford for assault; but he strained and exaggerated what Mr. Latchford had done, so as to make it a case not of assault, but of riot. His (Mr. John Morley's) own conclusion, looking at all the facts so far as they were accessible, was that the assault was considered a riot in order to bring Mr. Latchford into the Coercion Court for the purpose of making him a prompt example. He would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) to the fact that the ordinary Justices in Petty Sessions, trying this as a case of assault, would have been able to pass a severer sentence on Mr. Latchford than could be passed upon him for riot in the Coercion Court. The Government might say that they could not trust their magistrates; but, if they did, it would be an extraordinary and fatal admission. They knew that they could not trust their juries; but if they went on to say that they could not trust the Bench of Petty Sessions Magistrates, then it shed a still more remarkable light upon the administration of the law in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in his answer to his Question, had rather put him inadvertently upon a false scent when he said that the Divisional Magistrates had taken the course of directing a summons to be issued for riot and not for assault as being less expensive than an indictment. But from the letter of Colonel Turner in The Times it appeared that the question after all was one as between two methods of summary procedure. What reason was there why Colonel Turner did not direct the ordinary law to be resorted to in order to punish what was after all an ordinary offence. As to there being a riot—would anyone contend that, under these cir- 1451 cumstances, it would have been worth while to read the Riot Act? It would have been a farce, and it was a farce, to pretend that this was a riot, or that it had the essential features of a riot. He wanted to know why proceedings were not taken for assault; why the case was regarded as so serious; why there was so much delay in issuing the summons; and whether the right hon. Gentleman would produce the Report or information which guided Colonel Turner in directing a summons to be issued for riot? On the 9th of July, Mr. Latchford was taken before the Resident Magistrates under the Crimes Act and sentenced to one month's imprisonment. His counsel or solicitor applied that the sentence might be increased in order that there might be an appeal, but the appeal was refused, and the magistrate, Mr. Cecil Roche, said it had been remarked by a great historian of this country that the population of the county of Kerry, both gentle and simple, required to be taught a lesson; and it was in order to teach the gentle and simple of the county of Kerry, and justify the remark of the great historian, who ever he was, that this vindictive sentence—he could call it by no other name—was passed on Mr. Latchford. Why did he use the word "vindictive?" He would rather say why it was that it looked like vindictiveness? Because it appeared that there had been a personal criticism passed by Mr. Latchford upon Mr. Cecil Roche. Mr. Cecil Roche had in December, as Executive officer, he believed, caused some crowds in Tralee to be batoned; and Mr. Latchford, at a meeting held to condemn this proceeding, supported a resolution of censure. Therefore it was that they had this most awkward state of things brought about. Mr. Roche, as magistrate, tried the very man who had condemned his action as a policeman, a fact which gave a very awkward aspect to the affair. This charge was an exaggerated one and an unreal one, the punishment was an excessive one, and the motive appeared to have been a suspicious one. He would not ask the Government or the Committee to rely upon his account or the colour he was endeavouring to give to the transaction, but would quote a word or two, not from a Nationalist organ, but from the Tralee Conservative 1452 newspaper of the county of Kerry. The Kerry Evening Post said, that the imprisonment of Mr. Latchford for one month on a charge of riot in connection with his forcible assertion of a supposed right on the river, had been the subject of repeated discussion since the event took place on the previous Monday; it was generally felt that the term of imprisonment inflicted, if there was to have been imprisonment at all, was excessive, as the riot was, in fact, an amusing exhibition, that was looked forward to by the people of Tralee as they would look forward to a circus or some such entertainment. The Conservative editor of The Kerry Evening Post was not the only one of that political creed who apparently sympathized with Mr. Latchford in the opinion that the sentence upon him was grossly excessive, for he was told that a considerable number of Conservative Magistrates had called on Mr. Latchford in prison to express their sympathy with him. He would not take up the time of the Committee further than to point out that this was but an illustration of what was foretold would be the use made of the Coercion Act; it was stated again and again that this Act, which was said to be directed against crime and terrorism, would be abused as it had been in this instance. Mr. Latchford was not a marauder, but a man of substance and position. The Act had been in this instance seriously abused. Even granting that the Act was justifiable, this use of it was entirely indefensible, and Mr. Latchford was at that moment suffering a sentence which ought never to have been inflicted upon him.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Morley) had twice, in the course of his remarks, stated that Mr. Latchford was a man of substance and position, but he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) was not aware that this Crimes Act, any more than any other Crimes Act, was intended to be directed against the poor, and leave out of its purview the well-to-do. The fact remained that the disturbance had occurred, and, so far from considering the circumstances that Mr. Latchford was a man of wealth and position as being any reason why he should receive different treatment from other members of the community, he thought that it greatly aggravated his 1453 position. It appeared that Mr. Latchford was advised by his solicitor that the proper method was to go and take violent, or, at all events, forcible possession of the land, in order to lay his pipe for the purpose of bringing water to his mill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he had no doubt that the solicitor advised him this, and that on his advice he went to law, but he had also advised him to take this particular method of exercising his right. [An hon. MEMBER: No.] At all events, Mr. Latchford did proceed by way of riot to enforce rights which were at that moment sub judice. That would have been an extraordinary proceeding in England, but still more extraordinary in the case of a man who was himself a magistrate. The right hon. Gentleman had certainly minimized unintentionally the disturbance which had taken place. It appeared that Mr. Latchford, at the head of 150 men, proceeded to attack those who had been drawn up in the neighbourhood of the dispute, that a struggle took place, and that a very serious riot was only prevented by the police rushing between the contending parties with drawn swords. The case certainly could not be rightly described as a mild case, for which proceedings ought not to have been taken, either by the magistrate who committed Mr. Latchford or the magistrates in the Crimes Court. He had no doubt that the inhabitants of Tralee view the incident in the light of amusement, and that there was nothing in the world that they would enjoy more than a free fight. [Cries of "Oh!"] Everyone knew that in certain parts of Ireland faction fights were one of the most amusing forms of diversion. [Mr. SEXTON: Where? Name them.] A few broken heads in Tralee were not looked upon as a very serious matter. [An hon. MEMBER: Of course not.] The gravamen of the charge of the right hon. Gentleman was that an offence of assault had been deliberately stretched by Colonel Turner into the offence of riot. Now, he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) claimed that there was not the slightest evidence of that, and he was not only sorry that the right hon. Gentleman should accuse Colonel Turner of having stretched the character of the 1454 charge on which Mr. Latchford was tried, but that he should also have attributed to Colonel Turner a somewhat mean motive in adopting that course. A more serious accusation could not be made against any person in a responsible position, and he was sure that anyone acquainted with the character of Colonel Turner would know that the accusation of the right hon. Gentleman was wholly without foundation. He was advised distinctly that the case was one of riot and not a case of assault, and that Colonel Turner had been right in deciding that it should be tried before the Crimes Court, where the procedure was rapid and effective. This was one of the cased other than agrarian which the Crimes Act was intended to deal with. The right hon. Gentleman was aware, that by the application of certain sections of that Act the Government had been able to deal summarily and satisfactorily with the riots in Belfast. It was deliberately passed with the intention of trying such cases of riot as that committed by Mr. Latchford, and had been in the hands of the authorities effectually used in quieting disturbances in Ulster—quieting the town of Belfast. Therefore, to say that the Act was to be applied to agrarian cases alone was really to ignore the position which the Government had deliberately taken up with reference to crime in Ireland. There was only one other point in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that he had to deal with. The right hon. Gentleman had attempted to put a darker colouring on the picture he had drawn by stating that the magistrate who tried Mr. Latchford had a private grudge against him, and had recommended that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland should remove him from the Bench of Magistrates. That statement had been before him on a former occasion, and he remembered to have contradicted it in the House. [An hon. MEMBER: When?] In answering a Question across the floor of the House. Mr. Roche had assured him in general terms that he had never been brought into conflict with Mr. Latchford, and that there was between them nothing that would have made it improper for him to deal with this case. Having, as he believed, answered the contention of the right hon. Gentleman by showing that the 1455 riot was such that the police had been obliged to rush with drawn swords between the parties to prevent serious consequences; that the Crimes Act was not intended, as it seemed to have been supposed, to deal with agrarian cases only; that it had been applied in precisely the same manner in Tralee as it would have been in Ulster; that in view of the arbitrary proceedings of Mr. Latchford the magistrates had acted to the best of their judgment; and under these circumstances he thought that the Committee would agree that they had acted rightly.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had distinctly stated in the House that there was nothing between Mr. Latchford and Mr. Roche that would make it improper for the latter to deal with this case. He had asked the right hon. Gentleman a Question on the subject in the House, and had never been able to get a denial from him. A Resolution had been passed at the Chamber of Commerce, at a meeting at which Mr. Latchford was present, and a censure was passed on the action of Mr. Roche. His conduct was considered so gross that there was hardly a man in Tralee, no matter of what shade of political opinions, who did not express his disgust for it. Mr. Latchford was generally credited with having Home Rule sympathies; he carried on his business among all sections of the people; he was not a member of the National League or the Land League, but he felt it his duty to condemn as furious and violent the conduct of Mr. Roche on a certain occasion. At the meeting referred to, of the citizens of Tralee, Mr. Latchford and Mr. Donovan were present, and a Memorial to the Government was adopted asking for the removal of Mr. Cecil Roche and the substitution of another magistrate in whom the people had confidence. But not a line by way of answer had been sent in reply to that Memorial. It was signed by Mr. Latchford and Mr. Donovan, and by the Chairman of the Tralee Town Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was no ground of conflict between Mr. Latchford and Mr. Roche, but in the Memorial the latter was denounced as a shedder of blood. The hon. Member for Wednes- 1456 bury (Mr. P. Stanhope) had gone down to Tralee on the 2nd of August, and witnessed the batoning charge; and he felt it his duty to make to the people the hopeless promise that redress would be had in the House of Commons, and that the conduct of Mr. Cecil Roche should be prominently put forward. On that occasion Mr. Roche was present in the next compartment of the railway carriage, and he ordered summonses to be issued; but the Authorities were acute enough not to proceed. He wrote a letter to the English newspapers denying that he had a stick in his hand when it was stated that he had; but he (Mr. Edward Harrington) could produce affidavits to show that this was the case, and had it not been that he had other than his own responsibility resting upon him at the time, he would on that occasion have made short work of Mr. Cecil Roche. The right hon. Gentleman said that not a single particle of difference had occurred between Mr. Latchford and Mr. Roche. But would he deny that there was in Dublin this protest from the Town Commissioners of Tralee and the protest from the Chamber of Commerce, both signed by Mr. Latchford? Would he deny that Mr. Roche did not report, and also cause to be reported by others, the action of Mr. Latchford and Mr. Donovan, and that the Lord Chancellor did not write a letter on the subject?
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
said, he had reason to know that what he had stated was correct. He had charged the three magistrates in writing, and was ready to lodge any reasonable costs to try out the issues between them and himself. He charged Mr. Bateman with rowdyism, Colonel Turner with cowardice, and Mr. Roche with falsehood, and he had offered them to choose their own tribunals, civil or criminal, for the hearing of the cases, he lodging reasonable costs. Certain rights had been given, foolishly, in his opinion, to Mr. Latchford by the Town Commissioners with reference to the use of steam power on a little river at Tralee; Mr. Latchford had a dispute with another person about the laying of a pipe in the river; he had bought a yard adjoining, and had the permission of the overseer to lay the pipe in the river, but he laid it at too high a level; he went to the 1457 Town Commissioners of Tralee, and asked permission to sink his pipe at a lower level; he obtained permission, and went with two or three men to do the work. It was not Mr. Latchford who began the alleged riot. The riot and assault was on the part of Mr. M'Cowan. On the Monday Mr. Latchford, who had failed to carry out his intention of sinking his own pipes to the level he desired, went to the dam, and found Mr. M'Cowan there with a body of men, not defending Mr. M'Cowan's own pipe, but surrounding the place where Mr. Latchford's pipe was, and preventing Mr. Latchford's men from sinking his pipe. Mr. Latchford had been advised by counsel that he had the right, having got permission from the Town Commissioners, to sink a pipe there. He accordingly went there, and in the course of the altercation Mr. Latchford pushed Tackerberry, one of Mr. M'Cowan's men, into the water. Mr. M'Cowan, who was standing on the bridge, and who knew the Executive Government was on his side, called out to Tackerberry—"That will do; you have been assaulted." That was the riot. Now, the man who had been assaulted had a remedy at law; but the Crown officials in Tralee put themselves in communication with Mr. M'Cowan, and assured him that they would make an example of Mr. Latchford. Mr. M'Cowan, who commenced the so-called riot, was not brought up, but Mr. Latchford was brought before Mr. Cecil Roche, a magistrate whose action Mr. Latchford had felt it his duty to denounce a short time ago in three Resolutions, one by the Tralee Town Commissioners, another by the Tralee Board of Guardians, and a third by the Chamber of Commerce. If a selection of magistrates could be made to try particular cases, he (Mr. Edward Harring ton) asked why was Mr. Roche sent all the way from Kerry to Clare to try this case? Why was not Captain Walsh, who was near at hand, chosen for the case? Mr. Cecil Roche was, no doubt, chosen in order to mark more in the minds of the people the vindictive spirit of the Government against them. What was the fair and dispassionate view Mr. Roche took of the case? In order to mark Mr. Roche's insincerity, the counsel for Mr. Latchford asked that the sentence should be increased from a month to a month and a day or a week, 1458 so that as this was a question of title there could be an appeal. Mr. Roche refused to increase the sentence as desired, or to state a point of law, and this only showed the venom and vindictiveness of the whole proceeding. He (Mr. Edward Harrington) did not hope to make the present Government ashamed of anything. There was no blush mantled their cheek when they were convicted of the wilful murder of a man with whom there was not one of the Government fit to compare. No blush of shame mantled their cheek when they were convicted of lending the forces of the Crown to drive the people from their homes and to dismantle their roof trees. There was no shame in them for any of these transactions. He asserted deliberately and solemnly that there was not one word of truth substantially in the statement the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had made to-night. The right hon. Gentleman did not deign to listen to him; but if it was not his own fault, and if he had been misinformed, did he not think it worth his while to inquire into the facts of the case? No doubt the present Executive would proceed with further animus, and inform Mr. Latchford, through their Tory Lord Chancellor, that he was no longer to hold the Commission of the Peace. If that was done the Irish Members would then raise this matter in another form. Mr. Latchford, personally, did not care a fig whether he was struck off the Commission of the Peace or not. There was a time when gentlemen in Ireland, even of Nationalist opinions, valued the Commission of Her Majesty to do justice between their fellow-men; but at the present time it was only the partizans of the bigots who were allowed or cared to hold the Commission of the Peace. In the county of Kerry the greatest partizanship had been displayed in respect to the Commission of the Peace. There a bankrupt had been appointed to the Commission of the Peace to do justice between himself and the tenants who were at loggerheads with him and the Executive Government. Now, he left the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to answer the statements he had made respecting the proceedings between Mr. Latchford and Mr. M'Cowan. Those statements were not made recklessly, but they were made by a man whom 1459 they had never yet convicted of falsehood; they were made by a man who valued his character as highly as any one of the Members of the Government.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, that though the events on which this debate had arisen were in themselves of small importance, he thought they had led to as important a debate as had ever occupied the attention of the Committee since the present Government came into Office. Let him point out to the Committee what were the issues which were really in debate. In the first place, they had to consider the very important question of how far the information and the answers of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland in regard to Irish affairs were worthy of credence. He regretted to find that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary did not think it worth his while to remain in the House while this important question was under discussion, and if the right hon. Gentleman's absence continued he should feel it his duty to compel his presence by some means or other. The second point under consideration was how the Crimes Act was administered in Ireland; and the third, a most important point, was whether or not the Magisterial Bench in Ireland was made the instrument of private vengeance? [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR at this point returned to his place.] He saw the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir John Colomb), who represented a London constituency, and who, he understood, claimed some association with the county of Kerry. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Kerry (Mr. Edward Harrington) told him that the hon. and gallant Baronet was a magistrate of Kerry, and, moreover, that he was a fair magistrate. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) hoped his conduct on the Bench was different to his conduct in the House, because, when the hon. and learned Member for West Kerry was describing the brutal assaults on old women and children by Mr. Roche, his statements were received by the hon. and gallant Gentleman with a sneering laugh.
SIR JOHN COLOMB&c.) (Tower Hamlets, Bow,
said, he was sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman; but he felt bound to say that the only point of the hon. and learned Gentleman's (Mr. 1460 Edward Harrington's) speech at which he laughed, was where he said that the little stream was called the big river.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, of course he accepted the hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation, and he was very glad to find that he was incorrect in his impression that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had thought fit to receive with jeers and laughter the hon. and learned Gentleman's description of the conduct of Mr. Roche in batoning old people, and even children coming from school. Now, let him deal with the credibility of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland first. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he had, in answer to a Question, repudiated the charge of personal feeling between Mr. Roche and Mr. Latchford. The right hon. Gentleman was interrupted by the hon. and learned Member for West Kerry, who asserted that the right hon. Gentleman's statement was incorrect, and that, as a matter of fact, he had given no such answer.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he did state in the House that he believed that he had, in answer to a Question on a previous occasion, said that there was no difference between Mr. Roche and Mr. Latchford, and then it occurred to him that his memory might have misled him, and he did not withdraw what he had said, but added that he was uncertain. It now appeared that his memory was perfectly accurate, and that he had said in the House there was no difference between Mr. Roche and Mr. Latchford.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that that was not the Question the right hon. Gentleman was asked. The right hon. Gentleman was asked by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Edward Harrington) whether he had answered a Question addressed by him in regard to this matter.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
However, it was a small point, and he did not want to raise any controversy on it, as there were much more important points requiring their attention. The right hon. Gentleman said now that Mr. Cecil Roche declared to him that he had no cause of conflict with Mr. Latchford, whom he convicted. The right hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that he made that statement. The right hon. Gentleman also expressed his faith in 1461 the perfect voracity of that statement. Would the right hon. Gentleman get up now and say that, after the speech of the hon. and learned Member for West Kerry, he still adhered to that statement?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman adhered to that statement; let him (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) point out what actually occurred. The statement of Mr. Roche was that he had no cause of conflict with Mr. Latchford. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was that he put perfect credence in that statement. The facts brought out by the hon. and learned Member for West Kerry were that Mr. Latchford had come into most serious collision with Mr. Roche by taking a most prominent part in the meeting which condemned the conduct of Mr. Roche. He left the Committee to judge between the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. and learned Friend, as to who was the more correct in this matter. His hon. and learned Friend had mentioned the important fact that there was in Dublin Castle, at the present moment, a Petition calling for the removal of Mr. Roche from the Magisterial Bench, and that this very Petition had been sent by the very Mr. Latchford with whom Mr. Roche said he had no cause of conflict. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had dwelt upon the matter for the reason that this was a fair specimen of the kind of answers which they got from the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the administration of affairs in Ireland. He called to the attention of the Committee, and even of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), who was the ne plus ultra of the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman, that the right hon. Gentleman said that the clauses of the Coercion Act were applied specially for the purpose of putting down Orange riot in Belfast.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, there was no rioting in Belfast except Orange rioting. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Well, he would say there was no rioting except that originally provoked by the Orangeman. [Colonel SAUNDERSON: Oh, oh.] Now, he did not want to get into conflict with the hon. and gallant Gentleman; what he 1462 wanted to ask those Gentlemen who were well acquainted with the doings of the Orange Body was, if they knew of any instances in which the Coercion Act had been employed for the purpose of putting down rioting in Belfast by the Orange Party? If they were able to give the Committee any instances, he would have a higher opinion of the right hon. Gentleman in his administration of the Coercion Act than he had at present. He saw an able lawyer opposite, who shared with him the honour of representing Liverpool; he saw also a still abler lawyer opposite, who represented the constituency of Deptford (Mr. Darling). Of course, the hon. Gentleman would understand that he did not say that in an uncomplimentary sense, and he put it to those hon. and learned Gentlemen as English lawyers, whether it was proper or possible for a magistrate to try a man with whom he had had such serious personal conflict and differences as were now proved to have taken place between Mr. Latchford and Mr. Cecil Roche? [A laugh.] He saw the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) laugh, but laughing was really the largest contribution towards their debates which they got from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He put it to the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether it would be possible in Scotland for a man to sit on the Bench to try another man with whom he had such serious personal differences and conflict as Mr. Roche had with Mr. Latchford? But he had not put the case as strongly as he might. This was not the case of a magistrate sitting on the Bench in the ordinary and regular course of affairs; but it was the case of a man being specially chosen to try a particular case. Mr. Cecil Roche sat in Tralee for the purpose of trying this particular case; he was deliberately chosen by the Authorities, acting under the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, to sit and to try this particular case. He put it to his hon. and learned Colleague opposite, whether it would be possible in England, whether it would be possible in Liverpool, that a magistrate should not only sit, but be chosen to sit, in a case where there was such serious conflict as there was between Mr. Cecil Roche and Mr. Latchford? Mr. Roche was selected to try his personal enemy and personal antagonist, selected to try 1463 him under an extraordinary law for an offence which might have been well tried under the ordinary law. Last week Mr. Roche was also chosen to try the cases which arose out of the Vandeleur evictions. What happened in England? If they took up the newspapers any day they found that the same Courts were day after day presided over by the same magistrate. As a matter of fact, no magistrate was transferred in England without his previous consent having been obtained by consultation with the Home Office; but that was not the case in Ireland. A magistrate was chosen for the district, and that, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) maintained, was a prostitution of the Magisterial Bench. The difficulty there was always in debating Irish questions in England was that Englishmen were under the delusion that the same names meant the same things in the two countries. A landlord in Ireland was not like a landlord in England, neither was an Irish magistrate like an English magistrate. When they spoke of Irish magistrates the English people ran away with the idea that a magistrate in Ireland meant the same impartial and thoroughly independent personage he meant in England. Therefore they were always subjected to grave misrepresentation and unfounded attack when they criticized severely the action of magistrates in Ireland, because the people of England were under the delusion that a magistrate in Ireland and a magistrate in England were pretty much the same kind of personages. In Ireland a magistrate was paid by the job. A Trades Unionist in England would refuse to work at the forge or at the bench on the same piecework principles as were applied to such a sacred duty as that of the magisterial duty in Ireland. Now, he had shown how much credibility was to be attached to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman had said that in the case of Mr. Latchford the collision was of a very serious character, because the police were called upon to intervene with their swords. The right hon. Gentleman prefaced that statement by the remark that faction fighting was still dear to the Irish people. That remark would have been quite worthy of Mr. Macdermott in one of the music halls of London; but whether it was worthy of a 1464 Gentleman who, for good or ill, was at present the Chief Ruler of Ireland, was a matter which he left to his taste and discrimination to be decided. As a matter of fact, faction fighting had gone out in Ireland; so much the better, possibly, for the right hon. Gentleman. This was a conflict about two pipes laid in a river. Mr. Latchford did not attack the pipe laid down by his antagonist, but was defending his own pipe. That, he thought, had a very important bearing on the case. [A laugh.] He was very glad that this subject was the cause of merriment to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Addison), who occupied a seat in the House by virtue of the casting vote of the Mayor of his constituency. When he was interupted by the laughter of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he was saying that Mr. Latchford was defending a pipe laid down by himself, and not interfering with the pipe laid down by his antagonist. When hon. Members opposite voted for the Crimes Bill of the Government, did they vote for it with the idea or the intention that all the terrible powers and machinery of the Bill would be put in motion in order to settle a potty and miserable dispute between two rival owners of pipes in a small stream? The Bill was brought in to put down serious crime, moonlight marauding, murders, and such things, which existed only for debating purposes, and which, as a matter of fact, did not exist at all in Ireland except in one county, which, he thought, would not be made very much more peaceable by such brutalities as had taken place in this case. Mr. Latchford was, a short time ago, tried and convicted by Mr. Cecil Roche. Nothing could be more disastrous to anything like respect for law than that an example of rowdyism and lawlessness should be given by those who administered the law. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Kerry was tried by Mr. Cecil Roche. When the trial was concluded—he spoke now on the testimony not only of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Kerry, but on the testimony of his hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. P. Stanhope)—and his hon. and learned Friend came out of the Court as a prisoner, a few cheers were raised by a few stray boys and girls. Mr. Cecil 1465 Roche thought that fact sufficient to justify him in leading a baton charge, in which old people and young children coming from school were the chief victims. If he were able to bring before the House all the ill-treatment inflicted on the people by Mr. Cecil Roche in Ireland, he was sure he would shock the sensibilities of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He supposed that most hon. Gentlemen belonged to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; if not, they ought to, because it was a most useful Body. If any hon. Gentleman saw a dog or a cat treated in the streets of London as boys and girls and old people were treated by Mr. Cecil Roche in the streets of Tralee, he did not think that any hon. Gentleman would hesitate to go to the nearest policeman and have the person maltreating the animal arrested and convicted for his brutality. Was it not shocking that things of this kind were allowed to be done by magistrates in Ireland; not only allowed but defended with all the vigour and vehemence at his command by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who was the superior officer of this gentleman? What was the lesson taught by the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to his subordinates in Ireland? They charged officials in Ireland with brutality, and the only satisfaction they got from the right hon. Gentleman was a defence in the most vigorous terms of every act of these men. What effect must all that have upon these officials? It must mean to them that the more brutal was their conduct the higher was their place in the estimation and the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman. Hon. Gentlemen opposite called themselves the Unionist Party. He did not agree with that epithet, but he accepted it for the sake of argument as a proper title. He assumed that every Unionist thought there ought to be equal justice for Ireland and for England; that the Irish people ought to be attached to this country by the feeling that every man in Ireland was sure of justice at the hands of the House and at the hands of the Rulers placed over them. [Oh, oh!"] That was a principle which evidently received sup port from the hon. and learned Gentleman who, as he had said, sat in the House by the casting vote of the Mayor of Ashton-under-Lyne. He 1466 should say it was a principle which would have to be accepted by every man who had ever claimed to be a rational human being. He put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they thought and expected that Ireland was always to be ruled by force, did they not look for ward with hope to the time when the people of Ireland would be as attached to this House, to the legislation of this House, and to the institutions and officials of this House, as were the people of England themselves? How could they reconcile that hope with the present state of things in Ireland, and which as late as to-night had received the official sanction of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary? Did hon. Members think the Irish people could be attached to England, to this Parliament, to the officials of this country, when they saw a magistrate selected to try his personal enemy and his political enemy; when they saw a magistrate step down from the Magisterial Bench, go into the street, and beat old men and women in the most brutal manner, and when, instead of that magistrate getting any reproof from the Chief Secretary, he was chosen by the Chief Secretary for every delicate and difficult duty, and held the very highest place in the eulogies which the right hon. Gentleman bestowed on his subordinates in Ireland. From the commencement of the operation of the Coercion Act up to March last, Mr. Cecil Roche had tried 37 cases. In those cases there were 90 persons involved, and out of the 90 he convicted 84. The other day they saw the manner in which this magistrate conducted judicial proceedings. Mr. Cecil Roche was just as much one of the Vandeleur evicting party as the Emergency man paid by the landlord to superintend the evictions. After he had done his work as an assistant Emergency man, as a head policeman, without even a change of clothes, still wearing his billycock hat, he proceeded to deal with the prisoners he had helped to make. He sat on a wall, and after the manner of "St. Louis" of France, under a beech tree, this modern Cadi dispensed justice. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary might say that Mr. Roche's presence was justified by the necessity of prompt justice, and that he was only employed for the purpose of remanding the prisoners. But the same magistrate 1467 who was Emergency man and policeman and magistrate to remand the prisoners, was also the magistrate to finally try the prisoners. This was the kind of thing which was going on in Ireland, and yet the other day hon. Gentlemen opposite voted down a Motion declaring that the administration of the Coercion Act was calculated to lessen the respect of the Irish people for the administration of the law. Why, the Irish people would be worse than slaves if they did not hate and detest the law which was administered by such men and in such a fashion. In the Latchford case the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary began his statement by saying there was no reason why Mr. Cecil Roche should not try the case, and he said that Mr. Roche saw no reason whatever why he was not in a state of mind which enabled him to try the case impartially. Mr. Roche followed up the statement of the right hon. Gentleman by stating from the Bench that it filled him with the deepest regret that it should be his duty—a duty which he need not have undertaken if he did not like—to try and decide upon a case in which a brother magistrate was involved. As had been pointed out, he had ample opportunity of showing his sincerity in expressing regret. He could, when asked, have increased the sentence so as to admit of an appeal. He refused to do this. The conclusion was unavoidable that Mr. Roche was more rejoiced than sorry at the opportunity given to him by the right hon. Gentleman to wreak vengeance upon a political and personal opponent.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he was sure that everyone who had listened to the debate must be of opinion it raised very important and difficult questions, questions which had been very worthy of discussion, and which required and deserved some further consideration at the hands of the Government. He understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to deny positively there had been a dispute between Mr. Latchford and Mr. Roche. When his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) said he had reason to believe that there was a dispute between Mr. Latchford and Mr. Roche, that there had been a meeting at Tralee, in the 1468 course of which Mr. Latchford had commented very severely upon the conduct of Mr. Roche, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary replied that was new to him. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) hoped the right hon. Gentleman would make inquiries on the subject, because the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle was one which could be easily verified or otherwise. It had been stated by the hon. and learned Member for West Kerry (Mr. Edward Harrington) that not only was it the fact that there had been a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in Tralee, at which Mr. Roche's conduct had been condemned, and at which Mr. Latchford severely commented on the action of Mr. Roche, but that there was also, in addition, a Petition forwarded to the Lord Chancellor, praying for the removal of Mr. Roche. That statement could be easily verified, if true. If it was a fact, it certainly threw a great deal of light on the whole transaction. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary magnified the affair at Tralee by treating it as a serious case of riot. Let them assume that the right hon. Gentleman's view was the right one; there was, then, all the more reason why the case ought to have been sent to a jury, and not tried by Mr. Roche, sitting with another Resident Magistrate. What did Mr. Roche do in the case? Not only did he try the case, instead of allowing it to be sent to a jury, but he refused when requested to enlarge the sentence to more than a month in order that Mr. Latchford might be able to appeal, and he also refused to state a case to the Superior Court. He never heard of a more monstrous case, or one more deserving of the serious attention of the Committee. While he was on his legs, he desired to bring before the Committee some other cases of criminal prosecution in Ireland. One case, in particular, he desired to mention, for the purpose of showing the arbitrary caprice and the oppressive uncertainly with which prosecutions were made by the Government under the Coercion Act. He believed that he should be able to show that very serious eases had occurred of this nature, in which persons had been prosecuted with great caprice, and under which, it appeared to him, the Local Authorities had now practically the power to send almost 1469 anybody they thought fit to prison. He would give certain illustrations of what he meant. He would, for many reasons, have preferred postponing his remarks until the Autumn Session; but his duty compelled him to take the earliest opportunity of bringing some of the cases under the notice of Parliament. The first case to which he referred arose out of the midnight meeting on the 16th of October last year, at Woodford. He alluded to the case in a speech in the debate on the Address; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made no reply, and did not attempt to deny his facts. He endeavoured to bring it before the House on the Supply Vote for the salaries of the Resident Magistrates; but the Chairman stopped him on that occasion, and this was the first time he had had an opportunity of raising a direct issue about it. The midnight meeting was held at Woodford on October 16 last, the anniversary of the adoption of the Plan of Campaign. It was presided over by the parish priest, Father Coen, and it was addressed by several Irish and English Members of Parliament and other persons. It was addressed by the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), by the hon. Member for that Division of the County of Galway in which Woodford was situated (Mr. Sheehy), by the hon. Member for East Finsbury (Mr. J. Rowlands), by several delegates from English Radical Associations, and by Mr. Wilfrid Blunt. The meeting was held in the principal street of Woodford, at midnight. All Woodford was there, for there were between 1,500 and 2,000 persons present. There were seven or eight policemen present; but that force was obviously inadequate to disperse or prevent a meeting. No disturbance took place, the meeting went off quietly, and there were no evil results. The meeting had been proclaimed by the Government, and the reason for its being held at midnight was undoubtedly because it had been proclaimed by the Government. Father Coen, who, as he had said, presided at the meeting, wiped his shoe with the Queen's Proclamation, and the hon. Member for West Cork burned the Proclamation during his speech. Now, no notice whatever was taken of the meeting until seven weeks afterwards. At the end of seven weeks, orders 1470 were apparently sent down from Dublin to prosecute several persons who were present. One would suppose the Government would prosecute the people who were mainly concerned or who took an active part in the meeting. But not a bit of that. No notice whatever was taken of any of the people who spoke or took a principal part in the demonstration. No notice was taken of Father Coen, who presided, and who wiped his shoe with the Queen's Proclamation; no notice was taken of the hon. Member for West Cork, who made a speech of some strong character, who, no doubt, enlarged upon the merits of the Plan of Campaign, and during which he burned the Queen's Proclamation. No notice was taken of the hon. Member for East Finsbury, or of any of the delegates from different parts of England, or of any of the other Irish Members who were present; but 12 men were prosecuted, not one of whom took an active part in the gathering. Of the 12 men, 11 were only present in the street. The only one out of the 12 who took an active part in the meeting was Mr. John Roche, and the only active part he took in the meeting was to move Father Coen into the chair without saying a single word. Having done that, John Roche went into the street—the meeting was addressed from the window of a house—and busied himself there, protecting the police from the violence of the people. He did so with such effect that no violence whatever took place against the police, and the next day Mr. Roche was specially thanked in public by the Chief Inspector of Police for the part he had taken. Yet, seven weeks afterwards, this very man was prosecuted by the police, and, on the evidence of the very Inspector of Police who had thanked him for protecting the police, was sent to prison for a month with hard labour. Now, what he wanted to know was, on what principle were these men selected for prosecution? Why were these men selected for prosecution, while those who took a principal part in the meeting were allowed to go free? Why was not the chairman of the meeting prosecuted? He imagined it would be said that the 12 men were selected because they were known to be leaders amongst the tenants, and were engaged in combination; that they were selected for prosecution be- 1471 cause it was thought to be to the interest of the landlords that these men should be prosecuted. Mr. John Roche was a secretary of the Tenants' Defence Association, and no doubt he was selected on that account for prosecution. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was at the trial of two of the men some days later than that on which the other 10 were tried. There was no evidence whatever against them, except that of being merely present at the meeting. One of the two men had joined with Mr. Roche in protecting the police, and there was evidence to that effect. These two men were sent to prison, one for a month and the other for a fortnight with hard labour, merely for being present at the meeting. There was another point which ought to be mentioned. The 10 men were, the day before their trial took place, deprived of their counsel, the hon. and learned Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. C. Harrington). After that, the hon. and learned Gentleman was arrested and carried over to Tralee on the bogus charge with having been connected with The Tralee Sentinel, which had published the reports of some of the proceedings of the National League in that district, and for which his brother, who was the editor of the paper, had been actually tried and sentenced to a month's imprisonment. The hon. and learned Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin had for some three or four years taken an active part in the newspaper. He was carried off to Tralee, where he was tried by the Resident Magistrates and convicted. But the magistrates stated a case for the Superior Courts, which case had never been argued out by the Crown; therefore it appeared that it was from the very first a bogus case. But the 10 men of whom he spoke were deprived of their counsel in this way. They asked that the case might be adjourned for two or three days to enable them to supply themselves with counsel; but although seven weeks had elapsed since the commission of the alleged offences, and although, consequently, it could not be said that there was any immediate hurry, or any reason that two or three more days' interval should not be allowed to elapse, the application was refused, and they were tried and convicted. These men, and subsequently two others, were sent to prison for a month each with hard labour for simply attending 1472 this meeting. They asked that the sentence might be enlarged so as to enable them to appeal; but this was refused, and they were sent to prison. He must ask the Government to give en explanation as to the grounds upon which, and the reason for which, these 12 men out of the 2,000 present, probably every one of whom was known to the police, had been selected for prosecution. Why were they selected in preference to others who had taken an active and important part in the proceedings of which he spoke, and on what principle were such prosecutions instituted? Any jury in the United Kingdom would have refused to convict these men, who were merely present, when all the leading men who made the speeches, which alone constituted the meeting illegal, were not brought before the Court. There was another case of a somewhat similar character, which occurred in the same district a few weeks after, illustrating this capricious method of selecting persons for prosecution. Eventually some of the men to whom he had referred came out of prison. One of them was a man named Egan, who had been released on the 31st of January. This man had been in prison three times under the Coercion Act, and on coming out of prison this time, his neighbours and friends, in a village near Woodford, gave him an impromptu reception or welcome. About 200 of them were present—all the people of the village, in fact; and they lit a bonfire, and one speech was made. Two or three policemen were present, and Mr. John Roche made a short speech; but it was not contended that anything he said on that occasion made the meeting an illegal one. No evidence was given at the trial that he said anything that made the meeting an illegal one. But at that meeting a single stone was thrown by an unknown person in the crowd at the police. The police were not hurt at all. Mr. Roche, who presided at the meeting, immediately protested against the act, and begged of the people to keep the peace. He did his best to prevent further violence, and with such success that no further violence took place. And yet for this most harmless meeting 11 men were prosecuted, and nine were sent to prison for one month with hard labour, and two were sent to prison for three months—namely, Mr. Roche and another person 1473 who was present. He again desired to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary on what principle these men were selected for prosecution on this occasion, when all the village people were present, and they were all known to the police? Now, he wished to mention a circumstance which occurred at the meeting in question—and he thought the House would be somewhat surprised to hear it—to show the uncertain and capricious way in which these prosecutions were instituted. Two men, named Reilly and Bolan, drove up to that meeting in a trap. Neither of them got off the trap, and neither of them took any part whatever in the meeting. They did not even cheer or groan. They sat side by side on the one seat. And yet one of these men—Bolan—was prosecuted and sent to prison for three months, and the other was allowed to go free. Bolan, Roche, and Reilly were the only persons from Woodford who attended the meeting. They were all leading shopkeepers. There was no evidence given that Bolan took any part in the meeting; he did not cheer or groan, yet he was prosecuted and sent to prison for three months. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) desired to ask Her Majesty's Government upon what principle the selection was made? As he had pointed out, the local opinion was that those persons were selected not because they attended meetings, but simply because they were obnoxious to the landlords of the district, being engaged in some form of combination in the interests of the tenants, and the opportunity was taken of meetings of this kind to send them to prison when it was thought convenient to do so. These meetings were treated as illegal by the Government for the purpose of sending men of this kind, leaders among the tenants, to prison. The real object was to send to prison men of the kind to whom he referred for their action in connection with combinations, and not because they attended illegal meetings. Practically, there was no difference between the action of the authorities under this Act and that under the Act of 1882, which enabled the Government to put any man in prison whom it thought expedient. If time permitted, he could quote many cases of a similar kind to those he had given where selections of this sort had been made; but he would 1474 now go to another class of cases—namely, those known as Boycotting cases, where the same capriciousness of prosecution had been exhibited, and where these prosecutions were instituted for the same reasons he had already mentioned. The practice was for the police to go with the person supposed to be Boycotted to various trades people, selecting any tradesmen they thought fit, and to go into the shop of each tradesman asking him to supply goods to this particular person, and, in the event of his declining to do so, immediately instituting a prosecution against him for conspiring to Boycott. This method enabled the police to select almost any man they liked for prosecution, and he would illustrate this by one or two cases. There was a prosecution of three men in Kanturk, on the 31st December last, for refusing to supply a local landlord, named Leader, with certain goods, and they were sent to prison for six weeks. Mr. Leader, it seemed, went round the small town of Kanturk with a policeman, and went into the shops of these three men asking for goods. It appeared from the facts that came out at the trial—in fact Mr. Loader himself swore—that he had no difficulty whatever in obtaining what he wanted elsewhere; but it appeared that he had been anxious to prosecute and, presumably, to send to prison some of the leading shopkeepers in the town, because they were members of the National League whom it was thought expedient to imprison. The circumstances he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was describing were reported in The Cork Examiner. At the trial, Mr. Sullivan, the counsel for the defendants, asked Mr. Leader this question—I put it to you, on your oath, why did you go to this man, whose doors you never darkened before?Mr. Leader said—I knew they were the most hostile people in the town, and that is the reason I went there.He was then asked—Did you expect you would be supplied?—A. I was sure I would not be supplied.Q. Knowing you would not be supplied, why did you go if it was not for the purpose of getting up a prosecution against the man?After considerable hesitation, the witness said—I do not deny that I wanted to get up a prosecution. 1475 Q. Did you communicate to any person your intention of going there that day?The witness paused and did not reply. The question was repeated, and the answer was—I did.Q. Knowing that you would be refused?—A. Yes.He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) desired to call the attention of the House to this case. Here was this landlord, Mr. Leader, who had no difficulty in being supplied elsewhere in the town, and yet he, with the aid of the police, selected certain people for prosecution, and apparently selected them because they were members of the National League. Here was another case, which was tried at Fermoy on the 19th of February. A man named John Moloney, was charged with conspiring to induce shopkeepers not to deal with the police. The evidence showed that two policemen went into Moloney's shop, and that one of them asked Moloney to sell a pair of boots to the other man, and that Moloney refused to do so. It did not appear that the boots were wanted for that man or anyone else, and the two policemen went there merely to ensnare Moloney. They had no difficulty in getting the boots elsewhere, and merely selected this man for the purpose of prosecuting him. In the course of the cross-examination the following facts were elicited:—Cross-examined: Who directed you to go to the shop?—A. District Inspector Jones of Cork.Q. Who provided you with the £1 for the boots?—A. The District Inspector.Q. Was that the sum of £1 that did double duty in two shops?—A. Yes.Q. Why did he tell you to do this?—A. He told me to get a pair of boots in the house.Q. Were they for himself?—A. No.Q. Any pair of boots you put your eyes on you were to get?—A. Yes.Q. And you did not care a pin who they were for?—A. No.Q. Did you go by direction of your officer to entrap and ensnare this respectable man?—A. Certainly, I went by direction.Q. Was it for the purpose of a prosecution that you went into the place?—A. I did not know at the time what it was for.Q. Did your officer tell you to take any officer with you?—A. He did.Q. On your oath, did you know what the object was you went in for?—A. Not at the time.Q. Do you know it now?—A. Yes, certainly.It was obvious, from this evidence, that the man was sent to the shop simply for 1476 the purpose of cooking up a prosecution. There was not the smallest evidence that these boots were wanted by anybody, and the man was simply sent to the shop for the purpose of ensnaring the shopkeeper. This was another case showing the extraordinary caprice and selection made in the matter of these prosecutions. They were simply samples of what was going on in many parts of Ireland at this moment. Prosecutions were being brought in batches of persons selected in this way, for the purpose of suiting the convenience, or subserving the vengeance probably, of local individuals, or because it suited the police or the authorities that people should be prosecuted for some other reason than would appear on the face of the charge. If time allowed, he could show that the same policy existed in connection with other cases—with reference to the making of speeches, for instance. He would, however, merely mention one case of a prosecution in consequence of a speech in order to show that this particular form of selection was adopted in connection with those cases. The case was that of the hon. Member for East Tipperary (Mr. Condon). This Gentleman was prosecuted for attending a meeting which was held at Ennis on the 18th of April of this year, a meeting which was attended by the hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) and other persons, among them being a Mr. Byles, the editor of The Bradford Observer. In order to prove that the meeting was an illegal one, those who conducted the prosecution brought in evidence the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for North Longford and of Mr. Byles, both of whom made speeches advocating the Plan of Campaign. The hon. Member for East Tipperary made a speech at the meeting in which he said nothing about the Plan of Campaign, and which was not alluded to at the trial, and yet he was prosecuted; whilst the hon. and learned Member for North Longford and Mr. Byles were allowed to go free, although, to prove that the meeting was illegal, they had given evidence of the speeches of these two gentlemen in advocacy of the Plan of Campaign. Therefore, on the strength of two speeches made by other gentlemen present at the meeting, but who were not prosecuted, and not in consequence of anything he himself had 1477 said, the hon. Member for East Tipperary was prosecuted for attending an illegal meeting and sent to prison. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) could only say that the cases he had brought before the House showed so much caprice in the selection of the persons for prosecution under the Crimes Act that it deserved the most serious attention of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary the other day told them that all the serious cases of attending illegal meetings and making speeches, when it was proposed that prosecutions should be undertaken, came under the notice of the hon. and learned Attorney General and were approved of by him in the first instance, and he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) presumed that the most important cases of all came before the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary himself. He felt, therefore, that he was justified in calling in question the conduct of the hon. and learned Attorney General in these cases, and of asking the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to give an explanation of the facts he had brought before the attention of the Committee. He thought they were entitled to some explanation of the principle on which persons were selected to be prosecuted, while others, apparently more guilty, were left untouched. In conclusion, he could only say that the facts he had brought under the attention of the Committee, and what he had himself witnessed during the visits he had paid to Ireland in the course of the last few months, convinced him that that was taking place which they always thought and had predicted would take place—namely, that the Coercion Act was being used for the purpose not of putting down crime, as was promised, but for the purpose of assisting the landlords to collect their rents, and, as he had already said, for the purpose apparently of making a selection amongst persons for prosecution.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman had concluded his speech with a "tag" which did frequent service for him and his Friends—namely, the prophecy they had originally put forward that the Crimes Act would not be used for the purpose of repressing crime, but for the purpose of collecting the rents of the landlords. That allegation was in itself a wholly absurd one. He did not call attention to it for the 1478 purpose of seriously arguing against the contention, but merely to point out that the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech had not said a single word which went in the direction of proving that statement. The right hon. Gentleman had begun his observations by continuing the attack upon Mr. Roche; and he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not propose to got into the matter again. He could only say that the evidence against Mr. Roche's statement made both in public and private that neither he nor his colleague had ever at any time had any difference with Mr. Latchford appeared to have been of the most flimsy description. The original allegation was that Mr. Roche brought a complaint against Mr. Latchford. That might have been evidence if it had been true, but it was false.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
asked whether it was false that there was a Petition to the Lord Chancellor for the removal of Mr. Roche?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat confused in the matter. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had said that the original allegation was that Mr. Roche had brought a complaint against Mr. Latchford, and that if that had been true it would have been evidence that Mr. Roche had some animus against Mr. Latchford; but the story that Mr. Latchford at some public meeting was one of a large number of persons who signed a Petition against Mr. Roche was no proof whatever that Mr. Roche had any difference with Mr. Latchford.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
said, that at the meeting at the Tralee Harbour Board at which Mr. M'Cowan presided, Mr. Latchford moved a resolution condemning Mr. Roche for his conduct, and Mr. M'Cowan refused to receive it, so that Mr. Roche practically tried the case between his friend Mr. M'Cowan and his opponent Mr. Latchford.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he did not admit that that was any proof at all. If they were to regard, as proof of approval or disapproval of their action, speeches which were made upon them, he, for one, would have a very bad time indeed. Well, he passed from that subject—after all, it was a very small part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech—and he now came to the accusa- 1479 tion which the right hon. Gentleman made of caprice with which these selections were made by the authorities for prosecutions in Ireland. In connection with this point the right hon. Gentleman had given them some account of the Woodford meeting, from which he said that no evil result had flowed. The right hon. Gentleman had appeared to speak with approval of this meeting. He was a Privy Councillor; he had been a Minister of the Crown——
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, his statement was that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to approve of it. The right hon. Gentleman had been a Minister of the Crown; and he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not in the least doubt that he expected to be a Minister of the Crown again—and this was the right hon. Gentleman who related in all dramatic detail how one gentleman trampled on the Queen's Proclamation——
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
(continuing) said, this was the right hon. Gentleman who related how another person wiped his boots with the Queen's Proclamation. The right hon. Gentleman had said that no evil results had followed from the meeting; but that statement he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) absolutely denied. That meeting was at once followed by violent resistance on the part of the tenants at some of the evictions which followed—it was the immediate cause, the provocative cause of the resistance that was immediately offered to the legitimate process of the law. The right hon. Gentleman was very very angry because they had not prosecuted certain persons connected with the meeting. It was really very difficult to satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did what he could; but he was never fortunate enough to succeed in pleasing hon. Members. He was sometimes complained of because he prosecuted too many people; but now he was condemned because he did not prosecute a sufficient number. [Cries of "No, no!"] Whatever he did was complained of. [Cries of "No, no!"] Well, was it not the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had complained that he had not prosecuted enough people?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I never said anything of the kind. I said if you are to prosecute people who take part in these meetings, you should, at any rate, confine such prosecutions to those who had taken an active part in the meetings. I said you should not prosecute people who had merely been present in the crowd, and had not done anything beyond that.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had, in his speech, especially selected for animadversion the case of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), and of Father Coen. Father Coen, he believed, was in the chair at this meeting, and was the person who wiped his boots on the Proclamation; and he believed that the hon. Member for North-East Cork had made a most violent speech, after which he had burned the Proclamation. No doubt, these two persons were the most guilty of all the persons at the meeting. Certain persons from England were there; but he was willing to believe that they were merely the dupes of the local agitators. Those persons were certainly not leaders; but were merely brought in to add a certain amount of respectability to transactions which in themselves were by no means respectable. With regard to Father Coen, he would say that in that case it was possible that he showed rather an undue reluctance to prosecute a priest. No priest up to that time had been prosecuted under the Crimes Act. He had been extremely anxious, if he could, to administer the Crimes Act without prosecuting priests; and at the time of which he was speaking he had succeeded in avoiding a course which he was ultimately compelled to adopt. He had deferred prosecuting priests as long as possible; but it was not long after the occurrence of the incident in question that he had felt himself obliged to do so. That, he admitted, was the reason why Father Coen was not prosecuted on this occasion; but if Father Coen were to consider it his duty to act in a similar way again, he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) probably should consider it his duty to proceed against him. The case of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Cork had been different. That hon. Gentleman had already been condemned to three months' imprisonment; he had appealed, and while the appeal 1481 was pending he occupied the time between the original trial and the hearing of the appeal in the manner familiar to Irish patriots, by repeating his offence against the law with all the energy in his power. As the appeal against the three months' imprisonment was coming on in a few days, he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) was extremely unwilling to give a shadow of appearance of vindictive action against Mr. W. O'Brien, and on that account—and on that account alone—he had abstained from prosecuting him. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) might think that a discreditable motive; but, at all events, it was the real motive of the Government, and this reply was one which, on sober reflection, might satisfy the right hon. Gentleman that the Government were not altogether wrong. At any rate, if the right hon. Gentleman was not satisfied with that statement, let him get up and say so after he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had done. The right hon. Gentleman had been indignant with Mr. Roche and other persons being prosecuted, although they had not taken any active part in the meeting. He had said that these persons were prosecuted because they were leaders in the movement amongst the tenantry in the district, and for no other reason. To charge a motive such as that upon the Government was a monstrous calumny.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Mr. Courtney, I rise to Order. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a few nights ago, called for your intervention when a right hon. Gentleman opposite accused him of adopting the lauguage of calumny. You, Sir, ruled the right hon. Gentleman out of Order in that statement. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has now accused the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) with uttering a monstrous calumny in this House, and I would ask you if, in your opinion, he is in Order?
On the last occasion I said, when a similar phrase had been used, that it was language that came under the censure of the Chair.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that under the circumstances he at once withdrew the words. He would say that the right hon. Gentleman had made an 1482 amazing statement, when he said that the Government prosecuted those persons at the wish of the local landlords.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he thought he had said that it was the universal belief in the district that these prosecutions had taken place because the persons prosecuted had been opposed to the interests of the landlords.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he was willing to accept that version of the case, and to regard the right hon. Gentleman as one of the channels through which these aspersions upon the Government were given to the public. The right hon. Gentleman declared it to be a monstrous thing that these persons should have been chosen for prosecution, seeing that they were the friends of the tenantry. If there was ground for believing that these persons were principally responsible in the neighbourhood for the calling together of an illegal meeting, he (Mr. N. J. Balfour) submitted that the action of the Executive was amply justified, and the position that the right hon. Gentleman said these persons held in the neighbourhood was a sufficient indication that the presumption on the part of the Government was not altogether ill-founded. So much for the midnight meeting. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to another meeting that occurred in the same district a few weeks later. He confessed he was not able to charge his memory with the details of that matter. If the right hon. Gentleman had given Notice that he desired to call attention to it he would have refreshed his memory; but he had not done so, and the result was that he was not able to give the right hon. Gentleman the information he desired.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman was kind enough to send him a note intimating that he was about to call attention to the arbitrary character of the prosecutions undertaken by the Government; but he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not understand that the right hon. Gentleman was about to mention this particular meeting.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken. He stated in his communication that he would put a Question with reference to these meetings he had referred to.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman had made some very severe criticisms on the way in which evidence had been got up in cases of Boycotting. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not propose to deal at length with the cases the right hon. Gentleman had brought forward. If it was necessary that they should be gone into, his hon. and learned Friend near him the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) would be able to deal with them in detail; but he might say, speaking generally, that the right hon. Gentleman appeared to confound two different things. The right hon. Gentleman said.—"Here is Mr. Leader, who goes into a shop where he had never dealt before, and asks for goods which he knows will not be supplied to him, simply in order to get up a case." Now, it was quite true that if a solitary offence of that kind had occurred—if a single individual was condemned because he refused to deal with a customer who had never been in the habit of making purchases at his shop and that the customer had come for something which he did not want, it might have been fairly said that there had been a miscarriage of justice. But this was not a case of that kind. Everyone knew the Leader case; everyone knew that Mr. Leader and those who worked for him had been made the victims of a shocking Boycotting conspiracy. The men convicted of conspiracy in the case were convicted justly, and the amount of punishment they had received was not in excess of the crimes committed. There was no question that those who had been convicted had been engaged in the conspiracy of Boycotting, and in one of the most disgraceful cases which had occurred in Ireland during the last few years.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he had stated that the evidence showed that Mr. Leader had said that he had no difficulty in being supplied by other shopkeepers in the district.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that the general observations he had made in the case of Mr. Leader applied to all the cases which the right hon. Gentleman had brought forward, including that in 1484 which a constable went into a shop to purchase a pair of boots. If there was a real Boycotting conspiracy carried out with all the incidents of intimidation and outrage with which a Boycotting conspiracy was accompanied—if that were true, then no substantial accusations could be made against the administration of justice. If it were not true, then unquestionably there had been a miscarriage of justice which should be inquired into by the House.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
begged to say that there was no evidence of conspiracy before the magistrates. The only evidence was that which he quoted. No evidence of any conspiracy to Boycott was given.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he entirely traversed the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. If the right hon. Gentleman wished to argue the matter with more detail, he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) would give place to the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, who would be able to deal with the legal aspect of the case to the full satisfaction of the Committee.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, there was one point in the case of Mr. Latchford that he should like to bring before the House. As he understood the matter, Mr. Latchford was tried not in respect of any offence for which the Crimes Act in Ireland was passed, but because there had been some dispute between two parties giving rise to a species of riot. He was sorry he had not heard the whole of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary on the question; but if the whole dispute was in connection with an ordinary riot the intervention of the summary procedure under the Crimes Act was altogether unwarranted. There could be no doubt whatever that when the Crimes Act was passed it was intended to meet a certain condition of things such as Boycotting and intimidation, and it might be that under the strict letter of the law that in any proclaimed district where there was riot or unlawful assembly the authorities were entitled to deal with the case summarily under the provisions of the Act. But it must be borne in mind that the Government were bound to administer the law in a reasonable way. It must be remembered that they had two processes by which to deal with riots—that with 1485 which they dealt with them on ordinary territory, and that with which they dealt with them in proclaimed districts. Now, when they spoke of riots in a proclaimed district they spoke of a place where riots were the cause of the proclamation of the district. Under the existing summary procedure of the Act two things must happen. There must not only be a riot, but it must be a riot in a proclaimed district, and he maintained that the Government had no right to use the summary jurisdiction clause of the Crimes Act to prosecute for riot in a district which was not proclaimed and where the riot had nothing to do with any of the causes which led to the proclamation of a district. To prosecute persons under such circumstances was, he must say, a most unwarrantable exercise of the powers of the Act. He questioned very much whether if this case were taken to a higher Court it would be held that the Government, under the strict letter of the law, had the right to act as they had done. But, however that might be, even if the Judges refused to state a case involving the question as to whether or not the action of the Government was outside the scope of the Act—apart altogether from the legal bearing of the case—he held that the Executive of the country were bound to carry out such an Act as this with something of justice and reason. They were not entitled when they had two methods of carrying out a prosecution—namely, an ordinary and an extraordinary method, to adopt the latter when the occasion was one capable of being dealt with by the former.
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had proved very clearly that if the Members of the House at the time of the passing of the Crimes Act had known how it was going to be administered for a single week a large number of the majority that carried it would have rejected it with scorn and indignation. The Act had been passed in one spirit and administered in another. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was extremely indignant with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford, for stating, and correctly stating, that the Coercion Act was put in force and was intended to be put in force not against crime, but against combination. When the right hon. Gentleman the 1486 Member for Central Bradford made that observation he was simply speaking on the authority of Lord Salisbury, who, on April 22, 1887, had said—"We have offered a measure"—that was to say the Crimes Act—"not without hesitation, in order to put a stop to certain combinations." Now he (Mr. Mac Neill) had described to the best of his ability, at home and abroad, the administration of the Irish Government under the Coercion Act, and he was not the man to say anything far away from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary which he would not state in his presence. When 7,000 miles away from that House, at Port Elizabeth, he had said that the position of the right hon. Gentleman under the Coercion Act was this: that whereas the right hon. Gentleman and the other Members of the Government combined within themselves several descriptions of authority, for which they as Members of the Executive were responsible to the people of England, the right hon. Gentleman was in no way responsible to the Irish people. He was able to wield this Coercion Act over a nation where he was hardly able to get a vote, and where he certainly would not be able to procure a seat even in the University of Dublin. What right had the right hon. Gentleman to administer this Coercion Act? He had never set foot in Ireland before he had received the mandate of Lord Salisbury to go there and was armed with this Coercion Act. He did not say that the right hon. Gentleman was unconscientious, but he maintained this—that it would be beyond the wit and power of man under such circumstances going to a country entirely ignorant of the disposition and character of its people—it would be utterly beyond the ability, wit, and penetration of such a person to prevent himself being earwigged by those officials who were interested in deceiving him. The acts which were condemned were not the right hon. Gentleman's acts at all, but those of the officials of Dublin Castle. Now, the right hon. Gentleman's salary or part of it was covered by this vote, and he (Mr. Mac Neill) confessed that it struck him as rather a strange thing that a salary of over £5,000 per annum should be voted here for a right hon. Gentleman who certainly, even according to his own confession, had not thoroughly 1487 earned that salary. Had they forgotten the Parliamentary Under Secretary Bill? What had become of it? The Parliamentary Under Secretary was to assist the right hon. Gentleman—or, rather, to do work which the right hon. Gentleman did not do. In looking at how matters were at present he must express a hope that the subject would be dealt with temperately, for the case was too strong for anything like rash or angry speaking. He would bring temperately before the House those dealings of the right hon. Gentleman, as head of the Executive Government in Ireland, which, he thought, were seriously open to condemnation. They had heard a good deal about Mr. Cecil Roche's conduct, but into that he would not enter; but he would say that it would be more proper for the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, having regard to the tenure of office of the Resident Magistrates, who were his creatures and were dismissable at a moment's notice—it would be more proper for him, in administering the Coercion Act through those gentlemen, not to hold conversation with them or bring them up to Dublin for the purpose of consulting with them. He had called attention to the fact that these gentlemen, who were practically the Judges under the Coercion Act, were consulted by the right hon. Gentleman and were instructed by him in regard to the method of carrying out the Act, and what answer had he received? Why, he had been met by a deliberate and studied refusal to tell him whether the communications which had come to his knowledge on the subject were correct or not.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that when questioned with regard to communications with the magistrates which in the exercise of his duty he thought it necessary to make for the preservation of law and order in Ireland he had always refused to make any statement, but in the present instance, if it would be any satisfaction to the hon. Member, he could assure him that almost all the reports which had appeared in the newspapers with regard to his holding communications with Resident Magistrates were false.
MR. MAC NEILL
said, he should like to know whether this statement contained in The Irish Times of the 22nd October, 1887, was incorrect—namely— 1488Colonel Turner, Captain Walsh, and Mr. Cecil Roche, Resident Magistrates, who have been in attendance on the Chief Secretary during the past two days in the Castle, have returned to their districts.These Resident Magistrates, it must be remembered, had been in attendance upon the man to whom they looked to preserve them from starvation. The right hon. Gentleman was always clever in his statements in that House. Sometimes he was extremely amusing and witty, and he (Mr. Mac Neill) always read his speeches with great interest and attention, and he had never read any of them with greater attention than one in which the right hon. Gentleman had attempted to he jocular and had made certain historical allusions to the condition of England and Ireland. Well, under the right hon. Gentleman's régime Ireland was in a worse condition than England was under the Stuarts. England in those days had removable Judges, and they saw the effects of that state of things in England to this day. In Ireland they had at this moment removable magistrates, and everyone was familiar with the results of the operations of those gentlemen. In England, under the Stuarts, the Judge who was removed from his office could go back to his work at the Bar and had a livelihood before him, but that was not the case with these removable Irish magistrates, seeing that some of them would only have their miserable pittance of half-pay, as military or naval officers, to exist on which kept them on the verge of starvation. They, therefore, were always prepared to decide cases which were brought before thorn according to the wishes or instructions of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. The cases brought before them were not easy ones to decide, but rested on the interpretation to be placed on very complicated laws affecting conspiracy and other matters in which the rights of the public and the rights of the Crown were in conflict. The result was that, as in the time of the Stuarts, there were foul judicial murders in England, so, under the régime of the right hon. Gentleman in Ireland, there were certainly foul miscarriages of justice. The right hon. Gentleman, speaking of the Coercion Act at Manchester at the end of last year, had referred rather heartlessly to the diminution of crime which it was 1489 likely to bring about owing to the fear of the plank beds which it inspired in the minds of the Nationalist Party. Well, they had had some evidence at the inquests recently held of the methods by which it was sought to bring home this terror to the minds of the people. They heard the right hon. Gentleman talking jocosely of plank beds, and they saw such men as John Mandeville dying from the effects of the treatment to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. Lord William Russell was destroyed in the time of the Stuarts, John Mandeville died in the time of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not think the Coercion Act had been wrongly described when it was spoken of as a savage Act, neither did he think the administration of that Act was wrongly described as a savage administration. The Act was placed in the hands of those who were manifestly incompetent to administer it; then they had the closeting of these Judges with the right hon. Gentleman; and, further than this, they saw special magistrates sent down from Dublin to try special cases. Why was this, and why was it that Coroners' inquests were reprobated? And then, as to the administration of justice, even so far as regarded cases which escaped the Resident Magistrates and went before juries, it bad been proved conclusively that jury packing in Ireland had been reduced to a fine art. It was only a few days ago—yesterday he thought it was—that he had put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) on the subject of jury packing. This right hon. Gentleman, he had no doubt, was to be depended upon to give a careful and honourable reply, whether he understood the matter or not. He had asked what was the power of the Crown to order jurors to stand by in this country? In reply the right hon. Gentleman had said that the power was practically unknown, and that in practice, if ever there should happen to be an objection taken by one side to a juryman, the name of that juryman was mentioned to the counsel for the other party in a friendly way, and another person was at once called in his place. But in Ireland he (Mr. Mac Neill) had no hesitation in saying that the selection of the jury was held to be the most important part of the case. It was like the shuffling of cards, but it was a game 1490 in which the Crown always had the odds in their favour as against the accused. On this matter he could quote the authority of The Daily Express, a Conservative organ in Dublin. The editor of this paper declared not long ago that there was no use disguising the fact that trial by jury in Ireland was, in political cases, only a make-believe. The Resident Magistrates were the right hon. Gentleman's judicial agents; and speaking of them at Birmingham—a place of some political repute at the present moment—the right hon. Gentleman, not content with the direct influence exerted upon them through Dublin Castle, had given those gentlemen some hints as to how they should act. Taking those hints, these Resident Magistrates at first determined upon being severe, and had sentenced men to three, four, and six months' imprisonment. These long terms of imprisonment entitled the prisoners to appeal, and gave them an interval, during which they went round making the same speeches for which they had been originally prosecuted—for hon. Members would understand that the people in Ireland did not consider themselves guilty of any crime in making these speeches to which the Government took exception. The right hon. Gentleman had manifestly in his utterances exercised great influence upon the magistrates, an influence like that exerted by the individual who, when he saw the boys of Trinity College lay hold of an obnoxious proctor for the purpose of administering some sort of punishment, said—"For goodness sake don't nail his ears to the pump." In response to the right hon. Gentleman's hints, one month's imprisonment was to be the rule, as not involving appeal, and then the magistrates discovered the plan of inflicting cumulative sentences. As a matter of fact, these Resident Magistrates were what might be called the right hon. Gentleman's political sensitive plants. He had only to touch them with a speech and they responded instantly. They were capable of appreciating the significance of a shrug or a smile of the right hon. Gentleman in their administration of justice. He again declared that the Coercion Act was not intended to put down crime, but that all the attempt made was to put down combination. The right hon. Gentleman would forgive him (Mr. Mac Neill) for mentioning a 1491 matter personal to himself, in which he had been badly treated. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would bear him out that in Ireland the Government merely consisted of himself and the Lord Lieutenant; the right hon. Gentleman himself being the prime mover. There were several Governing Boards, such as the Local Government Board and the Prisons Board, and so on, the officers of which were appointed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and were subject to his dismissal. The right hon. Gentleman would admit that the Local Government Board was an important office; and the right hon. Gentleman was the head of that office. He (Mr. Mac Neill) yesterday asked the right hon. Gentleman a Question with reference to this Local Government Board, and also with reference to his (Mr. Mac Neill's) constituency. It was a case of some hardship regarding religious intolerance which had been shown by a Protestant majority in the matter of the use of a certain workhouse in Donegal, as causing detriment to the education of Catholic children. The right hon. Gentleman had put him off three or four times, and he (Mr. Mac Neill) had borne it with good humour. He had put another Question to the right hon. Gentleman yesterday with regard to the matter; and the reply he had received was that a statement on the subject could be sent to the papers, but that an answer could not be made, as it would be too long for a reply to a Question. It was inconvenient that the right hon. Gentleman should deal with Questions put to him in this way, seeing that the Question had reference to a Department of which the right hon. Gentleman was the bead, and that his attitude deprived the Irish Members of an opportunity of questioning him, and trying to bring public opinion to bear upon a matter that they considered very grave. He (Mr. Mac Neill) thanked the House for its patience in listening to him, and hoped the right hon. Gentleman would believe that he had made these observations in no angry spirit. He wished hon. Gentlemen opposite would take more interest in Irish affairs, as he believed from his heart that if they did, and if they knew the real condition of things in the country, many of them would rather sacrifice their seats than vote for a con- 1492 tinuation of the present system of government.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that he did not wish to seem discourteous, and he would therefore explain what occurred in reference to the question to which the hon. Member had alluded more than once. The fact of the matter was that he had examined into the subject and into the kindred matter raised by an hon. Friend behind him, and had found that it would be impossible to compress his answer into such space that he would be entitled to ask the House to listen to it at Question time. Ministers had always been obliged to say when an answer reached the proportions of a speech that it could not be given at Question time. However, he had asked his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) to give the written answer to the hon. Gentleman, and then to send it up to the papers. The principal papers in London would not publish half or a quarter of a column about a Donegal workhouse he was aware, but probably the Irish papers would.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
asked whether it was not possible to increase the salary of the chaplain, so as to enable him to pay a Catholic teacher? Or there was another course. There had been various cases in Ireland where, for very frivolous reasons, ordinary Boards of Guardians had been abolished and paid Guardians had been substituted for them. If the Guardians were abolished in the present case the reason would not be a frivolous one, and he would ask whether it would be possible to adopt such a course where persistent religious intolerance was shown?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that as to the first suggestion he should be very glad to consider it, if the hon. and learned Member would put a Question down on the Paper. As to the second suggestion, both he and his Predecessor had inquired into the matter, and had found that they had no power to dissolve Boards of Guardians on the ground suggested. The Irish Local Government Board had large powers for dissolving Boards of Guardians, but those powers were limited to certain grounds.
§ DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)
asked, whether one of those grounds was not persistent refusal to obey the instructions of the Local Government Board?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, there were only certain matters in regard to which the Local Government Board had the right to give orders, and the subject in question was not one of those.
§ MR. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
said, the reply which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was, even for him, with all his powers of audacity of assertion, very weak. He had attempted to vindicate the action of the Government in the prosecution against the people of Woodford, and said that the reason why the prosecution of Father Coen did not take place at first was that at the time the Government were unwilling to prosecute the priests in Ireland. Another reason that he gave was that the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane) was at the time under sentence of three months' imprisonment, and that the Government would not enter upon another prosecution against him while his appeal was pending. But why was it that the right hon. Gentleman did not pursue that course in all cases? Was it not known that the people of Ireland had, one after another, been prosecuted, even although the first prosecutions against them had not been completed? He (Mr. Sheehy) himself had been arrested under another prosecution, before he had served his term under a previous prosecution. He was at the meeting in question, but was not prosecuted; the only persons prosecuted were the local leaders. English gentlemen who went to Ireland with the deliberate intention of being present at the meeting were not prosecuted. The Government were afraid to take that course. The real reason why the local gentlemen were attacked was because the Dublin daily papers and the London Times, which were in the pay of Lord Clanricarde's agent, said that if these gentlemen were swept off the path it would be easy to settle the Land Question, and so the Government stepped in and helped Lord Clanricarde, as they were still doing. It was only a week ago that the Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland paid a secret visit to see, as he (Mr. Sheehy) presumed, whether he could get some information as to whether the evictions would be resisted or not. Although he regarded 1494 the answer of the right hon. Gentleman as uncandid, he was bound to say that it gave up the entire position to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford. He would pass from the Woodford incident to others that had taken place later—namely, the evictions which had been carried out recently on the Vandeleur estate. He had asked some questions in that House on the subject, but he had not been able to get any candid answer from the right hon. Gentleman. His answers were those supplied to him by his own officials. He had asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) was conveyed to the Kilrush evictions on a car driven by policemen, and his reply was that any gentleman who behaved properly would be so accommodated. But he wanted to know why these cars which the taxpayers of the country paid for were lent to individuals, and why it was that the hon. Member for South Tyrone did not pay for the cost of conveyance out of his own pocket? The hon. Member for South Tyrone had written a letter to that organ of truth, The Times, in which he gave a strange account of what occurred; he said that, on going to these evictions, the first thing he did was to go to Dublin Castle for a pass. The local gentlemen and the priests of the parish, whose right it was to be present as near as possible, in order to protect the poor people, were trembling before the armed display made against them; the priests were excluded, and at one time the Member for the district was hustled out of his place by Mr. Cecil Roche, while the hon. Member for South Tyrone and other pets were permitted to have intercourse with the people who were being attacked. The great grievance was that no one was allowed to stand by to protest against the action of the police and the District Inspector, and other men whose conduct manifested that they meant to have blood at the evictions. Standing in the road, beyond which he was not admitted, he saw four policemen arrange themselves, and, with their batons, draw up on each side of the door; flanking them were soldiers with fixed bayonets, so that the first thing the people who came out would receive would be a blow with a baton, or a stab with the bayonet. 1495 While the friends of the people were excluded, the police had full scope for action. They were told over and over again that the police were only at eviction scenes for protective duty. If they confined themselves at evictions only to protective duties, it would be all very well; if they did nothing more than see that the bailiffs were not assaulted, he should not complain to the House of their conduct. But, as a matter of fact, in the cases where the people in the houses resisted, honestly as they thought, the first men who entered their homes were not the bailiffs, but the police, and the people were struck down with batons. He said that the police did not act as peace officers. If the people committed any crime it was the duty of the police to arrest them; but the first thing they did was to knock them down first and try them afterwards. But the violence of the police and the harshness of the sentence were in proportion to the poverty of the people who made resistance. Some of the poor people had no means of making resistance to the charges, and the consequence was that they were sent away without bail into Kilrush, to await trial at the following Petty Sessions, and they lived in gaol for four or five days. Several men's heads were cut open with the batons of the police, and these persons got as well from four to six months' imprisonment. He challenged any man to justify the conduct of the police on these occasions. He said it was outrageous, and any Englishmen who had witnessed these scenes with unbiassed minds came away determined that they should cease. He had shown that there was a conspiracy in Ireland against the happiness and prosperity of the people between the landlords and the Government of the country. The right hon. Gentleman showed, by the way he employed his Coercion Act in Ireland, that he deserved no confidence, or consideration, or compliment from Irish Members; and not only that, but he did not deserve any consideration for the answers which he gave in that House. He tried to deny what was patent to the world, and he did so upon answers telegraphed from Ireland. He would pass on the right hon. Gentleman his fullest compliments when he deserved them; but he thought he was incapable of deserving them.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS
said, he wished to express his gratification at what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the North-West Division of Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), with respect to the position in which the Committee found themselves that night. They were asked, as representing the taxpayers of the country, to vote a sum of £7,700,000 in the course of a few hours. That immense sum of money was a payment on account for the services of more than 100 Departments of the Public Services. As a Member of the House, he accepted some share of the scandal that they, as Representatives of the taxpayers, should be on the 3rd of August transacting the financial business of the country as they were. He hoped, as the hon. and gallant Baronet said, they would see in that House some better system of voting public money, and he was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) say he would apply his mind to that matter. With his experience at the Treasury, he (Mr. J. E. Ellis) had no doubt that if the right hon. Gentleman could get his Cabinet in unison with him, he might be able next year to put forward some scheme which would enable the House to regain the control of the expenditure of the Public Departments, which it was in some danger of losing. He (Mr. J. E. Ellis) was not one of those who thought that legislation should be the main function of the House of Commons, because there were many things besides Acts of Parliament required in carrying out the Business of the State. It seemed to him that the control of the administration of the great spending Departments of the country should always be one of the primary and main functions of the House of Commons. Committees had been appointed earlier in the Session to consider the expenditure in connection with the Army, the Navy, and Revenue Departments. Some good had been done in consequence, and the most interesting Reports had come from the Committee presided over by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), which would, no doubt, bear fruit in due time. But he wished again most emphatically to express his hope that the Government 1497 would meet the House next year with a scheme such as had been shadowed forth by the First Lord of the Treasury, for allowing them to have the Estimates at the very outset of the Session, and that each week, if possible, some portion of time at the very commencement of the Session should be devoted to them. Having said so much with respect to the Vote on Account which they were asked to pass, he would like to make a few observations on the Government of Ireland, in connection with which they were also voting a large sum of money under six or eight heads. He would not go into great detail in this matter, because they would have an opportunity of doing that when the Votes in Supply came before the House in November, when they, no doubt, would be gone into in considerable detail. He had placed on the Paper a number of Notices of Motions for the reduction of some of the Votes, and he had done that with a view especially to the Votes for the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Resident Magistrates, and the Constabulary, so as to have an opportunity of bringing before the House a number of illustrations and incidents of the manner in which these Departments were conducted. What was really the situation in Ireland? Taking it from the Government's own mouth, it was that in that country a great and severe struggle was going on between two Parties for the possession of a certain kind of property. A most signal illustration of the vitally different circumstances, as between England and Ireland in respect of this property was afforded by what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that Imperial taxes were levied in quite a different way from the tenant farmers in Ireland from that in which they were levied in England; and he stated that this was because the Irish tenant farmers had proprietory rights in the soil which the English tenants had not. The charges which he made against the Government was that the English Government had entered into close alliance with one of the Parties to this great quarrel; that they had placed the whole power of the Executive Government at the beck and call of the landlords of Ireland, in order to enable them to col- 1498 lect rents which the Courts were declaring to be unjust, and confiscate property which did not belong to them. For that purpose, what he should always call an infamous Act was passed last year under circumstances which would vividly recall to the mind of hon. Members what had taken place at 1 o'clock that morning. They had heard from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down what was being done in the name of the Executive Government by those who carried out the law in Ireland. With regard to the Justices through whom the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland performed his functions—the Removable Magistrates, he would ask the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland to explain one fact with respect to Mr. Cecil Roche. Now, that person had been, as they all knew, an itinerant lecturer of the Irish Patriotic Union; he came over to England in 1880; he had no practice as a member of the Bar, when he was pitch-forked into this position of Resident Magistrate. It appeared from the Return obtained by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) that there were 1,500 cases that passed the Courts every year, and he asked how it came about that this man, out of 75 Resident Magistrates, should have tried 60 of these cases, or five or six times as many as would naturally have fallen to his share? As they all knew, these so-called Courts of Justice had reduced trials and the administration of justice to a perfect mockery. He would not comment on the manner in which evidence was got up. They had been told about that in the course of the discussion, and nothing that the Chief Secretary for Ireland had said had in any way contradicted the facts he (Mr. J. E. Ellis) laid before the House on the 15th February, or the illustrations given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). It turned out from the Return so tardily given, and which, after all, was presented in such a slovenly manner, at the instance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, that more than 1,000 persons had been put in prison under the Coercion Act for offences that in England were little regarded, and in Ireland rightly regarded as trifling in the extreme, and on evi- 1499 dence which in many cases was most in sufficient—evidence got up in a slovenly manner, which would not be tolerated for a moment by any Bench of Magistrates in this country. It was owing to that that the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) was lying in Dundalk Prison, and when he looked back to that appeal case of his at which he was present, he felt humiliated that what was called justice could be so dispensed in Ireland. He said decidedly that no Court in England would have conducted itself as the Court in Dundalk conducted itself on that occasion. There was a poor man named Moroney, lying at that moment in an Irish prison; and surely if the Government had in them any spark of compassion they would allow him to be released, because he was a man whom the medical authority had certified to be in imperfect mental health. He trusted the case of that poor man would not end like another which had that day come to his knowledge, in which a man who had been put in prison under the Act had lost his reason within a short time of his being imprisoned. Then there was the case of Mr. John Mandeville. That, he thought, the Committee would agree demanded investigation at the hands of the House. He was very glad to hear the Chief Secretary for Ireland say that he was honestly anxious that the truth of that matter should be known. He was sure all hon. Members were most anxious to hear the truth in the case of Mr. Mandeville; and the public would demand to know the truth in respect of that unfortunate occurrence. He confessed that, having perused the evidence given at the inquest, he was horror-stricken at what could take place at this time. Then there was another case to which he desired to refer. There were 10 men in gaol, as had been admitted across the floor of the House at Question time—imprisoned on what was allowed by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland to be a conviction of very doubtful legality. Surely someone might suggest to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland the policy of advising that Her Majesty's Prerogative of Mercy should be exercised in this case; it was, he thought, better that prison doors should be thrown open, than that there should be the slightest suspicion in the minds of the Irish people that the law was in any 1500 way tampered with, or diverted from the right course, in order to get people into gaol. He was not surprised at what had been alluded to by several hon. Members—namely, the extraordinary art which had been used by the Chief Secretary for Ireland to prevent the actual knowledge of the facts reaching this country. They had from the right hon. Gentleman extraordinary and unprecedented delay in allowing information to come into the possession of the House. On the 17th of May the right hon. Gentleman made a highly argumentative speech at Battersea Park, and alluded to a Return which was not in the hands of any Member of the House for three weeks afterwards; and when he (Mr. J. E. Ellis) inquired in the Library with respect to it, he was told that the proofs were at the Irish Office for an unprecedented period. He referred to the Return of the increased sentences.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS
said, that the matter would come up on the Printing Vote, and he should then inquire the reason of the long delay that had taken place at the Irish Office in connection with the laying of these Returns on the Table of the House. He was also informed that constant delay took place at the Irish Office in revising Returns, and he had no doubt that that revising process was the cause of delay in supplying the Returns asked for. If the right hon. Gentleman were a Professor of Casuistry at a College, he could understand the words which he used in answering his Questions; but he should have thought that a Cabinet Minister having nothing to conceal would be a little more open in answering Questions of Members who were deeply concerned for their constituents. He believed that the appreciation of the way in which the Act had been administered in Ireland had reached the most unexpected quarters. It was a very significant fact that the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow should rise and tell the Government to their face that they had no right in the case of Mr. Latchford to use the Coercion Act, and that they ought to have proceeded under the ordinary law. He believed that all the right hon. Gentleman's efforts to conceal what was going on from the public mind would be in vain. While the Government were 1501 giving all the assistance in their power to landlords, what had been done for the tenants? He found that during the last 12 months for which they had the Return 21,983 persons had been turned out of their homes in Ireland under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head; but that did not dispose of the facts. There had also been 9,076 notices issued under Clause 7 of the Land Act of 1887, certainly affecting not less than 40,000 persons. There were a large number of persons waiting to have their rents judicially reduced. He had asked Questions on this subject once or twice, and he found that on the 1st of July, 1887, there were only 13,000 persons seeking to have judicial rents fixed, whereas en the 1st of July, 1888, the number had risen to 64,000. They were asking for that under the penalty of eviction, as the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. M'Cartan) had shown the other night. The landlords in Ireland were turning out their tenants from house and home for non-payment of rents, which would be declared to be entirely inequitable, if the case could be brought before the Court. He said that the Government were pursuing an ignoble policy by placing at the beck and call of the Clanricardes and others the whole of the force which they derived from the taxpayers of the country. On the other hand, he was glad to know that there was a feeling of sympathy growing up between the people of Ireland and the people of England which would produce its fruit at the next General Election; and when the question of constructive policy was reached, as it most assuredly would be at no distant date, he was sure this sympathy would produce its results in there being those in Ireland willing to accept a reasonable settlement, and those in England willing to admit the reasonable demands of the people of Ireland. The great feature of the Session was that there was greater solidarity between the followers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and the followers of the hon. -Member for Cork. There were more than 200 Members on those Benches above the Gangway united as one man and determined that the present state of things in Ireland should cease. The 1502 Government professed to have the people of England behind them; but the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had declared in one of his speeches that a General Election was in the most remote future. He ventured to say that the Government knew the reason why they did not appeal to the country, and he believed that if they did they would find that the people were tired of the present miserable method of governing Ireland, and that they would pronounce most distinctly and emphatically in favour of an improvement that would bring about a real and true Union between the people of the two countries.
§ MR. MAHONY (Meath, N.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland shook his head when his hon. Friend who had just addressed the Committee mentioned that there were 21,983 persons turned out of house and home last year in Ireland. Would the right hon. Gentleman have the courtesy for a few minutes to listen to an Irish Member who did not very often trouble the Committee? He asked the right hon. Gentleman if he believed that there were 11,000 persons evicted?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
When it is said that a man is turned out of house and home, it means the house he occupies and in which he is living, and in that view there had not been 21,983 persons turned out of house and home during the time mentioned.
§ MR. MAHONY
said, 11,000 and odd persons were put back into their houses as caretakers, and the right hon. Gentleman had introduced that valuable note, calling special attention to the fact that certain persons were put back into their houses as caretakers. The right hon. Gentleman had said on a former occasion that he could only supply the number of those persons who were put back as caretakers on the day of eviction; but, doubtless, there were a number of others, though the Return gave no information whatever on this point. The men who were evicted and put back as care-takers came back with a broken title; they were liable to be evicted at any moment by an order from the Petty Sessions Court, and there was no record kept of those evictions. They were told the number of persons put back, but they were not told the number of those turned out. He invited the attention of 1503 the Committee to a point connected with the present form of Eviction Returns, about which he had asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to give him a full and candid answer. That form of Eviction Returns gave the number of persons that were put back as caretakers after eviction, but the present form omitted that altogether. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary still said that he could not tell how many persons might be subsequently put back as caretakers; but he missed out altogether from the Returns the number put back on the day of eviction, and only gave the number of persons evicted. He asked the right hon. Gentleman, as he had altered the form of Returns, to, at least, make it as full as the old form. The reason given by the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to his Question relative to the difference in the form, was that the alteration of the law last Session had rendered that difference necessary. He (Mr. Mahony) denied that it rendered necessary an alteration of the form. He said it was most inconvenient, because, as the matter now stood, it was impossible to compare one Return with another. He suggested that the Returns should contain two additional columns, one column giving the number of notices served under Section 7 of the Land Act of last year, and the other column giving the number of persons subsequently turned out upon warrant or writ. While on the subject of Returns he would point out that the right hon. Gentleman gave them the number of persons who were turned out by writ or warrant, after having been taken on as caretakers under Section 7 of the Act of last year. He wanted to know if the right hon. Gentleman, in addition to giving them the number of caretakers under Section 7 who were evicted by writ or warrant, would also in future give the number of caretakers other than those caretakers under Section 7 who were evicted by writ or warrant? That was the only additional information he asked for in the new Return. He wanted to take that opportunity of calling the serious attention of the Committee to the present state of the tenants in Ireland, and the great danger there was of their condition becoming very deplorable during the coming winter, and very likely leading to a most de- 1504 plorable state of things before the House met for the Autumn Session. It was for that reason that he now called attention to the question. The right hon. Gentleman was continually boasting of the success of his Coercion Act in Ireland. Whenever the right hon. Gentleman wanted to point out how successful his Act had been, he referred to the first months of the year 1887, when he first became the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and he showed that under the Coercion Act grave crime in Ireland had fallen off. He (Mr. Mahony) preferred to go back a greater distance, for one or two reasons. He took that period during which the present Government were in power, but when there was a very different sort of Gentleman holding the office of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; a Gentleman who seemed to have some of the softening influences of human nature in his composition, and who refused to carry out Lord Clanricarde's evictions. The House, in 1886, took the very serious step of refusing a Bill brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) for the relief of the tenants in Ireland; a fortnight afterwards the Chief Secretary for Ireland of that day was in Ireland, hard at work, trying to compel the landlords to make reductions which they had previously been told would not be given. A great number of landlords yielded to that pressure; but a few of them did not do so. The latter were the men who had caused the Plan of Campaign to be put into operation. What was the effect of the pressure brought to bear on the landlords by the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the pressure brought on them by the Plan of Camgaign? It was that whereas in the quarter ending September, 1886, there were 306 cases of agrarian crime in Ireland, in the quarter ending December agrarian crimes fell to a very small number—namely, 166. Now, these Returns of agrarian crime included a number of threatening letters and notices. He maintained that threatening notices were absurdities when put into a Return of crime in Ireland. Any school boy could write a threatening notice and put it into the nearest pillar-box. Take away, then, threatening notices from the number of agrarian crimes, and then they would get at the 1505 more serious forms of crime. In the quarter ending December, 1886, there were 166 cases of agrarian crime. Take away from this number the threatening letters, and there were left 94 cases of serious crime. Now the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Setretary for Ireland, with all his boasting, had never yet in a single quarter reduced serious crime in Ireland to 94 cases. He found that in the three months ending December, 1886, there were 3,458 persons turned out of their holdings in Ireland. The history of agrarian crime in Ireland was practically this—If you had an increase of evictions, there would be an increase of agrarian crime, and if you had a falling off of evictions under the ordinary state of things, you would have a falling off in the amount of agrarian crime. The case of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary put plainly, was—that he had failed to reduce serious agrarian crime in Ireland, but that he had decreased evictions. That was an admirable decrease, but instead of producing a better state of things, serious agrarian crime had been rising. Was that a success? There was a smaller number of evictions, but a larger amount of agrarian crime. Was that the success of the Coercion Act? When the present Chief Secretary for Ireland came into Office in 1887, in the first quarter of that year there were 5,190 persons turned out; agrarian crime increased immediately; there were 241 cases, or leaving out threatening letters, 137 cases of agrarian crime. Again, there was a large number of evictions in the quarter ending June, 1887—namely, 9,140; there were 229 cases of crime, or 146 serious cases. In the quarter ending September, 1887, after the passing of the Coercion Act, the number of persons evicted fell to 4,195; there were 165 cases of agrarian crime, instead of 146 cases as in the previous quarter. In the quarter ending December, 1887, evictions fell to 550, but there were 120 cases of agrarian crime. In the quarter ending March, 1888, there were only 92 evictions according to the new Returns; but of serious crime there were 98 cases, so that in spite of the tremendous falling off in the number of evictions, there had been a larger number of serious agrarian crimes after the right hon. Gentleman became Chief Secretary for Ireland than 1506 there was in the last quarter of 1886, which was the quarter before the right hon. Gentleman came into office. He had said that the falling off of the number of evictions in Ireland was admirable; it was admirable, because there were since the passing of the Act of last Session, 9,076 eviction notices served in Ireland, the effect of which was to transform the position of the tenants into that of caretakers, who were liable to be evicted at any moment by the order of the Petty Sessions Court. Taking five as the average number of persons in the family, which was rather a small average, there were over 40,000 persons at the present moment hourly expecting to be evicted from their homes. In addition to that, there were 11,000 persons put back as caretakers last year, so that there were at the present moment 50,000 persons in Ireland awaiting the visit of the evicting party. Was not that a serious state of things; was it one which the right hon. Gentleman could contemplate with equanimity? If he had not been able to keep down agrarian crime in Ireland with all the powers of his Coercion Act when there were a very small number of evictions, what did the right hon. Gentleman expect would occur when these 50,000 cases he had referred to became ripe for eviction? There was one county in Ireland in which he (Mr. Mahony) had lived, where the National League was not at work, and where the Government with the Coercion Act and the people were face to face—where the people had not shown the readiness to combine together for their own protection, and where, consequently, they were at the mercy of the landlords and their justices. What was the state of that county—the county of Kerry that day? Was the right hon. Gentleman proud of the success of his Coercion Act there? It had not reduced the number of serious crimes in the county of Kerry. It was not so very long ago that there were three men in that county convicted of murder. In the very district in which two of them were hanged, within a few miles of the place where they were committed, there was another terrible murder only a few days ago. That was the state of a county in Ireland where the National League was weak and where the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, as he supposed, would say he was corre- 1507 spondingly strong. That was the state of the county in which Mr. Cecil Roche ruled, and the effect produced by the decisions of what Mr. Roche called Benches of Justice in that county. There was one other point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Committee. Hon. Members opposite had, some of them, before now come to him and said—"We really cannot understand this Irish Question." Then why did they try to legislate upon it? The people of Ireland must trust to those in whom they had confidence. Last Session, in spite of the assurance given by the Prime Minister that nothing on earth would induce the Government to touch judicial rents—because, as he said in "another place," they did not think it would be honest to do so—later on the Government were induced to reduce the judicial rents. Not, he admitted, because the Prime Minister had changed his mind; not because he had told his Followers that it was honest to do what before he said was not honest, but because, as he told his Followers, the Government could not resist the pressure from their allies on that side of the House, so the Government consented to do that which they had previously described as dishonest. Judicial rents were reduced, because at the end of the year 1885 it was proved to demonstration that prices in Ireland had fallen so severely that the rents judically fixed before that time could not be paid. Now, what had happened this year? In the first four months of the year, the old rents amounted in the aggregate to £63,800; the judicial rents only amounted to £46,000,—that was to say, an amount of nearly £18,000 had been taken off those rents. Was that House prepared to allow the persons concerned to be turned out of their homes, and be robbed of their property, to have their earnings stolen from them, because they could not pay that £18,000 for the years 1886 and 1887. He defied anyone to get up in the House and say that those rents were fair. That was what they were face to face with in Ireland at the present moment—over 50,000 people hourly expecting the evicting party, rents being largely reduced, and persons being liable to be turned out because they could not pay rents which the Courts had pronounced to be unjust. And that came from a Government which told them that they 1508 wanted to teach the people of Ireland respect for law. People in Ireland would have respect for law just as much as other people if the law was just; but they would not have respect for law which was all in favour of the rich and against the poor. No; when they had to choose between that and another alternative, they would continue to honour men like the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who was at present in Dundalk Gaol; they would continue to honour, and love, and respect men like that, who had shown them a way by which the poor and the weak could be protected, and could be guaranteed from crime and outrage, in spite of a Tory Government and the Coercion Act.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, he was surprised that the Chief Secretary for Ireland did not think it his duty to rise and respond to the speech which had just been delivered.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he had intended to say a few words in answer to the hon. Gentleman; but he saw the hon. Member for the Northern Division of the County of Dublin (Mr. Clancy) was anxious to speak, and he thought he would wait for his observations before replying. However, he had no objection to reply at once to the hon. Member (Mr. Mahony). The hon. Member had gone at great length into the new statistics of evictions which he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had laid on the Table of the House; and he seemed to think that in some respects those statistics conveyed information in a less correct form than eviction statistics used to do. He was bound to say that he was unable to agree with the hon. Gentleman. He did not believe that in the whole of the history of Returns to that House there had ever been a set of statistics which had been more misunderstood unintentionally and more misrepresented wilfully than these statistics, which were begun to be quoted in the time of the late Mr. W. E. Forster, and which had been quoted ever since. The information on which these statistics were based had been collected in the Constabulary department for a very long period, but it had never been put into a suitable form for publication, for which indeed it was not originally intended. He could only believe that Mr. Forster had not con- 1509 sidered the misrepresentation to which they were liable. But the result had been that most astonishing statements had been made from time to time by persons who were presumably impartial in the matter, and who merely desired to represent to the people of England the truth about evictions in Ireland. He would give the Committee an illustration of the kind of error which could be made, and was made, under the old statistics. Let him take a concrete case. On the property of a certain landlord in Kerry—[Cries of "Name?"]—he was not certain of the pronunciation, but he thought it was Moynihan—five tenants were evicted. They owed two and a-half years' rent, and they were not living on the land. Upon the estate there were 82 sub-tenants, in whose cases the legal formality of eviction had to be gone through in order to effect the eviction of the five nonresident middlemen; but they were immediately re-admitted, and thenceforward they held directly under the superior landlord as tenants. In that case the number of tenants actually evicted was five, and these five were non-resident. But in the Return as it was published, the number would appear as 87, while the total number of persons evicted would appear as 441. While, actually, not a single individual was turned out of his house, rhetoricians of the class of the hon Gentleman (Mr. Mahony) would describe the transaction as the eviction of 441 persons who were deprived of their holdings, and turned out on the wayside to starve. That was a good illustration of the statistics which were presented in the old time. He did not think that was the occasion to deal at very great length with the particular use the hon. Gentleman had made of the present form of statistics; if the hon. Member would give him Notice, he would answer the allegations at the proper time. The hon. Gentleman had uttered all kinds of lugubrious prophecies as to what was going to happen in Ireland in the course of the next two months in consequence of evictions. He would remind the hon. Gentleman that he had heard these prophecies before, but those prophecies had never been fulfilled. The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) got up in his place last Session while the Land Act was being passed, and 1510 remarked that eviction notices were falling like snowflakes, and prophesied a wholesale eviction of Irish tenants, and in consequence outrages on a scale never before known even in Ireland. As a matter of fact, there had not been evictions on a wholesale scale. [An hon. MEMBER: Not yet.] The hon. Member for East Mayo, at the end of last Session, said that eviction notices were falling like snowflakes, that the whole winter would be occupied in evictions on a wholesale scale, and he prophesied that crime would follow in their train. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mahony) said that history showed that crime kept pace with evictions. History showed nothing of the kind. If the hon. Gentleman would take the trouble, as he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had done, to go over the statistical history of the last eight years, and mark the points where crime increased and where convictions increased, he would find that the amount of crime did not follow or correspond with the number of evictions; that the amount of crime in Ireland did not depend upon evictions, but depended upon the manner in which the law was administered. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Members might express dissent; but, unfortunately, these statistics conclusively proved that the assertion he had made was correct. Crime rose before the Crimes Act of 1881. Under the operation of the Crimes Act of 1882 it steadily fell. After the Crimes Act of 1882 came to an end, it immediately began to rise. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: You dropped it.] Now, that was a characteristic interruption. He was pursuing an argument certainly in no unduly controversial spirit when the hon. Member interrupted him with a remark absolutely irrelevant. He would respectfully remind the hon. Member that that was not the proper way to conduct debate in the House of Commons. After the Act of 1882 came into operation crime steadily fell. The Act of 1882 was dropped—rightly or wrongly was not the point; it was dropped. Apparently the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) did not wish it to be dropped. Immediately crime began to rise, until the Crimes Act of last year came into force, since which time it had steadily diminished. [Mr. J. E. ELLIS: Not excluding threatening letters.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman 1511 would allow him to continue his argument. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mahony) had made certain assertions with regard to the increase or decrease of crime recently. He gave him no Notice—he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not blame him, he was not complaining of it—but the hon. Member gave him no Notice, and he had, therefore, not come down to the House armed with the figures on the point.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he had no doubt the House would receive with satisfaction the statement that if they excluded threatening letters—and the hon. Gentleman was very strong on threatening letters—crime was 33 per cent less in the first six mouths of this than it was in the first six months of last year, the diminution being greatest under the most serious heads—namely, offences against the person. While that diminution had reached the point he had described, in the first six months of this year, as compared with the first six months of last year, he might say that in the month just concluded there was a still further reduction in the figures. The hon. Gentleman went on to indulge in a spirit of prophecy of a description of the horrors likely to ensue on account of landlords exacting rents accruing in 1886 and 1887, but which had been reduced in 1888. He had two observations to make on that point. In the first place, if the tenants thought themselves aggrieved in 1886 and 1887, it was in their power at any moment to go into the Land Courts and have their rents reduced. But, apart from that, and putting that argument altogether on one side, he assorted that no information he had been able to obtain as to what was going on in Ireland at that moment led him to believe that landlords were, on any large scale, trying to exact arrears of rent of the kind the hon. Gentleman alluded to. He had carefully examined the great majority of the cases in which evictions had occurred. He had examined, so far as he could, the cases in which evictions were threatened, and he boldly said that in the vast majority of those cases the landlords would be only too glad to receive arrears of rent due to them, provided they were diminished by 1512 the same amount as rents were being reduced in the Land Courts at that moment. He could not forbear saying—though, of course, it was impossible for him or any other man to assert any proposition so extravagant as that every Irish landlord was not only a just but a liberal man—he boldly asserted that the vast majority of Irish landlords were at that moment showing the greatest possible consideration for their tenants, and that if they were to examine the wrongs of the landlords towards the tenants, and the wrongs of the tenants towards the landlords, as indicated by the arrears of rent due and the conditions under which those arrears of rent became due, he maintained that the balance of wrong was on the side of the tenants, and not on the side of the landlords. He did not know there was anything more he need say. He had gone through the speech of the hon. Gentleman. That was the third time he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had spoken that night, and he was unwilling unduly to prolong the debate, because he believed there were hon. Gentlemen not from Ireland who desired to raise some other questions on the Vote on Account.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, he was sorry the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was disfigured by some characteristic sneers at the hon. Member for the Northern Division of Meath (Mr. Mahony). The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the hon. Member as a rhetorician, and sneered at his evidence. That was not the first time, or the second time, or the third time the right hon. Gentleman had done that kind of thing, and he did not think it was any credit to a Minister of the Crown, especially a man responsible for the Government of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had passed a eulogium on the landlords of Ireland. He did not think it became a Scotch landlord who himself had been accused of oppressing his tenants, to pass such a eulogium upon his brother landlords in Ireland who had been convicted within the last 50 years, and especially during the operation of the Land Act, of the most infamous extortion from their most unfortunate tenants. The right hon. Gentleman had eulogized the Irish landlords, but he had given no proof whatever of his statement. He (Mr. Clancy) declined to accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement as proof. The right 1513 hon. Gentleman had also said that crime and eviction did not accompany each other—he had denied the statement that eviction produced crime. On that point he had not based his statement on any facts or figures. The right hon. Gentleman was not the sole depository of all knowledge on the subject. He (Mr. Clancy) had himself also looked through the figures, and he pledged himself to the House that, as far as he had been able to discover, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was the very reverse of the fact. It could be shown as clearly as possible that evictions had always produced crime; that crime had always followed in the wake of evictions, and that any statement to the contrary was entirely devoid of foundation. The right hon. Gentleman said that crime fell in 1881, when the Coercion Act of that year was in operation. But in 1881 there was another cause for the diminution of crime—namely, the existence of the operation of the Land Act of 1881. The right hon. Gentleman also said that in 1882 coercion produced a decrease of crime. His (Mr. Clancy's) answer was that there was another Act in that year that accounted for the decrease of crime, and that was the Arrears Act. The case of the county of Kerry had been cited. It had been pointed out, that though in Kerry the Coercion Act had been in operation for the last three years, though Mr. Cecil Roche had been let loose and had been rampart for the last nine months, though there was no National League there worth talking of, the county of Kerry for the past year had never been free from serious crime, and that within the last year two serious agrarian offences had been committed, in spite of the right hon. Gentleman's Coercion Act. The right hon. Gentleman gave them statistics which he (Mr. Clancy) himself declined to accept, until he saw them produced on the Table. The Chief Secretary said that the offences were lower in the last half-year than they had been in any period since the Act of 1881 was passed. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: In the last month.] Where were the Returns for the last month? They had not been laid on the Table. The right hon. Gentleman would have to produce that Return [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Certainly.], and hon. Members would have to examine it before they could accept the right hon. Gentleman's 1514 statement of its substance; if it did not bear out the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, it would not be the first Return that had performed a similar duty. Now, what had produced the diminution in the number of evictions? The very organization which the right hon. Gentleman had attempted to suppress, but which he failed to suppress—namely—the Plan of Campaign. Had not the Plan of Campaign been in operation for the last 18 months, they would have had evictions and crime mounting together side by side as they had before the Plan of Campaign was invented. It seemed to him that the question might be discussed at great length, but he did not propose to discuss it any further. He desired to call attention to one or two cases of the operation of the Coercion Act in Ireland to which he had already, by Question, called attention. In a speech in the recent debate on the coercive proceedings of the Government in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) referred to what was now universally known as the Killeagh case. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out, as a notorious fact, that the Court of Exchequer had set aside a decision of Removable Magistrates, on the ground that there was not a particle of evidence to sustain the conviction. Before the judgment of the Court of Exchequer was delivered, statements were repeatedly made in this House to the effect that the convictions in the case were sustained by evidence. Hon. Members would recollect that, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, the Chief Secretary not once, but twice or three times, declared solemnly that there was evidence to sustain conviction the Killeagh case. The point in the case was that the persons were charged with conspiracy to compel other people not to sell goods.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
was understood to say that he had stated there was evidence of a conspiracy, and he adhered to the statement.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, that the right hon. Gentleman was evading the point. The right hon. Gentleman was asked by the Member for Mid Lothian whether there was evidence to sustain the charge of conspiracy which was preferred against the prisoners, and his answer was that there was. He now understood the 1515 right hon. Gentleman to say that there was evidence of a conspiracy. He trusted that he would not offend against Order if he said that that was not a truthful answer.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, he apologized for having used the word. What he desired to convey was that the right hon. Gentleman was asked whether there was any evidence to sustain the conviction on the charge of conspiracy which was preferred against these men, and he (Mr. Clancy) and other hon. Members understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that there was such evidence. He did not know what the right hon. Gentleman stated that night; but the Court of Exchequer had decided that there was no evidence whatever in the case. The men were charged not with a conspiracy to refuse to sell goods, but they were charged with a conspiracy to compel other people not to sell goods, and the Court of Exchequer decided that that charge was unsustained by any evidence whatever. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's answer in other cases, he (Mr. Clancy) had to say that he had made it his business to inquire, as far as he could, whether in reality those cases were on all fours with the conspiracy in the Killeagh case, and he deliberately asserted that all the cases he had looked into were on all fours with that notorious case. He begged to call attention to one case in particular. On the 3rd of February, at Miltown Malbay, in the county of Clare, William Hynes, Patrick Collins, James O'Brien, and Timothy Flanagan, all respectable shopkeepers, were, amongst others, charged with conspiracy to compel or induce other people not to sell goods to other persons. These men were sentenced to three months' imprisonment, with hard labour, and had appealed to the Chairman of Quarter Sessions. The result was that the sentences were doubled, and each of the four men were sentenced to six months' imprisonment. What he had to charge against the Executive in Ireland was that that these four men were now in prison illegally and against the law. There was no evidence whatever of any conspiracy to compel or induce any persons, either in or out of the town of Miltown Malbay 1516 not to sell goods to any person. He had asked the Chief Secretary whether there was evidence of the particular conspiracy charged against these men, and he had replied that there was such evidence. The right hon. Gentleman had refused to lay the depositions on the Table; but he (Mr. Clancy) had obtained a copy of the depositions in the case of William Hynes and Patrick Collins, and those cases were typical with the rest. Martin Lanigan, of Kilduff, acting sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary, said—I was stationed at Miltown Malbay, on the 23rd of December, 1887, and remember that day. I remember Hannah Connell coming to the police barracks at Miltown on that day. She made complaint. In consequence of that complaint, I and Constable Hownhan accompanied her. We went first to the establishment of Michael Curtin, a baker. Mrs. Mary Curtin was in the shop. I heard Constable Hownhan ask if her husband was in. She said—'No.' Mrs. Connell asked Mrs. Curtin for 6d. worth of bread. She said she had none for her: there was bread in the shop. We then left the shop, and went to the establishment of Mr. William Hynes. Mrs. Connell asked for 6d. worth of bread from William Hynes; he said he had heard the law explained, and that he could refuse when he liked, and would not give her bread. I saw bread in the shop. We then left the shop and went to the establishment of Thady Flanagan. Mrs. Bridget Flanagan was in the shop. Mrs. Connell made the same demand, and asked for 6d. worth of bread. Mrs. Flanagan said she had not bread enough for her own customers, as she was going to bake no more until after Christmas. I saw bread there. I then left that shop and went to the house of Mrs. Mary Collins. Mrs. Connell asked in that shop for one pound of sugar and an ounce of tea. Mrs. Collins put it on the counter to supply her. Mr. Patrick Collins said she could not get it. Mrs. Connell appeared eager to get it, and took it in her hand. Constable Hownhan told her not to take it by force as she was not getting it. Mr. Collins took it quietly away, and put it up. The said deponent saith on his oath that Hannah Connell got nothing that day that I saw.Cross examined by Mr. Redmond—She told me she had been refused elsewhere. Hannah Connell selected the four shops we went to, and they are in different parts of the town, going from one shop to another we passed certain shops without going in. Hannah Connell went in front, she stated to me she had been dealing in Thady Flanagan's previously. Neither Mr. Flanagan nor Mr. Curtin were present. It would be hard to answer whether Hannah Connell really wanted the goods. I believe she would feel all right if she got the goods. I do not know as a matter of fact that she had been in the habit of dealing at Mrs. Moroney's.The rest of the depositions were of the 1517 same character. The Committee would gather from what he had read that there was not a single syllable to support the charge that these people compelled or induced any person not to sell. He asked the Chief Secretary to redeem the promise he had given to produce the evidence. If there were a conspiracy to refuse to supply goods, there would be abundant evidence, but the people could not be prosecuted under the Coercion Act for that charge. [Mr. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.,) Hear, hear.] The hon. Member for the Falkirk Burghs, who was an Irishman, and who misrepresented a Scotch constituency, cheered that sentiment. [Mr. W. P. SINCLAIR: I cheered your own statement.] He was glad to see the hon. Gentleman was repenting. [The CHAIRMAN: Order, order!] He had received a copy of the depositions from Mr. Finch, a solicitor in Clare. That gentleman was a man of repute and honour, and he had pledged his word that what he (Mr. Clancy) had quoted from was a fair and true copy of the depositions in the case. Now, in those depositions, there was not a particle of evidence in the case of a conspiracy to compel or induce people not to sell. The men were still in gaol, and that was the reason why he had thought it right to bring the matter under the notice of the Committee. He would have reserved his remarks until the Autumn Session but that the men were in gaol, and there was still time to release them from the illegal imprisonment they were undergoing. It was very curious and rather significant of the state of things in Ireland, that the Judge who confirmed the atrocious sentences in these cases was a journeyman Judge of the right hon. Gentleman. He was a gentleman of the name of Hickson, who during his very illustrious life had been Crown Prosecutor in the county of Kerry, who was a prominent member of the Constitutional Club in Dublin, and who was a constant companion of the landlords of Kerry when he went Assize there, and who himself was a Kerry landlord, and probably a bad one. It was very curious that that was the gentleman selected to try these cases during the illness of the ordinary Chairman of the county. Under all the circumstances, he put it to the Committee, to any Liberal Unionist, or to any Tory, whether the 1518 right hon. Gentleman would be justified in continuing the imprisonment of these men when he had no answer to make to the allegations he (Mr. Clancy) had put forward. The right hon. Gentleman had declared that there was evidence of the particular conspiracy charged against these people. He (Mr. Clancy) challenged the right hon. Gentleman to produce it that night, and if he did not produce it, and he still kept these unfortunate people in gaol, he charged him with committing an atrocious outrage on justice. Now, that night, other proceedings in connection with the administration of the Coercion Act had been detailed. A great deal of stress had been laid on the fact that the man selected to try Mr. Latchford was a man who had come into collision with Mr. Latchford in the course of his life in Ireland. The Chief Secretary had refused to notice even the fact that Mr. Latchford had signed a document practically for the removal of Mr. Cecil Roche from his employment. What he had to call attention to in connection with this matter was, that the Tralee case was by no means the only case in which men had been tried by their political opponents. He begged to recall attention to the fact that the hon. Member for West Cork, whose name he might be permitted to give—namely, Mr. Gilhooly, was tried by a man whom Mr. Gilhooly had been for years denouncing as a partizan magistrate. Mr. Gilhooly—[The CHAIRMAN: Order, order!]—The hon. Member for West Cork——
§ MR. CLANCY
said, he had no desire to offend against the Rules of the House. The hon. Member for West Cork, before he was elected a Member of the House, had been for years denouncing the conduct of Mr. Warburton, and since he came into the House had continued to do so, and yet the very first occasion on which the hon. Member for West Cork was prosecuted under the Coercion Act was seized upon by the Chief Secretary to call in this very Mr. Warburton to sit in judgment upon the hon. Member. That was a most scandalous proceeding, and it would not do to reply to them, when they made definite charges of this description, that there was no foundation 1519 for them in fact. Now, there was another matter he felt bound to refer to. The right hon. Gentleman had already, as the Irish Representatives viewed the matter, through his agents in Ireland, murdered Mr. Mandeville. It appeared also that within the last week or fortnight the right hon. Gentleman had driven another man mad. [Laughter.] The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate laughed at that; but he might restrain his laughter for a more appropriate occasion. This was a more solemn subject than usually attracted the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention, and he might allow this occasion at least to pass without exhibiting that jococity which at the present moment was not at all edifying. He (Mr. Clancy) had received a letter from a prisoner in the Limerick prison, who detailed the treatment of a man named Thomas Kennedy. Kennedy's case had been before the House for the last few days, and the Chief Secretary had admitted that the man was now a lunatic. Kennedy was convicted of some offence; he (Mr. Clancy) and his Friends called it a political offence, but the right hon. Gentleman called it a criminal offence. The writer of the letter, speaking of Kennedy, said—He was brought here, and on Friday last, the 20th instant, he became a lunatic. The Governor and warders were most kind to the poor fellow, but the warders had to tie him to the floor of the Infirmary cells. His shrieks were awful. We were working outside in the yard into which his cell window faced. Two of the lower panes of glass in the window that had been taken out were replaced by perforated zinc. The top of the window was also open, and as the cell is on the ground floor, we could hear the least word spoken inside. When strapped to the floor, Kennedy cried, 'Oh, do ye want to kill me like ye killed Mandeville. Balfour got ye to kill me.' The prison doctor (Gelston), accompanied by Dr. Courtney (Lunatic Asylum), saw him on Saturday, on Sunday, and on Monday. Although he never ceased screaming, they said that he was shamming. I pray God that I may never hear the like again. His woeful 'Oh, they will kill me. Oh, God! Oh-o-o,' and that while we were working in the yard on Saturday, taking walking exorcise on Sunday, and walking there again on Monday, was most sickening. It made all political prisoners, especially the Clare men, cry. Not one of us had a dry eye from listening to the pitiful moans and plaintive screams of the poor fellow. It was only on Tuesday he was removed to the asylum. Of course, the governor or the warder were not to blame, but I certainly do blame the two doctors. There were some very bad persons 1520 with whom we had to associate here, and oven those said it was a disgrace to leave the poor fellow there so long. It is unnecessary for me to tell you the state of my feelings all the time. Even now, I feel the effects of it. I believe that if those doctors knew their duty, they would have ordered Kennedy to be removed to the asylum earlier.He did not know whether Dr. Barr visited Limerick Prison or not; but, at any rate, it was perfectly plain that the spirit which Dr. Barr infused in the medical treatment of Irish prisoners in certain other gaols was infused into the medical treatment of other prisoners in Limerick gaol. He would like to know what the right hon. Gentleman had to say in defence of treatment like that of the man Kennedy. If Kennedy had been a wild beast, or a horse, or a cow, he could not have been treated more scandalously. He was, however, only a coercion prisoner, only a Member of the National League, but he was treated in such a way by the doctors that their names ought to be held up to the execration of posterity. He was sorry to see the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary laughing.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, that this was a very serious matter and it was a matter which would not cause laughter in Ireland, and it was a matter that when mentioned on the platforms of England would not cause laughter. He warned the right hon. Gentleman that these were matters far too serious to be laughed at, and he would find that out before very long, if he ever appealed to the country on this coercion policy.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin University)
said, that before he addressed himself to the particular cases which the hon. Gentleman had just brought under the notice of the Committee, he must Make an observation on the terms in which the hon. Gentleman had thought fit to describe the learned gentleman who presided in the Miltown Malbay case. The hon. Gentleman had described that learned gentleman as a journeyman Judge of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. The hon. Gentleman ought to know that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had no more to do with the appointment of Mr. Hickson than he (Mr. Madden) had. The way in which Mr. Hickson came to ad- 1521 judicate upon the case was this—The County Court Judge was unavoidably prevented from attending by severe illness; and it was the duty, not of the Chief Secretary, but of the Lord Chancellor, to appoint a substitute. He (Mr. Madden) took the liberty of saying, and he was sure no Gentleman at the Irish Bar would contradict him, that the gentleman selected to fill the place of the County Court Judge was a highly respected and an eminently fair-minded member of the Irish Bar. So much for the observations which the hon. Gentleman had made in that matter. As to the facts of the case which the hon. Gentleman had brought before the Committee, he must make this observation at starting. The hon. Gentleman had read several documents in the shape of depositions, but these were not the evidence upon which the case was decided; this evidence had been mentioned before, and he had informed himself of what had actually occurred, and he was convinced no two cases were so dissimilar in character as the Killeagh and the Miltown Malbay cases, although the hon. Gentleman said that those cases were on all fours one with the other. What was the Killeagh case? It was this. The Judges of the Court of Exchequer held that there was evidence to go to the jury of a conspiracy on the part of the defendants to compel and induce other people not to deal with the police with a view to starving them; but it had been held by the Judges that there had not been a conspiracy to induce persons to do other things; it was only held that the combined action amounted to conspiracy not to deal. Two of the Judges in the Court of Exchequer—namely, the Lord Chief Baron and Mr. Baron Dowse—stated that, in their opinion, there was this evidence to go to the jury.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
said, he was present in Court when the case was heard, and he could most distinctly and emphatically say that neither of the learned Judges made any such observation.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, that the Lord Chief Baron and Mr. Baron Dowse had distinctly stated that, in their opinion, there was evidence to go to the jury that the defendants had entered into a conspiracy with the view of starving the police. Now that, of course, was not 1522 conspiracy under the summary jurisdiction sections of the Act, but it was conspiracy indictable at the Common Law. The decision of the Court of Exchequer was this, that there being that evidence to go to the jury, and there not being evidence of a particular conspiracy that could be summarily dealt with under the Crimes Act, the case was not one which could be dealt with by the Resident Magistrates. The hon. Member (Mr. Clancy) had contended that the Miltown Malbay case was on all fours with this; but he (Mr. Madden) denied it, and submitted that the hon. Gentleman had not gone a step towards establishing his case by reading the depositions. The case was necessarily heard on depositions before the magistrates, and the hon. Gentleman asked this question—"Why did not the defendants go to the Court of Exchequer?" And he himself answered the question which he imagined was going to be put, by saying—"Oh, they could not go to the Court of Exchequer after they had been to the County Court Judge;" and that, no doubt, was perfectly correct. But after the case had been heard on the depositions—a portion of which depositions had been read to the Committee—the question which the hon. Gentleman had asked would be an important one. Why, if the case was on all fours with the Killeagh case, was not the same course taken?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I rise to Order. I beg to say that I desire to be allowed to hear the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland; but the hon. and learned Gentleman's Friends are speaking so loudly that it is impossible to hear what he says.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, that the hon. Member declared that the intervention of the Court of Exchequer on habeas corpus was a new discovery, and that the defendants had been in a position to take advantage of it in the case referred to; but the appeal was taken by a County Court Judge. The whole case was reheard on appeal; and after most careful inquiry he had ascertained that not only was the case formally re-heard—as every appeal was merely a re-hearing—but it was in substance and in fact a hearing 1523 of evidence of a most important kind which was not given before the magistrates.
§ MR. CLANCY
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman admit that the conviction before the magistrates was ultra vires?
§ MR. MADDEN
Certainly not. He was arguing that advantage was not taken of the power to appeal to the High Court, but that the case was taken before the County Court Judge. The case was one of conspiracy between the defendants, not only between themselves to do certain things, but to act amongst themselves to compel others to do the same. He had heard a suggestion that there were a number of these cases like the Killeagh case; but his reply was, if that were so, why was not the same course adopted as that which was taken in the Killeagh case? He had carefully looked into the depositions in the Killeagh case, and he found that the word "Boycotting" did not occur from one end of it to the other; whereas, in the Miltown Malbay case, there was the clearest evidence of "Boycotting," the word being used in connection with the person who refused to sell food.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, it was impossible to read the evidence, because it consisted not only of depositions but of oral evidence of which no record remained.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
asked whether the hon. and learned Gentleman could convince them by any newspaper reports that a different case was presented from that which they maintained was presented?
§ MR. MADDEN
said, he had made inquiries, and he could state that the son of Mrs. Connell was examined, and had given most important evidence.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, he had proved that Boycotting had been practised because of a small portion of a farm having been taken from a man who had been evicted. This witness stated that the woman was reduced to the greatest misery, that, in fact, she had been kept without food for three days. It was 1524 proved that she could not get food elsewhere, and that for her subsistence she had become dependent upon the charity of Mrs. Maloney. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Clancy) said that the woman went to a shop and was refused food, but that she might have gone to another shop where she could have obtained what she wanted. The fact, however, was that she was refused provisions for three days.
§ MR. MADDEN
Her son. It was proved also before the County Court Judge that when she went to the shops she was told to go off and would not be supplied with food, because she was Boycotted. He submitted that that evidence showed that the Miltown Malbay case was a totally different one to the Killeagh case. It was a case of Boycotting and conspiracy, in which those persons who told the woman to go out of their shops were actively participating. The statement had been made over and over again that the case was of the same nature as the Killeagh case, and one as to which the same rule should be applied; but the applicability of such a rule had never been proved. This was not merely a case of conspiracy not to deal, nor a case of conspiracy to injure an individual, but it was a serious case, one of the gravest cases of Boycotting which had ever come before the Courts, and the decision was perfectly correct.
§ MR. CHANCE
said, he did not wish to dwell upon the character of Mr. Hickson; but this he would say, and he thought he was entitled to say, that the defence of that absent gentleman made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland had been characterized by extreme injudiciousness. His sole defence was that Mr. Hickson must be a most upright Judge, because he was appointed by a Tory Lord Chancellor.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, that was not correct. He had stated, in the most emphatic way, that Mr. Hickson had been appointed because he was a learned, accomplished, and fair-minded member of the Bar.
§ MR. CHANCE
said, he presumed before the debate concluded that the hon. and learned Gentleman would find that he was mistaken in his prophecy that no hon. and learned Member would differ from his opinion of the charac- 1525 teristics of Mr. Hickson. The main part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's defence of Mr. Hickson, if he would allow him (Mr. Chance) to say so, was, in his opinion, that this gentleman had been appointed by an Irish Tory Lord Chancellor. He (Mr. Chance) did not wish to comment upon this Irish Tory Lord Chancellor; but this he would say, that the conduct of this learned gentleman in the Court of Appeal had been remarkable for one thing at all events—namely, that he had had the misfortune to differ on every political case that had come before the Court from the majority of his Colleagues, who were gentlemen of quite as high standing as the Lord Chancellor himself. With regard to the Miltown Malbay case, he (Mr. Chance) did not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland was to be taken as admitting that the case, as decided by the Court below, was substantially on all fours with the Killeagh case.
§ MR. CHANCE
said, that the depositions had been read to the Committee, and not one iota of the statements contained therein had been challenged by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The effect of these depositions was that Mrs. Connell had gone to four separate and distinct shops, and that in each she had been refused food. That was the sole evidence given in the case, as was proved by the depositions read by his hon. Friend (Mr. Clancy) just now. Did he (Mr. Chance) understand the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland to deny the accuracy of the statement of his hon. Friend as to the contents of those depositions?
§ MR. MADDEN
said, he did not deny that the hon. Member had read the depositions correctly; but it was impossible to argue out a case of this kind hero in the House of Commons. He had stated the case as fairly as he could as a member of the Irish Bar, and he maintained that the Miltown Malbay case differed entirely from the Killeagh case.
§ MR. CHANCE
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman sheltered himself behind his opinion as an Irish Queen's Counsel, but had not given a shred of 1526 evidence or authority for the opinion that the Miltown Malbay case differed in principle from the Killeagh case, and he (Mr. Chance) held the hon. and learned Gentleman's opinion to be altogether inaccurate. An hon. Friend of his (Mr. Chance's), who had been professionally concerned in these cases, would presently, he was sure, be able to challenge the accuracy of the facts as stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman—stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman, he quite admitted, in good faith. Even admitting those facts, he would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman this—if the conviction in the Court below was wrong and was not supported by any evidence—and on that point the Killeagh case and the decision of the Court of Exchequer on it was final and definite—why was it come to? If the men had not been wrongfully convicted in the first place, the Crown would not have had an opportunity of having a second shot at them. Now, what was the additional evidence that the hon. and learned Gentleman ushered into the Committee with such an air of extreme earnestness? The fact was, that James Connell had said that some men had refused to fish with him. Even if that were true, how was it evidence of a conspiracy to induce others not to deal? The statement was altogether irrelevant. The next piece of evidence, ushered in with extreme solemnity, was that James Connell stated that some fish hawkers had Boycotted him. How was this evidence against the accused? The hon. and learned Gentleman had given evidence from his own mouth of the complete illegality of the conviction in the County Court. The next piece of evidence was that Mrs. Connell was told that food would not be sold to her because she was Boycotted; but the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to have forgotten what Boycotting meant. It was a combination amongst a number of persons, each of whom refused to deal with the Boycotted person; but the act described as Boycotting in this case was exactly that which the Court of Exchequer had decided was not criminal under the Crimes Act. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asked why application had not been made in this case to the Court of Exchequer. He was sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not meant to convey that the advisers 1527 of the prisoners were afraid to make this application. The hon. and learned Gentleman would be the last Member of the House to shelter himself behind that plea when he recollected that the Crown, relying on the technicality of some ancient Statute, had successfully established before the Court of Exchequer this point—that no matter how gross the illegality on the part of the Officers of the Crown, no matter how grossly illegal the conviction, the Court of Exchequer or any Court of Law was powerless to give costs as against the Crown in these cases. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman shelter himself behind the very plea which was raised by the absence of means on the part of prisoners to obtain justice against the enormous resources of the Crown? Another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Committee and the Government was the treatment extended to political prisoners in gaol. A number of prisoners were convicted at Woodford some time ago before the Lord Chief Baron by a packed jury, and what happened to these prisoners? Why, this record was undoubted—one of them had become insane in gaol and one or two had been discharged in a state of desperate ill-health, whilst another of them had died. He believed that out of the whole batch of prisoners only one remained capable of serving out the whole of his sentence. The case of the prisoner who had died in gaol was this. He was a boy named Larkin, and was sentenced to 12 or 18 months' or two years' imprisonment. Whilst in gaol, Larkin contracted a dangerous and weakening disease, and while suffering from that disease he was confined in an ordinary cell. The prison doctor saw him, and directed that he should receive careful treatment, and that warm stupes should be applied to him every hour, and that he should be constantly watched by the hospital warder. But, although this treatment was ordered, the Governor of the gaol apparently took it upon himself to leave the prisoner in an ordinary cell, which was locked 16 hours out of 24, the key being in the custody of the Governor at the other end of the gaol, and not obtainable without going through a most elaborate system of intercommunication. Well, what happened? Why, this young man, who had been ordered care- 1528 ful medical treatment at every hour of the day, was deprived of all medical treatment for 16 hours out of the 24. He grew weaker and weaker, and, nevertheless, this course of abominable brutality was persevered in. About 1 o'clock one night the warder heard a noise, and looking in the cell in which the young man was confined found that he was in a very serious condition. In reply to the young man's appeal for assistance the warder told him he could not unlock the door without calling the prison clerk, who would go to another official, who would either directly or through another official communicate with the Governor. The prisoner was extremely ill, but no immediate attention was paid to him. It was not until the lapse of an hour that the Governor was called, only to be informed that the prisoner had died in his bed, utterly cut off from any medical or spiritual assistance whatever. This was another example of the way in which the Government treated their political prisoners in Ireland. All these facts were proved, and the slightest inquiry on the part of any Member of Her Majesty's Government would serve to convince him that not one word of what he (Mr. Chance) had stated could be in the slightest degree explained away or denied. He had confined his remarks to this one case, and he would leave it to hon. Members, be they Conservatives or Liberal Unionists, to judge of the conduct of a Government which had been guilty, through its officials, of such an act of brutality.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
said, he listened with surprise to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland. During the whole course of this debate they had been promised repeatedly by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that a number of questions which had been made as to the legality or illegality of certain cases would all be dealt with by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland when he came to speak; but that, like a good many more promises they had in this House from the same quarter, had only been made to be broken. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General had only turned his attention to one case; and he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) could say he 1529 deeply sympathized with the hon. and learned Gentleman in having to risk his undoubted reputation as a lawyer by the manner in which he endeavoured to proved that there was the widest difference between the Killeagh case and the Miltown Malbay case. They had all been anxious to have some documentary evidence laid before them between which and the depositions read by his hon. Friend (Mr. Clancy) they might form a judgment. He must say that the manner in which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland had addressed himself to this subject was not candid or straightforward. The hon. and learned Gentleman contended that the difference existed in the word "Boycotting" only in the Miltown Malbay case; but the hon. and learned Gentleman must know that this word, which he said established the difference between the two cases, applied to the general conspiracy admitted in both cases. The word "Boycotting" might have been introduced; and no matter how many witnesses might have deposed to it, and no matter how it had been proved over and over again, it had been stated in proof of the general charge of conspiracy, and had nothing to do with the particular charge of conspiracy. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman deny the truth of that; and if he would not, why had he not treated the House with more candour by saying that the word "Boycotting" applied only to general conspiracy, and had altered the comparison instituted between the Killeagh case and the Miltown Malbay case? He could have understood the position of the hon. and learned Gentleman if he had stated to the House that he had a difficulty in dealing with a particular case of this kind arising without notice. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not taken up that position. He pretended that he was going to show the House at once that there was a difference between the Miltown Malbay case and the Killeagh case. However, he had been unable to do anything of the kind. There were depositions in both cases; but the hon. and learned Gentleman pretended that even on the original hearing before the magistrates these two cases were not on all fours, and had stood up again and again to assure hon. Members that there was a difference between the two as tried be- 1530 fore the magistrates, and that the Killeagh case, reversed by the Court of Exchequer, was not at all of the same kind as that of Miltown Malbay. But had the hon. and learned Gentleman taken a single point out of the depositions to convince hon. Members of the accuracy of his contention that the two cases were not exactly on a par? No, he had done nothing of the kind; and he (Mr. T. C. Harrington), therefore, contended that his failure to do so was a convincing proof that no difference whatever was shown to exist before the magistrates between the two cases. Was the hon. and learned Gentleman going to defend the policy of the Government now on the ground that the point raised in the Killeagh case by the counsel for the defence had not been raised in the Miltown Malbay case? The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, following the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy), that it was true that the case, after having been heard on appeal by the County Court Judge, could not be brought under the cognizance of the Court of Exchequer. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asked why the case was not brought under the cognizance of the Court of Exchequer in the first instance. The particular point raised in the Killeagh case as to general conspiracy was raised in that case for the first time, and it had not struck the parties to raise it in the Miltown Malbay case. But did the hon. and learned Gentleman contend that because the point was not raised in the case of the Miltown Malbay prisoners, though it was recognized law, he and his Government were justified in keeping in prison these unfortunate men? They knew that the plea, if it had been raised, would have been a good one, and, knowing that, were they determined that men should continue to bear punishment which, legally speaking, they had not deserved? Now, they had had an observation from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland as to the cases brought on the floor of the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had made a very extraordinary statement with reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- 1531 ber for Central Bradford. The latter, in the course of his observations, had suggested that the Crimes Act had been put in force at the suggestion of the Irish landlords, and in the interest of the Irish landlords, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had been bold enough to say that the cases which had been referred to in support of that statement would be dealt with by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland was in the House when that undertaking was given by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary; but the hon. and learned Gentleman had neither gone into these cases to explain them, nor had he stated to the House why he was not able to do so. He (Mr. T. C. Harrington) did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary denied that this was a proof of the manner in which the Irish landlords knew and recognized that the Coercion Act, which was ostensibly passed for the pacification of the country, was, in reality, passed in their interest. One of the first cases tried under the Act was tried at Sixmilebridge, on the 13th of August. Charges were brought against James Frost for taking forcible possession of a dwelling-house. The forcible possession was really this, that the tenant returned after eviction on an understanding with the landlord that there should be an agreement. The landlord did not come to this agreement, and demanded possession of the house, and then prosecuted the tenant; and here was a letter which was written by the landlord to his agent in reference to the case—If James Frost does not instantly write an apology for taking forcible possession, and undertaking that he will not hold it a day longer than I permit, or send you my approval, you must summon him at once, and get the police to clear the premises, and burn the thatch, and have done with it.Well, the man Frost was summoned at once, and summoned under the Coercion Act, and the spirit in which this landlord anticipated the Coercion Act would be applied, just in that spirit was it administered. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford had drawn attention to the case of Fermoy, where application had been made by a policeman to a shopkeeper for a pair of shoes, 1532 and it had seemed to him (Mr. T. C Harrington) that the right hon. Gentleman had not put the case as strongly as he might have done. One of the men applied to to sell this pair of shoes was a man named Moloney. The month before, this man Moloney had given evidence in a case of a dispute that had arisen between the police and the people at the railway station there. Moloney's evidence went to incriminate a policeman, who was sentenced to a month's imprisonment. All the police had been interested in that case. They had done all they could to defend their comrade, and, undoubtedly, Moloney was selected as a person to whom to make application for this pair of boots in consequence of his action in that case. The man who applied for the boots did not want them, and he had never dealt with Moloney before. He did not know what pair of boots he was going to get. This shopkeeper was selected clearly for no other reason except that he had given evidence against the police. The Irish Members, in bringing cases of this kind before the Committee, were in this difficulty—that, differing from all other responsible Ministers who had ever governed Ireland, or from all responsible Ministers who had ever governed any other country, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was no longer in need of his officials. Night after night these officials had been assailed in this House, and on each occasion the attack only brought him to his feet to give those people fresh testimonials as to character. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; quite right, if they deserved it, and if the defence made was true; but even hon. Members over the way representing North of Ireland constituencies would admit that Irish magistrates could do and did do most extraordinary things. Every man of common sense must admit that there must be grievances arising under such an extraordinary system as existed now in Ireland. The only one person in the world who would not believe it possible was the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) challenged the right hon. Gentleman to point to a single instance in this House where, since his administration commenced, the right hon. Gentleman had got up to acknowledge that a wrong had been done by an official, or to order an inquiry when 1533 they had been dealing with the cases of incriminated persons in that country. One observation made by the right hon. Gentleman to-night was a very remarkable one. He had spoken of the extraordinary reluctance with which he had approached the prosecution of priests in Ireland. Well, the evidence the Irish Members had upon that matter was quite different from that of the right hon. Gentleman, and it would be very instructive to the Committee to listen to one bit of evidence which he could adduce on the point. The right hon. Gentleman himself would, perhaps, be the best witness as to the facts he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) was about to state. Some of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues in the Irish Government—some of those gentlemen in his confidence—were at a dinner at Dublin, in the month of November, some three weeks before the prosecution of the Rev. Father Ryan. It was mentioned at that dinner that in the private memorandum book of the right hon. Gentleman the following entry was made——
§ Mr. T. C. HARRINGTON
said, that if the right hon. Gentleman denied the fact, he would say so. The entry was as follows:—Now is the time to go for the priests. The selection should be a bad priest and a good speech. There should be as little about rent as possible in the speech. Father Ryan would be the type of man.He (Mr. T. C. Harrington) challenged the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to say whether or not any entry was made in his memorandum book.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
said, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman had not a memorandum book now; but, fortunately, he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) was in possession of some proof of the statements he made. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford was in Ireland, in company, he thought, with the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis), three weeks before the prosecution of Father Ryan commenced, 1534 he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) had given them a copy of this entry from the right hon. Gentleman's memorandum book. He had stated to these Gentleman—"Watch the prosecution of Father Ryan—he is marked for prosecution." Sure enough, three weeks afterwards, Father Ryan, who was marked for imprisonment, made a speech, and was pounced upon for it. He (Mr. T. C. Harrington) could not convince the right hon. Gentleman that he had had a look at his private memorandum book; but he thought that the fact of his having related with such circumstantial accuracy what it contained, the fact that this entry was shown at the dinner at Dublin, and the fact that the prosecution of Father Ryan had followed so shortly after his statement to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford, was sufficient proof of the truth of the evidence. [A laugh.] The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate laughed, but as they were so accustomed to the jokes of the right hon. and learned Gentleman on these subjects they could afford to pass his laughter by. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, if he wished to meet the allegations now made, would have to go a little further to convince the public of his tenderness with regard to the priests, and to the genuineness of the advocacy with which he spoke of them. And he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) thought the right hon. Gentleman might learn a lesson from what he had related as proving that the officials by whom he was surrounded, and of whom he was always so ready to give praise, were not always so worthy of his confidence as he seemed to think. Then there was another question which he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) would not like to pass by without a word of comment—he alluded to the report of Mr. Wellington Colomb with regard to the Mitchelstown Inquiry. He must say that the Report and the diagram given by that Gentleman were a complete contradiction the one to the other. There was no means of judging from any other evidence then reported in the inquiry; and how any sane man could have drawn the diagram and written that Report was to his mind a problem which would never be solved. There were three allegations in the Report. First of all, that the man Lonergan had been killed by a ricochet 1535 shot and not by a direct shot. But according to the diagram a ricochet shot could not by any possibility have hit the man if he had been in the position assumed by Mr. Colomb. This gentleman had evidently never read a word of the evidence given at the inquiry—and this was an evidence of the value of Reports received from officials employed in Ireland. Mr. Colomb said it would have been impossible for anybody to kill Lonergan without leaning his head out of the window, and he evidently did not know that the man Dacon who killed Lonergan said that he saw the man fall and had fired at him leaning out of the window. Then with regard to the other two men who were shot, they had been killed nearer the barrack and in a direct line, and Mr. Colomb said it would have been possible to kill them directly, but that most probably they were killed by ricochet shots. But what was the evidence on this point? Why, in the first place, these men were killed by buck shot and not by a ricochet bullet, and to say that they were killed by ricochet shots when only buckshot was used was an absurdity. The medical testimony produced at the inquiry showed clearly that the men had been killed by pellets and not by bullets. It was evident that, without reading a word of the evidence or a word of the examination at the inquiry, this gentleman went down into the district, which, fortunately, had been visited by a great number of Members of this House in order to make an inquiry, and made a Report altogether contradictory to the evidence originally given. What, then, was the value of that gentleman's statement? If anything, it proved that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary's officials had not meant to kill anyone when they fired. But they had the evidence of the policemen themselves, whom he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) had had the advantage of cross-examining, and this was a bit of the cross-examination—Q. Did you aim at any particular person?—A.—I did.Q. Did you fire to kill?—A. I did.Q. Did you mean to kill?—A. I did.All the witnesses had stated distinctly at the inquiry that they took deliberate aim, that they fired with the intent that they meant to kill. The Commissioner sent down by the right hon. Gentleman 1536 the Chief Secretary endeavoured to make out that the deaths were caused by ricochet shots, and that there had been no intention on the part of the police to kill anybody.
§ DR. KENNY
said, that this discussion had gone on for a considerable time and it seemed likely that it would go on longer without the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, or anyone on the Government Benches, giving any satisfaction to the Committee as to the most important question raised in the debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary seemed to have two methods of dealing with everyone. One was to deny the truth of an allegation, and the other was to sneer at it. The Government seemed to be permeated with hostility to everything that was for the good of Ireland, and made a point of endeavouring to stifle and put down every legitimate aspiration of the Irish people. The Report referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. T. C. Harrington) was an admirable sample of this spirit. The Government had only to ask for a report from any understrapper in Ireland who would immediately manufacture one of any character to suit the taste of his employers. No matter how clear the facts or how wildly the Government desire to have them contorted, they had officials always ready to prove anything that they wished, and sometimes, indeed, they went so far as to suggest to him what they should wish. They suggested to him sometimes to voice their own wishes on the subject. Well, he (Dr. Kenny) thought it necessary to call the attention of the Committee—and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would not sneer at it—to the case of the unfortunate man Larkin, who died in Kilkenny gaol. It would be necessary for him (Dr. Kenny) to go briefly over the facts again—and he could assure the Committee that it was no pleasant task for him to have to do so. The lesson to be derived from this poor man's treatment was this—that so great was the demoralization of the Public Service in Ireland, so great was the wish of the underlings to do what they believed, perhaps erroneously, to be the desire of their paymasters, that they neglected the commonest demands of humanity. He did not know the 1537 private character of the medical officer of Kilkenny Gaol, but he did not think it possible for any medical man to be guilty of more inhumanity than this person had been. He had under his care a man who was suffering from a dangerous disease, and he could not plead ignorance on the subject, as it was proved in evidence that the man had been under his care for several days suffering from an attack which, if it did not appear to him was seriously weakening the man, must have been owing to neglect and insufficient examination on his part. The man had been suffering for three days, and perhaps more, from a most exhaustive disease, and instead of doing what any other medical man would have done under the circumstances and removing him from the place he was in to one where he could have received proper treatment, and where his life might have been saved, he left him in the cold, bleak cell at an inclement season of the year without the proper appliances of medicine and treatment. The man was found dead at half-past 4 o'clock in the morning, although it was known that he had been groaning and calling for aid two hours previously. He (Dr. Kenny) had no doubt, from his knowledge of the particular malady from which the man was suffering, that if assistance had been given to him within those two hours he might have been a living man to-day. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary whether, under these circumstances, considering that this young man had gone into gaol strong and hearty and healthy, and was carried from it a corpse, he would not take into consideration the desirability of granting some compensation to the widowed mother? He (Dr. Kenny) was sorry to say that up to now the right hon. Gentleman had turned a deaf ear to this appeal, but he (Dr. Kenny) was not without hope that even yet the right hon. Gentleman would take a more humanitarian view of the matter. The whole blame in the case rested with the prison medical officer, and though this case occurred eight months ago, he had not heard that this medical officer had been visited with a single iota of condemnation. He believed this gentleman was still attending Kilkenny Gaol in the capacity of medical officer; and, if so, he maintained that the continuance of such 1538 a man in such a post was most detrimental to the people of Ireland. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he intended to take any action in the matter; and if the right hon. Gentleman replied in the negative, he (Dr. Kenny) would say that he was striking a much more serious blow at the cause of law and order in Ireland than any agitator could do in the course of 10 years of his life. Another case to which attention had been called was that of Mr. Latchford, and in reference to that case the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell), a strong supporter of the Government, and a Member of that Party without whose assistance the Government would not remain 24 hours in Office, uttered a very strong remonstrance. That hon. Member stated an absolute fact when he said the Crimes Act was passed by the House on the distinct understanding that it would be employed only in the repression of serious crime, and that it should not be used against political opponents, and it shocked even the conscience of a Liberal Unionist to find those promises violated in the manner illustrated by this case of Mr. Latchford. For any offence Mr. Latchford had committed, he might have been proceeded against at Quarter Sessions; but, for the gratification of private spleen, the Coercion Act was applied against a man for exercising what he believed was a right he possessed. Why did not the Chief Secretary remonstrate with those officials who were at his beck and call, men like Mr. Cecil Roche, for using the Act in a manner quite contrary to that which he assured the House it should be employed? Instead of rebuking such officials, and removing them from the district where they had so grossly abused their power, men like Mr. Cecil Roche were encouraged to pursue the same course in other cases. The English people when they came to know, as they would by these discussions, how the Act was misused, would never sanction such proceedings by their votes when the occasion for using their votes arrived. They would not assist the Chief Secretary and his Unionist Friends, unless he (Dr. Kenny) was very much mistaken in the spirit of the English people. Every day the Coercion Act was brought under review was a day plucked from the life 1539 of the Ministry, and diminished the chance of a renewal of their power. The right hon. Gentleman would have little cause to congratulate himself on the action of his underlings whose conduct he now encouraged, and whose only chance of existence as officials was to be the subservient tools of the Administration. That had been so well illustrated in this and many another debate, that it was scarcely necessary to insist on it again. Only one other case would he refer to; it had been mentioned by the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis), and the House would, he was sure, like to have some reply from the hon. and learned Solicitor General when he rose to take part in the discussion. What did the Government propose to do in reference to Mr. Moroney, who had long been in gaol nominally for contempt of Court, but, according to the opinion of all just-minded men, by a gross misuse of the power a Judge had of such committal for contempt. Twenty months' imprisonment was a severe punishment for a man guilty of the most gross contempt of Court, and, according to the evidence of the prison officials, Mr. Moroney, mentally and physically, had suffered severely. Was the man to be kept in prison so long as the vindictiveness of Judge Boyd remained unsatisfied? Was his imprisonment to synchronize with the life of Judge Boyd? No more disgraceful case of vindictive imprisonment was over sanctioned by an Executive Government than this continued imprisonment of Mr. Moroney. Why, even under the exceptional Bill just carried through Committee in an exceptional manner, and the provisions of which were not thoroughly understood, the power of committal for the most gross contempt was limited to a term of imprisonment to terminate with the life of the Commission, long or short, and that power was conferred by solemn Act of the Legislature; but here was a man imprisoned for 20 months, and for as much longer as Judge Boyd might choose to keep him there, for no offence but the refusal to answer a question that under no straining of the law should he have been required to answer.
MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN&c.) (Stirling,
said, he had no intention of taking part in the debate, not because he was not deeply interested, but be- 1540 cause he confessed he was not justified by the possession of accurate knowledge of the facts upon which the discussion turned. But he was exceedingly struck by the account of one case, and had waited to hear what explanation would be offered. It was the case to which allusion had been made by his hon. Friend the Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis), and which was afterwards detailed at considerable length by another hon Member, and in a manner with which the Committee must have been struck, the case of the man Kennedy, who became a lunatic while suffering imprisonment in Limerick Gaol. Some hon. Members now present might not have heard the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) read the letter from a prisoner in the same gaol, describing how he and his fellows could not endure to take their usual exercise in the prison yard, because of the groans and the expressions of pain and horror proceeding from the cell in which the unfortunate man was confined, and how after some days, during which he was strangely neglected, he was finally examined and found to be insane, and transferred to the lunatic asylum. He did not know if the Government were altogether alive to the painful impression made on the minds of quiet people in this country by incidents such as those. He was willing to admit, for the sake of argument, that there might be a certain amount of exaggeration in the description; but still when such a case was cited in the House of Commons, and no attempt made to explain it, or promise made of future explanation, he was entitled to express some surprise. He should be glad if the Chief Secretary would say what he know of the case, and offer, if he could, some explanation of the circumstances alluded to. There was only one other point to which he would refer. He was not surprised that the hon. Member for North Dublin alluded to the extraordinary Report that had been put into the hands of hon. Members that morning in explanation of the Mitchelstown affair. A high officer in the Police Force, being apparently called upon to explain how it was that three men lost their lives, so completely exemplified the leading weaknesses and characteristics of Irish officials when they had not the strong hand of control over them, that he went so far 1541 as to prove that not only was the poor man Lonergan not killed by a ricochet shot, but that, in fact, he was not killed at all, but was alive at the present day. He produced this Report intended to show that death was caused by a ricochet shot, a fact that could be proved by surgical examination he believed, for, as his hon. and gallant Friends would probably know, a ricochet bullet could be detected by its not striking end on as it would in direct aim. But, however that might be, this over-zealous officer produced a plan of the ground, on which he showed by a dotted line the extreme line of fire to where Lonergan stood; but, unfortunately for his argument, anyone who looked at the plan would see that a shot fired along the extreme line of fire towards Lonergan could not ricochet even in his direction. It seemed, therefore, that on this occasion, as on many others, that the principal failing of the Irish officials was over-zeal, and it was desirable that a little more care should be exercised in restraining that in such cases. But he only alluded to that as an interesting matter in connection with the Report that had only come into his hands that day; his principal object in rising was to refer to the case of the man who became a lunatic while detained in prison, and upon this he would be glad to have some information.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman stated that Irish officials were apt to do very extraordinary things, unless a strong hand were kept over them. Was the Committee to understand that the right hon. Gentleman kept a strong hand over his officials in the making of their Reports when he occupied the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland? Did he exercise a strong hand to have Reports framed to suit his convenience?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman talked of Irish officials who made Reports, and what on earth did he mean by his observation, unless he meant a strong hand in controlling those Reports? The right hon. Gentleman went on to give his view on the Report in reference to the death at Mitchelstown, and that he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not propose to argue. The right 1542 hon. Gentleman argued from looking at the plan, that a bullet fired along the extreme line of fire could neither hit the man or ricochet towards him. That might be true; but the man was short, and it might be in some other line of fire. [Cries of "Look at the map."] He was not prepared to argue any hypothesis and demonstrate it from the plan; but he turned to the case to which the right hon. Gentleman referred as most important, that of the man who went mad in prison. He had no particular information about the case, but he had gathered something from a letter sent to an hon. Member by some prisoner unknown—whether that was an authentic form of information he must leave the Committee to determine, but, assuming that it was, it appeared from this anonymous correspondent that the unfortunate man was kindly treated by the officials. [Mr. CLANCY: By the Governor—not by the doctor.] By the Governor and warders. But it appeared from the letter that the doctor mistook the nature of the case. Whether that was really so or not he could not say. But prison doctors were no more infallible than doctors anywhere else, and he knew no means of making them infallible. But the most that could be made of it was, that the prison doctor did not discover, as he might have discovered, that the man was actually insane. There was no evidence that the man suffered from the mistake; it appeared from the evidence in the letter he was kindly treated, and though he might have been removed to the asylum two days earlier, it was not suggested that he would have been in better plight than now. As to the suggestion that his madness was caused by his treatment in prison, there was not a fragment of evidence to support it, and he was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman, of all Members in the House, should lend any appearance of support to the suggestion, for he was one of those under whose authority the prison rules now in force were passed.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, he had not had the advantage of hearing the speech of the Chief Secretary completely, but he had heard enough to enable him to say that the right hon. Gentleman had missed the point of the case. He stated that this unfortunate man was well treated in prison, and so he was by the Governor and warders, but the charge was not 1543 brought against the governor and warders, but against the prison doctor, who for three days heard the man moaning and groaning, and yet persisted in believing he was shamming until the end of that period. The charge was not against the officials strictly so called, the Governor and warders, but against the prison doctor, and the right hon. Gentleman could not ride off on the plea that there was no charge against the officials.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he had no special information; but would he tell the Committee he would make inquiry into the matter?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he might now make an appeal to the Committee to allow the Vote to be taken, having regard to the fact that the Chairman had been at the Table for eight hours, and would be in the Chair again at mid-day.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
said, he would not detain the Committee long. The Government had directed their arguments to rebutting those urged against sentences inflicted on prisoners under the Crimes Act; but he refused to abandon all hope that they would consider the case of those prisoners whose sentences had been increased on appeal—Father M'Fadden, Mr. Blane, and Mr. O'Brien. This increasing of sentences on appeal had been referred to by a supporter of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, as a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance. Into contentious matter he would not now enter. The Miltown Malbay case had been argued; it was a matter he did not like to go into, as he was personally concerned, but he did appeal to the Government in regard to the cases of Father M'Fadden and Mr. Blane. Without going into the merits of the cases, he would only refer to the idea that was entertained that when the original term of imprisonment was served the Government would reconsider the situation. Members had arrived at the end of a long Sitting, and were going away upon holidays he hoped they would enjoy; but they could not do so without a thought for those of their Colleagues 1544 now in prison who had suffered a long incarceration, and who were under the special penalty of having had their sentences increased on appeal. Surely it would be a graceful act if the Government would remit the term of imprisonment beyond that originally imposed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, everybody would appreciate the spirit in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had made his remarks, and as to the motives that should actuate the Government. He asked the Government to reconsider the position, and he made some reference to remarks of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham that had not come under his (Mr. A. J. Balfour's) notice; but the hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware that the custom of increasing sentences on appeal was not peculiar to this Act. The Judges who had increased the sentences had acted after full consideration of all the evidence, and he did not think it was in his power to review the sentences they had inflicted. Certainly, he could not advise the Lord Lieutenant to exercise the Prerogative of Mercy unless he was convinced that the sentences were excessive. In the case of Father M'Fadden, it was to be observed that though the County Court Judge had increased the length of imprisonment, he had diminished its severity by treating the prisoner as a first-class misdemeanant, so that to reduce the term of imprisonment to three months would be to diminish the original sentence. He believed the same remark would apply to Mr. Blane. ["No!"] Well, he did not think he should be justified in reconsidering the judgments of County Court Judges who were, even less than magistrates, open to hostile comment, for they were able, competent lawyers, and absolutely independent of the Executive. Under the circumstances, though entirely appreciating the appeal of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he could not adopt his suggestion.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
said, as a fact bearing upon the independence of County Court Judges, it might be mentioned that among the applications for a vacancy among the Judges of the Superior Court were those of two County Court Judges.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, it was to be regretted that the Government did not see their way 1545 to meet the suggestion. There could be no doubt that when the House gave the right of appeal in these cases, they did so in the interest of the accused. He was sure that it never entered the minds of any hon. Members who supported the Government in passing the Crimes Act that there was any risk of these sentences being increased on appeal. It was so in his own case, and there was no such thing known in Scotland as a sentence being increased on appeal. He was speaking in the presence of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, who would know that a man could get his sentence reduced or annulled on the ground of informality; but there was no provision in the law of Scotland for increasing a sentence on appeal. It was most unfair to apply such a provision in Ireland. It destroyed the benefit of the accused of the right of appeal, if it was accompanied by the chance of getting his sentence increased; the risk deterred the accused from claiming the protection the Legislature intended to confer. It was because there was a want of confidence in the original tribunal that right of appeal was allowed. Taking an ordinary case before a magistrate, there was no public interest excited, for there was no reason to suppose that outside the individual concerned there was any want of confidence in the tribunal; but, in reference to cases under the Crimes Act, there was an exceptional want of confidence, and hence it was that, with the view of giving accused persons every possible advantage, they were allowed the right of appeal. But if a Judge was allowed to increase the sentence on appeal, the attendant risk nullified the protection. If it was maintained—and of that he could not speak with full knowledge—that Judges in England and Ireland had this power, so, also, had the Executive the power of exercising the Prerogative of Mercy. He did not think the Government would extend their influence by allowing that increase in the severity of punishments. It could do no good in promoting peace in Ireland and respect for law, but rather harm, by what would appear as evidence of a vindictive spirit. Let the Act be carried out in a judicious manner, and it would command the assent of all law-respecting and law-abiding people. He hoped the Government, for their own sake, would see their way to give effect to the recommendation 1546 made by the hon. and learned Member for North Longford.
§ MR. A. R. D. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Caldwell) had fallen into a mistake very commonly made, by forgetting that on the hearing of the appeal fresh evidence might be adduced of much more value than came before the Court below. To lay down the proposition that a more competent Court and better informed should not have the power to inflict a proportionate punishment was altogether a mistake. It appeared to him that the more these cases were left to be dealt with by Constitutional Courts in Ireland, England, and Scotland, and the less they were advocated by political Gentlemen in the House and mixed up with Party warfare, the better would it be for all concerned in the administration of justice and good government.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, those who made the laws had a right to overlook those who administered them, and to see that they performed their duty according to the intentions with which the laws were passed, and if they failed to do that then it was only right that attention should be called to the failure in that House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had said that he thoroughly appreciated the spirit in which the appeal was made to him by the hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy). It was to be hoped that he also appreciated the more than spirit—the force—of the remarks of the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell). That hon. Member was one of the body of Members who placed the right hon. Gentleman in power and enabled him to pass the Crimes Bill. He supported the right hon. Gentleman steadily, aye, obstinately, through all the courses and struggles of that Bill, and now he had explained in plain terms that he did so under the belief that the right of appeal would only be exercised in relief of the accused. What was the meaning of a right of appeal in criminal cases? What was the reason that the prosecution had no right of appeal against sentences which might be passed, and that only the convicted man could appeal? The right of appeal was limited to the accused because it was intended for his 1547 relief; and in that way he contended that the right of appeal, which, according to the structure and theory of the law, was only intended for the relief of the accused, ought not to be sharpened as a weapon against him to strike him down. It was a manifest absurdity which no man could accept. He warned the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that the speech of the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division was most significant, as testifying to the opinions of those hon. Gentlemen who placed the Government in power, for it might, in the end, lead to their turning them out of power. He did not consider the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division to be a man of emotion or impulse; on the contrary, he was of sound, hard, shrewd Caledonian judgment, and he believed the speech showed that the hon. Member was discovering for himself that the feeling and judgment of England were revolting against the cruel and cowardly use made of the Coercion Act in Ireland. Let the right hon. Gentleman then appreciate the political force and warning conveyed to the Government in the speech of the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division.
§ DR. KENNY
said, he had to complain that the Government had given him no answer to two of the cases he had submitted to the House—the cases of Moroney and Kennedy. In regard to the former, he thought reasonable discretion should be exercised as to the duration of the man's detention, while, as to Kennedy, he did hope there would be a proper investigation of the case by an independent medical man. Personally, he passed no judgment on it. He was quite willing to suspend his judgment until a medical man had reported.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he was afraid the hon. Member was asking too much. He did not think it right for any Government to interfere with the jurisdiction of a Judge in cases of contempt of Court, neither could he agree as to the necessity of further inquiry into Kennedy's case.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that, in order to raise the question they had been discussing in a definite form, he would propose without further speech a reduction of the Vote by £2,000. He did not think the whole of the Chief Secretary's salary was included in the 1548 Vote on Account, but he assumed that £2,000 would be about the proportion.
Motion made, and Question put,
That the Item of £16,000, for the Office of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, be reduced by the sum of £2,000."—(Mr. T. P. O'Connor.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 132: Majority 77.—(Div. List, No. 261.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. CHANCE
said, he wished to draw the attention of the Law Officer to two specific matters. The first was that the costs paid by a tenant on settling a writ for rent were £2 10s.; while, if the landlord proceeded on ejectment, they amounted to £1 10s. only. There was no reason why the first proceeding should cost more than the latter. The landlord had thus two proceedings open to him. One was less expensive than the other; but as the Land Act of 1887 did not give the Court any power to make an instalment order on a writ for rent, the landlord's agents naturally had recourse to it—the more expensive proceeding. Where a writ in ejectment was served, the Court had, under Section 30 of the Land Act, power to make instalment orders; but to get that relief the tenant had to enter an appearance, although he did not dispute that the rent was due. There was then nothing to prevent the landlord proceeding to put the tenant to all the expense of a trial. The other and usual course adopted by the landlord was a notice of motion for final judgment; the tenant had then to move for an instalment order. Two counsel had to be retained, the case heard in Court, and even if the tenant succeeded, the landlord's costs, which the tenant had to pay, amounted to about £9. This was a prohibitive tax when the rent was £30 or £40 in all. It could be easily avoided by altering the rules and allowing the tenant to submit to the judgment of the Court, and apply for an instalment order in Chambers. Two counsel's fees, two briefs, and the landlord's notice of motion for judgment, would thus be rendered unnecessary, and the costs would be reduced to at most half what they were now. He hoped the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) would give him some assurance that there would be some 1549 alteration made in the direction he pointed out.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, he quite recognized the importance and reasonableness of the suggestions, and he would promise to consider them.
§ MR. P. STANHOPE (Wednesbury)
said, the Motion of which he had given formal Notice with regard to the salary of the Attorney General, and the great inconvenience arising from the Chief Law Officer of the Crown acting as counsel for The Times, would not be submitted for discussion until the Autumn Session.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.