Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [4th August],
That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution, That a further sum, not exceeding £7,712,800, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
said, that he had hoped for a satisfactory statement from the First Lord of the Treasury with regard to Scotch Business, which would have made any further remarks of his unnecessary.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, he hoped the hon. Member would understand that he had not intended to be guilty of any want of courtesy to him. He had not made a statement because he did not wish to interfere with the continuation of the hon Gentleman's speech.
§ MR. WALLACE
said, he would not for a moment imagine that the First Lord of the Treasury would willingly be discourteous to anyone, nor did he expect that the right hon. Gentleman would have risen before he (Mr. Wallace) resumed his speech. What he was referring to was an answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave to a Question he put to him with respect to Scotch Business. He had hoped that the nature of that answer would have been such that it would have been unnecessary for him to continue his remarks; but unhappily they were not in that position. Hon. Members would, perhaps, recollect that on Saturday he was engaged in a few preliminary observations with the view of showing the humiliating condition into which Scotch Business 1728 had fallen. It was no pleasure to him to obtrude himself upon the House. He was not one of those who obtruded his opinions frequently upon the House; in fact, he considered that men who spoke in the House without having something to say in the interest of their constituencies were public nuisances. Therefore, for his own part, he would not speak except upon the impulse of some duty, either to truth at large or to the constituency which he had the honour to represent. He thought, however, he would carry with him the concurrence of his Scotch Colleagues when he said that with respect to this matter of Scotch Business they could not any more be silent. He assured the House that the public of Scotland were getting exceedingly angry and impatient on this subject. He did not think he, for one, could go back and face the Scottish public unless he attempted to represent their feelings in the matter. It was as much as his place was worth, to speak colloquially, not to express the opinion of his constituents and the Scotch public. Expressions not loud but deep were daily being made use of towards the Scotch Representatives in connection with this matter. He did not want to introduce to the House such expressions as "muffs," "duffers," "humbugs," or "cowards." These were shabby phrases in themselves, and as the First Lord of the Treasury would say, they did not contribute to the dignity of the House; but, in spite of that, they were in daily use with respect to Scotch Members in connection with the timidity and subservience and want of manliness and courage which it was alleged they were displaying in not standing up more stoutly for a proper share of legislative time. It was undeniable that for years and years Scotland had been, he would not say defrauded of, but been compelled to go without a share of the legislative time of the House, and he took it upon himself to say that a very large number of the Scotch Members were on this occasion resolved to enter into the matter with far greater amplitude of argument and completeness of statement than he could pretend to employ. He thought that towards the conclusion of his humble reflections on Saturday he succeeded to some extent in showing that Scotch Business, upon a minute and careful arithmetical calcula- 1729 tion, had a right to at least three full weeks of the legislative time of the Session; yet the First Lord of the Treasury, either under or against the advice of his Scotch advisers, had offered a few hours at the fag end of a Wednesday afternoon, and his offer, small as it was, was conditioned by the question whether the Irish General Commission of Inquiry into Most Things under the Sun Bill would be finished on Tuesday evening. His humble contention was that that was not only unjust to the Scotch Members, but insulting to the Scotch nation, and, he ventured to say, to the common sense of mankind at large. It was utterly impossible to consider even the initial stages of the Burgh Police Bill in so short a time. That Bill was a great structure. It contained almost as much matter as a volume of the Encyclopœdia Britannica, and as complicated in some respects in its construction as these volumes usually were. He knew very well what would be said if the Resolution of the First Lord were carried out. He knew what English newspapers would say. The so-called comic papers would talk of "a day lost in a Scotch mist." They would become sarcastic about cockie-leekie and bagpipes as if they supposed these substances differed not in kind, but only in degree. What were they to do in such circumstances? Finding themselves in the position of being ill-used by the Government and their Supporters, the Scotch Members must fix the blame on someone. The official on whom they should fix the blame was not the First Lord of the Treasury, because, dissatisfied as they were with his treatment of them, that right hon. Gentleman was in the hands of others. Unfortunately, they never saw the Secretary for Scotland. His knowledge of Lord Lothian was principally by reputation and not by personal observation. He was aware that he was a good business man when he was allowed to do business in his own way. He was also a courteous Gentleman, as a matter of course; but what good was that to them? The Secretary for Scotland did not sit in this House, in the place where Scotland was to a certain extent represented, and the Scotch Members could not give him a bit of their minds in the place where it was proper that he should get it. The very fact of his being a Member of the 1730 Peerage made it difficult for Scottish Members to perform their duties in that matter. There were one or two Lords he liked, but generally, in the abstract, he hated Lords. He did not want them because they cost him a great deal of trouble, both mentally, morally, and corporeally, as the genuflexion, the bated breath, and the whispering humbleness necessary to approach them was a painful process and rather a tax on his constitution. The necessary absence of the Secretary for Scotland from that House, owing to the fact that he was a Member of the Peerage, was distasteful to the Scotch Members because they could not in his absence begin to abuse or criticize unfavourably that affable but ineffectual nobleman. The consequence was that they must fall back on what he might call the whipping boy of the Secretary for Scotland—he meant the Lord Advocate. He must also in this connection throw in, in point of form, the Solicitor General for Scotland, but there was not much whipping in him. The Lord Advocate would amply suffice for that purpose. He must not be understood to speak of the Lord Advocate personally in the matter, except in the most pleasant manner of which he was capable, but in his public capacity the Lord Advocate would no doubt take as he gave very heartily. In respect, then, of the Lord Advocate's conduct of Scottish Business, he had not only a great responsibility, but he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman had a good deal of blame attaching to him. He thought the Lord Advocate in this matter had studied too deeply the maxim, "That the man is wise who speaks little." That was a valuable maxim, but in connection with Scotch Business it seemed to him that the Lord Advocate was a trifle too wise. The Lord Advocate occasionally gave the Scotch Members what he called a touch of the rough side of his tongue; why did he not in the same way give a taste of his quality to the First Lord of the Treasury and let the First Lord understand the exact nature of his "unruly" Member in that particular? He was not going to allude very particularly to the emoluments of the Lord Advocate, or appeal to the fact that the Lord Advocate was well paid for the work he did or possibly did 1731 not do, because he was perfectly sure the Lord Advocate was amenable to higher considerations. But those were matters which occurred to his meaner intelligence, and it had also occurred to him to make a little calculation in the way of comparing the emoluments with the utterances of the Lord Advocate in this House on Scottish Business. Dividing his income by his outcome, he found that, almost as exactly as could be, he cost them about half-a-crown a word or a shilling for every second syllable, so that it might literally be said of him as was said of a still more distinguished compatriot of his and theirs in the last century who came up to London, that when in London, and especially in Parliament, he could not open his lips or move his mouth but "bang went six-pence." He thought that if the Lord Advocate would give them the assistance of his extremely valuable speech they might be in a better position. Why should the Lord Advocate be so afraid of the First Lord of the Treasury? Why should he shrink from telling the First Lord what the rights of Scotland were in this matter? Why should he not, in language that had now become classic, "Make it hot for old Smith and Co.?" Why should he not take a leaf out of the book of the famous Roman Emperor who, whenever he saw the unfortunate general, kept saying to him "Oh, Varus, where are my legions?" Why should not the Lord Advocate, in the Lobbies, in the dining rooms, or even in Society, buttonhole the First Lord whenever he saw him, hold him "with his glittering eye" and din into his ears, "Oh, First Lord, where are my three weeks, where is my fortnight?" as the case might be. He ventured to suggest to the Lord Advocate to consider whether he could not with profit and advantage to his country play the part of the importunate widow with the Unjust Judge in the parable. The Lord Advocate was well acquainted with that case. Why should he not badger the First Lord, deal with him to such a degree that at last the First Lord, in desperation, would be compelled to say, "Although I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this Lord Advocate troubleth me I will arise and give him his three weeks." If he were the Lord Advocate he would not give the First Lord the life of a dog. He would make the 1732 right hon. Gentleman's existence a burden to him until he came down handsomely on the question of time for Scotch Business. While they were doing their best to ask the Lord Advocate to prevail on the First Lord to deal with them justly, he knew that they could only do that for a short time, because they were going to lose the Lord Advocate. He was not to be long with them. An arrangement had been entered into by which a distinguished Peer and Judge in Scotland was to vacate the presidency of one of the law divisions in the Court of Session.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
This matter has been alluded to in this House before, and I have never taken notice of it hitherto; but I have to say now that there is not one word of foundation for the statement the hon. Gentleman is making. I do not expect if I leave this House it will be under any arrangement with any person or set of persons whatever.
§ MR. WALLACE
said, he had not stated it was an arrangement between the Lord Advocate and anybody. He said it was an arrangement which was going to take place, and prophecy was as open to him as to the Lord Advocate. The Lord Advocate had misrepresented him entirely. He did not say it was an arrangement with any person. He was simply going to state what was going to take place, and what he thought and believed was going to take place. The point which the Lord Advocate had taken up was, of course, unintentionally leading the House on a false issue.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
If the hon. Member did not state that an arrangement had been made, then I apologise for having interrupted him at all; but he distinctly said that an arrangement had been made.
§ MR. WALLACE
said, he had stated that an arrangement had been made, but he did not say that an arrangement had been made of which the Lord Advocate had any knowledge or with which he had any personal connection. He was most careful in his statement. He was only predicting that they were going to lose the Lord Advocate by an arrangement made by other people; but the more fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not know what was going to happen, did not pre- 1733 vent them from saying what was going to happen. His knowledge was not to be measured by the Lord Advocate's ignorance. It was the most infantile fallacy than any reasonable being could be called upon to consider, but since he saw it was painful to the Lord Advocate to contemplate the possibility of his being taken from among them, he would not refer further to the subject. He was going to refer to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's departure with pain and regret in consequence of the many losses there would be in connection with public life in Scotland, though it was his duty here to accuse him of certain deficiencies. It was the most singular experience he had had almost either in public or private life to find the Lord Advocate contemplated his own promotion with pain and resentment. There was another person that they had a right to make responsible in this connection, and that was a Gentleman who, unfortunately, was not present, for he would have been too pleased to deal with him in his presence. He referred to the Solicitor General for Scotland. He did not know, he had often wondered, what was the meaning or the call for the existence of a Solicitor General for Scotland. He had early been taught that "all creatures had been fashioned for a wise purpose," but he must say that the teleology of the Scotch Solicitor General was too much for him. He had not been able to see any purpose, wise or unwise, which the Solicitor General for Scotland served. When he had seen him sitting beside the Lord Advocate the idea of the whale and the sprat of Scottish politics had less occurred to him—["Oh, oh!" and "Question!"]—than that while the Lord Advocate really did nothing the Solicitor General for Scotland was there to see that he did it; in short, that he was merely the "sweet little cherub that sits up aloft to keep watch o'er the life of poor Jack." The Solicitor General for Scotland in that connection should be made to have some responsibility. The Solicitor General for Scotland had absolutely no visible connection with Scotch Business. He had never heard him open his mouth in the House on Scotch Business.
§ MR. WALLACE
said, an hon. Member reminded him, indeed, that the Solicitor General for Scotland had lately made a speech on Scotch disestablishment, but that speech was really one addressed more to Imperial than to Scotch considerations. The hon. and learned Member was put up by the Front Ministerial Bench more in the capacity of the saucy street boy, who was to chaff the heavy and conscript fathers on the Front Opposition Bench. He was not going to deny——
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must call the attention of the House to the great abuse involved in the course which the hon. Member is pursuing. The hon. Gentleman is not only talking at extreme length—I do not complain of that, which it is competent for him to do—but he is repeating the arguments he made use of on the last occasion, and repeating himself to-day on a subject which is purely a financial one. I have never in my experience known the latitude allowed abused so much as in the case of the hon. Gentleman, and I submit with great respect to the House whether they will allow this sort of thing to go on.
§ MR. WALLACE
said, he was extremely unwilling to incur the Speaker's censure or disapprobation; but he was not conscious that he had been wandering from the rights that belong to him in discussing the point, but, of course, at once he accepted with respect any judgment the Speaker was pleased to pronounce, and assured him that with the heartiest willingness he would try to conform himself to what the Speaker ruled. But he must, at the same time, say that he was put considerably at a loss by the ruling just made. He had a good deal to say on the subject of the Solicitor General's relation to this matter, a subject on which he did not think he had spoken previously, and he was not aware that he could possibly have been repeating. Well, he should omit entirely what he was prepared to state with respect to the position of the Scottish Law Officers in regard to Scottish Business, because he was now without hope of giving the Speaker satisfaction in that connection. The style in which he was going to speak was pretty much the style in which he had been speaking previously, and although it did not seem to him to be what was improper in 1735 this House, he did not persevere in it. He would appeal, if not to the Scottish Law officers, to the English Members and the First Lord of the Treasury. He asked English Members to consider in what position Scottish affairs stood. The Scottish Members had the greatest respect for the English nationality, but he thought English Members ought really to give some consideration to Scottish Members and to their claims and interest. Scotland was a small nation, it was true, but they had some merits and some claims—and to give them no time or attention at all was to make an oppressive use of their power. He would appeal to the First Lord himself. Although the Scottish Members were his political opponents, he was sure he spoke for himself and many of his Colleagues in saying that they regarded the right hon. Gentleman, not only with personal respect, but with a sort of sneaking affection. Although he almost always kicked them downstairs, he did it in such a pleasant style that they might almost fancy he was handing them up. At the same time, his fine words were of very little profit, and he would ask him in all fairness to consider whether the Scottish Members were to be treated with the justice to which they had a claim. He knew it was too late now to exact the full measure of their demand. He believed they had, perhaps, been too late in presenting their account, and if the account must stand over, he must ask the right hon. Gentleman during the Autumn Session to hand over to the Scottish Members as much of their claim as could be paid them. In the position to which he had been reduced by the Speaker's ruling, he must, of course, sit down without having delivered the speech he had intended to make, and which was certainly designed and believed by him to be strictly relevant to the point, and to be of such a nature as to have enabled him, in some measure, to have performed a duty which he believed to be owing to his constituents and to his country in this matter.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I trust the House will allow me at once to intervene in the debate, and to say a few words, a very few words, for I noticed one portion of the speech of the hon. Gentleman with great approval—that is, when he quoted 1736 the saying that a man is wise when he speaks little. Whether a larger amount of wisdom might be attributed to this House if hon. Members would but follow that excellent adage, I am not prepared to say, Sir, at present. I will not follow the hon. Gentleman's observations so far as they are merely personal. I am sure he would not wish that I should attempt to enter upon the questions he has raised, sometimes with good humour, and sometimes, as I think he himself will feel when he reads the report of his speech, in a taste that there is some slight reason to regret. But the hon. Gentleman has spoken of the position of the Lord Advocate with reference to the Government and to myself, in regard to the arrangement for Scottish Business; and it is only just to the Lord Advocate to say in his presence, and to the House, that he has been incessant in his representations to the Government to provide better opportunities for the transaction of Scottish Business. I think it would be most unfair to him, and most unfair to the Secretary for Scotland, if I withheld from this House the statement of that fact, that these statements have been repeatedly and persistently made, and that, in the exercise of the discretion vested in me, and the necessity I have felt under to proceed with the other Business before Parliament, I and my Colleagues in the Government have been unable to make the arrangements which the Lord Advocate desired for the prosecution of Scottish Business. Sir, the Government and I, as their representative in this House, are responsible, wholly responsible, for the course that has been taken. When I say wholly responsible, I must include within that responsibility also the action of Members of this House. We have from time to time asked the House to consider Business which we felt to be of the highest importance, and I think few hon. Members of experience in the Business of this House would have said that anything like a business-like arrangement of time could have been effected unless we had proceeded day by day with the work which we have in hand. Take, for example, the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Conversion of the Funds. Take the Local Government Bill. Any hon. Member who has experience in this House knows that if it is desired to 1737 make progress with any particular Business, that Business must be proceeded with when the House takes it up from day to day, unless some overwhelming necessity arises. That is the statement I have to make to the House with regard to the course I felt it necessary to take in the arrangements for the Business of this Session. The hon. Gentleman says that Scotland has been treated with contempt, and that the rights and interests of Scotland have been entirely neglected. I must remind the hon. Gentleman that Scotland has had an enormous interest in the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Conversion of the Funds. Scotland has had a great interest in the Railway Rates and Traffic Bill, and in the Employers' Liability Bill. It is a mistake to suppose that Scotland does not share with England in all measures of Imperial importance, and it is with measures of Imperial importance that we have proceeded during the course of this Session. I admit that the Local Government Bill does not apply to Scotland; but it was always understood that the Local Government (England) Bill must precede the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, which, when it is taken up, must be proceeded with in precisely the same manner as the Local Government (England) Bill was proceeded with. I say it is for hon. Members of this House to provide the time necessary for the transaction of its Business. There is no Legislature in the world in which so many speeches and of such length are made as in this House. There is no Legislature charged with such important Business, and I venture to think, Sir, that the extent to which speeches now are carried, and that on a question of this kind the hon. Member thought it necessary to make a speech which lasted more than an hour, is evident that the Legislature of this country must break down if any large proportion of the 670 Members who constitute it think it right to exercise their privilege and their right of speech to the extent to which they have power to do so, but to an extent which would render reasonable discussion almost impracticable. Why can we not follow the example of our neighbours in France? There they sit, from four to six hours a-day, at most, to transact their business. I do not mean to suggest that we should shorten the period of our proceedings; but surely 1738 nine hours a-day for six or seven months in the year ought to be sufficient, if hon. Members exercise that self-restraint which has been exercised in past years—the self-restraint of not repeating arguments or statements of fact, but only of speaking when hon. Members have something absolutely new or valuable to communicate to the House. I make that observation to the House with very great respect, and with some hesitation, and I was only tempted to do so because of the remarks of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh. There may be wise men who speak much, but there is a great deal of truth in the proverb quoted by the hon. Member, and unless the House of Commons recognizes that truth I am afraid it may find out before long that it has lost that command and control of its powers of doing Business which it formerly exercised. The hon. Member has said that there ought to be at least three weeks devoted to Scottish Business.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I have already pointed out to the hon. Member that Scottish Business is involved in the general measures which have come before the House of Commons this Session, and in which Scottish Members have taken an important part. If it was necessary that there should be a separate Railway Traffic Bill, a separate Employers' Liability Bill, a separate Conversion Bill for Scotland, I could understand the views of the hon. Member, and I could understand him if there was a great measure of importance for Scotland and adequate time was not being given for its consideration; but that is not now the case, and I can only promise that, so far as is in my power to do so, I shall, when such a measure is being considered, endeavour to make arrangements whereby it shall receive that consideration which the House of Commons ought to give to it. With regard to the arrangement for Wednesday, I was under the impression that it was one of which the majority of the Scottish Members approved. It is, of course, difficult to meet the views of all Scottish Members, but it seems to me desirable that I should go as far as possible to meet the views of the majority. If it should on Wednesday appear—as I have already stated in reply to a Question—that the majority 1739 of Scottish Members do not desire to proceed with the Scottish Business that day, then, of course, we shall bow to their wishes; but I feel bound to offer them an opportunity for proceeding with a measure which I understood was a purely domestic Bill, and was more of a consolidating character than one involving new principles and new legislation. Be that as it may, it is only right that I should take the sole and entire responsibility for the course which the Government have thought fit to take, to relieve my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate from any imputation or charge whatever of any neglect of the interests of Scotland, and to assure the House that I have the greatest desire to do that which I believe to be best in the interests of Scotland, by providing that when a measure is taken up it should be carried through, and that certain amounts of time should not be given to it at intervals far apart, which hinder rather than assist that complete settlement of questions which are of importance. I trust that the House, having regard to the present position of Public Business, may terminate this debate very speedily.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Member can, of course, ask any questions; but I hope we shall terminate the debate in order to make some progress with the actual Business of the country.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said, that he sympathized with the desire of the right hon. Gentleman to go on with the important Business on the Paper; but it was necessary to make it clear that the Government was responsible for the neglect of Scotch Business. The culpability of the Government in this matter had never been more completely proved than during the present Session. He asked the House to remember the new powers which had been given to the Government. They had had a new Code of Procedure passed this Session by which they had had every opportunity of conducting the Business of the House with greater expedition than heretofore, and of which they had not failed to take full advantage by a frequent use of the closing power. He should like to remark, also, that in no Session since 1880, he might almost say since 1875, had so little time been wasted. He appealed to hon. Members if debates had ever 1740 been more practical or condensed, and whether, even on bitterly contested Irish questions, there had been much of what was commonly called Obstruction? In fact, there had been every desire on the Opposition side of the House to forward and advance the main measures of the Government. In such circumstances, hon. Members, and Scotch Members especially, had very strong reason for complaint as to the manner in which Business had been conducted. This was not a new thing; it had been going on for many years. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to some Business in which Scotland was interested along with England; but he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Railway Traffic Bill had been entirely disposed of by a Grand Committee upstairs, and had occupied less than six hours of the time of the whole House. Therefore, Scotland, in this respect, had made no claim on the time of the House. A comparatively small portion of time had been devoted to Irish affairs, indeed far less time than their importance demanded, during this Session. When the Procedure Rules were being discussed, a Motion was made by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) and the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid) for the appointment of a Scotch Grand Committee. Scotch Members put the case then, as they did now, as to the neglect of Scotch Business, and spoke of the growing discontent in Scotland; but the Government refused to give the slightest attention to their case. They then pointed out that there were a large number of Bills which had not the chance of passing a second reading, unless they were sent to a Grand Committee, but which three-fourths and even four-fifths of the Scotch Members were prepared to support. There was, for instance, the questions of rights of ways and rod fishing—and in regard to some of those measures they were supported by Scotch Members on the Ministerial side of the House. They could not get forward these Bills because the Government would not give them facilities. The Government did not realize how serious the position was. They did not think of the dangers they were unconsciously helping to bring about by their neglect of Scotch affairs. He could assure the First Lord of the Treasury, and he believed he was stating less rather than more than what was said 1741 and felt in Scotland itself, that the feeling of Scotland was very deep and strong on this point. The Scotch were not a noisy people. They did not resort to the methods sometimes taken by other sections of the House in order to make their feeling felt, but it was none the less strong and none the less likely to prove a serious factor in the future. This neglect of Scotch Business, if it continued, would take the shape of proposals as to methods of legislation which would be very unwelcome to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, which would increase the difficulties already felt in adjusting the legislative relations of the three or four parts of the United Kingdom to one another, and might eventually bring about a state of things that would tax to their utmost the constructive powers of the statesmen of this country to introduce arrangements which would do justice to the reasonable claims of the people of Scotland. He expressed no opinion as to the desirability in themselves of the changes to which he referred; but he warned the Government that the unwise course they were following was likely to bring these changes about.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he wished to ask questions as to one or two matters, and he was sorry they were compelled to do it in the House, because hon. Members from Ireland took possession of the whole time in Committee, and this was their only chance. The only thing he would say in regard to Scotch Business was this—he believed the Lord Advocate had done his best, and that Lord Lothian had done his best; but the House knew that Scotland had not got any Representative in the Cabinet. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), being a Scotsman and a Member of the Cabinet, represented Scotland there; but he did not think they could take that right hon. Gentleman as in any sense representing Scottish ideas. The only way in which they could expect to get any Scottish Business attended to was to have the Secretary for Scotland a Member of the Cabinet, and not kept any longer in his present unfortunate and uncomfortable position. At the beginning of the Session the Clashmore case was brought before the attention of the Lord Advocate, and since then—when they were prepared to give evidence that the wrong man had been convicted, and that Mr. Matheson 1742 was miles away from the place where the crime was committed—the man who had committed the crime had gone to Edinburgh to surrender himself to the authorities. The Lord Advocate, when the question was previously discussed, said that when the men who were guilty came forward and confessed, other men would not be punished; but the person who went to Edinburgh to confess the crime had to wait for three days before he was arrested. He brought the woman's dress with him, and he was in some respects like Mr. Matheson, who had been in prison for seven months. This man, who surrendered, confessed his guilt, and he (Dr. Clark) wanted to know why Mr. Matheson had not been released? They had sent the real culprit 150 miles away to go before the authorities there, and now he was going for trial; but why should the innocent be kept in prison? He hoped the matter would be settled without any delay. Another question on which he desired information was in reference to the appointment of the Procurator Fiscal for the county which he had the honour to represent. He did not complain that it was a Tory agent who was appointed, for probably he was as good a lawyer as a Liberal agent; but he did blame the Lord Advocate that after the repeated statements that the Procurators Fiscal would be no longer landlords' agents where there were new appointments, and although pressure was brought to bear by every other law agent in the country to prevent his doing any private business, this new Fiscal had been appointed with permission to transact private business. All the Commissions which sat on the subject reported in favour of making the Procurators Fiscal Crown servants only. He hoped to get some satisfactory answer on that point, He also desired to know why the Government had not fulfilled the pledge given last year, that this Session a Bill would be introduced to amend the Act with reference to the Scottish Fishery Board, so that the reconstitution of the Board, which was so much needed, could take place? There was also the question of the salaries paid to Scottish prison surgeons and chaplains. He did not trouble himself about the chaplains; but he urged that the salaries of Scottish prison surgeons, who had more work than the surgeons of either English or 1743 Irish prisons, should be put on the same scale of salaries as English prison surgeons. He understood that even the Scotch Secretary had pressed this matter upon the Treasury, and he (Dr. Clark) wished to know whether this injustice to Scotland was to be put an end to? Then there was the work of the Crofters Commission, on which some information was needed. There were two counties, he believed, where the Commission had never yet gone. His own impression was that the Lord Advocate did not trouble himself about this Commission, because he thought that the Commission had not been reducing rents any lower than the landlords were voluntarily doing. But this was a mistake. Lord Lovat, who was looked upon as a good landlord, voluntarily reduced his rent 17½ per cent; but the Commissioners had made much greater reductions. He complained also that the men whom the Commissioners appointed valuers had not the confidence of the people. They had been appointing a class of theoretical men, who did not know very much about the matter—men who had been acting as factors and sub-factors instead of farmers, and men who knew practically little about the subject. He had no complaint to make about the manner in which Sheriff Brand, as head of the Commission, had carried out the Act; but he had a great deal to complain of the factors who were put on the Commission. It was not wise for Judges to go to houses and drink with people who were affected by there judicial work. That might be all right while the factors were merely factors, but now they were Judges they should not do so. He concluded by expressing the hope that Mr. Matheson would be liberated without delay, as every condition required by the Lord Advocate for that purpose had now been fulfilled.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said, that the First Lord of the Treasury had said nothing that should induce him to refrain from associating himself in the protest his hon. Friend (Mr. Wallace) had made as to the neglect of Scottish Business. The grievance of which the Scotch Members complained was by no means confined to this Session; if it were, he would not care to occupy the time of the House about it, but it was a chronic, increasing grievance. On the 10th of August, 1887, towards the end 1744 of one of the longest and most laborious Sessions in our Parliamentary annals, he made a mild protest to the effect that the House of Commons was called upon on a Wednesday afternoon to discuss in a few hours the whole legislative programme with regard to Scotland, and that, as far as Scotland was concerned, the Session was beginning that day. The same words would apply to the Session of this year. For two years and more Scotch Members had been addressing appeals to the Government for some little consideration with regard to specific Scotch Business, and the answer was such that they were compelled to make a stand. The grievance was a national grievance; it amounted to a persistent, systematic, continuous, and repeated neglect of Scotch Business in that House. The right hon. Gentleman spoke in a tone of complaint of the time taken up by his hon. Friend, forgetting that, when this Vote was before the House a few nights ago, the whole of the time was taken up by the Irish Members, and that these Members had had much more of the time of the Session than the Scotch Members. All that Scotch Members got was an hour at the tail end of the Address, and a few hours at the fag end of the Session. The Burgh Police Bill they were asked to discuss in a few hours on Wednesday—a monstrous volume of 561 sections, ever so many Schedules, and about 300 pages. An hon. Friend reminded him that it had been nine years before the House, and frequently before Select Committees.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, it had never been before a Select Committee such as considered it this year. It was a Select Committee consisting of 25 Members, all of whom were Scotch Members, with two exceptions, and one of these was a Scotchman, so that there were 24 Scotchmen on the Committee.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
said, that he was informed by an hon. Friend, who was longer in the House than the Lord Advocate, that it had been before as large a Committee prior to this year.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, that on former occasions the Select Committee consisted of the ordinary number of nine; but on this occasion there were 25 Members.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
said, that he believed that one of the previous Select 1745 Committees was even larger than that number. But the reason why the Bill had never passed was that it had always been thrown at the heads of Scottish Members at a period of the Session when it could not reasonably be dealt with. Scottish Members and Scotland itself were not ravenous for legislation. It was the Government themselves who wanted a bulky Statute Book, and that was the reason why they were pressing forward upon them these measures at the end of the Session. Now, Members sitting on his side of the House had no reason for helping the Government to push these matters through; and if the Government wished to legislate for Scotland, and asked for facilities, they were entitled to expect two conditions, the first being that the measures should be brought forward in decent time, and the second that Scottish Members should be allowed to make some kind of selection of the legislation to be proposed. He had not the least doubt that the Scottish Members would not choose the Burgh Police Bill; but they would certainly choose the Returning Expenses (Parliamentary) Officers Bill. That measure had been approved by a Committee of Scottish Members every Session he had been in Parliament, and he would not mind taking half-an-hour on Wednesday afternoon for the purpose of proceeding with it. It was not in regard to legislation alone that Scottish Members had a right to complain of the position to which the action of successive Governments had reduced them. They felt they had no practical influence on the Government of the country. He was not speaking of this Government or that, and particularly he was not blaming the Lord Advocate. Indeed, he should be prepared to re-assert the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury, that the Lord Advocate had done his best to press Scottish Business on the Government. One reason why they were in this lamentable position was the result of the legislation for the institution of a Secretary for Scotland. No doubt that proposal was a good one; but as it had worked, he knew it had done evil rather than good, in so far as the influence of Scottish Representatives on the Business of their country was concerned. Previous to the institution of this Office they had the Lord Advocate, one of the most powerful officials 1746 known to the British Constitution. In his early days he always regarded the Lord Advocate as the greatest dignitary. He was equal to the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General rolled into one. What was he now? There were "None so poor as do him reverence." In his place they had got a degraded Lord Advocacy in this House. Official, of course, he meant, and not personal, and his Office was taken by a Gentleman who was not a Member of the House nor a Member of the Cabinet. As compensation for the reduction of the influence of the Lord Advocate they ought to have the Scottish Secretary, if not with a seat in this House, at least with a seat in the Cabinet, and the absence of that condition was far more powerful than any personal cause in producing the predicament into which Scottish Business had fallen. They were told they should accept the result of a Select Committee, because it was composed mainly of Scottish Members; but the Government refused their request at the beginning of the Session to establish a Standing Committee of the Members for Scotland, and that unwise rejection of the proposal was one of the causes which had led to the state of matters of which they complained. But he was bound to say the Scottish Members themselves were not wholly guiltless in this matter. He believed the supineness of the Scottish Representatives, their willingness to become the more tools of Parties on one side or the other, had contributed to the condition of things complained of. He had a Resolution sent him by an Advanced Liberal Association in Scotland, to the effect that while the Scottish Members were roaring lions on the platform, they were as timid as turtle doves in the House. He believed it was because they had not asserted themselves that they had been obliged to make this complaint. The hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) warned the Government that this question had a much larger interest than they seemed to be aware of. In the speeches of the hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Anderson) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace) they heard what he was afraid was the first rumble of Scottish Home Rule. They might be told by the Chairman of Committees that these were merely the murmurs of Provincialism. 1747 If they were, let them take care they did not by their mismanagement convert them into the thunders of Nationality. He was not disposed to sympathize with an exaggeration of national claims in this House or out of it, but he looked with apprehension to the developments which were taking place. His ideal was a state of things in which they should neither be English, Scottish, Irish, or Welsh in the House, but should all feel members of the greatest nationality in the world—the British Nationality. It was because he wished to avoid causes which would produce a result in a contrary direction that he asked the Government, before it was too late, to give some attention to the respectful protest they had made on behalf of the Scottish nation. He should like to ask whether his Liberal Unionist Colleagues were going to help them in the demand they now made? Scotland had contributed a larger number of supporters to the Liberal Unionist Party in proportion to her representation than any other portion of the Kingdom. He asked his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Finlay), who was a leader of the Liberal Unionists—the Party consisted entirely of leaders—and he should like to know whether he was going to take the same line on this question as he did when the question of the Scottish Committee was before the House? He hoped his hon. and learned Friend would not discuss it at considerable length, and then wind up by informing the First Lord that it was time the Question was put. He hoped his hon. and learned Friend and others would insist on their right to associate with the Liberal Party on general politics, and give them the benefit of their support to-night. His hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, no doubt, spoke strongly and at considerable length. It might be some of his expressions did not suit the fastidious taste of the First Lord of the Treasury; but the substance and gist of what he said would undoubtedly commend itself to the people of Scotland. The advanced section of the Scottish Liberal Party were determined to submit to the state of things in this House no longer. They did not believe their constituents liked to see them pick up legislative crumbs. No matter what expressions his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh might have used, he (Mr. E. Robertson) associ- 1748 ated himself most absolutely with the spirit and substance of the speech he had made.
§ MR. CRAIG SELLAR (Lanarkshire, Partick)
said, he greatly regretted that a Member representing any Scottish constituency should have laid himself open to such a severe and, he was bound to say, such a well-merited rebuke from the Chair that evening as the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace) had done. He (Mr. Craig Sellar) wished to dissociate himself entirely from the manner and method of the hon. Member. He sympathized to a large extent with some of the complaints he made; but he felt that both the manner and the complaints themselves had been largely exaggerated. When they heard such phrases as these—"The Scottish Members have sunk to the lowest level of contempt," and that—"They are the laughing stock of other Members of the House," he thought he was not far wrong in saying without exaggeration that the language was somewhat overstrained. One complaint especially made was that, when Scottish measures were before the House, Scottish Members were left by themselves to discuss them. He did not think that was a legitimate reproach to cast upon them. On the contrary, it seemed to him that the Members of the other three nationalities had perfect confidence in the reasonableness and justice of the Scottish Members, and so left them to fight their battles out amongst themselves. That practice, which had been followed for many years, was a potent reason why they should hesitate some time before appointing a Special Scottish Committee; but these objections had been chiefly made by hon. Members who had not been for a very long time amongst them. He did not profess to be an old Member himself; but since 1870–18 years ago—when he became Secretary to the Lord Advocate, he had carefully watched the progress of Scottish Business, and he had read the reports of its progress prior to that date, and he found that there had been periodical outbreaks with regard to the conduct of Scottish measures. Surely his Colleagues would admit that they were much better off now than they were of old, for the reason that they had now got a Scottish Secretary. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He agreed it would be much 1749 more satisfactory if the Scottish Secretary were a Member of the Cabinet, and he should be glad also—though they all regarded the present holder of the Office with respect, and admitted that he performed the Scottish work with great acceptability to the whole Scottish nation—if they had a Gentleman sitting in the House of Commons rather than in the other House, and he hoped the result of this discussion would be to hasten the time when the Scottish Secretary would be a Member of the Cabinet. He would like to ask this question. Granting that they had some ground for complaint, did they compare so very badly with other portions of the Empire? Were matters specifically connected with India treated with more respect than those specifically connected with Scotland? Were there not periodic complaints of the way in which the Indian Budget was postponed to the fag end of the Session? Were matters specifically connected with England and Wales better treated than specifically Scottish matters? It was true that the principal measure which the House had dealt with this Session referred to England and Wales, but its main principle was that local affairs should in future be managed by Bodies elected by the ratepayers. It was of great importance to Scotland that that principle had now been accepted; and when they came to deal with the Scotch Local Government Bill, as he hoped they would in the next Session, they would have the benefit of the discussion which had taken place on the English Bill. Ireland, he admitted, did absorb more time than the other portions of the Kingdoms; but was she more happy or prosperous on that account? He believed if they were to poll the people of Scotland, they would declare that they preferred their own position of less political legislation and less agitation than that of Ireland, with extra legislation and extra political agitation. The hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson) complained chiefly on five points. Firstly, that they had had no Bill this Session dealing with trout and salmon fishing; but surely they should be able to get through until the next Session without such legislation, especially as the season was nearly over.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had referred to the fact that the promised 1750 Bill dealing with trout and salmon fishing had not been introduced.
§ MR. CRAIG SELLAR
Then as to the Universities Bill, they were all agreed on its principle; it was merely the appointing of a Commission to reorganize the Scottish Universities, and the discussion on the second reading might be taken on a very short afternoon in the Autumn Session. As to the Burgh Police Bill, since it was conceived 10 years ago it had been undergoing perpetual discussion in Scotland and in both Houses of Parliament, having been dealt with by a Committee of the House of Commons in 1885, by a Committee of the House of Lords in 1886, and this Session by a large Committee of the House of Commons, whose total of 25 Members included no less than 20 Scottish Representatives. They might easily take the Committee stage, and he hoped they would do so, if they did no more at this period of the Session. Then the hon. and learned Member complained that they had got no Private Bill legislation for Scotland. That was a subject to which he (Mr. Craig Sellar) had paid a great deal of attention, and if any Scottish Member was entitled to complain it was himself. But instead of making a complaint, he was satisfied with the position in which the matter stood to-day. The Government took a very wise course in consulting the House of Lords before bringing in a measure and pushing it forward. They appointed a Joint Committee of both Houses, which had reported most favourably in regard to legislation, and he hoped next year the Government would introduce a Bill which would go triumphantly through both Houses. The Conversion Bill, the Railway and Canal Traffic Bill, the Merchant Shipping Bill, and the Employers' Liability Bill were all important measures that referred to Scotland, and of which Scotland would get the benefit; while in addition they would get the Burgh Police Bill, the University Bill, and the Bail Bill. This discussion would do no harm. It would do good in this practical way—namely, to expedite, he hoped very materially, the time when the Scottish Secretary would be a Member of the Cabinet.
MR. PROVAND&c.) (Glasgow, Blackfriars,
said, with reference to the complaint of the right hon. Gentleman 1751 the First Lord of the Treasury in regard to long speeches, the only Scotch Member who had made long speeches in the present Session was the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald). The time of the Session had been wasted, for example, by the Bill to provide a salary for the Irish Under Secretary. The measures which had been passed as applying to Scotland as well as England were Imperial measures; but every Session there must be before Parliament a number of Bills applicable exclusively to Scotland, and unless more time was given in future Sessions for such exclusively Scotch Business, the complaints that had been made in the present debate would become perennial. He was sometimes constrained to ask himself—"What are the Parliamentary duties of the Law Officers for Scotland in this House?" Of course, the Government had at last found employment for the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) in supporting the Irish policy of the Government, but in the case of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate he hoped it was not his duty to prevent them getting any time at all for the discussion of Scotch Business. The right hon. and learned Gentleman ought to support them in this House as far as he could. He did not ask too much, he did not ask him to support Liberal measures, but he ought to give them assistance in getting time for the discussion of measures that had been brought forward year after year and which had made no progress whatever. There was the Bill to throw the charges of Returning Officers on the rates, which, as a matter of fact, ought to have been included in the Corrupt Practices Act. It was notorious that the charges made by Returning Officers in many parts of the country were outrageously excessive, and ought to be checked. The question was neither Conservative nor Liberal, and the charges for Returning Officers should be dealt with as in the case of School Board and Municipal elections. He should prefer that the Scotch Business intended to be dealt with on Wednesday should be postponed till the autumn, and that they should have three days at the beginning of the Autumn Session to consider Scotch Bills.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
said, he desired to emphasise the re- 1752 marks that had been made by certain of his Colleagues as to the great disappointment that existed in Scotland as to their expectations in the Scottish Office. He was bound to corroborate what had already been said, that in place of Scotch Business receiving more attention since the establishment of the Scotch Office it had undoubtedly received less. He was satisfied, from information he had received from all quarters in Scotland, that until they had the official representative of Scotland in this House and until they had the Scotch Secretary in Parliament, there would be no satisfaction in Scotland in regard to the conduct of Scotch Business. With regard to the Scotch Burgh Police and Health Bill, he could not help observing that the opposition came from cities that had no interest in the Bill whatever. He was quite aware that a little part of a Wednesday was inadequate for the discussion of this Bill, but if the 500 odd clauses of the Bill were to be discussed in detail it ought never to have been sent to a Committee. Would the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate deny that legislation in Scotland was in arrears? They admitted all that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had said; but he (Mr. Esslemont) would say that during all the time he had been in the House they had got no time for Scotland whatever. During 1886 they had the Crofters Bill, but since that time they had positively had no time for Scotch legislation. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh was not wrong in saying that about three weeks was a fair allowance for Scotland in six mouths. Still, making all allowance for Imperial Business, they had never had six days. They had not had the questions brought forward that were undoubtedly in the forefront in the minds of the electors of Scotland. They had certainly listened to debates about the operation of the Crofters Act and the agitation in regard to the fishing industry in the Highlands of Scotland, but what turn had they had in the Lowlands in regard to fisheries? The Scotch Office knew that legislation was required in regard to the Fisheries. He did not confine that to the trout and salmon fisheries. The herring fisheries and the white fisheries on the coast of Scotland were a disgrace to any Government. The fishermen had not tenure 1753 of their houses, they had no attention paid to their mussel beds, and one of the largest industries in Scotland was totally neglected. They were told that the reconstruction of the Scotch Fishery Board was under consideration, but in 1888 they were in exactly the same position as in 1878. He made the hon. and learned Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson) a present of his appeal to the Liberal Unionist Party. The hon. and learned Member appealed to the Liberal Unionists to help the Scottish people; but the only Representative of that Party stood up and defended the Government, and told them that they had been well used, and ought to be thankful. He asked the hon. Member for the Partick Division of Lanarkshire (Mr. Craig Sellar) to go down to Scotland and make his position good under that delusion. The people of Scotland knew better. They were a moderate and law-abiding people, but they were determined that under the new Rules, where the Government had the time of the House, Scotland should not be entirely forgotten and utterly blotted out of legislation.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, he should not detain the House in regard to any personal matters. He was afraid that, in the earlier part of the evening, during the speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace), he had intervened with some warmth, but he did so solely because mention was made of a personal friend of his own. He trusted Members of the House would not believe in such arrangements as the hon. Gentleman had suggested as possible. He would pass from this matter, and would not refer to it again. The hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson) said that, in his opinion, the Lord Advocate had nothing to do. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh said something of the same kind, and he remembered that at an earlier period of the Session the hon. and learned Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson) said his only duty was to study the Order Paper of this House.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
said, that what he stated was that the only duty he seemed to do was to study the Scotch Orders.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, these three hon. Members reminded him of three boys who sat down to consider 1754 what they would like to be. The first said he would like to be a railway guard, because he had nothing to do but swell along the platform, attend to the ladies, and get the tips. The other boy said he would like to be a policeman, because he had only to walk round the square and tell everybody to "move on," and then to eat cold mutton downstairs. The third boy said he would like to be a draper's assistant, for all he had to do was to roll up a ball of ribbon, make himself pleasant to very nice ladies, and to ask thorn what was the next article wanted. It was only perfectly natural that every man who had got his own work to do should consider the work of other people much easier. If, however, hon. Members had an ordinary day's work at the Scotch Office they would very rapidly change their opinion. In 1885 the incoming papers relating to Scotland amounted to 3,111; in 1886 to 4,998, and in 1887 to 6,387; and the increase upon the present year was in very similar proportion to that, so that in two years the actual amount of matter that had to be dealt with had more than doubled.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
No; he was dealing with matters that had formerly been dealt with in the Homo Office. The average per month, which, in 1885 was 325, had in 1888 been 838, or approaching three times the amount it originally was. But, of course, if hon. Members supposed that these were all put in the waste paper basket and not attended to, then practically they had nothing to do. He asked hon. Members who knew what had been done about this great Burgh Health and Police Bill, how many communications did they think had been received from all quarters of the country, and how many answers had to be sent; and how many important questions had to be considered; and how long did they think it occupied the Lord Advocate, who was supposed to have nothing to do, to attend to all that, and to be in a position to sit as the Chairman of the Committee on that Bill, and to receive the compliment that was kindly paid him at the close of the discussion there? The Government had been accused of dealing with Bills which they found in the pigeon-holes when they came into Office. He 1755 had thought that that was one of the first duties of a Government officer. If they found in the pigeon-holes Bills which year after year had been brought into that House, and with the strongest expressions of regret on the part of the community that these Bills had not been passed, did hon. Gentlemen mean that they should throw over important Business that was wanted by Scotland in order to run after something new? He thought their bounden duty was to take up the measures which they found in the pigeon-holes along with the assertion on the part of the community that they desired those Bills should pass, and to press them forward in order that they might be got out of the way. They took the course that was suggested by the hon. Member for Aberdeen. If this Bill was to be got out of the way, that could only be done by one process—and that was to send it once more to a strong Select Committee, and if the hon. Member for Aberdeen made that suggestion in good faith, as he had no doubt he did, he did it for the purpose of facilitating the passing of the Bill. But if a Bill of that kind had been sent on three or four occasions to Select Committees, and threshed out in these Select Committees, was it reasonable or wise to suppose that it was to be treated on the footing that it was an absolutely new Bill, and must be pressed on this Committee in the ordinary way as if it had never been threshed out before these Committees? He was sure that it would not be suggested. He appealed to hon. Members' reason and common sense and fairness when he said that no Consolidation Bill of this enormous size could ever be passed in any House of Commons or through any Parliament if every Member who thought he could possibly improve it by putting down 50 Amendments on the Paper was to do so. The thing was absolutely impossible; and if it was desired, as he knew it was desired, by the Scotch Members that the Bill should be passed—except those hon. Members who had nothing to do with it—such as the hon. Members for Edinburgh and Glasgow——
§ MR. WALLACE
said, he had never indicated any desire that the Bill should not be passed. He simply indicated a desire that it should have been fully considered in order to its being passed.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, that was so, and the hon. Member had never been ready during the Session to discuss the Bill.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, he was quite certain the hon. Member had seen it for the first time only the other day; but among those who had expressed their objection to the Bill being taken on Wednesday there had not been a single Member who did not represent a constituency to which the Bill did not apply. He thought they were perfectly reasonable in that, because taking no interest in it, they wished something else to be brought forward instead of it. He suggested to them, however, that, as there were other Scotch Members who were determined that this Bill should not block the way—until something was done to clear it out of the way by passing it through instead of hauling it back, they had better accept the situation. This Bill had been very fully and carefully considered; it pleased the people who were interested in it practically as it stood, with a few reasonable Amendments. If they could only make reasonable progress with it on Wednesday this enormous omnibus, which blocked the Scotch Temple Bar, would be got out of the way to the satisfaction of everybody who was interested in it and of everybody who cared nothing about it. The other measure that was proposed was the Universities Bill, and that also had been in the pigeon-holes. It had received a considerable amount of attention on the part of hon. Members and on the part of the people in the community who were interested in the Universities. If hon. Members from Scotland had preferred that the Bill should be discussed during the present Sitting, it would have been so discussed; but hon. Gentlemen had thought it was better it should stand where it was till the Autumn Sitting, that it might then receive fuller discussion than could possibly be given to it now. No doubt there were most important points connected with it that would give rise to discussion on the second reading; but, with perhaps one exception, he thought the main points did not really affect the principle of the Bill. During the whole of the discussion that had taken place, both on Saturday and to-day, there was 1757 one circumstance he had not heard mentioned, and that was of very considerable importance. That was, that while last year Parliament met in January and adjourned about the middle or end of September, they met this year on 9th February, and they did not propose that this Session should come to an end till the two months during which, if they followed the practice of last year, they would continue to sit had been added to the Session. At the end of the present year, therefore, practically, if the House was to adjourn next Saturday, as they all hoped it would, the Session was exactly in the same position, compared to last year, as if they had been in the month of July. With reference to the Question the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) had asked about the Clash-more case, all he could say was, that before any Question was put the matter had been attended to and was at the point of disposal, and before the House adjourned his hon. Friend would hear what the result was. With regard to the question of Procurators Fiscals, he was entirely at one with the hon. Gentleman. It was most desirable where-ever it could be accomplished, with due regard to efficiency and salary to be given, that no other employment should be held by Procurators Fiscal at all. That was his decided opinion. His opinion, also, was that in such cases that could be altered without monetary arrangements also being remodelled, as hon. Members knew was not always an easy matter where Procurators Fiscal were to be allowed to take any other employment besides that which related to his office of Procurator Fiscal, it should be of the nature, as far as possible, of what might be called public appointments, and not connected with the work of the law in any other department, or connected with agency for individuals. But these ideas could not always be fully carried out under existing arrangements. With regard to the Fishery Board, a resolution had been come to that no further Government measures should be brought forward this session except such as we were purely formal and non-contentious. They did not proceed to elaborate work that was postponed, but rather gave attention to that which was to be proceeded with. That matter, however, was being arranged, and would be brought in.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
Well, it is not yet in a very artistic shape, because the moment they ascertained that no more Bills were to be brought in this Session, they did not go on elaborating it, but devoted themselves to other more pressing work. By that he did not mean that the policy was not shaped. They could do no more except use their best influence to prevent wrong being done, and remedy any that had been done. Questions had been asked him as to the Crofters Commission and the valuators appointed. Well, so far as he knew, no complaint at all had been received in official quarters in regard to the valuators.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, that the Question was asked only within the last day or two, but in the regular course of Business the Scottish Office had had no complaint in reference to that matter at all, and when he answered the Question of the hon. Member he announced that the matter was one for the Commission to dispose of, and he thought from what the hon. Member said that he had perfect confidence in the Chairman of the Commission in such matters if his attention were called to it. Of course the officials at the Scottish Office and himself, as acting for the Secretary for Scotland in this House, must submit to be abused. He must submit, as the hon. Member for East Edinburgh had said, to be the whipping post of the Scottish Office. He sincerely trusted he would be able to bear the infliction; but all he could say was that he thought he might congratulate himself on being the subordinate of a Government that to-day had taken the generous part of standing up in this House and saying that the Government, and not the Scottish Office, were responsible. He had had no right to expect such generosity and he was extremely thankful that it was so, and all he could say was that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would not expect that his having accepted the responsibility would at all have the effect on him (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) of being more slack in the future in pressing Scottish Business on 1759 the Cabinet. He hoped that in the remaining portion of the Session some good, real, and substantial Scottish Business would be done, and he was sure there would not be the same ground of complaint at the end of the year that the Scottish Members had at present.
MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN&c.) (Stirling,
said, he did not intend to occupy more than a few minutes, especially as the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had delivered some strong observations on the subject of the length of speeches. But he thought it would perhaps have been better if the right hon. Gentleman had delivered that lecture to the House at an earlier period of the Session, because it might have enabled the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate to avoid being one of the most conspicuous transgressors against the rule of brevity; for on a certain occasion that Session, in a discussion of the Crofter Question, the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate certainly did not act up to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury's admonition.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
I always find it more easy to make a short speech when well prepared. A speech generally gets longer when delivered on the spur of the moment.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, he had not detected in the speech any lack of preparation. He agreed with the decision the Government had come to as to which Bill should be proceeded with. The Scottish Members themselves met in the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate's office, and resolved that it should be the Burgh Police Bill that should be proceeded with, and he thought that decision was perfectly right. He did not blame the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate in the matter at all. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate quoted statistics to show what a busy man he was; but it was just possible that the increased number of letters which reached his office was due to the fact that the business was in arrear. They did not blame the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate at all; but they said that the Government had so contrived, either by their disposition of the time of the House, or by the Rules they had introduced, or in some other way, that the Scottish Business throughout the Ses- 1760 sion had been almost totally neglected. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was very sanguine about the time they would get in the Autumn Session. He (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) always put his tongue in his cheek when he heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman speak of what was to be done for them in the Autumn Session. Why, what was not to be done in the Autumn Session? The whole of Supply, all the contentious Votes for the Civil Services, the most contentious Votes for the Navy, the contentious Votes for the Army, were all to be taken in the Autumn Session. A Land Purchase Bill for Ireland was to be introduced and passed in the Autumn Session. The Tithes Bill, which would occupy time, was to be introduced and passed in the Autumn Session. The other Bills which had gone through the Grand Committees, and which had not yet been dealt with, were to be dealt with in the Autumn Session, and there was the Wheel and Van Tax. Where, he asked, was the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate to find the week or the fortnight that he promised them for Scotch Business? In view of all these things, the Wednesday they were to get this week was all they were likely to get for Scottish Business this Session. Only two Scottish Members had had a longer acquaintance with Scottish Business than he had, and he did not remember a time when there were not complaints of Scottish Business, but he never knew it so bad as it was now, and he had never known the feeling in regard to it so strong. The reason for this state of things was simply because the demands on the time of Parliament had so increased of late years, that the House of Commons could not do justice to them, and when there was a pressure of competing measures, the Scottish measures naturally enough were allowed to fall into greater arrear than the others. The new Rules of Procedure—and he should not like to see them departed from—had prevented Scottish Business from getting forward. The 12 o'clock Rule did not prevent the House going forward with primary Bills, but it had a fatal effect on secondary measures; and, therefore, it drove them more and more to this state of over crowded Notice Papers, and it must ultimately drive them to one form or other of devolution. The con- 1761 duct of the Government and the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was therefore a secondary cause altogether. He thought the present condition of things was due, in a much larger degree, to the force of circumstances, and the Rules they had been obliged to adopt, and so they were driven more and more to the conclusion that the House of Commons was incapable of conducting the affairs of all the three parts of the Empire, and that they must have, in one form or other, a general system of devolution of Business. If the House and the Government continue to refuse the proposal which had been made for a Committee of Scottish Members, then the alternative to which they would be driven, and to which the mind of the country was turning, was that they must refer to a Body sitting in Scotland the Business which the House of Commons was unable to overtake.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, that anyone who lived among the people of Scotland, and who was at all acquainted with that country, must know that the way in which Scotch Business was being treated in that House was giving rise to a strong feeling in that country, which would very soon find expression in a very formidable manner. It was only the worst enemies of the Government who would seek to defend them when their conduct in this matter was utterly indefensible. With regard to the Burgh Police and Health Bill, that was a Bill that was found in the pigeon-holes of the Government, and it was very good of the First Lord of the Treasury to take the responsibility on himself; but, so far as regarded the Bill, the Lord Advocate was greatly to blame; for although it was introduced in February, he did not call a meeting of the Scottish Members to consider it until the end of May, thus losing two valuable months, during which they might have considered it. The result was, that it only came from the Committee at the end of last week, and in those circumstances it was impossible for hon. Members to go into the Bill in the few days that were left, and therefore they made, what he thought, a most reasonable request, when they asked that it be left over for consideration to the Autumn Session, in order that the people of Scotland might consider it, now that it had been finished 1762 by the Select Committee. Seeing that the right hon. Gentleman was in his place, he would like, also, to point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to this Vote on Account, that Scotland was not treated in any proportion like England in the matter of subsidies from the Government. For instance, they gave out of the Imperial funds £40,000 to manage the charities of England; while Scotland did not get a single copper for managing her charities. Then they took £10,000 for managing a Land Commission in England. In Scotland, they had to pay for that out of their own pockets. Then there was £150,000 given to England for Local Government purposes, for which Scotland did not get a copper, but paid for entirely out of local taxation. The injustice of this was proved by two illustrations. One was, that Scotland contributed to the Imperial Revenue more per head of the population than England; and the other, that Scotland got less per head of the population in the shape of grants than England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had also contrived, in distributing local grants in aid under Local Government, to give four-fifths to England, with the result that Scotland got less per head of the population for local purposes than England. They did not require any more facts to convince them how unfairly Scotland was treated. What he objected to was this: They on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, and the Liberal Unionists, of whom he was one, went in for treating each part of the Kingdom equally. Why should there not be equal treatment in such a matter as taxation? Why should a local body on this side of the boundary receive certain grants in aid, and a similar local body on the other side of the boundary have to pay the whole thing out of their local taxation? They desired equal treatment all round. The Government were keeping up, by their own conduct, the idea of separate nationalities. Why should there be what was called a Scottish day? Why should a Scottish Bill not have its chance as it went round in the ordinary way, instead of being relegated to the end of the Session, when a day would be given for Scottish Bills? There was no reason why Scotch Bills should be isolated and treated independently, instead 1763 of having an equal claim with English measures on the attention of Parliament. It was proceedings of that kind which caused attention to be directed to the neglect of Scotch Business. The Local Government Bill would come back to the House from "another place." When it did, he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would yet see his way to treat Scotland more equally with England in the matter of grants. Did the Secretary for Scotland acquiesce in the proposed arrangement? He noticed that the Lord Advocate and the Scotch officials of the Government went into the Lobby in favour of England having four-fifths as against the proportion given to Scotland. He would ask of what use were Ministers for Scotland if they acquiesced in unequal proposals made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and went into the Lobby against the majority of Scotch Members?
§ MR. A. SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)
said, that, in spite of the bland accents of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, experience showed that his promises must be received with caution. It was a stretch of charity to speak of the conduct of Scotch affairs. The Government had an Executive function, and they had allowed innocent persons to remain unnecessarily in gaol. If 6,000 letters were received at the Scotch Office in a year, it was only an average of 20 a-day, and letters might easily be multiplied by non-attention to business. The dual arrangement of the Secretary for Scotland and the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate reminded him of another arrangement existing in Japan, where it was supposed to be necessary to divide the community into two parts, one substantial and visible, like the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, and the other shadowy or unseen, like the Secretary for Scotland. In all the legislation which had been attempted for Scotland that Session, the Government had not attempted anything that was really anxiously desired by the people of Scotland. The little they had done had been of such a nature that they could not give their approval to it; but what they wanted more was such legislation as that for the protection of the small lease holders who, in his constituency, for instance, were threatened with eviction by the amendment of the Crofters' Act.
MR. W. P. SINCLAIR&c.) (Falkirk,
said, he thought the House would be better employed by going on to the other important Business that was still before them. Everything had been stated that night about Scottish Business generally, and about its neglect. That was needed; but he thought the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) had put the case distinctly, when he said that the enormous increase of Business from all parts of the country was mainly responsible for the present state of Scottish Business, and that that which pressed most heavily was that which had to be taken in the first instance, and he thought the Government had to be congratulated on having this Session applied the principle of devolution to a greater extent than ever before by the appointment of Grand Committees. He trusted that the system might be extended still more in the future, and that for the consideration of Scottish Business a Committee almost as good as a Grand Committee would be appointed. They had had such a Committee that Session, and it had passed a Bill which, if passed into law, would work satisfactorily, and probably solve some questions that had for a long time engaged attention in Scotland. They were also promised that next year they would have a Local Government Bill for Scotland, and he trusted that next Session not only that Bill, but other measures dealing with Scottish affairs would be before them, and that they would have a Scottish Session next year, as they had an Irish Session last year and an English Session this year. It would take out of the purview of the House questions dealing with purely municipal life, and leave county management for the Local Government Bill. That change would be greatly appreciated in Scotland, and he trusted the Government would take it into consideration. He asked the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) if, during the Recess, he could not consider whether it would be desirable to alter the Rules of Procedure in this direction, that a list should be made of Bills whose principles had been affirmed one Session, but had failed to pass, and that they should be taken up at that stage in the next Session? He did not know that such a proposal had been previously made, and he hoped the First 1765 Lord of the Treasury would give it his consideration.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, that the hon. Member who had just spoken was a Scottish Member; but he was an Irishman by blood, and an Englishman by residence, and he did not believe that it was to such a man that the patriots of Scotland would look for assistance in their present struggle. The House had been favoured with the speeches of two Liberal Unionists; but they were on different sides, as was only natural; for the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell) was a Liberal first, and a Unionist afterwards; while the hon. Member for the Partick Division of Lanark (Mr. Craig Sellar) was a Unionist first, and what afterwards he did not like to say. The Lord Advocate had shown his sincerity about pushing on the Burgh Police Bill—a Bill which had never been discussed on the second reading at all—by putting it down for a time again when there should be no discussion upon it—namely, as the second Order of the Day for Wednesday, the first Order being a Bill on which there must be considerable discussion. It was said that the principle of the Scotch Universities Bill was agreed to. He would like to know what its principle was. It was a blank cheque in which he and other Scotch Members had no confidence. There was no doubt that there was a great and growing dissatisfaction in Scotland with the way in which Scottish Business was dealt with in the House; but he would have been quite content to rest the case upon the eloquent and able speech of his hon. Friend (Mr. Wallace), had he not thought that that was an instance in which a Scottish Member would be guilty of a dereliction of duty if he did not associate himself with the hon. Member in the great cause he had taken up. A share of the time of the House had been demanded for Scottish Business; but what was the good of that time, when the Government only used it to defeat, frustrate, and disappoint the desires and expectations of Scottish Members? On the 21st February, almost as soon as the House met, attention was called by the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) to the acute distress in the Highlands, and to the fact that no remedial measure of legislation was promised by the Go- 1766 vernment; but what happened? 37 Scottish Members went into the Lobby with his hon. Friend, only 11 Scottish Members voted against him; but, notwithstanding that overwhelming majority of Scottish opinion, the Government from that day to now had not so much as lifted a little finger to relieve the distress of the crofters. They had, it was true, a miserable emigration scheme, and 98 families had been exported to Canada. He could not congratulate the Government on the skill with which they carried out the enter-prize, and he found that one of the paupers had £80 in his pocket, and another had £60, so that the money which was taken from the taxpayers of this country was not expended on persons judiciously selected, but on the favourites of Tory agents, whether they had money or not. In the House, Scottish Members had tried to do their best on the matter. On the 22nd of February, the Crofters' Holdings (No. 1) Bill was supported by a proportion of 3 to 1 of Scottish Members, but was defeated by the Government; and on the same day the useful and moderate Parochial Boards Bill was supported by Scottish Members in the proportion of 2 to 1, and, of course, rejected by the Government. On the 17th April, they tried their luck once more with the Crofters' Holdings (No. 2) Bill, and 28 Scottish Members voted for and 8 voted against it, including the official Members of the Government, and the Bill was also rejected in the same way as its predecessors. Legislatively and administratively, there was always the same result. If, on the Estimates, the reduction of the Vote for the Secretary for Scotland was defeated by English Members, on the 19th June, on the Ecclesiastical Assessments Motion, which was lost, 29 Scottish Members voted for it, and only 8 against it; and, in the same week, the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland would have been carried by 38 to 19 Scottish Members had it not been for the votes of English Tories. Then, when the Trawl-bag Bill was considered, a Bill which he (Mr. Hunter) himself introduced, and in which every Scotch fisherman was deeply interested, the Government did not dare to challenge the second reading; but one of their Supporters moved the Adjournment, and that was carried by the Government and their Supporters. If, 1767 therefore, the Lord Advocate had said—"What is the use of occupying the time of the House in discussing Scottish Bills when there is a Tory majority," he would have made a much stronger reply than what he actually did make. When a Tory Government was in power, Scotland got nothing. They could not get figs from thistles, or grapes from thorns, and no more could hon. Gentlemen opposite, consistently with their principles, pass legislation which would be satisfactory to the people of Scotland, for the simple reason that their principles entirely differed from those of the Scottish people. But when the Liberals were in power, were they entirely happy? Then, too many Scottish Members sat on the Government Bench to secure proper attention to Scottish Business, and Liberal Members from Scotland were told that they must not embarrass the Government. So it always came to the same thing in the end, and Scotland got nothing of a serious character. The result was that there were political questions of great magnitute upon which the public opinion of the people of Scotland had long ago been made up, and which were ripe for solution, though public opinion upon them in England might not ripen for another 20 years. There was the Land Question, the Church Question, the Education Question, and the Temperance Question, upon such of which Scotland was ready for legislation. How were they to get that legislative work accomplished? He believed that the time must come soon when the principle of devolution must be applied. At the beginning of the Session, the Scotch Members suggested one system, a devolution of Scotch Business to a great Committee of Scotch Members; but that was rejected. In doing that the House had rejected one kind of devolution, and another plan which they would have to look at before long was the one establishing a Legislative Assembly for Scotland, which would deal not merely with the pressing political questions, but also with the social questions which loomed in the future. Unless a radical change was at once made in the mode of conducting Business in that House, this plan must be considered. He did not complain of the absence of hon. Members from Scotch debates; what he complained of was their presence in Divi- 1768 sions on Scotch subjects. If hon. Members opposite agreed to a self-denying ordinance, by which Scottish Business would be dealt with by Scottish Members only, it was possible that the present system might survive for some years; but his own belief was that there would be in a very short time a demand from Scotland for a measure of Home Rule, not less than that which the House recently denied to Ireland.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question. There was another hon. Member from Scotland wishing to address the House.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
said, that, as their mouthpiece, he desired to direct the attention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate to a question involving the welfare of the miners of Scotland. Last year he had the honour of introducing an 8 hours clause into the Mines Bill; but it failed to pass, and at the request of the miners he introduced a Bill for Scotland this year with the same object. That it was the wish of the Scottish miners that there should be such legislation was evident from the fact that, at the two recent bye-elections in Scotland, the candidates were pressed by the miners on the question, and Members were returned pledged to support such legislation; and he would draw the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate's attention to the fact that some Scottish Conservative Members were also virtually prepared to support the proposal. He would, therefore, ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman, when taking into consideration the fact that it was desired by the great body of their fellow-countrymen whose conditions of life were extremely hard and irksome, he would pledge himself or give some guarantee that during the Autumn Session the House would have a day to discuss this question, which was one vitally affecting the conditions of the daily life and the most hard-working section of the community, and the more especially when it was considered that it did not involve the question of the condition of the miners of England, for whom he could not pretend to speak. He wished to impress most earnestly upon the Lord Advocate, 1769 the fact that the wages of the Scottish miners were falling day by day, and that these men were now in a very much worse position than they were—not in the times of 1872—but 25 years ago
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
said, he wished to know when the reorganization of the Paymaster General's Office was likely to be effected? The question had been under consideration for about three years, and it was unfair to the public servants whose interests were concerned that a scheme of reorganization should be hanging over their heads for so long a time.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, that before the proposed scheme could be carried out legislation would be necessary. The fact was, there had not been time that Session to pass a Bill through the House.
§ MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's Co., Ossory)
said, he wished to draw attention to the jury-packing which prevailed at the recent Summer Assizes in Queen's County. Roman Catholic jurors had been ordered to stand aside for no cause shown, but, apparently, merely because they were Roman Catholics, like 88 per cent of the population. He had asked Questions in the House upon the subject, and had received unsatisfactory replies, and he had, in consequence, taken the greatest pains to ascertain the exact facts of the case. At the Assizes in question, the entire special jury panel contained the names of 200 gentlemen, 131 of whom were Protestants, and only 69 Catholics, and in three distinct cases out of five tried by special juries the Roman Catholic jurors were deliberately excluded by the action of the Crown. In one of those cases, a prisoner who was charged with attempting to shoot a man named William Whelehan, was convicted and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment with hard labour. In another case, transferred from Kerry under the Coercion Act, a youth of about 18 was indicted for attacking and firing into a house. No one was injured and the house was not damaged, and yet the prisoner was convicted, and received the atrocious sentence of seven years' penal servitude. In another case, five young men were charged with attempting to shoot a Na- 1770 tional schoolmaster; and in this case, the Crown were graciously pleased to allow one Roman Catholic to remain on the jury. Of the five prisoners, four were convicted and sentenced to seven years' penal servitude. There was also a case from Kerry, in which the prisoner was charged with attempting to shoot the daughter of the schoolmaster, and in this case also one Roman Catholic was allowed to be on the jury. The prisoner was convicted, and sentenced to 18 years' penal servitude. Now, it could not be said that the doctrine of chances would account for the small proportion of Roman Catholics on each of these juries. There were special circumstances, indeed, which explained the presence on the jury of the two Catholic jurors in these cases. In the first, the Catholic juror was a Mr. Redmond, who had recently been rejected at an election for the Board of Guardians, but who had thereupon been created a Justice of the Peace by Dublin Castle, so that he mignt be an ex officio Guardian. The other Catholic juror was a Mr. Dunne, whose treatment of some of his tenants had some years ago been condemned by Cardinal Moran, when Bishop of Ossory. He, too, had recently been created a Justice of the Peace by Dublin Castle, and therefore could be trusted to do anything that the Castle wanted. It might be asked, whether there were any other special jury cases tried at this Assize? Yes; there was another case, and in this there was no jury-packing; but that was, because the Crown officials knew perfectly well that upon legal grounds the case could not be sustained, and it was not, therefore, worth their while to interfere with the constitution of the jury. This kind of thing had been going on in all parts of Ireland for years, and was regarded as a gross insult by the Catholics. The jurors of the Queen's County were as law-abiding men as any in the Kingdom, and they regarded it as a grave insult that they should not be deemed worthy to be trusted with the trial of Kerry Moonlighters. If this kind of thing was repeated the Catholic jurors of the Queen's County had, he was informed, banded themselves together, determined to stand up, one and all in Court, when ordered to stand by on account of their religion, and respectfully protest against the in- 1771 suit offered their creed. They might be sent to prison for contempt of Court by some unjust Judge; but they were ready to suffer imprisonment, in order that attention might be called to this disgraceful system of jury-packing.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin University)
said, he could not enter into the facts which the hon. Member had stated regarding the cases to which the hon. Member had referred, for no record of the religious persuasions of jurors was kept. As to the empanelling of the jury panel, that was prepared by the High Sheriff, over whose action the Government had no control. As to the action of the Crown Solicitor in ordering jurors to stand by, that was regulated by one of the rules drawn up by the then Attorney General in 1867, which had been adopted by successive Governments since then, and which provided that the Crown Solicitor should make preliminary inquiries as to the panel, and challenge such jurors as he considered, either through fear or owing to their trade, were not likely to discharge their duty impartially, it might happen that, acting under that rule, the Crown Solicitor might order jurors of one particular religion to stand aside, but their religion was not the ground of his doing so. [Laughter.] In the discharge of his duty under that rule, the Crown Solicitor had no right to make any inquiries as to the religious belief of the jurors.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, he would gladly make the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Madden) a present of the rule. It was, however, a very curious fact that though no inquiry was made as to the religious tendencies of the jurors the result was always the same—namely, that all the Catholics were ordered to stand aside, and the majority of jurors in these cases were Protestants. The broad fact remained that jury-packing was carried on, and that objections were taken to jurors on account of their religious belief. However, he did not rise for the purpose of discussing that question. He desired to ask the Chief Secretary a question with regard to the case of Kennedy, the lunatic. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman had made any further inquiries into the condition of that poor man with a view 1772 to his removal to an asylum? He also wished to ask him whether Mr. Latchford, for whom in the right hon. Gentleman's opinion there was not a ghost of a case for relief on Friday night last, had been released that day from prison on the order of the Court of Exchequer on the ground that his conviction was wrongful and illegal? The case shed a flood of light on the proceedings under the Coercion Act, for it was a case in which the magistrate refused either to increase the sentence to enable the prisoner to appeal, or to state a case, yet the Court of Exchequer at once found a point on which to release Mr. Latchford. He also wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would still defend his favourite, Cecil Roche? The last case he wished to refer to was that at Miltown Malbay. He referred to the case because he understood that one of the prisoners, Joseph O'Brien, was released on Saturday by order of the prison authorities, on the ground that he was too ill to be kept in prison. It was too probable that Joseph O'Brien had been sent forth to die; but the other men had still a month's imprisonment to undergo. He begged the right hon. Gentleman to bring his mind to bear on this case. The evidence against Joseph O'Brien was simply that he personally refused to supply a woman named Hannah Connell with a pound of sugar and an ounce of tea, and that he made the remark that she had never called at his shop before. This woman could have got what she wanted elsewhere; but she chose to call at the houses of these four men who were charged with conspiracy to induce others not to deal. There might possibly have been evidence of a conspiracy not to deal, but to convict of conspiracy to induce others not to deal, a great deal more would have to be established than a mere refusal to supply people. He had with him a copy of the depositions, and he declared on his honour that, having read them through, he could not find a particle of evidence to support the charge on which these men were convicted; yet they received the atrocious sentence of three months' hard labour, and on appeal to the County Court Judge that sentence was actually doubled. In their private capacity not a shadow of suspicion rested on these men. They were as respectable as any man in that House. [An 1773 hon. MEMBER: A good deal more.] He contended that there was not a particle of evidence to support the particular charge of conspiracy to induce others not to deal. He admitted, however, that there might be evidence of a conspiracy not to deal, an offence which was not punishable under the Coercion Act. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland said there was additional evidence given on appeal, but that in regard to the first hearing of the case certain pieces of evidence were left out of the depositions. What did that mean? The inference was that the magistrates left out of the depositions the most important part of the evidence. He invited the Chief Secretary to point out the evidence given on the first hearing bearing out the charge on which those persons were convicted. The only evidence given on appeal was to the effect that the people of Miltown Malbay refused to fish with Hannah Connell and her son, and that hawkers refused to buy fish from her. To assert that people were not at liberty to refuse, if they chose, to do either of those things was ridiculous. He had studied the matter, and as far as he had seen the depositions, he asserted that there was not a particle of evidence in any of the cases dealing with the particular charge of conspiracy on which the prisoners were convicted. If the facts of the case were known, there was not even a Tory platform where the audience would not give a verdict in their favour. Those cases constituted the very gravest scandals to be detected in connection with the administration of the Coercion Act in Ireland. They proved that if there was any conspiracy at all it was a conspiracy not only against the liberties but the lives of honest people, such as the unfortunate Miltown Malbay prisoners and the victims of a dozen other similar prosecutions, on the part of the landlords and the tools of the Goverment in Ireland. The Irish people were expected to respect the law and to bow down and worship the Chief Secretary and his satellites. In his (Mr. Clancy's) opinion the Irish people would not be fit for freedom if they did not despise and hate both.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,1774
, resuming, said, he wished to call attention to the conduct of the military and police on the day of the trial of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) in Dundalk, though the Chief Secretary, in answer to a Question which he put to the right hon. Gentleman, said that no harm had been done by the military and police on that occasion. That reply gave great surprise to the people of Dundalk. A full list of the men, women, and children injured was being prepared, and in due course would be brought under the notice of the Chief Secretary. Meanwhile, he (Mr. Nolan) wished to draw attention to some of the most brutal of the cases of injury. In one case an old man named Duffy anxious to hear the trial went to the Court House early in the morning, but was pushed by a policeman who, on the old man laying hold of the railing, brought down his bâton on the man's hand with a squashing blow, completely disabling it. A young man named Hughes was struck down senseless by a blow on the head with a baton while standing at his own door. Mr. Maxwell, who had been three times Chairman of the Town Commissioners, while endeavouring to act as peacemaker, received for his pains a thrust from a rifle, and he had since been spitting blood. A respectable woman also had her arm broken against a doorway by the force with which a policeman throw her, and a blacksmith was lying in hospital from a sabre cut in the head. He would leave it to the Chief Secretary to reconcile these facts with the statement he had made that none of the people were injured on the occasion in question. Since these occurrences the police had tried to establish a reign of terror by wholesale prosecutions on bogus charges before Removable Magistrates.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, that, while the House was engaged voting money for the government of Ireland, while his hon. Friend was bringing under the notice of the House in the person of District Inspector Supple, a specimen of the rowdy swashbuckler, entrusted with the public peace of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary thought it decent and consistent with his duty to be absent from the House. What did the Go- 1775 vernment mean to do in the case of Mr. Latchford, That gentleman, a Justice of the Peace, concerned himself in a Memorial to the Government, the object of which was to obtain the removal of Mr. Cecil Roche, R.M., from Tralee. Some scuffle having occurred between Mr. Latchford and another magistrate, a charge, not of riot, but of assault, was brought against him, and he was sent to be tried before Mr. Cecil Roche, his private enemy. He was sentenced to a month's imprisonment for the alleged riot. To-day, when Mr. Latchford had been nearly a month in prison, the Lord Chief Baron and his Colleagues had found that there was no evidence of riot. [Mr. MADDEN dissented.] At all events, the Court of Appeal found that Mr. Latchford ought never to have been sent to prison at all. Under those circumstances, he (Mr. Sexton) wished to know what reparation the Government intended to make to Mr. Latchford for the insult they had put upon him and the outrage they had done him? In the same way it appeared that the Miltown Malbay prisoners had been unjustly convicted. And he wished further to know what course was to be taken with them? They had been sent to prison on a charge of conspiracy to compel people not to deal with others. The Lord Chief Baron and his Colleagues had laid down that in order to support a charge of conspiracy under the Coercion Act not to deal with a person, it was necessary to prove that the parties charged had exercised compulsion upon the will of others. They had held that a mere conspiracy not to deal was not an offence under the Coercion Act, and that it was not an offence at Common Law, unless a conspiracy to injure could be proved. He thought the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland would not now deny that not a syllable of evidence was produced before the magistrates in support of the charge on which they were convicted, in view of the judgment given by the Court of Appeal in the Killeagh case. One of the Miltown Malbay prisoners had been released because he was dying. How long were the other men to be kept in prison? If the Government had the least respect for the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, they were bound to release the prisoners after the judgment that had recently been delivered. He wished next to 1776 bring to the attention of the Chief Secretary certain facts which had come to his knowledge within the last few hours. They related to the prison treatment of Father M'Fadden, of Gweedore. Never had any man a more painful charge than Father M'Fadden in the district of Gweedore, and never had any man more nobly acquitted himself. He (Mr. Sexton) enjoyed the honour of the friendship of Father M'Fadden. He was the most gentle, amiable, and unselfish of men—a man who in any other country but Ireland would have been respected by the Government as he was honoured by the people. For standing by his flock Father M'Fadden had been sentenced to six months' imprisonment as a first-class misdemeanant. The Chief Secretary, with characteristic chivalry, then attacked him. In self-defence the rev. gentleman sent a reply to the newspapers, and immediately after the publication of his letter, the right hon. Gentleman sent a Prison Inspector to the prison at Derry to hold a kind of Star Chamber inquiry. Father M'Fadden asked to be allowed to be present at the inquiry which so closely concerned him, so that he might hear the charge and give evidence, but his appeal was refused. After the inquiry he was locked in a corridor, the key of the gate being given to a warder who was forbidden to speak to him. For exercise he was ushered into a narrow courtyard, about 12 feet broad, shut in at one end by the boundary wall, 32 feet high, and at the other by a gable end. When Father M'Fadden first saw this place, he told the warder that first-class misdemeanance was a farce, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) would not put his dog to exercise in such a place, that for the maintenance of principle and for the good of the community he would protest against this, and that if a better place for exercise could not be found for him he would remain in his cell. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) was not as courageous as he was malignant, and in the presence of that threat he did not ask Father M'Fadden to exercise in that place. Before this inquiry, Father M'Fadden, as a first-class misdemeanant, had been allowed to write letters, but since the inquiry had taken place, Father M'Fadden had been refused the right, not only of sending a letter to the Press, but of sending any letter what- 1777 ever. His window (which was his sole means of ventilation, and which he was formerly allowed to open) was now locked up, and, as the glass was frosted, Father M'Fadden was now left from the break of day to the coming of darkness to look at nothing but the four white walls of his cell—an experience which had deprived many a man of his sight, and might deprive a prisoner of his reason. He was not surprised to hear that Father M'Fadden had grown grey under this treatment. He desired to know whether Father M'Fadden, who had been sentenced as a first-class misdemeanant, would continue to be deprived of privileges to which, as such, he was entitled? Finally, he (Mr. Sexton) wished to draw attention to a letter that had appeared in one of that morning's papers written by the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane), in which the hon. Gentleman gave an account of some of his experiences in Tullamore Gaol under the care of Dr. Ridley. He (Mr. Sexton) had seen his hon. Friend, who absolutely confirmed every statement in that letter. His hon. Friend was confined in Tullamore, and was under the care of Dr. Ridley. In his letter he said—At that time I was very ill, but would not admit it, as I wanted to force my right to private exercise as a political prisoner. Dr. Ridley begged of me several times to go into the hospital, 'because,' said he, 'if you don't they will starve you to death here.'The letter continued—When Dr. Ridley saw me sinking so rapidly, he said he could not give exercise, but he would give me food. On the following days he brought me some roast fowl, and on Friday he brought me three poached eggs 'to keep the life in you,' as he said himself. Finally, when I became so prostrate that I could not rise off the flags, he said, 'I must either defy the Prisons Board or have an inquest on you, and as I don't want a verdict against me for killing you I will give you exercise in spite of them.'His (Mr. Sexton's) hon. Friend (Mr. Lane) took exercise that day and on the following day. He said—In the forenoon of the second day Dr. Ridley came into my cell in a most excited state. He said he had 'got a terrible reprimand from Dublin' for allowing me out to exercise, that he 'had orders to certify that I was fit for punishment,' that the Resident Magistrate was to be brought in, and I was to be put in the punishment dungeon, which would certainly kill me in the condition I was then, and he asked me to go into hospital 'as the only way to escape them.' He gave me 10 minutes to think it over, and went to Alderman Hooper's cell. 1778 When he returned he said he had told Alderman Hooper the whole story, and that the latter strongly urged me to conform to his (Dr. Ridley's) wishes. He brought me a password from Alderman Hooper to convince me that he had sent the message. I then consented to go into hospital.The letter continued—When I was leaving the prison I asked him how I could repay all his kindness. He said I could do so 'by letting the public know he was not the inhuman wretch the prison rules made him appear;' but he warned me not to say a word that would let the Prisons Board know that he was kind to any of us political prisoners. He told me he was in perpetual conflict with the Prisons Board about the political prisoners since he refused to be present at the forcible stripping of Mr. O'Brien, which he reported would imperil his life.The hon. Member (Mr. Lane) concluded his letter by stating that he knew Dr. Ridley to be a most sensitive and kindhearted man, and that he appeared to be disgusted with the brutal discipline he had to administer, and that he had no doubt he committed self destruction at the shame of having allowed himself to be bullied into the punishment of John Mandeville. Mr. Mandeville was dead and Dr. Ridley was dead. He (Mr. Sexton) charged upon the Chief Secretary the direct responsibility for the former, and for the latter's self-inflicted end. The question raised by the letter would have to be tested, and without pressing further the facts of this case, he simply asked the Chief Secretary whether he would lay upon the Table all the instructions and communications issued to Dr. Ridley by the Prisons Board while Mr. Mandeville and the other political prisoners were under his care; and, also, whether he would furnish them with written notes of the verbal communications on this subject made by the right hon. Gentleman or his subordinates to Dr. Ridley, so as to enable the House to judge for themselves the measure of the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I shall proceed to reply to the questions which have been put to me as briefly and with as little of the controversial spirit as possible. The hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) referred to a speech made on Friday last by one of his Friends, in reference to a man who became insane whilst in prison. I promised to make inquiries in the 1779 matter, and I did so at the earliest possible moment; but I have not yet received a reply, and therefore I cannot give any further information on this subject. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), who has just sat down, stated that the Court of Exchequer had quashed the verdict in the case of Mr. Latchford, who was prosecuted for riot, on the ground that there was no evidence of riot; but that statement is wholly inaccurate. The Court of Exchequer never dealt with evidence in the case at all. It is true that they had ordered Mr. Latchford's release. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but they did so simply on the ground that there had been a technical error in the order of imprisonment. There was no question of law on the merits of the case involved, but a pure technicality. The next question was with reference to the Miltown Malbay case, which was tried, not before a Resident Magistrate at all, but before a County Court Judge. The case has been heard twice over, and, on each occasion, the Court decided that there was evidence for committal. It is perfectly useless to attempt to discuss the legal evidence in a case before a Committee of the House of Commons. It cannot be done. Nothing can be gained in the cause of justice, or in any other cause, by trying before a tribunal which is not judicial, a case which has already been tried before a tribunal which is judicial. I am surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite should have chosen that case as one upon which they wish to try the question of Boycotting; for a more shocking case it is impossible to conceive—this poor unhappy woman, kept three days without food by an illegal and iniquitous conspiracy. Nothing more horrible has come to light in the annals of Irish political strife. The hon. Member for West Belfast has given a graphic account of what he calls the treatment of Father M'Fadden in prison. He has informed the Committee that I have sent down emissaries from Dublin Castle, that I have held a Star Chamber inquiry at the prison, and that I have condemned Father M'Fadden to treatment which, apparently in the opinion of the hon. Member, would not have been inflicted upon an ordinary prisoner. Well, to all that, I give the most absolute contradiction. I have sent no emissary. I have not held any Star Chamber inquiry. 1780 I have not ordered any special prison treatment. In fact, I am absolutely ignorant of all that the hon. Member has been talking about; and I must say, in addition, that I receive with the most absolute scepticism the whole story which has been been brought before us in such detail.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, if the hon. Gentleman had no better means of information than the Irish Press, it would account for their not being able to agree on this point. The hon. Member concluded by calling your attention to a letter from the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane), of which I have heard, but which I have not read, with regard to his treatment in Tullamore Gaol and his conversation with Dr. Ridley. I think it would have been well if these things had been said in Dr. Ridley's lifetime.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And if it had not been said in Dr. Ridley's lifetime, it would have been well if, instead of being written in a letter to The Daily News, it had been given in evidence on oath before the Coroner's jury, so that it might have been cross-examined upon. All I can say is, having regard to Parliamentary usage, that, in my opinion, nothing can be more certain than that the hon. Member for East Cork is labouring under some delusion. He says that Dr. Ridley was told to treat political prisoners with exceptional severity. That is absolutely false. He tells a story of Dr. Ridley bringing into his cell, surreptitiously, poached eggs and chicken. Well, I do not know much of prison discipline; but I presume there is a sufficient amount of surveillance to prevent such a thing being done without somebody having cognizance of it. But however that may be, I state in the most positive manner, on my responsibility as a Minister of the Crown, that the one regulation which I have laid down, and which I insist upon being carried out, is this, that every prisoner should be treated exactly alike, without any distinction as to whether he is a political prisoner or not. A political prisoner, according to my orders, is not to be treated any better or any worse than any other prisoner, and he has not 1781 been treated any better or worse, so far as I have any control. The hon. Member now takes an extraordinary interest in the prison rules, and characterizes them as inhuman. It is also said that Dr. Ridley stated that he would regard himself as an inhuman wretch if he carried out the prison rules. Who made the prison rules? Was it I? The prison rules in force in Ireland at this moment are the result of a Royal Commission appointed, I think, in the year 1880 or the year 1881, which reported in the year 1884. The Ministry in power when that Commission reported were the Friends of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and, as a matter of fact, the particular right hon. Gentleman then Chief Secretary for Ireland, whom I now see before me (Mr. John Morley), was asked a Question in that House about the new prison rules, and he stated in that House that he had carried out in detail the recommendations, or most of the recommendations, of the Royal Commission. The prison rules now in force are not my prison rules. They are the prison rules that were in force before the last Liberal Administration. They are the prison rules advised and recommended by a Royal Commission, and advocated and carried out by a Liberal Chief Secretary.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the leading point of the hon. Member's charge was, that the political prisoners under punishment—[Cries of "Order!"]—that political prisoners under punishment were deprived of the two hours' daily exercise recommended by the Commission.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have two observations to make on the interruption of the hon. Gentleman. The first is, that the prison rules in force were advocated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The second is, that the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Friends and Predecessors in Office refused, as absolutely as I have refused, to recognize any such class in existence as political prisoners. That disposes, as I think, pretty completely of the interruption the hon. Gentleman was good enough to make. Those rules, passed by Parliament and suggested by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, are those now in force in Irish prisons; and how do they differ from the rules now in force in English prisons? They differ in one respect only—that they are more lenient and 1782 more in favour of the prisoner. We have heard a great deal of the food in Irish prisons. We have been told that Irish prisoners have been starved. We have also been told that in the matter of nourishment the Irish prison rules are inhuman. Is it the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite that these rules are inhuman? If so, why did not they discover it earlier, at a time when they had no concern one way or another with them, and not now, when they are interested, and want to make political capital out of them? If the Irish prison rules are inhuman, the English prison rules are doubly inhuman, because they afford a less generous diet to prisoners than the Irish rules. I say, with absolute confidence, that if our prison rules require remodelling, in order to make them less harsh, the first prison rules that ought to be remodelled are the English prison rules; and if the prison rules of the United Kingdom require remodelling, I confess I should have thought better of those philanthropists who urge an alteration, if they had urged it at a time when they did not think they could make political capital out of that contention. Hon. Members opposite say the prison rules are inhuman. They have been laid before Parliament; they have been approved by hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Several Home Rule MEMBERS: Never.] Well, they were before the House, and if they were not approved, you raised no objection to them. They have not been objected to before Parliament; they have been advocated by a Royal Commission, and passed by a Liberal Chief Secretary, and I say, in those circumstances, if any alteration is required, let hon. Gentlemen not ask me to make a special alteration in one country with regard to one class of prisoners. Let them demand an inquiry into the whole system of prison discipline in England, in Scotland, and in Ireland, with regard to every prisoner, be he who he may, and be the fault for which he is imprisoned what it may. I will not oppose them if they do; but never will I consent to draw a distinction between one class of offenders against the law and another class in the one and the same country. Neither will I be intimidated by the species of calumny to which the hon. Gentlemen opposite have given utterance this night, into modifying the 1783 treatment to be given to Irish prisoners who may be friends of hon. Gentlemen opposite, while I leave unaltered the treatment to be given to other offenders against the law in this country, in Scotland, and in England. I have, I think, dealt now with all the questions raised. I have nothing further to add, and I hope the House will soon consent to the Vote on Account.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I do not propose to make any remarks at this stage on what has fallen from the Chief Secretary on prison discipline. I will only say that he himself has admitted, with a nonchalance rather surprising, that he did not pretend to be versed in the prison rules. I should have thought that a Minister now in the position of the Chief Secretary, whose business or misfortune it has been to put into prison so many of his Parliamentary Colleagues, knowing that the subject of prison treatment would be brought before the House, would have made himself acquainted with prison discipline. The right hon. Gentleman and the House must not forget that the prisoners of whose treatment the hon. Members from Ireland are now complaining, though undoubtedly they have been adjudged to be offenders against the law, are for the most part in prison under an exceptional law.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I have nothing to do with Lord Spencer's Government. [Ironical Ministerial cheers.] I cannot understand why right hon. Gentlemen opposite should be so elated with that declaration. I had nothing to do with the administration of the Coercion Act of Lord Spencer, and I spoke against the Coercion Act of Mr. Forster's time in season and out of season; and when it was proposed to renew some of the clauses of the Crimes Act of 1882, I, sitting below the Gangway, gave Notice of an Amendment resisting the reimposition of those clauses. Therefore it seems to me, under those circumstances, that the cheers of hon. Members opposite are singularly misplaced. Those Gentlemen who are now in prison, and of whose treatment in prison we complain, are there under an exceptional law—a law 1784 which does not exist in England or Scotland, and which was passed last year, and the right hon. Gentleman speaks of English and Scottish prisoners as if they were precisely on a level with the Gentlemen in prison under the Coercion Act. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] No, they are not. Why, Sir, Mr. Dillon would not be in prison at all in their opinion, if he had been able to appeal to a jury, which he would have had if the hon. Member had made the speech in England or Scotland, and which he had a right to at the time that he made that speech in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman must really admit with his logical mind that that condition makes all the difference in their attitude towards the treatment of these prisoners; and I think the right hon. Gentleman could not employ his recess more advantageously than by inquiring into some of the details of that prison discipline as to which he avows his complete ignorance. Now, I want to say a word or two with regard to what fell from the Chief Secretary in regard to Mr. Latchford. I should think that the Chief Secretary must feel a little uncomfortable—[A Parnellite MEMBER: Oh, dear no!]—when he reflects upon what he said on Friday, and then considers the judgment of the Court of Exchequer to-day. I have not seen a printed or written report containing the terms of the judgment, and I am willing to believe that the decision of the Court of Exchequer has turned entirely upon a technical error in the form of committal. What do I care about that? Is it not the fact that Mr. Latchford has suffered one month's imprisonment, less two days, wrongfully? I ask the Chief Secretary to answer this question. Can it be denied that Mr. Latchford has suffered nearly the whole of what is now proved to have been, whether on a technical point or not, a wrongful committal? It cannot be denied. Then the Chief Secretary says that Mr. Latchford's counsel, when before Mr. Roche, did not raise this point of law upon which the form of committal has been criticized. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has had access to some more minute report of what took place before Mr. Roche; but I have read all the reports in the local newspapers and in The Freeman's Journal, and I say that Mr. Latchford's counsel was not allowed to 1785 raise a point upon which a case could be stated, because Mr. Roche said arbitrarily, as is his fashion, that no point of law had arisen on which a case could be stated. That, however, is not the opinion of the Court of Exchequer; and, in fact, Mr. Roche gave no chance to the counsel to raise such a point. It would be useless, in the absence of documents and of what took place before the Court of Exchequer this day, to go further into the case; but I repeat that it is certain that Mr. Latchford has nearly undergone a month's wrongful imprisonment. I have one other observation to make before I sit down, and that is with regard to the character which hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway give to the right hon. Gentleman—that he is tyrannical and despotic. I am not sure of that. I am not at all sure that the right hon. Gentleman is not the opposite of a tyrant and a despot. His position is that of a Minister who, from his policy, is compelled, in every case, right or wrong, to back up his subordinates. Is it to be supposed that in the administration of this Coercion Act, which has been in force just a year—as we may suppose from the line he has uniformly taken—that there has not been a single error of judgment, not a single indiscretion, not a single miscarriage of justice perpetrated by a Divisional Magistrate, Resident Magistrate, Inspector, or Head Constable? If we are to trust to the Chief Secretary not one of those officers has made a single mistake. The Chief Secretary is right. His policy can only be carried out on condition that he supports his subordinates through thick and thin, through right and wrong. That is the misfortune of his position. The fact is, he has never admitted that the humblest subordinate has been guilty of any indiscretion, and as soon as I hear the Chief Secretary admit that on a single occasion, however minute or trifling, one of his subordinates, however humble, has been guilty of an indiscretion, however unimportant, then I will believe that the right hon. Gentleman is the master and not the servant of his own agents. The right hon. Gentleman says that the House of Commons is the last place in which judicial and police administration can be properly criticized.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Well, I say that we are in a position to consider judicial questions in this House. There is not a case in which the Chief Secretary has admitted that any of these men has made a mistake. It must, indeed, be allowed that many mistakes have been committed; but how can we get the people of Ireland to respect the law or its administration when we know that the Minister of the Crown who represents the Irish Government in this House, supported by a majority, is unable to face the truth or to admit the truth? Mr. Latchford's case illustrates that among many things, and I hope, after the decision in this case, that the right hon. Gentleman will instruct Colonel Turner and others who are nominally his subordinates not to write letters to the newspapers accusing Members of Parliament and others of gross misstatements, when every statement that I, at least, have made is absolutely borne out by everything that has come to light since. I have the honour of knowing Colonel Turner. I am willing to believe that that gentleman is an excellent military officer; but Colonel Turner, deciding in situations that require a judicial or a legal frame of mind, is just as competent to do that as I am to direct the evolutions of Her Majesty's Fleet in Bantry Bay. He is entirely incompetent to deal with those minute points which arise in such circumstances. It is one of the deplorable features in the present administration of Ireland that a man like Colonel Turner, whose excellence in his own proper sphere of life I am not prepared to deny, should have these important points to settle, and that the Chief Secretary is compelled to back him up. The result, for which we are responsible, is that Mr. Latchford, among many others, has endured what is now proved to be a wrong and unjust punishment.
§ MR. HOOPER (Cork, S.E.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had insinuated that his hon. Colleague the Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane) had written a letter to the newspapers which apparently ha would shrink from substantiating in a Court of Justice. He (Mr. Hooper) could state that his hon. Colleague was ready to appear 1787 before the Coroner's Court and to substantiate every word he had written. When he (Mr. Hooper) himself was in gaol Dr. Ridley came to him on the morning referred to, and said to him that he was in a state of great trouble and distress, and had got into a serious conflict with the Prisons Board. It was stated that the Board had written to Dr. Ridley saying that he had no power to give his Colleague—who had been three weeks in a cell—outdoor exercise in the circumstances, and that unless his Colleague went to the hospital he would be in a very serious difficulty. Dr. Ridley appealed to him to give his advice in that direction. He told Dr. Ridley there was a great principle involved, that a doctor should be prevented, within his discretion, from ordering the exercise he thought fit for a prisoner under his charge. He was placed in the position of having either to forego a great princple or sacrifice the life of his Friend, who was editor of his paper while the right hon. Gentleman put him (Mr. Hooper) in gaol. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the prisoners and of the food they got in Ireland; indeed, the right hon. Gentleman scoffed at the idea of political prisoners. He himself was prosecuted for publishing in his paper a report which was as legal up to three months before as anything that ever appeared in any English newspaper. He was tried on 13 different charges; he was convicted on two of them and sentenced on each; and the right hon. Gentleman did not give him a chance of appealing to a higher Court. He was sent to prison, and what treatment did he get from the right hon. Gentleman's subordinates in gaol? He was stripped of his clothes by force, required to take exercise with two criminals, both of whom had stabbed a man and one of whom had killed his victim, and required also to eat prison food and clean out his cell. He did clean out his cell, and he was ordered bread and water from that unfortunate man who was now dead (Dr. Ridley), and towards whom he entertained not the slightest animosity, for he regarded him as the victim of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. He got five days' bread and water under Dr. Ridley's direction. He was sent to hospital, where he remained for 11 days, and on his return 1788 he was two days afterwards put on bread and water for two days more. If the right hon. Gentleman did not consider his case a political one, he did not know what case under the Crimes Act, or any other Act, could possible be a political case. But, passing from the digression, Dr. Ridley told him, in the exact words which his hon. Friend (Mr. Lane) mentioned, that he had got into serious trouble with the Prisons Board, and asked him to advise his hon. Friends to go to the hospital; and he decided, both on account of his hon. Friend's wife and children, and also on account of his very haggard and changed condition, to do so. His hon. Friend's appearance was greatly altered; he was wan, and had aged 10 years. He would not have known him in the streets in his ordinary clothes. He was now exceedingly glad that he had done so, for he believed that if his hon. Friend had been subjected for the remainder of his term to that injurious system he never would have come out of Tullamore Gaol alive. The right hon. Gentleman scoffed at the idea of his Friends being clandestinely supplied with any articles of nourishing food by the doctor; but was the right hon. Gentleman so ignorant of prison discipline as to suppose that they searched the doctors when they went into the Irish gaols? Perhaps, however, that would be the next new order which the right hon. Gentleman would issue. But would the right hon. Gentleman be astonished to hear that, while Dr. Ridley was openly carrying out the orders of the Prisons Board in his (Mr. Hooper's) case, he clandestinely offered him brandy? Seeing the effects which confinement had on him, Dr. Ridley came to him, and said—"Now, Mr. Hooper, is there nothing I can do for you? Supposing I brought you up some brandy, would you take it?" Well, that was a sore temptation to a man in his position; but he said—"No, Dr. Ridley; if I took the brandy and the smell were to be found in my cell by some other official it is not you who would be suspected, but some unfortunate warder, whose own living and that of his family depended on his retaining his situation." Would the right hon. Gentleman be astonished to hear that while Dr. Ridley was carrying out 1789 his orders he told him that there was not a man in that community, whatever his religion or his politics, who approved of the treatment that was given? At that same moment there was another Colleague of his in another part of the establishment—the ex-Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. T. D. Sullivan), who was in there exactly for the same offence as his, and who was treated as a first-class misdemeanant, getting his own food, wearing his own clothes, receiving newspapers, allowed to read his letters, and to take exercise for two hours by himself. What was the cause for that difference of treatment? It was not that his offence was more heinous than that of the hon. Gentleman the ex-Lord Mayor of Dublin. It was that he himself was tried by two of the right hon. Gentleman's Removables, while the hon. Gentleman the ex-Lord Mayor was tried by a magistrate as independent of the right hon. Gentleman as the Chief Baron of the Exchequer. He had not the slightest animosity against the right hon. Gentleman; the only feeling he had was one of regret that a man of his influence and abilities should descend to such a contemptible policy. He himself had been put in gaol for only doing the very acts which he was doing to-day, and he was quite willing that the right hon. Gentleman should come on again. If he had not, unfortunately, had a better constitution and a more cheerful disposition than others, the shocking treatment he had received in gaol would have made more serious in roads on his health; but he could state that there was nothing which his hon. Friend (Mr. Lane) had said in regard to Dr. Ridley but was perfectly true, and he could vouch for it on oath.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, he was pained to the last degree that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland should have made such reflections upon the utterances of an hon. Member of that House by saying that that hon. Member had not made his statement upon oath.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he was reluctant to interrupt the hon. Member, but that was not the point of his objection. The point was not the question of oath, but of cross-examination.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, that his observations were thoroughly to the point. He objected to the reflection 1790 that the word of any Member of that House was not as good as that of the right hon. Gentleman. From his knowledge of the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane) in that House, and from the friendship he had shown him in Ireland, there was no Member of that House whose word was entitled to higher respect; and it ill became the right hon. Gentleman to discredit him. It was in the highest degree shameful, brutal, and infamous that the political prisoners should be treated in the same way as the villest criminals in the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary might be personally humane, he might desire to do nothing irregular or harsh; but he showed a want of consideration which was extremely painful. The right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues were heaping upon themselves in one case after another such a record as must, in the long run, sink them to the lowest possible condition in the estimation of their fellow-countrymen as administrators.
MR. JOHNSON (Belfast, S.)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, that he bad often witnessed fierce conflicts with Chief Secretaries for Ireland; but former Chief Secretaries had exhibited decency and gravity of demeanour, which compared favourably with the levity and flippancy, the spirit of taunt and insult, now exhibited. While the hon. Member for South East Cork (Mr. Hooper) described the prison treatment which had partially destroyed his sight, his voice was almost drowned by conversation that seemed to be intentionally loud on the Treasury Bench in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer engaged. He protested against such conduct as degrading this Assembly. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary calmly argued as if the letter of the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane) must be mendacious. The right hon. Gentleman taunted them with a new-born interest in prison rules, when it was notorious that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had with great difficulty secured the partial amendment of the rules by 1791 a Liberal Government—a task in which they were not assisted by the Conservatives, whose alliance did not extend to any interference with coercion. The right hon. Gentleman had professed ignorance of prison rules. If that was so the right hon. Gentleman was the only man in the House—with, perhaps, the single exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—who would be capable of imprisoning 19 or 20 of his Parliamentary Colleagues, and then coming down to the House with a nonchalant air and declaring that he had very little knowledge of prison rules. Was it really astonishing that Irish Members should take an interest in the subject, with 19 or 20 of their Colleagues subject to those rules? The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary's ignorance of the prison rules was all assumed, for he could know all about them and alter them in the case of a priest. There was no relevancy in the comparison with England, because men like Dillon were not imprisoned in England for political offences, and because the rules were interpreted in a barbarous spirit in Ireland. They would some day bring home to the right hon. Gentleman direct responsibility for all this torture he had inflicted in Ireland. Every official in Irish prisons lived in feared and trembling lest he should be dismissed for not being brutal enough. It was asked why his hon. Friend had not stated, what he had stated to-night, during the life of Dr. Ridley? He could not, for dismissal would have been the fate of Dr. Ridley if it had been known that he had shown consideration to an imprisoned Member. If the warders tried to make life more human they were dismissed by this high-minded Chief Secretary, who did not consider even such poor men too low a game. The story of Tullamore Gaol was gradually being unfolded, and would be soon better known, though the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would probably deprive the House of the opportunity of discussing it in its entirety. He had promised the shorthand writers' notes in the Mandeville inquest, but the notes would probably be delayed till the time had gone past for proper and adequate discussion, for when the right hon. Gentleman promised a Return, he was prepared to find it kept back until a space of time had 1792 elapsed sufficient to make the revelations less poignant to the public imagination. He was informed by his hon. Friend who had taken an honourable part in the inquiry that the shorthand writers' notes were transcribed from day to day. The right hon. Gentleman seemed self-complacent to night; that was a virtue upon which he was to be congratulated but he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had seen men in his position overthrown, and he would yet see the right hon. Gentleman; overthrown also. The public opinion of this country was getting disgusted with the proceedings of the right hon. Gentleman. The public opinion which had been defrauded into electing Gentlemen opposite as Members of that House was getting informed as to the proceedings and as to the real nature of the right hon. Gentleman's policy. The day would come when the people of this country would ask themselves what was the difference between torturing a man by the thumbscrew and the rack, and torturing him by starvation, confinement, and sufferings which led to his early death. He expected to live to see the day when the country would pronounce its verdict and the brutalities practised by the right hon. Gentleman in the prisons in Ireland would he remembered against him and hon. Members opposite as an ignoble and shameful chapter in the history of this country and of civilization.
§ MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)
said, that in the name of his constituents he protested against the cruel, barbarous, and brutal treatment which had been inflicted upon them by the Government. Father Gilligan had been sent to gaol for a month for holding a meeting in boats upon the Shannon. He is a patriotic priest, but he is as Christian as patriotic. He did not know what right the police had where the Sheriff, bailiffs, and Emergency men were present to attack a man who was only offering a passive resistance in defence of his own house. He protested also against the manner in which the police laid snares for his constituents. Why should a blacksmith be punished for refusing to shoe horses for Mrs. Moloney, and why should shopkeepers be punished for not supplying Mrs. Moloney and her Emergency men with goods which were their own property and which they did not require and for which the Emergency men had not 1793 money to pay? The police and Hannah O'Connell entered into a conspiracy to entrap the shopkeepers. In Miltown Malbay 25 publicans were summoned for not supplying the police, because by the advice of Father White they closed their houses for the purpose of keeping the Military and Constabulary sober. The right hon. Gentleman employed pimps, spies, informers, and conspirators to help on his government of the country. Men now could neither meet, nor speak, nor sing, nor cheer, nor whistle, nor pray without the intervention of the Constabulary. Finally, he protested against the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in the House; he had that evening refused to believe the statement of an hon. Member of the House; his own statements had been disbelieved, when he had stated that with his own eyes he had at Kilrush seen furniture broken and thrown out on the road side. Why should his and his hon. Friend's word be doubted? They were as truthful in private life as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary; aye, and in public life too. The right hon. Gentleman had four times within a few days branded him as a liar before that House—1st, as regards the breaking of furniture at Spellasy's house; 2nd, in reference to Captain Turner's orders to fire in a window; 3rd, in reference to the partial action of Cecil Roche as between me and Mr. Patten; and, 4th, the different version of the transaction between Dr. Counsel and Colonel Turner; and yet the right hon. Gentleman had no knowledge of the matters in question except through Emergency men. But the right hon. Gentleman was a fitting tool for the policy of exasperation which was intended and calculated to promote crime.
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green)
said, he had been a Member of the Royal Commission on Irish Prisons, and if the recommendations of that Commission had been carried out Mr. Mandeville and Dr. Ridley would have been living to-day. The great difference between English and Irish prisons was this—that in English prisons the medical officials and all the higher class of officials were independent; whereas in Irish prisons the medical officers and the Governors did not act upon their own judgments, but were merely tools in the hands of the 1794 Government of the day. Even with regard to small and minute points they were bound to take their instructions from the Executive in Dublin Castle. He had hoped that the recommendations of the Prisons Commission had changed all that; but the facts that had come to light in the cases of Mr. Mandeville and Dr. Ridley showed, unfortunately, that the system remained unchanged. He remembered being deeply shocked some years ago at the case of an unfortunate man at Waterford. This man was arrested for allowing his sheep to stray upon the public road, and was committed to prison for 14 days in default of paying some trifling fine. He was a hale, strong man, the only complaint from which he suffered being an irritating skin affection. Troubled by this and the confinement, he became violent, and the prison doctor asked leave to use a particular kind of restraint in order to control him. The reply of the Prisons Board was that the restraint suggested by the doctor must not be used, and that the man should be put in muffs and pinioned. This direction was acted upon, and the man was kept under these restraints for eight days, and very soon afterwards he died. Had the recommendations of the prison doctor been carried out, and had the Prisons Board not interfered, the man would be alive now. He (Mr. T. A. Dickson) at that Commission interrogated Mr. Bourke, Chairman of the Prisons Board, in reference to that case, and Mr. Bourke's reply was—"We (the Prisons Board) are only tools in the hands of the Government."
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
Of the late Government. But the right hon. Gentleman makes no point in that. That makes no difference. It was of no consequence under which Government the facts which he had related occurred. One Government was like another in regard to prison administration, and the present Government were at this moment governing Ireland through the tools transferred to them by their Predecessors. He had denounced the system when carried on by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) as he did now. His point was that the medical officers of Irish prisons were not free agents, as were the doctors in English prisons, and were not allowed to 1795 pursue the treatment that they thought best in connection with the prisons. It was mainly owing to that that a great deal more deaths took place in the Irish than in the English prisons, and that treble the number of cases of insanity occurred. One might as well compare hell and paradise as compare the state of things in Irish prisons with that existing in English gaols. This was what they complained of, and this was what they desired to see remedied. What they wanted in Irish prisons was a system of officials who would be under the control in every minute particular of the Executive Government.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
, after referring to the case of Dr. Magner at considerable length, contended that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary controlled all the Departments of public life in Ireland as effectually as the man who pressed the button controlled an electric machine. He contended that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, in his treatment of the Irish political prisoners, was contemptible. Whenever a communication came from the right hon. Gentleman, as in the case of poor Mandeville, to do anything, it was at once done, and all the independence of the prison doctors was taken from them. The Irish Members charged against the Government not only that they did not differentiate between political prisoners and others, but that political prisoners got by far the worst of it. He asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would withdraw the imputation he had cast on the veracity of the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane) when he saw that Gentleman's sworn testimony, as, if he did not, the want of honour would lie with him? They hoped to call the attention of the country to these matters, and he was only sorry that they were called upon to discuss them upon the Report stage of a Vote on Account, and not upon the Estimates themselves, when it would have been their duty to lay these matters in full detail before the House, the Government, and the country.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
said, it was a strange thing that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—who was responsible for the present treatment of political prisoners in Ireland—should plead ignorance of the entire prison system. In that the right hon. Gentleman differed from his Predecessors in the Office, who had al- 1796 ways made themselves fully acquainted with the system. He considered that the Chief Secretary, or the Minister administering Irish affairs, should make himself well acquainted with prison treatment in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to wish, however, to remain ignorant of that treatment, and what they complained of was that the right hon. Gentleman, without any knowledge of the system, had on public platforms in England made declarations in comparison of the systems of treatment prevailing in the two countries. Those systems differed not so much in the rules and the scale of dietary as in the entire spirit and genius in which they were put into operation. From the evidence given before the Royal Commission, over which Lord Cross presided, it was shown that, whereas in England medical officers were enjoined to be careful and watchful of the health of the criminals and to tend them when their health broke down, in Ireland medical officers were interfered with by outside authorities and their right to send prisoners to hospital questioned. In Ireland the Chairman of the Prisons Board gave instructions to the Governors of prisons to report any medical officer who sent a prisoner to hospital unless he was suffering from some serious disease. When a prison doctor so acted his situation was not worth 24 hours' purchase. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary by public utterances on platforms had also terrified prison doctors; and so far from the right hon. Gentleman allowing freedom to the prison doctors in the treatment of prisoners, by the manner in which he had insisted on the treating political prisoners as ordinary criminals, he so terrified the medical officers that they were afraid to order proper treatment to the men confined to their charge for political offences. The right hon. Gentleman also sent to Ireland a medical gentleman who made it his function to terrify the prison doctors. The medical officer of every gaol visited by Dr. Barr assured the political prisoners under his charge that he was terrified, that he dare not order them the treatment he could order ordinary prisoners. With regard to the case of Mr. Mandeville, he (Mr. T. C. Harrington) had recently in his hands the book in which the late medical officer of Tullamore Gaol (Dr. Ridley), made his entries in regard to the treatment of 1797 prisoners, and in that book he found that men who had committed offences at which society shuddered and was shocked, were receiving 1½ lb. of meat per day, while Mr. Mandeville—because he would not put on the prison dress, or associate with criminals—was receiving bread and water; the only change which the prison doctor dared to make in the treatment of the latter being that, as he was suffering from diarrhœa, white bread was substituted for brown, and in this way he was treated, until his system became thoroughly enfeebled, and he died. Yet the right hon. Gentleman boasted there was no difference made in the treatment of prisoners. While the vile criminal was treated with some sort of leniency and some regard for his life, and the utmost rigour and severity were dealt out to the man who had taken an honourable part in politics against them, the Government would receive, as it deserved, the execration of the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said he would not make a change in favour of political prisoners in regard to their treatment; but the right hon. Gentleman had already made that change, and had made it in a mean and sneaking fashion, because when Father Ryan, the first of the priests who were imprisoned, came to Limerick Gaol, he was asked to wear the prison clothes; and it was only on his refusal to be degraded and humiliated and stripped of his distinction as a priest that the right hon. Gentleman's conscience was smitten, and he threw the responsibility of the concession which was made in that case on the Prisons Board. It was then said that they had discovered an Act which allowed a change of treatment in regard to particular prisoners, and Father Ryan was permitted to wear his own clothes. Why was not that Act discovered and applied in favour of Mr. Mandeville? Perhaps the Government thought it would be inconvenient, when they were in negotiations with Rome, if it went forth that they had caused an Irish priest to be violently stripped of the garb of his profession.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary reminded him of the man in the play, who was confronted with the apparitions of those who he had formerly done to death. Some seemed to be appearing before the right hon. Gentleman's imagination to-night 1798 —the spirits of Mr. Mandeville and Dr. Ridley—and, in terror, he had cried out, "Thou cans't not say that I did it." The right hon. Gentleman tried to shift the responsibility of the death of these men upon the shoulders of those who sat on the Front Opposition Bench. He had said that it was under a system of prison treatment established by his opponents that these men were done to death. Now, the prison system in Ireland was administered by the subordinates according to the spirit that was manifested by those in authority. They knew that the system of government in Ireland was a very sensitive one, and that every official in Ireland took his tone from those who were in authority. His hon. Friend had instanced to-night many cases which proved that to be the case. The right hon. Gentleman had accused his opponents of having done in like manner; but there was this difference between the conduct on the part of those who sat on the Front Opposition Bench and the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, that, while his Predecessors in Office, Members of the Liberal Party, restrained the acts of tyranny, the right hon. Gentleman, with a front of brass, defended every act of his subordinates. To-night the right hon. Gentleman had either given an imperfect statement with regard to the charges made, or he had made no statement at all. A very heartrending case was brought to the notice of the House a few nights ago by the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy). It was that of the case of a man who lost his reason in prison, and although the right hon. Gentleman had three days to acquire information on the subject, he came down to the House that night and told them that he had received no information whatever respecting the matter. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) maintained that the House ought to insist that the right hon. Gentleman should come down prepared with information upon a matter of such great importance as one concerning the reason of one his victims. There was another case to which the right hon. Gentleman had attempted a reply. It was the case of the Miltown Malbay people. He had said that a poor woman, named Hannah Connell, was boycotted in a most flagrant manner; he had said it was a most disgraceful case of Boycotting; but he failed to announce, for the information 1799 of the House, what was proved at the trial of the case—namely, that the old woman swore that she was not in need of food at all, because she had a pit of potatoes to fall back upon. And not only that, but it was stated, upon most irreproachable authority, in the course of the trial, that the shop of Mrs. Moloney, her employer, was open to her for the purchase of goods. She went to the people who had been punished for Boycotting her for no other purpose than to carry out the policy of her employers. He contended that the right hon. Gentleman ought to try and perform his duties in a more consistent manner than to come down to the House with a statement in one case and with no statement in another. He had said that officials in Ireland took their tone from those in authority. They knew that very well. Those of them who had been imprisoned in very recent times knew that even the humble warder of a prison was able to indicate how the feeling was in Dublin Castle by the very manner in which he turned the lock upon his unfortunate prisoners. The very tone of his voice, the very way he looked, at once indicated the state of feeling in Dublin Castle for the moment. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) proposed, for the information of the House, to cite a case that would prove the truth of his statement. He would not take any of those glaring cases that had engaged the attention of the House not only during the course of this evening's discussion, but during the many interesting discussions that had taken place lately, and had racked the feelings of Englishmen and Scotchmen throughout the length and breadth of the land. He would cite a case that occurred in a remote town of Ireland—a case of a humble man who had suffered persecution at the hands of the subordinates of the right hon. Gentleman; he alluded to the case of that humble man, Thomas Ferriter, who lived in the remote town of Dingle, in the county of Kerry. This man had suffered no less than four terms of imprisonment during the past 12 months—in three of the cases the celebrated Cecil Roche had operated upon him. Mr. Thomas Ferriter was marked out at an early stage of the coercive régime as a victim of the police. He was a man who, like many of those who lived in remote places in Ireland, being perhaps more intelligent than their neighbours, 1800 opposed themselves to the petty tyranny of those police constables and magistrates who carried out the behests of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to those who defended them in the House of Commons. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) had said that during the past 12 months Ferriter had suffered imprisonment four times. Even before the Coercion Act was put into operation, Mr. Thomas Ferriter was marked out for persecution. During the Glenbeigh evictions, for merely saying to the Government reporter—"Take that down, Springer," he was brought up before Mr. Considine, the Resident Magistrate, and a Bench of landlord Justices of the Peace, and sentenced to two months' imprisonment. In December last, he was sentenced under the Coercion Act by Cecil Roche and Mr. Walsh, two Removables, for an assault upon the police. Now in England——
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, that the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Milvain) appeared to be in a great hurry. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) did not very often intrude on the attention of the House, and he had not very much to say now. When he was interrupted he was about to say that in England, when they heard of a man having made an assault upon the police, they were prepared to see it stated that he had either obstructed a policemen, or pushed him in some way as would amount to a breach of the peace. But what did the assault consist of in the case of Mr. Ferriter? Merely this—that he closed his own door gently in the face of a head constable who wanted to force his way in without leave, without licence, or without warrant. Mr. Thomas Ferriter was quite within his right in refusing to admit the police, who came to his house without a warrant of search; without a warrant of arrest; without a warrant of any kind. Mr. Thomas Ferriter was quite within his right in closing his door; but he did it gently. For what he did he was sentenced by these two Removable Magistrates to seven weeks' imprisonment. Now, that was not the end of this unfortunate man's troubles. In January last, Mr. Ferriter was again charged under the Coercion Act with a similar offence to that of December, and 1801 he was then sentenced to seven days' imprisonment again by Cecil Roche, who this time was associated with Mr. Irwin. Mr. Ferriter went through that imprisonment; but the next, and most serious case, was one in which he was entrapped into an offence for which he had received three months' imprisonment. He was entrapped into the commission of the heinous crime of selling United Ireland. How was he entrapped? On the nignt of the 11th of November, a man smelling strongly of drink entered Ferriter's shop and asked for a copy of United Ireland. The mau said he was a tailor from Wexford and had come to Dingle for work. He used great persuasion to induce Ferriter, who did not like his looks, to sell him a paper. The newsagent, for Mr. Ferriter was a newsagent, put him to cross-examination, and during it his visitor informed him that his name was Tyman. After a little time, Mr. Ferriter was induced to part with a copy of United Ireland for the sum of one penny, and soon afterwards he was prosecuted for having sold the paper. In the Court House, he was confronted by the tailor from Wexford, his former acquaintance, who appeared in the full uniform of an Irish police officer. For this heinous crime, he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment. What he (Mr. J. O'Connor) wanted to bring to the notice of the House was that there was gross injustice done to Thomas Ferriter on the occasion of his trial. There was absolutely no evidence given as to the charge for selling a paper containing a report of which Mr. Ferriter was prosecuted. The constable in the course of the trial said he could not swear the meeting was not a gathering for parish purposes. Mr. Ferriter pointed out that the Lord Chief Baron Pallas had ruled in a prosecution of the kind, that evidence of the meeting should be given, and Mr. Ferriter asked the magistrates, after they had passed sentence upon him, to state a case to the Court of Exchequer on the point. But the magistrates refused to state a case, though cases had been stated before under similar circumstances and continued to be stated now. The next point in Ferriter's case he wished to bring before the House was that the meeting in question was alleged to have been held at a place called Dumbeg, in County 1802 Clare. Dumbeg was more than 100 miles from Dingle in Kerry, where Ferriter's offence was said to have been committed. This newsvendor, in a remote and almost inaccessible part of the extreme South West of Kerry, was sent to gaol for selling to a disguised policeman at Dingle a newspaper containing a report of a meeting of a suppressed branch of the National League, alleged to have been held more than 100 miles away. Ferriter would now very soon have completed his sentence. He would go back to Dingle in Kerry, and he would there continue to be persecuted day after day. While the right hon. Gentleman continued to give his tone of acerbity and tyranny to the officials of Ireland who carried out his behests, it would be his (Mr. J. O'Connor's) duty to bring forward other cases of a similar character, in order to prove the truth of his contention. The one he started with showed that the system of Government in Ireland in all its particulars, in all its details, took its tone from those who were in authority. He wished particularly to impeach that system of organised ruffianism in Ireland which was connected with the police. Not only did he desire to impeach the police for their conduct towards the people of Ireland, but he desired for the information of the English people to lay before the House, and from the House to the constituencies of its hon. Members, the enormous cost of the Police Force in Ireland.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, he would not detain the House at any great length. It was his intention to have brought under the notice of the House the influence of the Police Force in Ireland; but as he had no doubt, at that stage of Public Business, his remarks would have no effect in influencing the Government in regard to the Force, he would postpone that branch of the case until a future occasion, especially as he perceived there were some hon. Members who were very anxious to get rid of this very disagreeable subject and proceed to the next Business on the Paper. He trusted, at all events, that enough had been said that night to enlighten hon. 1803 Members opposite, if their minds were still open to the terrible things which had been enacted in Ireland in the name of law and order. He could not hope that the atrocities which were enacted at the instigation of the right hon. Gentleman, who had shown himself capable of behaving in a disgracefully jocular manner whilst serious charges were being made, would induce him to lay a lighter hand upon those people who might be unfortunate enough to come under his censure during the course of his Office, be it long or short. This much, however, he would say to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a bright ornament, and to the Members of the two Parties who so consistently supported him in his acts generally, that no matter how severe a hand the Chief Secretary might lay on the Irish people, no matter how fiercely his subordinates might coerce and trample on the Irish people in remote parts of Ireland, as he had failed to carry out successfully the forms of coercion he had applied to the Press, he had applied to public meetings, he had applied in Star Chamber processes, so also would he miserably fail to carry out his object in every clause, in every line, in every sentence, and in every syllable in that Coercion Act which was disgracefully hurried through the House by the unjustifiable use of the Closure Rule.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
said, he was very thankful to his hon. Friend (Mr. J. O'Connor) for dealing with the grievances of his constituents, though he candidly confessed that he would have been more thankful if he had indicated to him that he was going to deal with them that night. However, he thought his constituency represented such a large area of grievances that it was within the province of any Member of the House, on any side of the House, to delve into it, and be sure of turning up a genuine grievance. Mr. Ferriter would soon be released from prison, and therefore some hon. Members might think the case was not deserving of very much consideration. Mr. Ferriter had, however, been abominably persecuted, and it was as well that his case should be brought as often as possible before the English people. The other day, they discussed the case of Mr. Latchford, and that 1804 night he (Mr. Edward Harrington) was in a position to announce that owing to their intervention, that gentleman was released that morning. He and his hon. Friends challenged Her Majesty's Government, through their partizan Lord Chancellor, to interfere with Mr. Latchford's Commission of the Peace. If his Commission were interfered with, they would certainly bring his case up again in a different form. He had some personal experience of the treatment of prisoners in Ireland, for he had been twice condemned to lie upon a plank bed. He had suffered under a Liberal as well as a Tory Administration in Ireland, and he believed on both occasions he was equally innocent or equally guilty. Reference had been made to the conduct of Irish prison doctors. Those officials had always been looked upon as men whose duty it was to interfere between the vindictiveness of the Government and the delicate constitutions of men committed to their charge. He well remembered a doctor coming to him in Tralee Gaol, and saying to him, "What can I do for you?" The doctor knew him personally, and he said—"I can order you anything, I can give you anything." His reply was—"I do not want anything from you, because I should only get it as a favour." The doctor said—"Oh, I can give you anything, because I am leaving here to-morrow." He understood that that was not the basis on which he wanted to be treated, and said, all he wanted was that if the doctor stayed there, he should treat all other prisoners as he treated him. When he was released from gaol, and met the doctor outside, that gentleman was afraid to shake hands with him, for fear that he might in consequence be deprived of his position. That, he maintained, was a disgraceful position for the prison doctor to be placed in. The doctors of Ireland looked to the Government for employment, and the doctor referred to did not like to offend his political Friends. As a matter of fact, the noble Profession of medicine in Ireland had been prostituted for political purposes. In his country a prison doctor was a partizan of the Government, and he could not hold his situation for 24 hours unless he pleased the Government.
§ Question put, and agreed to.