(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £369,288, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the expenses of the Constabulary Force, Ireland.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
, in rising to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £10,000, said, he thought it was only right he should call attention to the extraordinary state of the Public Business, seeing that the Committee were now asked on the 10th of December to proceed with the first of 93 yet remaining Votes out of a total of 204 1616 Votes in Committee of Supply. Perhaps a remark which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) on Friday night would throw some light on the matter. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imply that because there was great interest taken in a particular subject, in his opinion there ought to be very little discussion upon it. Now, whether in relation to a Bill laid before the House, or in regard to Votes of money in Committee of Supply, he ventured to say that the Government would make Progress in proportion as they recognized the feeling of the House and permitted freedom of discussion.
said, he wished to point out to the hon. Member that a general discussion was not allowed upon a particular Vote.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS
said, he was not going to proceed for more than one sentence further. He believed it was proposed by the Government that within three months of the present time these Votes in supply should be again brought before the Committee, and he took it that that was a promise which would be fulfilled. The Government asked the Committee this year for a sum of no less than £1,500,000 for the Force known as the Royal Irish Constabulary. The existence of this Force afforded perhaps a good illustration of the expenses of governing Ireland under the existing system. He ventured to assert that under a proper system £1 out of £3 might be struck off the cost, and that no less than £500,000 might be saved immediately by the introduction of a Government in accordance with the wants and wishes of the people of Ireland. The cost of the Force had been increasing in an extraordinary manner since 1871. In that year it amounted to 3s. 4d. per head of the population in Ireland; in 1876 it had risen to 3s. 11d.; in 1882 it was 4s. 6d.; in 1886 5s. 7d.; and for the present year 1888–9 the cost would exceed the sum of 6s. per head. Therefore, during the last 15 or 16 years the expense of the Force had nearly doubled. He would not go into minute details of the real reason why this enormous increase had taken place. One of the inconveniences of the present modes of voting the Estimates was that it was impossible in Committee of the whole House to go into minute 1617 details. If they had, as they might very well have, a select Committee appointed next year to inquire into the whole cost and administration of the Royal Irish Constabulary, he was sure that even without any change in the policy of administration or in the handling of the Force very great economies might be effected. One of the reasons why the Force was so very costly lay almost on the surface. He believed there was an economic law that the more disagreeable the vocation or functions a man had to perform the higher the remuneration paid for them. The duties of the Royal Irish Constabulary had been admitted by hon. Members on both sides of the House on more than one occasion to be at times of the most disagreeable nature. They had to perform against their own countrymen—against their own kith and kin—functions that were most unpleasant, and it could not be denied that for the performance of such duties they must more or less be bribed. He ventured to assert that the extravagant remuneration these officers received was largely in the nature of a bribe to them for performing against their countrymen services which they would otherwise not be willing to perform. He saw from the Vote that there were a great number of persons who were called officers of Constabulary, and it would be interesting to learn how it was that almost invariably those officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary were drawn from a particular class. He was bound, however, to admit that even after the experience they had had of the Irish Office it was astounding to hear the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) state in reply to a Question which he had repeated that day from Friday last, that there was no one in the Irish Office who could answer this Question—In what manner—whether by examination, nomination, length of service, or any other method—appointments are made to the positions in the Royal Irish Constabulary of County Inspectors, District Inspectors of first, second, and third class, head constables, sergeants, and sergeants (acting); and, whether there are any minimum or maximum limits of age in each of these ranks, and in that case what are they?Neither the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary nor the hon. and learned Solicitor General were in a position to afford the information he had asked for. It was an illustration of the manner in 1618 which Ireland was governed. The hon. and learned Solicitor General said that a Report had been called for, but he thought the Government ought to have it at their hands in Queen Street, so that it might be produced at any moment for every information in respect of the manner in which a great armed semi-military force of 13,000 was officered. There were, it appeared, some 300 officers of the rank of Sub-Inspectors and upwards, and one of his objects in putting the question was to discover the maximum and minimum age at which these appointments were made. When with the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) on a certain occasion he had been greatly impressed by the extreme juvenility of the Constabulary officer to whom the maintenance of the peace was entrusted. At a meeting which he attended with his hon. Friend there were present some 4,000 or 5,000 men, most of whom were in a state—he would not say of great excitement—but very keenly interested in what was going on in their immediate district. There was a mere handful of constables there—about 20 in number—carrying rifles and side-arms, ready at a word to carry out any instructions that might be given to them by their commanding officers. He asked who was in charge of the force, because, seeing the state of feeling among the people, and the handful of men in attendance to preserve the peace, he felt that great danger might ensue from the use of a hasty word. He was told that a sergeant was in charge. He went and spoke to the sergeant, who was a most courteous gentleman, but certainly not such a person as he would have looked for in a sergeant of any Police Force in England. He was quite a youth, had not risen from the ranks, and had seen very little service. He (Mr. J. E. Ellis) simply mentioned the circumstance because his contention was that a small force like that, armed with dangerous and deadly weapons, in the midst of a crowd of 4,000 or 5,000 people, ought not to have been under the charge of a man so young. There could be no question that on that occasion, as on many others, the peace was only preserved and a serious disturbance prevented by the exercise of the influence of the hon. Member for North-East Cork. The more violent 1619 among the crowd were certainly inclined to resent the intrusion among them of a handful of armed men. The officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary were mainly drawn from one class—the class which owned the land in Ireland. Many of them were landlords themselves, or landlords' sons, or the near connections of landlords, although, as everyone knew, the difficulties of Ireland arose almost entirely from agrarian troubles. When the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) was brought before the County Court Judge at Dundalk, on the 20th of June this year, there was a District Inspector present who indulged in constant interference with the people, so much so, that on more than one occasion the Judge was constrained to remark, "The people are very quiet; do not interfere with them." This District Inspector in charge of the Constabulary at Dundalk on the occasion to which he referred, was a landlord in Kerry, and if any hon. Member would visit that man's land he would see a picture which would shock even hon. Members sitting on the other side of the House. They had, therefore, this striking contrast—that while the hon. Member for East Mayo, a man universally beloved and esteemed throughout Ireland, was sent off to prison, they had in charge of the Constabulary an individual who was one of the very worst landlords they could find in the whole of the country. He mentioned this as an illustration of the system which prevailed in Ireland. The hon. Member for East Mayo was a so-called criminal, while the head of the Constabulary, who conveyed him there, was one of the worst types of an Irish landlord. He had said that the majority of the officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary were drawn from a particular class who were not in sympathy with the people, but, on the contrary, were the cause of all the trouble which existed in Ireland. An hon. Member of that House, speaking years ago upon the Naval and. Military Services of the country, referred to them as a gigantic system of out-door relief for the sons of the aristocracy. He would not pronounce any opinion as to the justice of that statement, but of this he was perfectly certain—that, as it was officered and administered now, the Royal Irish Constabulary was a system of out-door 1620 relief for the younger sons of the landlords of the country. The Members of the Force were employed in carrying out most un-English espionage. At the village railway stations they awaited the arrival of trains, they peered into carriages, they examined luggage, and they copied the names and addresses found upon it, and they avowed that they were on the look-out for prominent local politicians and members of the National League. It was impossible for visitors to take a country walk or drive without being followed by armed constables, and detectives were posted opposite hotels to watch their proceedings. It was not at all an unusual thing when a visitor to Ireland arrived at his hotel after a drive to find a detective belonging to the Constabulary posted outside the hotel watching his movements. The detestable diary about the late Mr. Mandeville's movements threw a lurid light upon what was going on in the case of any man who happened to take a side opposed to the Government. A good deal of the police espionage was done under the pretence of protection. Baron Dowse, on the 7th of May last, said—I see people guarded by the police every day where there is no necessity for it. They took to guarding me once, and I saw the policeman every day up Mountjoy Square smoking his pipe and reading The Freeman's Journal.The people of this country ought not to be called upon to pay for services of that kind, and he protested against the employment of detectives to follow the people about and watch their movements. The demeanour of the Constabulary in Ireland was at times most offensive. He would mention again the name of the District Inspector to whom he had already alluded. On the 29th of June, Mr. E. K. Supple, District Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary, was summoned by Mr. James Callan, Bridge Street, Dundalk, before the Petty Sessions, held in Dundalk, for having used language calculated to provoke a breach of the peace. During the hearing of the case it was sworn by three respectable witnesses that Mr. Supple said to the plaintiff, on the 20th June, "I will get your neck wrung off." Notwithstanding Mr. Supple's denial of the charge, the judgment of the Court was as follows— 1621We believe that Mr. Supple may have used the language complained of, but we do not consider it was calculated to lead to a breach of the peace.The hon. Member for East Kerry (Mr. Sheehan) was at this moment lying in prison for uttering words far less calculated to do so. On the 2nd of August, 1887, the same member of the Constabulary force admitted that he had settled a case outside the Court for £20, and the Inspector General of Constabulary severely admonished the man, and made him promise never to do so again. It was an outrage upon the people of Ireland that the man Supple should have been continued as District Inspector of the Constabulary of the County of Louth, and should have charge of the Constabulary on an occasion like that of the trial of the hon. Member for East Mayo at Dundalk, on the 20th of June. Conduct of this sort would not be tolerated in England for a single moment, and especially in a Court of Justice. He would quote now what took place at Loughrea when the hon. Member for North-East Cork was before the magistrates, after certain observations from counsel about himself—A man named Kielty, a head constable, was standing on the left-hand side of the Court, near the Bench, and muttered to the counsel for the defendant—'You would not say that out of Court.'Mr. Hodder: I do not think there is any justification for that.Mr. Bodkin: I am entitled, as an advocate, to comment upon the character of a witness. His prevarication in the witness-box yesterday was simply scandalous.Mr. Paul: I believe him to be a most respectable officer.Mr. Bodkin: Well, this most respectable officer could not give his evidence with any frankness yesterday, although he was swearing in the witness-box. It was only with great difficulty that we could extract straight answers from him.Mr. Harrington: I wish to draw your Worship's attention to the conduct of this man. He has come from the other side of the Court over here, in a most ostentatious manner, to intimidate Mr. Bodkin.Mr. Hodder (beckoning to the head constable): Go away from there.Mr. O'Brien: I heard this man distinctly say—'He will not say that outside the Court.'Mr. Paul: I heard it, too.Mr. Harrington; This is a nice man to have entrusted with the lives of the people of the town.Mr. Bodkin: Counsel are always justified in characterizing the conduct of witnesses. The man who behaves himself in this way in the 1622 Court is the man who has power to baton the people.Mr. Paul: The Head Constable had much provocation when he used the expression; but it is very much to be regretted that he used it.Mr. Bodkin: Not only did he make use of this expression, but he comes around here to intimidate counsel.He maintained that that was a state of things which could never occur in England. He would now quote a case that was heard at Kildysart Petty Sessions—the case of Sergeant Cotter v. Patrick Ryan. This was the report—Sergeant Cotter deposed that while on duty at Lisseycasey on the 17th January he heard some groaning, and turning round he saw the defendant near Mr. Hugh Hennessy's window, walked up to the defendant, Pat Ryan, and challenged him for so doing.Mr. Moloney: Were there others in the street with the defendant?Sergeant Cotter: Yes, Sir.Mr. Moloney: Might it not be one of those parties?Sergeant Cotter: No, Sir; I had my eyes on him, and I knew it to be him by his voice; I may also state that parties are also going into the fields and hills groaning and booing at us as we go out on duty.Defendant: I assure your worship that I am not guilty; I am a servant to Mr. Hennessy; a Kilrush man gave me his horse to hold; the night was dark; the police were some distance off, and if I were guilty of groaning I could have made off; I acknowledge that I coughed, but not groaned; there were several others on the road, but the police nowadays are not satisfied to allow the people to sneeze; it is unknown what they will try to goad the people into doing, as they are failing in nothing in the Courts; and as my solicitor, Mr. Lynch, is absent, I ask for an adjournment.Head Constable Hope: We are prosecuting under an old Act.Mr. Moloney: I have received a telegram from Mr: Lynch. I must accede to the defendant's application, and I very much regret that this bitter feeling between the police and people is on the increase. I would wish to impress on the people that the police must discharge their duties, and that they should not in any way be insulted, and, as far as in me lies, I will not allow it. Again, I would advise the police to try and make friends with the people, and to pass things that they consistently could, which may restore the former harmony between the people and the police.He was afraid that this advice, excellent though it was, had not been backed up by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He had never heard of any advice having been given by him to the police to pass things if they could consistently, to try and make things pleasant, and to behave in such a manner as not to provoke and irritate the people. It was quite impossible for 1623 anyone living only in England, who did not go about Ireland and make himself acquainted with what went on, to realize the way in which the Irish police dominated the lives of the peasantry in Ireland. Instead of being the friends and protectors of the people against real criminals, the police simply harassed and annoyed them. Now and then the Police Force of London, or of any other large town, might commit an act of indiscretion, but no attempt was ever made to pursue a persistent course of harassing, irritating, and annoying the people. In many instances the Irish Constabulary were guilty of conduct clearly illegal. Not only had the Act of last year created new offences hitherto unknown to the law, but it sanctioned proceedings on the part of the police of a still darker kind. An unfortunate man named M'Nulty, a peasant farmer, was seated by his own fireside, when, without warning, he was dragged into the road and searched, and certain money taken from him, the whole proceeding having been, as was admitted by the Constabulary afterwards, without warrant. In another case the name of the hon. Member for East Clare (Mr. Cox) was forged. It was admitted that Boycotting prosecutions were repeatedly got up. It was by no means an uncommon practice for the Constabulary to send one of their own men deliberately for goods they did not require, and of which there was known to be plenty in the police barracks at the time. The only object was to get a refusal, and then to prosecute the shopkeeper. It was merely setting a trap for these unfortunate people in order to bring them under the Coercion Act. He maintained that that was not a legitimate use of the Police Force. Members of the Constabulary were also employed in defacing and tearing down placards, for which they had no legal warrant; and they had interfered with public meetings in a most gross and wanton manner. He would leave other hon. Members who had been present on such occasions to protest against the use thus made of the police, as many of them had had personal experience of it. He would turn to another point—and it was one of the main causes of the existing trouble in Ireland—the employment of the police at evictions. The hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) moved some 1624 time ago for a special Return in connection with the Royal Irish Constabulary charges from the Votes in 1885–6, and he (Mr. J. E. Ellis) had continued the Return for 1886 and 1887. It appeared that in 1885 the extra pay of the Constabulary for eviction services was £10,776; in 1886 it was £20,297, and last year it was £20,223. These Returns, he supposed, did not represent the entire sum the taxpayers of the country had to pay for eviction services, but merely what those who prepared the Return chose to call extra pay. At any rate, according to the Return, the taxpayers were required to pay more than £400 a-week for the extra services of the Constabulary at evictions. He confessed that he was not so much concerned with the precise amount paid as with the whole policy of these evictions. It seemed to him that when they were told of organized plunder in Ireland, the organized plunder was on the side of those who used the costly Constabulary Force at the suit and beck of certain landlords in order to confiscate the toil of the peasants. But the Royal Irish Constabulary had recently had a new function laid upon them, for which he saw no charge in the Estimates. He did notice that there was a sum of £1,324 entered there for persons belonging to the Force who were in Great Britain. He imagined that a great deal more would have to be charged in next years' Estimate for officers of the Constabulary who were now in Great Britain. He was not surprised at the refusal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to disclose the names of the members of the Force who were attending the Special Commission now sitting in the Royal Courts of Justice. He had no intention of entering into the proceedings there, although some hon. Members would have something very frankly to say upon the matter when the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury moved a Vote for the Commission early next year. In reply to a Question from him that evening the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland stated that two persons, neither of whom, however, was connected with the Constabulary, were at present in London. He would not allude further to that fact, but he would like to call the attention of the Committee to the proceedings before the Commission in reference to 1625 the evidence of a man named James Walsh, who came up for examination the other day. In reply to questions put to him in cross-examination by Mr. Davitt, Walsh disclosed a curious proceeding, which ought to be brought more prominently into notice. This youth admitted that a certain police constable had been to him with respect to his evidence before the Commission, and had some conversation with him, which probably presented a type of what was going on in Ireland. He would read what took place.Before the police constable went to you, had you any communication with the police yourself?—No, Sir.Cross-examined by Mr. Davitt. When you were sent for by this policeman was there any threat to prosecute you for dishonesty if you would not give evidence?—There was.Was the threat used by the District Inspector or by O'Connor?—By the District Inspector.Will you tell their Lordships what the threat was?—He said he did not know what would happen me about that insurance company.If you did not give your evidence here?—He did not state. He said he did not know what would happen me about that insurance company.And you took that as threat?—I did, Sir.After the District Inspector referred to the insurance company, what else did he say?—That is all I remember about the insurance company.What did you say to the District Inspector when he referred to the insurance fraud?—I did not say anything at all.You volunteered to come and give evidence after he had used this threat against you?—Yes.It was monstrous that a District Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary should be sent about Ireland threatening people about extraneous matters in order to frighten them into coming to London and giving evidence before the Commission. The evidence of the youth, it was true, was not worth anything, for he came to bless The Times, and remained to curse. Even the Judges realized that the time of the Court was wasted by taking the evidence of such a person. He protested, in the strongest manner possible, against the Royal Irish Constabulary being employed in touting all over Ireland and making use of threats in order to get up evidence for The Times newspaper. It was no part of the duties for which they were created, and he was sure there were many Members sitting on the other side of the House who would frankly admit that it was a duty they ought not to be called 1626 on to perform. He had said nothing about the loss of life which had been brought about in Ireland through the fault of the police. It was exactly in accordance with the policy of "Do not hesitate to shoot;" "Fire into the crowd;" "Do not hesitate to kill," given to them from the Table of that House by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. He charged the Government and their supporters with maintaining this costly Force at all hazards to harass, oppress, and molest the Irish people in the interests of the landlords who would not come to reasonable terms with their tenants. Knowing these things, and many other features in the present detestable mode of governing Ireland, they were asked to restrain their impatience. He frankly owned that he was unable to restrain his impatience at what was now going on. It was one of the traditions of that House that an hon. Member should be prepared to say inside the House what he had no hesitation in saying out of it. But that tradition was not always acted upon, especially in the case of one of the hon. Members for Cornwall, who talked to his constituents about the affair at Mitchelstown, declaring that it ought to be made the subject of an inquiry, and yet never rose in that House to insist on that inquiry, but sedulously supported the Government in the Lobby when it tried to shirk such an inquiry. For his own part he could not refrain from expressing in that House his sense of the great wrong done to the people of Ireland by the behaviour of a Force of that character for which they were now asked to Vote £1,500,000. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £10,000.
Before I put the Question raised by the Amendment, I must point out to the Committee that it is a growing practice which is likely to lead to inconvenience, if not to indecency, to challenge criticism with reference to remarks made by the Chairman outside the House, while he was in the Chair and it was impossible for him to reply to them.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said, that at the end of 1880, or in the spring of 1881, Ministers sitting on the Bench opposite admitted that this was a question of great and pressing importance; that the charge for the Irish Constabulary was unnecessarily large; that it was still growing rapidly, and that it was desirable that something should be done to lessen the scandal and reduce the charge. Seven years had since elapsed and what had they seen. There had been a rapid decrease of population, but the cost of the Constabulary had continued growing at an enormous rate—a fact, he maintained, without fear of contradiction—without parallel throughout the whole of the civilized world. What was the history of this Force? In 1845 a Bill was introduced into that House by way of giving relief under great pressure to those who then controlled the representation of the Irish people—the landed gentry. It was introduced for the purpose of shifting one half of the cost of the Irish Constabulary, which up to that time had very properly be borne by the ratepayers, to the Consolidated Fund. That proposal was a monstrous one; it was debated hotly and the Bill was protested against at the time by some hon. Members, first, because it was a corrupt bribe to the landed aristocracy of Ireland, and next, because it would tend irresistibly to the creation of a large un-Constitutional armed force in that country. It was urged that if they created a Police Force in Ireland, which was not on the local rates for support, but maintained entirely from the Votes of Parliament, it would be emancipated from all control by the ratepayers, and would become entirely a military force, but outside the scope of the Mutiny Act—a thing which the people of any free country would not tolerate for a single moment. That was an example of what happened. It was a bribe to the landlords of Ireland. They felt to their own discomfort that there was a constant tendency on the part of the cost of the police to increase and multiply. They felt the burden growing, and they came to Parliament to demand that the expense of the Royal Irish Constabulary should be borne entirely by the taxpayers of the country. 1628 What had been the story of the Irish police since? It would hardly be credited that since 1845, when half the cost of the Constabulary was shifted from the rates to the Consolidated Fund, the total cost of the Force was £430,000, and the population of Ireland was 8,250,000. The state of agrarian disturbance was infinitely greater then, but at present they spent upon the Constabulary, for doing the same work, no less a sum than £1,450,000, although the population was only about 4,750,000. He repeated that this was a monstrous scandal, and that it was impossible to produce another scandal like it in any other country. How had it been brought about? It had been brought about because they had removed the wholesome check which used to exist in the past when the landlords had to pay for their own little game and to bear the burden of their action, they created a disturbance in the country. Irish landlords could carry out any insane a oppressive proceeding they pleased against the people, and entail those monstrous charges which were now borne by the Imperial Exchequer without a single shilling falling upon themselves. No landlord in England would act as Lord Clanricarde did, because, if he attempted to do so, he would disturb the country, and public opinion would make him suffer socially until he abandoned such conduct. Probably the reason they had not got in England the same oppressive conduct was that no English landlord dared to do what the landlords were doing in Ireland in these days. If he did, his brother landlords would bring pressure to bear upon him. They had removed that wholesome check from the Irish landlords with the result that £1,000,000 had been added to the taxes as the cost of the Irish police, practically in order to enable the landlords to misbehave themselves. He was not aware that there was any other country in the world in which the Central Government bore the entire cost of the police. He was not sufficiently learned as to the condition of Europe to say whether that was so or not, but if it was the case, he maintained that it was a radical mistake, and would surely lead to disastrous results. Where the Central Government bore the cost of the police that Central Government would naturally insist upon having the 1629 control of the Force. In the United States of America, where local liberty was best understood of any country in the world, the policy pursued was exactly the reverse, and this condition of things prevailed—that each county in the State made provision for the police of its own district. He believed that that was one of the most valuable checks that could be placed upon any Executive Government. At all events it could not be said of Ireland that it had not enough police. It was pointed out in the debate upon the Education Vote the other day, that the cost of the police in Ireland was double as much as that for education. In England they voted over £3,000,000 towards primary education, and short of £1,000,000 towards the police, excluding the police of the Metropolis; in Ireland they voted for the police nearly double what they voted for education. What was the cause that in Ireland they voted only £800,000 for the education of the people, and £1,500,000 for the police—or, in other words, double as much for police as for education—whereas in England they voted three times as much for education as for police? It was a deplorable and monstrous mistake. It might be said by hon. Gentlemen opposite that that disproportion was due to the political agitation of himself and his hon. Friends; but he asserted that it was in full swing before he or any of his Friends stood on any platform in Ireland. It existed in 1879, and, on the contrary, their agitation was the direct result of the detestable system of which that Police Force was the expression. It was because millions were voted for the police and the Force was placed at the disposal of evil-minded Irish landlords that Ireland was in an agitated state, and the people saw in the National movement their only hope of redemption. He defied any hon. Member to point to any part of the world where so much was spent upon the police as in Ireland; notwithstanding which fact they found in that country the poorest and most disturbed districts. Things went on in a vicious circle in these districts, where sums were levied from the unfortunate people for extra police. First, there existed great distress in a district, then came disturbances arising out of that distress, then extra police were sent down, their cost being thrown on the impoverished district; and thus the evil 1630 was perpetuated. As a means of relieving the distress of the people, heavy and unnecessary burdens were thrown on them, and the little that they had was taken from them. In County Clare, a very poor district, and one of the most disturbed, he found the Grand Jury protesting the other day against the levy upon the county this year of a sum of £6,000 for extra police. Notwithstanding the large sum which the taxpayers had to pay for the support of the Irish police, a heavy burden was imposed upon poor and disturbed districts locally. The necessity for the employment of extra police arose solely from the oppressive evictions carried out by the landlords. It was important for the Committee to understand what was the occupation of the police in Ireland, and why it was that such an enormous number of men was required in peaceful and quiet districts where ordinary crime was actually unknown. What was the proportion of the police to the population? The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis) had alluded to one of the occupations of the Irish police—namely, that detestable practice of waiting at the railway stations and spying into the carriages as each train arrived. There could not be fewer than 300—probably 500—men engaged in that occupation at the stations.
§ MR. DILLON
said that two or three men took their stand at every railway station and peeped into every carriage, taking a note of every person they saw there, Putting down the force so employed at 500, and possibly he underrated it, for its maintenance at least £50,000 was spent. It was a monstrous waste of money on a system of espionage that was most odious and detestable to the Irish people, and would not be allowed in any other country under any circumstances whatever. Another occupation of the police in Ireland was the organization of outrages. It, indeed, became a question whether or not a Select Committee should be appointed in order to find out whether the Irish police kept agents in their pay for the purpose of keeping up outrages. The story of Cullinane, the informer, certainly pointed in that direction. Information had been placed in their hands to the 1631 effect that there were men similar to Cullinane now going through Ireland, whose occupation was to induce the young men of the country to enter into secret societies and then to hand them over to the Authorities. Another occupation of the police was that of attending evictions. He would not go into that matter now, but he would simply say that the system of employing police had been carried to such an extent in Ireland as to become a gross abuse. If a citizen of London wished his house to be watched by the police, he understood that the citizen so desiring police protection had to make a contribution towards the expenses. What was the case in Ireland? If an Irish landlord had an empty farm on his property and chose to say that the state of the district was disturbed, constables were sent, not only to watch the farm, but to reside on it at the expense of the British taxpayer. The landlord got all he needed without a question being asked, and he paid no part of the expense. Take the case of Lord Clanricarde. The action of Lord Clanricarde was not only condemned by hon. Members sitting on that side of the House but by hon. Members on the opposite side and even by the Authorities. Now, what was the state of things existing on the Clanricarde estate? At the present moment there were a considerable number of evicted farms, most of which he had visited, and he had seen four or five members of the Constabulary living on those farms and so tied down by the duties they had to perform there that it was impossible for them to do anything else. The last time he was there, there were 16 men on Lord Clanricarde's estate engaged in watching those farms, and doing nothing else, at a probable cost of from £1,600 to £1,700 a-year. Now every single individual who paid taxes looked upon Lord Clanricarde as an unmitigated public nuisance, and strongly condemned the conduct he had pursued towards his tenants. Nevertheless, the country had to bear the expense. Considering the opinion held of Lord Clanricarde by the Executive, as well as by the people generally, he could not understand on what principle he was to be treated with this extraordinary generosity, and he awaited with curiosity an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. This was one of the functions 1632 now discharged by a vast number of the police in Ireland—namely, living upon and watching evicted farms, and there could be very little doubt that many thousands of pounds were expended every year in carrying out this objectionable system. As it was a system which the Executive were not bound to carry out at all, he thought that it ought to be stopped at once, and a great saving in the public expenditure effected in consequence. With the permission of the Committee he would examine for a moment the cost of some of those operations. It was a question which hon. Members below the Gangway had brought before the House over and over again, and he thought the time had arrived when Her Majesty's Government should put an end to the system of marching large bodies of the Constabulary out into the country in order to take part in evictions at an enormous cost. When Lord Clanricarde evicted his tenants in the parish of Woodford it cost the country between £3,000 and £4,000 to evict four families. A similar large cost had been incurred in many other cases, and he was informed that at the present moment a large miscellaneous force was advancing on a remote and extremely poor district of Donegal for the purpose of carrying out evictions in the district. He referred to the march of an armed force upon the Holford estate in the County of Donegal. It was in the power of the Executive to stop these evictions that were about to take place in the vicinity of one of the most scandalous and disgraceful transactions in the whole history of police operations in Ireland—he referred to the successive expeditions against the tenantry on the Hill estate at Gweedore, which, although they resulted in absolutely nothing at all, had put the country to enormous cost. There were most spurious circumstances connected with the expeditions themselves, and had led to no good results whatever, because the tenants and the landlord had arranged on the terms originally asked by the tenants, and even if the landlord failed to get the rents he wished to exact, he was able to obtain compensation in a totally different way. Besides, it so happened that the landlord was the owner of a large hotel at Gweedore, and every year, sometimes twice a year, there had been a large encampment of British officers 1633 and men, Resident Magistrates, Constabulary officers and police quartered in the district, who lived at the hotel, so that the landlord was able to realize out of the expeditions a sum quite equal to the rents, and this, too, was realized by the landlord out of the taxpayers' money. This was the story that was current, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary whether it was true or not that the military and constabulary lived at Captain Hill's hotel while they were being employed in carrying out the evictions? If it was, it was one of the most monstrous scandals that had ever occurred, that money should be voted by Parliament for bogus expeditions which resulted in nothing beyond a waste of public resources, a considerable portion of which found its way into the pocket of the landlord on whose behalf the expeditions were conducted. They were now to have a large expedition marched upon the Olphert estates. He was told that there had been a total failure of the crops in the district, that the tenants were in a state of extreme poverty, and that even if they carried out the terms they had offered to the landlord it was extremely probable that they would be compelled to set up a claim for relief. Unhappily that was a state of things that had occurred in Ireland over and over again, and it was one of the things which made Irishmen so bitter when harsh extremities were resorted to. He knew eases in which, after the tenants had been compelled to pay rent and sometimes costs in addition, before the year was out they had to be fed by the British public. Surely, in cases like that, the armed force of the country ought not to be employed by the Executive in wringing the last shilling from an impoverished tenantry who were absolutely unable to provide themselves with a livelihood. He would invite hon. Members to go over to those remote districts of Ireland where the troops and Constabulary had been, and were being employed, and visit the cabins of the people, so that they might ascertain for themselves how the Irish people lived. He did not think if they had experience of that kind that they would consent to allow the forces of the country to be kept up at such an inordinate expense, in order that it might be employed in carrrying out such a vicious system— 1634 a system which resulted in the demolition of the cottages of the people by the battering-rams of the authorities. He thought it would be only wise for hon. Members to satisfy themselves what the real facts of the case were before they allowed expeditions of this kind, of a semi-military character, to be despatched. He must remind the Committee that they were not ordinary police operations, but operations of a character which endangered the peace of the district, in regard to which the Executive Government ought to exercise some degree of discretion before arousing those wretched people to a state of absolute madness and despair. That was the condition of things where the last great police expedition was now actually in motion for the purpose of carrying out their evictions. The tenants on the Olphert estate had offered to pay a fair rent. There were not many arrears, and where they existed they were due to the state of destitution which had prevailed in the locality. The country was a very poor one, and the tenants were extremely impoverished, and it certainly appeared to him that it was an act of inhumanity, and of purposeless inhumanity, to allow this expedition to proceed. He thought he was only doing what was fair and right in bringing the matter before the Committee, inasmuch as the money they were now asked to vote might be used for the purpose of paying the expenses incurred in this very expedition. He proposed now to say a word or two upon the conduct of the police generally throughout the country, in reference to public meetings and political demonstrations. As he understood, the general notion of the Police Force was that it should have no Party feeling whatever. The very essence of the usefulness of the Police Force was that the people of the country among whom it operated should have confidence in its absolute impartiality between all parties. How on earth could they expect the Police Force to be useful in discovering crime if they forfeited the confidence of a large section of the people? He regretted to say that the police had been encouraged and incited to assume an attitude of hostility to the people by the authorities themselves. Even the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had gone out of his way to make strongly inflammatory 1635 speeches to them in the Phœnix Park. This course of treatment rendered the police almost entirely useless for the two purposes for which they were supposed to exist. He was sorry to say that this feeling of hostility towards the people was growing, and was encouraged day by day—and to such a pitch had it now come that in considerable districts the police could hardly get anybody to speak to them at all. If the Police Force of the country could not get on speaking terms with the people of the country, how on earth could they proceed to carry out their real functions, which related to the prevention and detection of crime? At the present moment there was a great gulf yawning between the police and the people, and for all the ordinary purposes of the police the Constabulary Force in Ireland were almost entirely useless. Where they were able to succeed in doing anything, it required 10 men to do the work of one, and even then it was not done as effectually as if they had at their command the assistance of the people outside. To give an instance of what he meant, he would refer to an incident which occurred, within his personal knowledge, in the town of Kilrush. In the month of May last, on a certain evening, the Nationalist Party held a meeting in the district, and had succeeded in holding it without the police being aware of what was going on. After the meeting was over he went into the town of Kilrush. No doubt the local sergeant was exasperated at the holding of the meeting there without his knowledge. He (Mr. Dillon) was seated at the priest's house at dinner, when he noticed in front of it, upon a large open square—containing at least an acre and a-half of land—in the middle of the town, with houses very wide apart, that some people had assembled to the number of about 100. They were principally boys and girls and women, with a few men, and they were doing what was a very common thing in Ireland, burning tar-barrels and making bonfires. There was no obstruction whatever, and the proceedings that were taking place were a very common occurrence all over Ireland. When he saw the light he got up from the dinner-table and went to the door. To his horror, the moment he got there he saw a body consisting of some 20 police drawn up and formed on the flank of the crowd. Before a 1636 single word of warning, or any kind of notice whatever—just in the twinkling of an eye—he and seven or eight priests who were standing at the door of the house of the parish priest's saw what was about to take place. A crowd of boys and girls rushed past, and then the police, with their rifles clubbed, charged upon them. Now, he maintained that nothing whatever had been done by this innocent assemblage of men, women, and children to justify the police in coming out of their barracks at all for the purpose of opposing the mob. No difference had taken place, and all were standing in the square in perfect good humour, without the possibility of a difference of opinion arising. The police had no business there at all. Fortunately the priests were courageous men; they rushed between the people and the police, and the police, without orders, stopped their charge, and then contented themselves with kicking over the tar-barrels and scattering the bonfires all over the place. Of course the public objected, but no harm was done. "Are you mad?" said one of them to a police constable. "No, I am not mad," replied the police officer; "but they are booing my name, and I cannot stand it." Was conduct like that to be tolerated on the part of the police? Was it to be laid down as a principle that if a handful of men, women, and children "boohed" the police, without offering them violence, the police, who had come there with a determination, if possible, to provoke acts of violence and to insult the people, should charge the crowd with clubbed muskets simply for the new offence of "boohing?" He thought that a monstrous outrage had been committed by the police, and it was one which certainly made his blood boil at the time. He made an inquiry into the matter subsequently, and he found that the officer in charge of the police was a very young man. On asking who he was, he was told that he had been promoted over the heads of a great many older men, for the simple reason that he had married the daughter of a bailiff of one of the neighbouring landlords. He had certainly been surprised to see a head constable in charge of a police force so young and evidently inexperienced. It was only a specimen, however, of what they had to submit to in Ireland. The result of the system was 1637 that the relations between the police in Kilrush and the people of the surrounding districts were as bad as bad could be. Before he left this particular case, he should like to give an instance which occurred under his own eyes, to show how unjust the charge was that was levelled against the Irish Members by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary the other day in reference to their inciting the people to disorder. On one particular occasion, when he was going to attend a large public meeting at which there were from 7,000 to 8,000 people present, as he was proceeding along the road about 200 young farmers from the County Clare followed the car in which be was seated, and in the middle of the road they met a solitary police constable driving a dog-cart. There was a great feeling of exasperation existing in the locality against the police. The constable was passing along the middle of the road, and those farmers only needed to have backed one of their horses to have thrown him into the ditch, yet that great body of men rode by and never lifted a hand to injure him; and yet it was charged against the Irish people, by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, that they were incited by agitators, whenever they were in numbers and found a police constable alone, to attack him and murder him. There was not the least foundation for the charge. Whenever the police came in contact with the people in inferior numbers, and found themselves greatly outnumbered, the peace was perfectly preserved and no disturbance arose. It was only when the police were in great force that trouble took place; and a disturbance was invariably started by the police themselves, who, under such circumstances, displayed an anxiety to annoy and attack individuals who were engaged in carrying on political demonstrations in a public and orderly manner. What happened not long ago at Dundalk? He was on his way to be tried at the Court, and when he entered the town, and was waiting at the Dundalk Station, various Public Bodies of the district, including the Poor Law Guardians, the Harbour Commissioners of Dundalk, the Town Commissioners of Dundalk, and five or six other bodies of respectable inhabitants waited upon him, and presented him with addresses. At 1638 least such a proceeding ought to have been treated as a fair and legitimate one, but what happened? Before the train came into the station at all, the police, who had marched up where they had no business whatever, ordered a charge to be made, and cleared out the entire body of men who had collected there. When he arrived in the train great confusion prevailed; and he found members of the Town Council and Town Commissioners, and a considerable number of the most respectable inhabitants of the town, scrambling over walls and diving under hedges, in order to escape an indiscriminate charge of the police armed with batons. Well, he drove to the Court House. It had always been his rule on such occasions to express his willingness and anxiety to enter into arrangements with the magistrates in charge to stop the people at any distance from the Court House which he might chose to name. He had always publicly stated that he did not claim the right of bringing a large crowd in direct proximity to the Court House. On such occasions the magistrates had generally said—"I cannot allow the crowd to go beyond a certain point." In every such case the wishes of the magistrates had been complied with. On this occasion, however, at Dundalk a body of Dragoons had been brought down to the station to act in conjunction with the police, and on the way to the Court House those Dragoons rode over the people, trampling upon them, and dispersing them in every direction. He saw policemen running by the side of the carriage in which he was seated, butting at everybody within reach with their rifles. What was the result? The whole crowd of military, police, and everybody else arrived at the Court House pell-mell together, so that, instead of drawing a cordon round the Court House, and preventing the crowd from getting there—in doing which he would willingly have assisted the authorities—the whole affair was so mismanaged that the entire crowd was brought there together. The result was that there was considerable pressure and squeezing round the Court, whereupon the police were ordered to clear the people away. In carrying out their orders an English lady was knocked down and considerably crushed. He thought this was an instance which 1639 clearly proved the want of confidence that existed between the police and the people. These circumstances naturally produced a feeling of irritation; and later on, in the evening, upon the same day, when the people had assembled in the street, and were listening to a speech made from the hotel wimdow, a small body of police took two prisoners into custody, and attempted, as at Mitchelstown, to draw them by main force through the crowd, claiming a right of way. That showed anything but a conciliatory spirit. The force of police was very small, and might easily have been attacked. As it was, the crowd was broken up, and two or three stones were thrown, and a number of respectable persons were afterwards summoned for taking part in an illegal assembly. They were brought up before a special magistrate, convicted, of course, and sentenced to a month's imprisonment each. He, himself, had the pleasure of seeing 15 or 16 of the most respectable men of Dundalk walking round the prison yard in convict's dress for no offence whatever, so far as he could see, than that they had gone to the railway station to meet him in order to present him with an address. This proceeding only entailed upon the police considerable trouble and annoyance. They found themselves unable to go out alone, and the patrols were doubled. Therefore, considerable expense must have resulted from that act of folly. Those were the kind of matters they so strenuously objected to on behalf of the Irish people; and it was perfectly futile to make baseless charges against them, and assert that they were the cause of all the difficulty. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who made this charge against the Irish Members, to enter into questions of detail, and explain on what occasion they had been the cause of those evils. Would the right hon. Gentleman justify such acts as those he had mentioned? Would the right hon. Gentleman stand up and say that the spirit of the police in Ireland was to stand perfectly neutral between the Nationalists and the power of the Executive Government? He maintained that the right hon. Gentleman ought to do so. He contended that the police in the discharge of their duty ought to have no politics. He had noticed that when the Tories were in 1640 Office they invariably instructed the police to baton and break up every Liberal meeting, while they extended their protection to Tory meetings. If such a thing took place in this country, would the people stand it? Yet it could not be denied that such was the spirit and training in which the Irish police had been brought up. He knew it had been charged against himself and his Friends that they had laid themselves out deliberately to incite the people against the Executive. So far as he was concerned that was not the fact, although he had always resented, and should continue to resent, the employment of the Royal Irish Constabulary in an oppressive manner against the Irish people. He had always spoken, and always should speak, with the greatest respect of those policemen who exhibited a spirit of neutrality; but those who acted in a contrary spirit ceased to be, in any sense of the word, policemen. They became, all over the world, a term of reproach. They were not policemen, but they were a kind of political gens d'armes—the same class of people as those against whom, as agents of the Third Empire in France, the English people had so strongly inveighed. They were political agents who were instructed to work with the political enemies of the people of Ireland, and to show the people that they were their enemies. This was thoroughly well known to everybody who had lived in Ireland, or who had anything to do with Irish legislation. It was quite a matter of notoriety. In proof of it, he would refer to an incident which occurred in the County of Limerick about two years ago. There was a large force employed in carrying out evictions at Herbertstown. It happened that an English gentleman, from the town of Oldham, was standing in the road looking on. He was charged by the police, and batoned so severely that he was rendered black and blue all over with bruises. But what occurred on the following day? The magistrate waited upon him, and said—"I have called upon you to offer an apology on the part of my men who batoned you yesterday. Their excuse is that they took you for an Irish Member of Parliament." The gentleman in question wrote to him stating the circumstances, and giving him his name and address. It was no 1641 isolated or no absurd case at all; but it was entirely characteristic of the spirit of both men and officers in the Irish Constabulary, or, at any rate, of the spirit which the Executive endeavoured to put into them. He knew perfectly well that there were many men in Ireland who wore a policeman's jacket who hated the system as much as he did. Indeed, there were many hundreds of them. He had frequently received kindly offers from Irish policemen. He recollected one night while driving through a town in the North of Ireland that a man came to him and tucked the rug under his feet, saying, "God bless you, Sir, and give you success." Just as the carriage was going away, he saw from the gold lace on the arm of the man that he was in command of the police of the town. Of course it was impossible for him to mention the locality. If it had been daylight, and not in the dark, that officer would never have spoken to him at all. He knew that there were hundreds of men connected with the Irish Constabulary who hated the system under which they lived, but who had yielded to the temptation of enormous pay, and which made them continue in a career of which their conscience did not approve. The spirit which the officers sought to imbue their men with—the spirit of the speeches made to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—was a spirit by the practice of which the authorities of Dublin Castle held out the only way to obtain promotion. It converted the Force into political gens d'armes, animated by a spirit of partizanship, of hatred and hostility to the people among whom they lived. Any man animated by a different feeling, who was suspected of entertaining sympathy and kindly feeling towards the people, was certain not to get promotion. It was only when he was prepared to act as an enemy of the people that he might expect promotion. He was not surprised that it was found necessary to back up such a detestable system by the payment of enormous salaries. In the whole history of political police there was not to be found out of Ireland a more expensive, and, in the truest sense, a more worthless Police Force in all the world.
§ MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
said, the reason why he should oppose the Vote in every way he possibly could, 1642 in order to show his dissatisfaction with it, was, that it was not a question of a small character at all. It was not a question that affected the conduct of one or of certain men in a particular district. If it were simply a question of the conduct of this policeman or of that Constabulary officer, the matter would be of trifling importance, and could be remedied at once in the proper way. But unfortunately a state of things had grown up in Ireland which constituted a system which, to some extent, excused every man whose conduct they were compelled to condemn, because the fault did not rest wholly on the Force, but on the system, which put them in an entirely false position. Now, what they had to remember was that the police in Ireland were no longer the guardians of the public peace, but part of a political organization for the purpose of maintaining despotic rule in Ireland. That was simply what it came to. They might put it in any way they liked, but sooner or later every honest and intelligent man must come back to this—that it was a simple question whether they could establish or retain—where they had already established it—in some parts of Ireland, a despotism which was as terrible a despotism, and as perfect a tyranny, as was ever known in any part of the world. In order to maintain it they were compelled to convert those who were supposed to be the guardians of the public peace, and who ought to hold a perfectly fair and even balance between the different Parties of the State, into a political organization, using them for carrying out evictions in a way which was utterly indefensible and extravagant. He wanted to know by what right the police were to be called on to support a landlord in making a demand which the Head of the Police himself, or the Resident Magistrate, admitted to be an unfair demand? That was exactly what took place at Coolroe. He heard the magistrate at Coolroe give evidence afterwards, at the trial in the little village of Arthurstown, in regard to the circumstances of the eviction. Before an attempt was made to put the evictions in force Canon Doyle made an offer on behalf of the people whose property was about to be attacked, and which offer was, in the judgment of Mr. Considine, the Magistrate, a fair one. 1643 Mr. Considine then and there stated that the offer was a reasonable and fair one. But what happened? He thought he was entitled to say, as a matter of fair argument, that, inasmuch as the offer made by the tenants was a fair offer and was not accepted, the tenants' house ought not to have been battered down. The proceedings that were resorted to subsequently were, in his opinion, an act of gross tyranny and oppression. He did not care whether the act was legal or not. If it was legal it only made the matter worse. It was because the landlords had power to shield themselves under the protection of British law, with all the power of the police and military, that those proceedings became bad and painful. Whatever the law might be, when an entirely unprejudiced witness like Mr. Considine was of opinion that the proposition made on behalf of the tenants was a fair one, it was a monstrous thing that the police in such a case should be called in afterwards to take part in an attack upon the houses and property of the people. But that was not all. This kind of work was now going on everywhere, and it was carried out with an extraordinary amount of cruelty. He was not at Coolroe at the time of the evictions; but when the case was tried, on returning from Arthurstown, where the trial took place, he went out of the way in order to examine the locality. As he passed by the house of Mr. Byrne, the landlord at whose instance the evictions took place, this was what happened. The police at that time were watching Byrne in order to protect him, as it was said, from the indignation and wrath of the people of the neighbourhood. Greater nonsense he believed had never been talked than the dangers which the Constabulary were supposed to prevent. The danger did not exist at all, and Mr. Byrne in this case would have been perfectly unharmed if he had been left alone. It was a settled purpose, however, of some people to make a tremendous parade of protecting certain men in certain places, and the case of Mr. Byrne was an admirable illustration of this. On the day of trial the little village of Arthurstown was crowded with police. He took occasion the other night to mention the number of police whom he and some of his friends actually counted at the time. The fact was an important one in regard to the circum- 1644 stances he was about to mention. The entire number of civilians he saw was 58, and the number of the police who mingled with them in order to keep them in order was 68; therefore it would be perfectly clear that Mr. Byrne would be quite safe when he got there. An hon. Member of that House who was employed to defend the Coolroe prisoners desired that Mr. Byrne should be brought into Court for the purpose of cross-examination. A police officer was accordingly sent out in order to procure Mr. Byrne's attendance. Perhaps it was as well that he should state that in the first instance it was reported that Byrne did not choose to go there, and would not go for anybody. No doubt if such a message had been sent in from the other side it would have created great indignation, and the man who made such a statement would have been brought in by force. It was not till the following day that Mr. Byrne came to the Court; the magistrate was in attendance on the Bench at 10 o'clock in the morning, and the Court House was surrounded with police, but it was not until 2 o'clock in the afternoon that Mr. Byrne came. In the meantime the Resident Magistrate, who had obviously received his instructions, made an excuse for the non-appearance of the witness, because he said that the man was unable to attend until a force of police went out to protect him. Under any circumstances the distance was only a mile-and-a-half, and his attendance ought to have been secured in a couple of hours, but there was no reason whatever why he should not have been there at 10 o'clock in the morning. As a matter of fact, all the parties interested in the case had to wait until it suited the convenience of this gentleman to attend. When he did arrive, the procession which escorted him was something touching. There were four outside cars crowded with police. Perhaps it might have been necessary to have preceded the car by which Mr. Byrne rode by a police car; but he failed to see why it should have been followed by two more cars. It was just one of those pieces of wretched, pitiful parade which had often occurred in Ireland; and, so far as Mr. Byrne was concerned, there was really no more danger to him than if he had been on the floor of the House of Commons. Mr. Byrne was to be protected all day long, and all night long. 1645 When all the police went away he must have trembled for his life, for all that he could find out was that he was attended by two constables who were supposed to be engaged in taking care of him. As he (Mr. Waddy) drove by the house they were certainly not doing much for him—one of them was standing in a ditch, and the other was leaning against a wall, while Mr. Byrne had gone away to attend his farming operations, with nobody to take care of him at all. The whole thing was a miserable delusion and a snare from beginning to end; and the evil of it was that the country had to pay for the use of the police for such ridiculous purposes when there was no necessity for their employment at all. The other night he had occasion to mention an occurrence which took place in the town of Limerick. At a meeting on the 27th of September, 1887, in the oounty of Limerick, there were some 30,000 or 40,000 people present. The police did not appear, and everything went off peaceably and quietly. Afterwards there was a disturbance; and, of course, it was said that the disturbance was caused by the people. He did not believe there was the slightest truth in that allegation, because he held in his hand a description of the conduct of the police given by The Dublin Daily Express, which was the organ of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and the Government, and, therefore, might be regarded as a witness of truth. The writer of an article in that paper—and it must be remembered that The Dublin Daily Express invariably undercoloured everything against the police, while it overcoloured what told against the people—the writer in The Daily Express said—The disorder has abated. The police are charging down the streets"—why they should be engaged in charging down the streets when the disorder had abated he could not understand—there have been hissing and groaning and throwing of stones"—Under such circumstances, what did the police do? According to this witness—the ordinary passers by have been knocked down.That was a description given of this occurrence not by hon. Members who 1646 were filled with wrath at the wrongs of Ireland, but by an organ of Her Majesty's Government—A part of the body of police passing Cruiser's Hotel"—the largest hotel in Limerick—a body of police passing Cruiser's Hotel commanded some gentlemen looking out of the window to shut it, and as their request was not complied with one constable flung his baton at the window and smashed the glass, while others threw stones through, one of those missiles grazing Mr. E. W. Fitzgerald's head. It appeared that the attack upon the hotel originated in this way—some gentlemen opened the window in order to pull in a boy whom the police were abusing. The police thereupon attacked the window with their batons and stones, smashing three of them, and threatening to enter the establishment. In consequence of the continued assaults of the police the lower part of the hotel was vacated. It would further appear that a number of the police went to Miss M'Burnie's establishment, from which they said they had been assaulted; they rushed upstairs and boat the occupants, including a young lady named White.That was a description given of those occurrences by a Tory organ thoroughly anti-Nationalist in its views and opinions; yet in every street along which he rode, when there were between 30,000 and 40,000 people present and there were no police, the people were kept in perfect order and good humour. On the occasion of which he spoke there was not the slightest disorder during the whole day, nor any complaint, and he believed that it was because no policemen or soldiers could be found in the whole city that that result was produced. Exactly the same kind of thing took place at Arthurstown, and without trusting to the views of Nationalist supporters he had given chapter and verse of the affair at Limerick from the organ of the Government itself. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) had told them what took place under his own eye, and in that case the interference of the police was just as unjustifiable. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary rose in his place and told them that this unfortunate state of things was solely the consequence of the incitement of agitators who paraded the country. Probably they would be told the same thing again. The statement had been repeated ad nauseam. It was said that agitators did all the mischief, and that they were attempting to rule the country 1647 by a system of terrorism and force. He had instanced what occurred at Arthurstown, and he certainly failed to see how 58 civilians could have attacked and mobbed 68 constables. At Limerick, if the people had been allowed to go straight home, as they had a perfect right to do, no disturbance would have occurred. It was, as a rule, the foolish and unnecessary presence of the police, and their unjustifiable interference with the people, that produced all the rows and disorder which took place. There was one point upon which he thought the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland might with advantage give some information to the Committee. He did not know himself by what authority soldiers were told off to help the police at evictions. No Riot Act was read. It might be that there was some power of which he knew nothing. That was likely enough; but, so far as he knew, although it was right that the Sheriff with the whole of his posse comitatus had to be present at an eviction, he failed to see by what right, or in accordance with what law, soldiers were told off to the extent of 100 at a time to go out and assist a landlord in the eviction of his tenantry. There was another matter upon which he should like to have information. He referred to The Times police witnesses now in London, and he should like to know to what extent those police constables were to be allowed to be the agents of The Times? That was what they actually were. He hoped he knew his duty professionally a great deal too well to say anything whatever in the shape of a commentary upon the proceedings now taking place before the Special Commission; but he was entitled to say, in reading the accounts which had been given by the police themselves, and to which he gave unlimited credence, that there was at this moment in London a body of Irish police by scores in the interests of The Times.
§ MR. WADDY
said, he was coming to the Government presently. Those police were here in the interests of The Times, although their salaries were going to be paid by the country; at any rate they said they were, and expected to receive 1648 their salaries. The evidence of the witnesses from Ireland was that they were interviewed on the other side of the water not by a solicitor or a solicitor's clerk, but by a policeman, and in one instance they were told by a witness that if he did not do such and such things he would be proceeded against for something else. He maintained that this was a use of the Royal Irish Constabulary which was contrary to right and contrary to law and order. He would like to know how long they were to go on paying for this league of The Times and the Government in maintaining the action of The Times? How long was this to go on at the expense of the country? If the presence of these policemen was now required in Ireland, he could not see how they could be spared. On the other hand, if they were not required, these District Inspectors and others might cease to perform the duties which, up to the present time, they had been supposed to discharge. The result of what was going on was that a hatred was growing up in Ireland, which did not exist a few years ago, between the Irish people and the Constabulary, and that he thought a very serious and fatal thing. The place was being divided, in reality, into two hostile camps, and he thought that there were many amongst the Irish Constabulary who were sick of the work they had to do. Yet they must not be unfair to these people. The Executive gave them orders which they were bound to carry out; they got into conflict with the people in consequence, and he did not wonder that in that conflict which had gone on they should sometimes lose their tempers. But, as he had said, the result was that there was this growing feeling existing, and he suggested that the Constabulary should be kept for their own work and purposes. He suggested also that the specific incidents mentioned by the hon. Member for East Mayo, and by those who had not shut their eyes to the facts, should be fairly answered, and that they should not be attempted to be got rid of by a flourish that it was the work of paid agitators. In England the people knew better, and he believed they were learning to know better day by day, and that by degrees light would be introduced into the mind of some hon. 1649 Gentlemen on that side of the House, as well as into the more dense minds of those opposite.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to share the belief of which he had seen traces in other hon. Gentlemen opposite—namely, that they could make his speeches for him much better than he could make them for himself, and they filled up the interstices of their speeches by imploring him not to say this, and not to employ this or that particular argument. For his part, he should endeavour to make such observations as he had to give, unmodified by the excellent advice given by the hon. and learned Member. On the first speech made that evening he had little to say. It was not a very distinguished speech, and one of the most remarkable incidents in it was an attack, in the worst taste he had ever heard in that House, upon the only Member who was unable to answer it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, in deference to the suggestion of the Chairman, which he fully appreciated, he should say no more upon that point. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Waddy) seemed a great deal agitated by the number of police now in London who were sub-pœned as witnesses for The Times, and he had made special reference to an allegation, first made by the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis), with regard, first, to the alleged examination, on the part of The Times, of a witness by a County Inspector in Ireland, and, secondly, of the Inspector not only having examined him, but actually of having intimidated him to give evidence for The Times. The hon. and learned Gentleman derived his information solely from a certain incident which took place in the Commission Court the other day. How far it was desirable that what went on before the Court of Commission should be discussed in that House he did not know, but he would just state the information that he had himself obtained on this matter from other sources. It appeared to him that the examination of the witness in ques- 1650 tion was not, as alleged, undertaken by the Inspector on the part of The Times, but that it was an examination conducted in Ireland under Section 1 of the Crimes Act in the course of an inquiry into the Plan of Campaign, which had been adopted on one or two estates in the County of Mayo, and that examination, as conducted by the Inspector, had nothing to do, directly or indirectly, with The Times.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
asked, whether the witness was the only person examined under Section 1 of the Act?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, it was altogether untrue that this man was threatened by the Inspector with the exposure of some fraud.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he rose to Order. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was now denying evidence which had been given on oath before the Royal Commission, and if the right hon. Gentleman was allowed to bring rebutting evidence forward in that House in answer to what was stated in the Court, he thought that other Members would bring forward evidence to contradict the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and thus the House of Commons would become a Court of Appeal from the Royal Commission.
said, he was afraid he could not say that the right hon. Gentleman was out of Order. He felt the inconvenience of the matter, and had felt it when the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. J. E. Ellis) first introduced it. That hon. Member had referred to the evidence of a person who it appeared had been some what infamous, and it was at once plain that this would bring up statements on the other side, the Royal Commission having as yet intimated no opinion on the subject. It was extremely inconvenient that this matter should be entered into, although he could not say that it was out of Order.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the Committee would judge of what had fallen from him just now, but he would follow scrupulously the indication given by the Chairman upon this point, and not another word should drop from him upon the subject. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He was sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite 1651 did not think it was a proper case for a Minister of the Crown in his position to enter upon. He had only been led to refer to the matter by the observations of two hon. Gentlemen, one of them learned in the law, who had preceded him. He would now turn to the important speech which had been delivered by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). The hon. Gentleman had dealt with a great variety of topics. He had first brought forward many well-worn arguments in reference to the cost of the Irish Police, and had added to these a new illustration of the old position by telling the Committee that in 1845, when the population of Ireland was greater than at the present time, the police had cost far less; and he asked how it was possible that, at a time when disorder was greater than now, it was possible to get on with a less number of police? There were two answers to that question. In the first place, the Committee, in listening to the hon. Gentleman, would probably have inferred that the number of police required in 1845 was so far less than the number now required. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had not the figures for 1845 at hand, but he had those for 1848, and he found that on the 1st of January, 1848, the number was distinctly in excess of the number required at the present moment, whereas the hon. Member, though not saying so, seemed by his reference to the cost to infer that the number of police was now greater than in 1845. The hon. Gentleman might ask how it was if the number of men was not greater that the cost was so much greater? The cost, although it was not so great as the hon. Gentleman had mentioned, had no doubt increased, but it was owing to increased pensions, pay, and privileges given to the police, and also partly to the increased duties which had been thrown upon them. The Committee ought to bear in mind the conditions under which the Constabulary now worked as compared with those under which they worked before, and they ought to bear in mind also the enormous addition to the labour thrown upon them—duties not directly or indirectly connected with anything relating to the controversial aspect of the Irish Question, but simply connected with the administration of various Acts of Parliament which had been passed 1652 from time to time by that House. He held in his hand a Memorandum, too long to read, but containing a list of the Acts of Parliament under which duties of a wholly new character were thrown on the police. Then he came to the question of the more trivial duties thrown upon the police. The hon. Member for East Mayo, and the hon. Gentleman who preceded him (Mr. J. E. Ellis), had been very indignant at the character of these duties. They had complained of the police being employed at railway stations and elsewhere to watch certain persons. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Rushcliffe Division had been moved to great wrath at the watch kept by the police in various parts of Ireland on members of the National League; but he would remind hon. Gentlemen that Ireland had been the theatre—he did not say now who was responsible for this—of organized crime carried out by the agents of secret societies; and were the Government to be told that these people ought not to be watched? Could such a contention be supported before the Committee for a moment? It appeared to him sufficient to state the contention for the Committee to say that it should at once be rejected. The second allegation of the hon. Gentleman was one which he regretted to hear. The hon. Gentleman said that the one duty of the police was to get up outrages, and he put that statement in the most generalized form. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) could not at the moment help thinking what opinion might be formed of him by the right hon. Gentleman opposite who once occupied his position, and was responsible for the government of Ireland, if he were to admit such a contention? He was sure that those who had held the Office of Chief Secretary for Ireland would not get up in the House and say that one of the main duties of the Constabulary was the organization of crime, in order to make up statistics of outrage.
§ MR. DILLON
said, he had never said that it was the main duty of the police. He had said they did it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he admitted the explanation of the hon. Gentleman, and would withdraw the word "main." But this was one of the four charges brought against the police by the hon. Member; but even as to the modified statement of the hon. Gen- 1653 tleman, he was sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley), and other occupants of the Front Opposition Bench who had filled the Office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, would feel that it was an outrage on one of the most loyal bodies of public servants which had ever served any Government in any country. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to discuss the next duty of the police—namely, that they provided protection upon evicted farms and elsewhere, where persons were living in danger of their lives; and the hon. and learned Member for the Brigg Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Waddy) had alluded to a case which came under his observation, in which he appeared to think that the police had very improperly carried out their duties. He admitted that the hon. and learned Gentleman was an authority on law; but he did not think he was a judge of the precise evolutions which the police ought to perform in matters of the kind he had referred to. The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo would not say that he was indulging in any exaggeration when he said that no man more than he had stirred the people of Ireland against those not undeserving members of the community who ventured, against his will, to exercise their undoubted right of citizenship in taking evicted farms and hiring men who desired to be hired. The hon. Gentleman had carried on the agitation knowing, and having in his mind the consciousness, that a number of foul crimes had resulted, and yet he complained of those persons being afforded police protection; he came down to the House and complained of the cost of protection which the Government in Ireland gave to those unhappy individuals. The fourth duty of the police, which the hon. Member, of all hon. Gentlemen who had spoken, had alluded to was the cost of protecting Sheriffs' officers at evictions, and a very singular doctrine had been laid down on this subject. The hon. Member for East Mayo appeared to think that it was the business of the Government to inquire into the precise circumstances of each eviction in which protection was given, and that, if they thought the landlord was acting improperly in evicting, protection ought to be refused. He thought the Committee would see that 1654 this was a duty which it was impossible to perform; that the doctrine was carried to an extravagant and impossible limit, and that no responsible Government could adopt it. [Mr. DILLON: It was done.] The doctrine of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo, he was going to say, sank into sanity—but into moderation, as compared with the doctrine of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down. The hon. and learned Gentleman had quoted a case, which came under his own notice, of eviction, in which an offer was made by a priest shortly before the eviction, and where the Resident Magistrate on the spot expressed his opinion that the offer made at the last moment was a fair one. The hon. and learned Gentleman held that in that instance the Executive were bound to withdraw the protection given by the Sheriff's officers. He thought the hon. and learned Gentleman would see that the doctrine which he propounded would subvert the law altogether. Let the Committee recollect what that House had done for the Irish tenant. It had given him a competent tribunal to settle his rent, and a tribunal which he might appeal to to stay eviction, and these two great privileges were not enjoyed by any tenants in any other country in the world. But this, in the opinion of the hon. and learned Member, was not enough. They must, in addition, leave it to the Resident Magistrate on the spot to determine whether or not protection should be given to the Sheriff's officer. That was the doctrine laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He thought the Judges before whom the hon. and learned Gentleman practised would be very much amazed at this principle which was to govern the Executive. The hon. Member for East Mayo had made special allusion to what was going on on the estate of Mr. Olphert. He had been able to obtain an answer to the Question which the hon. Gentleman put to him at Question time, but he knew that Mr. Olphert was a landlord living on his property; and that up to a recent date he was on excellent terms with his tenants. As far as he could learn this gentleman had been known for many years as a good landlord, and it appeared that the difficulties which occurred between him and his tenants were synchronous, or nearly so, with the starting of the land 1655 agitation. The Plan of Campaign extended to his estate, and had become the cause of disagreement as well as the ultimate cause of evictions and loss of property by the tenants. The hon. Gentleman then went on to discuss two or three cases in which he said that the police had behaved with undue violence, and he referred to the cases of Kilrush and Dundalk. He had the account of what had occurred at Kilrush, and it differed so profoundly from that given by the hon. Member for East Mayo to the House that he could hardly recognize it as referring to the same subject, but he would point out to the hon. Gentleman that his own doctrine was rather an extravagant one. He said there was a crowd at Kilrush, that a bonfire was lighted in the square, that the police charged the people, and that the officer ultimately alleged that he could not allow the police to be "booed," and, that, therefore, he had cleared the square. That account differed in all essential particulars from the other account. The hon. Gentleman said that the police ought not to have shown themselves; that they had no right to be in the square.
§ MR. DILLON
I did not say that they had no right to be in the square, but if they had been handled by a prudent officer they would not have been there.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he thought he had perfectly quoted the expression of the hon. Gentleman, but nevertheless he would admit his explanation. It was perfectly clear that on an occasion like that in question the police had every right to be in the square. The hon. Gentleman was aware that when a great crowd was assembled it was proper that there should be police present to preserve order. He was given to understand that the police ordered the crowd to disperse, and that they did disperse; and, therefore, the statement of the hon. Member as to the charge of the police appeared to have no foundation.
§ MR. DILLON
Is not that going too far? I was nearer to the police than I am to the right hon. Gentleman, when they rushed up with clubbed rifles to within two yards of me.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he would, of course, withdraw his remark. He was saying that the account he had received was so totally different from that of the hon. Gentleman, that he could not conceive that they related to the same thing. Of course he was bound, in the interests of truth, to give his statement to the Committee, and he ventured to say that, having given the Committee a version so different from the hon. Member's, he could not have done it in much more Parliamentary language. Then the hon. Member referred to the case at Dundalk, into which he should not go in detail; but there was one consideration which he thought should modify the judgment of hon. Gentlemen. In the first place, there were trials going on, or about to begin, which were exciting the most profound interest at the time, and the Committee would be aware that to allow large excited bodies of men to assemble in a town at a time when such trials were proceeding was very likely to lead to the intimidation of those who were administering justice, as in itself would constitute it an unlawful assembly, and let it be noted that the decision did not rest alone with the Resident Magistrates. There were appeals to the County Court Judge and the Court of Exchequer, and it was absurd to say with such an assembly the police had no right to interfere. On appeal the decisions of the Resident Magistrates had been upheld. He believed he was right in saying that, and, therefore, it was not open to the hon. Member to say that there was such a peaceful crowd that the police had no right to interfere, and that their action was wholly gratuitous. The hon. Gentleman had attacked him for some observations the other day with regard to attacks made on small bodies of the police by large and excited mobs; and he appeared to think, in the first place, that he had accused him of being one of those who excited the mobs to make onslaughts on the police; and he also appeared to think that to bring forward a case in which a handful of police were not attacked was sufficient to refute the proposition which he advanced. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had much to complain of in the public action of the hon. Member for East Mayo; the course which he thought it right to pursue appeared to 1657 him to be open, in many cases, to the gravest censure in his position as a Member of Parliament; but he was glad to be able to say that he did not believe that he was capable of exciting a large crowd to attack a small body of police. He believed that was entirely foreign to the hon. Member's character—he did not believe it for a moment. But, notwithstanding that, it was a fact that small bodies of police had often been attacked in Ireland by crowds, and obliged to fly for their lives, and to fight their way to barracks, and that they had been injured seriously by stone-throwing on the part of the mob; and he regretted to say that much of the feeling which manifested itself in this shocking way had been aroused by the speeches of some of those who were the allies of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he thought if the hon. Gentleman would examine the occurrence at Midleton he would see there was plenty of justification for what he had stated. Of course, he could give further instances of the police being attacked, if the hon. Gentleman desired it. [Mr. DILLON: I do.] The Committee would recollect that two policemen were taking a man to barracks who was drunk and disorderly in the streets, and those two policemen were attacked by a large mob, driven into a house in fear of their lives, and were finally only rescued by the most determined conduct on the part of two other constables who were in the barracks. Then, on the 25th of September, 1887, at Fermoy, there was an excited crowd assembled, in consequence of something which had fallen from a friend of the hon. Gentleman, which brutally set upon and stoned three policemen, who had to run for their lives to barracks, and it was only after the Inspector had taken out all the available men at his disposal that the mob was dispersed. Again, on the 14th of January, 1888, at Gweedore—a locality to which the hon. Gentleman had called attention—hundreds of men made an organized attack on the police; they placed—according to the custom more than once employed—the women in front; and the men, thus sheltered, poured in volleys of stones on the police, who had to retreat to their barracks, flying for their lives, and 14 of their 1658 number out of 20 were more or less seriously injured. At Cork, again, on the 11th of January, 1888, where a very bad feeling existed between the people and the police—and he was sorry to say this was again fostered by certain friends of the hon. Gentleman—a patrol of eight men, armed only with truncheons, was attacked with stones and sticks. A crowd of about 4,000 persons came up the street; the policemen defended themselves to the best of their power with their batons, and eventually the crowd dispersed, not, however, until six or eight men had been struck with stones. He did not want to deal with these facts, but, having been challenged by the hon. Gentleman, he had thought it his duty to bring them before the Committee, to show that he was absolutely accurate in his statement. Having now surveyed the greater part of the ground that had been traversed by the hon. Gentleman, he would point out that it had been alleged, over and over again, in the course of this discussion, that the relations between the people and the police of Ireland were getting worse. But all the information that he could get led him absolutely to disbelieve that statement. He believed it to be wholly unfounded. In almost every part of Ireland—in every part except where determined efforts were made to prevent the revival of good feeling—the relations between the people and the police were better than they had been for many years past; and he agreed with every word that had fallen from the previous speaker as to the expediency of the Government doing all in their power to increase that good feeling. What other object could the Government have in view? By that good feeling the whole work of administration became easier; the detection of crime became easier; the whole work of the Executive became easier, and the responsibility of the Government was infinitely lightened. Of course, there was nothing they desired more earnestly; there was nothing for which the Government were prepared to strive so strenuously as to restore the relations between the people and the police to what they were before hon. Members opposite took in hand the interests of their fellow-countrymen. In conclusion, he would remind the Committee how slight, after all, were the attacks made by the 1659 police when they considered the enormous difficulties by which they were surrounded. Considering the provocation and irritation produced by the kind of treatment they had received at some evictions—considering that vitriol, red-hot pokers, and that filth of every kind were the weapons used against men who had been guilty of no crime except that of carrying out the duty imposed upon them by the laws of the country—the Committee, he believed, would think that it spoke volumes for the discipline and patience of that great Force that in so few instances they had allowed their provocations to get the better of their discretion and duty. And let it be remembered that the police were doing their duty; not merely under the critical and hostile inspection of Members of that House who represented Irish constituencies, but of others Members, such as the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division, whose holidays were agreeably spent in getting up a brief in Ireland against the Government. Would not everyone who realized the character of the provocation to which the Royal Irish Constabulary had to submit come to the conclusion that there never was a body of men trusted with the guardianship of the law who had shown themselves to be more worthy of the trust reposed in them? He was glad to have that opportunity of paying—not for the first time—his tribute to the discipline and the excellence of that admirable body of men, to whom, in his opinion, civilization in Ireland owed so much.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN (Cork Co., N.E.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman had returned to-night to the charge—the shocking charge—that hon. Gentlemen on those Benches went down deliberately to different parts of the country where there was but a handful of police, and deliberately incited the people to attack them, thereby putting their lives in danger.
said, that if the right hon. Gentleman had made any such statement he would have called him to Order. He had heard no such charge.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, that within the last few minutes the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Colleagues and allies of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) had used language which was 1660 an incitement to violence towards the police.
said, he had listened with great care to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman, and he had undoubtedly referred to Members sitting in the House of Commons. He said that they had gone to various parts of Ireland and excited a feeling out of which there arose attacks on the police and disturbances.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the right hon. Gentleman certainly had used the language attributed to him.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN
said, he would deal very briefly with what the right hon. Gentleman had submitted to the House that evening. The first stage of the right hon. Gentleman's reply was a reference to what he himself had represented as a drunken row in Midleton, the result of which was that the police bayonetted a man. A verdict of wilful murder was returned against the police, and, in the face of that, the right hon. Gentleman dared to repeat in that House that the allies and friends of the hon. Member for East Mayo had gone down and endeavoured to incite the people against the police. His second case was at Fermoy, on the 25th of December of last year. But the fact was that instead of these three policemen being attacked by a large crowd, while his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) was addressing a perfectly peaceable crowd from the window of the Royal Hotel, in the Square of Fermoy, without a moment's warning, a large body of police charged in the dark, striking the people with their bâtons, and putting them to flight. His hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork went out to remonstrate with the police, and he was told to go to—; his hat had been knocked off with a bâton, and his hon. Friend had been able to pick up a bâton in the street which had been broken on a woman's head. His third case was the attack of 20 armed policemen on a chance crowd in the streets of Cork. Anyone who knew how the police in Ireland were armed would be aware that the notion of danger to their lives in an affair of this kind was the purest fiction. These men were armed with weapons which were practically irresistible. He knew the brutal use that would be made of these weapons when 20 armed policemen went into the midst 1661 of a crowd in Ireland. It was a gross and unfounded statement that hon. Members from Ireland had overused their power, or attempted to use their power, unfairly against the police. They could point to many instances in which, when the police had been in force, they had used their power to commit murder. But he defied the right hon. Gentleman to point to a single instance in which a policeman had lost his life in an Irish crowd except in his own dominion of Belfast. They had heard a good deal of the Mitchelstown meeting, and of the bloodshed which occurred there, because the police had forced their way through the crowd, under the miserable pretext of making way for a police reporter. What were the facts? His hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) was attending a meeting a few months afterwards on the very same spot; and on that occasion the police reporter applied for accommodation, and he was supplied with a seat under the platform. There was only one policeman to protect him in that enormous crowd, and yet he was not injured. That was how the Irish people behaved when they were trusted, and when they were not treated like Hottentots and Black men. He would give the Committee another instance in point. His experience could supply him with a case from Kilrush. Two months ago he attended a meeting in the County of Clare; and such was the good feeling which the right hon. Gentleman observed to be growing up between the people and the police, and so complete was their communication, that although the arrangements for that meeting were made four days previously, and although 10,000 people were aware that the meeting was coming off, not a single policeman attended until the proceedings were almost closed, three policemen came up on a car, just as a vote of thanks to the Chairman was being proposed. Those men could have been torn limb from limb without the slightest trouble, but not an arm was raised against them. That was how the people exercised their power. He would show how the police used theirs. The police, infuriated by their failure to surprise the meeting, got their innings during the night. When the people were returning from the meeting, perfectly peaceably, into the town of Kilrush, the police rushed out upon them in the dark, attacked and bâtoned 1662 them, and 18 persons, instead of getting redress, were summoned to the next Kilkee Petty Sessions. That happened to be when an hon. Friend of his was released from prison—the people lit a bonfire, and exactly what his hon. Friend had described occurred—a large body of police rushed out on them. That was the state of things which the right hon. Gentleman had decided to give to the House, and at the same time he represented that the Irish police were the victims of violence—and cowardly violence—on the part of the Irish Members and on the part of the people. He ventured to say that there was no police force in the world that could show a smaller number of deaths by violence than the Royal Irish Constabulary. He was perfectly sure that the history of Ireland might be rummaged, and that not a single instance could be found in which policemen had lost their lives by the violence of an Irish crowd, excepting, always, in Belfast, which region was dominated by the friends of the right hon. Gentleman. He believed that, instead of the people being answerable for any collision with the police, the fault was all the other way, and he believed that the police used their power in the most wanton and barbarous manner against the people who were perfectly at their mercy. They did not blame the rank-and-file of the Irish police; they had no bitterness against them. The wonder really was that they were not a thousand times more brutal, owing to the incitement and encouragement they received from Ministers in that House. For it was not the first time that the right hon. Gentleman himself—and his Predecessors and Colleagues—had made speeches in that House which, however they were intended, were simply interpreted at the Irish police stations as incitements to violence. The whole Irish police system was the most horrible and repulsive in the world. The beginning and end of every young policeman's teaching was that he had to regard the people—his own countrymen—as his enemies, and he had to learn that if he wanted promotion he could only get it by making himself obnoxious to the people; or, better still, by bludgeoning or murdering them. Any young policeman looking around him would find that all police officers within the last few years 1663 who had signalized themselves by attacking the people had been promoted. There was the case of Inspector Milling, who had bludgeoned two of his (Mr. W. O'Brien's) hon. Friends in the streets of Cork, and, instead of being punished for the offence, he was now County Inspector. Everyone who had distinguished himself by shooting down men and women had been promoted, whereas everyone who did not come up to the official standard of swearing had been victimized in one way or another. The real wonder was that these policemen managed to retain any human feeling at all. For that Members from Ireland did not blame them. It was one of the most painful and lamentable things for Ireland that there was such a lack of employment and such an utter absence of career, that so many fine young men were obliged to revert to this odious and unnatural calling. But, at all events, no one could go through Ireland and see the relations between the Irish people and the police without coming to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman's charge against himself (Mr. W. O'Brien) and his hon. Friends was a most vile and unfounded one. An Irish village crowd was one of the most harmless in the world, and the Irish Constabulary suffered less in life and limb than, he believed, any other Police Force. And, further, he believed that there was no Government in the world which had done more to arouse the worst passions of the police by appealing to them, pampering them, and encouraging them to attack the people. The right hon. Gentleman had sneered at his hon. Friend the Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis) for going over to Ireland, at much inconvenience and at consider able risk to himself, to get up proof against the Government. He had not to go far for materials. He only wished that many other Englishmen would take the pains which the hon. Member, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and other hon. Members had taken to ascertain the truth. If other hon. Members did that they would have a very different impression of the uses to which the Government applied this £1,500,000 than they had at present. He believed that the House did not half realize the horrible magnitude 1664 and character of the struggle which was going on in Ireland, and the work for which the Government were paying the police. The right hon. Gentleman had taunted them several times with bringing forward the same old cases from Mitchelstown and Killeagh, and with having nothing new to advance. But there was not a parish in the South or West of Ireland from which they could not produce oases of just as great severity and cruelty as those of Mitchelstown and Killeagh, although they had not been brought into notoriety by bloodshed. It was the curse of Ireland that, unless there were murders or crimes of some sort, the English newspapers took but very little interest in what was going on. It was a dangerous lesson to teach the Irish people that unless someone was murdered, or something sensational happened, the right hon. Gentleman was able to get up in that House and give rose-coloured descriptions to the relations between the police and the people. It was very hard for him to speak with patience upon that subject. He would take one matter alone; the village tyranny which these policemen exercised in conjunction with local landlords. The prosecution of prominent persons in Ireland by the police was by no means the worst part of their conduct; it was the atrocious village tyranny that the local landlord and the local policeman were carrying on from day to day, almost unnoticed and unknown—it was that which made the employment of the Irish Constabulary the fearful instrument of oppression that it was, and of such things hon. Members heard next to nothing in that House. It was almost maddening to think that they had no means of bringing home these things to the minds of the English people. Thousands of men, like John Sweeney, throughout the country were really bearing the brunt of coercion night and day, because they were imprisoned for upholding the right of combination among the people. They were, from time to time, put in prison on one pretext or another, and he wanted to point out that imprisonment was the smallest part of the sufferings which the Irish police had the power to inflict upon them. They were absolutely at the mercy of some local tyrant of a policeman. Their steps were dogged night and day, as were the steps of John Mandeville; their trade was 1665 destroyed, their licences were attacked by the police; they were deprived of the means of obtaining their livelihood, and their private houses were entered. He had received a letter the other day from Fermoy, from one of the leading men of his own constituency, the Chairman of the Town Commissioners, Mr. Mannix, who stated that a couple of Sundays ago Sergeant Black forced his way into his private drawing room without a warrant—burst his way in on the pretext that a few friends he was entertaining were holding a meeting of the National League; and when this policeman was remonstrated with his reply was to snap his fingers at Mr. Mannix, and tell him to go to hell, and that he might do his worst. He would like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland what he thought of the conduct of this sergeant? But, of course, that was a case which did not interest the right hon. Gentleman. It did not stir his noble soul. The right hon. Gentleman did not even do him the honour of listening to him.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN
The right hon. Gentleman was aware that these were the miseries of the mere Irish, and he (Mr. W. O'Brien) should not be surprised if, after he had mentioned the name of the sergeant in that House, that he would be promoted for his exploit and that Mr. Mannix would be prosecuted because he had resisted the man who had forced his way into his drawing room. That was the sort of thing that was going on to-day over one-half of Ireland. Englishmen could form no conception of the thousand and one petty crawling ways in which men like Sergeant Black could render the lives of men like Mr. Mannix and respectable traders miserable. He believed that if they could have a Royal Commission to inquire into the working of the Crimes Act—and he hoped that possibly next year, if they lived so long, they might look for it—they would be able to show such a system of terrorism and intimidation and Boycotting on the part of those who had the machinery of the law at their disposal, as to throw completely into the shade the evidence which had been given before another Royal Commission with regard to intimidation and Boycotting. Before he sat down he 1666 would give one other instance to show the methods pursued by the police. Take the case of Loughrea. What had happened there? Why, 18 of the most respectable people in Loughrea, including the Chairman of the Town Commissioners—because every representative of the people was sure to be first looked to—had been prosecuted with himself for contradicting publicly the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that the National League, in the suppressed districts, was a thing of the past. That statement was made six months ago, but he scarcely thought it would be repeated to-day. Nevertheless, 18 of them were convicted and sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and only for the point raised in the Court of Exchequer, all these men would long ago have suffered their three months' imprisonment for telling the English people what Mr. Leonard, Lord Kenmare's agent, told the English people on his oath the other day, in a Royal Court of Justice—namely, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was utterly astray as to the state of Ireland, and that the National League was never so powerful an institution as it was at the present moment. And actually, only a very short time after the conviction of these 18 persons, the magistrate who made out the conviction made an affidavit in reference to an action for libel, and swore that every respectable farmer in the whole country side, even including those whose qualifications were over £100 a-year, had all been, and continued to be, members of the National League. The point he (Mr. W. O'Brien) wanted to make was this: Look at the miserable spite with which the police pursued those whose politics they did not agree with—or perhaps be ought not to say the police, as they were very humble instruments in this matter. Look at the spite with which every prominent man in a district was pursued. They broke down in a Court of Exchequer—the prosecution failed. What did they do when they failed to get rid of these men in that way? They first trumped up a monstrous and ridiculous charge of larceny, because these men helped a poor evicted widow to remove her hay off her farm; but the charge was so shameful that they did not dare to bring it to trial. Instead of bringing the charge of larceny 1667 they brought a charge of conspiracy in reference to the very same thing. They moved these men away from their own County of Galway, and from their own neighbourhood of Loughrea; they tried them before a packed jury in Wicklow, and there were a number of these men serving long terms of imprisonment today, and he had no doubt that by-and-bye, when they returned from prison, the local sergeant of police would meet them with their convictions marked upon their licenses, and so deprive them of their mode of livelihood. Then there was the case of Dennis Macnamara, which had been referred to the other evening, who had been prosecuted for selling United Ireland, a paper published under the very nose of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, which was at this moment in the Reading Room of the House of Commons. He should like to say a word or two about another case as an illustration—for they could not have too many of them—of the sort of miserable local tyranny and oppression under which the unfortunate people of Ireland were groaning. Take the case of Father Kennedy, arrested on Friday last at Meelin. See how the police behaved in reference to this gentleman, and what the history of the case was. Father Kennedy had written him (Mr. W. O'Brien) a letter the other day, in which he said—I went to Newmarket especially to give them an opportunity of arresting me quietly. I surrendered my recognizances, but I was told the magistrates and police would have nothing to do with the matter. I was suffering so much still from the effects of brain fever, that in order to avoid the misery of being dragged about by the police, I was inclined to go up to Cork and surrender myself at the gaol gate, but I was afraid if I did so I should have my journey for nothing, and that the police were determined to give me all the annoyance they possibly could.The result showed how correctly the rev. gentleman had understood the police arrangement as to his arrest; for what had happened? Here was a telegram giving the facts briefly—Father Kennedy arrested this morning at eight o'clock. The police would not wait until the rev. gentleman dressed and opened door. Policemen broke through window. Servant was frightened by soldiers and police, would not open door. Police went to bedroom to force door, when Father Kennedy asked did they believe he was going to abscond, and submitted to arrest by extending his hand through door, when he was allowed to dress. 1668 House was surrounded by police. He was not permitted to have conversation with parish priest in regard to parochial matters.The police in this case had desired to make the arrest in the most provocative and offensive manner to the feelings of the people possible. They insisted upon parading a troop of Hussars, and in surrounding the house of this priest and dragging him at the tail of a body of soldiers from town to town through the County of Cork, where the morning's work ended by the police bursting in upon the defenceless people, attacking and assaulting even the Mayor—the chief magistrate of the city. What could possibly be the object of this?—what good object could be served by a proceeding of this kind unless it was part of what he (Mr. W. O'Brien) and his friends believed to be, and what they thought all these things were—namely, a deliberate conspiracy got up between the landlords and the police in order to victimize and strike down every man who took the side of the people. He believed these things were merely bits of political vengeance because the police were unable to suppress the National League, and because they had failed—he would repeat distinctly the charge made by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon)—to find anything criminal in the people. These prosecutions were got up because the Government had failed to tempt the people into some crime which would give the police a grip upon them, and which would enable them to placard murders and outrages in chromo-lithographs against the Irish people. He would tell the Committee how this infernal system of police terrorism worked in that one parish—and this was a perfectly fair specimen of the way in which it worked throughout the country. Here was a district composed of poor, wild mountain land—land which was not worth a shilling an acre, apart from what the wretched people had done by their own improvements. What was the Government plan of campaign for the destruction of the people? First the Plan of Campaign was declared suppressed—the only constitutional weapon which the people had the Government attempted to wrench out of their hands, in order that the Devil might tempt them to take up a blunderbuss instead. Then the leaders of the people were struck at— 1669 every one of them. First the hon. Member for North Cork (Mr. Flynn) was sent to prison. Then five of the most respectable shopkeepers in Kanturk were sent to the plank-bed for conspiracy—for refusing to sell goods to a landlord who had never dealt with them for a shilling's worth of goods before, and who admitted that he only entered their shops for the purpose of getting up a charge against them, and for the purpose of getting people sent to prison. Then Father Kennedy was struck at—a man who would give his life for the people, and for whom the people would give their lives. He was sent to gaol as a common convict for two months, and for what? Solely for attending a meeting of the National League, an offence which was unknown to the English law, and which was created by this Crimes Act. Father Kennedy was sent to gaol, and batch after batch of his unfortunate people—44 of them in all—were prosecuted for the same offence, the offence which no man had ever dared, since the days of the Stuarts, to punish an Englishman for. All these people were sent to gaol, and as soon as the people were deprived of their organization and of their leaders, suddenly Captain Plunkett swooped down by special train with an evicting army of policemen in the service of the landlord, and eight families were thrown out on the roadside. Because the tenants refused to surrender their little homes, which they believed to be, and which really were theirs as much as the Chief Secretary's ancestral acres were his—because they refused to give up possession without a protest, they were attacked in their little cabins, driven out bleeding, and packed off to gaol. God only knew the amount of suffering that this diabolical system was responsible for and which eviction entailed upon these poor, humble village communities in Ireland. It was not enough that they had a powerful landlord organization against them, but they must have the overpowering forces of the Crown, which the English people paid for, in order to do this Devil's work in Ireland. Let him ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary what was the result of all this? What did they gain by this £1,500,000 they were spending on the Irish police? Take that single instance to which he had referred. Now 1670 he supposed that if there was a single parish in Ireland that was at present scourged and where it might be supposed that the effect of the action was simply crushing, it was this one of Kanturk. What, however, had been the effect of their proceeding? Had they conquered the tenants' combination—had they suppressed the League? No; not a single tenant on that estate had surrendered, not an evicted farm had been let, and not a crime had been committed, which was the sorest point with the Government. There stood these poor unarmed Irish peasants, enduring this sort of thing for two years. There they stood, patient and unconquerable still, and all the powers of landlordism and of Dublin Castle put together had failed to prevail against them. Had the Government even suppressed the League? Why, the police had actually given up the pretence of attempting to suppress the League. In this parish of which he had spoken, the week Father Kennedy came out of prison last time, a meeting of the local branch of the League, which, according to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, was "a thing of the past" six months ago, was so largely attended that the floor of the loft in which it was held gave way, and Father Kennedy and 250 of these "things of the past" were precipitated into the store below. That was the result, and the Government had to begin all this miserable round again. Father Kennedy went to gaol for three months, and 15 of his parishioners were going with him one of these days, several of them for six months' hard labour and cruel and barbarous and inhuman punishment, simply for attending a meeting of the National League. That was all they had gained by their policy, and the whole thing would have to begin again da capo. That was all the Government got for the £1,500,000 which they wrung from the British taxpayer, who did not know the use to which the money was put, and who certainly would not want to spend it in this way. This was a perfectly fair specimen of the state of things on every estate in Ireland on which the right hon. Gentleman tried to put a stop to the Plan of Campaign. It was the most miserable and humiliating record that any coercion Government had ever had to show. Former Go- 1671 vernments, when they had used the police in an energetic manner, had had vast conspiracies and fearful crimes to deal with. Where were the crimes however, where were the conspiracies now? All the Government had to do was to put down an open combination of unarmed Irish peasants on less than 100 estates out of 10,000 in the whole country, and they could not do it. After all these years, and with all their despotic powers, they had absolutely and ignominiously failed to do it. Mr. Forster had the excuse that he had to deal with whole counties, and, indeed, with whole provinces, in a state of open and universal revolt against rent, and that at a time when the country was honeycombed with terrible murder conspiracies. How was it now? Why, there was not a county in the whole of Ireland more than the campaign estates to be dealt with. There could not be the slightest pretence, even in the Royal Courts of Justice, for declaring that any secret machinery for murder or outrage was now in existence, and yet, year after year, all the forces of England were directed against these few groups of unarmed, helpless Irish peasants, and directed in vain. This was the curse of the thing, that because this immense combination of the peasantry was a peaceful and bloodless one, practically speaking it attracted very little attention. He regretted to say that not one-tenth of the terrible character of this struggle was realized in England. The Irish people were so patient and so determined, they had so much confidence in their own organization and much confidence in the sense of justice and in the sympathy of the English people—they were so confident of help coming to them—that they left all the bitterness of the outrage on the side of the police, and on the side of law and order. But he could tell the Committee that this was a desperately serious and terrible matter. He and his friends were preaching patience and peace; they were determined to preach it to the end, because they had a lasting and an abiding faith in the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and in the sense of justice of the English people. But he could assure the Government—and his friends would bear him out in this—that the task of preaching 1672 patience to their people was sometimes a hard task. Things occurred sometimes that were really too much for human nature to bear, and if the struggle was to go on in this way—if the police were to be used for these infernal purposes year after year, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was to be cheered by his friends behind him on every jaunty comment he made upon the misery and oppression of millions of his fellow men—if that sort of system was to go on year after year, it would be hard to make the Irish Nationalist Members answerable for the consequences in the future. They were sowing the storm, and it would be a very lucky thing for them, and a still more lucky thing for the Irish people, if they did not reap the whirlwind—if they did not reap a crop which such husbandry usually produced to itself. He would not detain the Committee any longer, but he should like the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to tell them, in plain English, what he had gained, or what England had gained, by the expenditure of this enormous sum for the crushing of the poor peasantry of Meelin. Let the right hon. Gentleman answer that if he could.
§ MR. ROWNTREE (Scarborough)
said, that hon. Members had been twitted with spending their holidays in going about Ireland and making political speeches. But not long ago they had been twitted with just the opposite course—namely, of keeping away from Ireland. If English politicians did keep away from Ireland under present circumstances, no doubt it would be better for the right hon. Gentleman's system of governing the country. Certainly, if the right hon. Gentleman would spend, he would not say his holidays, but a portion of the time he gave to his official duties, in obtaining information first-hand for himself as to the condition of the country over which he ruled, his policy would, without question, be a very different one when presented to the House, and he (Mr. Rowntree) was persuaded that hon. Members on all sides would listen to it with much greater respect. One of the things which he would hear, and which would probably make some impression upon him, would be this—that even in the midst of these proceedings feelings were aroused against the policy of the Government, 1673 and when the action of the police had been of the most cruel description, the people were in the habit of saying to their English visitors—"We are sure that if the English people knew of these things, there would soon be an end of them, and we believe that if the Chief Secretary himself could come here and find out the exact circumstances he would not say the things of us he does, or do the things he is now doing." If there were any hope of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary doing this, he (Mr. Rowntree) would make an earnest appeal to him, but it was useless to do any such thing. If the right hon. Gentleman would only give attention to the facts placed before him in these debates, and weigh them carefully, he would see that something more was required as an answer to the charges made against the Government than he was in the habit of giving. What were the facts as to the action of the police, and the statements of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to that action? Why, on many occasions they found that the official statements made to the House in the name of the Government had been contradicted by the sworn evidence of the officials under the right hon. Gentleman. He would not go into specific cases, but would merely remind the Committee of the cases of Youghal, Mitchelstown, and Ennis. In every one of these cases the statements officially made had been contradicted on sworn evidence. The Government declared that these cases against the Irish Constabulary were very few. Well, let the Government give hon. Members time, and they would be able to go on night after night bringing charges against the police which they had inquired into themselves. Last June he (Mr. Rowntree) himself had ventured to ask a Question of the right hon. Gentleman as to the conduct of the police in the streets of Dundalk, and he was met by a repudiation of the suggestion, which he could only make in the form of a Question. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the police did not attack the people, but that, by order of the Resident Magistrates, they endeavoured to clear the streets, which were quite blocked, in order to prevent further disturbance. Well, he (Mr. Rowntree) had been looking out of the window of the hotel directly upon the scene, and he 1674 could say that the main road was cleared by the Cavalry, and that a vehicle of any description could have gone up and down without difficulty. The police then came charging along the pathway on the other side of the road. The pathway was not blocked, but there were a number of persons standing upon it who had left the road, and the police, without being attacked, raised their rifles by the muzzle and deliberately struck at the people, who were only anxious to get out of the way. He was referring to what took place in Dundalk after the trial of the hon. Member for East Mayo. A more cruel and brutal thing than for men to be struck down in the street for no possible offence, when the roadway was comparatively clear, he had never seen in his life before, and he hoped never to see again. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary denied these occurrences; but the Committee would not be content with denials from him founded on the mere ipse dixit of the police who were incriminated. They were told that these occurrences were owing to the efforts of the agitators, and he desired to say this one word upon that point, because he thought, after the suggestions which had been made, it was only right that they should have some statement on the other side. After all, he took it that hon. Members of the Committee desired to be satisfied, on whichever side of the House they sat, and would not be content with a mere throwing out of a charge on the one side and throwing it back again on the other. He contended that they had a right to expect cordiality towards the whole body of the people by the Government. He would ask any hon. Member who had any knowledge of occurrences which had taken place in Ireland recently to say whether justice had been done to the people. On occasion after occasion the peace of a village or of a town had really been maintained, not by the Constabulary, but by hon. Members below the Gangway and the priests of the Catholic Church. When the feelings of the people were worked up to fever heat, they would see, as he had seen, old men go down on their knees and call forth curses from Heaven on those whom they believed were inflicting the most cruel wrong on the people of the country. When they saw an officer of the Constabulary kick aside 1675 a laurel leaf covering the spot on which one of his countrymen fell, when there were people around whom they heard declare ready to die for the man who had lost his life, it must be confessed that there was a state of tension existing which it was painful to witness. Then it was that hon. Members who visited Ireland saw that it was not the Constabulary, and least of all the Constabulary officers, who were keeping the peace, but hon. Members below the Gangway, who, by dint of great exertion, were able to restrain the people and induce them to go to their homes in quiet, yet they never had the suggestion from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that such a thing happened. The right hon. Gentleman should go a little more into Ireland to govern, when he would find that the treatment continually meted out to the people, even in the course of justice, was such as we should be shocked to see in this country or in Scotland. People were treated as an inferior race, and were made to feel themselves an inferior race. They welcomed the arrival of an English visitor—no matter what his politics—because they believed it would in some manner assuage the severity of their treatment. A friend of his had written to him a description of a trial which had occurred in Galway not long ago, and he said that whilst the trial was going on, one of the witnesses who had been sent for to give evidence was passing by some policemen, when three of them seized him and jammed him against the wall, throttling him in a brutal manner. Luckily, Mr. Becket saw what happened, and the police had to let their victim go. The police ought to have been severely punished for their action; and his friend considered it a shocking thing that such an incident should occur in a Court of Justice. Occurrences of this kind would not be believed by English people unless they saw them with their own eyes. He (Mr. Rowntree) confessed himself guilty of that which the right hon. Gentleman regarded as a great sin—namely, of having spent a part of his vacation in Ireland—but he might say that magistrates, with, perhaps, a few exceptions, holding opinions entirely different from his own, had said this—that these visits, and the policy of English Liberals, though these gentlemen did not agree with it, was 1676 producing a beneficial effect on the people of Ireland which had never been expected. He appealed to the Government to look further into the condition of the district on the north-west coast of Donegal. He was sure they would hear more about this district during the coming winter. Instead of relying upon the declarations of the Constabulary there, there was something which required far deeper looking into if a very painful state of things was to be averted. A gentleman who was not at all allied with the National Party had spoken to him in the strongest possible manner of the harm the police were doing amongst these people. He had said that he had never seen such an estrangement between the police and the people before. There was no contact between the two. The people were going on living their lives, refusing to recognize and to hold intercourse with the police, looking upon them, not as protectors, but as persecutors; and yet there was no rioting or disorder. The effect of this was that the people were their own police and protectors, and would as soon think of applying to the French Nation for a remedy as of going to the police, in the event of their having lost something or having a complaint to make. There was really a comical aspect to this question, for the police evidently thought it a very wrong thing for Englishmen to go over and spend any time in Ireland; and in this matter he would venture to make a suggestion to the Government. It was a serious thing to find such a fine body of men as the Irish Constabulary devoting their time to standing in the police station, staring like sheep at every new arrival, and then following visitors about like poodles. The thing was in the highest degree ludicrous and silly. On one occasion he had asked one of these men, who was exceptionally zealous in dogging his footsteps, why be was tracking him, and the only answer he got was—"Well, we understand, but we are not wished to give replies." That was the most foolish part of the whole business. Although English visitors were not charged with associating themselves with secret societies whose motive was assassination—and that was something in a country where coroners' juries had to reconcile themselves to the presence of such people—it still would be a saving of time, and a great con- 1677 venience to Englishmen, if the passport system were put in force. He was sure that this system would be to the convenience of English visitors and greatly lighten the labours of the police. When a visitor went to a village or a town it would be an easy thing for him to go to some police office, once and for all, and explain who he was, and where he came from, and get his passport viséd. At present he considered it a disgrace to this old country of England that an Englishman could not go across to Ireland—although he had not the slightest intention of addressing meetings there—and could not take his wife to a place of worship, and could not call with her upon a friend, without being tracked and followed by armed men. If that were the way it was proposed that the union between Ireland and this country was to be cemented, it was the most remarkably silly suggestion ever made to any intelligent mind, and be earnestly appealed to the Committee to look into the results of this policy rather closely. In this country people were getting to understand this question better than they did before. The more they agreed in the matter the more it would be seen that the rule of the rifle and the baton over people, who were as anxious as any Englishman to live peaceably and quietly in their own land, was at once a great injury and injustice to them, and a shame and disgrace to ourselves.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present, Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. LANE
said, he could assure the Committee it was not for want of sufficient material that numberless instances of police misconduct had not been brought forward to-night. It was because the hon. Gentleman who had preceded him thought it better to lay stress on certain circumstances, and also because they knew that at the present period of the Session it was absolutely necessary to curtail the length of the debates in 1678 Supply, that many of them had decided not to refer to matters in connection with the management of the Irish police of very great importance to their own constituents. In what they had done they had been prompted by a desire that specific cases of the first magnitude should be dealt with in the short time that remined at their disposal. He himself, if be were merely to confine his remarks to his own Division, and to the City of Cork where he lived, could bring forward scores of cases of misconduct on the part of police officers, any one of which cases, had it occurred in London or any town in England, would have had a more disastrous effect upon the Ministry than the case of Miss Cass a short time ago. He did not intend, however, to weary the Committee with a number of these cases. Indeed, he rose for the specific purpose of calling attention to one particular case. It was thoroughly characteristic of the Chief Secretary to anticipate this case—which he knew was about to be brought up and dealt with seriously—by a statement which was not at all substantiated by the facts, and which was inaccurate in every detail; and that then he should run away before a reply was made. The particular case he desired to bring to the notice of the Committee was that of the brutal and bloodthirsty murder which was committed in Midleton within the last few weeks. It was impossible for any man to justify the action of the police in that case unless he was prepared to justify wilful murder. The Chief Secretary, upon more occasions than one during the past week, had sought to prejudge the discussion upon this case, for he had endeavoured to lay down the doctrine that the murder which was committed by his emissaries in Midleton was the result of speeches made and of an agitation got up by some of his (Mr. Lane's) hon. Friends. The right hon. Gentleman went out of his way last week, and again to-night, to give the Committee and the public to understand that this horrible murder would never have occurred if it had not been for the visit of some Irish Members to Midleton some time previously. The Committee, of course, would infer from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the occasion upon which the murder took place must have been some day of poli- 1679 tical excitement, or some occasion when there was an unusual commotion in the town of Midleton, and that the police were only acting in accordance with their strict duties when this lamentable occurrence took place. He had made inquiries personally, and he desired to state to the Committee the result of his investigations. The facts were simply these: Upon the night of the 1st of November two policemen were walking along the streets of Midleton. The streets were in their ordinary state, very few people being about. In the swaggering manner which the Irish police have adopted since the present Chief Secretary came into Office, the two policemen came up to two men who were standing quietly upon the footpath and told them to "move out of that." The men moved aside, but that was not sufficient, for the policemen told the men to "go home out of that." One of the young men, who was named Mansfield, did not see any reason why he should go off the highway in his own town at the bidding of a policeman. He felt that he had a perfect right to be there, and he refused to go away. He was surrounded by his friends, every one of whom was able to testify to his sober condition at the time. The two policemen rushed at him, seized him by the throat and dragged him through the principal street in Midleton in the most brutal and barbarous manner. Of course conduct like that in a small country town naturally excited considerable curiosity, and a good deal of people followed the policemen. Amongst the crowd was the father of the young man, and he went over to the policemen and told them that they need not treat his son like that, for they knew who he was and could summon him if they had any charge to prefer against him. Some of Mansfield's friends remonstrated with the police for arresting him, and also for the shocking manner in which they treated him in dragging him through the town. The young man very properly resisted being dragged through the streets like a culprit and a criminal when he had done nothing whatever. The policemen, when they saw the crowd following them, dragged Mansfield into a hall and remained there for some time. The father went in and tried to get them to release his son. A struggle took place in the hall between the policemen and the father and son. 1680 The crowd outside got excited over this, and he (Mr. Lane) regretted to say that three stones were thrown through the fanlight over the door. No more than three stones were so thrown—the police did not say so. The crowd increased and became very excited when they saw the police maltreating the two men inside the hall. But he maintained that it could not have been a very bad crowd when the policemen were allowed to ill-treat two respectable inhabitants of the town, and when one policeman who stood at the door with a stick in his hand was able to keep it back. Another instance of the desperately riotous condition of the crowd was that the head constable and another constable marched up from the barracks through it, and walked without any molestation into the hall where the two policemen and their prisoners were. When the head constable went in and saw the state of the young man who had been dragged through the town on a charge of drunkenness, he ordered the constables to release the man. That was the origin of this unfortunate and lamentable occurrence at Midleton which the Chief Secretary wanted to make out was produced by speeches made and excitement given by hon. Colleagues of his (Mr. Lane) to the people to make attacks upon the small number of policemen who were stationed in the town. He was glad to say that in so far as the number of the police established in Midleton up to that time was small, the Chief Secretary was absolutely correct, but that was the only part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to-night in reference to the Midleton incident which was correct. The town had the name of being one of the quietest in the South of Ireland; indeed, if its records were searched it would be found that there was no such thing as violence in that town before. He was especially glad that, notwithstanding all the provocation the people had since received, and notwithstanding the most exasperating display of a numerous and hostile police force that had been paraded up and down the town for the last four weeks, there had not been a disturbance of any kind since the occurrence of the 1st of November. Information was sent to Mr. District Inspector Creagh, who had charge of the police in Midleton, that a disturbance was going on in the town, and so tumul- 1681 tuous was the mob that Mr. Creagh walked down, without any weapon with which to protect himself, to the place where the crowd had been some time previously. Some time before this one of the clergymen of Midleton had come upon the scene and persuaded the people to go away from the house in which the police were, but the first thing Mr. District Inspector Creagh did when he came on the scene was to order the police to fix their bayonets and to charge the crowd. The clergyman told Mr. Creagh that there was no necessity for work of that kind, that there was no riot, that the police were in no danger, that there was no danger of the peace being broken, and that it was monstrous for the police to charge the crowd, which consisted mainly of women and children who were doing nothing whatsoever. Perhaps it would be better and more satisfactory to the Committee if, in relation to this point, he quoted the evidence given by the police themselves at the investigation which took place afterwards. Constable M'Veagh said—I won't swear that tumult was going on outside the door until Mr. Creagh came up.Then the constable was asked—Do you know that the crowd had been sent away by Father Kennedy before Mr. Creagh came?—I don't know."Were you very much afraid?" asked the Counsel. "Indeed I was not," was the reply. Then he said—Mr. Creagh directed us to charge the crowd with sword in hand, and we did so. Mr. Creagh went with us. We rushed at the people with our bayonets in hand, and the people fled before us.He was asked "Were you not content with that?" and he replied—No; there were people down in Charles Street. They were runnig away and we ran after them.Were not the people running away, and why did you follow them?" asked the Counsel for the next of kin, and M'Veagh replied—It was my duty. I was acting under orders.The constable then volunteered the statement—We cleared the people out of all the public houses. I thought it was a most legitimate thing to do. The people were doing nothing there, only standing at the counter taking drink.1682 That statement gave a very fair idea of what was going on at the time the charge commenced. Many respectable citizens came forward to corroborate M'Veagh's evidence. The clergyman, who was on the spot at the time, came on the table and swore that the crowd had, to a very large extent, dispersed long before Mr. Creagh came upon the scene, and that at the time the Inspector arrived there was nothing going on which would justify the charge made on the people, which resulted in the death of the young man Ahern. Let him refer for one moment to Ahern's participation in the doings of that evening. Ahern was in a house a long distance from where the police had been besieged, as it were, or locked up for a while, in the hall. When the charge took place, and he heard the people running away, he came out upon the street to look at what was going on. He leant against the railings of the street. So innocent was he of what was going on, and of the danger in which he stood, that he never stirred from the railings, and it was while standing there that he was stabbed by an infuriated policeman. Not only were the police not satisfied with stabbing him, but they pushed him out into the middle of the street, knocked him down, and, according to the testimony of one of the bystanders, who had no object whatever in stating what was untrue, they kicked, when on the ground, the man who was bleeding to death before their eyes. A more unwarrantable or unjustifiable attack was never made upon an unarmed and harmless crowd of people than the attack made by the police on the orders of Inspector Creagh. It was not the first time that Mr. Inspector Creagh had shown his powers of gallantry in attacking unarmed crowds, and particularly crowds flying away from him or with their backs turned to him. He (Mr. Lane) remembered an occasion in the City of Cork last February, when one of the Representatives of the people was liberated from prison. On that occasion the bands of the City, and the citizens themselves to the number of thousands, had assembled to show their respect for the Member of Parliament and their resentment of his unjust imprisonment. They escorted the Member to his home, and having done that, the vast crowd broke up peaceably. The bands, with 1683 their contingents, went off to their rooms in different directions, and there would have been peace and quietness in the whole city in the course of half an hour if it had not been for the action of Inspector Creagh and the men in his charge. Inspector Creagh and his police went into ambush in a shady corner of Great George Street. So little truth was there in the statement that the people attacked Inspector Creagh and stoned his men that the presence of the constables in the dark and shady corner was utterly unknown to the people until they turned into the street leading directly to their band-room. There was not the slightest disorder; the bands were playing and the people were following. When, however, they had gone about 300 yards past the place where Inspector Creagh and his baton-men were posted, the police rushed upon them in the most uncalled for and unprovoked manner. They batoned the people right and left, and made a special attack upon the men who at the time were playing the musical instruments. They smashed the instruments, doing damage to the amount of from £150 to £200, and then retreated, without the slightest attempt to justify the attack. This was one of the antecedents of Mr. Creagh, whose action was the cause of Ahern losing his life at Midleton. Ear from its being the intention of Members of Parliament or the people of Midleton to provoke ill-feeling and bad blood and disorder in Midleton, he had proof positive that it was the police, acting under the orders of Inspector Creagh, who were responsible for what occurred. Two days before the unfortunate death of Ahern an event took place in the Court House of Midleton which led to the greatest exasperation. Seven lads were summoned before Mr. Redmond, the magistrate, for singing and whistling on the wall near the Court House. The Court House was outside the town, and therefore it could not be alleged that singing or whistling on the wall was annoying to anyone. But the head constable summoned the boys; and in bringing them before the magistrate he stated that the defendants were guilty of riotous and disorderly conduct on the 19th of October. Mr. Redmond, who was one of the two magistrates who distinguished themselves in the Killeagh 1684 case, said—"Are you going to give any evidence in this case?" The head constable said he was not; and then Mr. Redmond, with that same legal acumen he displayed in discovering in the evidence put before him in the Killeagh case a different crime from that the accused were arraigned for, discovered that the boys were guilty of riotous and disorderly conduct, although no evidence at all had been brought before him. The learned gentleman said—"It is clear to me that they are guilty of riotous and disorderly conduct." The head constable, however, said—I have no desire that these boys should be punished; but I think it is my duty to bring forward the case.It was then that Inspector Creagh came upon the scene, remarking—"It may be the beginning of a worse state of things." That remark alone showed that Mr. Creagh and his henchmen had evidently made up their minds to goad the people into the commission of some crime or outrage, so as to justify the statement of the Chief Secretary for Ireland that crime always followed the movements of the National Leaders. A number of the inhabitants of Midleton were brought up subsequent to the killing of Ahern, on summonses taken out under the Crimes Act, for having taken part in what was called a riotous assembly. The magistrates, in sentencing them, gave away the whole case of the police, for they said they were of opinion that the whole of these disturbances was caused by the people of Midleton trying to take upon themselves the responsibility of carrying out law and order. Such was the description of the proceeding by the magistrate who tried the people and sentenced them—some to six weeks and some to two months' imprisonment with hard labour. As a matter of fact, the people were trying to prevent two policemen committing the illegality which they undoubtedly did commit in arresting a sober man as a drunken man, and literally dragging him through the streets of the town. He (Mr. Lane) had given Notice that he would move to reduce the Vote by a particular sum in reference to the salaries of two police officers; but since he put down his Notice the Chief Secretary had made an admission which caused him to alter his determination. 1685 Last Friday the right hon. Gentleman told them that the duties of Divisional Magistrate for the County of Cork had for the last two months—during which time Captain Plunkett had been in London assisting in the conduct of The Times case—been conducted by County Inspector Eard, of the Cork Police Force, and that at the time of the occurrence at Midleton the police were under the control of County Inspector Eard. This officer went to Midleton the day after Ahern's death; but whether in his capacity of County Inspector of Police or as Divisional Magistrate, it was very hard for anyone who was not behind the scenes to be able to state. County Inspector Eard was accompanied by Mr. Redmond, the magistrate; but instead of taking any steps to discover who committed the murder, or who was responsible for the loss of life which took place, what did they do? If one was to judge from the subsequent events, these gentlemen gave the police orders to watch the office of the solicitor of the next-of-kin, and take the names of all those they saw going in there. It was inferred that the people who were seen to go in this office would give evidence at the inquest against the police, and therefore they were marked out for prosecution. The police served summonses upon seven or eight of these people, and to a very large extent prevented the people doing anything whatsoever to lead to the elucidation of the question who was responsible for the murder. At the inquest a police officer attended on behalf of the Crown; but, in reply to the Coroner, said he had no evidence to give as to the cause of death. The Coroner thereupon said it was the duty of the representative of the Crown to produce evidence as to the cause of death if he could, but Mr. Seymour, who was the gentleman who represented the Crown, said he had no evidence to produce. The Chief Secretary had said to-day that no attempt was made to prosecute the matter because of the reluctance of the people to give evidence. As a matter of fact the police did everything in their power to prevent the people giving evidence; therefore it was ridiculous for the Chief Secretary to tell the Committee that the Crown were unable to get evidence. Mr. District Inspector Creagh, who ordered the charge, and was responsible for the 1686 peace and the lives and liberties of the people of Midleton, was put in the witness box. When asked by the counsel for the next-of-kin what steps he had taken to discover the person who killed Ahern, he said that under the circumstances he had not taken any—the circumstances he (Mr. Lane) had detailed. As the Representative of the people of Midleton, he (Mr. Lane) felt it his duty to give this matter all the prominence he possibly could upon every occasion that the Rules of the House and the subject under debate would permit him to do so. He had scrupulously refrained from saying a single word that would prejudge the case of the unfortunate men who stood before the country at the present time charged with the wilful murder of Ahern. He thought it was clear that the murder was committed by the police, and that it originated in an act of illegality on the part of the police. What had the police authorities and the magisterial authorities done from the beginning to the end? They had made every effort in their power to exonerate the police, and they had strained the law in a most unnatural and objectionable form to punish the people of Midleton who had the misfortune to be witnesses of the proceedings of the 1st of November. The only matter of surprise to him was that the police did not serve a summons upon the clergyman who tried to keep the peace that evening, and who had succeeded in dispersing the crowd before Mr. Creagh came up. Of course the Committee knew by this time what had happened to the seven men who were supposed to be about to give evidence against the police at the inquiry. These people had the misfortune to be in the street when the disturbance took place, and the result was that Walter Mansfield was committed to prison with hard labour for six weeks, Patrick Toomey for two months, Patrick Nolan for six weeks, Maurice Murphy for six weeks, Patrick Conway for six weeks, Timothy Holland for six weeks, and John Walsh for six weeks. A remarkable circumstance was that the magistrate who tried them remarked that no one in the world knew why Patrick Mansfield was arrested on that evening. Mr. Patrick Mansfield was let off with a fine of 10s., whilst every man likely to give evidence against the police got six 1687 months or eights months' imprisonment with hard labour. That was what led to this unfortunate crime by the police, and those were the circumstances under which this murder was committed. As he had already stated, he should take every opportunity open to him of reverting to this matter until the Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench were as sick and tired of it as they were of the Mitchelstown affair. In conclusion, he desired to bear his humble testimony to the fact that visits to Ireland by such gentlemen as the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. J. E. Ellis), the hon. Member for Scarborough(Mr. Rowntree), and the hon. and learned Member for one of the Divisions of Lincolnshire (Mr. Waddy), and speeches such as those made to-night, did more to preserve law and order and peace and tranquility in Ireland than all the forces in the hands of the Chief Secretary for Ireland at the present time—which forces he used, not for the preservation of peace and quietness, but for the exasperation of the people, and to drive them to despair so as to give the right hon. Gentleman an excuse for getting up in his place here, and on platforms all over England and Scotland, and declaring that whatever crime and outrage existed in Ireland was due to the conduct of political agitators. The right hon. Gentleman was almost driving people out of their minds, and it required all the influence and advice of the Irish Representatives to prevent the outburst of a regular hurricane of crime.
§ SIR HENRY TYLER
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, that in the discussion of this Vote, two very distinct questions had been raised, one financial and the other executive. In dealing with the financial question no one could fail to be impressed and alarmed by the enormous growth of the cost and number of the police. The Chief Secretary, in his remarks, had pointed out that in 1848 the number of the police was 13,000, and that the present strength of the force was not very largely in excess of that number. In making that state- 1688 ment, however, the right hon. Gentleman should have considered that the year referred to, which was just after the famine, was the very worst year from the point of view of disturbance ever known in Ireland; and further, he should have recollected that at that time the population was 8,500,000, whereas it had now decreased to 4,750,000. There had been a reduction in the population of nearly 4,000,000, whereas the number of the police had been maintained, and the cost had risen from £400,000 to £1,500,000. Comparing the police force in Ireland with that of Wales, where the economical conditions were very much the same, taking the proportion of the population, it would be found that the police in Ireland was four or five times as numerous as that of Wales, and four or five times as costly. That showed a state of things which could not be defended in any possible way. In Ireland a great deal of work was done by the police which was perfectly unnecessary, and in this connection he must call the attention of the Committee to one part of the subject which was entirely evaded by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—namely, the system of espionage which was carried on by the police in Ireland.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he wished to give the Committee some of his experience in this matter of espionage, and he thought they would rather surprise the Committee. When he went over to Ireland he found that wherever he went he was followed by policemen. This was the case at Dundalk, whither he went for the purpose of being present at the trial of the hon. Member for East Mayo, and when he afterwards paid a visit to the estate of Lord Massereene he was followed by a car containing four or five policemen, who pursued him through the district. Now, he wanted to know whether this was done by order of the officials of Dublin Castle on their own responsibility, or in pursuance of instructions given by the Chief Secretary. Afterwards, when he went to Clare, for the 1689 purpose of going over Colonel Vandeleur's estate, he found that his intention had become known to the police, and, on arriving at the little town of Kilrush, he found the police there prepared for his visit. They interviewed everybody he saw there, and apparently communicated all the information they obtained to the Government in Dublin. Among others, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had an interview with a Government official there, an officer of the Local Government Board, a gentleman whose intervention had been invited both by Colonel Vandeleur's agent and by the tenants; and to his (Mr. Shaw Lefevre's) great surprise, he subsequently found, on authority which he could not doubt, that the fact of his having had this interview was communicated to the authorities in Dublin, and this gentleman was reprimanded for having been seen in his (Mr. Shaw Lefevre's) company. This gentleman was called to account for the reason he had mentioned—would the right hon. Gentleman say whether that was true?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that the officer in question was called to account for having been seen in his company?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he could only say he firmly believed it to be true. ["Oh, oh!"] He ventured to say it was true—["Oh!"]—whether the Chief Secretary knew of it or not.
Order, order! This is the third time the hon. Member for Scotland Yard—[Laughter]—the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool has been very disorderly. I must beg him to observe proper Parliamentary decorum. Order will be well preserved if the hon. Member will be quiet.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
This is the second time I interrupted, Mr. Courtney, and not the third. ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that the gentleman in question was afterwards removed from that part of the country and sent to another part of Ireland. He ventured to say that this system of espionage of which he now complained was altogether unprecedented in this country, and ought not to be allowed. Were they to understand that Members of this House who wanted to go to Ireland were in future expected to go to the Chief Secretary for Ireland and ask for a passport in order that they might be freed from this espionage on the part of the police? He maintained that such a state of things as at present existed should be brought to an end, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary should give orders to the police to desist from a policy of this kind directed against persons visiting Ireland. Another point of complaint which had been brought out in the course of the debate was the extent to which the police were employed at railway stations, and he believed it was nearer the truth to say that not 500, as stated by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), but three times that number of policemen were so employed in Ireland. Was it really necessary that a couple of policemen should be present on the platform of a railway station at the arrival of every train? Did it serve any useful purpose? The Chief Secretary stated that the police visited the railway stations in order to prevent criminal organization; but he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) should like to know in what sense the right hon. Gentleman used the word criminal. Did he mean it in the ordinary sense, or in the wider sense in which the word was used under the Coercion Act? He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) should have said himself that Ireland was extremely free from crime in every true sense of the term. Another question brought under the consideration of the Committee was the action of the police with respect to public meetings. On that point he was bound to say, from his own experience and observation, that the police, in a great many instances, were the real fomenters of disturbance. He did not know that he could give a better illustration than a case which occurred in the spring of this year in Limerick. He was not present there himself; but he understood that a de- 1691 monstration was organized for the purpose of erecting a monument to the so-called Manchester martyrs, and on that occasion a large number of police were in the town. There had been several collisions on the Saturday night and on Sunday, and, in consequence of this, the authorities were seriously alarmed as to what course things would take on the Monday. In this position of affairs, the gentleman in charge of the police consulted with the Mayor and asked his assistance to quiet the town. The Mayor said he would be responsible for the safety and peace of the town if the police were confined to barracks and not one of them allowed to show himself. Well, wisely enough, this was done—the police were confined to their barracks, and the result was that not the least disturbance took place on that occasion. He had personally had an experience of a similar kind at Loughrea, where a meeting of his was held. Before the meeting the police came to him and stated that instructions had been received from Dublin to allow the meeting to take place, and had asked what they should do on the occasion. Having in his mind what he had mentioned in regard to Limerick, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had replied that he would be responsible for maintaining order at the meeting, and that the best thing which could be done would be to withdraw the police and confine them to barracks, and not to let a single constable show himself, except the one who took shorthand notes on the platform. In this case, also, the result was that the meeting passed over with perfect quietness and order. He was convinced, however, that if there had been a large body of police present, there would have been the greatest possible danger of disturbance. He would also mention a case in which an opposite course was pursued—namely, the meeting at Ballinasloe, where the police did interfere, and where he was certain, but for the action taken by himself and others, there would have been a violent conflict. On this occasion the attitude of the police was menacing, and the officer at the head of the force had addressed him (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) in menacing and almost insulting terms. The attitude of the police, in short, was such that he was afraid of allowing the large body of people to remain outside the hall where 1692 it had been intended to present him with an address. He accordingly abandoned the meeting in the hall, counselled the people to disperse quietly, and went to his hotel, the address being presented to him there. He was certain that if he had not adopted this course there would have been a serious collision between the police and the people. There was not the slightest reason for bringing the police, unless it was for the purpose of interrupting the meeting. As to the Dundalk affair, he admitted the authorities were perfectly right in not allowing the people to assemble near the Court House, and if they had confined themselves to that, there would have been no disturbance. The account of that meeting given by the hon. Member for East Mayo was, however, strictly accurate. The authorities on that occasion sent a detachment of troops and police to a railway station a mile off to prevent that hon. Member from receiving a deputation from the town authorities. So far as he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) could see, the police made an unprovoked attack upon the procession, and a state of feeling was brought about which resulted later in the day in conflicts of a serious character, and to several persons being sent to prison. He thought the whole action of the police, which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary defended, was very unwise in endeavouring to interfere with the people at the railway station and on their way to the Court. There was another matter dealt with in the course of the debate, and that was the use made of the police in carrying out wholesale evictions. He admitted that the police might be used in an ordinary way in single cases of eviction, but not, he ventured to submit, in depopulating a whole district. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it was necessary for the Government to carry out the law, and that they had no option in the matter. Now he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) quite admitted that on ordinary occasions it was necessary to carry out the law, but he thought it was the duty of the Government in those cases where they had to deal with wholesale evictions to take into consideration whether those evictions were justifiable or not. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary seemed to think that even in the case of wholesale evictions he was justified in 1693 supporting them with the whole force of the law, but he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) ventured to point out that that was not the view of the right hon. Gentleman's Predecessor in Office, the present President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). Let them take, for example, the Clanricarde evictions. Everyone admitted that they were unjust under the circumstances. Wholesale evictions by Lord Clanricarde were impending, and the late Chief Secretary had personally communicated with that nobleman through his agent. He had said that, having regard to the fact that his Lordship was not prepared to make an abatement, such as other landlords were making, the Chief Secretary was not prepared to support him with all the Forces of the Crown. He did not go the length of saying that under no circumstances would he do so, but he said that he would postpone doing so until the latest period, and that then he would require test cases to be taken, and that evictions should only be carried out in those eases in which it was absolutely certain that the tenant could pay the rent demanded. That was not the course the present Chief Secretary had taken. The right hon. Gentleman was allowing Lord Clanricarde to evict a whole township, 24 individual families, and he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) wished seriously to ask the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary, whether he intended to allow the whole Forces of the Crown to be used for the purpose of carrying out these evictions? Then, as to the Gweedore case, the reply of the Chief Secretary to the questions put to him was that the Irish tenants were the most favoured tenants in Europe. How was it that they were the most favoured tenants? Why, because they were the only tenants in Europe who effected all the improvements in their holdings. He did not believe that in all Europe there existed another class of occupiers who effected all the improvements in the land they held, excepting freeholders, or persons holding under a system of dual ownership even more secure than that now existing in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the stay of proceedings given by the Judge as a sufficient protection to the tenant; but this stay of proceedings was never given for more than a few months, and 1694 many of these evictions were in respect of proceedings commenced before the Act of 1887 came into force. He considered that there was an immense distinction between wholesale evictions of the kind referred to and individual evictions occurring from time to time in the normal course of things. Another matter which he thought it necessary to allude to was the case to which he had called the attention of the Committee a few nights ago, in which the police got up prosecutions for the non-supply of goods which they did not really want. An answer had only been given in respect of one of these cases, that in which certain constables had been refused a supply of turf; and the answer given was that men who had so refused to supply goods to the police had pleaded guilty. No doubt they did, but they did so simply because the Judge had been increasing sentences on appeal, and they were therefore afraid of running the risk of an increased sentence by appealing. His argument was not affected by these persons pleading guilty. If the Killeagh case were taken into consideration, there was no evidence whatever on which they ought to have been convicted in the cases to which he was referring, and the convictions were absolutely and clearly illegal, and he challenged the Solicitor General for Ireland or the Chief Secretary to produce a case where prosecutions got up by the police in this manner—namely, where they asked for goods which they did not want—and where the convictions could be upheld under the ruling in the Killeagh case. In conclusion, he wished to say that his chief point was that the action of the police during the past few months had only led to disturbance, and that much of the work they performed it would be much better not to perform, and that their numbers were greatly in excess of anything that was necessary.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman seems to be indignant with the police, because, as he describes it, they have applied for goods in order to get up a case and to support prosecutions for Boycotting. Well, Sir, I admit that if the police induce people to break the law for the purpose of obtaining a conviction, they would be guilty of a grave breach of duty, if not of something worse. But 1695 that has never been the action of the police. All that they have done in these cases is this: When there has been in existence a conspiracy to refuse to supply goods they have simply taken the course which is taken under the Adulteration Act in this country of getting evidence or proof of that conspiracy. They did not induce people to engage in a conspiracy, but when a conspiracy existed they felt themselves absolutely justified in getting up the necessary evidence to prove it. Then the right hon. Gentleman drew a broad distinction between what he called wholesale evictions and evictions of single families, but did not do the Committee the honour of explaining on what he based that distinction. What he called "wholesale evictions" appeared from a remark which fell from him later on in his speech—namely, the eviction of 24 families instead of one family.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, a township of 24 families. The right hon. Gentleman thinks it perfectly justifiable, and not only justifiable but necessary, to support evictions in which one person is dealt with, and criminal to deal with eases in which 24 people are dealt with, though the circumstances of the 24 people may be the same as the circumstances of the one person. Such an amazing statement, such a paradoxical statement, requires a better justification than any which the right hon. Gentleman has adduced to support it. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say that the protection given under the clauses of the Land Act to the Irish tenants was inadequate, and that Irish tenants were not the most favourably situated tenants in Europe. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that all the improvements on the land were the work of the tenants. But I should never have made the statement that the Irish tenants were so carefully guarded if the law merely protected the tenants' improvements. The law does a great deal more than that. The Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member made it their boast that the tenants' improvements were protected, but the Act of last year gives the tenant power to come before the Court and prove that his non-payment of rent is due to causes of which 1696 he is not to blame, and obtain a stay of proceedings. I maintain, therefore, that the privilege given to Irish tenants, quite irrespective of the provision dealing with improvements, is greater than is enjoyed by the tenantry of any other country. Then the right hon. Gentleman, in the earlier part of his speech, discussed the system of police espionage, which he said he and his friends are subjected to in visiting Ireland. He boasted he had committed as criminal an act as Mr. Blunt.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I did not say that the right hon. Gentleman said that Mr. Blunt's was a criminal act. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem capable of understanding a plain English sentence. What I said was that the right hon. Gentleman boasted that he had committed an act quite as criminal as that of Mr. Blunt. The act may not have been criminal, but we now have the measure of the right hon. Gentleman's criminality in his own eyes. According to the law, as decided by a competent tribunal, Mr. Blunt's action was criminal. I, however, differ from the right hon. Gentleman, and think that he has taken ample precautions that in no circumstances he should come into conflict with the law. I think he was well advised in taking those precautions, but, at all events, his own view is that he was as guilty as Mr. Blunt. Well, under the circumstances, I cannot conceive how he can possibly complain of the Irish Government holding him under espionage. The Irish Government held Mr. Blunt to be guilty, and an Irish Court held him to be guilty, and a Court of Appeal had confirmed that decision. It is, therefore, impossible to see what the right hon. Gentleman's grievance is, for whilst Mr. Blunt was sent to prison, the right hon. Gentleman, who confesses himself to be quite as guilty, has only had his movements watched. At the same time, if the right hon. Gentleman ever wishes to proceed to Ireland as a tourist, or merely to investigate facts, I can assure him that I will give him every facility in my power. [An hon. MEMBER: A passport.] Then the right hon. Gentleman seems to be under the impression—and this is the last observation I will make—that Mr. Micks, the Local Govern- 1697 ment Board Inspector, drew down upon himself a reprimand on account of an interview which he had had with the right hon. Gentleman. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that in this matter he has over-rated his own importance. I never heard, till this moment, of the right hon. Gentleman's interview with the Local Government Board's Inspector. I was cognizant of all the circumstances which preceded the transfer of this gentleman to another part of Ireland, but amongst those circumstances his interview with the right hon. Gentleman was never so much as mentioned, nor should I have thought it an offence if I had had any knowledge of it. Even if I had considered it an offence it would have been one of so slight a character that I should have held it to have brought with it its own penalty. And now, Sir, I have gone over all the allegations which the right hon. Gentleman brought forward. I have not gone over all the ground he traversed, nor all the ground traversed by the previous speakers, but I have touched upon all the new ground opened up. Perhaps I shall not be going beyond my duty if I say that we have a large number of Votes to consider to-night, and this is the last occasion for an indefinite period when it will be possible to consider Irish Votes. Therefore, in the interest of those Gentlemen from Ireland who very naturally desire to discuss the Irish Estimates, I would recommend that the Committee should finish the discussion of this Vote and go to others which stand on the Paper, and which raise issues not less controversial, and upon which Gentlemen opposite can make no less violent speeches against Her Majesty's Government. [Cries of "Order!" and "Withdraw!"] I do not use that word in any spirit of aggression. What I mean is this. I am aware that hon. Gentlemen desire to discuss the action of the Government, not only critically, but adversely, and all I would suggest is that, having discussed the burning questions that arise on the Constabulary Vote, they should proceed to the discussion of the burning questions which also arise on the Magistrates Vote and the Prisons Vote, in order that we may be able to discuss adequately on this, which, as I have said, is the last occasion for an in- 1698 definite period that we shall be able to discuss Irish Votes, those questions which are of interest to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I hope they will not misunderstand the spirit in which I make this suggestion.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, he must say the right hon. Gentleman opposite must have a peculiar idea of conciliatory language. If he wanted to point to a right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench more calculated than another to prolong debate and accentuate and embitter controversy, he should unhesitatingly point to the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman's aggressive style was growing upon him, and he was extending his favours in this direction from the unfortunate Irish Members to his equals on the Front Opposition Bench. If the right hon. Gentleman thought it right to tell the Irish Representatives that they would have an opportunity for making speeches equally violent upon another Vote, then he must say that the right hon. Gentleman was as little master of his tongue as the statesman who lately gave 250,000,000 of his fellow subjects the title of "blacks." He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) desired to deal with one or two observations of the right hon. Gentleman on the general question. The right hon. Gentleman had thought it right on this Vote to repeat the statement that the Irish tenant was in a more favourable position than any other tenant in the world; but he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that if he wished to curtail discussion in Committee he should avoid subjects which were not strictly germane to the Vote. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) should not have endeavoured to go into this matter if the right hon. Gentleman had not initiated it without being provoked into it by any observations from anybody else. He maintained that the statement, as applied to certain parts of Ireland, was absolutely and wholly and completely devoid of foundation. The right hon. Gentleman had the coolness to turn to them and to say that the fact that the tenants had not gone into Court was a proof that the Irish tenant was in a favoured position; and he said this in the face of their fresh recollections of the Clanricarde evictions. How had these evictions arisen? Why, because the landlord, who was possessed of a long 1699 purse, took the tenants from Court to Court, until he entirely broke down the poor tenants, who could go no further. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well that the landlords, by the use of their purse and repeated appeals to higher Courts, had closed the doors of the Land Court as effectually to tenants as if legislation in their favour had never been passed by Parliament. Would the right hon. Gentleman produce to the Committee a Return of all the eases in which the section in the Act staying evictions had been operative? Could the right hon. Gentleman tell them how often it had been applied? He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) said distinctly, and challenged contradiction from the hon. and learned Gentleman sitting beside the Chief Secretary—namely, the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden)—who did know something about Irish affairs, that the section of the Land Act referred to, staying evictions, was a section which had proved a dead letter in Ireland. And yet the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary could get up and talk about the relief given to the Irish tenants under this section. And now, with regard to another point—the right hon. Gentleman made an allusion to the Olphert estate, on which, to-morrow, according to the information contained in the newspapers, an eviction was to take place. The right hon. Gentleman had declared that the landlord in this case was a resident who had had no differences with his tenants until the Plan of Campaign was started there this year. ["Hear, hear!"] The Solicitor General for Ireland cheered that statement. Did he, or did he not, agree with the statement of the Chief Secretary that there had never been any dispute or unpleasantness between this landlord and his tenants until the Plan of Campaign was put in force in January of this year.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The hon. and learned Gentleman did—then he was as ignorant as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and the other Members who were going about the country boasting of their superior information with regard to the condition of Ireland. Did the right hon. Gentleman, or the hon. and learned 1700 Gentleman, know anything about the Reports of a Committee of the House which sat from the 3rd December, 1857, to the 3rd August, 1858? According to the minutes of evidence taken before that Committee, considerable mention was made of the destitution in Gweedore. So far back as 1858 a Committee of the House was examining into the management of the estate of this landlord, who was said to be a good landlord by the Chief Secretary and the Solicitor General for Ireland. The Plan of Campaign was put in force on that estate, and, because of it, the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) had suffered barbarous, savage, and cowardly punishment under the direction of the Chief Secretary. The name Olphert was familiar to all the Irish Members. He did not believe there was a Member of the old original Irish Party who had not at some time or other asked a score of questions of Secretaries for Ireland with regard to the management of this same "excellent and good landlord," who never had a dispute with his tenants until the Plan of Campaign was preached on his estate by the hon. Member for East Mayo in January, 1888. Now, with regard to this good and resident landlord, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) would give part of the evidence given before the Committee which sat in 1858, and this excellent landlord, it seemed, was about to be assisted by 1,000 police in turning his poor tenantry out on the roadside. Anterior to 1858 this landlord, it appeared, took away from his tenants 3,000 acres of land without giving them compensation. He raised the rents, and, according to the sworn testimony of two priests who lived in the district, the people had to live upon sea-weed. This was the model landlord whom the Chief Secretary had named as an excellent landlord, who was reduced to disputes with his tenants by the action of the Plan of Campaign and the agitators on the Irish Benches. It had been proved by one clergyman, who gave evidence, that one woman on this estate had died from hunger. Tenants had been fined and made to pay rent for sea-weed gathered from the sea. And these were the model landlords whose kindly relations with their tenants the Plan of Campaign agitators were destroying, 1701 according to the veracious complaints of the right hon. Gentleman upon platforms in England! He wished hon. Gentlemen opposite had the advantage which Irish Members had had of listening earlier in the evening to the most impressive and instructive speech delivered by the hon. Member for North Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien). He thought every one who heard that speech must have had his blood boiling at the petty and malignant persecution which the hon. Member described. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the provocation given to the police. He agreed that terrible provocation had been given them, and it had been given by the right hon. Gentleman himself. There was no single act of outrage and violence, or even of bloodshed, committed which had not found in the right hon. Gentleman peremptory, emphatic, and ruthless approval. The right hon. Gentleman had defended the police by statements proved to be inaccurate, and, in fact, he had said in words, as plain as language could be, that the police in Ireland, the more they murdered, the more they outraged, the more they insulted, and the more they killed the people of Ireland, the better they would recommend themselves to the attention of their superiors.
The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the language he has just used exceeds the limits of Parliamentary debate. I must ask him to withdraw it.
Certainly. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the last sentence, which he must know exceeded the Rules of Debate in this House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that in view of what he had to bring before the Committee he claimed to move that the Question be now put.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
, seated and wearing his hat, said, he wished to call the Chairman's attention to the fact that the Chief Secretary for Ireland had 1702 deliberately attacked him in connection with the disturbances at Fermoy, and, although he had been sitting in the House for some time, the right hon. Gentleman had not given him an opportunity of replying. It was a most cowardly proceeding.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 166; Noes 99: Majority 67.—(Div. List, No. 334.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That £359,288 be granted for the said service."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 100; Noes 169: Majority 69.—(Div. List, No. 335.)
§ MR. A. J. Balfour claimed, "That the Original Question be now put."
Original Question put accordingly,
That a sum, not exceeding £369,288, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Expenses of the Constabulary Force, Ireland.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 182; Noes 110: Majority 72.—(Div. List, No. 336.)
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
said, he rose to Order. He claimed that he had the right, until a further question of closure had been put, to continue the debate on the original Question. He claimed that right under Rule 48 of the 18th of March, 1887. In the second paragraph of that Rule he found that when a Motion, "That the Question be now put," was carried—that was to say, the Motion they had divided upon before the last Division—and the Question thereby had been decided—which Question had just been decided by the last Division—any further Motion might be made—the assent of the Chair, as aforesaid, not having been withheld—which might be requisite to bring to a decision any Question already proposed from the Chair. He contended that the words "any further Motion," if there was to be no other discussion, plainly referred to the necessity of a further Motion of closure being made before the debate 1703 was closed. Any other interpretation would be an absurdity, because the Motion that the original sum be granted, that had just been put from the Chair, had been already made, and the words "any further Motion may be made," could not refer to the original Motion which had been made already. Therefore, he contended that the words, "any further Motion may be made, the consent of the Chair not having been withheld," plainly and obviously referred to another Motion than the Main Question.
said, the Question "that the sum, not exceeding £1,439,288, be granted," was the original Motion put from the Chair. The Question raised by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) would, he thought, have been open to some doubt if it were not precluded by a series of decisions, all deciding that after a Motion for closure had been agreed to, followed by a claim to close the Main Question, the Main Question could be at once put without a second closure Division.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
said, on a point of Order, he would ask whether, in this case, there had been any discussion on the original Question. He submitted that the first hon. Member who spoke on the Question—namely, the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. J. E. Ellis), had moved an Amendment to the Main Question. Therefore, in this case, there could have been no discussion on the Main Question, because the Question was that a reduced sum be voted.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he submitted, with great respect, that there had been no decision on this Question. [Cries of "Order!"] The Question, he thought, had never been raised.
said, the hon. Gentleman was quite misinformed. The Question had been decided several times. With respect to the Question of the hon. Member for North Longford, if the Motion which had been closured had been a Motion to reduce an item, it might have been contended that no discussion had taken place on the whole Question, and it might have been open to the Chair to withhold assent to the Motion "that the Main Question be put;" but the Motion was for the reduction of the whole Vote, and the discussion had been on the whole Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £35,750 (including a Supplementary sum of £3,000), be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries, Allowances, and Expenses of various County Court Officers, and of Magistrates in Ireland, and of the Revising Barristers of the City of Dublin.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he was sorry the Government had not reciprocated the spirit in which the Irish Members had met them on Saturday, who let them have so many votes which they could easily have stopped, by moving the closure on the Main Question of the last Vote before the previous Question had been disposed of. He rose now, however, to make some observations on the Resident Magistrates in Ireland, who had the law at their disposal. In the first place, he asked for some information as to the law which enabled a number of magistrates to be created at will. He had noticed in The Gazette the creation of magistrates for some particular purpose on a particular day, after which they disappeared into the background for ever. There appeared in The Gazette a notice making a certain man So-and-So, and, as a man of whose legal knowledge the Lord Lieutenant was satisfied, appointing him as Resident Magistrate in such-and-such a county. After the notice appears these gentlemen went down to a place where they had never had any business or interest and administer there local justice. Although Lard Ashbourne had dismissed a magistrate for going 15 miles out of his petty sessional district, yet Mr. Cecil Roche was allowed to go a long journey in Clare because, on the day preceding, a notice was in The Gazette that he had been appointed a magistrate of Clare. The aim of the License Act was to bring local opinion to bear on the question of licensing, but it was an intolerable thing that these magisterial waifs, without knowing anything about the places concerned, were to go about the country and give their votes for the creation of new licences on the extinction of old ones upon Party grounds. The Irish Members had been attacked by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) with being supported by the publicans of Ireland, but in the North 1705 of Ireland licences were imposed on scores of towns where they were not wanted by the Resident Magistrates who gave them to the bailiffs of landlords and people of that kind, for the purpose of creating a loyal minority; and, further, this was done in face of the protests of those who wanted to keep drink out of the villages. The Resident Magistrates backed up this system, but, on the other hand, they endeavoured to prevent licences being given to Nationalists. It was a monstrous thing that Mr. Roche should have gone into Ennis and given a corrupt decision in favour of the Government against Mr. Macnamara, whose only crime was that he sold United Ireland. This man first got a month, then two, and then three months' imprisonment for selling the paper, and the Resident Magistrates then deprived him of his licence, and, consequently, the means of making his living. He called this Boycotting of the worst description. Why did not the Government attack United Ireland themselves, instead of selecting this unfortunate individual for such treatment? The right hon. Gentleman said he was not going to allow the leaders to escape while their unfortunate dupes, as he called them, were punished, and here was an unhappy dupe who had been excessively punished. He had frequently asked in that House on what principle these men were selected to do their work; and he had pointed out that they were in the habit of sentencing the same persons two or three times. Mr. Welsh had got three weeks for publishing a resolution of the National League; last January he was sentenced to six months for publishing notices of the National League, and then he was prosecuted a third time, and was, at the present moment, undergoing imprisonment to which he was sentenced by the Resident Magistrates. He respectfully submitted that a man who had been convicted over and over again by the same magistrate was not likely to have a fair trial. On what principle were these gentlemen selected? It seemed to him that the system was one of giving out-door relief to broken-down military men or bankrupt landlords. Under the circumstances he desired to know how many Resident Magistrates it was intended to appoint? Would there be any stop to the appointment of 1706 such officials, and what was the test of their fitness? One Resident Magistrate had recently died; who was to fill the vacancy? He also desired to know on what principle certificates of competency were given; was there a competitive examination? What was the principle acted upon by the Government? It was no answer to him to say that Lord Spencer certified in any cases to the legal knowledge of these gentlemen, for there was not in the Coercion Act of the late Government, a clause like one which was in the present Act. He, therefore, thought that some greater precautions should be taken than were taken at present to ensure that Resident Magistrates should possess the necessary legal qualifications.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said, that this Vote, like the last Vote, showed a very considerable increase, and if the Committee were to meet for any more useful purpose than that of merely acting as a dumb record of what the Government wished, serious attention should be given to this Vote. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had showed from time to time how annoyed he was that the expression "Removables" was applied to the Resident Magistrates of Ireland who were such pets of his. The reason why that expression had been used was that these magistrates were removable, not alone removable by the Executive at Dublin Castle, which meant the right hon. Gentleman himself, but removable from County to County, and even from Division to Division of a County. Some months ago he asked the Chief Secretary whether there was any foundation for the slanderous rumour in Ireland that the Resident Magistrates were removable from one County to another. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be in considerable doubt, but assured the House that if such a removal were possible it never took place. But, as a matter of fact, these magistrates were removed from place to place, and their track was generally marked by a number of prosecutions of unfortunate men, all of whom were very much more honest than any of the Resident Magistrates who tried them. He had taken a few notes, and would the Committee believe that in a month or two one particular magistrate, Mr. Hodder, heard cases in no less than three different 1707 counties? One day this gentleman adjudicated in Limerick, sitting in a number of cases under the Crimes Act; and lo and behold, a week after he was found in the City of Cork sitting in judgment on the Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane). By-and-bye he turned up in his (Mr. Flynn's) Division, which was 50 miles away from the City of Cork, and sent him (Mr. Flynn) off to prison; and subsequently he was found in another County, sending another Member of Parliament and half-a-dozen farmers to gaol. Were they not justified in calling that gentleman removable in every sense of the term? When they came to consider the case of this gentleman they felt thoroughly justified in asking the Committee to pause before they voted the salaries now asked for. He found that under the head of salaries there was an increase of £1,000, and this was under the right hon. Gentleman's régime, which was said to be restoring law and order in Ireland. Another item in the Vote was that for personal and travelling expenses, and it was no less a sum than £2,500. If the right hon. Gentleman could spare a little time from the consideration of matters of very great importance, and direct his attention to a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, he (Mr. Flynn) would like a little information in regard to this item. Was any part of this sum for the journeys of Captain Plunkett to London on behalf of The Times; did the extra remuneration of four Divisional Magistrates for 12 months—£1,500, come under the head of Captain Plunkett's visit to London, where he spent his time most usefully and agreeably to himself? As to the duties of Resident Magistrates, were the Committee aware that a Resident Magistrate in Ireland was not only a magistrate but a policeman? He did not mean a policeman in the sense that he had been a policeman—though he believed about 45 per cent of the Resident Magistrates of Ireland had been in the Constabulary—but he meant in the sense of his actually being in charge of the Constabulary Force in the very place where he was supposed to adjudicate. In his (Mr. Flynn's) district there was a very charming young man, who had admitted that he had no knowledge of the law, and yet that young man was called upon to try cases in 1708 which conspiracy was alleged. One day they found this gentleman, Captain Seagrave, on the Bench, and on the following day they found him heading a number of policemen in a baton charge. Could the Committee conceive how a man who was to perform executive duty and magisterial functions could carry any calm and judicial mind to the Bench, and adjudicate in cases of a somewhat exciting character? He did not complain particularly of Captain Seagrave, but of the system adopted. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had discovered a new star—namely, Colonel Cadell. One day this gentleman might be found sitting on the Bench in Cork; the next day he might be found in another portion of the county, perhaps 50 miles away; the third day he might be found in charge of a number of troops at an eviction; and on the fourth day he might be found in the streets of Cork at the head of the police. Hon. Members wanted to know from the Government whether there was a broad line of distinction between the executive duties and the judicial functions of the Resident Magistrates, or was there not; and, if there was, where it was drawn. It could not be expected that the people of Ireland would entertain any great respect for law and order when they found that the man in charge of troops, on occasion of a collision between the people and the authorities, was, on the following day, sitting in judgment on the people who might have taken part in the tumult. It was necessary to speak at great length on this Vote, and he assured the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that they would not be in the position the right hon. Gentleman thought they were in in regard to the last and other Votes. Upon the last Vote the Chief Secretary had said that they had only brought four or five cases forward. They might have brought others forward but for the fact that they were clotured. He trusted that the Government would act a little more practically on this Vote, and give them an opportunity of discussing it properly. He assured the right hon. Gentleman there was no dearth of examples of the improper conduct of the Irish Resident Magistrates, for these unfortunate men gave only too many of them. He maintained that it was a 1709 violation of all judicial decency to find a magistrate rushing from the bench after having delivered a decision, seizing a stick or some other weapon, and heading the police in an onslaught upon a peaceable population. That occurred in the case of the notorious Mr. Cecil Roche on several occasions, and even the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had never taken an opportunity of controverting the statements in regard to the notorious Mr. Cecil Roche. On a certain occasion, on which the hon. Member for West Kerry (Mr. E. Harrington) was tried and sent to gaol, a large number of people assembled outside the Court House in Tralee. Mr. Cecil Roche, who assisted in sending the hon. Gentleman to prison, immediately afterwards came out of the Court House and led a police charge upon the people, because they had indulged in the heinous and unpardonable offence of cheering the hon. Member for West Kerry when he was being conveyed upon a car to the railway station on his way to gaol. He did not believe that even the most rabid partizan opposite would contend that the conduct of the people was deserving of any severe treatment—it certainly was not deserving of the treatment which Mr. Cecil Roche accorded it. There was no riot, no disturbance, no disorder; the whole offence, if it were an offence—and he made a present of it to the right hon. Gentleman—was that the people cheered, as crowds did cheer those with whom they were in sympathy. Mr. Roche hurriedly left the Bench, took up a blackthorn stick, and headed an armed Police Force in a charge on the crowd. The people had not been asked to disperse, the Riot Act had not been read, but in the most savage manner the people were attacked, until, in a few minutes, the large number were hurt seriously, many of them so seriously that they had to be conveyed to the hospital or infirmary, Naturally a strong feeling of indignation was aroused by the occurrence. The Board of Town Commissioners held a meeting a day or two afterwards, and protested in strong language against it, and they forwarded a copy of the resolution to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. A meeting was held by the Chamber of Commerce, and presided over by a well known and respected magistrate, and attended by some of the principle men 1710 of the town; and at that meeting a resolution was passed expressing condemnation of the brutal conduct of Mr. Cecil Roche, and asking the attention of the Executive and of the right hon. Gentleman to his conduct. Resolutions were also passed by the Tralee Harbour Commissioners to the following effect:—That we condemn, in the most emphatic manner, the cowardly conduct of the police officers in brutally and wantonly attacking innocent people of the town yesterday, without a semblance of provocation, and that we further call upon the Government to hold a sworn inquiry into the conduct of one of their Resident Magistrates, who gave instructions to the police to assault the people on the occasion of the removal of Mr. E. Harrington, M.P.Was any notice taken of the action of Mr. Cecil Roche? As far as he (Mr. Flynn) understood, nothing at all was done. So brutal was Mr. Cecil Roche's conduct, and so wanton his behaviour to the people on this occasion, that the occurrences of the day in question, even without other circumstances, were really sufficient to provoke a local insurrection. A short time ago, he (Mr. Flynn) was witness of the man's conduct towards the Representatives of the people. His hon. Friend the Member for East Kerry (Mr. Sheehan), who was now in Tralee Gaol, was in his own house at night, when the police made a search without a warrant. They said they had a warrant but never produced it, and it was now known that they had no warrant. They searched the premises, and afterwards a warrant was issued by Mr. Cecil Roche for the arrest of the hon. Member (Mr. Sheehan) on a very miserable charge. The charge was so trivial that had the hon. Gentleman consented to give bail for his good behaviour he would not have been sent to gaol at all. The hon. Member for East Kerry was Chairman of the Poor Law Guardians and of the Town Commissioners, and he was a large hotel proprietor, the owner of several other businesses, and a most respected man in the locality. Arrested on this trivial charge, he was brought before Mr. Cecil Roche, and would the Committee believe that though the case was to be tried on the following day, though bail to any amount was offered, Mr. Roche absolutely refused it and assigned no reason whatsoever for the refusal? The hon. Member was a man in delicate health, and was taken at the expense of the 1711 ratepayers a distance of 25 miles that night, and brought back the following day the same distance on a trivial charge which was met by an offer to release him if he entered into his own recognizances to be of good behaviour. But for one night Cecil Roche refused bail, while no reason could be alleged for the exercise of such arbitrary and irresponsible authority. Conduct of this kind was indulged in for the purpose of intimidating the people of the district, and that it had not done so did not make the conduct of this man the less reprehensible. There were scores of other magistrates who had been guilty of conduct equally arbitrary. Let him take the case of the Removable Magistrates in connection with the Mayor of Cork some time ago. It was part of the policy of the present Government to sneer at representative authority in Ireland; Mayors and Sheriffs and such people were looked upon with some respect in this country, but in Ireland they were regarded by the Executive as deserving of no respect or consideration. The Mayor of Cork, guilty of what was acknowledged to be a technical assault, was brought before two Removable Magistrates, and instead of being fined, as he would have been had he been a drunken rowdy, he was sentenced to a fortnight's imprisonment by Mr. Gardner and the other Resident Magistrate, whose name he did not recall. He would like to know from the Chief Secretary, or from the Solicitor General for Ireland, if the Executive had any explanation to offer as to the conduct of these Removable Magistrates in regard to the imprisonment of the Mayor of Cork? The Mayor simply laid his hand on the shoulder of a policeman, and, said "You had better leave this." The policeman acknowledged that he was neither pushed, struck, nor hurt, so that the offence, if offence there was, was that well known in law as a technical assault. He (Mr. Flynn) thought that had the person charged been one of the most worthless characters of the City of Cork, merely a small fine or nominal fine would have been imposed upon him. Why was the Mayor of the City sentenced to a fortnight's imprisonment on a paltry charge like that, and why was the case brought before the Resident Magistrates? Who had the direction of this prosecution, and who 1712 had the selection of the Magistrates to try it? This was a case which clearly ought to have been tried under the ordinary law; but, as a matter of fact, magistrates were being paid £600 or £700 a-year for trying cases of this kind? What did it all mean? It meant it was part and parcel of the system. If the right hon. Gentleman really thought the opinion of the people of Ireland was worth having, and that it was well to remove from their minds ugly suspicion—nay, something more than ugly suspicion, for it had developed into positive belief—he would give them stronger proof than he had yet given as to the bonâ fide manner in which these magistrates were appointed, as to the manner in which they were removed from one district to another, and also to the suspicious manner in which they were moved about, like pawns on a chess board, at the will of the right hon. Gentleman or of the Executive of Dublin Castle.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, they had now reached the hour of half-past 12 o'clock. They commenced the sitting at 3 o'clock, and when the 12 o'clock Rule was adopted, it was adopted to enable them to commence their sittings at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It was fully understood that no controversial Business would take place after 12 o'clock except, as the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) said, on the occasion of a great debate. This was not a great debate; at the same time the matters they were now discussing were of very great importance. Again and again during the Session it had been urged, when any complaint had been made about the Resident Magistrates, that the Irish Members would have full opportunity of going into the matter on the Estimates for the salaries of the Resident Magistrates. Anyone had only to look at the House at the present moment to see how wearied the House was. There was not such an attendance as one would anticipate when such a Vote as this was under discussion. He did not suppose that the Government imagined for a moment they were going to force this Vote through, the Committee to-night, and he did not believe that they would gain in any sort of way by prolonging the discussion to 1 or half-past 1 o'clock, and renewing it on some future occasion. He therefore 1713 begged to move that the Chairman do now report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he did not notice that the proposal of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) was received with any great favour by hon. Gentlemen who sat behind him. This would be the sixth or seventh day on which they had discussed Irish Estimates. He quite admitted that full opportunity should be given to hon. Members to discuss this Vote; for his own part, he was extremely unwilling that the time for discussion should be curtailed, and he could not but think that, as this was the last occasion for an indefinite period on which they would be able to discuss the Vote, it would be most unfortunate if, by the action of the hon. Gentleman, the time for discussion were shortened. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman would allow hon. Members from Ireland an opportunity of laying their views upon this subject before the Committee. It was not very late. He quite admitted that when they met at 3 o'clock they ought not to sit very late, but, considering that to-morrow night the 12 o'clock Rule would not be suspended, he hoped that the hon. Gentleman would not persevere with his Motion.
§ MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
said, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would be a little more explicit. Two or three times the Chief Secretary had said that this would be the last occasion on which they would be able to discuss the Vote. He did not understand what the right hon. Gentleman meant by saying that this would be the last occasion for an indefinite period. If the right hon. Gentleman would be a little more explicit, the Committee, he was sure, would be exceedingly obliged to him.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his statement meant that he intended, or that the Government intended, to force not only this Vote through to-night—which he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) thought would be strongly un-justifiable—but all the other Irish Votes.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he never expressed any view of the kind the hon. Member indicated, but he was bound to remind the Committee that the Leader of the House had apportioned all the days up to the 18th of this month for various Estimates other than Irish Estimates. Whether they would finish by that time the other Estimates he did not know, but it was perfectly clear that the Irish Votes could not be discussed again before the 18th, and it was not clear that they could be discussed then, and therefore he was justified in using the words, indefinite period.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he did not know whether his hon. Friend (Mr. Labouchere) was desirous of pressing his Motion. He, for his part, was quite willing to say a few words upon the Vote now.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he did not wish to press his Motion if he could arrive at some understanding with the right hon. Gentleman that he did not intend to go on to-night practically indefinitely until he got this Vote, If the right hon. Gentleman would mention a fair and reasonable time that they ought to sit to, of course there would be no objection to continuing the discussion; but, after the experience they had on the last Vote, they were a little suspicious of what might occur.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that what he desired to do was to give hon. Gentlemen opposite the fullest and amplest power of discussing this Vote. Of course, if they desired to cease discussion tonight, he should consider the question.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Then I understand we shall have another opportunity, as well as this, of discussing the Vote?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No; I said nothing of the kind. I hope hon. Gentlemen will not put words in my mouth which I never uttered. I never talked about a further opportunity; on the contrary, I said that further discussion would have to be postponed for an indefinite period.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Then I understand that after an indefinite period we shall have another opportunity for discussion?
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN
said, that it was as well that they should have a clear understanding upon this matter. They were willing to go on for an hour or two hours longer, but he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman must know that two hours were utterly insufficient in which to discuss the questions raised by this Vote. He had to raise the question of Colonel Turner's administration in Ireland, and his exercise of dispensing power, a matter which it would be utterly impossible to discuss at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. A number of his hon. Friends around him had matters of great importance to raise: in point of fact, this Vote embraced the whole Administration of Ireland for the past 12 months, and it was only by discussions on this Vote that they were able to bring home responsibility to the officials who would have, for the next three months, the lives and liberties of the people of Ireland in their hands. He, therefore, put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not reasonable that they should go on, and get through such a portion of this discussion as was possible within an hour or two, but that it was not reasonable to oblige them to bring to a conclusion at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning the discussion of a Vote which, it was quite plain, could not be discussed under, at all events, four or five hours.
MR. T. M. HEALT
suggested that the Vote should be withdrawn, and that the Government should rest satisfied with taking the Votes which might reasonably be taken to-night. It was impossible that the Government should expect to get a Vote of this character tonight. It was an important Vote, not because of the amount of money involved, but because of the character of the gentlemen whose salaries were included in it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that they had already discussed the Vote for nearly two hours. [Cries of "No! not for one hour yet."] He begged pardon, he was in error. He could not help thinking, however, that within reasonable time the discussion upon this Vote might be concluded. The time already spent on it would be wasted if they were to withdraw the Vote. As he had already expressed the opinion that this was probably the most convenient time to discuss Irish Estimates, he suggested that the 1716 Vote, which was regarded as of such importance, should be taken now, without wasting any of the time which still remained for discussion. Personally, he would have preferred that a Vote of this importance should have been brought on at an earlier period of the evening.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should select such of the remaining Irish Estimates as he considered to be non-contentious, and which might be taken after reasonably brief discussion. If it was money that the right hon. Gentleman wanted, that would be the easiest way of getting it. The period of the year was a question of some importance to the Irish Members, but the one question they considered to be of vital importance was that the Votes should only be taken, whatever the period of the year was, after full discussion.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he could not promise any better opportunity of discussing the Vote. If hon. Members deemed the Vote to be of great importance, he strongly urged them to continue the discussion now.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, that there was a great deal in what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) had said—unless the Vote was passed to-night it would be better to withdraw it. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) should certainly object to sit up to 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning if the Vote was not to be taken.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman whether, upon occasions of this kind, the best plan was not to come to terms with an adversary and arrange matters, so that it would be possible for the House and its officers to disperse at the proper time? The Irish Members were willing to give the Government some money upon this occasion. There were a large number of Votes which it would be possible to allow to pass to-night. Unless the right hon. Gentleman had present to his mind the possibility of getting all the Irish Votes to-night, there was no force whatever in his contention. It would be impossible to get all the Irish Votes to-night; it would be absurd for the right hon. Gentleman to suppose that he could get all those Votes by any other means than the 1717 closure, and he (Mr. T. M. Healy) did not imagine that the closure would be permitted without a reasonable amount of discussion.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
wished it to be distinctly understood that the Government had no power to afford hon. Gentlemen a better opportunity of discussing this Vote than the opportunity they now offered. If, knowing that, hon. Gentlemen still preferred other and non-contentious Votes to be taken to-night, he saw no reason to object to the course suggested.
§ MR. SEXTON
thought that Vote 22, Supreme Court of Judicature; Vote 24, Admiralty Court Register; Vote 25, Registry of Deeds; Vote 26, Registry of Judgments, might be taken, after brief discussion, to-night.
§ MR. WADDY
said, there was just one thing he thought someone ought to say. If, by the somewhat doubtful expression which had been used just now by the Chief Secretary, they were to understand that some day or other these matters would be brought up, and then they were to be told there was no time for discussion, and that it was their fault—[Mr. A. J. BALFOUR nodded assent.] He thought as much. Well, he would not say he thought as much, because he did not wish to think it—he did not wish to think that the Government would be likely do a thing of that kind; but now they had it admitted that what was proposed to be done was to take advantage of the absolute impossibility of getting this Vote to-night, and then, on some other occasion, to turn round upon them and say—"You did not take a discussion when you might, and now you shall not." That was a course of procedure against which he desired to protest.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
asked hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway whether it would not be possible that all the Votes in the class, with the exception of Vote 27, for the Irish Land Commission; Vote 28, for County Court Officers, &c.; and Vote 31, for Prisons, should be taken to-night?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Surely we can take all the Votes, with the exception of Votes 23, 27, 28, and 31.
§ MR. SEXTON
thought he had enumerated all the Votes which he and his hon. Friends could allow to be taken after brief discussion?
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (2.) £32,562, to complete the sum for the Supreme Court of Judicature in Ireland.
§ (3.) £585, to complete the sum for the Admiralty Court Registry, Ireland.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, there were several points arising out of this Vote which was it of material interest to the City of Cork should be raised in Committee, but owing to the somewhat unforeseen mismanagement of public affairs hon. Members could not be expected to have the materials at their fingers' ends with which to discuss the Vote. He trusted, however, that on a subsequent occasion, and at a reasonable hour, an opportunity would be afforded of discussing this Vote.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £5,346, to complete the sum for the Registry of Deeds, Ireland.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, that the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) would remember that the condition of the Registry of Deeds Office had been discussed every year. In 1880 a Royal Commission reported on the question, and it was understood that a Treasury Committee had endeavoured to over-ride the decision of the Commission. If there was any Department they had any reason to be satisfied with in Ireland it was the Department for the Registry of Deeds, and he desired to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he had any objection to lay on the Table the reply of the Registrar of Deeds to the Report of the Treasury Committee? There had bean some dissatisfaction in the Office for some time, and he was anxious that some satisfaction should be given to the clerks of the Department as to what their future was to be.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he could not on the spur of the moment state what the reply of the Registrar of Deeds was 10 years ago.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
remarked, that the reply was made only three years ago; 1719 the Report of the Royal Commission was made eight years ago; and then there was a kind of rebuttal of the Report, and a reply was made by the Registrar. Nothing had been done, as he understood, from that day to the present, and he wanted the Government to tell the Committee what their position exactly was. Was it not a fact that there was a grave amount of dissatisfaction in regard to the proposed re-organization of the Department?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he was not aware that there was any dissatisfaction such as the hon. and learned Member had stated, but he would look up the Papers, and communicate with the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £913, to complete the sum for the Registry of Judgments, Ireland.
§ (6.) £1,962, to complete the sum for the Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Ireland.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that if hon. Gentlemen would look at Class IV., he did not think that they would see any objection to Vote 14 for Teachers' Pensions being taken.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, they would discuss the question on the Vote for National Education, and, therefore, he did not think there would be the slightest objection to take that Vote.