§ (1.) £32,665 (including a Supplementary sum of £10,000), to complete the sum for Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions, Ireland.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, that if the amount of this Vote represented 652 in Ireland, as it did in England and Scotland, the cost of the force employed for the detection and punishment of crime in the ordinary sense of the term, the Committee need waste very little time upon the matter, and he should not feel himself disposed to raise any discussion upon it. He felt bound, however, to avail himself of this opportunity, late in the Session as it was, to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the money given by this Vote was employed in Ireland for purposes altogether different from those for which the money voted for the administration of justice was employed in other parts of the Empire. In other parts of the Empire money was employed for the detection and punishment of crime. In Ireland the money voted under the head of Criminal Prosecutions was employed for the creation and fabrication of offences. It was employed in snatching verdicts against the opponents of the Government by juggling the machinery of the law, and in condoning offences and enabling criminals to escape from justice when they happened to be friends of the Government. No doubt the charge he made was a serious one, but he was prepared to make good what he said. When the Vote was last under discussion, attention was drawn to the functions exercised by the Attorney General for Ireland in regard to the finding of Coroners' Juries, and the Chief Secretary, on that occasion, made an attack upon the Coroners' Courts in Ireland, the like of which had never, within his knowledge or within his memory, been before directed by any Minister of the Crown against any Court; certainly not by any Minister of the Crown so new to the Office as the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had declared in good round terms that Coroners' Juries in Ireland were often no better than instruments of judicial murder, and very often conspiracies to assassinate; that Coroners were often placed under the pressure of violent political influences, and that the juries themselves were subjected to influences most unfavourable to the police. With regard to the Coroners he was quite aware that some of them were men of violent political convictions, but their violent political convictions were those of the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself. As to the Coroners' Juries who had been concerned 653 in recent memorable inquiries in Ireland, not one of them had been in any way identified with the polities of the people. He referred to the inquests at Midleton, Youghal, and Mitchelstown. The Coroner himself was a gentleman of very moderate political opinions, and, from all he could learn, had never been in any prominent way associated with any political agitation in Ireland. The Chief Secretary for Ireland stated that the Coroners' Courts were of the nature of conspiracies to assassinate, but did the Coroners choose the juries? The Coroner in Ireland, like Coroners elsewhere, did nothing but address his prescript to the police, and the police, on receiving it, selected the persons who were to serve on the jury. In fact, in cases where the police themselves were concerned and the members of the force strongly incriminated, the police themselves summoned the jurymen, and constituted what the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary termed the instruments of judicial murder and conspirators to assassinate members of the Constabulary Force. He wished to submit to the Committee the constitution of one Coroner's Jury in Ireland, who recently delivered a very memorable verdict. There were 13 members of the jury. The foreman was a Catholic, the second was a Protestant Conservative, the third and fourth were Protestant Conservatives, the fifth was also a Protestant Conservative and a nephew of the proprietor of the Protestant Conservative Hotel, in which Dr. Kidley was staying when he committed suicide. The sixth was an ex-Sergeant-Major, a Catholic, whose politics were unknown; the seventh was an anti-Nationalist, the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh Catholics, the only indication of whose politics he possessed was that they had never been members of the National League; the twelfth and thirteenth were the only Nationalists on the jury. That was the constitution of the jury empanelled in the case of Dr. Ridley—namely, 11 Conservatives and anti-Nationalists, and only two Nationalists. Yet that jury found that Dr. Barr, the agent of the Chief Secretary, had been guilty of foul aspersions in regard to Dr. Ridley, who had been driven out of his mind in consequence, and had committed suicide. That being the constitution of the jury which inquired 654 into the treatment of Dr. Ridley, he thought he was entitled to demand from the Chief Secretary the withdrawal of the statement he had made impeaching the constitution of that tribunal. The jurymen were summoned by the police themselves, and it was ridiculous to say that they could be supposed to be in the interest of incriminated persons, when the incriminated persons were members of the Police Force themselves. Since the former debate upon this Vote the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland had been driven to take action in one murder case—namely, that of Midleton. But how had he been driven to take action? It was by the Lord Chief Baron who animadverted severely upon the fact that no action had been taken against the policeman Swindell, and intimated that if the next-of-kin of the murdered man made an application to him in consequence of the failure of the Attorney General to take action, he would cause a presentment to be made to the Grand Jury. It was then, and only then, that the Attorney General consented to interfere and to recognize the verdict of the Coroner's Jury. There was then, however, another great scandal connected with the case, because, although the Attorney General had consented to take action at the instance of the Lord Chief Baron, he had released the constable from custody, and he was now out on bail in his own recognizances. It was a singular fact that a man who had been found guilty of murder by a Coroner's Jury should be out on bail upon his own recognizances, and that fact, he was afraid, was simply calculated and intended to defeat the ends of justice. But the Government adopted two measures of justice in dealing with Irish questions. In this case a police-constable charged with murder was released on bail, but when a Member of Parliament or a priest was prosecuted for some trumpery or imaginary offence under the Coercion Act bail was refused, and he was committed to prison to await his trial. Nothing more instructive, shocking as it was, had come to light than that the police-constable Swindell, found guilty of wilful murder, should now be at large on his own recognizances, while Father M'Fadden, a man respected and revered all over Ireland, was refused bail, although there were 655 thousands of men ready to go bail for him for thousands of pounds. This venerated priest had been sent to prison to await his trial. Now, the first claim he made was that there should be an equal measure of justice for all classes in Ireland, and that gentlemen who were accused of offences under the Coercion Act in Ireland should be allowed to remain out on bail when there was no reason to apprehend that they would fail in putting in an appearance to answer any charge that might be preferred against them. Instructions had been issued by the Attorney General, and those who represented him, within the last few days, which had been the cause of a grievous scandal. The Chairman of the Town Commissioners, a solicitor, and other responsible persons had been summoned on a charge of unlawful assembly. Nobody could pretend that they would fail to attend the trial; but bail was refused on the pretence that they might attempt to escape, and they had been taken from place to place to Dublin through the streets handcuffed. He submitted that such a course of proceeding was highly prejudicial to the cause of order, and if a policeman convicted upon a Coroner's inquisition of wilful murder was allowed to be on bail upon his own recognizances, those gentlemen ought certainly to have been allowed to be out on substantial bail. He had said that the Crown had determined to take action in the Midleton murder case, and he wished to know whether no action was to be taken in the case of Patrick O'Hanlon, who was murdered by a stab of a bayonet, just after Captain Plunkett gave his orders to the police not to hesitate to shoot? "Would the Government say that when a Coroner's verdict of wilful murder had been found, or a case of murder alleged on substantial grounds, that they would refuse to take even the preliminary step of submitting the facts of the case to the opinion of a Bench of Magistrates? No steps had been taken in the Youghal case, and the public were crying out for an investigation into the case of Patrick O'Hanlon. What was to be done in the Mitchelstown case? Were the police to shoot down in cold blood a boy of 16 and an old man of 60, an old pensioner who had spent the vigour of his years in the service of the Crown? The Government, one after another, had been driven out 656 of the various pretences for abstaining from taking action which had been used in the course of debate. Instead of a public inquiry there had been a private investigation in a private room, and that private inquiry was held upon the question, not as to whether these men were legally killed or not, but whether the police should have run away, and how it came to pass that they did run away. No inquiry whatever had been held as to the criminality of the murders. He claimed that an inquiry should be held; there could be no doubt that the slaughter arose in the first place in consequence of the interference of the police with a peaceable public meeting. The police endeavoured to force their way through the heart of the meeting in order to secure an official report of the speeches. Both the law and the Police Pules were violated, and so also was the Police Code, in firing upon the people from the barracks, because the Code directed that there should be no firing except at the word of command. No word of command was given, and, therefore, it was clear that there was a violation of the law from which death resulted—in fact, the lives of three men were sacrificed; and he believed that public opinion in Ireland would never rest satisfied until an honest public inquiry had been held into the murders which had been there committed. The public loudly demanded that the Government should submit the conduct of the police on that occasion to a magisterial inquiry. This Government might not do that, but some Government would have to do it. It might not be done this year or next year, but, as sure as they were sitting there that day, some day or other it would have to be done. The sooner it was done the better, and the sooner a grievous and dangerous scandal would cease. The obligation to institute an inquiry rested on the Government, and although they had gone a considerable way in preventing inquiry, he must remind them that there was no statutory limitation in regard to the crime of murder. He would now turn for a moment to the conduct of the Crown at a recent Wicklow Assize. He did so in order to illustrate his contention that the Crown had two ways and two measures of administering justice in Ireland. He would first refer to the manner in which 657 outrages were fabricated. They all knew that the police had arranged with an infamous person, named Cullinane, to accompany a member of the Police Force to a certain house at night for the purpose of committing an outrage. Cullinane accompanied the policeman, but the expedition did not turn out as was expected, because in the struggle which occurred inside the constable lost his life. The persons incriminated were Catholic peasants of Clare, and the Attorney General changed the venue to Wicklow, where successful efforts had been made to plant the county with tenants who were at the service of the landlords. It was not considered sufficient to transfer the case to the county of Wicklow, but the Attorney General used his power in order to get the case tried by a Special Jury. And what was the result? Although four-fifths of the people of Ireland were Catholics, out of a Special Jury panel of 200 members, in this instance, 150 were Protestants and 50 were Catholics, but that was only the beginning of the matter. When those Catholic peasants who had been brought from Clare were placed on their trial, 24 Catholic jurors answered to their names, but as these 24 Catholic jurors came to the Book to be sworn each one of them was told to stand aside by the Counsel for the Crown; not a single Catholic juryman was allowed to go into the box, but the jury was composed entirely of Protestants. He need not point out to Gentlemen as experienced as hon. Members of the Committee that when the Crown asserted its rights in ordering gentlemen to stand aside it was simply a farce to arrange a jury panel at all, and they might just as well, in the first instance, have summoned the 12 men whom they desired to try the case. A jury of this character was not employed to try the case according to the evidence but to procure a conviction. It would appear that the only object of empanelling a jury was to secure that pliable men should go into the box. There was another case to which he would call attention—namely, the Kinsella case. He would contrast the proceedings of the Crown in that case with that which occurred in regard to the trial of the peasants of Clare. Freeman was an Emergency man who had gone out armed for the express purpose of committing murder. 658 The men of whom he was in charge did commit murder in broad daylight. The Grand Jury ignored the bill against the chief instrument of murder, and the Crown indicted the rest for manslaughter. He could not understand why the charge was reduced into one of manslaughter, because the whole of those Emergency men were engaged in a doubly illegal proceeding. In the first place, they refused to exhibit their authority; and in the next, the legal status of the tenant had passed away, and the landlord had no more right to distrain on that farm than on any other farm in Ireland. The enterprize was altogether illegal, and the taking of life by any menber of the gang involved any man who belonged to it in a charge of murder; yet the Crown put forward the indictment not for murder, but for manslaughter. Now, in a previous case when Catholic peasants were on their trial, the Crown ordered every Catholic to stand aside and empanelled 12 Protestants. In this case, however, when Emergency men were on their trial the Crown did not order anybody to stand aside, but stood aside themselves and allowed the Counsel for the prisoners to pack a jury in order to procure a verdict of acquittal. The Counsel for the defence challenged every Catholic juryman, but not a single Protestant. He allowed every Protestant juryman who came forward to be sworn, and so pliable was he that when the son of the murdered man pointed out that they were allowing the first cousin of the chief criminal to enter the jury-box the Counsel for the Crown declined to interfere, and Richard Bradshaw, the first cousin of John Freeman, who was sworn as having fired the shot that killed Kinsella, was allowed to enter the box and take the oath as a juryman in connection with the case in which the guilt of his own first cousin was unquestionable. That afforded a picture of the administration of justice at the same Assizes, the same Counsel acting for the Attorney General in one case having brought Catholic peasants from the County Clare empanelled a Protestant jury to convict, and, in the other case, the Counsel for the defence was allowed, without a single challenge, to empanel a Protestant jury for the purpose of acquitting, of course with the necessary consequence that it did acquit. Moreover, the 659 Counsel for the Crown were well aware that the witnesses for the defence in the case of the Emergency men had perjured themselves and involved themselves in a mass of contradiction. Anyone who would take the trouble to read the depositions would find that as to more than one vital point those witnesses perjured themselves. What was the effect—the Crown, who was nominally, but not in reality, prosecuting, never examined the depositions or pointed out the contradictions, but the Counsel asked a formal question or two of each witness for the defence and allowed the evidence to go unchallenged. Having, in the first instance, permitted the jury to be packed for an acquittal, they refrained from performing their duty, and showing that the evidence was untrue. Now, he maintained that action of this kind was a monstrous scandal. He greatly regretted that it should be necessary for him to make such statements, but there was another case which occurred at the same Assizes to which he would call attention. A gamekeeper of the Marquess of Headfort was committed by the magistrates for firing at a person with intent to kill. In due course of law the case ought to have been tried in the Province of Munster; the act occurred there, but the Crown removed the trial to Belfast, for no other reason that he could conceive than to secure an acquittal at the hands of 12 Protestant and. Orange adherents of the Government. As a matter of course, a Protestant Orange jury acquitted him. On those grounds he was anxious to lay down the principle that the money voted by the Committee, nominally for the punishment of crime, was in reality used in many instances to snatch verdicts by juggling the machinery of the law, by in some instances securing a conviction, and in others allowing criminals to escape from justice. The Attorney General was the functionary to whom the law intrusted the trial of offenders under the Coercion Act. He wished to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite why it was that in the grave and important cases which arose under that Act the Government had not followed the provisions of the Statute? The Act laid down that the magistrates appointed under it must be men of legal training and experience, of whose competence the Lord Chancellor must be 660 satisfied. Why, then, in every case, had the Attorney General for Ireland refrained from appointing persons of judicial or legal training, and had appointed instead ex-officers of the Police Force or retired military or naval officers? There might be some explanation of the matter; but it appeared to him that an ex-officer of the Police Force was not a fit person to conduct an inquiry in such a case, especially where it was expressly laid down that the Lord Chancellor was to be satisfied of the legal competency of the persons appointed. When the Bill was under discussion two years ago, a clause in it excited a great amount of controversy—namely, the clause which sanctioned private inquiry ostensibly for the purpose of detecting secret crimes which otherwise might not be detected. It was asserted at the time the clause was under discussion that it would not be used for the purpose of detecting crime, but for pursuing combinations where they happened to exist. But the transactions in reference to the Plan of Campaign were public; and he failed to see why it should have been necessary to resort to those private inquiries in order to get at the bottom of them. Those private inquiries were conducted with great severity. They had the testimony of the Bishop of Raphoe that in one case people were taken to and fro in the depth of winter, thinly clad, to the injury of their health and the imminent danger of their lives. They all knew that these private inquiries had been futile. He should be glad to hear of a single case in which a witness had refused to give evidence that he had yielded when examined in one of those private inquiries. He believed that no such case could be mentioned. Therefore, he was of opinion that a great economy might be effected in regard to several classes of prosecutions if the Chief Secretary would make up his mind—which he might do without detriment to any public interest—to tell the police to let the people alone, except where it was necessary that they should be interfered with. He thought that the police should be instructed not to interfere with the people except when they were holding an illegal meeting, or doing some illegal act. Let the police be kept away altogether; let them remain in barracks, or be told to take a 661 walk, or anything else, except interfere with the people. In that case the peace would not be broken, and nine-tenths of the charges under the Crimes Act would be swept away. What was the case now? People were arrested for cheering persons coming out of prison. The people assembled to welcome a public man, and in other cases they brought food and fuel to the families of persons imprisoned under the Act. At once the police put in an appearance upon the scene, although there was no occasion whatever for their presence. The people were all of one mind, and without the interference of the police there would be no disturbance-of any kind. When the police arrived, somebody cheered, and probably somebody groaned, and although the law allowed every man to elect a Member of Parliament, they would not allow him to express his opinion by a groan or a cheer afterwards. The agents of the police charged the people with riotous and disorderly conduct, and amused themselves by shooting them down because they cried—"Down with Salisbury and down with Balfour!" They maintained that such cries were unlawful, and calculated to bring about a breach of the peace. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary preserved a philosophic indifference to the sounds emitted in that House, but the moment a derisive cheer or a groan was uttered out-of-doors the police were called upon to interfere. One policeman, giving evidence, stated that he did not know whether it was unlawful to shout "Down with Gladstone;" it might be, but he could not say; he did not know whether it would be unlawful to shout "Down with Parnell;" and, coming to a climax, this police constable said he did not know whether it would be unlawful to shout "Down with O'Brien." Why, in a public meeting or assembly, should it be objectionable to cheer a particular individual, or even to give utterance to a groan? In neither case was any harm done to any man. Both policemen and Members of Parliament in England were sometimes groaned at and sometimes laughed at. If such a thing occurred in Ireland the offender would get a month's imprisonment. In England they had to grin and bear it, and nobody was the worse. He would seriously submit that if the right hon. Gentleman 662 the Chief Secretary would give proper instructions to the police, he would get rid of one class of charges under the Act—namely, unlawful assembly, obstruction of the police, assault upon the police, and riot. There should be no interference except after due warning, or where a breach of the peace was being committed, and then public meetings would pass off without any thing like a disturbance. He trusted also that the right hon. Gentleman would consider the question of multiplying charges in reference to the same act. At present, if a meeting was being held the police interfered, they pushed the people about, and the assembly was immediately regarded as an unlawful one, and if the people in a moment of irritation obstructed or struck a policeman serious consequences ensued. That was the case in by far the greater number of cases that occurred. If a man attended a public meeting in Ireland now, he was liable to be tried on four separate and distinct charges—namely, unlawful assembly, obstruction of the police, assaulting the police, and riot. He asked the Government in future to confine the charge to one. Let the Government select the material charge and try the accused upon that. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman because he was personally responsible for the multiplication of charges that now occurred. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech at Manchester last year, suggesting the inconvenience of appeal. In cases where the accused did not receive a sentence of more than a month's imprisonment he had no right of appeal. He had only a right of appeal where the sentence was for a month or two. The Chief Secretary, however, declared that an appeal was inconvenient, and thereupon the Attorney General and the Solicitor General began to take proceedings upon four charges instead of one. In most cases there was a conviction, and there was a separate sentence on each conviction; by this method a long sentence was in reality inflicted, while the prisoner was deprived of the right of appeal which he would have had if the sentences had been combined. He maintained that this was an un-Constitutional proceeding, as it was simply the result of the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Manchester. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to instruct his lawyers to be 663 satisfied with one charge and one sentence, and not to pile up charges only technically different in reference to the same act. He looked upon it as a scandal that a number of men, accused in the first instance of riot, should afterwards be tried for unlawful assembly upon precisely the same facts. Then, in the next place, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman what his intention was in regard to prosecutions for holding meetings of suppressed branches of the National League? He understood that the right hon. Gentleman had very sensibly given up Press prosecutions. He had ceased to prosecute the editors and vendors of newspapers for publishing reports of such meetings, and he could not now consistently continue to prosecute the persons who held the meetings. Some time ago a determined raid was made upon the newsvendors for selling newspapers in the streets, but the Government hadnow abandoned all those prosecutions. Why, then, should the prosecution of the persons who held meetings be continued? The right hon. Gentleman had declared that the National League in Ireland was a thing of the past, yet it was a curious fact that in one case where the Resident Magistrate entered into a prosecution against a newspaper a change of venue was asked for, because it was said that 12 jurymen could not be obtained in the county who were not members of the National League, yet that was a county in which the National League was said to have been suppressed. Were those prosecutions to be continued or not? If they were to be continued, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to instruct the Resident Magistrate to require some evidence to be given that such a meeting had been held. The usual course taken in Ireland upon this subject was this. If a meeting of Nationalists was called for any purpose whatever, even if the meeting were held in a room where the National League used to meet, although, perhaps, it might be the only public room in the village, that simple fact was taken as evidence that it was a meeting of a suppressed branch of the National League. That was the view of Captain Seagrave, or rather Private Seagrave, of whose legal knowledge the Lord Lieutenant was satisfied, and who had acquired his legal knowledge while serving in the 664 ranks. It was also the view of Mr. Rollestone, who seemed to hold that the onus of proof rested upon an accused person, and that he was to be considered guilty until he had proved himself to be innocent. He asked the Chief Secretary to require that there should be some evidence, in the case of those suppressed meetings, that such meetings had actually been held. He knew the Court of Exchequer had, in certain cases, suppressed decisions because they found that there was some evidence from which it might be inferred that a meeting had been held; but considering the terms of derision and contempt in which the Resident Magistrates and their decisions had been over and over again referred to in the High Courts of Justice, he thought he was entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman that whereas prosecutions against news-vendors, and editors, and publishers of newspapers had been abandoned, he would instruct the magistrates, before prosecuting persons for holding meetings of suppressed branches of the National League, to require some evidence to be given that such meetings had been held. There was only one other class of prosecution to which he would refer, and that was prosecutions for what was called conspiracy. He laid it down without fear of contradiction that in nine cases out of 10, where prosecutions had taken place in Ireland since the passing of the Coercion Act for conspiracy, men had been imprisoned, and in many instances sent to hard labour, upon a charge in respect of which not a single particle of evidence was produced. It was shown in the Killeagh case, the case of the Tralee blacksmiths, and the Miltown Malbay publicans. The charge against those persons was that they had conspired with or induced other people not to deal with a certain person, whereas the only evidence against them was that they had refused to sell. Now, a refusal to sell was no crime whatever under the Coercion Act; but if they entered into a combination to refuse to sell, and did injury thereby, the offence was punishable under the Common Law. Yet, in most of these cases, the ignorant and malicious Resident Magistrates convicted the accused and sent them to hard labour—their offence having been refusal to sell. That was certainly the fact in the Killeagh case, the case of 665 the Tralee blacksmiths, and the Miltown Malbay publicans. It was too late to compensate these poor men for the loss of trade and injury they had suffered from a conviction, but he might, at least, make an earnest appeal to the Chief Secretary or the Attorney General to instruct the magistrates in future not to convict under the Coercion Act on evidence which showed that in many cases the accused were intimidated themselves, and not that they had conspired to intimidate others. He had also to ask the right hon. Gentleman to secure for persons convicted the ordinary facilities which the law allowed in regard to appeal in cases stated. It must be remembered that the magistrates in very few cases had any legal training whatever, or possessed any judicial qualification. Moreover, very few of them pretended to be partial in deciding between landlord and tenant, nor did they possess the necessary qualifications to secure the due administration of justice. He, therefore, asked the right hon. Gentleman to provide that all persons convicted and sentenced under the Act should have the right of appeal on questions of fact to the County Courts, and on questions of law to one of the Superior Courts, although, if all the County Court Judges were like those who so readily took the hint from the right hon. Gentleman to shorten and to multiply sentences in order to prevent an appeal, he should care very little for carrying the appeal further. As matters stood at present, he certainly thought that there should be some opportunities afforded for bringing the decisions of those scratch magistrates before some person who had had a judicial training. It was promised, when the Act was under consideration, that there should be an appeal in every case, and it was only in the face of that promise that the House passed that part of the Act. Nevertheless, the law had been left in such a condition that it was only when a sentence for a longer period than a month was passed that an appeal could be made, and by passing three short sentences instead of one long one the right of appeal was disallowed. He entreated the Government to give to a prisoner that right of appeal which was given to him under the ordinary law; and in reference to the right of having a case stated, he would only refer to the 666 language and decisions of the Lord Chief Baron and Mr. Baron Dowse, by whom the incapacity and ignorance of the Resident Magistrates was exposed in terms stronger than any he had ever heard or read of as being delivered from the Judicial Bench. He submitted that when any legal gentleman, on behalf of a prisoner who had been convicted by a Resident Magistrate, asked to have a case stated, his application should be complied with as a matter of right. Otherwise, those convictions would continue, and there would be magistrates like the two ex-police officers who sat on the Killeagh case, who, although they had full warning of the decision of the Court of Exchequer and the ruling of the Judge, yet, in the face of that warning and decision, refused to have a case stated. He maintained that it was not only through ignorance, but through malice, that in this case the magistrates convicted on evidence which the Court of Exchequer declared to be insufficient. When they took a course like that, and refused to increase the sentence in order to give the accused a right of appeal, and had also refused to state a case so that the High Courts in Dublin or the Judges of the County Courts might look into the matter either on the basis of facts or law, he was justified in saying that their proceeding was not only one of ignorance but of malice. Their proceedings were also conducted in stealth, and by hearing charges in secret they kept them from the purview of the people, so that no opportunity was afforded to the public of ascertaining whether any particular case had or had not been decided in defiance of all principles of law and justice. He made with confidence these two appeals to the Chief Secretary—namely, that when a prisoner asked for the right of appeal the sentence should be increased to above a month, so that he might obtain it. Nobody would be damnified by the increase of sentence except the prisoner, so that if he was satisfied to have an increase for the purpose of procuring a revision of the sentence he ought to be entitled to get it. In the second place, he asked that when any legal gentleman appeared before a Judge or before a Resident Magistrate and claimed to have a case stated his claim should be granted as a right. That was the only way in which the repetition of the grievous 667 scandal and hardship inflicted upon innocent men could be prevented. The last instance he would give of the exasperating way in which the Government were acting in carrying out the provisions of the Coercion Act had reference to the case of his hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), who was tried at Mitchelstown for addressing his constituents, and suffered three months' imprisonment. The records of that case would be more famous, or infamous, than those of any other under the Government. The Government had no reporter at the meeting, but next day Head Constable O'Sullivan and Sergeant Dolan were asked to make notes of what his hon. Friend had said. The statements of the two police officers were sent to the Government, but only one of them was returned to be used at the trial—namely, the statement of the sergeant. The statement of the Head Constable was suppressed. Now, why was the statement of the Head Constable suppressed? The reason came out at the trial, thanks to the intelligence and determination of the counsel who appeared for the accused. In the statement of the sergeant it appeared that his hon. Friend had said to the tenants, "Defend your homes by every means in your power;" but, according to the statement of the Head Constable, when it reached Dublin Castle the Attorney General, or some other officer for him, drew a line through this passage, and wrote these words, "Not to be used at the trial." The statement of the Head Constable as to the words used by his hon. Friend was, "Defend your homes by every honest means in your power;" and because his hon. Friend advised the people to defend their homes by honest means, the Attorney General, or somebody acting for him, deliberately decided not to allow the Head Constable to be examined, but only to allow the police sergeant to be examined, whose statement was that the words of the hon. Member for East Cork were, "Defend your homes by every means in your power." In another respect the statement of the sergeant differed from that of the Head Constable. According to the notes of the Head Constable his hon. Friend said to the people, "We are willing to give the Land Bill (alluding to the 668 Land Bill of last year) a fair trial." The object of his hon. Friend was to keep the Mitchelstown people from going into the Courts until the Land Act became law. He said—We welcome that Act. You are only asking for 20 per cent under the Plan of Campaign, but the Land Act will give you more than that.The Plan of Campaign gave the tenants 20 per cent, but the Act of the right hon. Gentleman gave them 22 per cent, and yet it was in order to break down the movement under the Plan of Campaign that the right hon. Gentleman imprisoned his hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork. This passage from the speech of his hon. Friend, "We are willing to give the Land Bill a fair trial," appeared in the notes of the Head Constable; but the Attorney General, or some other authority, struck them out, drew a line through them, and directed that the notes of the sergeant only should be used, in which those words did not appear. Was that the action of a Constitutional public official, or was it the action of a Thug or of a cut-throat? He knew of no language strong enough to express the view he held of the conduct of high public officials in Ireland. He asserted, without fear of contradiction, that in this instance evidence which would have proved the moral influence and virtuous intention of a Member of Parliament had been deliberately suppressed, and that evidence had been prepared which was not only inaccurate, but gave a most misleading view. He thought he had proved the case with which he set out, that money voted by Parliament was used in many cases for the fabrication rather than the detection of crime, in some cases to snatch verdicts against the Nationalists, and in others to secure the acquittal of supporters of the Government. What he claimed was that the powers given by the Coercion Act should not be employed to snatch verdicts, and to enable criminals to escape from justice, but that it should be so administered as to allow men who are so unfortunate as to come within its wide net to enjoy the same rights and privileges as were conferred upon Her Majesty's subjects in every other part of the Empire.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin University)
669 said, he thought it right to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and reply at once to the various matters to which he had referred. The right hon. Member had alluded to the action of the Government in relation to prosecutions under the Crimes Act, and he had attributed to his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland the use of certain language which he quoted, describing the verdicts of Coroners' Juries as, in many cases, the instruments of judicial murder. The language used by his right hon. Friend was a quotation from a speech delivered by a former Chief Secretary in a former Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). His right hon. Friend had not only quoted that language as showing what the opinion of a former Chief Secretary was with regard to the finding of Coroners' Juries, but he had referred to a number of cases in which, during the existence of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, no action had been taken upon the verdicts of Coroners' inquisitions, where verdicts of wilful murder or manslaughter against certain persons had been found, but in regard to which the Attorney General representing the Government of the day thought it unnecessary to take any proceedings whatever. The present Government simply adopted the principle laid down by former Governments—namely, that it would be unwise to prosecute every person found guilty by a Coroner's Jury, believing that to do so would be, in fact, entering into a conspiracy against persons who had only been acting in the discharge of their duty. Instances of this nature occurred in the year 1881—on the 1st of June, the 1st of September, and the 9th of October. They were referred to by the Chief Secretary, who in each instance gave the name, place, and the circumstances, and no contradiction had been given in any one of those cases. There were other eases referred to by the Chief Secretary, in which the Crown had sent up bills, which bills, however, were ignored by the Grand Jury—and, he presumed, very properly ignored. In the three cases in question, no proceedings were taken by the Crown at all. In the Midleton case—the case of Constable Swindell—the right hon. 670 Member said that the Attorney General was driven to take the action he now took through the intervention of the Chief Baron.
§ MR. MADDEN
Perhaps the right hon. Member would wait until he read the words of the Chief Baron. He did not think he would then continue to entertain the views he had expressed. The right hon. Gentleman represented that the Chief Baron had commented unfavourably upon the action of the Attorney General, who had thereupon been driven to take the course he had taken. He held in his hand a report of The Freeman's Journal on the 14th of December, which gave the observations made by the Chief Baron, where he expressed his approval of the Attorney General for taking the course he did in directing that there should be a preliminary investigation of the case before the magistrates. The action of the Attorney General in refusing to put Swindell upon his trial upon a Coroner's inquest was the action which had been uniformly adopted by every responsible Law Officer in England as well as in Ireland. Each case was allowed to stand on its own footing. The action which the Attorney General had taken in the matter was to direct that there should be an investigation before a Bench of Magistrates. What the Chief Baron said was, that the Attorney General had acted properly in taking the matter out of the hands of the relatives of the deceased and the next-of-kin. The Chief Baron went on to say that the ends of justice would be far better satisfied by an investigation before a Bench of Magistrates in the first instance. He added that some people had been good enough to say, according to his information, that his observations on a former occasion were intended to imply, or did imply, some censure on the Attorney General, but nothing was further from his object. The only matter he had in view was what his own duty was, and he had taken what he thought the proper course in order to prevent any inconvenience which might otherwise have arisen. In other words, the Chief Baron stated that he approved of the present action of the Attorney General, and did not censure his past action. His past action was simply the action of every Law Officer in England and Ireland 671 in refusing to arraign upon a Coroner's inquisition persons against whom verdicts had been found by juries at the inquest. He was far from desiring to add any remarks of his own to those which had been made from time to time upon a Coroner's inquisition; but he would say that a refusal to put a man on his trial upon a Coroner's inquisition was a course of action invariably adopted in England and Ireland. He left the Committee to draw their own conclusions as to the strength of the case of the right hon. Gentleman against the administration of the law, when it was founded on the course which had been pursued by the Government in this particular instance. The right hon. Gentleman went on to refer to a trial which had taken place at Wicklow. The practice had been followed in regard to this case which was followed in every other instance—namely, to treat it upon its own particular merits. They did not think it right that the men who were put upon their trial should be tried at the place where the alleged offence was committed, and, therefore, they transferred the trial to Wicklow. The challenge of the jury was governed by the action of the Crown Solicitor, who simply pursued the course which had always been followed for the last 20 years. There had been no mystery in the matter, nor any religious element, and the only motives operating were those which had actuated successive Attorney Generals for a good many years. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to another case. He (Mr. Madden) must ask the attention of the Committee to the case of the death of Kinsella. He did not say that the killing of Kinsella might not be murder, but it was another question altogether as to who murdered him. He declined altogether to call the persons who were acquitted murderers, as the right hon. Gentleman wanted him to do. What were shortly the facts of the case as to Kinsella? A seizure of cattle was, undoubtedly, being made, and it was an absolutely irrelevant element of consideration whether or not that seizure was illegal, because he admitted fully, as he had formerly stated, that although the seizure was the most legal in the world, the shooting of Kinsella would, in point of law, be equally criminal, amounting to either murder or manslaughter. The precise 672 ground on which the seizure was held to be illegal was, an informality in the posting of certain notices. What occurred? The seizure was to be carried out on an inclosed farmyard to which the cattle of the tenant had been driven with the determination to resist their seizure even at the risk of human life. That was a serious undertaking no doubt. In attempting to force an entrance into the inclosed farmyard a conflict occurred, firearms being discharged on both sides, which resulted in the death of Kinsella. An inquest was held, and the evidence given at that inquest was most remarkable. Several witnesses, no doubt, said that Freeman shot Kinsella; but while three witnesses for the next-of-kin swore that Freeman fired the shot one witness, also produced for the next-of-kin, was equally positive that Freeman never fired at all, but that a man named M'Cabe fired the shot which took fatal effect. Several shots were fired by the Emergency men, and there were two shots also fired from the farmyard. There was this further remarkable circumstance. The bullet that killed Kinsella was a bullet from a revolver. Freeman's revolver was found undischarged. Freeman swore that he never discharged it, and it was undoubtedly found undischarged at a subsequent period. Of course it might be said that the revolver might have been subsequently reloaded, but there was this further fact, that the bullet found in the body of the murdered man was a bullet which could not by any possibility fit Freeman's revolver. In a struggle of that kind it was easy for a person to persuade himself that he did see Freeman fire a revolver, but in this case there were the facts, that the revolver was found undischarged and the bullet with which the man was shot did not fit Freeman's revolver. In view of these facts was there ever such an unfounded contention as that of the other side. It was suggested, indeed, that the revolver was exchanged, and no doubt a hundred hypotheses might be started after the event, but there was absolutely no evidence to support any of them, and for an exchange of weapons there was no time—the thing could not be done. The Grand Jury, therefore, were perfectly justified in ignoring the bill against Freeman. The Crown had sent up a bill, but it was ignored by the Grand Jury. He was not 673 there to criticize or defend the action of the Grand Jury, but certainly, having this evidence before him, he should have little difficulty in dealing with the case, and he was confirmed in his view by what was said by the learned Judge who tried the case, that it was at all events clear that Freeman did not fire the fatal shot. It was suggested that the Crown were not really prosecuting in the case, two gentlemen—Mr. Piers White and Mr. Ryan—of great experience and two of the ablest criminal lawyers in Ireland, conducted the prosecution. It had been suggested that the Crown Counsel had acted in collusion with the prisoners.
§ MR. MADDEN
The Committee then were asked to believe that two of the leading Members of the Irish Bar—gentlemen of the highest honour—who conducted their trial were guilty of collusion. He had always thought that Irishmen universally recognized that members of the Irish Bar, whichever side they gave their services, whether it was for the Crown or against, would not do otherwise than act most loyally in the discharge of their duty. It was said that the counsel for the Crown had been guilty of collusion with the prisoner. He asked what colour there was for that suggestion? There was another remarkable fact in connection with the case to which he would call the attention of the Committee. It was assumed that the six men who were put on their trial were improperly acquitted. Now, the hon. Member for the City of York (Mr. A. E. Pease) speaking on that subject, has stated, as the result of his observations, that in his opinion the men were properly acquitted. The hon. Member who made that statement was attacking the Government, and yet he was of opinion that those men were properly acquitted. This was the strongest instance, he presumed, which hon. Members opposite could adduce, seeing that it had been constantly paraded from the Front Opposition Bench and by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. It appeared to be the only grievous case they could rake up of miscarriage, or rather misfeasance, on the part of the Crown in regard to 674 criminal business in Ireland, and it really would not hold water. The short facts of the case were that in a scuffle shots were fired on both sides, a man was killed, and it was found impossible to bring home the guilt to anybody. That was a circumstance which might occur in any county in England as well as in Ireland; and because there had been a failure to bring the act home to any particular person it was suggested that there was collusion between the counsel for the prisoners and the counsel who conducted the prosecution on behalf of the Crown. It was further asserted that in this case there was an illustration of the system of jury packing. According to a letter which had appeared in the public Press from the gentlemen who acted as Crown Solicitor, the only instructions given in the case were that no landlord or landlord's agent was to sit upon the jury. The assertion was that the jury were entirely selected from persons who were in the interests of landlords, and yet it was stated publicly that the only instructions given were to prevent landlords or their agents from sitting upon the jury.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the case never came before the jury at all. He had spoken of a case in which a number of persons were accused of manslaughter, and in which the jury was undoubtedly packed.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, they were getting on by degrees. In former attacks on the Crown the gravamen of the charge was that Freeman was allowed to get off, that he was the really guilty party, that he ought not to have got off, but that he did get off through the improper action of the Grand Jury. He now understood that the right hon. Gentleman abandoned that charge.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, that the Government had been attacked for sending the case before the Grand Jury, instead of putting Freeman on his trial on the Coroner's inquisition. As to the six men who were brought to trial, the right hon. Gentleman had asserted that the jury who tried the case were packed, and he had now shown that the only instructions given to the jury were to 675 exclude landlords and landlords' agents. When the case was tried there was undoubtedly a difficulty, seeing that the death occurred from the shot fired in the heat of a struggle, in bringing the guilt home to the guilty party. He now came to the case of the gamekeeper in Meath, in which case the venue had been changed to Belfast, in order, as was suggested, that he might be tried by a packed jury of Orangemen. Would it be believed that the simple explanation of the matter was that Meath, for the sake of public convenience, was included in Ulster for the purposes of the winter Assizes, and, therefore, the trial of the case at Belfast was an inevitable incident of that state of facts, and there was no change of venue at all? The right hon. Gentleman would find that although roughly speaking the Winter Assizes bore the names of the different Provinces in which they were held, they did not in every respect accurately correspond with the various Provinces. He had been asked a question with reference to private inquiries under Section 1 of the Crimes Act, and it was asserted that those inquiries had not been directed to the objects for which they were intended, but for the purpose of putting down certain classes of combination, and were directed against offences which hon. Members opposite called political. Now he would call attention to some of the inquiries which had taken place under that section, and would ask the Committee to draw their own inferences. On the 29th March, 1888, there was an inquiry which resulted in the conviction of ringleaders guilty of White boy attacks. On the 17th December, 1887, there was an inquiry into a case of wilful murder. In that case also there was a successful prosecution and conviction, in one case for murder and in another the prisoner received a sentence of penal servitude for life. On June 4th, 1888, there was an inquiry into the charge of firing at and wounding a person named Lane; in that case also a man was brought to trial, convicted and sentenced to 20 years' penal servitude. On the 6th May, 1888, there was a charge of firing and unlawfully wounding; the accused was convicted and sentenced to 18 years' penal servitude. On the 30th May, 1888, there was inquiry into a charge of firing into a dwelling, and the 676 result was that four men were tried and convicted; on the 10th December another private inquiry was held, when it turned out that the man who had committed the offence had gone to America, and since his departure the district hitherto disturbed had been peaceful and orderly. Now, it was impossible that any person could characterize such offences as being in their nature political, they were either murder, murderous assaults, or White-boy offences, and he had instanced these cases to show that the section referred to had been largely used for the purpose of procuring evidence connected with offences of the character he had described. He had separated the cases of Boycotting and proceedings against the Plan of Campaign, and he had shown that this section of the Act had been used with great effect in securing convictions in the case of offences of a different character. The action of certain crowds, as against the police, had been called attention to as well as the use of language which was not in itself criminal, although it might not be exactly Parliamentary. In the account which the right hon. Gentleman had himself given to the Committee, he found that the report commenced by stating that the mob was a disorderly mob. In the opinion of the magistrates it was not only disorderly, but dangerous.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, that a case of this kind had been brought before the Court of Exchequer, a case which occurred on the 18th March, 1888.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, that it was not the same case, but it was a case in which the same words had been used. In the case he referred to the Chief Baron, dwelling on the use of the words "Boo for Balfour" towards the police, held that the conduct of the crowd justified the police in the course they took. The point was not the words actually used, nor the entire action of the crowd. They might be used at a public meeting, he would not say with propriety, but with perfect impunity so far as the Criminal Law was concerned, and any hon. Gentleman who 677 wished to go down to his constituency and use them might do so to his heart's content, provided that in doing so he did not lead the people to commit an assault upon persons in Authority. The right hon. Gentleman went on further to make some suggestion to the Government as to giving what he called instructions to the magistrates. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Government should instruct the Stipendiary Magistrates not to convict without evidence. He wished to inform the right hon. Gentleman that the Government were not in the habit of giving any instructions whatever to Stipendiary or other Magistrates as to the mode in which they were to discharge their judicial functions.
§ MR. MADDEN
If hon. Members thought that magistrates convicted without evidence, the law provided an ample remedy, and it was unnecessary for the hon. Member to ask for further facilities. In every case where a man was convicted without evidence he could demand as a right to have a case stated, and the magistrates were bound under Statute to state a case unless in their opinion the application was merely frivolous.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, the right hon. Gentleman appeared not to be aware that the remedy did not stop there, because the accused could go to the Court of Queen's Bench and obtain an order for the magistrate to state a case, unless the Court thought the application a frivolous one.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, the right hon. Gentleman urged that under the Coercion Act prisoners should have the same right of appeal as was given to prisoners under the ordinary law. If the right hon. Gentleman was under the impression that this was not so, he probably misunderstood the statement which had been made in that House some time ago by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. He seemed to be under the impression that what he described as a coercion prisoner had not the same right of appeal as was given by 678 the ordinary law. He entirely differed from the right hon. Gentleman, who was altogether mistaken in his view of the law.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the difference was this—a prisoner convicted under the ordinary law wishing to have a sentence reversed, had aright of appeal as a matter of course, but in this case the magistrates refused to increase the sentence in order that the prisoner should have the right of appeal.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, the right hon. Gentleman was now shifting his ground. His contention now was not that the law was different, but that the magistrates had administered the law in a different spirit. He denied the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that the magistrates refused to increase the sentences in order to admit of an appeal, and he said that in a large number of cases the magistrates had increased the sentences for the purpose of allowing appeal. That was done constantly, but he denied that by the ordinary law as administered in this country the prisoner had any such right. It was entirely for the Court to say whether the exigencies of the case required it. He had now got through the cases referred to by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, the right hon. Gentleman was quite right, but in regard to those cases he simply wished to say that he had gone through them as fully as possible upon a previous occasion, in reply to a Motion made for the reduction of the salary of the Attorney Beneral. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre) moved the reduction of the Law Officers' Vote, and he had dealt with the cases of conspiracy to the best of his power. He did not think it would be right again to inflict the same speech upon the same Committee, and if he refrained from going into the conspiracy cases now it was not from any disrespect towards the right hon. Gentleman, but simply because he had dealt with the subject already. He would now say a word in reference to the case of the hon. Member for North-East Cork. The gravamen of the charge of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast 679 was that there were two reports submitted to the Government, and that one was ordered to be used while the other was not. He could understand the charge if the hon. Member for North-East Cork had suffered some injustice by reason of the use in the prosecution of a selected report, the other having been excluded and not placed before the tribunal. There was no pretence to say that the hon. Member suffered any injury from being tried only upon a selected report, because, as a matter of fact, both reports were in evidence, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman himself. Both were before the tribunal who convicted the hon. Member for North-East Cork, and there was no substantial conflict of evidence. There was one remarkable feature in such cases. Over and over again observations had been made about the police shorthand writers' reports; whether their deficiencies were great or little, he did not know, but it was a remarkable thing, of which anybody who had followed the trials in which those reports had been given would be aware, that there was no substantial question raised in any of these cases as to the truthfulness of the reports.
An hon. MEMBER
remarked that the reason for that was that the police reporters copied their reports from the newspapers.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, the hon. Member said they copied the reports from the newspapers. If they did so, the newspaper reports were either accurate or inaccurate. Sometimes they gave a condensed report of public proceedings, and sometimes a verbatim report. If the report was taken for an inaccurate newspaper report, it would be easy to prove by the evidence of any person present at the meeting that the report so taken was inaccurate, and the defence would have the benefit of the discovery. But he did not recollect any case in which a reporter was found to have made a substantially inaccurate report. He could not recollect a case in which, after the police evidence was given, a witness was put into the box to say the accused person did not say so-and-so; he never advocated the Plan of Campaign; that he had been wrongfully accused; that his speech had been misreported, and that if they had been fully reported they would 680 have borne a different complexion. He (Mr. Madden) had now gone carefully into the cases referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, and he submitted that he had made a full and satisfactory statement.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, that the training of the hon. and learned Gentleman in the Four Courts of Dublin had enabled him to make a lawyer's speech on the present occasion. That was the only compliment which he could pay him. He had stated once or twice that he was not shirking any question, but the hon. and learned Gentleman had shirked every question which had been raised by the right hon. Member for West Belfast. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not met a single point, and he (Mr. Clancy) would now proceed to show that he had not done so. The hon. and learned Gentleman commenced by referring to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin as to the verdicts of Coroners' Juries. As this was a matter in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was personally concerned, he thought the right hon. Gentleman might pay a small amount of attention to the debate. His right hon. Friend had quoted a phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary the other night to the effect that Coroners' inquests were instruments of murder and conspiracies to assassinate. They had all listened to that statement with some surprise, and it now appeared that the Government did not intend to stand by the phrase. The explanation of the hon. and learned Solicitor General that night was that it was only a quotation from a speech of a previous Chief Secretary for Ireland; but what did the Chief Secretary mean by quoting it? Did he quote it in order to disapprove of it?
§ MR. MADDEN
said, he had never stated that the right hon. Gentleman did not indorse the opinion expressed by a previous Chief Secretary. All he said was that it was, as a matter of fact, a quotation from a statement contained in a speech of a former Chief Secretary, and delivered in another debate.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, the more he heard from the other side of the House the more he was amazed. When the right 681 hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made use of the phrase everybody understood him to indorse and approve of the sentiment that Coroners' inquests were conspiracies to murder and assassinate. It would appear that the right hon. Gentleman stuck to that view still, and was honest in avowing what he had said at first. The hon. and learned Solicitor General, however, had come down that night, and endeavoured to make the right hon. Gentleman say the reverse of what he had been understood to say. Now he and his other Nationalist friends held, and had all along held, that the law, as administered by the right hon. Gentleman, was a mere inquiry for inflicting outrages upon the people, and the charges upon the Coroners' Courts was a mere tu quoque All that was said was, "You on the other side of the House, when you were in power, did the very same thing." What did the Irish Mebmers care whether a Liberal Government did it or not? If they did wrong was that any reason why the present Government should continue to do wrong? The mere tu quoque was no answer to him or to any other hon. Member on that side of the House. His own belief was that Liberal Chief Secretaries in the past had allowed these scandalous proceedings to go on—these murders to be perpetrated and remain unpunished. The fact was, and it was one of which the Committee and the country ought to take particular notice, that under the present system of Government, no matter who they had on the Treasury Bench, whether a Liberal or a Tory Administration, the gentlemen at Dublin Castle were the same. In point of fact, if the system of administration pursued in Dublin Castle were not allowed to go on, their old system of Government would crumble away. They could not maintain it for a month; and, therefore, he candidly admitted that, from their point of view—from the point of view of every Minister who had ever governed Ireland, whether Liberal or Tory—they were perfectly right in standing by their agents when they committed wrong. The hon. and learned Solicitor General had said that he would not shirk any questions. He shirked what the right hon. Member for West Belfast had said in reference to the case of Dr. Ridley. He remembered very well a speech delivered in the country by the Chief Secretary 682 in which he took up very quickly a trifling mistake which had been made by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), in which the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the jury in the Mandeville case was composed of Conservatives. That did not prove to be the case, but the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary knew very well that although that particular jury did not consist of Conservatives another one did. His right hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast had read to the Committee the names, professions, and religious beliefs of the 13 gentlemen who composed the jury upon Dr. Ridley's case, and it appeared that 11 were anti-Nationalists, and only two Nationalists. The foreman was a Catholic Whig of the old school, and an anti-Nationalist, and a number of others were Protestant Conservatives, an ex-sergeant-major whose politics were not known, although that might be taken to be a complete index of his political views in the south of Ireland, and only two members of the jury were members of the National League. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary knowing that fact, nevertheless caught up the mistake of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and applied that state of circumstances to the Mandeville case, alleging that that jury did not contain any anti-Nationalists. The jury referred to was that upon the case of Dr. Ridley, which contained 11 anti-Nationalists. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he had shirked no question, and yet he had quickly given the go-by to this damning proof that Coroners' inquisitions were not murderous conspiracies. If he had repeated that charge some of his sympathizers in the South of Ireland would quickly have given him the lie. As long as juries were recognized by the law, they ought to be selected with impartiality, and their decisions regarded with respect. The Coroner issued his prescript, and it was the police themselves who selected the persona who were to serve on the jury. They were not compelled to take any particular person, but they went into the highways and byways and brought in whom they chose.
§ MR. MADDEN
said, that the Attorney General had nothing whatever to do with the impanelling of Coroners' juries.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, that the Attorney General for Ireland had had a great deal 683 to say in regard to them, but the Attorney General's ways were devious, his ways of acting were manifold, and one of them was by instructing the police beforehand and getting them to do certain things. In this case what was done? What was the Attorney General bound to do on the finding of the Coroner's jury? Was he not bound to take cognizance of the verdict of one of the Courts of the country? Would anyone say in that Committee that, in England or Scotland, the verdict of the Coroners' inquests would be passed over by the Attorney General? The thing was absurd. Neither the Lord Advocate in Scotland nor the Attorney General in England would dare to do so. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite asked what the Attorney General had to do with it. He (Mr. Clancy) maintained that the Attorney General had everything to do with it. Let the right hon. Gentleman have the courage of his convictions and bring in a Bill to abolish Coroners' juries in Ireland altogether; but, so long as these Courts existed by force of law, they were as much bound to respect the verdict of the Coroners' juries as they were to respect the verdict of the jury in the Court of Queen's Bench. The hon. and learned Solicitor General said that this was the only case which had been instanced. Why, case after case had been mentioned. There was the Midleton case, the Mitchelstown case, the Youghal case, and the Killeagh case, each had been mentioned from time to time; but, because they were not brought altogether, the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Chief Secretary got up and said that there was only one single case of the kind which could be adduced. That was a kind of argument that was unworthy of the Member of the Government who used it. The hon. and learned Gentleman had left entirely unanswered the charges of jury packing which had been so fully substantiated by his right hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast. His right hon. Friend had contrasted the action of the Crown in regard to the change of venue in the Wicklow case, and in the gamekeeper's case, and in the Kinsella case. The Government did not think that Irish peasants belonging to the County of Clare could be tried in that county, and had therefore removed the trial to Wicklow, but they did not remove the Kinsella case from Wicklow or the gamekeeper's 684 case from Ulster. The reason of their action was patent upon the face of it. They were animated with the sole desire to secure their own ends. There was the strongest possible reason why they should have removed the Kinsella case from the County of Ulster, and it was a scandalous outrage upon the administration of justice that it was not removed. What happened in consequence? In that county, Lord Courtown, the President of the Property Defence Association, resided, and before this case came on a circular was issued by that Association by whom the man Freeman and other men belonging to the Emergency gang were employed. He would read an extract from that circular. It expressed a hope that the landlords of Ireland, who since December, 1880, had so greatly benefited by the services of this man, and considering the many hardships they had to bear, would avail themselves of the opportunity of showing their sympathy for them on this occasion by subscribing to a fund which had been opened for their defence. That circular was sent to every grand juryman in the County of Wicklow. The issue of the circular was well known to the Government, because it was published in all the papers, and yet in the face of that fact no attempt was made to remove the trial from the County of Wicklow. Though they took a gamekeeper from Meath to Belfast to try, and though they had taken men from Clare to Wicklow, they left Freeman, who had murdered Kinsella, and the Emergency gang, to be tried by their friends and fellow conspirators. The hon. and learned Solicitor General had not noticed that point. The hon. and learned Gentleman had failed to deal with this question of jury packing, contenting himself with saying that he had several times before referred to the rule, and if there was any mystery about that rule he would produce it. There was no mystery at all about the rule; everyone knew how the trick was done. Jury packing had been a common thing in Ireland during the past 150 years. If they did not know how jury packing was done, or did not know how artfully hon. and right hon. Gentlemen disguised and guilded this dirty and ugly thing, they certainly would have lived in vain. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General reminded 685 them of the "Rule," and declared that the Authorities would not allow men to be improperly put upon juries. He (Mr. Clancy) wondered what was the view of Mr. Stephen Seeds, the late Crown Solicitor for a dozen counties in Ireland, with regard to this innocent Rule. When the Attorney General had come up to this gentleman and declared how shocked he was at the sight of the jury panel, because he saw what an undue proportion of Catholics there were upon it, the reply of Mr. Stephen Seeds was—"Oh, leave it to me." Well, it was left to Mr. Stephen Seeds, and he packed the jury with Protestants—constructed a jury that was bound to convict. Though he did not like to indulge in wholesale vituperation, he was bound to express his conviction that any Crown Solicitor who, in any instance, would act up to his convictions would be a courageous man while the present gang existed in Dublin Castle. Of course, he could not say whether the "Rule" had been addressed to Mr. Stephen Seeds. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland had stated that he would not shirk any question. Well, had he not shirked the fact stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin that the Crown Counsel at the Wicklow Assizes had not cross-examined the witnesses? Let the Committee imagine a whole series of important depositions made at the Coroner's inquest, not contracted in any material respect by the Emergency men, except by Freeman alone—let them imagine these depositions being in the hands of the Crown Counsel for months and months—depositions in regard to which a verdict of wilful murder had been returned. Could they imagine such a state of things and the Crown Counsel never asking a word in cross-examination of the witnesses who appeared for the defence? He maintained that that fact alone stamped the action of the Crown with collusion. It stamped collusion on the action of the Crown, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland would not deceive anybody by repeating what he had repeated here that night—by repeating his stereotyped eulogium upon the Crown Prosecutor in Ireland—Mr. Eyan, forsooth—a wellknown Tory lawyer in Dublin. This Mr. Ryan had a Tory conscience. Why, Mr. Pierce White, that highly honourable "Cawtholic," did not prevent him 686 from gerrymandering the County of Dublin and the County of Donegal. He (Mr. Clancy), for one, refused to be led away by eulogiums of this character when the facts themselves pointed the other way. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland faced everything. Did he face the fact stated by his right hon. Friend which was well known, and which had been repeated over and over again, that there was left upon the jury in the Kinsella case a man named Richard Bradshaw, a cousin of Freeman the murderer, although, when he was being sworn, a son of the murdered man pointed out the relationship between the two men. He called upon a man bearing the name of Anquilla Maemahon, Crown Prosecutor—the Crown Prosecutors in Ireland had very curious names, sometimes, in fact, they had no Christian names at all, a very appropriate thing for these gentlemen. This poor peasant pointed out that Richard Bradshaw was a cousin of Freeman the murderer. He pointed that out as he was being sworn upon the jury, and asked that the man should be set aside. Bradshaw, however, was not set aside; the trial went on, and yet the hon. and learned Solicitor General, who faced everything, gave the go-by to a material fact of that importance. He (Mr. Clancy) maintained that this fact, even if it stood by itself, was enough to stamp collusion and to prove corruption upon the prosecution. The hon. and learned Solicitor General, instead of dealing with these points, which were points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, went off into the merits of the case against Freeman. He (Mr. Clancy) warned the hon. and learned Gentleman not to enter into the case of Freeman. He would tell him that a good deal of time might be expended over the case of Freeman. He (Mr. Clancy) was somewhat tempted to enter into the case of Freeman, only that he had some other matters to deal with. All that he would say on this occasion was that they had heard every single one of the objections made to-night on behalf of Freeman refuted. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General had made a speech on behalf of Freeman and the Emergency gang who killed Kinsella. They had heard that speech, and had seen every point it contained refuted. It had been refuted, and the imputation had 687 never been answered. The hon. and learned Gentleman talked of a conflict. There was no conflict on the occasion of the murder of Kinsella. It took two to make a conflict. The only persons who fired on that occasion—the only persons who could have fired, because they were the only persons who were armed, were the Emergency men. Well, there was a pitchfork on one side against 18 revolvers and rifles. No, there were two firearms on the side of the people, and he would describe what they were. There were two guns on the side of the people and no more. One of these guns had not been discharged for months, as was shown by its rusty barrel. The other was a superannuated weapon which had not been discharged for years. Conflict! Why, there was no conflict. The suggestion that there was a conflict was, he ventured to say, a gratuitous invention of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and was a statement which would have come very well upon the evidence in a speech for the defence of Freeman, but he (Mr. Clancy) certainly thought that it should not have come from, the hon. and learned Gentleman, who in one part of his speech had admitted that this killing of Kinsella was a murder, and who, in the next place, represented, or, at all events, pretended to represent the Crown, which was supposed to stand impartial between the prosecution and the prisoner. He (Mr. Clancy) had said that he would not refer to the case of Freeman, but he was tempted to refer to one point and one point only. The hon. and learned Gentleman said—and he (Mr. Clancy) observed that he was only repeating the statement made by the two Crown prosecutors in The Times of this morning—that there were witnesses who had stated that Freeman had not fired a shot—namely, a man named M'Cabe and another named Maher. M'Cabe did not state anything of the kind, and it was a gross misrepresentation of the evidence to say that he did so. Here was Maher's evidence—I saw Freeman advancing towards Kinsella. Freeman had a revolver in his hand. He said, "'If you don't go back, Kinsella, by God I'll shoot you!'This was the evidence of a dissenting witness. The witness went on to say—I looked from Freeman towards M'Cabe, and I heard a shot. M'Cabe discharged his gun, a Winchester,688 a thing which everybody admitted—in the direction of the place where Kinsella was standing. There had been a shot fired immediately before that, and when I turned round I saw Kinsella falling.Why, the evidence of Maher bore out in a most remarkable way the evidence of the other poor witnesses, because it was clear that the man was telling the truth. He did not agree in every small detail and in every particular regarding the shots fired, and as to when they were fired, but as to the material facts of the case and as to Freeman firing, and as to the time that Kinsella fell, Maher was tn complete and substantial accord with ihe other witnesses. He (Mr. Clancy) would advise the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland to go to headquarters for the future for his information instead of taking the Crown version of facts out of The Times newspaper. A pretty organ to send any information to. Well, the hon. and learned Gentleman attempted to meet the case made by his right hon. Friend earlier on about the Star Chamber, and here, again, he (Mr. Clancy) could not but think of the usual lawyers' shifts. His right hon. Friend had not, and no man of the Irish Party had ever complained, or would complain, of the use of this first-class Star Chamber Clause for finding out general criminals. He thought he was right in saying that, when the Act was passing, the Irish Members appealed again and again that so far as the discovery of general crime was concerned—such as murder, arson, and crimes of that description, which were acknowledged to be crimes in every country—they had no objection to the clause. He declared, and he defied contradiction, that the Irish Members had never said a word, from the time that the Act was passed to this moment, complaining of any instance where it had been used for the discovery of general crime. He would go further, and say, for his own part, that he never would complain at the use of the Star Chamber to find out general murders or crimes like that. But his right hon. Friend had not complained of that fact. The hon. and learned Gentleman had told the House that the Act was used, and successfully used, to find out criminals; but his (Mr. Clancy's) right hon. Friend had complained that the Act was misused in another way. He had said that it was used not only to detect crime, 689 but, as was well known to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and to everyone in Ireland, the Coercion Act was used in discovering the secrets of the Plan of Campaign. He (Mr. Clancy) talked of the "secrets" of the Plan of Campaign, but there was no secret at all in connection with the Plan of Campaign. The thing was as open as day. Everybody knew that the tenants deposited their money with a trustee. He ventured to say that everybody knew where the money was paid—it could not be otherwise. The whole country knew who the trustees were. How could the Government protend that this was a crime? The Government pretended that a combination entitled "The Plan of Campaign," simply because it gave itself that title, was a crime. The thing was an absurdity. He would repeat that they did not complain of the Star Chamber when applied to general prisoners, and to bring persons guilty of general crime to justice; but he complained of the use of the Star Chamber Clauses of the Coercion Act for the purpose of getting the landlords' rack rents, and enabling the landlords to put their hands on the men in a district who defied them. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, who did not shirk any question, but who met everything, did not answer the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman who had preceded him, that he had failed to intimidato anyone into giving evidence. Had the hon. and learned Gentleman any answer to give to that? The hon. and learned Gentleman or his Colleague, the Attorney General, had proceeded against some of the most respectable men in Ireland. He had summoned more than one bank manager; but had he compelled the Hibernian Bank to give any evidence yet? He had committed several most respectable men in all parts of Ireland where the Plan of Campaign was in operation. Boycotting prevailed to a greater or less extent in various parts of Ireland. Why was not the first clause of the Coercion Act being used in every place? It had not been so used; it had been used in certain isolated localities, and it was very curious, if hon. Gentlemen would give themselves the trouble to discover it for themselves, they would find it to be the case that the first clause of the Coercion Act had been used almost entirely, if not entirely, in those districts where there 690 had been struggles between landlords and bodies of tenants; and, consequently, he (Mr. Clancy) claimed that he was right in saying that the clause was used as an instrument of vengeance on the side of the landlords. He could hardly pass by the question of appeals. He could not congratulate the Government on the ingenuity or originality of their arguments in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had said in the House, in the hearing of everybody, that there would be an appeal in every case. Now, there had not been an appeal in every case, and in many of the cases where there had not been an appeal it had been owing directly to the Attorney General acting, he presumed, on the instructions of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The hon. and learned Solicitor General said that besides the appeal, if the magistrates refused to state a case, there were several means of getting behind that decision. Well, let him take one case—the case of Brosnan, a newsvendor. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated that there was an appeal to the Queen's Bench. There was not an appeal, but an application was allowed for a mandamus to state a case. Now let the Committee mark the way in which the hon. and learned Solicitor General tried to get out of this. He said, if the magistrates refused to state a case they could go to the Queen's Bench and get a mandamus to compel the magistrates to state a case. Well, the newsvendor of Killarney, thinking the Government were serious in this matter, went to the Court of Queen's Bench, and what happened there? He was kicked out of Court. There was an appeal no doubt. It was possible, no doubt, to apply to the Court of Queen's Bench for a mandamus. They might call spirits from the vasty deep, but would they come when called? They might apply to the Queen's Bench for a mandamus, but were they certain that the Queen's Bench would grant a mandamus. In this case the Court of Queen's Bench refused it. By some means or another, advised by the ingenuity of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), they managed in this case to secure a hearing in the Court of Exchequer, but before the Court of Exchequer had time to give a decision in the matter, the 691 right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary gave an order for the release of Brosnan. All this talk about the possibility of appeal and of getting a case stated, and of getting justice by bringing an action—all that sort of thing was the merest fudge and nonsense, and an attempt to throw dust into the eyes of the public. He remembered a distinguished Member of that House state, down in the country, that if the police committed an outrage against law and justice the injured party might appeal to a Court of Law for a remedy. No doubt he might. He (Mr. Clancy) remembered a case in which such an appeal was made—and he mentioned it because it illustrated the whole of these proceedings. He remembered the Phoenix Park case. He did not mean the Phoenix Park tragedy, for there had been two Phoenix Park outrages in history. There was one committed during the term of Office of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). In this case, amongst other persons, the late Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) had his skull nearly broken, and the marks of the wounds inflicted upon him were to be seen upon his face even at the present moment. These wounds were inflicted by a policeman's baton. In that instance the person injured did appeal to a Court of Law, and the whole wealth of the Crown and all the ingenuity of counsel they could employ was expended in defeating justice; and from that day to this the persons illegally assaulted and almost beaten to death had never received a farthing of compensation, nor had received recognition of the injustice they had suffered. All this talk about getting justice for injuries suffered at the hands of the police was, he repeated, the merest fudge and dust thrown in the eyes of the public. This Solicitor General for Ireland, who faced everything, had given the go-by to Brosnan's case. He had referred to it but only slightly, and he (Mr. Clancy) was entitled to say that the hon. and learned Gentleman's reference to it was only in the form of an evasion. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that the evidence was produced. By whom was it produced? Was it tendered by the Crown? On the contrary, the Crown usually fought against the production of this evidence. As a matter of fact, it was extracted out of 692 people by cross-examination; and the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland said, that after all there was no substantial difference between the evidence for the Crown and the evidence extracted in this way. His hon. Friend (Mr. W. O'Brien) said substantially what he had been imprisoned for—he had never denied it. But the point was that this additional evidence, though it would not have acquitted him in a legal sense, would have acquitted him from a moral point of view. Whatever the effect might have been upon the degraded tribunal which tried him, before the court of public opinion, in any country in which honesty of motive and sufficiency of motive was considered he would be acquitted. The Crown kept back that evidence, and the hon. and learned Solicitor General, who faced everything, had not the courage to allude to the matter. Now, just for a moment he would refer to another matter—namely, the prosecutions for lighting bonfires. The lighting of a bonfire was a small thing in the eyes of some people, but on this case he would make two remarks. In the first place, a very large proportion of all the prosecutions instituted in Ireland under the Crimes Act were frivolous to the last degree. They were actions which would not be instituted at all in England or in Scotland, or which, if they were instituted, would be dealt with by magistrates who would have common sense enough to say, where only a technical violation of the law had taken place, "We think the peace of the country would be best preserved by refraining from punishing these men." That would have been the common sense view taken of such a matter in England or Scotland, or in any other country where the people had any control over their own affairs. There was another point, perhaps a small one, but it was these small, little things which so constantly occurred in different parts of the country that was wearying and irritating to the people. What was a poor Irish peasant, in a remote part of Ireland, to know of the great political transactions that were occurring? He saw before him a representative of the great British Empire—an Empire upon which the sun was said never to set—some local police sergeant or a Resident Magistrate, and he saw himself, in every hour of his life, at every hand's turn, in terror for his personal 693 liberty. He attended a public meeting, and immediately found himself prosecuted for some small and insignificant infraction of the law. He was arrested and made the object of a State prosecution. From such a man how could they expect loyalty to the great British Empire? How could he be expected not to cheer the Mahdi when he heard that the Mahdi had achieved a victory? He saw the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in his place, and would refer to some of these prosecutions. A gentleman who was supposed to write the letters of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wyndham), addressing an audience the other day, described it as his function to exterminate vermin. In point of fact, the gentleman to whom he alluded described himself, down at Grantham, as a rat-catcher. It was to be presumed that when this gentleman spoke of vermin he referred to the Irish Members. Now, it would appear that this same individual, who was in the habit of writing the letters of the Chief Secretary, declared that no person had been prosecuted for lighting a bonfire. It was said that a serious riot had occurred in more than one instance owing to a demonstration to celebrate the release of his hon. Friend (Mr. W. O'Brien), and several men had been convicted of breaches of the peace, assaults on the police, originating in most instances from an idle pastime of laughing and groaning at the police, and "booing" for Balfour. But it was asserted that no such thing had occurred as a prosecution for lighting a bonfire. He held in his hand the copy of a summons against a number of persons which declared that—You, the defendant, on the night of the 21st of July, 1888, with other persons, did unlawfully make or assist in making a bonfire; contrary to the provisions of the 14th and 15th Victoria, Section 3.And yet the Government continued to assert that no person had been prosecuted for making a bonfire; it was for making a riot, or creating a disorder, or throwing stones, or hooting the police, or something of the kind. In most of these cases there was not the slightest evidence of a riot, nor of any annoyance caused to anyone beyond jeering at the police. In the case which he had mentioned the magistrates characterized the proceedings of the crowd as cowardly, and 694 singled out one Francis Moran as the ringleader who had begun the whole of the disturbance after having been cautioned by the sergeant of police who was the responsible officer. As Moran had set the law at defiance he was arrested, or otherwise nothing would have been heard of the matter. Moran was fined 10s., the full penalty, and the case against the other defendants was dismissed. The magistrates expressed an opinion that the sergeant of police did his duty in bringing forward the prosecution as one of the officers entrusted with the peace of the district. Under these circumstances, he would ask Mr. Rat-catcher Wyndham what his opinion was now; and whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would endorse the dictum that no man had been prosecuted for lighting a bonfire? With the permission of the Committee, he would draw attention to just one other case. It was a charge against a man named Michael Hogan, who was accused in June last of having been drunk and disorderly in a public-house at an early hour. The right hon. Gentleman said the charge was dismissed upon technical grounds, but there could be no question that the man was drunk and disorderly. The charge related to circumstances which occurred in the man's own yard; and surely, under any circumstances, he could not be said to have committed any great crime. That, however, was not the point. The case was brought before Major Waring, a brother of the hon. and gallant Member for North Down (Colonel Waring). The witnesses for the Crown were two police officers and a boy named Kennedy. Constable Duggan deposed to having heard a noise outside the barrack door, and looking outside he recognized Hogan, who was drunk and disorderly. He was asked—Did you see him on the public road at an early hour?—No, not on the public road at all.So that you have sworn to what you never saw?Upon this the Court ordered the witness to withdraw. The second witness was Constable Boyd, who was asked—Did you see the defendant on the road at this early hour, drunk and disorderly?—No.Did you not tell me that you did see him?—No.Then where did you see him? I saw him sitting on his own stile.Was Hogan misconducting himself?—No.695 The next witness was the boy Kennedy, who deposed "that he had not seen the man at all." The officer of the Constabulary who was conducting the examination said, "Did you not tell me that you did see him?" "Ah!" was the reply, "but I am on my oath now." Hogan asked the witness if it was not the fact that he was brought into the police barracks and there asked to attend as a witness and swear against him, the defendant, and his answer was in the affirmative. Of course the case was dismissed, and Major Waring, who presided upon the Bench of Magistrates, said that there was not the slightest foundation for the charge. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary came down to the House, and, in reply to a Question from an Irish Member, said the man was drunk and disorderly, and only escaped conviction by a mere technicality. He did not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of having invented an unfounded statement, but he did accuse the police of having invented it for the right hon. Gentleman, and if they were capable of doing it in one case they were capable of doing it in a thousand. There had been numerous instances in which the police had obtained convictions on unfounded evidence, and he thought it was incumbent on the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to show the police that they could not in future be allowed to prostitute the official position they occupied in such a manner with impunity.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, that he did not propose to discuss the question of Irish Administration with respect to criminal proceedings. That would be better done by the Irish Members than he could do it; but he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the amount of the Vote, and certain peculiarities connected with it this year. He was quite aware of the general understanding that the discussion of the Estimates as a whole was to stand over until next Session, and he had no wish to depart from that understanding; but he wished to indicate to the Chief Secretary one or two points with a view, if possible, of saving time in the discussion next Session, because he believed they were points upon which the right hon. Gentleman might be able to deal when 696 next Session arrived. At any rate, he would be more able to deal with them in detail next Session than he could be expected that night. He was afraid that the growth of this Vote had escaped the attention of the Committee. The Vote was one for a balance of £72,000, but there was a Supplementary Estimate of £10,000. The Committee were, therefore, asked to vote for Criminal Prosecutions in Ireland a sum of £82,000. If the right hon. Gentleman would look to the charge for similar Services in England, he would find that the cost of criminal prosecutions in Ireland was about one-third of those in England, although in the one case there was a population of 38,000,000, and in the other a population of less than 5,000,000. He was not going to enter into the question of the salaries of the Irish Law Officer, but he might say, in passing, that it was the contention of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, the present President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), when Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the salary of £5,000 was only to be continued to the Attorney General for Ireland when he had a seat in Parliament. He did not propose to raise the question now. According to the present Estimates the expense of prosecutions was £28,000, but there was a Supplementary Estimate of £1,000, raising it to £29,000. Then there were fees to counsel other than the Law Officers of the Crown—£ 10,000; general law expenses £11,000, including a Supplementary Estimate of £2,000, and a heavy item for extra expenses paid to Crown Solicitors—an item not to be found in the English Estimates; and Miscellaneous charges—always a suspicious item—£3,200. He should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary a question he had asked of one of the right hon. Gentleman's Predecessors, his right hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan)—namely, why, while the cost of a criminal prosecution in England averaged £9 12s. a head, the cost in Ireland was over £20 a head? Totally irrespective of Irish politics or administration, he thought the House of Commons was entitled to know why the cost of criminal prosecutions in Ireland should double that in England. What he wished to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman 697 the Chief Secretary and the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland was that the administration of the ordinary criminal law in Ireland cost twice as much as it did in England. He had the greatest possible respect for the professional claims of members of the Irish Bar, and the value of the time of Irish witnesses, but he ventured to say that there was nothing in Ireland which should require that those items should be more highly paid for in Ireland than in this country. That was a practical question to which he hoped the Government would give their attention. If they were to pay for the prosecutions in England and Scotland at the same rate as those in Ireland, the cost would amount to £13,000,000, instead of the sum of £5,000,000 now paid. That, he thought, was a question which ought to interest any economist and must deserve the attention of the Committee.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, he admitted the importance of the question which the right hon. Gentleman had brought before the Committee, and regretted that he was not at present in a position to make any detailed comparison between the items in the English and the Irish Votes; and he thought the right hon. Gentleman would agree that if he were able to discuss the question fully, this would hardly be an appropriate occasion for doing so. There was, however, one consideration which must govern all the inferences which the right hon. Gentleman drew from the somewhat bare statement of the sums paid in England and in Ireland under the head of Criminal Prosecutions. In England by far the greater part of the prosecutions were private, whereas, on the contrary, in Ireland private criminal prosecutions were unknown.
§ MR. HENRYH. FOWLER
said, all the expenses of prosecutions in England were ultimately taken out of the Treasury.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he did not think it likely that the whole cost would fall in Ireland in the same way as it was borne in England. He doubted that, because there could be no question whatever that the actual fees paid in Ireland to Irish lawyers were lower than the fees paid in England, while the sums given to witnesses in Ireland were not in excess of, but probably less 698 than the sums given in England for the same services. He thought it would follow that it was probably due to the different systems in vogue in the two countries that there was this greater expenditure with regard to Ireland. He hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman would raise the question again next year, when he trusted he should be in a position to deal with it more fully.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he would like to have the attention of hon. Members below the Gangway to one point. They had heard accusations from that quarter of the House of jury-packing; but he asked how a jury could be packed if there was no challenge of jurors on the part of the Crown? All the jury-packing that he had heard of was caused by the Crown ordering jurymen to stand by; but here it was admitted on both sides that the Crown did not order a single juror to stand by—and yet they were told there had been jury-packing! If the panel, which was, of course, prepared beforehand, were wrong, the Crown or the prisoner had a right to upset it; but that was not done. Hon. Members below the Gangway seemed to take it for granted that the moment a Protestant jury was impanelled it must be a packed jury, and that conviction followed as a matter of course. He had more experience of Irish juries than probably any Member of the Committee; he had served upon them, and last sat upon the jury which convicted James Ellis French, the head of the Detective Department in Dublin. Having served on juries in 1882 and 1883, and seen what was called the packing which went on when the right hon. Gentleman the present Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) was in Office, he could state that the jurors who served with him had their pockets stuffed full of threatening letters; yet they brought to the case as much honesty of judgment and impartiality as any jurors that could have been impanelled, and he said it was unfair to Protestants to assume or to say that they were unfaithful to their oath. It was false to say that they perjured themselves. If they were incapable of giving an honest verdict, upon what was the national life of Ireland to be built?
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, he had never in the course of his 699 life heard such a statement made as that which the hon. Member for South Tyrone attributed to Members on those Benches—namely, that Protestant jurymen were perjurers. When it was considered how many Protestants there were in the Nationalist Party, the Committee would see the absurdity of such a charge being made on those Benches. It was rather too late in the day to attempt to contest the fact that there was jury-packing, when it was known that the Counsel for the Crown made every Catholic stand down. He denied that the Nationalist Party had ever asserted broadly that there was a difference between Catholics and Protestants; but they had asserted that there was a difference between certain classes of their countrymen and the remainder, whose only object was to oppose everything that would promote the national life of Ireland. With regard to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler), there was no one who knew better than the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland that the cause of the excessive cost of prosecutions in Ireland was that, although smaller fees were paid to counsel in Ireland than in England, perhaps double the number of counsel were employed. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not, however, communicated the fact to the Chief Secretary before he replied on the subject. There was in Ireland an appointment of some sort for one barrister in three; it was a sort of Tom Tiddler's ground for members of the Bar, and thus the authorities managed to hold the Bar in its power, and keep them from taking part in the National movement. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolver-hampton had overlooked the point that there was an increase of £1,000 in the item of fees. Why was there that increase? They had it on the authority of the Chief Secretary on every platform that the amount of crime in Ireland had largely diminished; and he could not see that his statement could be reconciled with the fact that there were more fees, and consequently more prosecutions. He wished to refer to the extraordinary statement made by the Chief Secretary on a former occasion, in replying to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt)—that in many cases in Ireland 700 Coroner's inquests were only conspiracies to assassinate.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I did not say that. I said there were cases in Ireland in which the verdicts of Coroners' juries were incitements to assassination. The words of the hon. and learned Member imply that I said that the verdicts of all Coroners' juries were incitements to assassination.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he had used the limiting phrase "in many cases"; but was it conceivable that a Minister of the Crown should make such a statement at all, because a Coroner's jury could exercise no power against a prisoner; all it could do was to say that there was a case that ought to go to trial in a Superior Court. If the Coroner had power to cause a man to be hanged there might have been something in the right hon. Gentleman's statement, which must have been made either in entire ignorance of the position of a Coroner's Court in Ireland, or in a moment of excitement as a defence to the charge brought against him of not having taken action on Coroners' verdicts. He had now to bring under the attention of the Committee the threats which had been used for collecting subscriptions for what was called the Parnell Indemnity Fund. The Times was a rich corporation, and it was said that it was being assisted by some outside subscriptions—he did not know whether that was true. But in Ireland voluntary subscriptions had been started in order to raise an indemnity fund to assist those who were being practically prosecuted with the whole force and power of the Government; police were being sent over here and paid by the State, and so, to a certain extent, relieving The Times, and yet prosecution was threatened to those who were raising the indemnity fund. At Tippoohine, in Roscommon, on Sunday morning a subscription was being raised at the chapel gates; there was no question of disturbance; the police arrived on the spot, and it was stated to them that the subscription was for the indemnity fund. They said, "You have no right to raise such a subscription in this country, especially in a proclaimed district." [The hon. and learned Gentleman then read a letter from one of those present, to the effect that he had replied to the policeman that he thought it was not illegal to collect for the Parnell Indemnity Fund, 701 and that they would continue the collection; that the policeman took his name, asked for the list, and would not give it up, and threatened to disperse by force those who were simply handing in their subscriptions around the table.] He (Mr. Molloy) wanted to know whether it was by the order of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, or of the hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland, that these threats had been made, and, if not, the steps they would take to prevent the police again acting in this manner?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he could guarantee that there had never been any order given by himself or the hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland which could by any possibility be twisted into an instruction to the police that it was illegal to collect money for the fund referred to. He hoped that the hon. and learned Gentleman, if he could, would give him any case which could be authenticated, and he would look into it.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, with regard to jury packing, he would just as soon trust Protestant jurymen in Dublin as he would Catholic jurymen; but there were places where 19–20ths of the population were Catholics, and in which the jurors were so challenged by the Crown that the juries were formed almost exclusively of Protestants. In June, 1885, at Sligo, at the prosecution of a number of young men, every Catholic juror was challenged by the Crown, and in a town like Sligo it would be almost impossible to get a jury of Protestants without the great majority of them being landlords or persons connected with land, whose natural bias, he was bound to say, would be against Nationalists. More recent cases had been alluded to—namely, the trials of some men brought from Clare to Wicklow. It seemed to him that the proper course would have been to take these men to Dublin, but they were sent to Wicklow, and he believed he was right in saying that every Catholic on the jury was challenged; and that the jury was composed of men who were likely to have some bias in the matter. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland had offered to lay before the Committee the Regulations with regard to the formation of the juries and challenges; but, although he had no 702 doubt these were formed in a proper spirit, the question was whether their spirit was acted up to. The course adopted by the Crown of challenging Catholic jurors and forming juries exclusively of Protestants brought contempt upon the Criminal Law, and he believed it ought to be given up by the Government. He did not see that any great hardship would occur if a man whom the Government believed to be guilty was occasionally acquitted; and it was better that a few persons should escape than that the law should be brought into contempt by proceedings of the kind mentioned.
§ MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
said, he objected to the payment of a large sum of money to counsel as fees for undertaking prosecutions under the Crimes Act at Petty Sessions, when the Crown Solicitors were quite competent to conduct the cases. The Crown Counsel were turned out from the great mill of Trinity College, and one in every three of them obtained a Crown appointment; and that was the reason why there was this excessive charge for prosecutions in Ireland. These men brought water to the mill, and he did not blame them; they were paid the money, and it was impossible that they should like the country to be in a quiet state; they were only anxious to get their fees. He had seen that when he was in Londonderry Gaol. Some men were brought into gaol at one o'clock or two o'clock in the morning; they were barely clad, sometimes hungry and wet, and were thrust into the cells.
§ MR. BLANE
said, the men were prosecuted because the Attorney General imagined they knew something about the Plan of Campaign, when they knew nothing about it. One man was the postmaster at Donegal, and he was asked to give evidence with reference to the money of the Plan of Campaign, but he refused to take an unnecessary oath, in consequence of which the Crown Prosecutor asked that he might be committed to Londonderry Gaol, and the Solicitor General sent word to the Postmaster General to dismiss the man from his post, and he was dismissed. He presumed that the fees paid in that case came under the Vote, and that he was in Order in referring to it. This was a most dishonest use to make of the money 703 voted by that House. The law, he believed, declared it a crime to take an oath without necessity, and that being so, the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland would know that the man in question would have been dismissed from his Office of Commissioner to Administer Oaths; indeed, he was not sure that he had not been dismissed. The hon. Gentleman below him had referred to jury-packing as practised on behalf of the Grown; and he would mention a trial for murder, in which the Attorney General for Ireland applied to the Superior Courts and had the trial changed from County Armagh—where a jury refused to convict the prisoner—to County Antrim. A sort of Party complexion was therefore given to the trial. The man was convicted at Belfast, and was sentenced to 10 years' penal servitude; he was now in penal servitude. That man did not commit the murder, but the man who did commit the crime was actually in County Armagh at the present time, and he (Mr. Blane) knew him. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant might say to him, "Well, if you know who committed the crime, why do not you tell us; why do not you assist the Government in prosecuting the criminal?" How could he assist the Government in the prosecution of the man? He and other men were made the victims of the conspiracy formed against them by the Law Officers of the Crown, and sometimes they were lying in prison when they might if they were asked, be assisting the Government. This was a case in which he knew there had been a failure of justice. The accused had been taken by the direction of the Attorney General for Ireland and the Solicitor General for Ireland from County Armagh, where a jury of his countrymen refused to convict him, to a place where a conviction could be obtained. He (Mr. Blane) held that that was a disgrace and a scandal. An innocent man—his name was Gartland—was now undergoing 10 years' penal servide. He (Mr. Blane) and his hon. Friends were repudiated by the Government. They could not come to the assistance of the Government. He deemed it was their duty to refuse actual assistance to the Government in anything. They were held up in the House and outside of it to public odium. 704 They were represented as the associates of criminals. They were not brought in contact with the Government, and they could not assist them. The Government took everything in their own hands, and they conducted affairs in such a thoroughly improper manner that they caused to be convicted men who ought not to be convicted, and allowed men who really committed crime—even that of murder—to go unpunished. He knew of another case of miscarriage of justice; it was the case of a robbery in County Louth. The other day he put a Question in regard to the case, but by his answer the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland seemed altogether astray of the facts. He presumed that the greater portion of the money they were now asked to vote went to the Attorney General for Ireland and the Solicitor General for Ireland; he thought the money could be much better expended. It was said that Irish Nationalist Members were constantly making attacks upon Protestant jurors. That was not the case. He had never attempted, indeed, it would be very unbecoming in him, the son of a Protestant and a Scotch settler in Ulster, to attack such men. But he did assert that there was no earthly reason for the exclusion of Catholics from the jury box. Trial by jury had come down from Catholic times, and it occurred to him that it was very bad taste to exclude Catholics from the jury box. What was the reason why they were excluded? Some people might say they were excluded because they had taken the part of prisoners. That, in his opinion, was the best qualification for a juror; for the spirit of our law was that it was far better that 99 guilty men should escape rather than that one innocent man should be punished. In County Armagh there had been a very remarkable exclusion of Catholics from the jury box. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) said that he had served on Dublin juries. He (Mr. Blane) had been summoned as a juror time after time, but the Law Officers of the Crown thought that as he was a Catholic he ought to be excluded from the jury box. He had been rejected as a juror before 2,000 of the people of his county, and the reason assigned was that he had not the confidence of the Law Officers of the Crown. He hoped he would never have the confidence of men who had acted as 705 he had seen the Law Officers of Ireland act. The Law Officers of Ireland had so provoked disorder that they did not deserve the commendation of anyone. The action of the Irish Law Officers was so utterly contrary to justice that in his opinion the Committee should resist by every means in their power the payment of this money to those gentlemen.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
said, he thought that the able and clear speech of his hon. Friend (Mr. Blane) ought to be very instructive to the Committee in estimating the present situation in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman, a representative of the people, a man who had sprung from the people and was honoured by the people among whom he lived, had not merely been insulted publicly by exclusion from the jury box, but had been put in prison for six months, subjected to the inconvenience of the plank bed, fed on bread and water, and all because he had stood by the people in the North of Ireland. He (Mr. Edward Harrington) rose, however, to direct the attention of the Committee to the state of affairs in the County of Kerry. There were two Crown Solicitors in that county. They conducted the prosecutions which the Attorney General for Ireland directed. The men were first cousins. They had one office between them, and had a set of clerks in common. One of them was invariably found defending the men charged with moonlighting and other crimes proceeded against under the Crimes Act, while the other prosecuted. That was an undoubted scandal. The scandal had gone so far that in one case where one of these men defended a man charged at the Cork Assizes with murder, the Crown not merely entered a nolle prosequi, but actually discharged the prisoner by proclamation, a most unusual course. Some time ago he drew attention to a case of moonlighting in the County of Kerry, in which the Government rendered no assistance whatever in the detection of the offender; it was a case in which a caretaker of Mr. Hussey "moonlighted" the family of the local doctor. The venue was changed to a place 30 miles distant, so that the light of public opinion could not be thrown on the case. The magistrate—Mr. Cecil Roche—was in collusion with Mr. Hussey to procure an acquittal. After his (Mr. Edward 706 Harrington's) release from gaol, he, by bringing the light of public opinion to bear on the case, forced the Authorities to undertake a prosecution which, he asserted, they wanted to burke. As it had been said that some juries were packed when the conviction of a man was desired by the Authorities, while other juries were packed in order to secure the escape of another man, so also, he asserted, whore there had been a crime committed by those attached to the landlord faction the Government had made no sincere and honest effort to secure the conviction of the criminal. That was a grave scandal, and it was a bad lesson to teach the people of Ireland. If an adherent of the landlord faction was charged with a crime in Kerry it was the commonest thing in the world for one of the Crown Solicitors to be engaged in defending him, while the other was engaged in prosecuting him. He asked the Chief Secretary whether he really believed there was a chance, under such circumstances, of justice being done? Did the right hon. Gentleman really believe that if the man who was prosecuting in a case was a relative and a partner in business of the man who was defending the prisoner, he could be sincere in the prosecution he was conducting? It might be owing to some malformation of his (Mr. Edward Harrington's) mind that he had attached peculiar importance to this case. He could not, however, regard it as anything else but a scandal that in one county there should be two Crown Solicitors who were partners, and who were often found defending and prosecuting in the same case. He desired to say a word or two with regard to the treatment of the poor man Ferriter, in County Kerry. This man had for the past 15 months been continually prosecuted and persecuted by the Government, and all for the simple crime that, in order to make a living, he sold copies of United Ireland. A policeman, rigged up as a tailor on tramp, went into Ferriter's premises to perform the brilliant feat of securing a copy of United Ireland, to see, as he alleged, if there was anything in that paper about the County of Wexford, to which he said he belonged. Such was the way in which the policemen in Ireland were used. Ferriter was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for the crime of selling a copy of United 707 Ireland. If he (Mr. Edward Harrington) were an Englishman, he would be ashamed of a Cabinet that would countenance such a proceeding as that. He believed that all decent Englishmen were ashamed of such proceedings, although he did not wish, by that statement, to cast aspersions upon those who held different political opinions to himself. He really believed that the supporters of the Government, if they could see these things happen from day to day, and realize how the Crimes Act had been applied in Ireland, would be as heartily ashamed of the proceedings as the opponents of the Government were. It was asked a while ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton) whether the Government intended to abandon the policy of prosecuting people for attending meetings of the National League. There were two ways of looking at the question of the existence of the National League. The Chief Secretary held the opinion—at least he had expressed the opinion in the House—that, by the Crimes Act, he had completely crushed the organization of the National League; but they had it in evidence given by Mr. Leonard, the agent for one of the largest estates in Ireland, that the National League was never stronger in the County of Kerry than it was at that moment. He (Mr. Edward Harrington) added his testimony to that fact. The County of Kerry, as it had become more and more organized under the auspices of the National League, had been gradually withdrawn from the ways of crime and the evil deeds which disgraced it in times past. He asserted that in consequence of the energies of the police being directed to the detection of trivial political offences, instead of to the detection of serious crime, the police were daily becoming more powerless for the real work of a Police Force. A short time ago a case of infanticide occurred in County Kerry. The body of the infant, when found, was dressed in the Union workhouse clothing. Two women only had left the workhouse within the month, and each of them had brought up a male child. Both the women were in the district. The presumption was that one or other of them was guilty of the crime. The police had only to find the woman who had not the child with which she left the workhouse, but they had not 708 bothered themselves to make the necessary inquiries. There had been this murder in the county, but, apparently, the Attorney General for Ireland did not think it worth his while to direct a prosecution. It was as well the Committee should know where the functions of the Attorney General commenced, and where they ended. It had been stated that night that the Crimes Act was used in the County of Kerry for the discovery of serious crime. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland had read out that night a few instances of the application of the Secret Inquiry Clause to the detection of serious crime, but the hon. and learned Gentleman left out of account the many cases in which the clause had been sought to be applied to the discovery of the Plan of Campaign. Reference had been made as to the cost of prosecutions in Ireland. It was a great scandal that in a poor country such as Ireland the cost of criminal prosecutions under the ordinary law should be two and-a-half times as great as it was in England. He did not know how it was to be explained, unless it was by the fact that the Legal Profession in Ireland was largely composed of the relatives of the landlord class, and that it was felt in Dublin Castle to be desirable to give to every one of these persons a job on every trial which turned up, if it was possible. There was no sort of disposition to hurry on cases as long as the barristers drew their fees. He really believed that if the administration of Ireland were directed towards the detection and punishment of serious crime, and if the Government really tried to bring the people in sympathy with the effort to detect crime, justice would be as cheaply and as effectively administered in Ireland as in any country in the world. His hon. Friend (Mr. Blane) had mentioned the case of a murder for which a man was innocently undergoing imprisonment, while the offender was at large. He (Mr. Edward Harrington) believed that, in consequence of the length to which jury packing had been carried in Ireland, a great many innocent men had been convicted. There had been miscarriages of justice in Ireland, and it was his belief that this would be hereafter evident to all minds; but, at the present time, there was no chance of help or sympathy from the people in the detection, of 709 crime, because they were taught that, if they came into any sort of contact with the authorities, they would endanger themselves. All these points had been raised in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who had been replied to by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland in a speech which was clever, because it did not deal with a single point which his right hon. Friend had made. His right hon. Friend referred to the fact that the people were prosecuted in Ireland for trivial matters, and emphasized the fact that the people would be quiet if they were let alone. The hon. and learned Gentleman said there was the same appeal under the Crimes Act as under the ordinary law, and he added that if the magistrates refused to state a case they could be compelled to do so. But there had been a case in which the Court of Appeal actually declared there had been improper imprisonment—two months after the man had suffered it. They wanted immediate action, because, when a man was sentenced to imprisonment, the point to be settled was, whether he should undergo it or not, and it was of no good to him to have his case heard several days afterwards. If the Government desired to have law and order in Ireland they should cause the trials to be carried out fairly and in a manner above suspicion. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) said that hon. Members on those Benches accused Protestants of perjury. He should be very sorry if the hon. Gentleman could substantiate his statement by anything which they had said in that sense, because many Protestants had worked with them and they recognized what they had done in the National cause. But when a Catholic was called on to serve as a juror he was immediately ordered to stand aside. This might be a sentimental grievance, but it affected the liberty and character of a whole people, and the system ill became a Cabinet who were intriguing with the Pope to try to put down their political opponents. Three men had been convicted in Kerry during the year; and on the three juries who convicted them there was not a single Catholic. When Irish Members claimed that this matter should be looked into, all the answers they got were tu quoque; the Government said the right hon. Gentleman the 710 Member for Mid Lothian had done the same thing, and that they had a precedent from former Administrations. But what answer was it to Irish Members to be told what the Liberals had done. If St. Peter himself were Chief Secretary for Ireland, as long as the present gang was allowed to exist in Dublin Castle so long would the spirit of maladministration of law in Ireland take this form; and he said that it was a paltry way of meeting the substantial grievance they had put forward by saying that the same thing had been done by the Predecessors of the Government. Time after time had Irish Members brought the fact of the exclusion of Catholics from juries to the knowledge of the Government, but they had done so in vain, and the only conclusion they could come to was that this was a deliberate policy of insulting the great body of the Irish people. It was no answer to them to say that the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had done the same. Irish Members might well say "A plague on both your Houses!" There could be nothing but disaffection in Ireland as long as this policy of Dublin Castle lasted.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he had known the Public Prosecutor in Ireland before he was appointed to his present position; and it was in consequence of his proclivities after he became Public Prosecutor that he received the name of Peter Packer. If the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland would take up a list of the Munster Assizes he would find case after case where men, simply because they were Catholics, or were supposed to have Nationalist views, were debarred from going into the jury box. All this had been the work of the present Attorney General and was simply disgraceful. Being himself a Protestant, he knew what many Protestants of the City of Cork thought of it, and he could tell the Chief Secretary for Ireland that he hoped he would go on with jury-packing, for, if there was anything more than another which would discredit him in Cork it was that disgusting practice. He knew what effects the system brought about by a Protestant Attorney General was producing, and what the English people, if they had an opportunity, would say about it, and, therefore, he hoped 711 the Government would allow the degrading process to be continued. He had again and again gone into the Courts in Cork during the Spring and Winter Assizes, and it was simply horrible to see Catholics, honourable men in the city, some of whom possessed anti-Nationalist ideas, repeatedly prevented from going into the jury-box, and so strong was the feeling caused that a meeting was called by the foremen of the juries to protest against this, the Chair being taken by a Catholic gentleman of very good position and a magistrate of the city, who was one of the foremost Protestors against the system of keeping Catholics out of the jury-box. Of course, Irish history showed that the Irish Bar had possessed many truculent members, and truculency had always been the leading characteristic of the pleadings made use of by certain Governments to accomplish their ends; and because men could not always be tried in Cork or Dublin, forsooth, the Government had to dig in the mire to obtain a politician who would try to pervert the means and ends of justice by excluding the largest proportion of the population who were ready to do their duties as citizens, from the jury-box. It was ridiculous that in a poor country like Ireland these enormous sums should be expended in prosecutions. Of the law officers of the Crown the Attorney General got £5,000 a-year, and for his part, if he had the power as he had the wish, he would change the arrangement and give the £5,000 to the Solicitor General for Ireland, for it would be found that there were few Members of the Irish Party who would consent to name those two Officers in the same breath. The Attorney General for Ireland received £5,000 a-year, and had besides any amount of patronage; there were, besides, fees to the amount of £1,500, the greatest portion of which he ventured to say went into his pocket, and, practically, it would be found that, were it not for the degrading work associated with jury-packing, he was immensely over-paid. There was another matter in connection with this subject that he would refer to. It appeared to him that if, in the case of a man to be tried in England, the prosecutor and Judge breakfasted, dined, and supped together, in fact, lived together, the judgment of the Judge would be looked upon with 712 a certain amount of suspicion. He had noticed that this had happened in the case of one of the Crown Prosecutors, a barrister of Dublin, who had driven over with the Judge of the County Court from Ballinasloe to Portumna; it was a scandal that this should be permitted, and he believed that in England such a system would be regarded as tending to undermine the course of justice. He had heard many say that what was heard at the dinner table should not be repeated, but he had heard the Attorney General for Ireland say that if you wanted to convict prisoners in the City of Cork you must exclude Catholics from serving on the juries. As long as this practice on the part of the Government continued it would call down the just condemnation of the people of Ireland.
§ MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)
said, the Attorney General for Ireland was not as ready to pay others liberally as he was to accept a liberal allowance himself. He had seen this at Wicklow Assizes and during the trial of the prisoners in the case of the widow Kinsella. At that time an application was made to the Attorney General for the expenses to which the witnesses were entitled for attending at the trial. It happened that two witnesses had to remain a longtime in the district, and in consequence they were in great distress; and he (Mr. Harris) had to borrow £25 in Dublin in order to pay their expenses. This was a very small matter, but if hon. Gentlemen opposite were placed in the position of these unfortunate people they would regard it with different eyes than they appeared to do now. In this matter, as in everything connected with the Government of Ireland, there was a griping and selfish policy, which had made the British Government hateful to the people and which deserved to be condemned. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) had spoken in his usual strong manner in defence of juries. During the whole of his life it had been the effort of the Liberal Party in Ireland to conciliate the Protestants, and in many cases they had been successful; but the mass of the Protestants in Ireland, whether through the influence of Government or from historical or other causes, were not in sympathy with the great bulk of the people upon national and political questions. But in the case he referred to, poor tenant 713 farmers of the County of Galway were brought up at Wicklow for the crime of having endeavoured to serve a poor widow in the matter of a farm that was lying derelict and on which the man who had it had no claim; they were brought before a jury on which not a single Catholic was to be found. If the spirit of fair play were in the hearts of the Crown lawyers, instead of excluding Catholics they would prefer to have them to try people of the Catholic faith. There was a Protestant from the North of Ireland tried at the Wicklow Assizes; he was convicted of the grossest fraud, and the jury was composed of Catholics and Protestants, and the result was that this man, who had committed the most detestable crime as insurer or agent to an Insurance Office, got a fair trial. That, he thought, was sufficient to overturn the solitary case which the hon. Member for South Tyrone had brought forward. He did not say that Protestants were perjurers, and he protested against the idea that they decided in every way contrary to their convictions. He had himself been told to stand by from a jury in the county which he represented, and that after he had been put to heavy expenses in the town of Galway; and he had told the Judge who was going to send him to prison that it would be better to be in prison than to be dragged to Galway as he had been. With regard to the Vote for law expenses, he asked if it embodied the charge for advice given to the Constabulary with regard to local meetings. He was sure the police would not go to the length of suppressing public meetings without they had instructions from the Law Officers of the Crown. When he had gone down to his constituency for the purpose of holding a meeting and speaking on the state of public affairs, he had been prevented by the Authorities and the meeting was suppressed.
§ MR. HARRIS
said, he bowed to the Chairman's decision, and had said all he wanted to say on that subject. There were some important facts connected with the Clanricarde evictions. The tenants had been prosecuted by the Crown Solicitor for the county—Mr. Blake—whose pay came under this Vote. They were told from time to time with 714 regard to these evictions that the landlords of Ireland were the garrison of the country; and he supposed that the lawyers and their agents kept the garrison in proper form. But it seemed strange to him that the men who garrisoned Ireland should be in England while the law agents were doing their work at evictions in Ireland, although there was no one to prosecute the people who pulled down the homes of the unfortunate tenants who were evicted.
§ MR. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
said, he should have been glad if the observations he had to offer could have been made on the Report stage, because the administration of the law in Ireland, the conduct of the police, and the conduct of the County Court Judges were so interwoven that it was almost impossible to state a case connected with any one of these without trenching on one or the other of them. But, as they had come now very nearly to the end of the Session, and they were all anxious to get away, he was afraid that if he deferred speaking until the Report stage, he might not have any opportunity at all to bring under the notice of the Committee and the country some cases of persecution which had arisen in his constituency. Before passing on to these cases, however, he wished to say that he believed the hon. Member for South Armagh (Mr. Blane) had put his finger on a very serious blot indeed in the administration of justice in Ireland, when he said that so little sympathy, so little connection was there between the Public Prosecutors and the great mass of the people, that although the bulk of the people might know that a man charged with the commission of a serious crime was entirely innocent, and that another individual was guilty, they would have no possible means of approaching the Public Prosecutor or his servants for the purpose of getting substantial justice done. He would venture to say this much in connection with this matter, that the case stated by his hon. Friend the Member for South Armagh was not an isolated one. He himself distinctly remembered the case of a young man who was unfortunately murdered in Ireland, and in which the action of the police—directed, he supposed, by the Public Prosecutor—was in the highest degree clumsy and ill-advised. It was 715 known that this young man had seduced several young women; and, although common sense would point out that the action of the police should be turned in the direction of the relatives of this young man, the police—
§ MR. NOLAN
Very well; he would leave that point. It was only as acting as servants of the Public Prosecutor in Ireland that he had wished to refer to the action of the Police in this case at all. The case of the young man O'Hanlon, of the three men murdered at Mitchelstown, of the murder at Coolgreaney, and of the murder at Midleton, had been very ably laid before the Committee. He would not dwell on these cases, but would remain satisfied with saying that, like the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, he looked forward to the time when substantial justice would be done in these cases, and when the men accused of and against whom Coroners' juries brought in verdicts of wilful murder, would be brought to trial. The case of his hon. Friend the Member for North Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) who was now enduring imprisonment, had been mentioned in the House before, and ought to be sufficient of itself to show the absurdity of the proceedings of the Government. His hon. Friend, when going from this House after attending to his Parliamentary duties, was arrested and hurried off to Ireland. There he was prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment; but on appeal the Judge who heard the appeal stated that his hon. Friend might do the very same thing in this country for which he was prosecuted in Ireland without any fear of prosecution, or without any notice being taken of that which was called an offence against the law in Ireland. Notwithstanding that fact, however, his hon. Friend remained in prison up to the present time. The cases of prosecutions in his (Mr. Nolan's) own constituency, to which he wished to call attention, arose out of the prosecution of his hon. Friend the Member for East M yo (Mr. Dillon). On the day of that hon. Gentleman's trial, the 20th of June, at Dundalk, a large number of people went out to meet the hon. Member. The police and the military were brought on 716 the scene by the orders of the Resident Magistrate, an attack was ordered on the people, and the people were brutally abused by the police. Amongst the people who received severe wounds on that occasion was a man named Patrick Brennan. Whilst still suffering from his wounds this man was arrested, and a prosecution was ordered against him—presumably by the Attorney General. The man was brought to trial and received a sentence of two months' inprisonment—a sentence which, however, was reduced on appeal to one month He (Mr. Nolan) would venture to say that if any Member of the Committee took up the evidence given upon that trial and read it carefully through, he would condemn the whole administration of the law in Ireland. There was another case from Dundalk which he had in his mind—namely, that of a gentleman named Johnson. This gentleman was at the railway station on the evening of the trial of the hon. Member for East Mayo. A charge was afterwards brought against him to the effect that he had "booed" a certain gentleman, and for that offence he received a sentence of six weeks' imprisonment, and he (Mr. Nolan) wished to correct a statement that the Chief Secretary had made in the House with regard to this gentleman. He had said, in reply to a Question put in that House, that Mr. Johnson had absconded, but Mr. Johnson had done nothing of the kind.
I must point out to the hon. Member that the case he is referring to is quite foreign to this Vote.
§ MR. NOLAN
said, he would not pursue that matter any further. At the commencement he knew the difficulty he should have to contend with, because he was aware that these prosecutions were so mixed up with administration that it was almost impossible to discuss the one point without trenching on the other. In conclusion, however, he wished to say this much—that while prosecutions were ordered in Ireland in this way against respectable citizens for the commission of technical offences under the Crimes Act, no such prosecutions were instituted against people for similar offences in this country.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that though no reply had been made, except by way of very elaborate evasion, to the case which he had ventured at the outset of the debate 717 to lay before the Committee, still, seeing that there was no hope of extracting any reasonable reply, and considering the time of the evening and the state of the Session, he thought his hon. Friends would do well—as the time left to them for debate was so short—to utilize that time in debate, and not put the Committee to the trouble of a Division. He would only make one observation with regard to the point he had raised in debate, and that not in the way of appeal, but in the way of warning to Her Majesty's Government. He would ask the Government to consider for themselves, and in their own interest, what would be the issue of the present system of jury-packing in Ireland? He would ask them to what was it this system was tending? Did the Government ignore the fact that Ireland was now a country where public intelligence was better trained and public spirit more largely developed than in past times? He would ask the Government seriously whether, under these circumstances, they thought that jury-packing could be continued there with impunity? Surely they were aware that Catholic jurors in many parts of Ireland were grossly insulted by being told to stand aside when jury panels were in the process of formation, the implication being that they were not persons who could be depended upon to give verdicts in accordance with their oaths. Disguise the matter as they might, and wrap it up as they would, the fact remained on record that in districts where Catholics were four-fifths of the population, when a Catholic peasant was in the dock they put him into the hands not of his co-religionists, but of another class altogether, for the purpose of getting a conviction, and that, on the other hand, when a Protestant servant of the Crown was on trial, they did not hand him over to a Catholic jury, but tried him with a jury of people of the same religion as himself. This system was, as he had said, an insult to Catholics, because it declared that they were unworthy of belief on their oaths, and it was also an insult and degradation to Protestants, as it was tantamount to saying to them that whatever the circumstances of the case might be, they were expected to give a verdict in a certain way—a verdict which a sworn Catholic jury would not be expected to give. Catholics were summoned to the Court 718 as jurors. If they did not go when they were summoned they were fined. They had to leave their business and incur the cost of travelling to the Courts; they came into the Courts to discharge their public functions, but when they were there they were told in effect that they were not worthy of credence on their oaths, and must stand aside. They rejected in Ireland a religious class for the trial of political cases, and selected juries from a class which did not compose the bulk of the population. It was a grievous thing that if Catholic jurors, when summoned, refused to come to the Court, they were heavily fined; but if they came into Court they were insulted before the whole country. This was a thing which would not be much longer submitted to. Catholic jurors were very likely to determine not to allow themselves to be insulted any longer. They might very probably in the future decline to come to Court in obedience to the summons sent them, and they had every right to do so—they had every right to refuse to lay themselves open to deliberate insult. If Catholic jurors were determined not to submit to these insults, how would the Government collect the fines against them? They would have to fine the people of a whole district, and how would they find it possible to collect those fines? Then, on the other hand, if in this way the burden of the administration of justice—not only Coercion Act justice, but ordinary justice—were thrown upon the Protestants of the country, who were, comparatively speaking, a very small body in some places, hardly numerous enough to form a jury panel—how would they reconcile Protestants to this enormous tax upon their time? If such a time as this should come, and it was not at all unlikely to come, in the present condition of public spirit and public intelligence in Ireland, he could assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that the government of Ireland would become a more difficult task than ever it had been in bygone days.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, that as one of those who had spoken that night about jury-packing he did not like to let this opportunity pass without repudiating the imputation sought to be cast upon them by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) to the effect that the Nationalist 719 Members in denouncing jury-packing pronounced the Protestants of Ireland to be perjurers. He could not conceive how it could be deduced from their objecting to Catholics being considered perjurers that they, on the other hand, charged Protestants with perjury. The Crown cast upon Catholics the imputation that they were not to be believed upon their oaths, and because the Nationalist Members objected to that they were told by the hon. Member for South Tyrone that in resenting the insult to their own creed—because they repudiated with indignation the idea that every "Papist," as they used to be called long ago, was a perjurer—they therefore, by the same act, condemned the Protestants of Ireland generally as perjurers. Nothing was further from his thought than to impute to anyone in Ireland a deliberate act of perjury. He declared that he did not think that in every case the packed juries gave improper verdicts. Not at all. A packed jury might find a right verdict, but he was convinced that in many cases packed juries had returned improper verdicts. But the fact that packed juries might return proper verdicts did not touch the grievance which he and his friends had to complain of. It would be 10 times better to let a man go free, even when guilty, than to convict him by means which were immoral and revolting to the conscience of the community. That was the position of the Nationalist Members, and he once more repudiated, with all the heartiness of which he was capable, that they desired to throw any imputation of perjury upon their Protestant fellow-countrymen, the majority of whom, he was proud to believe, were as trustworthy as any Catholic.
§ MR. BYRNE (Wicklow, W.)
said, he desired to denounce in the most emphatic manner, on behalf of the Catholic jurors of the County Wicklow who had been insulted time after time in Court, against the present system of jury-packing in Ireland. His own constituents had been insulted, and almost spat upon, when they had presented themselves at the Court as jurors. When their names were called they were told to stand aside, implying that they were not fit to take the oath and that they were not qualified to perform the functions of an ordinary juror. He repudiated in the strongest manner possible 720 the action of the Crown officials for the manner in which they treated the jurors in the County of Wicklow. He protested against the Wicklow jurors being made the political washing-tub in which the Government washed their dirty linen—he protested against men whom the Government wished to have punished, and those whom they wished to screen, being brought into Wicklow for trial. The Government had brought Emergency men into Wicklow, and had them tried and acquitted, and it was patent to everybody that the Government could have been actuated by no other intention in bringing the men there. They, on the other hand, brought men from their homes in other counties long distances to have them convicted. They had even brought men from Belfast, who had been guilty of serious crimes, because it was assumed that the intelligent jurors in Belfast would not have lot the men off. He was surprised at the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell's) statement as to the Catholic Members contending that Protestant jurors were perjurers. He denied that that statement was true, and he doubted very much whether the hon. Member who had given them an opinion upon the subject knew anything about the matter. He made the hon. Member a present of the honour and credit of having sat on the jury who found that most contemptible member of the Dublin Castle clique, Mr. French, guilty of a heinous offence. No man who had any respect at all for his oath could have done otherwise than the hon. Member did. He (Mr. Byrne) had some knowledge of the jurors of the County Wicklow and also of the Sheriffs—the High Sheriff and the Sub-Sheriff—as well as the officers of the Court. It was a familiar fact to everyone who knew anything of the locality that these men had, to use a common expression, been "ruling the roost" there for a very long time. Rightly or wrongly they had kept all these offices in their own hands. The High Sheriff was only a political figure-head and did not attend to any of the duties of the office—in fact, it was not necessary that the High Sheriff should be anything but a figurehead. He (Mr. Byrne) was personally acquainted with the Sub-Sheriff, and did not wish to say anything against him; but the fact was that Judge O'Brien 721 had quashed the jury panel because it was not properly impanelled.
§ MR. BYRNE
said, he did not wish to stray from the subject before the Committee, but he thought he had a right to refer to a subject which had already been introduced in the debate. The subject of jury-packing had been referred to more than once, and he could not help complaining here, in the presence of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, of the way in which juries had been packed in Wicklow. He thought he had a right to protest against the bone and sinew of the jury panel in Wicklow being told to stand aside. In the face of what had been said by a Judge, and in the face of public opinion in Ireland, it was idle to say that Wicklow juries had not been packed. He challenged the hon. and learned Solicitor General to say that Wicklow juries had not been interfered with. It had been stated that instructions had been sent by the greatest jury packer in Ireland—namely, the Attorney General, to exclude all landlords and agents from the panel; but he challenged the Government to produce these instructions, because he maintained that if such instructions had been sent the authorities had also been told to exclude more than landlords and their agents. He had known occasions when every Catholic and every Liberal Protestant had been told to stand aside, presumably because they did not please the Attorney General, and because it was necessary to carry out the instructions which had been given that such people should not be put upon the panel. If the hon. and learned Solicitor General would venture to produce the instructions of his chief, the Committee—he (Mr. Byrne) would undertake to say—would have some very interesting information. The jury panels were so rigorously framed in Wicklow that it was no wonder that in many quarters in Ireland it was said that the Wicklow juries would soon be known under the name of the "Hanging Juries," because they were obliged to do what the Attorney General for the time being required of them. As to the murder of Kinsella, the right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland admitted that a murder had taken place. 722 Kinsella was a hard-working and industrious and honest man, who had for years paid his rent. It was within the knowledge of the Committee that Freeman had said to Kinsella that if he did not leave swearing by his Maker, he, Freeman, would shoot him—and, following upon that, Kinsella was shot. The right hon. Gentleman attempted to show that someone else had shot Kinsella or that someone had said he had shot him, and he had tried to make capital out of the fact that Freeman's pistol was not discharged. But was the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that Freeman changed his pistol with another of the gang? Had he inquired into that circumstance? The right hon. Gentleman further stated that the bullet found in the body of the murdered man would not fit the pistol found on Freeman. Of course it would not, because it was not fired out of that pistol, the six barrels of which remained undischarged. But, even supposing the bullet had come out of that pistol, it would not be surprising if, after having been fired, and having struck Kinsella, it had expanded and got out of form. There could be no doubt whatever that it was fired out of one of the revolvers of these Emergency men. The Committee were not to forget that these men, with whom Kinsella was in company, and who were defending themselves, were on their own land, for which they had paid rent. The Emergency men, a band of hired ruffians, had gone there because they were paid for doing so.
The hon. Member is again travelling away from the subject before the Committee. I must implore him to adhere to the subject under discussion.
§ MR. BYRNE
said, that he must express his surprise at the hardihood of the Solicitor General for Ireland in standing up and saying that jury-packing did not take place at Wicklow. He (Mr. Byrne) did not wish to occupy the time of the Committee at any length, but there was one item in the Vote to which he objected. The medical officer got £800 for five years, when he received another £100 making £900. Now ha found—
§ MR. BYRNE
said, he wished to complain of a certain duplication of 723 officers which he and others had objected to for a long period, and which was reproduced in this Vote. He protested against men superannuated from other offices being appointed to places in which it was impossible for them to discharge their duties with satisfaction. He had always objected to this and he always should, and he trusted that in future when the Government had offices to give they would select men for them who were not already in office.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he made no complaint in respect of the grievance expressed by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway as to the exclusion of Catholics from juries, but what he said was that when Protestants were brought into Court and had the book placed before them, and were sworn as jurors, they were not to blame for acting in that capacity. They were compelled to serve under heavy penalties, and it was hardly fair to attack them for doing their duty when compulsorily placed upon the panel. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down said, with regard to the Wicklow juries, that they would soon become known as "Hanging Juries," bound to do the will of the Attorney General. What greater insult could be cast upon the Protestants of Wicklow than that? It had been said that these juries were bound to convict, and against that statement he (Mr. T. W. Russell) rose to protest. These men did their duty, so far as his experience went, as honestly and fairly as they possibly could.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he could only say, in reply to the hon. Member, that the opinion of himself and his friends was that Catholics, as such, were excluded from the jury-box in Ireland because the Crown Prosecutors obviously were of opinion that they would not convict, and that when Protestants, and Protestants only, were admitted to the jury-box, the suggestion naturally was that the Crown chose Protestants because they would convict where Catholics would not. He maintained that such a suggestion made with regard to the evidence was a suggestion of evil meaning and was false in fact.
§ MR. BYRNE
said, what he desired to do was to protest on behalf of the electors of the County of Wicklow against the exclusion of Catholics from the jury panels in that county. He did not mean to suggest that Protestant juries 724 would not return fair verdicts, but his complaint was that the juries selected were such juries as the Attorney General had ordered to be selected.
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £56,742, 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 General Prisons Board in Ireland, and of the Prisons under their control, and of the Registration of Habitual Criminals.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, he wished first to mention the case which had come to his knowledge within the last few days. It seemed to him to shed the clearest possible light on the sinister spirit in which this department of Irish Prisons was administered—he referred to the vacancy which had lately occurred in the post of medical officer to the Belfast Prison. The medical officer to that prison was a gentleman named Smith. He was found to be concerned in the recent detestable insurance frauds in Belfast, frauds which were connected with a system amounting to the moral guilt of murder. This person, having been committed for trial, wag deposed from the position of medical officer to the prisons. The Board treated him tenderly he (Mr. Sexton) was bound to confess—they suspended him, they did not dismiss him. His trial was taken to Wicklow, but in the result the man was found guilty. The case was taken to the Court of Crown Cases Reserved, but the justices held that there was nothing in the appeal and the conviction was confirmed. Some time after the confirmation of the conviction this person Smith was removed from the post of medical officer of the prison, and in the interval between his suspension and his removal the duties of the medical officer to the prison were discharged by an eminent medical gentleman, Dr. Alexander Dempsey, of Belfast, who had been for years one of the Visiting Justices of the Prison, and who had been for years in the habit of assisting the medical officer of the prison. Dr. Dempsey had been in the habit of giving medical assistance in the prison without fee or reward of any kind. The system adopted in the prison, and the system of 725 the department, he (Mr. Sexton) believed, had been that when a medical gentleman was appointed to the temporary charge of an office in connection with the prison, when the office became vacated, the temporary holder of the office was appointed to it permanently, unless conclusive cause to the contrary could be shown—in fact, in the case of Dr. Smith himself, he had obtained the post in the first instance, having served temporarily in place of the previous holder of the office. He (Mr. Sexton) mentioned this to show the system which had been pursued. Now Dr. Dempsey had every reason to expect that he would be appointed to this office, not only because of the fact that he had been the temporary holder of the office and had discharged his duties to the satisfaction of all concerned, but also because, as was well known, he was a gentleman of the highest character, of the highest professional qualifications, and of the best practice. He continued to discharge the duties of the office for some time after the conviction of Dr. Smith, but one day word came to him—not through a communication from the Lord Lieutenant or from the Irish Prisons Board, but from a supernumerary of the prison—in the form of a verbal message, that he had not been appointed, that his employment was at an end, and that a gentleman named Stewart had been appointed. Now Dr. Dempsey was a Catholic, and a gentleman of such independent position and of such independent mind that he might have been expected to administer the rules of the prison in the spirit in which it was prescribed by the rules themselves they should be administered, and he was, to quote the language of the rules, a gentleman calculated to discharge his duties "with kindness and humanity." That was not the spirit which prevailed in Irish Prison administration to-day. Dr. Dempsey was a medical man of the highest qualifications, and Dr. Stewart was a gentleman only possessing a degree which was to be bought for a few pounds at a Scotch University. Moreover, he was a gentleman of no particular distinction and of no considerable practice; and the reason, in his (Mr. Sexton's) opinion, why Dr. Dempsey was rejected, though he had been a Visiting Justice of the Prison and the temporary medical officer, was because he was a Catholic 726 and an independent man; and the reason Dr. Stewart was chosen was because he was an adherent of the Government, and a gentleman who on certain anniversaries, could be seen parading the streets of Belfast wearing a sash; who was to be seen identifying himself with a political party during the riots, and a gentleman who could be expected to follow with alacrity any lead which might be given to him by Dr. Barr or by any such agent of the Government. With regard to this transaction, he (Mr. Sexton) asked the Government for any explanation which could be given. He maintained that what had happened was disgraceful. The incident was scandalous, and it offended the feelings of the decent-minded persons other than those who agreed with him in politics. With regard to another matter, he had asked the other day a Question about the quality of the bread supplied in the prison at Waterford. His friend, the Mayor of that City and a Visiting Justice of the prison, on the occasion of a certain visit he paid, was struck by the smell of the bread, and desired to have some of it analyzed. He sent it to Sir Charles Cameron, and the result of the analysis was that the bread was declared unfit for use. He (Mr. Sexton) had asked a Question on the subject on behalf of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. William O'Brien) the other day, and the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, who was certainly a master in the art of using words without confining himself to the point, said that neither the Governor nor the medical officer of the Waterford Prison were satisfied that the bread analyzed was the bread supplied to the Prison. In fact, the hon. and learned Gentleman had suggested that the bread analyzed by the Public Analyst in Dublin was not the prison bread given to the Mayor of Waterford, but when pressed upon the point, the hon. and learned Gentleman admitted that it might have been the result of a mistake. Well, the Mayor of Waterford had written to him (Mr. Sexton) a letter, in which he stated that on the 30th October last he visited the prison, and not being satisfied with the treatment of a prisoner named Ronayne, he had suggested a change in the bread that was used. The prison doctor, however, had not seen his way to acceding to that suggestion. He, the Mayor of Waterford, 727 therefore had asked to see the prison bread, when a loaf was brought to him by a warder. He had burst the loaf in half, and, smelling it, it had seemed to him to be sour, and he had then requested the warder to make half of the loaf into a parcel, and this parcel he took to the City High Constable, asking him to post it to the Public Analyst, Sir Charles Cameron, telling the City High Constable to register the parcel, which was done. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. Sexton) respectfully called upon the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland to withdraw the imputation which he had made to the effect that the bread which was analyzed by Sir Charles Cameron was not the prison bread; and, further, he would respectfully submit that the subject was one which required examination. Now this Department of Prisons in Ireland, whatever might be said of other Departments in the administration of that country, was one for which he held the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary directly and personally responsible. The Statute constituting the Prisons Board said that the Prisons Board acted under the direction of the Lord Lieutenant, but the Lord Lieutenant in the present Government was but a name. The Lord Lieutenant was the figure-head, and the right hon. Gentleman himself, as the right hon. Gentleman would not deny, was the real Executive Officer; and, moreover, not only was he the Chief Executive Officer in Ireland, but a Member of the Cabinet—a creator as well as the administrator of the Government policy. The Rules of the Prisons Board were not valid until they were approached by the Lord Lieutenant, and the Lord Lieutenant, by withdrawing his approval, might deprive the Rules of their force. It was, therefore, evident that the control, so far as prison discipline was concerned, vested in the Lord Lieutenant, or, more strictly speaking, in the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. The Rules themselves declared that the Visiting Committees of the local prisons, having regard to the official's controlling power, must carry out such duties as were imposed upon thorn by the Rules or by the Lord Lieutenant—that was to say, by the Chief Secretary for Ireland; so that it followed, as a matter of course, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief 728 Secretary, under the Rules which had been made by the Board, approved by the Lord Lieutenant, and ratified by Parliament, had powers to impose upon the Committees rules other than those, different from those, and even contrary from those at present in existence. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman could not if he would—and he did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would or not—denude himself of personal responsibility in this matter. It would be absurd to suppose that Mr. Burke and other minor officials in Dublin Castle were independent of the right hon. Gentleman. Now, this was the ground upon which he stated that the Prisons Board was an instrument of the right hon. Gentleman, and that for the acts of the Prisons Board the right hon. Gentleman was to be held responsible. The right hon. Gentleman had practically made an admission to that effect. He had informed them, on a former occasion, that he had intervened by his personal force in the case of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). The right hon. Gentleman had also informed them that he had considered with himself and had come on his own motion to the decision as to the prison treatment of priests. Now, if the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the prison treatment of priests, he was also responsible for the prison treatment of other persons convicted under the Coercion Act. The right hon. Gentleman had said that priests convicted under the Coercion Act should not be compelled to wear the prison garb. What reason had he given for this exemption? He gave as his reason that priests were under a canonical obligation to wear a certain garb, but he (Mr. Sexton) could inform the right hon. Gentleman that there was really no such obligation. As the right hon. Gentleman was in the position of, at least, one who aspired to be the patron of very high ecclesiastical personages in the Roman Catholic Church, he had means at his hand of acquiring the most correct information on the subject of canonical rules; but he (Mr. Sexton) might remind the right hon. Gentleman that it would have been a bad case for the priests in Ireland if there had been any canonical rule requiring them to wear a particular garb when at one time the price on the head 729 of a priest in Ireland was the same as that on the head of a wolf, and when the safety of a priest from the hands of a hangman or a headsman depended upon the sufficiency of his disguise, and when priests were to be found in every other garb but those of ecclesiastics. The right hon. Gentleman had decided that in Irish prisons the priests were not to wear the prison garb, but his reason for that decision had nothing to do with the canonical question. The reason really was that the right hon. Gentleman was too prudent to put the priests imprisoned under the Coercion Act in Ireland in the garb of convicts. He (Mr. Sexton) should almost be curious to see the right hon. Gentleman try it, as the consequences would be extremely well worthy of note. At any rate, from whatever cause the exemption had been made, it had been decided upon—and let the Committee observe the strange position in which the right hon. Gentleman had placed himself. The priest was not to wear the prison garb—he was to be saved from that indignity—but the priest was to be obliged to perform menial tasks. He was obliged to perform the humblest and most degraded task allotted to household menials by the removal of excrementitious matter from his cell. The Christian pastor, who, on the right hon. Gentleman's own confession, had been put in prison for having acted on a sense of duty, was to be compelled to take exercise in the prison yard in company with the worst and vilest criminals with which society was encumbered. How could such a position be maintained? Was a priest to be saved from the one indignity and subjected to the other two? Did the right hon. Gentleman not see that the position in which he was was one from which he must either advance or retire? He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say in one of his speeches that he had ordered this exemption because he appeared to think that punishment lay heavier upon a clergyman than upon a layman, because of the elevated social position of the former. If that were so, was it not possible that the same punishment to one layman might be heavier than to another. Take the case of a criminal—take the case of a rowdy accustomed to a coarse and degraded life. To such a one prison rules brought 730 no degradation or indignity. He was more comfortable and better off and better satisfied then very often than at home. But when they took the Chairman of Town Commissioners, or a solicitor, or a merchant, or any of these gentlemen continually in prison under the Coercion Act, was it not true that imprisonment was not an equal punishment upon a layman of this class acting under a sense of duty as upon a layman of a degraded criminal class who from criminal motives wilfully preyed upon society? Why need he argue it out? The difference was founded and embedded in the reason and conscience of humanity, and was embalmed in the practice of every civilized nation. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he would not extend the exemption given to the police to the prisoners; because the prison rules now in force were most of them adopted a long time ago, and when it was not contemplated to create a new class of political prisoners who, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted, were not guilty of ordinary crime? He asked the right hon. Gentleman to condemn the state of things which had arisen since the Coercion Act was passed, not by the will of two Imperial Parties, but by one against the opposition of the other? When they sent a man to gaol upon sentence by agents of the Crown and not by jury, and when the Act was worked in Ireland for the advantage of one Party, he thought a case was made out for different treatment from that of the ordinary criminal. Persons imprisoned under the Coercion Act objected to wear the prison garb. Why should they be compelled to wear it? The doctor who inquired into the subject declared that there was no obligation to wear the prison garb, which was only adopted for cleanliness and convenience, and that a prisoner need not be compelled to wear it. What did the Government gain by compelling a man to wear the prison garb? They did not render him more likely to help to maintain law and order; and if they compelled him to wear the dress they were not entitled to use violence to strip the man of his own clothes. The prison rules specifically laid down that the warder should not strike a prisoner except to resist violence, and no violence could, under 731 the law, be used to any prisoner in respect of what he might call an act of unhappy disobedience. They were not entitled to take off a man's clothes by thieving them or by violence; but they had taken them off by violence in the case of John Mandeville. What comfort did the Government derive from compelling a priest or a respectable layman to take the excreta out of his cell and carry them to the yard amidst the jeering of warders, while there were some prisoners who did not object to do this, and were willing, for a small fee, to relieve others of the duty. In the matter of exercise, not only did he say that a prisoner was daily entitled to two hours' exercise by the Statute of George IV., but also that there was a rule now in force which obliged the medical officer of the prison to allow ordinary exercise, and to add as much as might be necessary for the prisoner's health. He maintained that the preservation of the health of a prisoner was an obligation of which the Government could not quit themselves. They might imprison a man, but they were not entitled to take his life or to starve or undermine his health. The ordinary course of law in Ireland in respect of persons confined under the Coercion Act was, that if they refused to wear prison clothes, their own clothes were in some cases removed by violence, and in every case the refusal was punished; firstly, by deprivation of the hours of exercise and by compelling the unfortunate man to spend the whole of four days and nights without intermission in the close and stifling atmosphere of his cell. By that the Authorities began to break down his health and violated the law, and just when his health was breaking he was put on bread and water, which, in a vitiated atmosphere, he was unable to use. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to show him any Act of Parliament, or any authority, by which he or the Prisons Board were entitled to use violence in order to deprive a prisoner of his clothes and break down his health by punishment if he refused to wear the prison dress. He had sometimes heard speeches which depended on the fallacious idea that Irish Members were asking for something unusual in the case of prisoners. Was the Committee aware that there were now five classes of prisoners who were not subject to the indignities 732 complained of? The right hon. Gentleman was probably not aware of the fact that they were not inflicted on persons awaiting trial. These prison rules were passed when men were tried by juries, and the meaning of different treatment in this case was that a man awaiting trial should be put in a moral position different from that which, if convicted by the jury, he would occupy. But these political prisoners were not found guilty by a jury, but by agents of the Crown, and they knew that a man who had to stand his trial under the Coercion Act was in the same position after the trial as before. Then there were those who were called first-class misdemeanants. Surely political prisoners belonged to that category, and if first-class misdemeanants were not required to perform work of a menial kind or wear prison clothes, they ought not to be compelled to do so. The same remarks applied to debtors and persons committed for contempt of court, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman to tell the Committee why a prisoner found guilty by a jury of his countrymen of sedition against the Crown was not to be required to wear prison clothes or clean out his cell, while it was demanded of a political prisoner. There was one principle on which it might be done, and which he almost hesitated to think was the principle of the right hon. Gentleman's action, and that was that he desired to humiliate these gentlemen in order that he might gloat over his enemies and make derisive speeches. The truth was that under the prison rules, as now administered, the authorities could smoothly and easily take away the life of any man. In the case of any political opponent of the right hon. Gentleman who spoke at an ordinary meeting like that at Mitchelstown, it was only necessary to trump up some charge of conspiracy, and send the man before two Removables, who had their instructions from Dublin Castle which they dare not disobey. The right hon. Gentleman had only to go through that process, and when he had got his man in prison order him to wear prison clothes, put him on bread and water for refusal, to produce diarrhœa, and then the man was dead in life. He would refer to one of the Woodford prisoners, a high-minded and blameless man, whose crime was that he joined his 733 neighbours in preventing for a time the entry of the bailiffs into an humble farm upon the estate of that wretched and deplorable usurer and miser, Lord Clanrioarde; he was tried and received a severe punishment, and what was the story of his death? He had been accustomed to live on a coarse and healthy diet; he was put on vegetable soup; this caused diarrhœa, and from the agony of that disease he suffered three days and nights; at 2 o'clock one night the warder saw him sitting on the side of his bed, trying, as the man said, to rinse his mouth with a sip of water; the warder could not enter the cell and the prisoner could not leave it, for the governor had taken away the key; the warder called out to him to cover himself up and try to go to sleep; the man lay down, and the warder, noticing that he was lying still, rang the bell for the prison clerk, who went for the governor, and when he came the man was found to be dead. [An hon. MEMBER: Murdered."] Murdered unquestionably; he was allowed to die alone in his cell by a disease artificially produced, for no other crime than that he loved his country. So long as the relations between England and Ireland continued, the memorable and tragic case of John Mandeville would not be forgotten. He said that his life was taken in violation of the prison rules, by which it was ordered that no prisoner should be removed from one prison to another except on the certificate of a medical officer, and this man was removed from Cork to Tullamore without a medical certificate. The warder came at 2 o'clock at night and took away his clothes; three hours afterwards they came and gave him back his clothes; Mr. O'Brien protested that he should not be removed without inspection according to the prison rules, which was not made; the doctor at Cork had ordered him a flannel garment, but this was taken away from him, and after travelling for six hours in winter without it, it was not to be wondered at that on his arrival at Tullamore he complained of sore throat. Dr. Ridley was an honest man and a humane officer who desired to treat the prisoners with kindness and humanity, but the case was taken out of his hands; Dr. Barr came to Dublin, and it was at the interview which he had with the Governor that 734 the latter determined to punish Mr. Mandeville. His clothes were taken from him; upon his refusal to clean his cell poisonous matter was allowed to accumulate, which this unfortunate man, suffering from sore throat, was obliged to inhale for days and nights together; when he refused to put on the prison clothes the bed clothes were taken away, and, with his legs half bare, he walked about the stone cell in the icy cold of the depth of winter; eventually the sheet was taken away and he was left stark-naked; and only then did he consent to submit to this degradation. Pie occupied, day and night, a cell, both walls of which he could touch by stretching out his arms; he was put upon bread and water; the water produced diarrhœa, and he endeavoured to eat the bread without it, which aggravated his sore throat. This man, who was the model of health and vigour, died six months afterwards from blood poisoning, and the Government endeavoured to meet their argument by saying that there was no connection between his death and the course of the prison treatment which he underwent. There was nothing; more plain than that this broke down his constitution. He would remind the Committee that Dr. Barr was sent over by the Prisons Board. This man paid three visits to the prison, and after each visit Mr. Mandeville was punished afresh, and when he went back to Liverpool he spoke of him as a "great scoundrel who had not got half what he deserved." The punishment of John Mandeville would rank with the punishment of mediæval days; his cell was a small one of stone with an iron door opening to the yard; the door was badly fitted, and through the sides a blast of cold air passed through the cell—so keen that the unfortunate man had to cover up his head in the meagre covering of his bed in order to save himself from inflammation of the lungs. This man, who went into prison strong and healthy, came out trembling, with blue lips and blind from the glare of the walls; he could not walk a mile and was unable to bear the weight of his overcoat; he told his wife that his reason had wandered under the tortures inflicted upon him, and that he had tied a rope round his waist and tightened it when he was starving; he then told his wife that he had dreamt she was lying 735 before him dead, and that he saw the Crucifixion—a story terrible to conceive and horrible to relate. The right hon. Gentleman was, no doubt, on the threshold of a distinguished political career, and he would appeal to him to reflect upon the question as to whether law and order in Ireland or his own reputation would have lost anything if he had treated Mr. Mandeville as a gentleman, and had not tortured him to such a point that his constitution had broken down under the treatment. The right hon. Gentleman had had a certain success, but he had to live out his life, and he might not always be able to prevent an awakening of conscience. The time might come when the right hon. Gentleman would think with regret over many acts in which he had taken part, and especially over the prison treatment of as brave and high-minded a gentleman as ever lived in Ireland.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he should proceed to follow the right hon. Gentleman, and give views he was able to maintain upon the subjects on which the right hon. Gentleman had dwelt. The first point of the right hon. Gentleman was with regard to the appointment of Dr. Stewart to Belfast Prison, and he accused the Lord Lieutenant and himself of having perpetrated a gross and scandalous job in sanctioning the appointment. The Lord Lieutenant had himself considered the appointment very carefully, and was influenced by the fact that Dr. Stewart was a man of high professional attainments, and also by the fact that he had won golden opinions from all who had witnessed the devoted manner in which he attended the unfortunate victims of the Belfast riots. The right hon. Gentleman referred to an answer given by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland the other night as to the bread at Water-ford Prison. His hon. and learned Friend assured him that in the answer which he gave he cast no imputation whatever, either on the Mayor of Water-ford or upon anyone else, and that statement his hon. and learned Friend now authorized him (Mr. A. J. Balfour) to repeat with all the emphasis which might be necessary. No imputation was intended by his hon. and learned Friend and no imputation was intended by the Government upon the officials or upon the Mayor. These were the two 736 preliminary questions the right hon. Gentleman asked before he came to deal with the main part of the speech. The main part of his speech was devoted to the subject of the general question of the treatment of those whom he was pleased to term political prisoners in Ireland. [Mr. SEXTON: So they are.] The right hon. Gentleman thought they were, but he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) dissented from that term, and he only used it in order to explain the position he and the Government proposed to take up on the question. Apart from the general question of the prison rules, there were two specific cases which the right hon. Gentleman brought before the notice of the Committee. One was the case of Mr. Mandeville, and the other the case of Mr. Thomas Larkin. The right hon. Gentleman, he was sure, would not think him guilty of any disrespect, either towards him or towards those who sat near him or to the Committee, if he declined to go again into the case of Mr. Mandeville, which the right hon. Gentleman had discussed that evening from his own point of view in such eloquent terms. The Committee was aware he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had dealt at great length and in great detail, on more than one occasion, with the unhappy case of Mr. Mandeville. He really had nothing to add to what he had already stated in the House and out of it; he had nothing to say more than he had already said as to the conduct of the Government in the matter; and if he had not succeeded in convincing hon. Gentlemen opposite that the regrettable death of Mr. Mandeville was in no sense due to the treatment he had received in prison, he was quite certain that he could not hope, on this occasion, to say anything which was likely to shake their conviction. Therefore, if hon. Members would allow him, he would pass from that case to the case which had been last dealt with in the House—namely, that of Thomas Larkin. Even with regard to that case he should, in view of the condition of Public Business, be as brief as he could. It bad never been denied by the Government, and it was alleged by the responsible Executive Officers of the Prisons Board, that the prison doctor in the case of Thomas Larkin committed an error of judgment. That had never been denied or contested; but, in 737 justice to the medical officer, let him state the circumstances under which Thomas Larkin died. Larkin was not committed to prison by Removables, as Resident Magistrates were termed by hon. Gentlemen, but was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment by Chief Baron Palles and a common jury. After he had served a certain term of imprisonment, a sort of epidemic of diarrhœa broke out in the prison, and it appeared that there were 12 other prisoners affected by the disorder of which Thomas Larkin died. The 12 other prisoners were all treated in their cells; they were not moved to hospital, and they all got well. The prison doctor appeared to have been averse to removing the prisoners to hospital, because he thought that they could be treated properly in the cells. In the case of Thomas Larkin, the doctor, undoubtedly, committed an error of judgment. But let it be remembered that not only had the 12 other prisoners who were suffering from the same malady recovered under the same treatment to which Thomas Larkin was subjected, but John Spain, a prisoner, swore that the night before Larkin's death he had a conversation with Larkin, who said that he did not feel bad—to use his own expression. The Governor of the prison, to whom allusion had been made, was a Catholic. [Cries of "No, no!"]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he was sorry the hon. Gentleman treated the case with such levity; he certainly was disposed to consider the question as one of very great gravity. The Governor of the prison was a Catholic, and would certainly have sent for the priest had he supposed Larkin to be in danger; and the priest, who was in the habit of seeing Larkin, swore, at the inquest, that he had no ground for anticipating Larkin's death. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) stated these circumstances, which he thought would lead the Committee to believe that, though the doctor admittedly in this case did commit an error of judgment, it was an error of judgment which could not be considered as very serious. It was not, even in the remotest manner, connected with the Crimes Act or its administration; it was an error of judgment which might be committed by any doctor in any 738 prison, and it was quite as likely to have occurred on this side of St. George's Channel as in the Kilkenny Prison where it actually happened. He passed now from the two specific cases which the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned, where, as the right hon. Gentleman alleged, the prison treatment had ended fatally, to the other points he had raised in connection with ordinary prison discipline in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had challenged him to say under what Statute it was justifiable to use violence to compel a prisoner to substitute prison clothes for his own clothes. The state of the law, he was advised, was this—that certain rules having been laid down for the discipline of the prison, it was justifiable, and not only justifiable but obligatory on the prison authorities, to use that degree of force, and no more, that might be required to enforce obedience to the rules so laid down. No evidence had been adduced by the right hon. Gentleman, or by anyone else, which would lead him to believe that more than that necessary amount of force had ever in any case been used with regard to any prisoner in Ireland. So much for the question of compelling prisoners to wear prison clothes. Let him remind the right hon. Gentleman in that connection that his Colleague the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), who was not at present in the House, actually commenced an action against the Governor of the prison in which he was incarcerated on the very point of the amount of the force used.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman was right. The hon. Member's clothes were taken away, and it was upon that he proposed to take action; but the right hon. Gentleman would see that the two cases were on all-fours. If it was not justifiable to take away clothes, it was probably not justifiable to use the necessary force to compel prisoners to put on prison clothes. The two cases, therefore, were analogous, and the consideration which governed the decision of the one governed the decision of the other. When the hon. Member for North-East Cork proposed to bring his action he was advised—and he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) 739 thought rightly—by those whom he consulted, that an action did not lie, and he very prudently abandoned his proceedings. The right hon. Gentleman had discussed the question of his (Mr. A. J. Balfour's) responsibility with regard to the framing of prison rules, and he discussed in that connection the relaxations of prison rules which had been given in the case of two priests who had been imprisoned in Ireland in recent years. The right hon. Gentleman very naturally discussed the relaxation of the rule under which priests were not compelled to wear prison dress; and he asked him on what possible principle he had gone so far as he had gone; and, if he had gone as far as he had, why he not gone farther? He attempted, in the very brief answer he gave that day in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), to explain his position in the matter. Both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle and the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton) had informed him that he was not correct in saying that priests were canonically obliged to wear the dress of priests. He quite admitted that he was not an authority upon canonical laws, and he bowed to those who had superior knowledge; but, though he was wrong, he doubted not, upon the canonical obligation of a priest to wear ecclesiastical dress, there could be no doubt, from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sexton) himself, that he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) was right upon the view he took in regard to the attitude which would be taken by Catholics on the question of compelling priests to wear prison dress; because the right hon. Gentleman had stated that he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) was too prudent—in other words, too much afraid—to make priests wear prison dress in Ireland. The charge of cowardice was not one usually levelled at the Government of Ireland. But, at all events, the right hon. Gentleman's phrase proved that the priests themselves, and those who shared the same religion, would be deeply moved by the fact that the priests had to put away the garbs or robes which differentiated them from ordinary laymen, and to put on prison clothes. That was all he desired to say to justify, in so far as he might justify, the action he had taken in this matter. 740 He had never pretended that the course he had pursued was free from doubt and difficulty; but, on the whole, balancing the pros and cons as carefully as he could, he came to the conclusion that the relaxation was a justifiable relaxation; and, though hon. Gentlemen had not hesitated to challenge the course he pursued, and had not shrunk from trying to make his position in the matter difficult because he departed from the ordinary rules, they had not yet said anything in the debate which either convinced him he was wrong in going so far as he had gone, or convinced him that he ought to have gone farther. He absolutely declined to make any further relaxation of the rules in favour of priests. The right hon. Gentleman asserted that he had made relaxations in the case of priests because of their elevated social position, and he founded upon that an argument which would carry with it the necessity of dealing leniently with everyone who held an elevated social position. [Mr. SEXTON dissented.] He had not the least desire to press that, if the right hon. Gentleman did not think that his phrase, elevated social position, could be used in order to bring within the circle of relaxations any other class of the community. The right hon. Gentleman, through the whole of this part of his speech, seemed to assume that because these gentlemen were alleged to have broken the law through their sense of duty they should be treated differently from ordinary prisoners. But the right hon. Gentleman would see that if that principle were to be carried out it would profoundly modify prison discipline, not only in Ireland, but in England. The Governors of Prisons would have to consider—not merely what a man had done, but what were his motives in doing it—not merely what the sentence inflicted by the Court was, but how it should be modified by the Executive in view of the intentions with which the prisoner had committed the offence.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
By Statute undoubtedly sedition and seditious libel were treated peculiarly; but there were many offences besides sedition and seditious libel which were committed by the offender, on what the offender supposed to be conscientious grounds. The illustration he had used before was as good 741 as any other. It was the illustration of those who declined to obey the Vaccination Acts. Could there be a clearer case of violating an Act of Parliament on conscientious grounds? The persons to whom the right hon. Gentleman alluded, who committed crimes in Ireland, were persons who might, no doubt, have committed offence on conscientious grounds, or they might not, but a person who refused to have his child vaccinated could, by no possibility, be actuated by any motive of self-interest. He must do it from a conscientious belief that he would be ruining the health of his child if he had it vaccinated. Therefore, if any class of the community ought to have relaxation of prison discipline extended to them, surely it should be that class who refused to obey the Vaccination Laws. [An hon. MEMBER: So they ought.] Yes; but it had never been done, nor in all the vaccination debates he had listened to in the House of Commons had he ever heard it asserted that, if a man was committed to prison, he should be committed under different regulations to those which applied to other prisoners. Many men had contended that such persons ought not to be sent to prison; but no one, so far as he knew, had ever yet contended that, if they were sent to prison, the rules applied to them should be of an entirely different kind to those applied to other prisoners. The right hon. Gentleman would recollect that he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not admit, and had never admitted, that there was any distinction in criminality between those sent to prison under the Crimes Act and under the ordinary law. He did not desire to argue that point now; but, as the right hon. Gentleman based a large part of his argument upon it, he thought it necessary to enter his caveat that, though the procedure by which crime was brought home to the guilty was undoubtedly different under the Crimes Act to what it was under the law which prevailed in England, and used to prevail in Ireland, the law itself, for the breach of which the people were punished, was not in any essential particular different from that under which the inhabitants of England and Scotland lived. He regretted the right hon. Gentleman should have condescended to suggest that imprisonment under the Crimes Act was an easy method of getting rid of a political 742 opponent. The right hon. Gentleman must have been perfectly aware that in uttering that phrase he descended to a mode of argument less reputable than that to which, to do him justice, he usually confined himself in the House. He must be perfectly aware that to assert that any Government, Tory or Radical, could contemplate imprisonment as a convenient method of breaking down the health or destroying the life of a political opponent, was a grotesque contention to resort to in the English House of Commons. Apart from generalities, they must be aware that the prisoners, whom the right hon. Gentleman described as political, who had been put into prison under the Crimes Act, had been treated with extraordinary consideration, and that, if there had been any departure whatever from ordinary prison treatment in their case, the departure had always been on the side of leniency. The hon. Member for North-East Cork himself—who had, so to speak, led the attack on the present question—was a standing example of the manner in which prison rules had been applied in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman had been treated in hospital; his health had been most carefully looked after, and he had been treated with every consideration. Moreover, he believed that a Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman—the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon)—was never out of hospital for a single day while in prison, and considerable trouble was taken to see that the particular maladies from which he suffered should be treated not merely according to the advice of the prison doctors, but according to the best advice which could be got. Therefore, those criticisms came from the right hon. Gentleman with a very ill grace. Some of the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues must be perfectly well aware that, if the prison rules had been modified at all in connection with them, they had certainly not been modified in the direction of making them harsher. He had never said in the House that he was an authority on prison discipline, nor had he ever pretended that he had looked into the question from any independent point of view. He had rested his position upon this particular issue. If they thought the prison rules should be modified in Ire land in relation to so-called politica-prisoners, 743 they must modify them in regard to ordinary prisoners also; and if they thought they should be modified in connection with ordinary prisoners in Ireland, they must be modified in connection with ordinary prisoners in England; and they must modify them in England before they modified them in Ireland, because the prison rules in England were stricter and harsher than the prison rules which applied to Ireland. When hon. Gentlemen opposite came forward and moved for some general inquiry into the whole method of prison treatment throughout the United Kingdom—not in connection with one particular class, not in connection with one particular Party, not in connection with their own friends—then he was perfectly ready, as far as he was concerned, to say that he had no objection to the inquiry. He could only add that the rules under which prisoners in Ireland at this moment were treated were not antiquated rules, but they were rules recently revised by a Royal Commission, and he could not conceive that if they were to appoint a new Royal Commission to inquire into the operation of the prison rules of England and Ireland, such a Commission would see any ground whatever for modifying the decisions which had been arrived at by their predecessors, or that they would think it consistent with their view of the method in which prison discipline should be regulated in the United Kingdom to make any change of an important character in the rules which governed, at the present time, not Irish prisons alone, but English, Scotch and Irish prisons.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, there were one or two points connected with this question which he desired to bring under the notice of the Committee. He listened with great surprise to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) that prisoners under the Coercion Act had been treated with leniency, because he thought there was not the slightest ground whatever for the statement. As a matter of fact, he thought it was exactly the reverse of the truth, and he desired to bring before the Committee one or two particular cases for the purpose of bearing out what he said. The first case he had to refer to was that of the imprisonment of Mr. Hooper, the hon. Member 744 for South-East Cork. Mr. Hooper was an Alderman for the City of Cork, and he had been the Mayor of Cork. He was the editor of The Cork Herald. What was the offence for which Mr. Hooper—
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
He thought that, under the circumstances, he was entitled to speak of the hon. Gentleman by name. What was the offence for which the hon. Member for South-East Cork was sent to prison? It was that of publishing in his newspaper reports of meetings of the National League in proclaimed districts. Surely the right hon. Gentleman would not say that that was a crime in any true sense of the term. But had newspapers in Ireland ceased to publish reports of these meetings? Hon. Members who had been imprisoned for these so-called offences had, when they came out of gaol, continued to publish the reports, and the prosecutions had ceased. He asserted that no human being called them offences in the true sense of the term. What was the treatment of the hon. Member for South-East Cork during his imprisonment? He was stripped of his clothes, and for refusing to wear the prison garb was put on bread and water diet. He was kept in solitary confinement for five days for refusing to clean out his cell, and he suffered from diarrhœa as a result of the bread and water diet. He was specially punished because he would not take exercise with common prisoners. The hon. Member for South-East Cork was in Tullamore at the same time as the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien); and although both the hon. Members were in prison for the same offence—namely, for publishing in their newspapers reports of the proceedings of the National League in suppressed districts, they were both compelled separately to take exercise with ordinary criminals—they were not allowed to take exercise together. He asserted that that was the worst feature of the prison treatment to which these men had been subjected—they had been compelled to take exercise with ordinary criminals. To compel men put in prison for offences of this kind to take exercise with ordinary criminals was callous and cruel, and showed indifference to human feeling. It a matter which, he confessed, he had 745 the greatest difficulty in understanding. He put a Question on the Paper to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and he believed that in his absence the Question was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had boasted that he had never treated men confined under the Crimes Act differently from ordinary criminals, but he had made an exception in the case of priests; he had not compelled them to don the prison garments. The Question he put on the Paper to the right hon. Gentleman was, whether he subjected priests to the indignity of taking exercise with ordinary criminals, and he believed the answer given was that the suggestion in the Question was true. He begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he was correct in that?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he contended that to compel a priest to exercise with ordinary criminals was harsh and cruel to the last degree. [An hon. MEMBER: Why?] He thought they ought not to be compelled, for offences which were not crimes in the ordinary sense of the term, to be subjected to such an indignity. He asked the hon. Member who interrupted him whether the offences he had just mentioned—namely, publishing reports of proceedings of the Land League in suppressed districts—were offences in the ordinary sense of the term? If they were offences, why were they not treated now as offences? Why had the prosecutions not been continued? There were these distinguishing features between the treatment of ordinary criminals and first-class misdemeanants. There was the prison garb, the plank bed, prison fare, compulsion to take exercise with ordinary criminals, and there was the deprivation of reading and writing, for that to educated men was, to his mind, an infinitely worse punishment than hard labour was to an ordinary working man. He considered it was punishment of the most cruel and harsh character But the right hon. Gentleman had said before now he had never allowed the distinction to be drawn under the Coercion Act and under the ordinary law. That was not a correct statement A distinction had been made, not only 746 by Resident Magistrates, but by County Court Judges. Take the case of Mr. Wilfrid Blunt. He was convicted and sent to prison as an ordinary prisoner; he was compelled to wear prison garb, was treated to the plank bed and prison fare, and he was subjected to the harsher treatment he had referred to. He was not, however, compelled to clean out his cell, nor was he compelled to take exercise with criminals, but the two priests he had previously referred to had been compelled to take exercise with ordinary criminals, and to clean out their prison cells. He could mention half-a-dozen other cases of the same kind. The Chief Secretary had said it was impossible to draw a line between political offences and those offences which were not political. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) asserted that it was not impossible to draw a line of that kind. A line had been drawn in almost every other country in the world, and ours was the only country at this moment where the line was not drawn, and where prisoners who were convicted for what were, practically speaking, political offences were subjected to the treatment of ordinary criminals. What was the difference between ordinary offences and crimes in the ordinary sense of the term? It was clear, beyond all doubt, that a political offender was one whose offence was committed not from private but from public duty, one who gloried in the act as a meritorious public service, and who was supported in it by the admiration of his Party. Political offences were not committed with any feeling of criminality. Ordinary crime was degrading in its character; offenders who committed it would deny it; but men who committed so-called political offences committed them from a public sense of duty. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Dynamite.] Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to pretend that dynamiters were to be classed with the hon. Member for South-East Cork, who was convicted of publishing in his newspaper reports of the proceedings of suppressed branches of the National League? Surely the right hon. Gentleman could not mean the Committee to take that from him as a serious argument.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I will explain what I mean. I do not think there is much resemblance between the cases of dynamiters and the cases of those who publish the proceedings of suppressed 747 branches of the League, but I think many of the offences of dynamiters and of political assassins come under the definition of political offences which the right hon. Gentleman has made.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he denied it. He maintained that men who used dynamite did not use it in the same sense. At all events, there was a strong presumption that the use of dynamite did not come in the same category as three out of four offences under the Crimes Act. But he was about to point out the distinction between political offences and ordinary offences. An ordinary crime subjected a man to de-grading punishment, and very properly so. The ordinary criminal was degraded in the eyes of his fellow-citizens, and when he came out of gaol he found that he had lost in the estimation of the people. But a man who committed a political offence found, when he came out of prison, that he had risen in the estimation of his friends and of the public. The line to be drawn between the two classes of men was broad and distinct. There was another aspect of the case he wished to bring under the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and that was, did he really think that the punishment he gave to political offenders deterred others from committing similar offences, because, after all, that must be the basis of success or not? He maintained that it had exactly the opposite effect. So far from deterring others from committing these offences, it stimulated them to do so. There was abundant evidence of that in what had happened lately in Ireland. No single man had come out of prison in Ireland for offences committed under the Coercion Act who had not been received with demonstrations of public gratitude. In the vast number of cases, hundreds of people had congregated to receive the discharged prisoners; when they arrived at home, bonfires had been lighted in their honour, and testimonials had been presented to them. Furthermore, numerous cases had occurred under the Coercion Act in which prisoners, having been convicted, had been merely compelled to put themselves under their recognizances to be of good behaviour or to go to gaol. He believed, however, that there was not a single case in which such people had not gone 748 to gaol in preference to giving recognizances for good conduct. Boys and girls had on numerous occasions gone to gaol rather than give bail for good conduct. In many other cases the authorities had offered to remit sentences if the offenders would promise not to commit the offences again; bnt there was hardly a case in which such promises had been given. The conclusion he drew from all these facts was that the punishment of these offenders as ordinary criminals had exactly the opposite effect to that which the Government wished and intended. The punishment put the people of Ireland upon their honour and conscience. They had done that which they believed to be right, even though they knew they would be sent to gaol. Personally, he had felt something of the same influence. If there was one thing which induced him to go over to Ireland for the purpose of holding a meeting, it was the fact that Mr. Wilfrid Blunt was sent to prison as a common criminal. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) held the meeting at Loughrea, not because he was anxious to be imprisoned, but because he felt he was right in attempting to hold a meeting, because he knew that the facts justified him in holding the meeting, and knowing the facts he felt he would be guilty of cowardice if he refused to do the same thing as Mr. Blunt had done, even at the risk of going to prison. He did not wish to speak in any egotistical manner of his own action, but the same influences which acted upon him he had no doubt acted upon hundreds of other people in Ireland, and, so far from precedents of this kind acting as deterrents to offences, they had exactly the opposite effect—they stimulated and induced people to act according to their sense of duty. He maintained that the whole of this policy was a mistake; it was founded upon a false idea of human nature, and it was altogether contrary to the experience of any other country. There was no other country in Europe which had not long ago learned that it was unwise, unjust, and inexpedient to inflict degrading punishments upon political offenders. He hoped that before this Parliament was ended it might be induced to compel the Government to alter its policy in this respect, and to treat political offenders in a totally 749 different spirit from that in which persons committed under the Crimes Act had been treated.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary's reference to the Vaccination Acts proved his case. He (Colonel Nolan) had often to order prosecutions for non-compliance with the Vaccination Laws, but his experience was that there were very few cases indeed in which imprisonment was inflicted. As a matter of fact, generally speaking, the fines, amounting to a few shillings, were paid. Many people who now approved of the Vaccination Laws would be found to go in opposition to them if those who conscientiously objected to their enforcement in the case of their children were subjected to hard and degrading punishments. He congratulated the Chief Secretary on his prudence in not attempting to controvert the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin in regard to the Mandeville case. It was a very sorry case, but he did not go so far as some people in saying that the Chief Secretary purposely intended to kill Mr. Mandoville. He thought the right hon. Gentleman found it convenient for his own purpose to enforce harsh prison rules which were very likely to injure men's health, but he could not go so far as to say that the right hon. Gentleman ever contemplated the death of any of his prisoners. The Chief Secretary seemed to regard the case of Thomas Larkin as a very trifling case, considering that there was a mere error of judgment on the part of the doctor. But what happened in that case? Larkin, who was suffering from diarrhœa, and who unquestionably required a certain amount of freedom, was locked up in his cell, where he was unable to get anything that would alleviate his pain. The arrangements of the prison were such that for several hours the man was under lock and key. There was an amount of carelessness and error of judgment on the part of the medical officer which could only be attributed to a desire to please the Government. The medical officer, no doubt, intended to show that he was able to enforce the prison rules, and in this case he did it a little too harshly, for the unfortunate man died. His life would most probably have been saved if ordinary care had 750 been taken of him. The Chief Secretary, however, always tried to make out that he was merely the man who had to enforce certain rules. In other words, the right hon. Gentleman said—"I found certain prison rules, and I must enforce them. I have been put into the position, and I must have my pound of flesh; I cannot take an ounce less, and I do not intend to take an ounce more." The right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that it was he who piloted the law through the House—that he was in the position, in regard to this law, of legislator and administrator; consequently he was wholly responsible for every breach of humanity which occurred under the prison rules as at present administered. He (Colonel Nolan) was not at all surprised that the Chief Secretary wished to minimize his responsibility for the present treatment, because there was no doubt that if the present treatment continued many other prisoners would die. He did not speak upon this subject solely from a book. Within the last 12 months he had visited the Galway prison 10 or 12 times, and he had seen about 20 or 30 prisoners on each occasion, both political prisoners and ordinary prisoners. He had always thought that it might be possible when they took a criminal out of the street, a man who was accustomed to be starved one day and have, perhaps, too much another day, to lock him up, subject him to the torture of the plank bed, give him the minimum quantity of food, stop his drink, and thereby possibly improve his health; but that was not the case with political prisoners. Political prisoners were often men who were accustomed to eat meat on, perhaps, five days of the week—if they were Protestants they would probably eat it every day of the week—or they might be peasants who were accustomed to an abundance of good healthy food. As a rule there were very few poor people who were locked up for political offences. The first three days political offenders were, comparatively speaking, starved. Several prisoners he had visited had from good humour no wish to complain, but it was nevertheless a fact that for the first three days of their imprisonment they were half-starved. When he had spoken to the doctors about the sickness and diarrhœa, they said it very often affected prisoners during the first three days, but 751 that afterwards it passed away. After the half-starvation of the first three days, imprisonment they received a diet which was extremely meagre. The diet might be, as he had said, sufficient for a man accustomed to insufficient food, but to a man whose whole habits of life were suddenly changed it was extremely injurious. Frequently it happened that the milk supplied at the Galway Prison was not of the required standard. He did not blame the Governor, for he knew that that official had done his best to bring the milk up to the proper standard, but he had not always been successful. He (Colonel Nolan) contended that it was the duty of the Chief Secretary, through the Prisons Board, to give orders to Governors that, when the milk fell below the standard, the contractors should not only be prosecuted, but the Governor of the prison should be at liberty to order additional food. Then, even when prisoners were given totally insufficient food, they were subjected to the cruelty of the plank bed. Of course the plank bed was not a means of very great torture to men who had not been accustomed to sleep in proper beds, men who had knocked about so much that they did not feel that sort of punishment. But to put a respectable man on a deal board with nothing else but a blanket to cover him was nothing less than torture. He knew that it had cost many men the very greatest pain; they had declared to him that they could not sleep, and that was very hurtful to them. Of course, it was a well-known fact that when a man's rest was interfered with his health was seriously injured. Such treatment could only be calculated to shake the constitution of the strongest man. Again, he could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman chose to inflict the extraordinary monotony which he inflicted upon political prisoners in Ireland. For instance, they were not allowed any book except the Bible, and in the Galway Prison he had noticed that the Bibles supplied during the early days of a man's imprisonment were so badly printed, while the cells were so wretchedly lighted, that it was with the very greatest difficulty that they could be read. After a time prisoners were allowed one other book, but many of the books in the prison libraries were of a most uninteresting nature. The prison libraries 752 were of such an extremely deficient character that a man would not think of looking at many of the books for more than 20 minutes. Many of the men imprisoned under the Crimes Act had been accustomed to great mental activity, and they were given nothing with which to occupy their thoughts. The punishment was extremely severe. The Chief Secretary seemed to think that he would succeed by pursuing this degrading treatment of political offenders, because in the end he imagined they would be looked upon in the same light as ordinary criminals were. As was pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), the punishment inflicted upon political offenders in Ireland would have the exactly opposite effect. What the Government was doing in Ireland was to elevate political offences, and thereby they were destroying the effect of the punishment inflicted upon ordinary criminals. When people saw that such a very large number of the men who had the confidence of the people were subjected to similar treatment to ordinary criminals, it unquestionably elevated the position of the ordinary criminals, and thereby did very great injury to the country. He trusted that Conservative Members of the Committee, and especially those who were returned by very narrow majorities at the last Election, would induce the Government to make some distinction between political offenders and ordinary criminals. They could not draw a line with mechanical precision, but the Chief Secretary had said he would draw no line at all. Distinctions between those classes of offenders were made in every civilized country but our own, and there was no earthly reason why they should not be drawn here. There was one other point which ought to be borne in mind. Many of the prison officials, when they were placed in charge of political offenders, found themselves invested with great responsibility; they were frightened, and at the same time thought that the opportunity for promotion was a good one. They were thrown off their balance altogether; they did not know whether to treat those men a little better or a little more harshly, and, like the unfortunate doctor of the Tullamore Gaol, they very often tried to do both; one day they wanted 753 to do something in favour of the prisoners, and the next day they had a wish to treat the prisoners harshly. In this country prison officials had no object whatever in treating political offenders badly, but in Ireland they had considerable object in some cases in treating political offenders, if not harshly, at any rate not leniently. What were the facts in regard to prison doctors? In England a prison doctor received £300 or £400 a-year as salary, but in Ireland a prison doctor only got about £100 a-year. It was totally impossible that a doctor in Ireland could live on £100 a-year, and therefore he must be under the authority of the Dispensary Committee, or must seek private practice in the upper ranks of society. Such a doctor found he had to please the Governor, the Dispensary Committee, and also the upper classes. This was a very unfair strain, to which he ought not to be subjected. If he failed to please the upper classes his practice might fall off, and this was a fact which made all the medical reports totally unreliable. The medical reports concerning Irish prisons could not be weighed in the same scale as the medical reports of England prison doctors until Irish prison doctors were paid upon the same liberal scale, and were made equally independent of outside control. Personally, he did not complain very much of the prison officials of Ireland, because he thought they attempted to do their duty. The prison rules, however, were so harsh for men who bad been accustomed to live tolerably well, that there would always be a certain percentage of prisoners who would die, owing to the treatment the right hon. Gentleman had first imposed by law, and now administered, unless there was some change made.
§ MR. EDWARD HARRINGTON
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary must admit that the country always made a distinction between ordinary criminals and political prisoners. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had said that it was impossible to make a distinction in the case of so-called political prisoners, but he (Mr. Edward Harrington) could cite a case in which a distinction had been made in the case of ordinary prisoners. It was well known that some time ago men were convicted for what were called "the Belfast frauds." Men insured the lives of other 754 men, and then, by plying them with drink and the like, sought to compass their lives. One of three men named Smith was convicted and put into prison, but when he was removed from one prison to another he was allowed to wear a tall silk hat. He mentioned this because when he (Mr. Edward Harrington) was convicted at Tralee of the crime of publishing in his newspaper reports of meetings of the suppressed branches of the National League he was brought down in the middle of his constituency, to the town where be had been elected Member of Parliament, with the brand of Tralee Gaol on his back. Of course, that was to assert the authority of law and order, and to stigmatize him in the mind of the people. It, no doubt, was was a very fine effort on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Edward Harrington) could hold his head as high in Tralee as the right hon. Gentleman could hold his head in the place to which he belonged, notwithstanding the indignity the right hon. Gentleman sought to put upon him. The hon. Member for South Galway (Mr. Sheehy) was brought miles and miles on an outside car the other day to a Petty Sessions, and he went bare-headed, because he would not wear the prison cap. Such men as Smith, who were amongst the admirers of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were not obliged, when conducted from place to place, to wear the prison dress, lest they should be degraded by so doing. But the Representatives of the people in Ireland were subjected to all the indignities which it was within the power of the Authorities to cast upon them. Just before he was sent to Tralee Gaol a man named Sheehan, belonging to the City of Cork, was sent to the prison for drunkenness and for annoying his family and friends. The man was committed to prison for a year. This respectable rowdy was an ordinary criminal, having threatened the life of his father-in-law, but he had separate exercise, separate treatment, and a separate yard in which to exercise. He (Mr. Edward Harrington), a Representative of the people, had no separate yard to exercise in. He was turned out amongst the herd, and, he must say, the only consolation he had in the matter was that Tralee Gaol, 755 which should be devoted to the punishment of criminals of the ordinary class, contained so many men put in for offences under the Crimes Act that really he was taking his exercise very largely amongst criminals who were the sons of respectable farmers in the district. The habitual criminals were going about the streets of Tralee boasting that, though they were misconducting themselves, they would not be put in gaol at all, because there was no room for them, inasmuch as all the respectable people were there. Now, the Chief Secretary had stated that he had made a relaxation in the matter of dress in the case of priests, because he understood that there was a Canon Law compelling priests to wear certain dress. He would like to know to what Statute of Canon Law the right hon. Gentleman referred? But, whether there was such a law or not, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman had convicted him. The hon. Gentleman had constantly said that he could not interfere with Moroney's imprisonment. He had always professed that it was impossible for him to interfere with the prison rules, but here, in the case of priests, he had deliberately altered the prison rules. He did not wish it to be understood that he was blaming the right hon. Gentleman for the relaxation he had made in the case of priests so far as the prison garb was concerned. He believed that that relaxation was one of the redeeming features of the policy of the present Administration, especially if it proceeded from an honest desire not to give offence to the majority of the Irish people. But it must be remembered that though a priest was allowed to wear his own clothes in prison he was compelled to pick oakum, a process which very soon destroyed ordinary worldly attire. But that, after all, was a paltry aspect of the case. Then, again the priest was to take his exercise with ordinary criminals, which was the greatest indignity which could be inflicted upon a respectable man. There were certain relaxations of the prison rules made in his (Mr. Edward Harrington's) case by a former Administration. He considered that he was as good a man then as he was now, although he was now a Member of Parliament. It would not become him to make any protest. There was also the fact, as he had already explained, that in the gaol in 756 which he was lately confined the vast majority of the prisoners were young men of the farming class, whom he could not consider or describe as criminals, and with whom he could not conscientiously object to associate. He and his Friends did not recognize the right of the Government to dress them up in prison clothes, to brand their backs, and treat them as criminals; they did not recognize the Government's right to insist upon them performing menial offices—in fact, they insisted that if the Government would administer the law of Ireland fairly there would be no need for such a policy at all. There was one thing he wished to say—even in regard to the ordinary criminal. He believed the plank-bed to be a damnable invention, because he had had experience of it. It was a thing which did not very greatly affect some men; he, personally, did not feel the inconvenience of it; but to condemn a man of nervous disposition to such a contrivance was nothing less than barbarous. Surely, God intended that even the worst of men should be allowed to have their sleep in peace. Indeed, he believed that in dealing with the ordinary criminal the day would come when the British Parliament would decree that the ordinary criminal was entitled to his repose at night, especially when he had worked hard during the day. There was another matter to which he wished to draw attention. The Chief Secretary said the other night that one of his reasons for not wishing to divest priests of their clothing in prison was that he wished that the incidence of punishment should, as far as possible, fall evenly upon those who were to be punished. Now, let them take a typical case of the unevenness of the incidence of punishment. Suppose the average tenant farmer—a man who had spent all his life in the open air, a man who had committed no crime but the technical one of re-taking possession of his home from which he had been evicted—or, take the case of a man who had never been in prison, but who was imprisoned for attending a meeting of a branch of the National League; did the right hon. Gentleman maintain that the incidence of punishment bore upon those men as evenly as it did upon the corner-boy or the street criminal who was in gaol every other day? The corner-boys and street criminals knew the prison rules, 757 and they were even useful to the warders. They were taken out on what was called fatigue duty, and they knew, by wink or nod, how to intimate to the warders the approach of the Governor or the Visiting Justices. They really became, in a certain sense, pets of the warders. The average respectable man was accounted by these men as stupid, because he could not grasp the situation. When the right hon. Gentleman said that he had no power to interfere with the prison rules, he would like to ask him if he remembered the story of the invention of the hospital suit? Who was the inventor of that suit? When it was thought that there was some chance of inducing Irish Members and certain prominent criminals, as they were described, to make a compromise between the wearing of their own clothes and the prison clothes, an invention of blue serge was introduced, and called the hospital suit. It was invented in Tullamore Gaol, and it was not known in any other prison but Tullamore. Immediately after it was discovered in Tullamore, a Circular was sent to the Governors of other prisons in Ireland to the effect that they were required to apply for hospital suits if they had not them in the prison already. The Governor of Tralee Gaol had been 42 years in his position, and yet he had never heard of this hospital suit before. This was one of the paltry pretexts indulged in by the Government. Then, again, when the right hon. Gentleman said he could not interfere with the prison rules, let them take the case of O'Connor, who was sentenced by Mr. Cecil Roche to six months' imprisonment. Upon the third day of his imprisonment O'Connor was discharged; and why? There was no earthly reason given. The Government, who could not turn the key of the cell of Mr. Moroney—the Government of the Lord Lieutenant, who could not interfere in the case of a man who was verging on insanity—could discharge a prisoner without giving any reason whatever for the discharge. He had a suspicion that they themselves anticipated that the conviction could not be maintained. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to examine the prison records of Tralee Gaol during the month's imprisonment he enjoyed there, and say whether there was a single alteration or relaxation of the rules 758 made in his favour? There was not—and yet the right hon. Gentleman represented to the House that, somehow or other, hon. Members who had been in prison had been petted and spoilt. They had been nothing of the kind. Indeed, he asserted that the imprisonment of political offenders in Ireland had been made heavier and more irksome by the annoyance given them by warders. He must again refer to the hardship of the treatment of the newsvendor Ferriter, of Dingle. Ferriter had been eight or 10 times in prison during the year for selling copies of United Ireland. Would it be anything extraordinary if the Governors and doctors of prisons were allowed to treat such men as Ferriter with exceptional leniency, so as to make the incidence of punishment fall equally on him and ordinary criminals? As a matter of fact, it was known that the Governor of Tullamore had been closeted with the Chairman of the Prisons Board; and they knew also that the doctors of prisons were being interfered with by the prison authorities. It was only last evening, in answer to a Question, that there was an admission made that a new regulation was sought to be imposed, by which a doctor ought to send in, in an amended form, a report every week. The doctor was now to report what was the medicine he prescribed for prisoners, and what was his treatment generally of prisoners. It was a very bad policy to interfere with the discretion of the doctors. If the Chief Secretary would read the Prisons Act and the Prison Rules, he would find they were framed in such a manner that the moment it was needed for a doctor to interfere in the case of a prisoner, the doctor practically became supreme, because the consideration of the health, bodily and mentally, of the prisoner was put above every other consideration. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to the case of the death of Thomas Larkin, and accused him (Mr. Edward Harrington)—he thought very unfairly—of treating the case with levity because he interjected a remark. Thomas Larkin had been accustomed to the ordinary outdoor life of a peasant, but he was condemned to the plank bed, to an insufficiency of nourishment, and when he was suffering from severe diarrhœa he was locked up in his cell and left to die without there being anybody 759 present to administer to his wants. The Chief Secretary seemed to think that it was a palliation of the offence that 12 other men in the same prison suffered from the same disease and recovered. These 12 men were in the middle of their sentences. There certainly had not been, he thought, a sufficient investigation of that matter which was now disclosed to the Committee for the first time—namely, that the 12 men were suffering from diarrhœa, and these unfortunate men were allowed to die without assistance there. A young man named Mahoney, in Tralee, had been caught posting up a notice on a Sunday morning, offering £100 reward for the detection of anyone paying his rent. As a matter of fact, the landlord of that young man's father, and the father himself, came forward and said that he had paid his rent. It was hard to discover what had induced the young fellow to perpetrate this freak, but he was prosecuted for it, and got seven years' imprisonment. Whilst serving out his term of imprisonment he died in Cork Gaol, just as Larkin had died in Kilkenny Gaol. Were not the Irish Members justified in declaring that this was virtually a murder of this young man? Was it not murder when young men died under such treatment? Now, he wished to draw attention to the imprisonment of his hon. Colleague the Member for East Kerry (Mr. Sheehan), who had just come out of gaol, and was, he believed, to be sent back again. This hon. Gentleman was one of those unfortunate men who were not wise enough to use the neat and dressy language used that evening by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland. Instead of saying "boo" for an eminent statesman, he said "boo" for Balfour, and he got a month's imprisonment for it. His hon. Colleague denied that he had been guilty of such conduct, and said that his guilt consisted in this—after an irritating search was made at his house, he said to those instituting it—"You may go further and speed worse." The hon. Gentleman had been prosecuted, and had been ordered to find bail for good behaviour under an old Statute, and what had happened? To his (Mr. Edward Harrington's) own knowledge, every criminal of the worst class who bad been in Tralee Gaol under similar circumstances—that was to say, in default 760 of giving bail—had been visited daily by his friends; but in the case of the hon. Member for East Kerry, his friends were denied access to him on the pretext that where a man was imprisoned in default of giving bail he could only be visited by his friends with a view of their giving bail. Well, he did not think there was any warrant in law, but there might be some foundation for the theory that the object of the visits to such men were for the purpose of arranging matters about bail. But, however that might be, he knew it had been the practice in Tralee Gaol, and in all gaols, to treat men imprisoned in default of giving bail as first-class misdemeanants—as one of those five classes of prisoners who were on a par with untried prisoners. They were allowed their own clothes, as was his hon. Friend; they were not allowed to perform work of any kind, and were invariably permitted to have their own friends. If this was the law, why did they not discover it before now? Why did they not discover it in the case of a pickpocket or a rowdy, and why did they discover it in the case of a Representative of the people? He had been requested to ask Questions about this matter, but he did not know that it was any use, as asking Questions only enabled the Government to put matters in another light. This, however, was a matter which he thought it very legitimate to raise in this debate. It seemed that these prison restrictions were first imposed in the case of the hon. Member for East Kerry. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and his Government would have, in the end, to say—just as convictions had been quashed many days after the expiration of the sentences of the prisoners—long after any practical good could come of it, that the men they were dealing with in this way in Ireland—the men they were chasing through the country and prosecuting, and putting into prison for printing or publishing anything about the National League, or for gathering round a bonfire—were not criminal. They never would be regarded by the people of Ireland as criminal, and it was a barbarous and brutal policy, at this time of day, to treat them as ordinary criminals.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he would suggest that as hon. Gentlemen had 761 already discussed the question of prison treatment in Ireland under various heads, and as there were many items still remaining upon which important questions might be raised at this advanced hour, that they would be consulting their own convenience, as well as the convenience of the Committee, if they would allow the present Vote to be taken, and proceed with the next subject of interest.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, he could not allow the debate to close without expressing the deep regret he felt at the position the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had taken up. They had now had this unnatural Coercion Act for something like two years, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that night had given them to understand that his determination was in no way to further relax the prison rules, or to mitigate in any way the hardships of prison discipline. It was, he (Mr. Illingworth) ventured to say, exercising cruelty in the administration of this Act. The right hon. Gentleman had gone so far as to declare that he had serious misgivings as to the propriety of the course he took out of respect for Canon Law, presumably in the first instance, in making any modification in the prison treatment in the case of priests. Of course, they were drawing to the close of a long and wearying Session. They had had the cases of these individuals, John Mandeville, Larkin, and the rest who had suffered these cruelties, and who had come to an untimely end in prison, and they had had these cases discussed ad nauseam in the House. [Ministerial Cheers.] He knew he should get cheers from the other side when he made that statement. Hon. Members came in in great excitement when they had heard the news of a political bye-election.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he did not generally exercise any greater liberty in the debate than he had observed elsewhere, and if it had not been for the cheers that came up at that moment he would not have been drawn aside. He repeated, however, that the House of Commons would be subjected year after year, and interminably, to discussions of this character so 762 long as the policy pursued by the present Government was adhered to. He could only say to Irish Members and to the Irish people that many English Members in that House knew that the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in administering the Crimes Act, was execrated by the great majority of the people of Ireland. In Scotland and Wales this policy was condemned by an overwhelming majority, and he believed that a majority of the people of England at that moment, if they were polled with the facts before them, and were told the defence given by the right hon. Gentleman, would insist that a distinction should be recognized between ordinary criminals and those men put into prison because, from conscientious notives, they were obliged to run counter to a Coercive Act of Parliament. He would only say, in conclusion, that it might take another year or two before the eyes of the people of Great Britain were opened; but so sure as other unnatural and criminal acts of oppression took place under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, so sure would the majority of their countrymen at home condemn and denounce his policy.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, that there were two or three points he should like to bring under the attention of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had stated just now that his reason for not unfrocking a Catholic priest in prison had been in deference to certain canonical rules, He would put it to the right hon. Gentleman, how would he treat a clergyman of any denomination who was in prison as an ordinary criminal for any ordinary crime? He (Dr. Tanner) recollected seeing two clergymen undergoing sentences at Spike Island many years ago, and certainly those persons were clothed in the ordinary criminal garb. Supposing they could find a priest guilty of ordinary crime—he did not suppose they were likely to find such a man, but priests, after all, were, like the rest of mankind, fallible—did the Government mean to say that if they found such a man, and he was convicted of an offence against the Common Law of the land, they would not clothe him in the garb of a criminal? It was utterly absurd to suppose they would not.
§ DR. TANNER
said, he wished to know, therefore, what became of the long-drawn-out sophistry of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary? It simply meant this—that the right hon. Gentleman practically did recognize a distinction, and that he treated a clergyman in prison under the Crimes Act as a political prisoner, whereas he treated other people in prison under that Act as ordinary prisoners. He (Dr. Tanner) had listened with a great amount of attention to the long-drawn-out arguments made use of by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in the case of Thomas Larkin. The right hon. Gentleman told them that there were 12 other prisoners in the gaol suffering from throat affection.
§ DR. TANNER
Well, from diarrhœa. These unfortunate prisoners were proved to be attacked in the present day, and had been much more prone in past times with diarrhœa and quinsy. I behoved every medical man in a prison, and the Governor of every gaol, when they heard of this kind of complaint, to pay more than usual attention to them. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman was in earnest when he told them that because in a certain number of these cases, which were treated in precisely the same way as in a fatal case, there was recovery, there was, therefore, no neglect in the case of the man who died. He thought that, in the case of Thomas Larkin, they had demonstrated a foul blot in prison administration under the present Chief Secretary for Ireland. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman turned round and found it necessary to put the blame on somebody or other, and it attached itself to the unfortunate doctor. The right hon. Gentleman said the doctor committed an error, and was very much to blame. Probably, if the right hon. Gentleman had inquired a little more into the case, he would find that the doctor was not so much to blame as the cruel administration which the right hon. Gentleman insisted upon, and to which, to his (Dr. Tanner's) own knowledge, many medical men in prisons in Ireland were very much opposed. He knew the medical men in four or six prisons in the South of Ireland, and they had complained bitterly of the terrorism 764 in which they stood from having the Prisons Board on one side and the singularly despotic action of the Chief Secretary and his underlings on the other. There were two or three other points upon which he should like to get some information from the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman said—"Oh, the people who offend against the Vaccination Laws of England are treated as ordinary criminals." Well, he (Dr. Tanner) had taken the trouble to inquire into this matter, and he found that the majority of the people sent to gaol for offending against the Vaccination Law in England were treated as first-class misdemeanants. And now what success had attended the right hon. Gentleman's policy? To what extent had his policy had the effect of impressing the people upon whom it was enforced, and coercing them against the commission of political offences? Why, in a case which had come under his (Dr. Tanner's) own observation quite recently, a labourer, when he came out of prison, had said to him—"I shall not forget being in prison. I should not mind being in prison, because, thank goodness, I had more to eat than I could possibly get at home, and the only thing I could think of during my incarceration was how Mr. O'Brien was getting on." Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman inquired into the success of his methods of torturing people in prison, he would not be able to congratulate himself on much success. Now, as to another point—a letter had appeared in the public Press lately from the Chief Magistrate of Cork. That gentleman had drawn attention to several points in connection with prison discipline, which points had not, up to the present, been answered. He complained that prisoners were put to hard labour on the crank during the hours allotted to exercise, and he pointed out that, whereas by the prison rules every prisoner was entitled to two hours' exercise a day, if a man went in as an ordinary criminal he might get this two hours' exercise at the crank. Now the crank was the substitute, at the present time, for the treadmill. He (Dr. Tanner) had never yet had the opportunity of being in prison, though he sincerely hoped that before long that honour would be conferred him. Nobody in Ireland was any good nowadays who had not been sent to gaol. Well, 765 this exercise at the crank was considered in the gaol as hard labour; and was it not an extraordinary fact that, when an ordinary prisoner was permitted to take exercise, this punishment, practically speaking, was, by order of the Government, substituted for ordinary exercise? When a prisoner was condemned to hard labour the rule was that the prisoner should have 10 hours' labour and two hours' exercise; but, as a matter of fact, they gave those prisoners 10 hours' hard work in their cells and two hours' hard labour at the crank, thereby infringing the express regulations. There was another and very much more important matter which also required to be dealt with, and that was the treatment of a certain class of prisoners in the Cork Female Prison. Quite lately a young woman named Minnie Griffin, 19 years of age, whose only offence was returning to her father's home after he had been evicted, had been required to take exercise with females of what were called the "unfortunate class." Was it not a miserable thing to compel a young and innocent girl of the stamp of Minnie Griffin to associate with the loose females of a large city? The Mayor of Cork had drawn the attention of the authorities to the case, and in the course of 10 days had brought about a mitigation of the evil—Minnie Griffin being removed from the society of these female pariahs, and allowed to exercise by herself. He (Dr. Tanner) should think that some rule or regulation should be laid down to obviate the state of things which had existed in this case. Attention on the part of the Government should also be paid to the present unsanitary condition of the Cork Female Prison. A married woman, named Mrs. Herne, had been sent to gaol for some one of the offences under the Crimes Act, and she had been confined in a small cell, the window of which was no larger than a port-hole of a ship—namely, 14 inches by 12. Owing to the expostulations of the Visiting Justices the woman was removed to a better cell. The windows in this prison had been again and again condemned by the medical officers. Dublin Castle could not plead ignorance of these matters, and he sincerely hoped that they would be remedied. In asking the Chief Secretary to remedy the unsanitary state 766 of affairs in the Cork Female Prison the right hon. Gentleman would not, at any rate, have the opportunity of jibing them, and saying that they would in all probability have an opportunity of being confined there.
§ MR. COX (Clare, E.)
said, he wished to draw attention to the state of the prison at Ennis, about which he could speak from personal experience, having been confined there for 10 days awaiting trial. He differed from the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) very materially on this question of prisons. The hon. Member for Mid Cork complained that he had not been imprisoned, whereas he (Mr. Cox) had had the honour, he believed, of being imprisoned oftener than any other Member of the Irish Party. He had been in gaol no fewer than five times. His friends were in the habit of jokingly asking him which of the prisons he had been in he preferred? Well, he could not say that he had any liking for any one of them, but this he could say—that Ennis was decidedly the worst. It was simply a death-trap. When he was sent to this gaol 800 other men went with him, and he was informed that he had the best cell in the prison. Well, to look at the cell, one would have thought that a warder had been in some short time before his (Mr. Cox's) admission, and had dashed half-a-dozen buckets of water against the walls. He went into this gaol in the middle of winter—the snow was falling at the time—and he had had to take the newspapers which were allowed him, and some of his under-clothing, in order to stuff up the interstices between the walls and the windows. The walls were falling away from the iron-work. As a matter of fact; the prison had been used for some years past, not as a Bridewell, but as a pound in which to lock up stray cattle. For a few days there was no doctor to attend to him. He did not state these facts or urge them on the Committee as a personal grievance, but he merely wished to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the matter, so that in future prisoners awaiting trial might not be sent to the place, which was, as he had described it, nothing more than a death-trap. He trusted that in future prisoners awaiting trial might not be sent to the Ennis Prison, but to the Limerick Prison.
§ DR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
said, he rose for the purpose of calling the attention of the Committee to the fees which had been paid to a certain Dr. Moore, of Dublin, in connection with the services he rendered the Irish Government in supporting the testimony of Dr. Barr with reference to the disease of which the Nationalists contended Mr. Mandeville died, and which was contracted in gaol. In the few observations he would have to make with reference to Dr. Moore, he wished at once to disassociate that gentleman from Dr. Frederick Moore of Dublin, who was a well-known and very respectable practitioner in that city, and whom, he was sure, from the knowledge he had of that gentleman, would not, under any circumstances, be found in consultation with the notorious Barr. In the second place, he wished to refrain from making any personal attack whatever upon the particular Dr. Moore whose name he was obliged to mention. He only mentioned the name for the sake of bringing the minds of the Committee, and the minds of the people of the country, to bear upon the extraordinary statements which were sometimes made in the House by the Chief Secretary for Ireland in support of his policy. The right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with the question of the death of Mr. Mandeville, said that of the five doctors who supported the Nationalist theory of the circumstances of the disease which that gentleman contracted in Tullamore Gaol, two of them had not previously examined at all the unfortunate gentleman. He thought the right hon. Gentleman must have meant to convey to the Committee that these gentlemen had not came into close contact with Mr. Mandeville, whereas one of those gentlemen, a certain Dr. Moorhead, had seen Mr. Mandeville every day. Was it not nonsense to suppose that Dr. Moorhead, after having come into contact with Mr. Mandeville, would, because he was a magistrate of King's County, put aside altogether his professional knowledge and not see that Mr. Mandeville had contracted the disease of which he afterwards died? Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose he (Dr. Fitzgerald) could altogether put aside the professional knowledge he possessed, and not see that the right hon. Gentleman himself was failing every day under the pressure of 768 the Act he had created for the purpose of governing Ireland? Supposing these professional men had not asked Mr. Mandeville to open his mouth—at any rate they saw Mr. Mandeville. But the only testimony which the Chief Secretary had produced in support of the testimony of Dr. Barr was the testimony of the same Dr. Moore, who never saw Mr. Mandeville alive, and who had not seen the body after death. At Glasgow the Chief Secretary, in order to show that Mr. Mandeville did not contract the fatal disease in Tullamore, and to support the testimony of Dr. Barr, said—But I have also the testimony of the ablest living Irish specialist of the present day upon the disease of which Mr. Mandeville died.He (Dr. Fitzgerald) was glad to see the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland in his place. He believed there was no man who knew better the medical and legal professional life in Ireland, and he challenged the hon. and learned Gentleman to say if Dr. Moore was ever hoard of in Dublin as a specialist upon diseases of the throat, or as a specialist upon anything, except, perhaps, the soup served up at the Castle dinners? He (Dr. Fitzgerald) asserted that Dr. Moore had not earned the fees paid to him by the Government for supporting the testimony of Dr. Barr, for he never saw the man alive, and he did not make the post mortem examination. It was absurd under the circumstances for Dr. Moore to come forward to say that Mr. Mandeville did not contract the fatal disease in prison. He knew of a man who contracted this disease by sleeping out on the American prairies, and who died of it 12 months afterwards in London. But then they had the testimony of the "ablest living Irish specialist." Who ever heard of him except the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary?
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £62,218 (including a Supplementary sum of £62,206) to complete the sum for the Irish Land Commission.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said that this Vote could hardly be allowed to pass without discussion, and he trusted that the remarks he had to make would not be considered out of Order. He desired to refer to the action of the Government in delaying the appointment 769 of Land Commissioners to carry out the work of the Land Courts. He found in the papers of to-day a letter from the Chief Secretary, in which the following extraordinary statement occurred—I am obliged by your letter of yesterday. Tour informant may have been in Ireland, but certainly does not know all about the subject. First, I have to observe that the block in the Land Court is in no sense due to the action of the landlords. It is due partly to the fact that the present Government have conferred on leaseholders the benefits of the Land Act of 1881—an immense boon, of which I do not notice any acknowledgment in Gladstonian speeches. The leaseholders have gone into the Land Court in large numbers, and the action of the Irish defeated a Bill which I brought in for facilitating the rapid working of that Court.He (Mr. Clancy) did not think that he had ever read a letter in which there was crammed so many and so notorious misrepresentations of the facts as that letter. The right hon. Gentleman said—The block in the Land Court is in no sense due to the action of the landlords.They, upon those Benches, never charged that the block of the Land Court was due to the action of the landlords. They charged that the block in the Land Court—
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, he was perfectly aware hon. Gentlemen opposite had never charged that, but the correspondent whose letter he was replying to gave him to understand that some gentlemen did make that charge. It had never been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, he was afraid that the capacity of the right hon. Gentleman for smart sayings would not be appreciated by the people of the country on that occasion. The remark he (Mr. Clancy) had to make upon the matter was that the block in the Land Court was due, beyond all question, to the action of the Government, and that that could not possibly be disputed. What had been the action of the Government? In February last every single Member on the Opposition Benches, at any rate nearly three-fourths of the Members representing Irish constituencies upon that side of the House, including the two Unionist Members, drew attention to the fact that the block existed, and asked that the Government would apply the ordinary remedy of appointing additional Sub-Commissioners. That advice, 770 like every other advice emanating from that side of the House—especially emanating from the Nationalist Party—was rejected with scorn and contempt by the Government. The Government were not going to appoint additional Sub-Commissioners, but they had a little Bill of their own which applied a better remedy for the block in the Land Court than any that could be suggested by hon. Members. It was pointed out that the Government had made a great mistake if they thought that even with the aid of the closure the Bill they had outlined was likely to pass within a few weeks, or even within a few months, so that the block in the Land Courts was not likely to be removed, but was, in fact, likely to be increased by the action of the Government. The Government held on to their little Bill until it became perfectly plain that not only the Nationalist Party but some other Members representing parties of Irish tenants, would object to several details of the Bill. He believed that the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) intended to move the rejection of the Bill. Not until the Government saw that the Bill could not pass—and this was months after they had been advised to appoint Sub-Commissioners—did they condescend to revert to the position they were advised to take. It was the delay in appointing additional Sub-Commissioners which had led to a block in the Land Courts, and he did not think it candid on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to tell his English correspondent that the block was partly due to the fact that the present Government had conferred on leaseholders the benefits of the Land Act of 1881. He was afraid they could hardly give the Government credit for having conferred upon the leaseholders of Ireland the benefit of the Land Act of 1881. The Government had been taking credit to themselves, but it would be within the recollection of the public, and, he thought, within the recollection of everybody sitting in the Committee now, that the same Party which the Chief Secretary now represented had opposed the admission of leaseholders to the benefits of the Act of 1881 ever since 1881 until 1885. He (Mr. Clancy) was perfectly certain that every single Land Bill introduced for that purpose met with the sturdy opposition of the Tory Party and of the Members 771 of the Liberal Party who had since become Liberal Unionists. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: Not opposition from me.] He (Mr. Clancy) was not always talking of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. The hon. Member was not in the House before 1885. There were several Bills introduced before 1885. There were Kings before Agamemnon, and there were Land Bills before the hon. Member entered the House. Those Land Bills were all opposed by the Tory Party and the Members of the Liberal Party who had since ratted from their Party—[Mr. LEA: No, no!]—and had become Tories in all but name. Would the hon. Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Lea) who interrupted him deny that the Liberal Unionists and Tories had opposed the extension of the Land Act to leaseholders?
§ MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
Certainly. From 1880 to 1886 there were constant attempts by Liberal Unionist Members to amend the Land Act. His name was on the back of nearly all those Bills.
MR. A. J. BALPOUR
rose to Order, not because he desired to cut short the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Clancy's) observations, but because their time was limited, and the hon. Gentleman was now discussing the alleged policy of the Tory Party with regard to the admission of leaseholders to the benefit of the Land Act. He begged to ask the Chairman whether that was really germane to the Vote for the Land Commission?
said, the question appeared to have arisen out of a letter written by the right hon. Gentleman in explanation of the cause of the inefficiency of the Land Court. He thought it would be well if the hon. Gentleman would address himself more directly to the Vote.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
If the right hon. Gentleman is really anxious for the despatch of Business, he would do well to refrain from raising points of Order.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, he did not refer to the matter for the purpose of prolonging the debate. His only desire was to correct the statement the right hon. Gentleman had made in his letter. However, nine months after they advised the right hon. Gentleman to take 772 the ordinary remedy, he came down to the House and did the very thing they advised him to do at the beginning. What wonder, when the step was taken nine months after it ought to have been taken, that it would not tend, and had not tended, to relieve the block in the Land Courts? In the mean time the cases had kept piling up, and there were now in proportion to the increased number of Commissioners as many cases awaiting settlement as there were in January last. He, as the Representative of a Division of County Dublin, in which most of the farmers who were rack-rented held under leases, was specially entitled to complain of the delay which had occurred in appointing the additional Sub-Commissioners. Until the Act of 1887 not one of the Dublin farmers could go into court. What had been the result to these unfortunate farmers? They had for six years been paying rack-rents which would have been reduced if they had not held under leases, and they would continue to pay those rents for another two or three years, owing to the obstinate refusal of the right hon. Gentleman to accept any advice from the Irish quarter of the House. The right hon. Gentleman stated in the letter to which he had already referred that—A tenant does not lose by delay in having his case heard, for the alteration in the rent dates from the period when the tenant's application was made to the Court, and not from the day when the Court gives its decision.That was perfectly true, but what advantage was that to the tenant, after all? He had received many letters within the past few days from tenants, complaining that although they sent in their applications for the fixing of fair rents so far back as September of last year, their cases were not yet listed for hearing. The right hon. Gentleman had consoled these tenants by saying, "No matter, pay your old rent. When your new rent is reduced you will get back all you have paid to the landlord." But suppose the tenant broke in the mean time, what was he to do? Suppose that another year elapsed before these unfortunate tenants got their rent fixed, what guarantee had the right hon. Gentleman to give that the tenants would not in the mean time be broken? And in case they failed to pay their rents, and they were evicted, what consolation 773 was it to them that there was a theoretical advantage, of which they could not avail themselves, and most of these tenants had for the past three, four, and five years been living upon their capital. That capital was fast becoming exhausted, and if relief did not come to them soon there was not the slightest doubt that an agitation would be found in the East of Ireland just as troublesome as that which had disturbed the counties in the South and West of Ireland for some time past. That day the list of the new appointees under the Land Act had been published. He learnt that there were about 1,200 applications, and he was told that there was an expectation that at last some of the recommendations of the two Irish Liberal Unionists as to the appointment of Sub-Commissioners would have been attended to. He had hoped that that might be the case, for, after all, he understood the policy of the hon. Members for South Tyrone and South Londonderry was not an anti-tenant policy. But the curious thing was that though those hon. Members had given a very consistent support to the Government, Her Majesty's Government had made no return to them upon this occasion. He did not like such a manifestation of ingratitude. A friend of his had looked over the list of the new appointees, and had informed him that, as far as he could make out, the character of the appointments was such that they might look for an administration of the Act that would in all probability produce, not a settlement, but a fresh agitation in the country. He was told, also, that every one of the new Sub-Commissioners was well known in his respective locality as what was called "a landlord's man." He (Mr. Clancy) could not conceive a more idiotic policy than was indicated by selections of this character. He could understand a Unionist policy which would attempt to conciliate the farmers of Ireland by doing them justice, but he really could not fathom a Unionist policy which outraged every class of the Irish people. It certainly seemed to him quite compatible with the preservation of the Union to do justice to Irish tenants. He could conceive a Unionist Government passing a very good Land Act, but it seemed that after all he was wrong in that conception. It appeared as if there was an ingrained inability to 774 understand the situation—a kind of unfortunate incapacity to act rightly in any Irish matter in every Unionist Government which undertook the management of Irish affairs. He was told—and he would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary whether it was the fact—that the Government had still further degraded the position of the Sub-Commissioners by reducing considerably their salaries. He understood that the original Land Commissioners were appointed for seven years, but now they were only appointed for 12 months. They had not as good tenure, all things considered, as a Removable. They could be dismissed after 12 months' service. The clear effect of such a tenure of office being that the Commissioners were not as independent of the powers that be as they would be if they were appointed for a long time or appointed permanently. He hoped he should not be understood as making an attack on these gentlemen. He denied that he was making an attack upon a Judge or a Magistrate when he asked that he should be made independent of the powers that be. And in the same way he denied that he was making an attack on the Sub-Commissioners when he disapproved of their appointment for only 12 months. Not only were these Commissioners appointed for a year instead of seven, but, if he was rightly informed, £200 a-year had been taken off their income. They were appointed originally at a salary of £750 a-year, with an allowance of one guinea per night hotel expenses. Now they were to receive £800 a-year, with no allowance for hotel expenses, which, he understood, made the difference he had already mentioned. He could not see any great result from that except the condition of things to which he had referred; even from the Government point of view there seemed to be no other result than the employment of men who would not be competent for their duties. The duties of the Sub-Commissioners were grave and serious, and the Government knew that the business these gentlemen had to deal with was of a highly important nature; the whole trouble in Ireland, as they admitted, being the land legislation. He (Mr. Clancy) himself did not admit it at all, but that was the contention of Her Majesty's Government, who, in- 775 stead of taking steps on every occasion, when they might take them, to put an end to the land agitation in their own way, they seemed to him, by some perversity of disposition which he could not understand, to take up an opposite attitude on all occasions. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would re-consider his position with regard to these questions.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he thought something ought to be done speedily to remove the great block in the Land Courts, not only in the interests of tenants of Ireland, but in the interest of economy. He believed that the total cases in arrears were 61,000. They were decided at the rate of 1,500 a month, and at that rate it would take three and a-half years to get rid of the existing block. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland proposed to appoint 10 additional Sub-Commissioners. There were already 65 Sub-Commissioners, therefore the addition would be one-sixth of the present body, and it was obvious that that addition would effect very little increase in the rate of speed with which the arrears could be wiped off. Then, again, during the three and a-half years which they would have occupied in working off the present arrears, further arrears of fresh applications which would be made would accrue, and that would extend the period it would take to dispose of all the business before the Land Court to four years. With the 10 new Commissioners no doubt they would be able to make a little more progress, but still it would take at least three and a-half years before the total block could be cleared off. Now he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had ventured to make a proposal, during the discussion of the Bill, to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in the early part of the Session, for the purpose of removing the block, a proposal which had the approval generally of the Irish Members, and which, he believed, would have been acceptable in most parts of Ireland. He would venture seriously to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman to consider the proposal and see if it could not be introduced in the form of a Blil at the beginning of next Session. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had found on examination that the great bulk of the eases in 776 which applications were made for the fixing of fair rents were in respect of tenancies of under £20 a-year. Fully four-fifths of the applications applied to tenancies of that kind. Well, it seemed to him that to undergo all the expense of legal proceedings for the purpose of determining fair rents as to holdings of such small value was hardly worth while if the thing could be done in some more effectual way. What he would propose was, that in the case of these holdings the Government should take into consideration the average decisions in the immediate neighbourhood from which applications come, and apply that principle of these decisions to the cases before the Courts, leaving it to the parties to refuse this settlement, and to apply, if they thought it desirable, to the Court to have their cases heard in the usual way. He could not but think that if they adopted such a method of applying the fair rent provisions of the Land Act they would find that the great bulk of the parties would be satisfied, and there would be no appeal. At any rate, if the Government would try this plan no mischief could result from it. It would be open to either side to treat this provisional decision as a nullity, and to ask that their cases should be proceeded with in the usual way. This would have the effect of saving an enormous amount of money, as well as clearing off the arrears. He reckoned that to clear off the present block of cases would cost at least £300,000. As far as he had been able to discover, the average cost to the public of deciding these actions was about £5, and, of course, it was an additional cost to the suitors. According to the plan he suggested they would be able to deal with four-fifths of the cases, and the block would be cleared off, or, at any rate, only 12,000 cases would be left to be dealt with. These it would be possible to settle in nine months, and if the thing were to succeed there would be a saving to the country of £250,000. He thought this suggestion was worthy of consideration, seeing that it would have the effect of clearing off the block and effecting a large economy. As he said, the scheme had the approval of the Irish Members and would give general satisfaction in Ireland.
§ MR. LEA
said, he did not intend to go over the ground covered by the hon. Gentleman who had initiated this debate 777 (Mr. Clancy). He (Mr. Lea) thought the day was not far distant when they would have to take a discussion on the Land Act, and that would be the time for going into the points raised by the hon. Member. He felt, however, called upon to say that the Government in the matter of the appointment of these Sub-Commissioners, as in the case of other appointments, made their selections from one class of people only. The effect in the case of these appointments was to shake the confidence of the public in the Land Act, and to discredit its working. Beyond that he did not wish to say a word. He merely wished to ask whether quite recently the salaries of local Sub-Commissioners had been reduced by some £200 or £300 a-year; and, if so, whether that was in accordance with the statement of the Chief Secretary when he introduced his Bill early this year? The right hon. Gentleman had said that it was almost impossible to get good legal Sub-Commissioners, and yet, if he (Mr. Lea) was correctly informed, the right hon. Gentleman had reduced the salaries of these gentlemen some £200 or £300 a-year. That reduction seemed to him to be flatly in contradiction of the right hon. Gentleman's statement. If it was difficult to get good legal Sub-Commissioners at the old salary they were not likely to obtain a better class of men at a reduced rate of pay. To his (Mr. Lea's) mind this tended to show that the desire of the Government was to discredit the working of the Land Act, which was a very good Act.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that as to the legal Sub-Commissioners, the appointments which had been made in 1881 had come to an end, and he believed that in making fresh appointments in some cases reductions had been made. So also with regard to lay Sub-Commissioners. There had been a small reduction, but he did not think it amounted to the sum the hon. Member supposed. He thought the Sub-Commissioners used to get £700 a-year, and in some cases £750, and expenses in addition. Some of them were paid by the day, and some were not. Those who received a periodic salary got about £750.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, that what he had said was that they received salaries of £750 and travelling expenses besides, 778 and that in addition to that they received one guinea a night for hotel expenses.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Quite so; the fixed allowance was £750, and on occasions when they were out they received certain other allowances. The Sub-Commissioners now, he believed, received £800 without allowances. This probably effected some slight diminution in the total they received, but not to the extent the hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose. As to what the Government had done in the matter of arrears of cases blocking the way in the Land Commission Court, they had made a legislative proposal last year. He did not complain that hon. Gentlemen opposite had thought that the proposal required more discussion than the House was able to give it, but the result was that the Government had been unable to carry out their scheme, and had been obliged to resort to the plan of appointing more Commissioners. He found on looking at the Estimates for 1887–8, that the total number of lay Sub-Commissioners was eight, and the total number of legal sub-commissioners four, so that the total number, lay and legal, would be 12. Well, on April 1 the number of Commissioners had been increased to 50, both lay and legal. On September 1 it was increased to 60, and the number was now 70. He thought, therefore, that the Committee would see that so far from having ignored the fact that there was this vast number of cases to be dealt with, they had recognized it, and appointed an enormous number of Sub-Commissioners to deal with it. He, however, had always felt that this was probably the worst method of dealing with the matter; at any rate it was not a good method. All appointments of this sort were open to criticism of the kind which had been passed upon them by the two hon. Gentlemen who had spoken from the Benches opposite. No doubt, if hon. Gentlemen had risen on that (the Ministerial) side to take part in the discussion, they would have criticized the appointments in a similar strain, though in the opposite sense. This was the inevitable effect of trying to settle these matters by means of Sub-Commissioners scattered throughout the country. He did not quarrel with this, but merely pointed it out. This was a matter, however, which would incline them to consider whether it was not 779 possible to adopt some other method of dealing with the agricultural controversy in Ireland less open to objection. One method of dealing with the matter was the system of purchase. They had done something in that direction this Session, and they might be able to introduce a much larger scheme on another occasion. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had, in the early part of the Session, placed on the Paper an Amendment to the Bill he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had introduced to substitute an automatic system of fixing rents on small tenancies for the ordinary system of applying to the Land Court. Well, he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) could not agree to the particular form of scheme suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, but he entirely agreed with him that if they could find some automatic method of fixing rents equitably based on previous decisions it would be a very great benefit both to landlord and tenant. Ever since the right hon. Gentleman opposite had started the controversy the Government had considered his proposal, and if they brought forward a Bill next year dealing with the question—that was to say, to modify the constitution of the Land Commission, he hoped he should be able to propose some method of automatic fixing rents, which would receive the assent of all Parties as being a fair arrangement between landlord and tenant.
§ MR. PINKERTON (Galway)
said, he took exception to some recent appointments of Sub-Commissioners. One gentleman had been appointed who had been told by Mr. Cecil Roche that he would not be believed on his oath. Another gentleman who had been appointed was the Secretary to the Constitutional Club in Dublin—a well-known landlord's hack. He (Mr. Pinkerton), so far as he was personally concerned, would rather leave his land to be dealt with by his landlord than by men who had been the underlings of landlords in Ireland. Look at the County of Antrim—that loyal county. Not a single Sub-Commissioner had been appointed from that county. Again, not a single Sub-Commissioner had been appointed from the County of Fermanagh, and not one had been appointed from the County of Londonderry, represented by the hon. Gentleman sitting on that (the Opposition) side of the House. The right hon. 780 Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) had visited these parts of Ireland last year, and a great many leading farmers of the country districts had taken up positions on platforms by his side because they expected sops in the shape of Sub-Commissionerships. He could assure the Committee, from a loyal point of view, it would have had a much greater quieting influence in Ireland to have appointed a few of these loyal, law-abiding farmers on the Sub-Commission than to have appointed landlord's hacks from the South of Ireland. He was always afraid of these back-stair intriguers. Fortunately, they were able to criticize the action of Sub-Commissioners in fixing rents, and they were not satisfied with the present method. When Sub-Commissioners were liable to be dismissed at the expiration of 12 months, could anyone believe that the rents they could fix would be fair as between landlord and tenant? It was not to be expected. He did not desire that the landlords should suffer any injury, but he certainly thought that the men appointed to the position of Sub-Commissioners should not be political partizans, but should be such men as could be depended upon to hold the balance fairly between the landlord and tenant. The men appointed should be altogether independent of the landlords, and, moreover, their appointments should be for such a period as would enable them to act conscientiously. He submitted that his experience of the Land Court in the North of Ireland, under the present arrangement, was that the good landlords very frequently came worse off. If a tenant entered a Court rack-rented he left rack-rented. If a man happened to live under a good landlord he went into the Court, and left under the same terms as the tenant who had been rack-rented, and his landlord, therefore, suffered very seriously. It seemed to him an iniquitous mode of dealing with this matter to bind the Sub-Commissioners down under rules framed by the Head Commissioners. The action of the Sub-Commissioners should not be trammeled—they should not be bound to go on certain hard and fast rules. Rents could not be fairly fixed by rule of thumb. It was not equitable to take Griffith's valuation as a guide, because everyone must know that 781 that was an extremely incorrect guide. When Griffith's valuation was made clay lands were considered the most valuable; but circumstances had very materially changed in Ireland since then, and those lands were no longer looked upon as profitable to the same extent as formerly; such lands were of the least value at the present moment, and yet he challenged the Government to point to a case where the Sub-Commissioners had had the manliness to disregard Griffith's valuation, and to fix the rents according to the true value of the land. The Sub-Commissioners knew that every single reduction of rent they made would be reviewed by the landlords' code, and that if they reduced rents in a rigorous fashion, at the end of 12 months they would stand a very good chance of being dismissed. He was not in favour of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). He was bound to say, under certain restrictions, he should be in favour of a comprehensive purchase scheme; but at the present moment, when he saw what had taken place in Londonderry—when he saw the Drapers' Company turning their tenants out wholesale, and he saw deputations being sent over to propose an arrangement by which 18 years' purchase should be given and arrears wiped off—
I mnst point out that the hon. Member is diverging from the question before the Committee.
§ MR. PINKERTON
said, he thought he was justified in mentioning this, as the rents upon which the purchase was arranged were fixed by Sub-Commissioners. However, he would point out that, owing to the block in the Land Commission Court, other disadvantages were suffered in the North of Ireland. In the County of Londonderry the Drapers' Company's tenants had made applications to the Land Court, but could not get their rents fixed. It was a curious thing that those districts in which the land agents had the best opportunity for evicting the tenants on account of arrears were the districts in which it was impossible to get the Court to hear applications for the fixing of fair rents.
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
said, he wished to point to an illustration of the manner in which the Sub-Commissioners appointed were liable to abuse the trust 782 reposed in them, and act in a spirit of gross partizanship in dealing with rents in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had spoken in such eulogistic terms about the adjustment of rents on an equal scale between the landlord and tenant, that he wondered the right hon. Gentleman had not reflected that these very appointments, the announcement of which had been made that day, gave the lie to anything like the fair observations he had been making. If the right hon. Gentleman was so anxious to have a settlement of this land question on terms which would bring quietude and peace between landlords and tenants in Ireland, it was strange that he could not see that the appointments just made were partisans in whom the tenants could have no confidence. It was strange that he could not see that they would be always expected to act in a spirit of partizanship in favour of the landlords wherever rents came under their consideration. The county he (Mr. Gill) represented was the county in which Mr. Wrench, the chief of the Land Commission, the most important and active man of the Commission, had many connections. He had a father-in-law in the person of one of the landlords in the county, and a brother-in-law—Mr. Smythe—in another landlord. Recently the rents of these landlords had come under the notice of the Sub-Commissioners, and he (Mr. Gill) would take the case of the latter of these two gentlemen, whose rents had just been adjudicated upon. There had here been a case of most remarkable partizanship. The tenants of Mr. Smythe had had their rents fixed by the Court. Two tenants of Mr. Smythe, brother-in-law of Mr. Wrench, had their rents fixed. The names of these tenants were Mrs. M'Evoy and Mrs. Dowden. The Sub-Commission went out to view the lands accompanied by Mr. Smythe, who took good care to inform them of his relationship with the all-powerful Mr. Wrench. When the cases came to be heard the landlord did not submit a tittle of evidence to rebut the case made by the valuer of the tenants and the tenants themselves; nor did he come forward to be examined himself. Yet, in the case of Mrs. Dowden the Sub-Commission refused to reduce the rent by a single farthing, but they allowed the old rent to remain as it was. In the 783 case of Mrs. M'Evoy the rent was reduced from the sum of £105 to the sum of £85, a most inadequate and absurd reduction, in view of the fact that the tenant had been one of the most industrious tenants in the county, and had spent all her capital in improving the land, building out-offices, and in every way contributing to its value. As he (Mr. Gill) had said, in the case of Mrs. Dowden no reduction was made at all. There was a further fact in connection with this case. Some years ago Mr. Smythe, who very prudently did not appear in Court, took three acres off this holding of Mrs. Dowden and sold them to Messrs. Whitworth Brothers, of Drogheda, for a very large sum. The Committee would naturally suppose that Mr. Smythe, having cut down the farm to such an extent, would cut down the rent to a proportionate figure; but he did nothing of the kind. On the contrary, he increased the rent, which had been £26 to £29, and it was this rent of £29 which the Sub-Commissioners refused to reduce by a single farthing. That was the case of a landlord who was brother-in-law to Mr. Wrench, a gentleman who had a good many other connections in the County Louth. Mr. Wrench came from that county, or he was related largely among the landlord class, and the effect of that relationship was seen by the action of the Sub-Commissioners in the county. On the Bellew property a remarkable thing of the same kind occurred. The property was in Chancery, and the Chancery Court, acting on the advice of the Receiver, reduced the rents of all the tenants by 20 per cent. The cases meanwhile came before the Sub-Commission, and the Sub-Commission in several of the cases refused to reduce the rent at all, and allowod the old rack-rent to stand. It was simply preposterous at that time of the day talking of rents remaining as they were. The Sub-Commission in this instance left many of the rents as they were, and in other cases they granted, reductions. But, taking the small and large reductions altogether, the average was not quite 18 per cent, which was totally inadequate under the circumstances, and which was less than the Receiver had himself voluntarily recommended to the Court of Chancery. These two instances were a practical illustration of the kind of thing these 784 Commissioners would do, whenever they, or their master, Mr. Wrench, got the chance, who could move them at his will whenever his interests were affected by the cases which came before him. The specimens he had quoted should be sufficient to condemn the principle of appointing these Commissioners as partizans in the first place, and as Removables in the second.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he wished to call attention to a peculiar state of affairs which existed in his own constituency in Mid Cork in relation to this matter. This was a purely agricultural district, and the farmers there had been pressing to get into the Land Courts, and over 1,200 applications had been lodged in the last 12 months. Yet what was the state of affairs; although there had been 1,200 applications in the course of the 12 months, 126 cases represented the work of the Sub-Commission for that period. Again, in the Midleton district, which was represented by the hon. Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane), there had been 500 applications to have fair rents fixed, and only 98 of these cases were listed for hearing by the Sub-Commission, which commenced on the 17th inst. This was the state of affairs in connection with East Cork and Mid Cork, and he hoped some steps would be taken to remedy matters and give relief to the tenants. He might also mention that a very hard case happened in the Midleton district in connection with a tenant named Buck. He made application to go into Court, and directly afterwards the landlord was so displeased at it, that he took a writ out; Buck's cattle were seized, and it was only after a considerable amount of remonstrance and the payment of costs that the cattle were released. In the Clonakilty district a very serious case of hardship occurred on the property of Mr. Beamish Miles. Six of this gentleman's tenants, directly they made application to go into the Land Court, were served with writs. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary contradicted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) some short time since, when the latter stated in that House that it was not at all an extraordinary thing for tenants, when they made application to have a fair rent fixed, to be served with writs by the landlord, and, as these 785 cases came under his (Dr. Tanner's) own notice, he wished to bring them under the attention of the Chief Secretary, in order to substantiate the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £3,647 (including a Supplementary sum of £500), to complete the sum for the Court of Bankruptcy, Ireland.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, the Report of Supply would be put first for Wednesday if they could close the discussion on the Estimates that evening. There was a desire to put the Probate Bill first, but if hon. Members saw their way to close the discussion on the Estimates that evening, he would undertake that the Report of Supply should be the first Order, so as to give hon. Members an opportunity of discussing any Votes they had not time to discuss that evening.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that being so, it would be more convenient to defer discussion on the coming Votes until the following day.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, that a little time ago they would have had a stiff debate upon that Vote, but, after what had occurred, they might leave Judge Boyd to his own reflection and public judgment. He (Mr. Sexton) would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, before the Vote came on next year, what course the Government would take with regard to the Bill of which he had given Notice relative to the law dealing with contempt of Court?
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £35,750 (including a Supplementary sum of £3,000), to complete the sum for County Court Officers, &c., Ireland.
§ (6.) £51,733, to complete the sum for the Dublin Metropolitan Police.
§ (7.) £28,497, to complete the sum for Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Ireland.