§ Order for Second Reading: read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he desired to call attention to the construction by the Government of the Statute of Edward III. c. 34, about persons finding security. He would point out that the words which the Home Secretary quoted from Dalton and Hawkins, as being literally construed by the Courts, only applied to the case of a riot or riotous proceeding. There had been no case in England during the last 60 years in which a person had been compelled to give sureties for his good behaviour, except on the allegation of acts tending to a breach of the peace, or the apprehension that a breach of the peace might be committed. He had had no opportunity of making himself acquainted with the Irish practice, but he had looked into Macnally. Many curious Statutes besides that of Edward III. might be found in Macnally, all of which were finally swept away by the Act of Geo., as the 10 & 11 Charles I., c. 16, which enacts—That young gentlemen of this Kingdom"—that is, Ireland—"who will not apply themselves to labour, but live idly and inordinately, having no means of their own, or from their kindred, who walk about with greyhounds, cosher or cess upon the country or exact drink or money, the Justices may bind to their good behaviour, and commit them to gaol, and hind them to their loyalty and allegiance with sureties.And by 6 Anne, c. 11—All loose, idle vagrants, and such as pretend to be Irish gentlemen, and will not work or betake themselves to any honest trade or livelihood, but wander about demanding victuals, and coshering from house to house amongst their fosterers, followers, and others; and also loose persons of infamous lives and characters, shall be sent to gaol unless they give security for their good behaviour.The English translation of 34 Edward III. in several respects did not agree 902 with the Norman-French, to which he must refer. The Chief Secretary said the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland decided that this Statute gave power to the Justices to call upon persons who were not of good fame to give security, and in default to commit them to prison. His contention was that the Statute did not authorize them to do this. A reference to the Norman-French of the Statute itself showed that it did nothing of the kind, for it instructed the Justices to prendre de touz ceux qi sont de bone fame security for their behaviour. The negative had been inserted by the English translators, who had misconceived the object of the Statute, and had been guilty of very bad translation. The Home Secretary and the Irish lawyers ought, however, to have been warned by the fact that the English versions contained a note saying that qi sont of the actual text, in certain MSS. and old printed copies, read qi ne sont. In the Norman-French there was no negative. The Statute in reality directed the Justices after having arrested the rioters, barrators, and persons who had been pillors and robbers in parts beyond the seas to put them in prison; but if any of them were found to be of good fame they were to be liberated on giving sureties, and the others—that is, those who were not of such good fame, were to be duly punished. The clause must be read as a whole; power was given to arrest all the persons mentioned. Those of good fame might be released on giving sufficient sureties, and les auts duement punir. There was no separate enactment authorizing the taking sureties from those not of good fame, and to read the "not" which stood within brackets into the original text made it ridiculous. He believed the present Government was not the only offender, but that its Predecessors had also perverted the real meaning of the Statute. Possibly the point had never been raised before the Queen's Bench Division in Ireland, nor that as to the repealing effect of the 5 Geo. IV., c. 83, s. 1. It was curious that neither in the chronological index nor in the revised Statutes was there any note that the part of 34 Edward III. relating to vagabonds had been repealed. There was, of course, no appeal in criminal cases, but the matter could be raised by error in law, and if he had been one of the parties 903 concerned he would have carried it to the highest Court of Appeal. He thought it was unfair for the Government to put into prison under the disputable, obsolete, and possibly repealed provisions of the Act of Edward III. poor and ignorant men who might not have the money to get the point argued before the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said, he desired to call attention to the great grievances now existing in Wales. He was sorry to have to state that Wales at the present time was literally simmering with discontent. He did not think the House realized the state of feeling now existing in the Principality. There had been for several years an almost entire neglect of Welsh questions in the House of Commons. As a matter of fact, according to the Rules of the House, the Welsh Members scarcely ever had an opportunity of raising a discussion upon those questions. He would refer particularly to the tithe question, with which they were all familiar. As Representatives of Wales they had done their utmost to dissuade the people from anything in the nature of violence. They had urged them to use only Constitutional means, but they could not ignore the fact that the state of feeling in Wales was very disturbed.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Of course the limits of discussion are very wide on these occasions, but I do not know how the hon. Member proposes to connect this subject with the Bill before the House. The Appropriation Bill is subject to the same Rules which affect other Bills, and the point to be discussed must be somewhat relevant to the Bill.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
asked, whether it was competent for anyone to move any sort of Amendment to the second reading of the Appropriation Bill?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that it had not been customary, but since 1870 Amendments had repeatedly been moved.
§ MR. S. SMITH
asked, whether the employment of military in the collection of tithes in Wales would bring the question within the purview of the Appropriation Bill?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the action of any Department of the Government would bring it within the purview of 904 the Bill. He was not aware from the opening of the hon. Gentleman's speech that he was going to refer to the action of the military.
§ MR. S. SMITH
said, that it had been thought necessary several times to call out the military to recover payment of tithes, and that was a most serious state of things. It showed an immense amount of repugnance to tithes, and the necessity, by wise and conciliatory legislation, of putting an end to the present state of things. He thought he might also fairly call attention to the failure of the House to redeem the pledges which had been given with respect to intermediate education in Wales. The feeling in Wales was very strong on that subject. He trusted the Government would give an early opportunity for discussing the question. The Land Question also excited a great deal of feeling in that country. In the town of Buckley, in Flintshire, a large number of small occupiers had built cottages on common land in the full belief that they would be free from the payment of rent except common rent. But of late a right had been claimed over them by the lord of the manor. A law ought to be passed to prevent the appropriation by others of the property of industrious men, as Parliament had done in the case of Ireland. There was another grievance, which was connected with the appointment of Welsh magistrates. In almost every part of Wales the magistrates were separated in sentiment from the people. That was owing to the fact that their appointment depended entirely on the discretion of a few individuals. A note from the Lord Chancellor would be sufficient to induce them to act more justly. The Welsh were a very patient, law-abiding people, but it was quite possible that patience might be too much abused.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, that it was time for the Government to make up heir minds as to what they would do with regard to Bechuaualand and Zulu-and. Were they going to hand over Bechuanaland to the Cape Colony; if not, on what conditions were they going to keep it? He was told that the Cape Colony had been asked to take over Bechuaualand; that they had demanded 250,000 a-year as a subsidy to induce them to do so; and that the Government were willing to give a smaller sum. The 905 condition of the Colony was deplorable. In the capital there was not a single school for white children, who were therefore brought up without education. In the whole Colony there were only two schools, which were kept by missionaries. Was that a fit state of things for a British Colony? Again, in the capital there was not a single surgeon, and in the gaol there was gaol fever, and the prisoners were dying of it. In 1866 the income of the Colony was £6,700, while the expenditure was £110,000, of which the British taxpayer had to find £102,000. The reason why so much money was spent was because of the preposterous Police Force, upon which about £100,000 was spent; the fact being that it was a force not of police, but of soldiers. As Bechuanaland was a British Colony, why not send out there a couple of companies, whom you would pay 1s. a-day per head, instead of, as at present, paying 6s. a-head? If we were going to keep the country as a Colony, we must spend money on it. We had taken the worst part of the country—a barren and waterless region—while the Northern portion of the territory was well watered and fertile. There was no doubt that Europeans and white men would go on extending over the country from the North, and that black men would continue to come from the South. Something should be done to regulate these two ways; and the question was, at whose expense and under whose authority was it to be done? Until now the practice had been to do all these things at the expense of the Imperial Government; but if the Government were going to develop the Crown Colonies, they should wait until those Colonies repaid the money which the Imperial Government had spent on them before they handed them over. During the last five years we had spent £1,000,000 on Bechuanaland, and had been spending £100,000 on the country ever since. Why should we do this, and then hand the country over to the Cape Colony? The wiser course would be to allow the Cape Colony to do all these things itself. The Cape Colony offered to take over the territory now called Bechuanaland; but the Imperial Government refused to sanction this, and took the country over itself. Bechuanaland was a very healthy country, and it would be much better to have the cheap soldiers of Europe there—men 906 who could be hired for 1s. a-day—than dear Colonial soldiers. Another question was that of Zululand. While the Zulus were satisfied with the arrangements made regarding the boundary, we foolishly annexed their country without getting the sanction of the Zulu King and the Zulu Chiefs. But it was inevitable that Natal would get Zululand; and the only solution of the difficulty would be to annex Zululand to Natal, making Natal responsible for the government of the country. The Colonial Secretary promised some time ago to examine into the causes that brought about the late war, and the man who was responsible for that war was the man who had appointed the Commissioner to try the prisoners. The trials had been postponed until the end of January; but he had no doubt the Court would bring in a verdict of "Guilty" against the King and his uncles.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, that although he could not move the Amendment of which he had given Notice, no one would assert that there had been sufficient discussion on the Diplomatic and Colonial Votes, which, at the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler), were squeezed into one night. That did not allow adequate discussion of the great questions which arose on the Votes. He expressed the opinion that the British Constitution was a used-up force, which required to be re-modelled from top to bottom; but he only wished to draw attention to one part of the rusty old machine—namely, that part which enabled the Executive Government to carry through these great territorial questions without the sanction or control of Parliament. In these days there seemed to be a revival of the theory of "Divine right" on the part of the Executive Government for the time being, by which the Executive Government in the name of the Crown exercised an absolutely despotic power in regard to questions of peace or war and the acquisition or disposal of territories, and the only power that House had of re straining the Executive Government was the power of the purse. The course followed in the present Session, however, of squeezing the Diplomatic and Colonial Estimates into one night, had practically taken away that sole remain- 907 ing power from the House of Commons. The Government were believed to have extended a British Protectorate over the territory of Brunei and Sarawak, and he asked by what Parliamentary sanction that obligation had been imposed on the people of this country? He believed he was correct in saying that they had scarcely any knowledge of what had been done. He proposed to call attention to a list of cases in which the power referred to had been exercised, or to some extent exercised, by Her Majesty's Government without the sanction of Parliament. The first case was that of Western Australia, in connection with which Her Majesty's Government, he believed, were regulated by Statute; but he gathered that, without consulting Parliament, and almost unknown to the people of this country, Her Majesty's Government had gone a great length in negotiating with the Colonists of Western Australia with a view to the transfer of that great territory to a responsible Government. They were told that the Northern—that was to say the hot—portion of this territory was to be reserved, but that the temperate portion, which would be invaluable for colonization purposes, was to be given away. He protested against the giving away in this manner of enormous territory to which our own poor people, against whom in these days the door was being shut in so many quarters of the globe, might be emigrated and colonized. This was pre-eminently a case in which the Government ought to have gone so far without consulting the country. In the case of New Guinea, again, there had been practically a double operation—an annexation and an alienation. The country had been made a British Colony, and that British Colony had at the same time been practically handed over to colonization. He need only mention the acquisition of North Borneo and the Malay States. Then there was the great question of Bechuanaland and the enormous extension of "British influence" up to the Zambesi River. It was all very well to say there had only been an extension of "British influence," but they all knew that in these matters a Protectorate followed to-morrow and annexation the day after. Next came the burning question of East Africa, where we had not only established a great British Company, but had also 908 committed ourselves to the establishment of a great German Company. Having read the Charter of the British East African Company, his impression was that it not only gave that Company the right to acquire by the best means in their power territory extending from the coast of Zanzibar up to the Victoria Nyanza, but would also enable them to acquire the territory in which the African Lakes Company, a cognate Company, was now carrying on war and annex that also. The next annexation to which he would allude, made without the consent of Parliament, was one which was only incubating at the present moment—he referred to the Oil River Territory. Then there was the mission to establish British influence in the sources of the Niger, and before Parliament again met they might hear of a Soudan Company being established to rule over the Soudan. Her Majesty's Government ought to give the House some information before Parliament separated as to the position they intended to assume with regard to this question. Now that our troops had raised the siege of Suakin, he hoped the Government would say what they were going to do next, and give a pledge that the military operations should not be carried to any considerable distance into the Soudan. He should also like to know on whom the discretion would rest as to the present conduct of operations? He begged to move his Amendment.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
, in seconding the Amendment, said, that this was probably the last occasion on which he would have an opportunity of saying a word regarding the events occurring around Suakin. He felt very strongly on this question; but he was afraid that his views would not receive much sympathy from the House as at present constituted. He protested with all the strength in his power against the senseless and shameless slaughter of Arabs, the news of which had disgraced the country that morning. The taking of the lives of any set of men without due care, without due precaution, without due investigation, was to his mind one of the most shameful things that any individual or nation could do. The slaughter was shameless because the House had no clear indication from any 909 authority or from the Government as to what was to follow. What was the object of all this slaughter? What was the ultimate result to be? It reflected greatly on the good name of this country that those attacks should be made without greater care being taken, without greater deliberation, without full discussion, and after all the facts had been laid before the House. "When the life of man is in debate, no time can be too long, no pains too great." What had the Arabs who were slaughtered that morning done? For a long time they had been cruelly oppressed by, he supposed, the worst Government the world had ever seen—the old Egyptian Government. For some time past they had been, in the words of the late Prime Minister, "rightly struggling to be free." It might be said in excuse for the slaughter that the Arabs were attacking Suakin. He admitted that there was some force in the reason; but he asked the House to look at the situation. The town belonged to the Arabs, not to us. [Laughter.] Yes; the town belonged to the inhabitants of the district just as much as Liverpool belonged to Englishmen. If the French took Liverpool we should consider it a noble act to strive and take it back. Would it not be well sometimes to consider the right and the wrong before indulging in these things? The House might recollect that a deputation came to the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) about the abandonment of Candahar. The noble Lord then said one of the best things he ever said. The deputation talked about the use that Candahar would be to us for trade and about British prestige, and the noble Lord said—"The first thing to consider is, what right have we to be there?" That was a question with regard to Suakin which it would be rather difficult for the Government to answer. He hoped that the old Slave Trade argument would not be trotted out again, for, if anything had been proved by recent debates, it was that that was an old bogey, and that we had done no good in our attempts to stop the Slave Trade. On the contrary, we had done more harm than good, and all our action had only caused it to be carried on in a more cruel way than before. Then it might be said that Suakin was held for the Egyptian Government; but 910 Lord Salisbury had declared that it was of no use to them, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had said the same thing. Could the House find any other two questions upon which those two statesmen agreed? Surely it was strong evidence that the town was of no use to the Egyptian Government when it was found that the Leaders of both Parties agreed to this effect. Another argument which would be used was that our prestige would suffer if we gave the town up; but surely the brave man ought to be able to say that he was wrong; it was only the coward who declared that he was right in the face of all evidence to the contrary. It really came to this—we were defending a town to which we had no right against the people with whom we had no quarrel, and for objects which no one was able to explain. Then it was said that we must teach the Arabs that we were their masters. That was the argument of Cain in regard to Abel. ["No, no!"] Yes; Cain said he must be the master of Abel, and he killed him. They talked about the cruel executions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, but they had that morning, by their troops, by their black men, and by the Egyptian Army, contrived to kill 400 people who were defending their own country; with their machinery of murder, their machine guns, they had mowed them down wholesale. He did not think anyone could say that that was a thing of which this nation could be proud. Members were going home to keep Christmas. He wondered how hon. Gentlemen who were responsible for this wholesale murder would feel, keeping their Christmas festival. Let them think of the men who had been killed, and of the other wretched men who were at that moment dying on the desert, and then go to their churches and talk about peace and goodwill to men. No doubt this would be very popular in the country. They would have pœans of praise from the mob and brilliant articles from able editors who urged people to fight but did not go themselves, and thanksgivings in the churches. But if this slaughter were the outcome of Christianity and civilization, then Christianity was a sham, and civilization was a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. He wished the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington 911 (Lord Randolph Churchill) had been present. He honoured the noble Lord for the course he had taken. They might find fault with him for inconsistency in some matters, but all through this business he had been true as steel, and in favour of oppressed Nationalities against our cruel policy of shooting men down for defending their own country. Two years ago the noble Lord, in an interesting speech on our warlike expenditure, asked whether a policy would always be adopted that was opposed to the peace-loving instincts of a democratic people? He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) feared that the people were not educated enough on these questions; they were slow to understand them; but if they did endorse these continual attacks on an oppressed people, then he said they were one of the most degraded democracies that had ever obtained political power, and that they would deserve to suffer the same oppressions themselves. It was an extraordinary position, and he felt as if they had gone back six years and he was protesting against the bombardment of Alexandria. But then they had had no warning. Now, they had done the same thing over and over again; £30,000,000 sterling had been spent in these senseless wars; the characters of most of their statesmen at home had been damaged, and they had got into difficulties with Continental nations; and to start the thing again now, especially at the season of Christmas, when peace and goodwill should prevail, was a sort of madness most discreditable to this country. He made that protest—he could do no more. He seconded the Amendment by way of protest against this hideous drama, in order that some information might be given before they were launched into further horrors, so that the people might form their judgment before other hideous and horrible things were done in their name.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is unwilling to read this Bill a second time till it has better information of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the Soudan."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."912
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
said, he rose at once, and at a moment's notice, to reply to the speech of the hon. Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), whose speech reminded him of St. Simeon Stylites sitting on his column preaching to the unregenerate people on that side of the House. The hon. Baronet seemed to be the apostle of the doctrine of universal scuttle, of national self-abasement, with self-effacement, and of political abnegation. He should leave him in the enjoyment of that doctrine. What did the hon. Baronet say in his extraordinary speech? He said that the military operations were undertaken without any previous discussion in Parliament. [Sir WILFRID LAWSON: Without sufficient discussion.] Now, he appealed to the House whether this subject as to Suakin had not been discussed threadbare? Then the hon. Baronet asked, with what object were the operations undertaken? Was it necessary to remind him that the officially declared object was the defence of Suakin? That fully; but nothing beyond that—no operations whatever from the far-off interior. A policy at Suakin was wholly apart from any policy respecting the Soudan. At present the British policy was to leave the Soudan to itself. The Arabs had attacked that town, which was in possession of an Egyptian garrison under British authority; they had shelled the town, taken the lives of Egyptian soldiers and inhabitants, run up the price of provisions, narrowed employment, and, in fact, had threatened the garrison of the town with extermination, and had done this without any provocation whatever. All this had been done for the single purpose of carrying on the Slave Trade. The hon. Baronet said these Arabs had suffered from Egyptian domination. They were, no doubt, for a long time under Egyptian authority, but that authority was of the lightest and most shadowy description. However, whatever shadow there ever was of Egyptian supremacy over them had undoubtedly disappeared for the last three or four years, and they had, therefore, no justification or reason whatever for attacking Suakin. Then the hon. Baronet said the town was theirs. 913 Now, Suakin was not, and never had been theirs, and they had never had anything whatever to do with the place. Suakin belonged to the Egyptian Government and the people of Egypt. The Arabs engaged in the operations were dwellers in a distant country, in the Upper Valley of the Nile. They crossed a broad desert to attack a town which had belonged to Egypt for 50 years.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
said, the inhabitants were a mixed people chiefly engaged in trade, and they had nothing to do with the Arabs, who were wholly and absolutely a separate body. They came up to Suakin for no such purpose as the hon. Baronet had foreshadowed. He was surprised at the references made by the hon. Baronet, so well known for his humanity, to the suppression of the Slave Trade, in connection with which England had spent so much of English life and strength and so much of English treasure. The success of our efforts for suppression was derided; and, indeed, there had been but too much of failure. That was all the greater reason for persevering till we achieved full success. For such success the retention of Suakin was essential. The Arabs knew that, and, therefore, they attacked the place. The hon. Baronet, in his usual manner, spoke lightly of British prestige, and averred that the Arabs, if driven away now, would come back again presently. Would they? That would entirely depend on the arrangements which the British Government might make in the future. The hon. Baronet spoke of 400 men being killed by British artillery and British bayonets for defending their country. Now, these men were not defending their own country; on the contrary, it was widely separated from their own; they were attacking somebody else's country; practically our country—the country of the inhabitants of Suakin, which was under the Egyptian Government and British protection. We were the defenders, and the Arabs the aggressive and attacking party. Having criticized the remarks of the hon. Baronet, he desired to make one or two general observations. While we should make no terms whatever with these Khartoum Arabs, we should endeavour, by negotia- 914 tions, to settle matters with the friendly tribes on the coast of the Red Sea. In this respect he agreed with the substance of what was said by the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). Though he could not altogether approve the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, yet that did not prevent him from acknowledging the merit of their substance. The inhabitants of Suakin were largely dependent on these tribes for water and provisions, and it was, therefore, important to be on friendly terms with them. But, what was more, the invading Arabs from the Nile could not get these necessaries except through those tribes. So by making a settlement with the tribes the British Government could cut off the supplies on which invaders must depend. The hon. Baronet had appealed to their social and political consciences, and asked them how, at this Christmas season, in the sight of Almighty God, they could go home in peace after slaughtering all these Arabs? He would answer this challenge. We had undertaken these operations for the protection of those whom we had undertaken to protect, and that, in doing so, we were fulfilling a political duty which involved many important considerations, the first of which was this—that we were aiming a blow at those who added to the sorrows of the human race, and we were striking off the fetters from the slave.
MR. W. A. MARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid, St. Austell)
said, he had been unable to agree with his hon. Friends around him with regard to the Egyptian policy of the Government. He had, however, opposed the military operations, because he did not know with what object they had been undertaken. It might be a Jingo sentiment, but he had always been in favour of a frank declaration that we should never come out of Egypt. He thought it was wrong to bombard Alexandria; but, having done what we had done, after spending so much money, after sacrificing so many lives, disorganizing and smashing up the Government, it was preposterous for us to abandon the people of Egypt to the misgovernment which must succeed our departure. Why did not the Government say plainly whether they intended to go out of Egypt or to stay there? He should cordially welcome any statement from Her Majesty's Government that they 915 proposed to remain in Egypt, and should be prepared on such a statement to support the policy of defending Suakin against the dervishes. If, however, the Government were intending to leave Egypt, he considered it was monstrous to go on spending money and destroying lives in defending Suakin. He appealed to the Government to state distinctly what their Egyptian policy was; so long, however, as they declined to make any definite announcement, the only thing he could do was to oppose their doing anything at all, and persistently to vote against every part of their policy in that country.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, that if he had known that those were the views of the hon. Member he should never have spent six days in helping him to get into that House. The hon. Member for the Cockermouth Division (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) said that human life had been sacrificed unnecessarily, and he (Mr. Picton) was quite in agreement with him. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Richard Temple) said that he agreed with the criticism that the Government had not taken pains to negotiate with the coast tribes near Suakin.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
said, that he had never said so. He was not aware what negotiations had taken place. What he said was that negotiations should take place in the future.
§ MR. PICTON
asked whether humanity and Christianity did not require that such negotiations should have been made before the outbreak of hostilities? We had now roused a bitter spirit of vengeance.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
said, he was sorry to interrupt the hon. Member again, but the hon. Gentleman seemed to confuse two sets of persons of whom he spoke. Negotiation with these Arabs was out of the question. The persons with whom we should negotiate were the friendly tribes—a totally different class.
§ MR. PICTON
said, he was quite aware of the hon. Member's argument, but his (Mr. Picton's) point was that the negotiations with the leaders of the Native tribes ought to have been opened before there had been any bloodshed. He believed that before this morning's battle the local tribes and their leaders would have been more willing to negotiate than afterwards. That being so, 916 the hon. Baronet had conceded his (Mr Picton's) whole point, which was that human life had been needlessly sacrificed. It was high time, as representing a great, valiant, and Christian nation, that the House of Commons should show a little more appreciation of the value of human life than it had hitherto done. He regretted that the terrible announcement of the slaughter of these people—described as a "brilliant victory"—should have been received with cheers, as he feared that such an example was likely to intensify the warlike feeling which, unhappily, was too apparent among the public outside. Death was terrible under any condition, but it was more terrible still when it occurred under such conditions as the destruction of the 400 lives that were sacrificed that morning. He was sure that no hon. Gentleman opposite would in private contend that it was right to regard with feelings of triumph any wholesale slaughter. There were occasions when congratulations over victory might be exchanged, as, for instance, if our country were threatened with invasion; but in the case of the battle at Suakin the circumstances were totally different. Neither British subjects nor those whom Great Britain was defending were in any danger; and the only crime of the coast tribes was that they had accepted the opinion of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, to the effect that Suakin was no proper interest of England or Egypt, and they had simply resolved to carry out that policy. The Government had exhibited that vacillation and uncertainty in their policy with regard to Suakin which usually led to bloodshed. It was not in the interest of repressing the Slave Trade they had acted. If hon. Gentlemen opposite, instead of descending to the low, vulgar glee caused by bloodshed in this country, would feel the solemnity of the responsibility pressing upon them, they would take the wiser, more prudent, and more philanthropic policy of entering into negotiations, not with the Khartoum Arabs, but with the Native tribes along the coast of the Red Sea.
MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)
said, he thought that hon. Members might be allowed to discuss the wisdom of keeping any particular city in the desert without having such words as "scuttle," 917 "surrender," and "national self-effacement" hurled at them across the floor of the House. The hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir Richard Temple) said that their defence of Suakin was not aggressive; but he asked hon. Members to consider the hypothetical case of a French force some day taking Brighton by force and maintaining themselves there. If the English people were in consequence to attack Brighton, were they to be told by the French that their policy was aggressive? That would be, to his mind, a defensive policy, because its object would be to win back English territory. The hon. Baronet talked of the Slave Trade as an excuse for keeping Suakin, but it was a pity he did not quote any evidence. He (Mr. Philipps) had read all the Blue Books on the Slave Trade, and he could not find one line which would justify the assertion that the retention of Suakin had stopped the embarkation of a single slave. It was rather strange that hon. Members opposite should at last be showing some zeal in suppressing the Slave Trade, for not many years ago a Conservative Government had issued a Fugitive Slave Circular. The hon. Baronet offered another excuse for retaining Suakin. He said we were defending the inhabitants of Suakin against their invaders. Even if that were true, what business was that of ours? Why should the poor suffering taxpayers of this country be called upon to defend the inhabitants of Suakin against anyone? Most of those on the Opposition side of the House objected to the occupation of Suakin—first, because they believed it to be of no use; and, secondly, because they believed its retention was a national crime. In his opinion hon. Members opposite had only one real reason for the policy they supported, although they had given three; and that was that they coveted Suakin, and believed in some vague way that it would be of some use to the British Empire. They dare not, however, use that argument, because they knew that the English people would not listen to it.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's. Hanover Square)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has stated in very energetic language his views upon this question; and he said that "we" object to the occupation of Suakin, in the first 918 place because there is no use in it, and in the second place because its retention is a national crime. I wonder whether when he said "we object" he thought that he was expressing the view of the Party who sit opposite, and the view of those who are generally upon the Front Bench opposite? [The Front Opposition Bench was quite vacant.] Though the hon. Member may have read all the Blue Books on the subject of slavery he has not read those upon the subject of Egypt and Suakin, otherwise he would have seen that one of the chief reasons for the defence and occupation of Suakin is that the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) undertook to defend the ports upon the Red Sea, and entered into an engagement which we have to carry out. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman must clearly see that to regard the holding of Suakin as a national crime is not the view of the responsible Leaders of the Opposition. The whole fallacy of this matter came out in a striking form in the speech of the hon. Member. The idea is that Suakin belongs to the dervishes.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Quite so. That shows the hon. Gentleman's confusion of mind. He did not see the effect of his own argument. His argument was that if Brighton, belonging to the English, were taken by the French and then attacked by the English, that would not be an aggressive policy on the part of England, showing that the hon. Member thinks that the inhabitants of Suakin and the tribes are practically the same people. It is not only the hon. Gentleman who has fallen into that error. The hon. Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) said that Suakin belonged to a people struggling to be free. But the dervishes against whom we are fighting are not struggling to be free or to make Suakin free. They come from hundreds of miles away. Everyone who studies the case carefully must say that the dervishes threatening Suakin are of a totally different nationality from those people who are at Suakin. They have never established any right to Suakin. That is the point. We are there at the wish 919 and with the concurrence of the rulers of the country, whereas the dervishes are there as enemies of the people, who have come from a distance.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
If the hon. Member believes that, I must say that I must give him up, as that is utterly opposed to the whole evidence. The hon. Member has been travelling so far over all parts of the globe for his arguments this evening that we must forgive him if on some particular point he falls now and then into error. The friendly tribes have complained to us over and over again that they have been prevented and discouraged from making raids on the Arabs who have been coming to despoil them. The friendly tribes are entirely opposed to the dervishes. It is extremely important if any hon. Members, or any part of the country, believe that Suakin belongs in the slightest degree to the dervishes or to the allies of the dervishes, that they should be informed that that is a complete mistake. The whole of the argument, as I said, as to its being a crime to hold Suakin is based upon this error. Let it further be remembered that it is the religious fanaticism of the dervishes and their Slave Trade tendencies which have animated them in all these campaigns. That is evident from all the information in our possession. I pass now to answer the questions which have been put as to the intentions of the Government. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) asks for a reiterated pledge from the Government that we will not advance further into the country. But why should he claim a reiterated pledge? What is the good of giving a pledge three or four times, if the first and second time that pledge receives no credence at the hands of hon. Members? Does the hon. Member think it would be worthy of the Government of a country like this to say before a battle is fought that we intended no aggression and no distant expeditions, and that the moment after the battle had been fought we should change our minds? He need not be under any apprehension of this kind. We have not viewed the attack upon the intrenchments of the dervishes as one of those extraordinary operations which require so much attention as has 920 been given to it. It was a military operation undertaken to turn out a comparatively small force. Now that that is completed, the general policy of the Government will not be altered in the slightest degree. I will not add to what the Government have said already with regard to their determination to adhere to the pledges which they have made. Then hon. Members have asked what is our policy with regard to Egypt in general? There, again, we have given the most specific declarations. We have said that our policy is the same policy which was embodied in the Convention negotiated by Sir H. Drummond Wolff with the Sultan of Turkey. We are pledged before Europe not to occupy Egypt permanently. That is the distinct pledge we have given, and there is no reason why we should repeat that pledge. Our policy is to remain in Egypt until Egypt is strong enough to hold her own, and until the new régime which has been established is in a position to be able to maintain internal order, and to maintain itself sufficiently against external enemies to the south, or in any other direction. That is the policy which has been announced, and I believe that that is a policy which generally commends itself even to the bulk of hon. Members opposite. From that policy we do not intend to deviate. I deny entirely that there is any obscurity as to the policy of the Government as regards Egypt. I say distinctly that we do not look upon the occupation of Egypt as strengthening the position of this country. It is with no desire for aggrandizement that we have occupied Egypt; and, whatever views may prevail in any part of the country, I can assure the House that the Government adhere to the policy which they have so often stated. That is all I wish to say upon the immediate question before the House on this Amendment. I really think the Amendment might be withdrawn in view of the fact that the statements I have made are sufficiently explicit, even if they are not satisfactory to some hon. Members opposite. I do not know, Mr. Speaker, whether I should be in Order in replying to the other hon. Members who have raised points in debate before this Amendment was moved? If so, I should like to say a few words in reply to the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark).
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
On a point of Order, Sir, I wish to ask whether we should not confine ourselves to the subject immediately under discussion?
§ MR. SPEAKER
This is one of the subjects which did arise before the Amendment was moved; but it may be for the convenience of hon. Members that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman should relate to the immediate subject before the House.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Then, Sir, I will only say that the events at Suakin are an encouragement even in the direction desired by hon. Gentlemen opposite, as proving the bravery and dash of the Egyptian troops themselves. It has been a source of great satisfaction that these troops, carefully trained as they have been under English officers, though often depreciated in various quarters, have yet shown themselves, under proper leadership, capable of dealing with fanatical dervishes who are considered to be some of the bravest soldiers in the world. I think that this should be duly acknowledged by the people of this country, and it will show to the public at large that our efforts to train the Egyptian soldiers have not been in vain.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 83; Noes 49: Majority 34.—(Div. List, No. 356.)
§ Main Question again proposed,
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, he should like to obtain some further information with regard to the Anglo-German Agreement in relation to the Slave Trade on the East Coast of Africa. The country, he thought, would be anxious to be assured that there was no danger of this Agreement extending to operations on land. The effectiveness of the blockade had been much undermined by the practice of slave dhows sailing under the French flag, and he thought it would be well if some precise arrangement with regard to this matter was entered into with the French Government, otherwise complications might arise, especially if the Germans were to search a dhow carrying the French Flag. It was to be regretted that an International Conference had not been held on the subject, so that this matter of the Flag might be 922 settled between the different nations, who might also have agreed that slave trading should be treated as piracy. If a few examples could be made of slavers taken red-handed being immediately shot, more would be done to put down the Slave Trade than could be done by any Anglo-German Agreement, though he did not say the Government could have done otherwise than accept the proposal of a friendly Power.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON) (Manchester, N.E.)
said, he might assure the hon. Member once more that operations on the mainland of Africa were altogether outside the joint operations they had undertaken with Germany. Those objects were very plainly laid down, and he did not think there was any probability of their being departed from. Some inconvenience had, no doubt, been caused by the use of the French Flag by certain slave dhows. The French Government had not unnaturally objected to the right of searching vessels carrying the French Flag being exercised by any but Frenchmen, except under a regular blockade; but they expressed themselves as most earnest to put down this abuse, and there was good reason to believe that it would be checked by the French authorities themselves. There was every ground for hoping that now that the principal civilized nations of the world were banded together against this traffic they would succeed in putting it down.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, he had on the Paper a Notice of Motion, which he was precluded from moving by the result of the Division. He, therefore, rose to urge that it would lead to a more satisfactory system of finance if a portion of the present large military and civil expenditure in Ireland were devoted to public works. There were signs that during the winter, in Galway and other large towns, there would be a large amount of unemployed labour which might be advantageously engaged upon public works. The taxes collected in Ireland exceeded £8,000,000, and of this Ireland got the benefit of about £2,000,000. The civil expenditure was excessive, and the military expenditure was heavier than that of France, Germany, or Russia. A million might very well be spent in developing the resources 923 of the country by railways and harbours. The present Government was particularly pledged to a policy of development, but it had refused to do anything, because the House would not pass, without discussion, Bills for combined drainage and navigation, which would have involved a great waste of money. Two years had passed without the Government redeeming their promise, and now it would take a year and a-half before anything could be done which needed legislation. In the meantime the Irish people desired to have some of their own money spent in the country in order to relieve distress resulting from lack of employment.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said, he desired to call attention to the wrong done to the poorest class of his constituents—agricultural labourers in Essex—by the action of the Charity Commissioners in diverting endowments left for the indigent poor to purposes which did not directly benefit them. There was one case of an endowment of £100 a-year, which was cut up into £50 for a schoolmaster, £30 for buildings, £10 for buying books, and £5 for the care of a well; and the residue, which was nonexistent, was left for the poor. These things were not what the labourers wanted. What they asked for was a percentage of the net income of the funds in question to go towards the reduction, of the necessary legal and other expenses in connection with the allotments scheme of last Session. The reason why the Allotments Act was, to a certain extent, unworkable, was because of the great initial expenses connected with it. If 5 or 10 per cent of the funds to which he had alluded, and which the labourers had a right to, could be devoted to the reduction of these expenses, there was no doubt that a great deal of land which was now doing nothing in Essex would be let out in allotments. He hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider this matter during the Recess.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, he thought that the Home Secretary ought to give a reply to the point raised by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) earlier in the evening with regard to the construction of the Statute of Edward III. as to the jurisdiction of magistrates in holding to bail persons of 924 ill-fame. It was perfectly clear that the Statute, read with the word "not," which he believed had been inserted in error by the editor of the Revised Statutes, had no meaning, and that without the word "not" it dealt with two classes of persons. First, rioters and garrotters, whom the magistrates were directed to commit to prison; and, secondly, persons who had previously been of bad fame, but having mended their ways had become of good fame; and these the Justices were able to admit to bail and set them free. In his opinion it was abundantly clear that the construction of the Statute in Ireland, by which respectable people had been committed to prison, was an absurd one. A solicitor was now in custody in Ireland under this Statute, because he, being a respectable person and attending a sale of cattle, refused to give security to be of good behaviour. The Statute was not applicable to such cases, but to a class of persons not now in existence.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
said, that he did not rise when the hon. Member for Northampton sat down, because the argument was more fitted for a Court of Law than for the House of Commons, and because a discussion of the Statute of Edward III., of which they had not an undoubted text before them, would be a waste of time. The meaning placed upon the Statute by the hon. Member was ludicrous. It amounted to this—that only robbers, &c. of good fame were to give security. In some of the versions the negative to which the hon. Member referred was not present, while in others it was. The point, no doubt, was an interesting one to legal antiquarians, but he might say that from the time of Lord Coke downwards the Statute had been treated as if the negative were in it. Every text book, and, he thought, every Court in England for 300 years had read the Statute with the negative in it; and if the Statute were not in the original roll, the matter was so established as part of the jurisdiction of the peace that he would not risk 6d. upon the chance of an appeal to any Superior Court to try and obtain a declaration that the jurisdiction did not exist.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said, he wished, before the Bill 925 was read a second time, to refer to a question as to which his constituents felt deeply. When the Police Vote was under discussion, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) not only expressed his desire for the maintenance of law and order in the Metropolis, but stated that he was as anxious as any man to maintain the right of the people to meet on open spaces or in public meeting for the purpose of ventilating their grievances. In order to test the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, he (Mr. Cremer) would repeat the question which he had asked when the Home Secretary made that statement, and to which as yet no reply had been given. The question was, whether the Government were willing to afford the people of London an opportunity of meeting in some central place to discuss their grievances, whenever they thought it advisable, under the same rules and regulations as applied to meetings in the Public Parks? If the Horse Guards' Parade was used for that purpose, interference with the traffic of the Metropolis would be avoided. Now, the cost of organizing a large meeting in London in a public hall was not much less than £100; and it was simply impossible for working men to incur that amount of expenditure. Metropolitan Members sitting on that side of the House had incurred some odium owing to their desire to prevent collisions between the people and the police in respect to the assertion of the right of public meeting in Trafalgar Square; and he wished to know whether the Government would allow the central open space which he had mentioned to be used in the way he had indicated? If nothing were done in that matter, more would be heard about it, he believed, at the next Election. The answer of the right hon. Gentleman was being looked forward to with interest and curiosity out-of-doors, because, if an unsatisfactory answer were given, he might observe—although he would not stoop to hint a threat in such a matter—it was not impossible, before the House re-assembled next year, that difficulties might recur in regard to meetings in Trafalgar Square or other open spaces, and he was anxious that the contest between the right hon. Gentleman, the police authorities, and the people of London should be closed. 926 He had also to complain of what he contended was a system of sweating practised against the workmen employed under a firm of contractors—Messrs. Mowlem, Burt, and Freeman—in connection with that House, the British Museum, and other Government establishments. The wages of the men, "which were always scanty enough, were, under that system, subjected to a deduction of 1d. per hour, making them still less than the sums voted by the House would provide. Since he brought this matter forward some time ago he was informed that, notwithstanding the promise which the Chief Commissioner of Works had then given to seriously consider the question, a fresh contract for three years had been signed with Messrs. Mowlem, Burt, and Freeman on the same terms. It was, he urged, an extraordinary thing that a Government which had sanctioned the appointment of the Committee to inquire into the evils of the sweating system should not set a better example in regard to the working men in their employment; and unless the evil to which he referred was remedied in the meantime he would next year move the reduction of the Vote for every Government Office where the contract system prevailed. He desired also to call attention to the conduct of the Government and of the Charity Commissioners in respect to endowments, and the effect which it was producing on the minds of the agricultural labourers and workmen generally, who entertained the belief that their endowments were being filched from them—that the poor were being robbed for the benefit of the rich—and they naturally asked by what right that was done. He asked hon. Members to seriously consider what there was to prevent working men from taking to heart the lesson thus taught them and applying the same doctrine to the property of the wealthy classes.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W)
said, he wished to call attention to the miscarriage of justice at Edlingham, in the imprisonment of the men Brannaghan and Murphy. He maintained that this was not a matter which ought to be huddled up. A certain amount of suspicion and distrust had been created in the public mind by the fact that at the second trial the charge of attempt to murder had been abandoned, and consequently the case had not been fully 927 investigated. He urged the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary either to make public the evidence which was taken at the inquiry already held, or to hold a fresh inquiry of such a character as to allow the proceedings to be published. So far as he was aware there was no desire for a criminal prosecution in this case, but there was an urgent desire that steps should be taken to make it more difficult in future for miscarriages of justice of this kind to occur. This end was only likely to be secured by the fullest publicity. He desired next to call attention to the protracted sittings of Crown Courts in the country in consequence of insufficient time being allowed for the business of Assizes to be transacted. He hoped steps would be taken to secure the attendance at Assizes, where they were likely to be required, of the barristers or Queen's Counsel included with the Judges in the Commission.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, as the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was unable by the Rules of Debate to speak again, he would say that his right hon. Friend thought that the present condition of affairs with reference to the Edlingham burglary was extremely unsatisfactory. That arose from the fact that the two cases were not really brought before the jury at the last trial. In no sense was it due to the fault of his right hon. Friend, who went out of his way to see that the eases should be brought before the jury and the evidence re-surveyed. That, however, was not done; and his right hon. Friend now thought that it would not be desirable to hold such an inquiry as that suggested, because it could not be an inquiry on oath. It was, therefore, scarcely possible that an inquiry of this kind would conduce to the ends of justice, or that the case would be improved by the method suggested by the hon. Member. A question had been raised as to the holding of meetings in open spaces. His right hon. Friend reiterated the expression of opinion previously given. He was anxious to further as much as he could the interests of all who desired to discuss public questions in London. There were, however, other interests to be thought of in reference to those meetings, and the particular 928 remedy suggested was still under the consideration of his right hon. Friend and those who were charged with the management of and responsibility for the space at the Horse Guards. The hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) complained that Ireland was particularly ill-used in connection with the distribution of Imperial funds. The conclusion he had himself arrived at from a study of public documents was very different; it was that Ireland was not only well but generously treated in that respect. On the authority of a man named Mulhall, the hon. and gallant Gentleman told the House that the military expenditure in Ireland was greater than in any other country in Europe, not excepting France or Germany. Well, on the only occasion on which he had looked into Mulhall's book, he found that Mulhall was grievously in error. Did the hon. and gallant Gentleman think that the people for whom he spoke would like to see the Military Forces of the Crown diminished in Ireland? His own observation was that no heavier punishment could be inflicted on any locality in Ireland than to withdraw the Military Forces of the Crown from it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that would not be the least consolation. The hon. and gallant Gentleman desired to see a policy of public works carried into effect on a large scale. So did the Government. The hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to think that one of the chief objects to be gained was to retain in Ireland a population which could not otherwise exist there. If there was any likelihood of the population of any district being permanently able to find employment in their own country, he should rejoice in starting public works to enable them to tide over a period of temporary depression. But the idea of a permanent policy of public works for the purpose of providing wages for a class of the population which could not otherwise find a subsistence in the country he should regard as absolutely disastrous to the class in whose interest it was proposed. The policy of public works was not stopped, because the Government had not been able to carry out their drainage scheme. Under the existing law, it 929 was competent for the Treasury to lend large sums for those harbour and railway works which the hon. and gallant Gentleman and which he himself also desired to see carried out. But when the hon. and gallant Gentleman said that 2½ years had elapsed since the Government promised a policy of public works, and nothing had been done, he must protest against such an accusation. In the first place, a Royal Commission was appointed to make a searching inquiry, and when they had done so they distinctly laid down that the work to be first taken in hand was a main drainage scheme. He laid a main drainage scheme on the Table, which differed in many respects, but particularly in two, from the recommendations of the Royal Commission. In the first place, they gave larger powers to the locality to determine what should or should not be done under these schemes, and, in the next place, they altered the suggestions of the Commission in the direction of far more generous grants—[Colonel NOLAN: No, no!]—for the purpose of carrying out the great object of arterial drainage.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he was speaking of the schemes as a whole, and, taking them as a whole, as they had been brought by the Government. The scheme of the Government, therefore, was far more generous than they were, in the early shape, put before the country in the Report of the Royal Commission. The hon. and gallant Gentleman accused the Government of combining drainage and navigation. But they had so altered the scheme which was to apply both to the Bann and the Shannon, that in no case in future should the interests of navigation in any way interfere with the interests of drainage.
asked the Government whether, at the earliest possible period next Session, they would bring forward some measure dealing with the question of mineral royalties? In the constituency he represented it was felt to be a very great grievance indeed.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order! Such a subject does not come within the scope of a discussion on the Appropriation Bill.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, with reference to the subject of public works in Ireland, the Government simply offered those works as moral bribes to induce the people to depart from a patriotic course of action. The Irish people did not want such doles from the British Parliament. As to the point raised by the hon. Member for Northampton, he contended that it had never yet been raised before the Courts. With regard to the appointment of Sub-Commissioners under the Land Act; in the list of the 10 new Land Commissions he could find the names not only of several men who had been landlords themselves, and recognized as landlords, but of men who had actually figured in the Land Courts as landlords' valuers. One of these was Mr. Deane, one of the most prominent Tories and supporters of the landlord party in Dublin, a secretary of the Dublin Constitutional Club, an active Tory registration agent, and a man who has been working with the landlord party for the whole of his public life. In 1881 he became a landlords' valuer in Dublin, and some of his exploits in that capacity had become notorious, and, indeed, were calculated to give the impression that he would not be appointed to act impartially between landlord and tenant. A Dublin tenant-farmer, writing to him in reference to Mr. Deane's appointment, said, "I intended to go into the Land Court, but after Mr. Deane's appointment I gave it up." The Government were sowing dragons' teeth in Ireland, and they were cultivating an agitation which would exceed anything that had gone before.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he wished to call attention to a matter which had already been brought before the House, but which he feared had not received due attention. That was the condition of the nailmakers and chainmakers of Cradley Heath, Staffordshire. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was absent. The information from Cradley Heath was not satisfactory. There was an epidemic of fever in the place. Representations had been made by many influential persons in the district, and strong appeals had been made to Members of Parliament to draw the attention of the Government to the question. 931 The same tactics, however, were followed in this case as in the Metropolis, and persons who were anxious to ventilate their grievances were hustled and assaulted by the police. The hon. Member was proceeding in some detail to discuss the imperfect sanitation of the district and the misery and poverty of these chainmakers, when
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he must remind the hon. Member that he was anticipating a Motion which was on the Paper for that day.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, that he would ask the Government whether their attention had been called to a passage in Mr. Burnett's report referring to the evasion of the Truck Acts, and the existence in the district of shops full of provisions, which were usually kept closed, and to which admittance was with difficulty obtained, but which undoubtedly carried on a secret business with the workpeople in contravention of the law? There was no legal proof, and in only one case had the police effected an entrance, and it was eminently a case for searching inquiry. He should be glad to know whether the Government intended to take any action. When distinct evidence was produced emphasizing and reiterating the accounts of the insanitary condition of the district, and when it was known that the people could not deal with the state of things themselves, a case had been made out which demanded the immediate attention of the Government. If the matter were not dealt with the endurance of the people might come to an end, and they might demand the ear of the country in another manner.
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
said, he must press the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland for an answer to the question raised by the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Northampton in regard to the Statute of Edward III. He asked the hon. and learned Solicitor General whether the Attorney General would issue his fiat to enable Mr. Hurley, a solicitor, to move for a writ of error, and, if necessary, to have the matter brought to the House of Lords to test the applicability of the Act of Edward III. to his case. He also wished to draw attention to the new use to which the Police Force in Ireland was being put. During the last 12 months or two years the Police 932 Force had been constantly employed for the purpose of following the movements of certain well-known popular men throughout Ireland. A remarkable illustration of this fact had been provided when the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had cited to the public extracts from police note-books with regard to the movements of Mr. Mandeville. The Chief Secretary had recently expressed his opinion that the use of handcuffs should not be resorted to except in certain exceptional cases, and he desired to know whether that expression of opinion on the part of the right hon. Gentleman would be construed as a specific instruction to the police of Ireland on the subject.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin University)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary's statement with reference to the use of handcuffs was perfectly clear, and that he had nothing to add to it. With regard to the action which the Attorney General would take if a writ of error were issued, that matter rested entirely in the discretion of the Attorney General, and he could not possibly give, by anticipation, an opinion as to what course would be pursued in the event of a writ of error being presented to him for his fiat. No doubt he would do what was right.
§ SIR EDWARD J. REED (Cardiff)
said, he wished, as the Representative of more inhabitants than any other Member of the House, to express the great and inexpressible dissatisfaction of the people at the manner in which the Government of Ireland was being conducted. The result of the attention which he had given to the subject was that he believed that the people of Ireland were at this moment abandoned by their National protectors—namely, the Government of the country. There was nothing in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, or of any Member of the Government, to show the least desire that the people committed to the control of the police should not suffer from their violence. On the contrary, it seemed to him that the Irish Magistrates and the Constabulary received from the Ministerial Bench the gravest encouragement to do what they liked in Ireland, with the assurance that the people would meet with no protection from the Government. 933 It was not wonderful that the Irish Members should protest in season or out of season against such a state of things. To suppose that the Business of the House under the present conditions could be conducted with smoothness and rapidity, or with satisfaction to the country, was to indulge in the idlest of dreams. The present state of things was not to be cured by any process but one, which could be very well conjectured by hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial Benches. The Government must now go forward with the policy to which they were committed. It was a course of procedure which handed over the people of Ireland to the Constabulary; and he failed to see that the Government were at all anxious to allay the apprehension which existed in this country as well as in Ireland with regard to this state of things. If the Government intended to meet the House next Session under such circumstances as now existed, did they expect to get Business rapidly carried forward? It did not rest with a majority of that House to carry out any method which would remedy the present state of affairs with regard to Business while Ireland was governed as it now was, because in order to proceed with any proposal of the kind they would have to silence the Representatives of the people to such an extent that the country would not sanction it. A good deal had been said about the prolonged debates on the Estimates; but he might say that the public money would not be voted away in the future as it had been in the past without much consideration. Even if the Irish Members were so recreant to their constituents as not to examine the Irish Estimates as they ought to be examined, many English Members on those Benches would rise in their places to discuss the Estimates, in order to have the present infamous administration brought to the front.
§ DR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
said, he contended that it was the bounden duty of the House of Commons to protect the Irish people from violence. He wished to refer to a peaceable meeting at Longford, which was dispersed with violence by the police without warning or the reading of the riot Act, and he had to complain that agents of the Irish Government disturbed quiet counties and towns and outraged the 934 people, and that instead of the offenders being brought to justice they were promoted and pensioned. The police, who ought to be protectors of the people, were perverted by the Government into an armed force of banditti, demanding ransom from the people on behalf of the landlords, who were associated, he might say, in conspiracy with the Irish Executive. It was because he desired that law should be respected and not outraged in Ireland that he asked the House to intervene between the police and their violence, and he hoped that they would soon see removed from power a Government which was at once a curse to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, and also the worst enemy to the best interests of England.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.