§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Appointment and duties of special Commissioners).
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, he begged to move the omission of the word "three" in the first line of the clause, and to insert "five." He conceived that, whatever else might be said about this Amendment, it could not be considered an Amendment to limit the scope of the inquiry. In his judgment, the number of the Commission as it stood at present in the Bill was entirely inadequate for the purpose; indeed, he suspected that the Government had at first the intention of appointing a larger number, for he could not imagine that when the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) described the Commission as one to be wholly or mainly composed of Judges, that three was the total number in his mind. He (Mr. Sexton) should say nothing about the three Commissioners who had been nominated to the House, because of two of them he knew nothing; and, therefore, he should be silent in regard to them. But with regard to the third, he was somewhat surprised he had been nominated by the Government, because the Government had recently nominated him upon another Royal Commission, and had disregarded and ignored his recommendations. In order to consider whether three was a sufficient number, they had to ask themselves what work this Commission would have to do? What was the scheme of 768 the Government? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) was an important authority on the scheme of the Government; and at his garden party of Saturday last, when the guests were driven indoors by the rain, and listened to a speech of three columns from the host, he told them that the Commission would have to inquire into the whole conspiracy and the whole history of the Land League and the National League. Let him (Mr. Sexton) remind the Committee that since the foundation of the Land League down to the present time about nine years had elapsed; let him further remind the Committee that the Land League had existed, or that the National League did exist, in nine or 10 different countries—in Ireland, in England, in Scotland, in South Africa, in India, in the different Colonies of Australia, in New Zealand, Canada, and the British Settlements of North America, in the 31 States and territories of the United States, and in various territories of South America. The membership of the League included some millions of persons, and the scheme of the Government, as interpreted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, was a scheme by which the Commission would be launched without a rudder or compass on a boundless ocean. The Commission would have to inquire into the acts or speeches of any one of these millions of persons during the period of nine years, or into any knowledge in the minds of any of these persons as to what other persons intended to do, or into anything which might be regarded possibly by the Commission as corresponding with any of the charges, allegations, innuendoes, suggestions, or hints conveyed in the 275 pages of rhetoric in Parnellism and Crime. He thought that this Commission, therefore, had a considerable amount of work before it—work which would certainly not be accomplished in months, but which probably would occupy a period of some years. Now, a vast deal would depend upon the issue of this Commission, more, perhaps, than ever depended before in the history of England upon the Report of any similar Body. The issue of the Commission might affect the position of leading public men upon this side of the House, or upon the other; it might affect the constitution and rela- 769 tions of Parties in this House; it might have a serious, if not a decisive influence, upon the future of great political questions, and even upon the relations in some degree of the people of Great Britain and Ireland. Nothing could be imagined more important, nothing could be conceived more grave than the issue of this inquiry; therefore, they should take every precaution that the Commission should be effective for its purpose. Did they do this by appointing only three Commissioners? As he had said, the inquiry, if it followed the scheme of the Government, must be protracted over several years. If one of the three Commissioners should die in the course of the inquiry, or if one of them should become incapacitated by serious illness, or any other of several imaginary causes, the whole of the vast and ponderous inquiries ranging over the acts of millions of persons in various parts of the globe would be rendered abortive in the event of a difference of opinion on a material point between the remaining two Commissioners. He appealed with confidence to hon. Gentlemen opposite upon this point, because he was satisfied they would agree with him that an abortive issue to this inquiry would be a public misfortune. In the Amendment which he presented he endeavoured to take a reasonable and, he thought, not an excessive precaution that such a misfortune should not occur. There was another reason why this Commission should be enlarged. There was a provision in the Bill by which a Commission on request was authorized to issue in order to take evidence of witnesses abroad, and it was perfectly patent that if they appointed only three Commissioners, none of them could take evidence abroad. He had already pointed out that the inquiry might range over several countries, and, if the scheme of the Government were followed out, and if the Commissioners were to grope and ferret all over the world to endeavour to find some member, or any member, of the Land League, or National League, who was guilty of complicity in crime, or who had a guilty knowledge of crime, it was evident that a good deal of evidence would have to be taken abroad, and that the bearing of that evidence would be of vital importance. It had been already pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the 770 Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and others, that the House, in delegating, in respect to this inquiry concerning Members of Parliament, to others the powers which, according to historical precedent, it ought to exercise itself, had been guilty of pernicious innovation. This was strange enough, but it would be stranger still if the House, having delegated important functions to certain known persons, to certain persons named, should then allow these named and responsible persons to delegate the most important part of their duties to other persons of whom the House knew nothing. He ventured to lay down the principle that any evidence to be taken by this Commission, whether it be taken at home or abroad, ought to be taken by Commissioners who were named in the Bill. If they gave the Commissioners power to name other persons to whom to delegate their powers, those persons might be fit or unfit, and no matter how flagrant might be their unfitness, the House would have no control over their appointment or their conduct. He thought it would not be fair or reasonable to ask any Member of the House to submit himself to unknown Judges. He asked that the functions of this Commission, wherever it sat, should be exercised by men of whom the House had cognizance, and of whose appointment the House at the outset had approved. Relying upon these two reasons, he begged to move the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 12, to leave out the word "three," and insert the word "five."—(Mr. Sexton)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'three' stand part of the Clause."
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
said, that the proposal of the right hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) was one which the Government could not accept. The hon. Member had, he thought, greatly exaggerated the probable scope and range of the inquiry. There was no doubt that in the course of that inquiry questions might arise which demanded a good deal of inquiry; questions might arise which would render t necessary to procure evidence abroad. 771 but, at the same time, practical considerations must prevail with the Government in matters of this kind. As it was, no small embarrassment would be caused in the administration of justice in the country by the withdrawal of three Judges from their ordinary duties. There would, of course, be still greater interference with ordinary business if as many as five Judges were withdrawn for the purpose of conducting this Inquiry, and on that account alone the proposal of the right hon. Member was totally impracticable. The Government could not contemplate the withdrawal of so much of the legal force of the country, which, as hon. Members knew, was extremely limited, for a Commission of this kind. They had taken the greatest pains in the selection of the members of the Judicial Bench who would be appointed Commissioners by this Bill, and they believed them to be men of the highest judicial position, and of the greatest possible fairness and impartiality, and of the highest ability and capacity to conduct any inquiry, however difficult and complicated. When they had three men of that sort and character, they did not gain additional strength—at any rate, that was his experience—by multiplying the number of members. Every fresh mind, on the contrary, was likely to suggest fresh difficulties, fresh causes of inquiry, fresh subjects which might have to be investigated and looked up. He was persuaded that to every fair minded man the number of three was amply sufficient for all the purposes of the inquiry. The right hon. Member suggested that one of the Commissioners might die. It was quite true that the Bill did not provide for a contingency of that kind; they hoped that such a contingency might not arise, but if it did, or if one of the Members of the Commission was incapacitated by illness, it would be necessary, by a fresh Bill, to appoint a successor to fill the vacant place. That could easily be done, and the matter need give rise to no debate in the House. Then, the right hon. Member had further suggested that all evidence abroad ought to be taken by one of the Commissioners named in the Bill. That was a totally inadmissible proposition; certainly the Government never contemplated anything of the kind. They had given power to issue commissions 772 or requests to examine witnesses abroad, but they never contemplated that a Judge of the Superior Court should go to some foreign country in order himself to take evidence. That was totally unnecessary, but hon. Members opposite might be quite easy in their minds, they would not be committing themselves to the judgment of unknown persons. The Sub-Commissioner who went abroad would have no judicial function to perform in the matter; his function would be entirely ministerial; he would have to see that questions were put in a proper way, and in sufficient number; and he would have to record the answers faithfully, and bring back the result to the three Commissioners, who alone would have to pass judgment and give an opinion on the effect of the evidence.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked, what about examination and cross-examination by the representatives of the parties concerned?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that the examination and cross-examination would be governed by the directions the Commissioners themselves would give to the gentlemen they appointed. The right hon. Gentleman was aware that when evidence was taken on commission interrogatories, previously arranged, were sometimes administered by the persons charged with the duty of taking the evidence, and that sometimes representatives of the parties appeared and asked questions before the Commissioner. Sometimes one form was convenient, sometimes the other. The matter was regulated by the well-known practice of the Courts, and the Government did not propose that the commissions issued by this tribunal should be at all different from ordinary commissions.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he confessed he was amazed at the last observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman said that examination and cross-examination of witnesses abroad would be governed by the well-known practice of the Courts. The whole drift of the debate on the second reading was that the well-known practice of the Courts would not be allowed to apply to the Commission.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that what he said was that the conduct of the examination and cross-examination would be 773 guided by directions given by the Commission of Judges here.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the charges were charges of complicity in murder. Did the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary mean to tell the Committee that, while everything might turn upon the examination and cross-examination of witnesses in New York or San Francisco or Australia, that examination was to be ruled, governed, and controlled by one man of whom they knew nothing at present? They must know something about the men who were to conduct the inquiries, or, if they were to know nothing about the men, they must at least know in the course of the debate what were the directions the Commissioners at home would give to the men for their guidance. He did not go beyond what he considered to be the necessity of the case when he said that the vital results of the case might depend upon the degree in which the legal representatives of the parties concerned were allowed to examine and cross-examine witnesses who came forward. The right hon. Gentlemen had admitted that there was great force in his (Mr. Sexton's) proposal, because he said that in case one of the three Commissioners died or became incapacitated it would be necessary for the House to pass another Bill. Was it not better that the Commission should be of adequate numbers now, so that the House hereafter in a probable event should not be obliged to return to the subject, and should not be subjected to all the delay and annoyance of passing another Statute. Besides, it would be extremely inconvenient, when the inquiry had progressed perhaps a considerable way, that a new Commissioner should be added to the tribunal, who might not have seen the witnesses, and who had not the same opportunity as the rest of coming to a conclusion upon the evidence. He must repeat what he had said in regard to Mr. Justice Day, he was surprised at the nomination of that gentleman. The Government appointed him two years ago to inquire into the Belfast riots. Mr. Justice Day inquired very exhaustively and closely into and reported upon the riots; but the Government from that day to this had not acted upon his recommendations. The right hon. Gentleman said that he (Mr. Sexton) had magnified the scope of the inquiry; perhaps he 774 would tell them in what way he had magnified it? Judging from the right hon. Gentleman's speech upon the second reading, the Commission was to inquire into every act of every member of the Land League and National League if they thought they had any reason to suppose such a member had been guilty of crime or complicity in crime. It was quite evident that this was an Irish race inquiry, for the Commission was to inquire into the relation and connection between every member of the Land League and National League and every other person in the world who might have been engaged in the promotion of outrage and crime. He did not magnify the scope of the inquiry; he and his hon. Friends had endeavoured to limit it. The Government had, however, refused to limit it, and he maintained, taking the scope of the inquiry as it was, considering its probable length, considering the importance and delicacy of the functions to be discharged abroad, that the ends of justice would not be satisfied unless the number of the Commission were enlarged according to the terms of his Amendment.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
said, he fully appreciated the difficulties the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had pointed out in the way of the Amendment; but the Amendment only showed that they were putting themselves and the House in an absolutely untenable position by proposing to constitute this inquiry upon the lines of this Bill. It was essential, so the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think, that evidence should be taken abroad—in America and elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman said there were powers in this Bill to appoint Sub-Commissioners to take evidence abroad; but had the right hon. Gentleman in the whole course of his vast legal experience ever heard of a proposition to appoint a Commission to take evidence abroad to inquire where the issue was not a civil issue at all, not a question of a bill of exchange, or of mercantile law, but a criminal charge, analogous in all respects to the subject of proceedings which would under ordinary circumstances be taken in a Criminal Court? He asserted that there was no precedent for appointing a Commission of this kind; and not only so, but that the evidence taken by the Com- 775 missioners would be of a most unsatisfactory nature.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
said, he certainly had been astonished to hear it laid down from the Treasury Bench that it was to be in the power of the Commissioners to appoint a Commission or in New York or San Francisco, as was done in civil actions, and that evidence was to be taken before such Commissioner in regard to what was one of the gravest criminal charges which had ever been made. He certainly did not know, when the second reading of this Bill was being considered, that Sub-Commissioners were to be appointed to take evidence on which the guilt or criminality of any person might turn; evidence which anybody knew, if he understood anything about evidence, it was most important that the Judge who was to determine the charge should hear from the witness tendering it. He agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) that they ought to provide a sufficiently large machinery to enable one of the Commissioners appointed under the Bill to take the evidence required to be taken abroad.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
said, he thought that the Committee ought to recollect that in dealing with this Amendment they were discussing a proposal to provide a substitute for a jury. In the jury system of this country and of Ireland they provided that there should be 12 men; in Scotland, he believed, they provided a larger number, and that they took the verdict of the majority. But in the case of a substitute, where, he presumed, the decision of the majority would be taken, they only provided for a jury of three Judges. That was to say, they proposed to place the settlement of these most important and far-reaching and numerous issues, contained in the pamphlet entitled Parnellism and Crime, in the hands of two men. There was no precedent for this Commission; there was no precedent, so far as he knew, for any inquiry into the acts of individuals. He had asked at the beginning that these matters should be inquired into by a Select Committee. It would have been according to precedent; but the Government refused that, and they made the present proposal, for which, he maintained, there was no precedent, as a 776 substitute. Waiving the objection on the ground of want of precedent, he stated, immediately after the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) had answered his Question, that he would be willing to submit his case to the hands of any tribunal composed of honourable, able, and just men. But he confessed, coming as he did fresh from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman in reply to his Question that the tribunal should be composed partly of Judges and partly of laymen, of non-judicial laymen, he was not prepared to find that the Commission would be composed of three Judges. Let them take the precedent they had in regard to other Royal Commissions. It was said that this Commission was a favour to the Irish Members. He denied that; he maintained that they, in waiving their ordinary position as citizens, and in consenting to allow an investigation which the Criminal Law did not permit before a Commission of Judges, put the public under an obligation, and the public did not put them under an obligation. Now, as he had said, let them take the precedents which existed in regard to inquiries by Commissions into the doings of organizations and of districts. But, although there were no precedents whatever for a Commission exactly like this, there had been Commissions such as the Sheffield Commission and the White boy Commission, to which reference had been made, and which were in some respects similar, all of them having had charged upon them the duty of inquiring into matters connected with organizations. He would take the Sheffield Commission as an example. It was an example which had been largely drawn upon by right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench opposite. The Sheffield Commission had merely to inquire into the proceedings in one town, whereas this Commission would inquire into proceedings throughout the United Kingdom and America. What was the composition of that Commission? [Interruption, and cries of "Order!"] Two hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial Benches below the Gangway were speaking so loudly that he could scarcely hear his own voice. This matter might not be of importance to them, but it was to him and his country, and he must request that they would refrain 777 from conversation. He would endeavour to address himself as closely to the question as possible, and if his observations were not interesting to hon. Members opposite, he hoped they would conduct their conversation elsewhere. The Sheffield Commission, notwithstanding its comparatively limited scope, consisted of 11 Members, presided over by Sir William Erle. Yet they were now told by the Government that they were asking too much, because they were not satisfied with a Commission of three Judges, after the House had been informed by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that it would be composed partly of Judges and partly of non-judicial members.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
What I said was, that the Commission would be composed wholly or partly of Judges.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he was willing to give the right hon. Gentleman whatever advantage was to be derived from that correction. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it should consist wholly or partly of Judges. Why should the issues in this matter—which were issues of grave importance and extending over a wider field than any that were ever before submitted to a Royal Commission—be restricted to so small a tribunal? He said it was monstrous that they should be asked to go before a Commission, and to incur all the expense of an inquiry, which at a moment's notice by the death or illness of any one of its members might be deprived of all its power of proceeding any further. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary spoke of another Act of Parliament, but the introduction of such legislation would depend on the disposition of the Government. They did not feel disposed to place any confidence whatever in the disposition of Her Majesty's present Government, and they did not know how far, after the inquiry had proceeded for some time, the Government might desire to see it dropped. They did not know what colour might be imported into it. They did not know how far a Conservative Government might desire to have the proceedings of the Commission continue, or how far they might desire to render them abortive. He (Mr. Parnell) had said the Sheffield Commission was composed of a much 778 larger number of members. He would now take the Belfast Commission. The Belfast Commission was appointed to inquire into the proceedings at the riots which only lasted a few days or a week. The riots themselves were confined to a narrow area, but that Commission consisted of five Members. Yet the present Commission was to consist of three members only. The right hon. Gentleman had accused them of magnifying the scope of this inquiry. It was impossible for human ingenuity to magnify its scope. Since the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury directed attention to a pamphlet entitled Parnellism and Crime as the source from which they could derive information as to the extent of the inquiry, he had for the first time read the pamphlet. He found, whether having regard to the charges expressed or existing only in innuendo, that the field was a wide and a varied one, and that, in fact, it would be impossible for him to even attempt to magnify the scope of that inquiry. It was preposterous and ridiculous to say that the strain upon the Judicial Bench would be too great if their demand were complied with. They bad not asked for additional Judges. He would direct the attention of the First Lord of the Treasury to his statement on the first reading of the Bill that they did not seek to add additional Judges, but men who were not laymen and who had had a judicial training. There could be no objection to such a proceeding as that. There were plenty of able men well qualified for the office, as in the case of the Sheffield and the Belfast Commissions, to be joined with such eminent members as the Judges. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was an unworthy argument which could not hold water, and one which ought not to have been used under the circumstances. He wished to say one word in reference to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary respecting the operations of the Commission abroad. The right hon. Gentleman distinctly said, in reply to his hon. Friend who moved this Amendment, that the proceedings of the Commission abroad would be governed by the well known practice of the Courts. With these words hot and fresh in the memory of the House the right hon. Gentleman got up, two minutes after- 779 wards, and denied using them. What prospect had they of entering upon discussion on this Bill when the right hon. Gentleman resorted to such an expedient? The right hon. Gentleman's words were taken down immediately they fell from his lips, and were in the recollection of the House. The right hon. Gentleman now denied that he had used them. The right hon. Gentleman had, no doubt, had his eye on the argument most eagerly insisted upon in the debate on the second reading—the necessity there was that the Commission should not be bound by legal rules of evidence. Talking of the impartiality of the Leaders of the Government, he had been amused by reading in an evening paper that day—one of the Tory organs—that there was no longer any question of the guilt or innocence of Mr. Parnell. This organ gravely asserted that his guilt or innocence had long ceased to be a matter of contention, and that there were no two opinions as to his guilt, and that the question had simply become one as to how he could best be proved to be guilty. That was the position taken up by one of the London leading Conservative evening papers that day. Was that the position taken up by the Front Bench? If it was not their position, why did they not get up and deny it? If he was to be held responsible for everything Mr. Patrick Ford said in his newspaper in America, and a Commission was to be appointed to inquire into those articles of Mr. Patrick Ford's and not into what he had said, why should the right hon. Gentleman and his Party not be held responsible for what their organs in London immediately under their control and within their reach chose to say? Oh no; it would be said that would be very unfair, for it would not be a question of anything against an unfortunate Irishman, with all the odds against him except his own innocence, but it would be a question of the stability of Her Majesty's Government. This Commission when it went abroad would, according to the language of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that day, have to inquire into all the allegations in Parnellism and Crime. By far the larger portion of Parnellism and Crime was taken up by the doings and sayings of men abroad. If he were placed in one scale and the 780 sayings and doings of men in America mentioned in Parnellism and Crime were to be placed in another, his weight would be as nothing to theirs. His proceedings and doings in this country filled but a very small part indeed of Parnellism and Crime compared with the sayings and doings which were to be inquired into in America. He had no hesitation in saying that if Her Majesty's Government were honest in their statements, if they believed in their statements, if there was any sense in which the allegations in Parnellism and Crime were to be inquired into, the Commission should be directed to sit in America and take all its proceedings in America. Nearly all the witnesses to be examined were in America; in Great Britain there was no evidence to be taken, though, unhappily, the same was not the case as regarded Ireland. The major part of the pamphlet was taken up with a repetition of the newspaper articles of Mr. Patrick Ford's, and resolutions adopted at meetings held by his hon. Friend and other persons in America, and every conceivable thing that happened in America whether it had any bearing on the question or not. Therefore, he said, it was of the greatest importance that this Commission should be divided into two portions—one to cover America and the other to cover Ireland. He declined to submit the American portion of the field of investigation to some unknown barrister, unguided by any rules of legal evidence and unguided by any directions in this Bill. It would be impossible for such a barrister, no matter what his skill or what his experience might be, to be capable of the responsibility of settling the varied and important points of detail with regard to such matters of detail and principle as would come before him for decision from day to day. He would submit that the Government had not a leg to stand upon with regard to this question, and he would ask whether they were proceeding fairly by meeting this Amendment with a blank rejection?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON) (Butes)
said, that, till the hon. Member for Cork City rose, the greater part of the argument of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway had been directed to showing that such great powers as it was proposed to entrust to this Commission 781 should not be entrusted to be used abroad by any less skilled persons than Judges.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that that was not his argument. His contention was that the House ought to know what the inquiry was to be.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that it was objected that unknown barristers might be employed. Now the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) complained that there was no representation of the lay element on the Commission.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
asked for what purpose, then, were the names of the Sheffield Commissioners read Out?
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he simply mentioned that trained persons other than Judges were appointed on other Commissions to meet the argument of the Home Secretary that it would overstrain the Judicial Bench to appoint more Judges on the Commission.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that for one reason or another the hon. Member had made it a matter of complaint that the lay element was not placed on the Commission. [Mr. PARNELL: No.] Was it proposed that the lay Commissioners to be appointed should be sent to America to take evidence? But, he would ask, who would be better qualified to take evidence in America than trained lawyers appointed by and acting under instructions from the Judges on the Commission? The hon. Member was on the horns of a dilemma. Were the lay Commissioners whom the hon. Gentleman wished to be appointed to sit at home and conduct the most important part of the inquiry, and were the Judges to go to America? Was that what hon. Members wished? But, if it were said that there should be five Judges, he would ask whether it was reasonable that a larger body of Judges should be appointed to conduct this investigation than sat in almost any Court together? Experience showed that for unquestionable reasons so large a number as five was not required. Then it was said that the greater part of the inquiry would be conducted abroad. Was there any reason to suppose that the Judges would not 782 be in possession of the greater part of the evidence in this country? But if they required further evidence from America they could send skilled assistance to obtain it. On the whole, he thought that the Amendment was not supported by consistent arguments, and that the number of three Judges was sufficient to accomplish the work entrusted to them, with the assistance of Commissioners.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, the question which had been raised as far as the discussion upon the Amendment had already gone was an extremely serious one, so serious that he should like to impress on the Committee his apprehension of its seriousness. It seemed to be taken to be germane to the Amendment now before the Committee to discuss the question of taking evidence abroad, and he wished to point out that evidence could not be taken abroad under any of the circumstances which regulated the taking of evidence at home. It had been his lot in life to have acted abroad as a Commissioner and in examining witnesses before Commissioners, and he ventured to say that the taking of evidence before a Commission abroad upon charges involving murder and other felonies was a matter which could hardly have entered the apprehension of any person who desired a serious inquiry. What power had Commissioners abroad to enforce the attendance of any witness? What power was there to commit a witness who refused to answer? What power was there in America or in any other country out of the jurisdiction of the Commission—all countries beyond the seas being outside the jurisdiction of the Commission—to enforce the production of any documents or to inflict any kind of punishment for contempt? Were they upon charges of this nature to have evidence collected, they did not know how and by they did not know whom? An ordinary Commission issued by Judges was issued for the examination of special people, the grounds being submitted to the Judges on which it was not probable that the witnesses would appear before an English tribunal. If people were likely to attend them, no Commission was issued. It was only when they would not appear, or it was not expected they would obey the process of the English Courts, that a Com- 783 mission was sent out to examine them. Was this Commission to have the discretion whether or not it would examine certain persons?
Order, order! I must point out that the proper time to discuss any question of whether there should be any inquiry abroad and how it should be conducted, would be on Sub-section 4 of Clause 2, which expressly deals with that question; it is only relevant here in relation to the number of Commissioners and how that number should be detached.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, it was because he had felt that difficulty that he bad made the remark he did at the beginning of his observations, that the question was one which had been treated by both sides of the House as germane to the Amendment. He quite felt the difficulty of the matter, and when they came to the proper place,—namely, Sub-section 4 of Clause 2, he would, if no one else did, move its omission.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, that the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland had ventured to find fault with the remarks of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), and seemed to think that the work to be done in America was the least important part of the inquiry. He would not enter into the question whether it was right or not to send a Commission abroad. For the moment he would assume that they were bound to have a Commission abroad. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland seemed to thick that that would be the lesser part of the inquiry. On the contrary, it was far and away the most important part of these proceedings. The main charge against them was complicity with men who had committed crime. Where were those men? At the present moment nearly every one of them was in America, and therefore the proceedings in America would form the most important part of the inquiry. The Home Secretary had said something about the manner in which the Commission would pursue its labours; but he had not been quite consistent. He had told the right hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) that the evidence would be taken in accordance with the well known practice of the Courts. If so, 784 they would have a strong guarantee that this Commission would conduct its business in a proper kind of manner. But immediately afterwards the right hon. Gentleman qualified his statement by saying that the Commission would act upon the rules settled for it by the Judges at home. That was quite a different thing. This Commission would be held in America, and in the absence of Members of that House, and yet their innocence and guilt were to be inquired into by persons whom they did not know, and upon principles with which they were still unacquainted. Men charged with the gravest of crimes were to be left at the mercy of unknown individuals conducting their proceedings on unknown principles. There was a greater necessity for a judicial tribunal in America than in this country. Here, although they were charged, not as criminals, but as accessories, they had the protection of Parliament and of public opinion. There was no such protection in America; but the inquiry might be of a hole and corner character, and their characters and reputations would be at the mercy of a chance tribunal. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland had misrepresented the hon. Member for Cork as demanding that the tribunal should be partly judicial and partly lay. Nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, who had not quoted himself accurately, had said that it would be mainly judical.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
That meant that other persons might be upon the Commission, but it meant someone of experience and trained in the law and acquainted with the rules of law. What his hon. Friend proposed was, that perhaps one Judge, with a lay Commission to help him, should go to America and decide what evidence should be rejected and what taken. Surely this Committee had to decide the important question of what evidence and how much should be taken, and what rejected. It had to decide what was to be the ultimate examination and the ultimate cross-examination. All these questions raised most vital points, and were they to be tried 3,000 miles away, at New York or anywhere 785 else, in the absence of the Irish Members? Was it not absolutely necessary to have a tribunal that would apply to its examination the strictest and fairest Laws of Evidence, and he submitted that that could only be obtained by sending Commissioners abroad in whom they had the fullest confidence.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, that the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland had said, as the reason for not assenting to the reasonable proposal of the right hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), that it would be very difficult to take more than three Judges from their judicial functions. For his own part, he thought there would be great difficulty in taking away for three or six months or a year the three proposed, and he did not precisely understand how the business of litigants was to be attended to. But the reply of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland was of no value, because the right hon. Member for West Belfast did not, for a moment, suggest that all the Commissioners should be Judges. Two Commissions had been referred to—the Sheffield Commission and the Metropolitan Board of Works Commission. It had been shown that, on the Sheffield Commission, the greater number of the Members had been laymen, while on the Metropolitan Board of Works Commission only one of the Members was a Judge—an ex-Lord Chancellor, another being an eminent barrister, and the third, Mr. Henry Grenfell, an eminent gentleman in the City. Then they had been told that they had three men of the most eminent impartiality, and they were asked who would say anything against the Judges of the land. Well, he would, for one, and he would tell them which Judge it was to whom he objected, and what the Judge had done to render him unfit to take up these duties. The Judge he alluded to was Mr. Justice Day. There was a trial at Liverpool on the 18th of——[Cries of "Order!"]
said, he failed to see that what occurred at Liverpool had anything to do with the Question before the Committee.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, this was the line of argument he was about to take. He was going to reply to the argument that three Judges would be enough by showing what one of those gentlemen, Mr. Justice Day himself, 786 had said as an argument in favour of a greater number. Was that germane to the Amendment or not?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that there was a trial at Liverpool of three Irishmen who were accused of attacking certain persons on the road, and Mr. Justice Day, in sentencing them, said that—"such a dastardly, cowardly, brutal crime could not be found in England." [Cries of "Order!"]
The hon. Member is not in Order. How can the hon. Gentleman connect that with the Question before the Committee?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he wanted, if he could, to neutralize the proposition of the Government. Would that be in Order? If not he would be able to raise the question when the names were put. He would only add now that it was perfectly reasonable as juries consisted of 12, and all must agree that, in a Commission of this sort where the majority was to decide, and no unanimity was required, there ought to be more than three. He objected to five, and he objected to three; but he thought that five was better than three. However, there were three too many in this Commission, and from the beginning he had been entirely opposed to it, because he considered it was unconstitutional and unnecessary, and it was monstrous that the House should assent to it in order to whitewash The Times.
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
said, that if they wanted more Judges the Scotch Judges were easily obtainable, and he could not understand why they should not be made available. They were under-worked; the Court of Session had not enough to do, and could spare one or two eminent Judges with great facility. He was sure, if they wanted Judges, that they could get them from Scotland.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 233; Noes 195: Majority 38.790
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.|
|Ainslie, W. G.|
|Aird, J.||Anstruther, H. T.|
|Ambrose, W.||Ashmead-Bartlett, E.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Baden-Powell,SirG.S.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Fellowes, A. E.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Barclay, J. W.|
|Baring, T. C.||Field, Admiral E.|
|Barnes, A.||Finch, G. H.|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Finlay, R. B.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Fitzwilliam, hon. W. H. W.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Beckett, E. W.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Bective, Earl of||Fulton, J. F.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Gardner, R. Richardson-|
|Bentinck, Lord H. C.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.|
|Bigwood, J.||Giles, A.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Blundell, Colonel H. B. H.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.|
|Boord, T. W.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Borthwick, Sir A.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.||Granby, Marquess of|
|Gray, C. W.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Green, Sir E.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Greene, E.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Gurdon, R. T.|
|Caine, W. S.||Hall, A. W.|
|Caldwell, J.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Campbell, Sir A.||Hambro, Col C. J. T.|
|Carmarthen, Marq. of||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.||Hanbury, R. W.|
|Charrington, S.||Hankey, F. A.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Hardcastle, E.|
|Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N.||Hardcastle, F.|
|Hartington, Marq. of|
|Coddington, W.||Heath, A. R.|
|Collings, J.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Colomb, Sir J. C. R.|
|Corbett, A. C.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Hermon-Hodge, R. T.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Crossley, Sir S. B.|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.||Hoare, E. B.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.||Hoare, S.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hobhouse, H.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Darling, C. J.||Houldsworth,SirW.H.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Howorth, H. H.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hubbard, hon. E.|
|Dixon, G.||Hughes-Hallett, Col F. C.|
|Dixon-Hartland, F. D.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Jarvis, A. W.|
|Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W.H.||Jennings, L. J.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Johnston, W.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Kelly, J. R.|
|Egerton, hon. A. J. F.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||Kerans, F. H.|
|Elliot, hon. H. F. H.||Kimber, H.|
|Elton, C. I.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.|
|Ewing, Sir A. O.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Powell, F. S.|
|Knowles, L.||Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Kynoch, G.||Rasch, Major F. C.|
|Lafone, A.||Reed, H. B.|
|Lambert, C.||Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.|
|Laurie, Colonel R. P.||Robertson, Sir W. T.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Robinson, B.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Rollit, Sir A. K.|
|Lees, E.||Ross, A. H.|
|Legh, T. W.||Rothschild, Baron F. J. de|
|Lethbridge, Sir R.||Round, J.|
|Lewis, Sir C. E.||Russell, Sir G.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount||Saunderson, Colonel E. J.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Long, W. H.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Lowther, rt. hon. J.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Lowther, hon. W.||Smith, A.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Stephens, H. C.|
|Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.||Stewart, M. J|
|Stokes, G. G.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Swetenham, E.|
|Maclean, F. W.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Maclean, J. M.||Taylor, F.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Temple, Sir R.|
|M'Calmont, Captain J.||Thorburn, W.|
|Madden, D. H.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Mallock, R.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Marriott, rt. hon. Sir W. T.||Trotter, Colonel H. J.|
|Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Waring, Colonel T.|
|Matthews, rt. hn. H.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Webster, R. G.|
|Mildmay, F. B.||West, Colonel W. C.|
|Mills, hon. C. W.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|More, R. J.||Wharton, J. L.|
|Moss, R.||Whitley, E.|
|Mowbray, R. G. C.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Mulholland, H. L.||Winn, hon. R.|
|Muntz, P. A.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Noble, W.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Northcote, hon. Sir H. S.||Wood, N.|
|Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Norton, R.||Wright, H. S.|
|Paget, Sir R. H.|
|Parker, hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Pelly, Sir L.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Brown, A. L.|
|Brunner, J. T.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Bryce, J.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Buchanan, T. R.|
|Allison, R. A.||Burt, T.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Buxton, S. C.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Byrne, G. M.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Campbell, Sir G.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Carew, J. L.|
|Barran, J.||Causton, R. K.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Chance, P. A.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Channing, F. A.|
|Bradlaugh, C.||Childers, right hon. H. C. E.|
|Bright, W. L.||Clancy, J. J.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Clark, Dr. G. B.|
|Cobb, H. P.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Colman, J. J.||M'Arthur, W. A.|
|Conway, M.||M'Cartan, M.|
|Corbet, W. J.||M'Carthy, J.|
|Cossham, H.||M'Donald, P.|
|Cox, J. R.||M'Donald, Dr. R.|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||M'Ewan, W.|
|Craig, J.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Craven, J.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Crawford, W.||Mahony, P.|
|Crilly, D.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Deasy, J.||Mappin, Sir F. T.|
|Duff, R. W.||Marum, E. M.|
|Ellis, J.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Ellis, J. E.||Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.|
|Ellis, T. E.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.||Morley, right hon. J.|
|Esslemont, P.||Morley, A.|
|Evans, F. H.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Neville, R.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro-||Newnes, G.|
|Finucane, J.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Fitzgerald, J. G.||Nolan, J.|
|Flower, C.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Flynn, J. C.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Foley, P. J.||O'Connor, J.|
|Foljambe, C. G. S.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Forster, Sir C.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||O'Gorman Mahon, The|
|Gardner, H.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Gaskell, C. G. Milnes-||O'Keeffe, F. A.|
|Gilhooly, J||Palmer, Sir C. M.|
|Gill, T. P.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Paulton, J. M.|
|Gladstone, H. J.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Picton, J. A.|
|Graham, R. C.||Pinkerton, J.|
|Grove, Sir T. F.||Playfair, rt. hon. Sir L.|
|Haldane, R. B.|
|Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F. S. A.||Plowden, Sir W. C.|
|Portman, hon. E. B.|
|Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|Power, P. J.|
|Harrington, E.||Power, R.|
|Hayden, L. P.||Price, T. P.|
|Hayne, C. Seale-||Pugh, D.|
|Healy, M.||Pyne, J. D.|
|Holden, I.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Hooper, J.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Howell, G.||Reid, R. T.|
|Hoyle, I.||Reynolds, W. J.|
|Hunter, W. A.||Richard, H.|
|Jacoby, J. A.||Roberts, J.|
|James, hon. W. H.||Robertson, E.|
|Joicey, J.||Roscoe, Sir H. E|
|Jordan, J.||Rowlands, J.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.||Rowlands, W. B.|
|Kenny, C. S.||Samuelson, G. B.|
|Kenny, J. E.||Schwann, C. E.|
|Kenny, M. J.||Sexton, T.|
|Kilbride, D.||Shaw, T.|
|Labouchere, H.||Sheil, E.|
|Lalor, R.||Simon, Sir J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Sinclair, J.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Smith, S.|
|Leahy, J.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Leamy, E.||Stack, J.|
|Lewis, T. P.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Lyell, L.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Macdonald, W. A.||Stepney-Cowell, Sir A. K.|
|Mac Neill, J. G. S.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|Stewart, H.||Watt, H.|
|Stuart, J.||Wayman, T.|
|Sullivan, D.||Will, J. S.|
|Sullivan, T. D.||Williamson, S.|
|Summers, W.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Swinburne, Sir J.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Tanner, C. K.||Winterhotham, A. B.|
|Thomas, D. A.||Woodall, W.|
|Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.||Woodhead, J.|
|Wallace, R.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Warmington, C. M.||Illingworth, A.|
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I beg to move to insert the names of the right hon. Sir James Hannen, the hon. Sir John Charles Day, and the hon. Sir Archibald Levin Smith.
In page 1, line 12, after the last Amendment, to insert the words "the Right Honourable Sir James Hannen, the Honourable Sir John Charles Day, and the Honourable Sir Archibald Levin Smith."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)
§ Question proposed, "That those names be there inserted."
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had just now called attention to the proposed appointment of Mr. Justice Day as a member of this proposed Commission. He desired to point out what took place on November 13, 1884——
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I rise to ask, Sir, whether the procedure with regard to the names of these Commissioners may not be similar to that adopted in the case of the appointment of Members to a Select Committee. When we are deciding as to the names on a Select Committee—which is of comparatively small importance when compared with the appointment we are now making—we go through the names one by one. The Question from the Chair is "That A. B. be another Member of the said Committee." I hope in this case we may be allowed to have the names put separately.
§ Question "That the words 'the Right Honourable Sir James Hannen' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 12, after the last Amendment, to insert the words "the Honourable Sir John Charles Day."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)791
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he desired in connection with the name of this Judge to call the attention of the Committee to a case that took place on Thursday, November 13, 1884. It was a case in which three Irishmen appeared to have assaulted some other man on the highway, and he (Mr. Labouchere) quite admitted that in all probability the men were guilty. They were found guilty, and in sentencing them to 18 months' imprisonment Mr. Justice Day used the following words:—Such a dastardly, cowardly, brutal crime could not be found in England if it were not found to be committed by men who are unfortunately imported into the country.["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite cried "Hear, hear;" they no doubt shared in these views of Mr. Justice Day, and thought that he had a right to make a distinction between Irishmen and Englishmen, and to make these general accusations against Irishmen. He (Mr. Labouchere), however, thought, on the contrary, that that was a reason why Mr. Justice Day should not he a Member of this Commission. Now, what were the remarks of the newspapers of that time on this transaction? Why, the leading newspaper in Liverpool he thought was The Liverpool Daily Post, and that newspaper said this:—Mr. Justice Day's savage address to the three prisoners in sentencing them to imprisonment for unlawfully wounding a fourth person on the highway was not calculated to add dignity to the judicial Bench. The crime was a most brutal and unprovoked one, but there was no reason why Mr. Justice Day should father upon Irishmen all similar cases of ruffianism that occur in England.Then there was another newspaper which commented upon this address of Mr. Justice Day, and it was a newspaper which would no doubt recommend itself to hon. Gentlemen from Ireland on the Ministerial side of the House, The Dublin Evening Mail. That newspaper said—If Mr. Justice Day had not the character of being the very stupidest Judge on the English Bench or any other Bench his remarks at Liverpool would call for some strong comment. As it is, his absurd attempts to stir up animosity against the Irish can be treated with contempt and derision.There was another extract of much the 792 same kind from the Belfast Northern Whig, with which he would not, however, trouble the House. [Cries of "Read!"] Well, it said—It would be foolish to deny that Irishmen are sometimes guilty of savage crimes; but it is equally foolish, to use no harder term, for a Judge to say, in the face of English conveners of crime, that Irishmen are to be blamed for all the cowardly assaults that are committed.He thought he had sufficiently shown that Mr. Justice Day, sitting as a Judge upon the Bench, had not displayed that independence of judgment and that absolute impartiality in the matter of Irish crime which would entitle him to sit on this Commission. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not know what course his hon. Friends from Ireland intended to take. The matter was one which regarded them more than the English Members; but he felt it to be his duty—these extracts having been given to him and he having looked up the case—to make these facts known to the Committee in order that hon. Members might form their own opinion as to whether, under such circumstances, Mr. Justice Day ought to be put upon a Commission which was to deal with matters which involved, as the Government said, crime and outrage of the worst description in Ireland.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
said, he very much regretted that this discussion should have been rendered possible, and he earnestly trusted that it might very soon be brought to a close. For his own part he declined to express either approval or disapproval of the manner in which this Commission had been appointed. He would not enter into the invidious task—to one who was not only a Member of that House, but also a member of the English Bar, the almost impossible task—of criticizing and canvassing in public the qualifications of the learned Judges whose names had been submitted to the House. He wished to make it clear that for the initiation of this discussion and for whatever inconvenience and public scandal might result, the sole and undivided responsibility rested on the shoulders of Her Majesty's Government. Why had not the Government adopted the simple and rational course—before they made any public announcement of the names—of entering into private communication and negotiation with that (the Opposi- 793 tion) side of the House? He would undertake to say that if they had done so, a perfect and complete agreement might have been arrived at without difficulty or delay, and the names submitted to Parliament would have passed not only unchallenged, but without as much as a syllable of debate. But Her Majesty's Government had not taken that course. What had they done? They got their Lord Chancellor, without communication, so far as he (Mr. Asquith) knew, with anybody, and upon his own responsibility, to nominate the three learned Judges whose names had just been read by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith). And what was the result? Why, the result was that the Members of the House found themselves shut up between two equally objectionable alternatives. They must either, on the one hand, pursue the discussion which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had begun—a discussion open to the gravest objection and difficulty, and a discussion which, moreover, had this great drawback, that it was of an entirely academic and unpractical character, because there was no power of moving an Amendment or suggesting an alternative name. They must either adopt that course, or else they must close their lips; and, whatever they might think of the goodness or badness of the names which had been chosen, they must submit to them in absolute and unbroken silence. For his own part, great as were the difficulties of either course in the choice of evils to which the action of the Government had exposed them, he did not hesitate to say that he preferred the course of silence as the less objectionable of the two. But this he might add, in order to prevent misconception, that from compulsory silence no inference could fairly be drawn either the one way or the other, and he thought it right in these few words, which he was sure expressed the opinion of a large number of hon. Members on both sides of the House, to enter a protest against the course the Government had adopted as being at one and the same time unfair to the Irish Members who were immediately concerned, unfair to the House of Commons, and, most of all, unfair to the learned Judges themselves.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said, he wished to ask, as a point of Order, whether it would not be possible to leave a blank in the clause for the names, and to proceed in the discussion of the rest of the Amendments?
It would, of course, be possible to reject the Motion made that this name be there inserted.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
asked whether it would be possible to propose the name of another learned Judge in place of that of Mr. Justice Day?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that for that reason he could not agree with the eloquent remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith)—that this debate need not be entirely of an academic character, if the Committee should in its wisdom see fit to reject the name of the learned Judge to whom the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had objected. If that name were rejected, it would be quite possible for the Committee to substitute the name of another Judge in place of that of Mr. Justice Day. They could not do that without the assistance of the Government, and what, therefore, he would suggest to the Government in all sincerity was this, that they should withdraw the name of Mr. Justice Day. He assumed that to the Government, as well as to Members on the Opposition side of the House, it was a matter causing a deep feeling of pain that the qualifications of a Judge of the Supreme Court should be thus canvassed, in open Committee, in the House of Commons. He joined with the hon. and learned Member for East Fife in thinking that the blame lay with the Government; but the Government could put an end at once to the whole miserable wrangle if they withdrew this name with regard to which such strong differences of opinion existed. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) felt that very great difficulty which had been referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman; but, after all, this Commission was to them—the Irish Members—a matter of life and death, and they could not afford to regard it as a thing to be regulated by etiquette. He must say he had the strongest objection to the appointment of Mr. Justice 795 Day as a member of the Commission. He did not want to go into private matters; but this, he thought, he might be allowed to say, that on this Commission there was not a single Judge who was known to have the smallest sympathy with the political opinions of the Gentleman they were going to try. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House laughed at that observation. Then he wanted to put this to them. Did they think it fair that a Commission which was to try Irish Nationlists should consist entirely of men whose opinions were entirely antagonistic to those of the Irish Members, the men they were to try? [Cries of "Oh!" and Laughter.] When he objected to the Commission as consisting entirely of learned Judges whose political opinions were entirely antagonistic to those of the Irish Members, hon. Members opposite scoffed at the observation. They meant that an impartial Commission must necessarily be a Commission of Judges whose political opinions were the same as their own. Now, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was sorry to have to enter into these matters, but he was obliged to do so by the conduct of the Government. He understood that one of these Judges, whom it was proposed to appoint upon the Commission, was what was known—he meant in his political opinions, and did not want to be taken as referring to the learned gentleman's action—as a Liberal Unionist, and that the political opinions of the two others was what was called Conservative. As to Mr. Justice Day, his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had read a statement of his at the trial of some unfortunate Irishmen tried and convicted at Liverpool of assault. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had not the least doubt that the learned Judge was perfectly justified in his statement that the crime that these men were found guilty of was a foul and brutal one, and that he was perfectly justified in the sentence he passed upon them. But the learned Judge had entered into an attack upon Irishmen in general. That attack upon Irishmen in general, he observed with surprise and pain, seemed to meet with the approval of an hon. Member opposite for one of the Divisions of Belfast, and of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh——
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The hon. and gallant Member disclaimed it—Mr. Justice Day was too anti-Irish even for him; but still an hon. Member opposite, representing one of the Divisions of Belfast, seemed to sympathize with Mr. Justice Day's wanton attack upon Irishmen in general. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had seen Englishmen tried for offences in Ireland, and sometimes for very foul offences, and if he had happened to be the Magistrate or the Judge trying them, what would be thought of his impartiality if in open Court, in passing sentence on such Englishmen, he took the opportunity of launching forth a general attack upon the character of all Englishmen? And yet that was exactly what Mr. Justice Day had done, and that was the man who was to be selected from amongst all the other Judges of the country to take a prominent part in an inquiry in the elucidation of which the political opinions of all those concerned must have a large bearing. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) did not wish to go into private matters; but he thought he could repeat this, as a matter of public notoriety, that Mr. Justice Day never lost an opportunity of speaking in the strongest terms of condemnation of the action of the very Irish Members whom he was now going to try. And this, further, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had been told—he hoped the statement in question was incorrect; he took the responsibility for making it, although he hoped it would be found to be incorrect—that on the occasion of the Unionist victory at Doncaster, the learned Judge received the news on the Bench, and in the most open manner manifested his delight at it. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) must say that he thought the Judge who could thus give public manifestation of his strong political convictions was the last man who should be selected to take part in an inquiry into which political convictions would very largely enter. He sympathized thoroughly with what had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman who had preceded him in his observations as to their being forced into this discussion, but the responsibility did not rest with the Irish Members. Having these convictions, they were bound to express them, and he trusted that the Government would put 797 an end to the unfortunate controversy by withdrawing the name of Mr. Justice Day from nomination, and making the Commission such as could be accepted by the Irish Members with respect.
§ MR. FORREST FULTON (West Ham, N.)
said, that the arguments used by hon. Members opposite, and the way in which the proposals of the Government were being received by them, would make one imagine that this Bill was ex post facto legislation, introduced for the purpose of depriving the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) of those civil rights which he had for more than a twelvemonth declined to exercise, either in England, Ireland, or Scotland. He (Mr. Forrest Fulton) must say he was greatly surprised and astonished at the strictures passed upon the name of one of the learned Judges whom it was proposed to appoint upon this Commission. He could only say that he bad had the privilege of enjoying the friendship of Mr. Justice Day for many years before he sat upon the Bench. Mr. Justice Day had been the leader of his own Circuit, and, although he had been on terms of intimacy with him, he had not the faintest idea what his political opinions were. He had never heard him express any political opinion on any occasion on any subject. His (Mr. Forrest Fulton's) opinion was, that the only reason Mr. Justice Day's name had been added to the Commission was that he was a man with no political bias, and that he was of the same religious persuasion as the majority of the Irish Members. Anyone would have thought that those qualifications would have commended themselves to hon. Members opposite. What would have been said of it if the Commission had been composed entirely of members of the Protestant religion? There would have been an outcry against the composition of the Commission. [Cries of "No, no!"] Yes; it would have been the subject of complaint that this inquiry was initiated and conducted only by persons whose religious opinions were opposed to those of the Irish Members. As a matter of fact, he believed that there were in England only two Judges who happened to be Roman Catholics, one being Mr. Justice Day, who had been appointed to inquire into the Belfast riots. How the hon. Member for 798 the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had obtained his information as to the views of Mr. Justice Day he (Mr. Forrest Fulton) could not say; but the hon. Member seemed to have obtained it in some peculiar way. It could only have been obtained by some persons overhearing conversations in which Mr. Justice Day took part. They were coming to a nice condition of things if private conversations were betrayed for Party purposes, and if a learned Judge was not to express his opinions as to whether or not certain persons tried before him deserved condemnation, or whether certain lines of action in the conduct of the affairs of the country were beneficial or the reverse.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Forrest Fulton) had prefaced his remarks with what did not seem quite relevant to this discussion. The Irish Members, in the first place, asked for a trial by their peers—that was to say, to be tried by a Select Committee of the House; and when that was persistently and wrongfully refused by the Government, their next point was still to put faith in the promises of the Government, and he hoped that some such proposal as was was now submitted would be made. The Irish Members consented to the appointment of this Commission of Judges; but having gone thus far, it was of vast importance that the House of Commons should be on its guard that the feeling and conviction did not exist in Ireland that this was to be a packed Commission of Judges. He did not wish, he was incompetent, to pass any opinion upon any of these Judges. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; but the point raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman behind him (Mr. Asquith) was one with which he heartily agreed—namely, that the Government had departed from the precedent invariably followed in cases of this kind in not having consulted the Front Opposition Bench, in order to prevent any apprehension or misapprehension that their action was guided by a feeling of sympathy towards one of the parties to the dispute. That was the matter which the Committee would have to regard in the face of the civilized world, that was the allegation which would be made, that the Commission had been appointed entirely from one Party. The course 799 the Government had taken was a most deplorable departure, as he regarded it, from precedent in such cases. If the Lord Chancellor had been such an ethereal non-political kind of individual as one might be led to imagine from the action of the Government, the Government might have escaped in the declaration that they had asked him to make this nomination; but the Lord Chancellor was as much a partizan of the Party opposite as any other Member of the Government, and he, therefore, did not think the position of the Government was in any degree better on account of the intimation given to them that the Lord Chancellor had had entrusted to him the duty of making the appointment. Many people believed that the success of this investigation of the Party opposite to the Irish Members, would be as breath to the nostrils of the Government and their supporters. There was so much hanging upon this matter in a political and Party sense that the Government should have taken the greatest care to guard their action in nominating the Members of the Commission—should have taken the greatest care to have avoided all suspicion attaching to their conduct. It was not too late to improve their course even now—if they were well advised they might without any reflection upon Mr. Justice Day, but in order that the appointment might be regarded as one that the House of Commons could give its assent to, and not only to the principle, but also to the personnel of the Commission, an opportunity should be given of consulting the Front Opposition Bench, and taking away once and for all the grave and, as he (Mr. Illingworth) believed it, the fatal objection which would lie against the Commission as at present nominated. In this way the House would be saved the trouble and misfortune of further dwelling upon the qualifications of Mr. Justice Day, or of any other individual appointed to act upon the Commission. It was clear that, even personally, this learned Judge, Mr. Justice Day, had against him a record which was not altogether free from suspicion. He (Mr. Illingworth) was very loth to go into this matter, but surely the information and the evidence given by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was of a public character. Was a 800 Judge on the Bench to be allowed to comment in an offensive way upon the character of a whole people; and was his (Mr. Illingworth's) conduct to be called in question in raising the point in the House of Commons when it was apropos of the matter they had in hand—when it bore upon the acceptance of this Judge's name upon a Commission to try the same people he had denounced. He (Mr. Illingworth) ventured to say that knowing only this single instance, and not doubting for one moment its accuracy, he thought the Government would be well advised on the double ground in giving the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and his Colleagues on the Front Opposition Bench an opportunity of being consulted, and of having some voice in the nomination of the Judges to form this Commission.
MR. FINLAY&c.) (Inverness,
said, he earnestly hoped the Government would not accede to the proposal to withdraw the name of Mr. Justice Day from this Commission. It could not be done without an imputation upon Mr. Justice Day, whose name had been brought before the Committee in this way. If any reason were wanted for the refusal to accede to the proposal now made, it would be the extraordinary reason given by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) who complained that there was not upon the Commission a single Judge who was known to entertain sympathy with the political views of the Irish Nationalist Party. Were they to appoint their Commission on that principle? This objection to the appointment of Mr. Justice Day might be regarded as a preliminary movement intended to pave the way to the proposal for the selection of some Judge who might be supposed to be in sympathy with the Irish Nationalist Party. If the hon. Member's observations did not mean that, he did not know what they did mean. He could not agree with one thing which was said by the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith), and it was this—namely, that the blame of this appointment rested with the Government. The hon. and learned Member said that the Government ought to have entered into communication with the Members of the Front Opposition 801 Bench and hon. Members below the Gangway on the Opposition side of the House in settling the list of names; but he very much doubted if any agreement with responsible Gentlemen sitting on the Opposition side of the House would have prevented the names put forward by the Government being subject to those guerilla attacks such as had been made upon Mr. Justice Day. A good deal had been said about the conduct of Mr. Justice Day in the course of the somewhat irregular discussion which had taken place. Mr. Day's remarks had been quoted——
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
rose to a point of Order. He wished to know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman was in Order in describing as irregular a discussion which had been conducted with the Chairman's sanction?
§ MR. FINLAY
said, that remarks had been quoted which were said to have been made by Mr. Justice Day in sentencing persons to imprisonment in Liverpool. As to the circumstances under which Mr. Justice Day made the remarks referred to be (Mr. Finlay) knew absolutely nothing, and he did not intend, in the absence of information, to express any opinion upon them; but he would point out to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) that there was nothing whatever in what he had said which would in the slightest degree detract from Mr. Justice Day's impartiality as a Member of this Commission. Remarks such as those it was alleged Mr. Justice Day had made would, he should think, be objected to just as much by the strongest Orangeman as by the strongest Nationalist. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) would object to them, he should think, just as much as any hon. Member sitting below the Gangway on the opposite side of the House. Under these circumstances, what colour was there for the allegation of the hon. Member for West Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) that Mr. Justice Day had a record which was not free from suspicion? He (Mr. Finlay) protested against that statement, and he submitted that it was putting the discussion in Committee on a platform to which it ought never to have been degraded. Everyone who knew the Judge whose name was under discus- 802 sion must be aware that he would give the fullest and fairest hearing and consideration to the case, and that both sides would receive from him absolutely impartial treatment free from every taint of political prejudice.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I very much regret that it should have been necessary in the judgment of any hon. Gentleman to raise a question as to the qualifications of the learned Judge who has been named for the position which he is to fill. I have heard statements made as to his partiality which have greatly surprised me. I gave Notice, as the House is aware, last Monday, of the three names which we proposed to insert in the Bill, and up to this moment no whisper of objection as to any of the three names has reached me. It is said that we might have consulted with the other side as to the names of the Commissioners, but it might have been a difficult matter to adjust. I may say, however, following the observations which have fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay), that I believe Mr. Justice Day and the Judges whose names have been placed on the Paper have obtained the complete approval of the Bar of England and of everyone who has any judicial knowledge whatever. I never heard a whisper against their absolute and complete impartiality. It is possible that observations which may have fallen from learned Judges four years ago, or even private conversations which might take place with other persons, may be reported against them. That is possible; but it would be most injurious to the judicial establishment of this country if every word dropped by a Judge were to be brought up against him as evidence of unfitness and inefficiency in the conduct of his judicial duties. What is the conduct of Mr. Justice Day on the Bench? What has been his record as Counsel and Judge? Can anyone point to a single circumstance which attributes to Mr. Justice Day the slightest taint of partiality of any kind? For myself, I could not inflict upon Mr. Justice Day the insult of taking notice of statements and charges such as I have heard this evening, or of any gossip of any kind whatever. Let us know substantially of any failure on the part of Mr. Justice Day to discharge his duties on the judgment seat. Let us know of any expres- 803 sion of opinion or of feeling on the judgment seat on any matters which would have affected the confidence of the public in the finding which he will give. I believe Mr. Justice Day would not have undertaken the duties, which he was asked to undertake by the Lord Chancellor, if he had the slightest doubt in his own mind of his complete and absolute impartiality, if he felt the slightest hesitation as to his fitness to discharge the painful and unpleasant duties sought to be cast upon him. In all the circumstances of the case, and as at present advised, I cannot do more than ask the Committee to affirm the nomination, believing it to be a wise appointment, and an appointment justified by the position of Mr. Justice Day on the Bench. I repeat that I do not think that conversations or any opinions expressed by him at other times or in other places ought to disqualify him for the discharge of the most serious and important duties it is proposed to entrust him with.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I quite understand the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman feels in making any alteration in the composition of the Commission constituted by this Bill. But those difficulties make no difference in the judgment which I believe impartial men will pass upon the injudicious character of this nomination. I hope the Committee will believe that I am not saying one word against Mr. Justice Day. There is nothing further from my intention than to seem to cast the slightest stigma upon the reputation or character of Mr. Justice Day as a Judge. What the right hen. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) has just said of Mr. Justice Day on the Bench was equally true of him when he was at the Bar. His conduct was, and is, open to no reproach whatever, so far as I know. Nothing is further from my intention, in the vote which I am about to give, than to seem to cast the slightest slur on the judicial character of Mr. Justice Day. But I beg the Committee to notice this—that, according to the reiterated asseverations of the Government themselves, the inquiry into which Mr. Justice Day, among others, is going to enter, is an inquiry not of a judicial kind, Mr. Justice Day is not expected to act as he would act if on the Bench. 804 [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] It is not I who say it—it is your own Government who have said that this inquiry is not going to be a purely udicia1 inquiry; and therefore, if Mr. Justice Day were to act otherwise in some respects than he would on the Bench, I, for one, should not blame him. The hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) has said that he is not surprised at the guerilla attack now being made on Mr. Justice Day, and that if other names besides that of Mr. Justice Day had been proposed, with equal certainty there would have been an attack upon them. I am amazed that the hon. and learned Gentleman should make any attack of that kind when, in regard to the two names of Sir James Hannen and Mr. Justice A. L. Smith, not the slightest objection has been taken; and if you had put any other name, or a dozen other names, which could have been suggested, instead of Mr. Justice Day, we should have avoided this painful and regrettable discussion. If you had put the names of any Judges I could enumerate, the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would have been passed without a word. I only want to say one word to justify my vote. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had never heard a whisper as to any attitude of mind on the part of Mr. Justice Day which would tend to make it be believed that this was not one of the best nominations which could have been made from the Judicial Bench. A few minutes before I thought it right to put into the hands of the Government some portion of evidence on which I shall go in thinking that the nomination of Mr. Justice Day was not the happiest that could have been made. I have received information, from a source whose correctness I cannot question—from a gentleman who has had ample and peculiar means of knowing Mr. Justice Day's attitude of mind with reference to Irish affairs, and to points that are particularly likely to come before him in this Commission. I think it justifies the vote which I shall give, and which I feel to be a vote that needs justification. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; I admit it—I admit that to object to the nomination of any Judge of the land is an act which needs justification. But I think there is a considerable mass of evidence and a number of reasons 805 why the choice of Mr. Justice Day is not a happy one. I will venture to read this particular communication to which I have referred to the Committee. [Cries of "Name!"] I have frankly placed this communication in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. I shall not give the name to the Committee, but I must ask them to take my word for it that this gentleman is a high authority. He says—Mr. Justice Day is a man of the 17th century in his views, a Catholic as strong as Torquemada, a Tory of the old high-flyer and non-juror type.That is the impression which is conveyed to men in different parts of the country. [Cries of "Name!"]He nightly railed against Parnell and his friends. He regards them as infidels and rebels who have led astray the Catholic nation. He abhors their utterances and acts; he believes them guilty of any crime.[Renewed cries of "Name!"] I certainly do not intend to give the name. I have given the best proof of good faith in giving the communication to the Government themselves. In the face of a feeling of that kind, which may, or may not, be a justifiable feeling, I appeal to the Committee on grounds of common sense to say whether, when your great object is, or should have been, to have had a tribunal against which a whisper could not have been raised, especially when it could have been so easy to do so, you should have constituted it in the way proposed? I submit that you have taken a most injudicious course, and I, for one, must, with great reluctance, vote against the nomination.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I do not think anyone has reason to complain of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley) has performed a task which, I am sure, was most disagreeable and unpleasant to him. But I am bound to say that when he refused to give to the Committee the name of the gentleman on whose authority the statements are made—though I quite agree that he has in the frankest manner shown the letter to the Government—I think he will feel that he has gone too far in maintaining reticence on this subject. How far it is proper for the gentleman in question to make a communication, which, I presumed, he in- 806 tended to be published, and which was based, apparently, entirely on private conversations in the ordinary intercourse of social life, is a matter upon which I do not wish to offer any comment; but I must say, when Mr. Justice Day finds himself to-morrow in the position of being accused of deliberately accepting a post for which he has made himself unfit by utterances of a political kind, I think he will have a right to ask—"Who is the man who has accused me?" or, perhaps, a right to ask—"Who is the man who has traduced me?" Now, Sir, the Government, in the action they have taken in regard to Mr. Justice Day, have, I am sure I need not say to the right hon. Gentleman, no end whatever in view but that of finding a Judge of absolute impartiality—a man who has never, so far as we know, mixed himself up with Party politics of any kind whatever, and a man whose conduct in his position has shown that he not only possesses that impartiality which I hope all English Judges possess, but that he possesses also that strength of character and judicial capacity which make him fit to discharge the very arduous duty to be assigned to him. And I must point out to the House the very curious confusion of thought which ran through a part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He says—"I admit that he is a judicial man when acting in a judicial capacity; but in this Commission he is not asked to act in a judicial capacity. The Commission, by your own admission, is not a Judicial Commission; and, therefore, Mr. Justice Day may naturally go beyond that strict line of impartiality which we all admit he has observed on the Bench." The right hon. Gentleman in this is playing upon the word "judicial." It is true that in certain aspects this Commission differs from an ordinary tribunal of the law; it differs in its procedure. ["No, no!"] Yes; and it is intended to differ in its procedure. But it does not differ, and it is not intended to differ, with regard to the judicial spirit, the spirit of absolute impartiality and absolute fair play which ought to preside over every act, and which, I think, will preside over every act, of every Judge concerned in the inquiry. Mr. Justice Day, being a man of honour, by accepting this post, has shown that, in his opinion, at all events, he has not ren- 807 dered himself incapable, by any act or any statement of his, of approaching this difficult question which he will have to deal with in an absolutely impartial and absolutely judicial spirit; and, under these circumstances, in our opinion, we should be behaving with something worse than impropriety were we not to say that we adhere to the choice that we have made, with every circumstance of deliberation, and with the utmost impartiality that it was in our power to exercise. [Cries of "Name!" "Morley!"]
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER (Hants, Petersfield)
said, he wished, as a private Member, to enter an emphatic protest against the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley). The right hon. Gentleman impressed the House, and impressed it justly, with the very grave character of the vote he proposed to give, and he endeavoured to influence the vote the Committee would give by reading an anonymous letter. It was surely an anonymous letter, as far as they were concerned, if the writer's name was not to be communicated to them. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) the name of the writer of the letter. So far it was an anonymous letter, as the name of the writer had not been unfolded. The right hon. Gentleman had confided to the Government the name of the writer of the letter, but that did not absolve the 750 Members of that House.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER
said, he was quite content to make hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway a present of the whole force of that point. If that were a specimen of the points which this hon. Gentleman expected to make in the country, he hoped the country would appreciate it. What he wished to point out was this—that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne had put them in an utterly false position. The mere fact that half-a-dozen Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite had been put in possession of the name of the writer of this letter did not absolve the rest of the House from their duty of giving their votes in support of the name of Mr. Justice Day. He hoped the Government 808 would mark the attitude of the Home Rule Party towards the Unionist Party. They had only arrived at the third hour of the Committee stage of this Bill, and they had already been accused, if not directly, at least by innuendo, of endeavouring to pack this Commission. [Cheers.] The cheers from below the Gangway confirmed what he said. Well, then, the country would mark the trap the Unionists would have fallen into if they had agreed to the suggestion of the Home Rule Members for the appointment of a Select Committee. Whenever any point had been raised as to the admissibility of evidence, they would have been held up to execration as choosing for themselves and in their own interests the evidence that was to be brought forward; and if on the mere question of the appointment of a Judge, against whose character nobody had dared to say a single word, either in that House or out of it, they were to be held up to execration as packing that Commission, what would have been the language used—what would have been the vocabulary that would have been ransacked to describe the conduct of the Unionist majority of that House if the Committee had reported against hon. Members from Ireland?
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Mr. Courtney, the Committee seems to suppose that there is something sinister in my refusal to give the name of the writer of the letter I quoted. I can only assure the Committee that I have nothing to conceal. I am not sure that when I give the name of my correspondent it will greatly add to the means of the noble Viscount for deciding how he will vote. Does he mean to say for a moment that his vote will depend on the name I am going to give? My correspondent was a gentleman who was a colleague of Mr. Justice Day on the Belfast Riots Commission, and a barrister, whose name is Mr. Adams.
§ MR. SEXTON
(who rose amid interruption) said, he should move that Progress be reported unless the Committee gave him its attention. He submitted that the noble Viscount (Viscount Wolmer) addressed his faculties very loosely to the case before the Committee. The noble Viscount had said that if a Select Committee had been appointed the Irish Members would have complained that that Committee was packed by the 809 Government; but the noble Viscount had forgotten that the Irish Members had agreed that if a Committee were appointed it should be composed entirely of English and Scotch Members. That would have satisfied the Irish Members. The noble Viscount had described the letter as an anonymous letter; but how could it be anonymous when every Member of the Government Bench knew the name of the writer before the names of the Judges, whom it was proposed to appoint on the Commission, were announced from the Table?
§ MR. SEXTON
said, it was not anonymous to the noble Viscount's confederates opposite, and if they had had any idea that there was anything in the name of the writer to sustain the argument of the noble Viscount—if they had had any idea that the name subscribed to the letter was such a name as would have detracted from the value of the statement contained in the document—there would have been nothing easier than for the Government themselves to have declared the name. He (Mr. Sexton) thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had that evening displayed more than usual of that audacity which was his chief characteristic. It would have been more decent—considering that a criminal charge founded on the verdict of sworn men was hanging over the Board of which he was the head—if the right hon. Gentleman had abstained from intruding in that debate. The right hon. Gentleman apparently thought it a reason for refraining from commenting on the character and mental tendencies of Mr. Justice Day by saying that this was not a Commission which would be bound by any ordinary rules of procedure. In this case, the ordinary rules of procedure would not apply. If Mr. Justice Day were really bound by those rules, it would be of less conse-sequence whether he was impartial or not; but, under existing circumstances, it would be necessary to inquire into this gentleman's qualifications, because, as now proposed, he would have no other rule to govern him except his own caprice and his own hate. It ill became the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to object to the reservation of 810 a name attached to a communication read to the Committee, seeing that every day at Question time in that House the right hon. Gentleman did nothing but read anonymous letters. The right hon. Gentleman traduced absent men, and questioned the veracity of hon. Members of that House on communications which were anonymous. As he (Mr. Sexton) understood the language said to have been used by Mr. Justice Day at Liverpool, if it meant anything, it meant that certain Irish prisoners—who were brought up before him as a Judge—charged with a shameful crime were not only guilty of crime, but that they were guilty of it because they were Irishmen. ["No, no!"] Yes; he said it was a crime that Englishmen would not commit, and that these individuals committed the crime because they were Irishmen. The reasoning faculty of the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) appeared to be turned topsy turvey; because he said that the charge of Mr. Justice Day was a charge against all Irishmen, and that having made a sweeping charge against Irishmen as a race, he was, therefore, qualified to sit on the Commission, When Mr. Justice Day was President of the Commission which inquired into the Belfast riots, the parties appeared before that Commission by counsel, and were allowed to examine witnesses. Mr. Justice Day, however, did not allow counsel to cross-examine witnesses, except at his discretion. The First Lord of the Treasury had challenged them to refer to the conduct of Mr. Justice Day on the Bench, and he (Mr. Sexton) now did so. Mr. Justice Day said he would not allow anyone to cross-examine or examine witnesses, but would decide for himself what witnesses should be called, and he did not allow counsel to address the Court. The rights of the parties to examine were absolutely extinguished by Mr. Justice Day, so far as calling and examining witnesses was concerned. He (Mr. Sexton) did not say whether that was right or wrong; but he asked whether the appointment of this Judge on the Commission was to be considered as a sign that a similar course of conduct would be pursued. He need not follow to the end the speech of the hon. and learned Member for West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton); but he submitted to the hon. and learned Gentle- 811 man that the point he had raised as to Mr. Justice Day being a Roman Catholic had nothing to do with the case. The point of religion had nothing to do with it at all. Hon. Members on those Benches appealed to men of all forms of religious persuasion, including Protestants, and they said that the Home Secretary was not in the least agreeable to them because he was a Roman Catholic. Mr. Justice Day was on the Belfast inquiry. The Liberal Government of the day appointed three Commissioners, and he (Mr. Sexton) had asked that the inquiry should be judicial, and that the Commission should have a judicial head, and the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) appointed Mr. Justice Day. He (Mr. Sexton) objected to the principle that Judges should be chosen because they were in opposition to hon. Members on those Benches. Mr. Justice Day had made a Report of a judicial character, which had now been issued two years, and in which he made certain recommendations, but the Government had never acted on that Report. Why had they not acted upon it? He (Mr. Sexton) said they had discredited the learned Judge by their refusal to act upon any of his suggestions, and before the House assented to the proposal for his appointment, he contended that they ought to have from the Government who appointed him an explanation of the discredit which they had thus cast upon him.
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said, it would have been possible for the Government to have selected from the Judicial Bench some other Judge at least as well qualified, possibly even better qualified, than Mr. Justice Day. One thing was clear—namely, that this selection was objected to by every one of the men whose conduct Mr. Justice Day was to inquire into. That appeared to him to be an extremely strong point, and he should not be surprised if Mr. Justice Day, when he saw the result of the Division about to take place, saved the Government the trouble of removing his name from the Commission.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) thought it was unfair to urge the political inclinations of Judges in a matter of that kind. The right hon. 812 Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had said it would be an imputation on a Judge, when once named, to change him on such an objection, and he understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to concur in the view that it was unfair to raise an imputation on a Judge on the ground of political proclivities. But he (Mr. Bradlaugh) would remind the right hon. Gentleman that in 1884 his then Leader and Colleague objected to the constitution of a Court of three Judges on the ground of the politics of the Judges who had been announced in the newspapers as forming the Court, and that thereupon the constitution of the Court was changed in consequence of the objection made.
§ MR. DIXON-HARTLAND (Middlesex, Uxbridge)
said, the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) had sneered at the hon. and learned Member for West Ham (Mr. Forrest Fulton) because he wished to stand well with the Bench and his Circuit. The same sneer could not be applied to him. He (Mr. Dixon-Hartland) wished to say that he had had the honour of the friendship of Mr. Justice Day for a great number of years. [Ironical Opposition cheers.] And he said distinctly that he knew Mr. Justice Day a great deal better than Mr. Adams, who had written this scandalous letter. The feeling expressed in the letter was very strong indeed, and showed the personal animus of the writer, and it was not a judicial letter in any shape or form, or one to which the House could attach any weight. Although he had known Mr. Justice Day for so long and had conversed with him on many subjects, he was perfectly unaware of what his political opinions were. He had spoken with him on many questions, and he said distinctly that Mr. Justice Day was a man whom everyone honoured, and he regarded him as one of the best men who could be appointed on the Commission.
§ MR. BRUNNER
said, he had waited for a reply to the worthy speech of the hon. and learned Member for Fife (Mr. Asquith). The hon. and learned Member had said it would have been far more dignified if the Government had arranged with Members on the Opposition side of the House as to the names of the Commissioners to be appointed. 813 The only answer to that argument was that the names were published a week ago, and not a whisper had been made against the names of the three Judges in question; but he (Mr. Brunner) would point out that if the names had been published in the papers on the authority of the Government, and if, on representations made, the name of Mr. Justice Day had been withdrawn, the Government would not have cast a slur upon the conduct of the learned Judge. They cast a slur upon him by the course they were now pursuing, and for that reason, and because they had detracted from the dignity of the House, he should vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. LEAMY (Sligo, S.)
said, the question to be decided by the vote they were about to give was whether the opponents of hon. Members on those Benches were to select the jury by whom they were to be tried. If a criminal charge were to be preferred by the hon. and learned Attorney General, or any other Law Officer of the Crown, against them as a whole, or individually, in an English Court of Law, the right of challenging the jury would exist for them. But the Government chose to bring them before this Commission, and at the same time they denied their right to challenge a single juryman whom they set up to try them, and Irish Members were then to be told that they must not charge the Government with jury packing. If the Government denied them the right of objecting to one of the three jurors, it was clear that they were packing the jury. It would be a packed jury, and the Irish race all over the world would know that it was a packed jury. He was not concerned with the opinions entertained by any of his Colleagues; but he grieved to say that they must be prepared, for some time at least, to find their fellow-countrymen on the opposite side of the House opposed to them. There was, however, one right hon. Gentleman opposite whom he (Mr. Leamy) would very much like to hear state his opinions on the question. He referred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), the descendant of a man whose name was once familiar on Irish lips, and who had fought many battles for Irish independence. The right hon. Gentleman had always been respected by them, although he had bitterly op- 814 posed them in the House of Commons, and he (Mr. Leamy) asked him what he thought of the conduct of the Government, who set up that tribunal and refused to allow Irish Members the right of challenging any one of those jurymen? They had always regarded the right hon. Gentleman as an honourable opponent, and he wanted to know whether he was prepared to stand up in the House of Commons and shield The Times, by supporting the proposal of the Government, after the numerous written statements that had been made? He could easily understand that the right hon. Gentleman might not care to listen to charges made from a base source; but here was a private conversation on record, which would be just as historical as the conversation on which that letter was founded by which Ireland had learned what had led to the murder of John Mandeville.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Sir, strong objection has been taken to the conduct of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and taken, indeed, from that portion of the House which we well know to be most hostile to Ireland. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" and Cheers.] Still, I think it my duty to associate myself with the action of my right hon. Friend. The state of the case is this. My right hon. Friend was possessed of information coming from a gentleman of character and knowledge, whose expression of opinion is undoubtedly entitled to consideration, because he had been called upon to act in a highly responsible position by the Executive Government of the country, and is, I believe, without any impeachment or objection whatever from any quarter. My right hon. Friend, being in possession of that information, is challenged by the Government to vote upon the question of the appointment of Mr. Justice Day, and to perform one of the most delicate and one of the most difficult offices that was ever imposed upon a man. Was it the duty of my right hon. Friend to bury that information in his breast, to disguise it, or take care, at all events, that his Colleagues in this House should know nothing of it? My right hon. Friend thought it his duty to make it known to those upon whose responsibility, and upon whose responsibility alone, the name of Mr. Justice Day is proposed. That information was received by them, and having been re- 815 ceived by them they, notwithstanding, considered it their duty to pass it over, if not as a matter of no account, yet as a matter which did not relieve them from the obligations under which they had placed themselves to Mr. Justice Day. Well, Sir, it appears to me that my right hon. Friend did no more than his public duty when the Government of the day, rightly or wrongly, acting on their undoubted competency, declined to attach weight to that information—he did no more than his duty in giving it to the House. And with respect to the mention of the name, it must be recollected that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), in the course of his remarks, undoubtedly brought into question, at least as a possibility, the character of the writer of the letter; because he said that perhaps the writer was in error, and perhaps he would be found to have traduced the character of Mr. Justice Day—[Ministerial cheers]—and that is the sentiment which is readily taken up on that side of the House, and which probably finds sympathy and dissemination on this side. When the honour of the writer of the letter had so been called in question, I think my right hon. Friend acted upon the dictates of public duty in making known to the House entirely the remarkable testimony he had received. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" and Laughter.] Well, Sir, it was remarkable testimony, and I am endeavouring to explain to those who laugh and cheer that they do not appear to comprehend at present what is the purpose of this debate, and what is the position in which we are actually placed. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) has most justly described this as a painful, and, I will add, a most odious discussion. More than half-a-century of public life, necessarily contentious, has never once placed me in the position in which I am placed to-night. In one respect I do not share the felicity of the hon. and learned Member; he has obligations of duty or delicacy, or both, towards one of the heads of his Profession, which lead him to the conclusion that he had better abstain from any vote upon the matter, or, at any rate, that he had better refrain from expressing any opinion upon it. But that is not the position in which we stand as independent Members of 816 this House. We have no such excuse; we have no such plea for shrinking from what, under ordinary circumstances, would be our duty. What is the state of the case? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) proposes three names to the House, and presents those names to us for our acceptance or rejection. Either we are to accept them, or else it is said that we insult the gentlemen who bear those names. Is that a proper position in which to place us? Are we a deliberative Assembly, or are we not? I am called upon to hand over the honour and character of a considerable and indefinite number of the Members of this House to be investigated, without the safeguard of judicial rules, by certain persons, and I am told, although I am a Member of a deliberative Assembly, that if I do not accept without question the proposal of the Government I insult the persons named. I cannot escape from the duty of deliberation; I am fully responsible for the vote I am about to give. The hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) charges us, or Members below the Gangway, with desiring to obtain a Commission of our own political colour with respect to Irish policy. Is that a just charge? Is it sustained by what has taken place? The name of Sir James Hannen has been unanimously accepted by the House, and by the Irish Members, and we know perfectly well Sir James Hannen's political opinions upon this great question are entirely opposed to our own. Why, then, does the hon. and learned Member for Inverness make the charge in defiance of the evidence which was before him at the time he spoke?
§ MR. FINLAY
The evidence before me at the time was that which has just been stated by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). He said that this Commission did not contain a single Member who was known to sympathize with the political views of the majority of Irish Members.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. and learned Gentleman, although a most able barrister, is not a Judge. The hon. and learned Gentleman had before him not only the declaration of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, but also the fact that the name of an honourable political opponent had been accepted unanimously by the House; 817 and it was in those circumstances that the hon. and learned Member laid his charge.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The hon. and learned Member has quoted me as giving ground for his statement. But I had stated just before he spoke that Sir James Hannen was opposed to us in politics, and that, nevertheless, we did not object to him.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I wish to add something to that evidence. I may be permitted to remark, looking back to the name of Sir James Hannon, and looking forward to the name of Mr. Justice Smith, that we are perfectly well aware that Mr. Justice Smith is a gentleman deliberately and determinedly opposed to our policy.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
If the right hon. Gentleman has no such information, we, at any rate, are universally under the belief that Mr. Justice A. L. Smith is opposed to us along the whole line of politics, and, notwithstanding that, we make no objection whatever to his appointment. I say we make no objection, because I believe that to be the unanimous sentiment on this side of the House. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) has expressed his great regret that there has not been communication with the Leaders of the Opposition before these names were proposed. I wish to say, Sir, that we upon this Bench make no claim whatever of that character. We have no right whatever to expect any communication from the right hon. Gentleman; but we have a right, especially so when considering the delicate nature of nominations of this kind, and especially of this nomination, that the greatest care should have been exercised in the selection of the names to be laid before us, and that they should be names to which no reasonable and, I believe I am right in saying, no plausible objection could be taken. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland says that this is not a judicial inquiry, but that it is to be conducted in a judicial spirit, and he thinks that this is the same thing.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I said the machinery differed from ordinary machinery, but that the inquiry was to be governed by judicial rules.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman, as against my statement, says that the inquiry is to be governed by judicial rules. It is not because you have refused to admit into the Bill words which would have required the observance of judicial rules—I am not taking that captious and plausible objection—what I am saying is what has been stated by my hon. Friend near me—namely, that judicial rules are a powerful aid to the human judgment and to the human mind; and men are apt more or less, even on the Bench, sometimes to be swayed by feeling and prejudice. These judicial rules are a security which every upright and intelligent Judge will value beyond all price as a means of securing him against any deviation from the strict line of justice? It is asked, has Mr. Justice Day ever gone wrong in the administration of justice? No, Sir; his practice has been, in the administration of justice, guided, guarded, and aided by those judicial rules which you refuse to make a condition of the present delicate and difficult inquiry. There is all the difference between acting in an inquiry under the cover of those rules, and acting in an inquiry where the safeguard is altogether withdrawn. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, I think, said that probably if the Government had communicated with the Front Opposition Bench it would have come to nothing, and that the matter would have been associated with insuperable difficulties. I cannot admit that the matter was one of any difficulty at all. I think the probability—I do not say the certainty—is that if the right hon. Gentleman had drawn his Judges by lot, he would have done better than he has now done. I can say confidently that there are a dozen Judges or more, to no one of whom would objection have been taken. Sir, the question is not what is to be the answer to the right hon. Gentleman, when he says that Mr. Justice Day has not been convicted of any offence. Certainly not. He has not been convicted of any offence. But this is not a question of a man being unconvicted; it is a question of a man being appointed to an office of extraordinary delicacy and difficulty, in the discharge of which office he is to be deprived of the aids and safeguards under which he 819 has habitually acted; and what is required is that, in respect to the discharge of the duty, he should not only be without proved offence, but that there should not be any rational, nay, I would say any widespread objection, or any rational or not irrational suspicion. There ought to be no suspicion; there ought to be no possibility of objection; and if we are told that this is requiring terms too severe, my answer is that every other Judge on the Bench would have been regarded as absolutely fulfilling this objection. Now, Sir, under these circumstances. I am called upon, like others, to perform a very painful duty. I lament that Her Majesty's Government should appear to have treated this as a sort of perfunctory duty without careful, thorough, and minute inquiry. I perfectly admit that they were entitled to proceed without making any prior communication to us. That I entirely admit; but, of course, they have concentrated all the more upon themselves their full responsibility. There is the presumption brought before us that the Government must be aware that statements like those of my right hon. Friend (Mr. John Morley) and of the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and even the later statement made by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, disturb men's minds and impair the full and absolute confidence with which the name and the action of every one of those Judges should be regarded. Under these circumstances, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for East Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) that the objection taken by the whole mass of those who are to be tried is an important element in this case. Behind them, though you may think little of that here, they have a people, and behind that people, in my opinion, they have a widespread sentiment throughout the whole range of the civilized world. [Dissent.] I see an hon. Gentleman opposite toss his head. [Laughter.] That is a very convenient method of conducting Parliamentary operations. [Mr. GEDGE here rose.] I do not refer to the hon. Member for Stockport. I refer to hon. Gentlemen who think that is the proper way of conducting this discussion, and I give them one test. Let them produce to me from the whole compass of foreign literature 820 the name of any author of repute in any civilized land who has made an investigation, not into the Home Rule Bill, but into the relations between England and Ireland, and who comes to any other conclusion but this one—that those relations, taken in the mass, have been a calamity to Ireland and a disgrace to England. I feel that an absolute duty is laid upon me, who have no professional superiority to accuse me, to do what I can to procure justice and the certainty of justice, and to see that the administration of justice is free from criticism and suspicion; and, therefore, without at all attempting to pass any condemnation upon Mr. Justice Day, who, no doubt, is a man of character, of honour, and of competency to discharge all his legal duties, I shall give a most distinct and decided, though a painful, vote against the insertion of his name in this Bill.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I do not propose to detain the Committee for more than one moment, but there is one point which I think ought to be cleared up. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) stated that the Government has had an opportunity of seeing this letter. It is perfectly true that after "Question time," when the Business of the House had already commenced, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) showed the letter to my right hon. Friend; but I should like to know at what time that letter was received? I should like to know what time elapsed before the right hon. Gentleman communicated that letter to the Government?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
As the right hon. Gentleman apparently considers me a party to its not having been communicated earlier, I may say that I saw the letter a quarter of an hour or 10 minutes ago, before it was communicated to the Government.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
That is of less importance than that the Government should have seen it, if it was thought that it ought to have the slightest influence on the mind of the Government. I will assume that the latest date at which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne could have received the letter was this morning. If 821 the right hon. Gentleman wished to produce the slightest impression on the Government, why did he not communicate it to the Government at once? Then it would have been possible to communicate with Mr. Justice Day, if the Government had thought that the letter deserved any consideration at all. It ought to have been put into the hands of the Government in such time that the Government could have communicated with the man whom it accused. But I want to make one last appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On pressure, the right hon. Gentleman said he would give us the name. Will he, on pressure, give us the date? [Cries of "Date?"] The right hon. Gentleman refuses to say how long he has had this letter in his possession, and why he kindly placed it in the hands of the Government just after the debate began. Why did he not place it in our hands earlier? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian alluded to some dissatisfaction with the composition of the Commission on the first day when it was announced. How long after that did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne receive this communication? However, we shall know the date some day when we have no longer to deal with it in debate.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
There is no secret about this. To the best of my knowledge and belief, I received the letter about midday on Saturday last.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Under pressure the right hon. Gentleman has given the date to me. He was good enough to show the letter to us to-day. Why did he not communicate it to us earlier? It was put into our hands to influence this debate at a time when we could not communicate with the Judge. I do not do Mr. Justice Day the injustice of supposing that the letter would have influenced the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has spoken of our selection of these Judges, and he appears to be perfectly acquainted with the political opinions of Sir James Hannen and Mr. Justice A. L. Smith. I can only repeat what has been stated by the First Lord of the Treasury—that we, at least, were unacquainted with those opinions. We were unacquainted with them as we are now. While we have been sitting here 822 we have referred to see by whom they were appointed. They were appointed in 1882 and 1883 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman said they were appointed by me. That is untrue, and it is absurd. The Prime Minister, as such, has no share in the appointment of Judges, and the Lord Chancellor is entirely responsible for the appointment. I take my share of the responsibility of our Lord Chancellor freely and willingly. But our Lord Chancellor did not, in appointing Judges, make it a condition that they should be of his own political opinions.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
In 1882 and 1883, then, the right hon. Gentleman did not know the political opinions of these Judges. But you expect us to know them while the right hon. Gentleman does not. We repudiate in the strongest possible way the suggestion that we had any regard whatever to the political opinions of these gentlemen. But there was one reason why these names suggested themselves to us rather than others. It was because we considered these gentlemen to be non-political Judges. Many Judges become Judges after having been Law Officers, and many Judges have been connected with political Parties. Here are Judges not connected with political Parties, who have never been in Parliament, and who, therefore, commended themselves to us as specially qualified for these appointments. We believe that we have got Judges who are looked up to by the country at large, and we trust that the Committee will endorse that view by their vote.
§ MR. PARNELL
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) says that he was not aware of the political opinions of these Judges whom he proposes to appoint as the jury to try us. I have heard the same statement from every Irish official who has ever been accused in this House of jury packing. I have heard the same statement made over and over again from those Benches opposite in reply to similar charges brought forward by us. "Oh," it is always said, 823 "we never knew anything about the religious and political opinions of these jurors;" but, somehow or other, it always happened that Orangemen and Protestants were put upon those juries to try Nationalists and Catholics. At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman cannot now plead that he is in ignorance of the political opinions of these Judges. He now knows that the Lord Chancellor, who, he admitted, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, is practically the Representative of the Government in this matter, and has acted for them—he now knows that the Lord Chancellor has appointed three Conservative Judges to try Irish Nationalists. [Cries of "No!"] Well, two Conservatives and one Unionist. It is very extraordinary how they should have taken care, this impartial Government and Lord Chancellor, who were so absolutely ignorant of the political opinions of these gentlemen—it is very curious how they should have taken care to give the minority representation on this jury to their Unionist ally. The world will know to-morrow that it is this Conservative Government's idea of fairness that Irish Nationalists should be tried upon these charges by a jury of their political opponents.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 269; Noes 180: Majority 89.827
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-|
|Ainslie, W. G.|
|Aird, J.||Beach, W. W. B.|
|Allsopp, hon. P.||Beadel, W. J.|
|Ambrose, W.||Beaumont, H. F.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Bective, Earl of|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Bentinck, Lord H. C.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. S.||Bethell, Commander G. R.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Biddulph, M.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Bigwood, J.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Birkbeck, Sir E.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||Blundell, Col. H. B. H.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Bond, G. H.|
|Baring, Viscount||Bonsor, H. C. O.|
|Baring, T. C.||Boord, T. W.|
|Barnes, A.||Borthwick, Sir A.|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Bristowe, T. L.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.|
|Baumann, A. A.|
|Beazley-White, J.||Brown, A. H.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.||Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Caine, W. S.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Caldwell, J.||Goschen, rt. hn. G. J.|
|Campbell, Sir A.||Gray, C. W.|
|Carmarthen, Marq. of||Green, Sir E.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Greene, E.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Charrington, S.||Gurdon, R. T.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Hall, A. W.|
|Coddington, W.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Collings, J.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Colomb, Sir J. C. R.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.||Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Corbett, A. C.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.|
|Corbett, J.||Hanbury, R. W.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Hankey, F. A.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Hardcastle, E.|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||Hardcastle, F.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Cross, H. S.||Heath, A. R.|
|Crossley, Sir S. B.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hermon-Hodge, R. T.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Dalrymple, Sir C.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Darling, C. J.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Hill, A. S.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hoare, E. B.|
|Dixon, G.||Hoare, S.|
|Dixon-Hartland, F. D.||Hobhouse, H.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Houldsworth, Sir W. H.|
|Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Hubbard, hon. E.|
|Egerton, hon. A. J. F.||Hunter, Sir W. G.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||Isaacs, L. H.|
|Elliot, hon. H. F. H.||Isaacson, F. W.|
|Elton, C. I.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Ewing, Sir A. O.||Jardine, Sir R.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Jarvis, A. W.|
|Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J.||Jennings, L. J.|
|Fellowes, A. E.||Johnston, W.|
|Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.||Kelly, J. R.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.|
|Field, Admiral E.||Kenyon, hon. G. T.|
|Finch, G. H.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.|
|Finlay, R. B.|
|Fisher, W. H.||Ker, R. W. B.|
|Fitzgerald, R. U. P.||Kerans, F. H.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. W. H. W.||Kimber, H.|
|King, H. S.|
|Fitz-Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.|
|Fletcher, Sir H.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Folkestone, right hon. Viscount||Knowles, L.|
|Forwood, A. B.||Lafone, A.|
|Fowler, Sir R. N.||Lambert, C.|
|Fraser, General C. C.||Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.|
|Fulton, J. F.||Lawrence, W. F.|
|Gardner, R. Richardson-||Lea, T.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Gedge, S.||Lees, E.|
|Giles, A.||Leighton, S.|
|Gilliat, J. S.||Lethbridge, Sir R.|
|Godson, A. F.||Lewisham, right hon. Viscount|
|Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Robinson, B.|
|Long, W. H.||Ross, A. H.|
|Lowther, right hon. J.||Rothschild, Baron F. J. de|
|Lowther, hon. W.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Round, J.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Russell, Sir G.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Saunderson, Col. E. J.|
|Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Selwyn, Captain C. W.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Maclean, F. W.||Sinclair, W. P.|
|Maclean, J. M.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Smith, A.|
|M'Calmont, Captain J.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E|
|Madden, D. H.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Mallock, R.||Stephens, H. C.|
|Marriott, right hon. Sir W. T.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Stokes, G. G.|
|Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-||Sutherland, T.|
|Matthews, right hon. H.||Sykes, C.|
|Talbot, J. G.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Tapling, T. K.|
|Mildmay, F. B.||Taylor, F.|
|Milvain, T.||Temple, Sir R.|
|More, R. J.||Thorburn, W.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Morrison, W.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Moss, R.||Trotter, Col. H. J.|
|Mowbray, R. G. C.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Mulholland, H. L.||Vincent, C. E. H.|
|Muntz, P. A.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Murdoch, C. T.||Warmington, C. M.|
|Noble, W.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Norris, E. S.||Webster, R. G.|
|Northcote, hon. Sir H. S.||West, Colonel W. C.|
|Norton, R.||Wharton, J. L.|
|O'Neill, hon. R. T.||Whitley, E.|
|Pearce, Sir W.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Pelly, Sir L.||Wiggin, H.|
|Penton, Captain F. T.||Will, J. S.|
|Plunket, right hon. D. R.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Powell, F. S.||Wood, N.|
|Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Rankin, J.||Wright, H. S.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Reed, H. B.|
|Ritchie, right hon. C. T.||TELLERS.|
|Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Robertson, Sir W. T.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Burt, T.|
|Buxton, S. C.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Byrne, G. M.|
|Allison, R. A.||Campbell, Sir G.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.|
|Asquith, H. H.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Carew, J. L.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Chance, P. A.|
|Ballantine, W. H. W.||Channing, F. A.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Childers, rt. hon. H. C. E.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Clancy, J. J.|
|Bradlaugh, C.||Cobb, H. P.|
|Bright, Jacob||Colman, J. J.|
|Bright, W. L.||Commins, A.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Conway, M.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Corbet, W. J.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Cossham, H.|
|Cox, J. R.||Marum, E. M.|
|Craig, J.||Molloy B. C.|
|Craven, J.||Morgan, right hon. G. O.|
|Crawford, W.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Crilly, D.||Morley, rt. hon. J.|
|Deasy, J.||Morley, A.|
|Dickson, T. A.||Mundella, right hon. A. J.|
|Ellis, J. E.|
|Ellis, T. E.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.||Newnes, G.|
|Esslemont, P.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Evans, F. H.||Nolan, J.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro-||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Finucane, J.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Fitzgerald, J. G.||O'Connor, A.|
|Flynn, J. C.||O'Connor, J.|
|Foley, P. J.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Foljambe, C. G. S.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||O'Gorman Mahon, The|
|Fuller, G. P.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Gardner, H.||O'Keeffe, F. A.|
|Gilhooly, J.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Gill, T. P.||Palmer, Sir C. M.|
|Gladstone, right hon. W. E.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Paulton, J. M.|
|Gladstone, H. J.||Philipps, J. W.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Graham, R. C.||Picton, J. A.|
|Grove, Sir T. F.||Pinkerton, J.|
|Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F. S. A.||Playfair, right hon. Sir L.|
|Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.||Plowden, Sir W. C.|
|Portman, hon. E. B.|
|Harrington, E.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|Hayden, L. P.||Power, P. J.|
|Hayne, C. Seale-||Power, R.|
|Healy, M.||Priestley, B.|
|Holden, I.||Pugh, D.|
|Hooper, J.||Pyne, J. D.|
|Hoyle, I.||Randell, D.|
|Hunter, W. A.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Illingworth, A.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Jacoby, J. A.||Reid, R. T.|
|James, hon. W. H.||Rendel, S.|
|Joicey, J.||Reynolds, W. J.|
|Jordan, J.||Roberts, J.|
|Kenny, J. E.||Roe, T.|
|Kenny, M. J.||Roscoe, Sir H. E.|
|Kilbride, D.||Rowlands, J.|
|Lalor, R.||Rowntree, J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Schwann, C. E.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Sexton, T.|
|Leahy, J.||Shaw, T.|
|Leamy, E.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.||Sheil, E.|
|Simon, Sir J.|
|Lewis, T. P.||Sinclair, J.|
|Lyell, L.||Smith, S.|
|Macdonald, W. A.||Stack, J.|
|Mac Neill, J. G. S.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|M'Arthur, A.||Stansfeld, right hon J.|
|M'Arthur, W. A.|
|M'Cartan, M.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|M'Carthy, J||Stewart, H.|
|M'Carthy, J. H.||Stuart, J.|
|M'Donald, P.||Sullivan, D.|
|M'Ewan, W.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|M'Kenna, Sir J. N.||Summers, W.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Swinburne, Sir|
|Mahony, P||Tanner, C. K.|
|Maitland, W. F.||Thomas, A.|
|Mappin, Sir F. T.||Thomas, D. A.|
|Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Tuite, J.||Woodhead, J.|
|Wayman, T.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Williamson, S.||Labouchere, H.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for Friday.
§ Amendment proposed, in same page, line 13, after "and," insert "the Honourable Sir Archibald Levin Smith."
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he desired to call attention to a word of very great importance which occurred in the clause under notice—namely, the word "allegations." It would be noticed that in this Bill words were introduced which were quite novel in Acts of Parliament, and the history of which, he supposed, they would hear from the Law Officers of the Crown. In a Bill dealing with very important questions, it was not at all desirable to use words with which they were not accustomed, which had not been previously used in Acts of Parliament. He was afraid they would not hear an explanation of the word "allegations" from the hon. and learned Attorney General, because he understood that the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to take no part in the discussion of the Bill in Committee. That was a fact he (Mr. Anderson) very much b regretted; but he supposed the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke), or some other Member of the Government, would explain why it was that the word "allegations" was inserted in the Bill. Let him call the attention of the Committee to the difference between the meaning of the word "charges" and the word "allegations." A charge was a thing which they perfectly well understood. A charge was a well-known term, a term which was constantly being used; it meant a distinct charge of a certain thing against this or that person. The meaning of the word was perfectly well understood, and he had proposed, as one or two other hon. Members had proposed, to accentuate that meaning by inserting in a Schedule annexed to the Bill the specific charges and the names of the persons charged. He proposed to move that Amendment in its turn, unless some other hon. Member moved it before him. Now, what was the meaning of the word "allegations?" If they took the word 828 in its broadest sense, they found it meant every statement made by the hon. and learned Attorney General in his speech in the late trial. Perhaps the Committee would allow him (Mr. Anderson) to illustrate what he meant by reference to one of the pages of the pamphlet in which were recorded the proceedings of "O'Donnell v. Walter." In the middle of page 92 the hon. and learned Attorney General mentioned certain charges which were brought against certain Members of the Parnellite Party, and he used this language—We charge that the Land League Chiefs based their movement on a scheme of assassination carefully calculated and applied.Those were words which were used, he believed, in Parnellism and Crime. They contained a distinct charge. Further on in the page, the hon. and learned Attorney General continued to read from the second article headed "A restrospect—Ireland." The words the Attorney General quoted were—We have no intention of cutting the throats of our friends.And the report of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech went on—Coming to the words 'Constitutional leaders' he again drew the attention of the jury to the quotation marks which enclosed the words, and said that 'they, of course, did not refer to the persons who appeared in Parliament, but to the people who posed as Constitutional Leaders of the Land League.'He (Mr. Anderson) particularly called the attention of the hon. and learned Solicitor General to the next words of the pamphlet—He then read from the article Mr. Arnold Forster's description of the fruits of the Land League eloquence.And this was the statement read from the writings of Mr. Arnold Forster, and which, of course, would come under the term "allegations" mentioned in the Bill—Three score cruel murders of men and women, with mutilations, burnings, robberies innumerable; more than 10,000 outrages committed in the short space of two years and a-half, concocted and perpetrated in the interests of a cruel and illegal conspiracy.Now, the Commission had only to read those words to find that there was an allegation made in the trial which came within the meaning of the Bill—not a charge against any person or persons, 829 but an allegation said to have arisen from certain speeches which had been delivered, and which, if this Bill passed in its present form, it would be the bounden duty of the Judges to inquire into. He had brought this out merely as an illustration of the kind of inquiry the Government proposed the learned Judges should enter upon. Under the term "allegations," it would be open to anybody to call upon the learned Judges to inquire into the murders which were mentioned by Mr. Arnold Forster, who, as an anonymous writer, had made the allegation put forward by the hon. and learned Attorney General in his speech. He (Mr. Anderson) was quite satisfied that if any one of the Judges were told of the magnitude of the task they had to enter upon under the term "allegations," they would, every one of them, refuse to serve. He was anxious, at that early stage of the proceedings in Committee, to show the door which was opened by the wording of the Bill. There would be many discussions unless the Government greatly altered their Bill, unless they formulated in it some method by which the wide range of subjects mentioned in the trial of the action "O'Donnell v. Walter" was curtailed. In the interest of justice to the persons who were to be charged under the Bill, it was absolutely necessary that there should be some specification of the charges made. He was anxious to hear what the Government had to say upon the subject; it was a subject which must be dealt with perhaps more at large in a subsequent Amendment; but, at the same time, it was one of great importance. Moreover, he would like to know who prepared the Bill? He would like to know whether the hon. and learned Attorney General prepared the Bill? He thought the Committee had great cause of complaint that upon an important measure of that kind the hon. and learned Gentleman was not to assist them in their deliberations. He presumed the hon. and learned Attorney General had assisted in the preparation of the Bill. If not, who had? He hoped the Committee would hear from somebody upon the Government Bench the reason for the introduction of the word "allegations," and that they would be told what precedent there was for it.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 18, to leave out the words "and allegations."—(Mr. Anderson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'and allegations' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that the Government had decided to oppose the Amendment. The hon. and learned Member had said that the word "allegations" was novel in Acts of Parliament of the sort. The hon. and learned Gentleman might possibly not find the substantive word, but he certainly would often find the word "alleged." According to the Act appointing the Commission to inquire into the Metropolitan Board of Works, the Commissioners were to inquire into the irregularities "alleged" to have taken place. Again, in the case of the Sheffield Commission, the Commissioners were to inquire into acts of intimidation, outrage, or wrong "alleged" to have been promoted, encouraged, or connived at by trades unions or other associations. That language was substantially the same as that used in the Bill. The statements in the proceedings of "O'Donnell v. Walter," and in the articles Parnellism and Crime, did not consist wholly of charges. There were, no doubt, charges, and very grave charges. He thought he had heard the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) himself say that the charges against him personally were a minute and infinitesimal part of the charges made in the articles.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he certainly had understood the hon. Gentleman to say that was alleged about him was a mere fractional part of the charges which were made.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that if the hon. Gentleman did not say it, he (Mr. Matthews) would say it. It appeared to him that the charges against the hon. Member were a minute portion of the allegations and statements contained in the proceedings in "O'Donnell v. Walter," and in the articles known as Parnellism and Crime. There were several other hon. Members of the House against whom charges more or less serious were 831 made; but there were a vast number of allegations in the articles which did not amount to charges against anyone in particular. It was proposed that the whole matter of these proceedings should be inquired into—that the whole of the statements made during the trial in the action "O'Donnell v. Walter," and in the articles in The Times, should be investigated, neither more or less. He did not know whether the hon. Member would desire him to give an illustration of the allegations which were made. If so, he would refer the hon. Gentleman to page 13 of the pamphlet, Parnellism and Crime. It was there stated—We shall trace the main outlines of the movement, illustrate its principles and its working, prove that it is essentially a foreign conspiracy, and demonstrate that its chief authors have been and are in intimate, notorious, and continuous relations with avowed murderers.Now that, in his mind, did not amount to a charge; it stated no criminal offence known to the law, but it was an allegation, an allegation, no doubt, of a very grave and serious kind. The article went on—How intimate those relations have been—who counselled, who connived at, who condoned individual deeds of blood—is yet unknown.There were portions of that sentence which were not charges. The charges and allegations were mixed up in the different statements, and if they struck out the word "allegations," they would appear to shut out a great deal which it was fit and proper to inquire into. He might say, once for all, in answer to this Amendment and to others of a similar kind that were upon the Paper, that the Government did not view this in the light of a trial in which, of course, different accusations were made on the one side. The tribunal was to be appointed to ascertain the truth of statements which had been made, some of them imputing, no doubt, a shade even of criminality to a great variety of persons, some of them only imputing to various persons conduct which was not, strictly speaking, criminal, but which was more or less opposed to the moral sense of other persons. There were two sorts of shades of censures suggested in the course of these proceedings, some amounting to what would be offences at law, others amounting to other species of conduct shading off in imperceptible degrees between right and wrong. The 832 Government would not consent to omit any part of the statements from the inquiry, neither would they add anything to what had been alleged.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had expected to hear the right hon. Gentleman quote some sort of precedent in favour of the language used in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman told them what they all knew—namely, that the word "alleged" had been used in Acts of Parliament. Of course, the word "alleged" had been used over and over again; but they did not use the word "alleged" here—they used the word "allegations." They said that the Judges were to inquire into allegations in the cases referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. It was alleged that crimes had been committed; it was alleged that conspiracy had been engaged in; it was alleged that something else had been done. That was a totally different matter to what was stated here. According to the precedent of the Government, the words of the Bill ought to be—"It being alleged that certain Members of the House of Commons and others have committed crimes, have been party to crimes," and so on. He should have understood that. That would have been perfectly clear and intelligible. But they had said that the Commissioners were to inquire into certain allegations and charges made in a certain trial. It now turned out what these poor unfortunate Judges were to embark upon. The Judges had not to inquire simply into charges of crime or conniving at crime; but, according to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, they were to inquire into everything which was alleged during the trial of the action of "O'Donnell v. Walter." It was quite plain that the Judges would be asked to inquire into all the charges put forward by Mr. Arnold Forster; that they would be asked to inquire into the three score murders referred to by the gentleman he had named. The Home Secretary had said they meant the Judges to inquire not only into specific charges against hon. Members of the House and certain other persons, but into all the allegations which had been made. If the inquiry of the Judges was to be of any value, they must inquire into each one of the crimes which were said to have been brought about by the action of the Land League, or 833 else their inquiry would not be worth anything. Besides, the three score murders which were spoken of, there were 10,000 outrages. The learned Judges would have to inquire into each and every one of those outrages, or else their inquiries would be fruitless. Had the Government really considered what the result of this would be? They had talked about two years being occupied by the inquiry; but it seemed to him that, if the inquiry was to be completed, 20 years would be occupied by it. Again, he had to remark that there was no Law Officer of the Crown present. He did not consider the Committee was being treated fairly. Where was the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Scotland? One of the Law Officers had better be sent for to confer with the Home Secretary, and see whether some blunder was not being made by the Government. It was quite possible that to-morrow they would be told that, in the absence of the Law Officers of the Crown, the Home Secretary had gone further than the Government intended. He was satisfied that hon. Members would in time perceive that the Home Secretary was leading the Judges into a vast and boundless inquiry; and from what he knew of the learned Judges, he would not be surprised if they each said—"We will have nothing to do with such au investigation."
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, he desired information from the Home Secretary as to the meaning to be attached to the words "The Commissioners shall inquire." Was it to be understood that the Commissioners were to be bound to inquire? Was it part of the duty imposed upon them that they should and must inquire, or was it intended that "shall inquire" should be taken as equal to "may inquire?" It seemed to him that if the Commissioners were to be told that they "shall," or, in other words, that they "must" inquire into all the charges, there was no need whatever to use the word "allegations." The investigation of any one of the charges made would occupy six months. Suppose a certain Member of the House was present at a meeting in New York, at which certain expressions were used which would justify anyone reading them, or hearing them, saying that that was a meeting of men to incite to the committal of out- 834 rages. If the Judges must examine into such things, it would be seen that such examinations would take an exceedingly long time. These charges were sown broadcast, they were literally innumerable; and what he wanted to know, before the discussion went any further, was whether the interpretations to be put upon the words of the Bill was that the Commissioners should not have any discretion as to the charges into which they were to inquire, but that, under the Bill, they were bound as a part of their duty, which they could not escape from, to examine into each and every one of the charges made.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that the words "each and every one" were not in the Bill. The learned Judges would use their discretion to a large extent in inquiring into the substance of what was alleged and charged in the proceenings of "O'Donnell v. Walter." Of course, the words were mandatory in the case of every Commission. In the case of every Commission, Commissioners were bound to inquire and bound to report; but, of course, they were left to exercise their own discretion as to what was the substance and marrow of the point at issue.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that the words were that "The Commissioners shall inquire into and report upon the charges," not such charges that they might think proper, or some or any of the charges; and what he wanted to know distinctly from the Home Secretary was whether it was to be understood by the learned Judges that each and every one—he was not now quoting the words of the Bill—that each and every one of the charges and allegations extending over a period of 10 years should be inquired into, or whether the Judges were to be in a position to take up books and pamphlets and such statements in the speech of the hon. and learned Attorney General as they thought proper? Were the learned Judges to be permitted to select for themselves what they regarded as the salient points to be examined into; or were they to be in the position to say, "We have no discretion in the matter; we are bound to examine into each and every one of the charges made?" That was certainly a matter which ought to be settled before they went any further.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that under the Bill, as drawn up by the Government, 835 it appeared to him that the Commissioners would have every discretion. The Bill, as amended in the direction hon. Members desired, would give the Commissioners no discretion, but would require them to inquire into every charge specified in the Schedule. The hon. Members had proposed to insert in the Schedule a variety of distinct charges; in that case, no doubt, the Commissioners would have no discretion. The Government, on the contrary, had framed a Bill which left it to the Commissioners themselves to extract from the proceedings in the trial of "O'Donnell v. Walter" what they conceived to be the charges and allegations made therein. Of course, that meant the material charges and allegations. The hon. Member asked him what would the Commissioners do? His answer was, that the Commissioners would act like men of sense and of judgment, and extract the substantial charges. He looked upon these proceedings as containing one charge in substance—namely, that a so-called Constitutional Party had relied upon, rested upon, made use of, to a degree not defined, and had been the accomplices of a violent Party. Let him assume, for the purpose of argument, that complicity with murder on the part of any Member of the Parliamentary Party was proved. The Commissioners might say, "We want to know more;" or they might say "We are satisfied;" or they might say, "For the purposes of the Report we should like to know whether you can establish complicity in any other case?" On the other hand, there might be 10 cases of alleged complicity, and the Commissioners might say, "If you want to find complicity you must prove something else." The inquiry would be conducted by the good sense of men who knew what they were doing. He viewed that as only one single charge, ramifying, no doubt, in details, according to the incidents adduced in evidence—namely, an alliance amounting to complicity between two sets of people.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, it appeared to be quite plain that if the counsel for "Walter and another" appeared before the Commissioners, and desired to offer evidence in support of any allegation whatever contained in the report of the trial, and if the Commissioners refused the evidence, no matter how frivolous, all the counsel would have to do would be to 836 turn to the Act of Parliament and say—"You are ordered by the Act of Parliament to inquire into the charges and allegations made in the trial of the action "O'Donnell v. Walter and another." This is one of the charges and allegations made, and I call upon you to hear me in regard to it, and to hear evidence." The Commissioners, moreover, would have no reply to make. They would be obliged, by the terms of their mandate, no matter what their judgment might dictate, to enter upon the inquiry. He stated, in opening the debate early in the evening, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) was a good authority as to the intentions of the Government, and his prediction had been verified sooner than he imagined, because the Home Secretary used precisely the same phrase in indicating the nature of the inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham used on Saturday at his garden party. The Home Secretary said that to inquire did not mean to deal merely with crime nor with criminality, but to deal with various transactions shading off by imperceptible degrees between the line of white of the blameless man and the line of black of the criminal. That was not what the public understood. The public wanted to know whether certain men in the House of Commons and out of it were guilty of crime or whether they were not. The public knew nothing and cared nothing about the Government's shades and refinements and artistic developments. If the theory of the Home Secretary was to be carried, the Commissioners would have to report by means of a coloured map. What did the public care about all this nonsense? They wanted to know if public men were guilty of crime. Let them remember how this inquiry sprang up. The First Lord of the Treasury had described the Bill as an offer made in response to a demand. The demand was that of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). His hon. Friend, as a Member of the House of Commons, asked the House to inquire and determine whether or not he (Mr. Parnell) was guilty of sanctioning or of signing letters which suggested or procured the commission of murder, or which encouraged murder. To that other charges had been added. Was it 837 to be thought that whilst Members of the House were waiting and whilst the country was waiting eagerly and anxiously to learn whether Members of the House of Commons were to be identified with crime or not, this Commission was to go roving over the country and over the world to ascertain whether a variety of allegations which were found scattered up and down in the articles of The Times, and in the speech of the hon. and learned Attorney General, in forms of language more or less indirect, were true? That was the point. He certainly thought that the country would expect that the Commissioners should proceed upon the grave charges. When he and his Friends asked the House for some guidance as to the charges which were to form the subject of the inquiry, they were referred to the summing up of the Lord Chief Justice. The Home Secretary had quoted the Lord Chief Justice, and the hon. and learned Solicitor General, in reply to the demand for a definition of the charges, referred the House to the speech of the Lord Chief Justice, in which the hon. and learned Gentleman said they would find definitions. He (Mr. Sexton) had turned to the charge of the Lord Chief Justice to the jury in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter," and he found that the learned Judge said, in referring to the series of articles published under the title of Parnellism and Crime—They run over about 60 pages, and contain a great variety of statements deeply incriminating a number of persons—Members of Parliament and persons who are not Members of Parliament, but who are well known to the world as prominent men.That referred to charges, not to allegagations. Those persons were accused of crime, and abominable crime. It was surely not a matter of allegation. He found that as the Lord Chief Justice came more closely to the question, and dealt with the crime which he considered to be charged against the persons affected in Parnellism and Crime, his Lordship said—The charges made against them were charges of complicity with crime; that they shut their eyes when crime was contemplated, that in some cases they actually knew that murder was going to take place, and that on other occasions they were present when murder 838 was being talked about, and did not disavow it.He (Mr, Sexton) protested against the endeavour indefinitely and uselessly to extend the already almost boundless scope of the inquiry. He could not for the life of him understand why the Government clung so fondly to the word "allegations." Had they not charges enough in Parnellism and Crime? He placed the Government in this dilemma—either the allegations into which the Commission would inquire were charges, or they were not. A charge was an accusation, an allegation was only an assertion. Either the allegations were charges, or they were not. If they were charges, there was no necessity for the word "allegations," because the word "charges" covered the ground. Why was the word "allegations" introduced? It was quite plain from the debate on the second reading that the Government had already come to the belief that the letters attributed to the hon. Member for Cork were forgeries. Those letters had been the subject of very passionate accusation by The Times in the course of the last 12 months. Why did the Government push them into the second rank, because, if the letters were genuine, they would prove the hon. Member for Cork to be not only a knave, but a fool? The Government unquestionably believed the letters to be forgeries. They were not anxious to inquire into crime. They were anxious to delay the decision of the Committee. They had traded upon these false charges for the last 12 months. They had pushed thorn forward at every bye-election, through the mouths of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) and the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), and now they were anxious to put off the evil day when the electors would discover how they had been defrauded. He maintained that the House did not want, that no lover of justice wanted, that no honest man wanted, that the country did not want, that they should follow the scribes of The Times through all the various forms of innuendo and suggestion in Parnellism and Crime, but that they should simply take out the charges involving crime or criminality, and ask the Commission to come to a decision upon them, and upon nothing else.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, that the absence of the Law Officers of the Crown at the beginning of the discussion had been commented upon. Well, he noticed that whenever a Government brought in a Bill full of anamolies and proposals which could not be defended from a legal point of view, the Law Officers absented themselves, and did not come back unless someone attacked them, when they made their appearance to defend certain clauses in the capacity of advocates. No doubt, since the hon. and learned Gentleman had commented upon the absence of the Law Officers of the Crown, the Committee would have a speech from one of those Law Officers. Though the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary himself was a lawyer, and one of considerable eminence, still they could not help recollecting that he sat here as a Member of the Cabinet, and not so much as a Law Officer. The right hon. Gentleman had to admit that on no similar occasion had the word "allegations" been inserted. However, in defending it he had said that certain crimes and offences had been alleged against the Irish Party—he said that murder had been alleged against certain men, and that where murder were alleged it was the substance of the charge, but that where the word "allegations" was used it might mean anything. The right hon. Gentleman had given them no specific direction as to what the word meant; but he had stated generally that it shodded down from murder to perfect innocence—a most extraordinary thing for the right hon. Gentleman to say, as it implied that perfect innocence might, as a question covered by the word "allegations," be inquired into by a Commission. Now, the ordinary military court martial was a very good tribunal in its way, though, from the point of view of law, it was the roughest and readiest Court imaginable. But a court martial never took into account such things as "allegations." It was necessary that there should be a specific charge, and it was the same, he believed, in the case of naval courts martial; and why in the present instance they should have a new 840 word embodied into legal inquiry, he was at a loss to imagine. He considered the proposal a most outrageous one. The Government should declare openly that their object was to try the whole Parnellite Party. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith) had got up on a previous occasion, and had charged the whole Party with being connected with that which he called the Party of violence. No doubt, there was a Party of violence; but the Party to which he (Colonel Nolan) belonged had no connection with it. But what did the right hon. Gentleman's ally, The Times, mean when it referred to the Party of violence? Why, The Times meant—and it was their allegation that would be inquired into—that the word was synonymous with the American Party. The use of this word "allegations," therefore, would enable the Commission to go into the question of the connection of the Irish Members with the American Party, 99 in 100 of whom were in favour of Constitutional Home Rule, the remaining fraction, being all there was in favour of any violent measures whatsoever. The Commission would attempt to try the party of violence and the Irish Party on the same evidence and on the same lines. In point of fairness, this word ought never to be left in the Bill. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would be supported by a majority of 80 or 90 Members, and would be able to carry the word. So far as the whole Bill was concerned, if it had been proper for an Irish Member to have acted in his own individual capacity on this question, he (Colonel Nolan) should have opposed the Bill upon his own responsibility, as he believed it was used for one purpose only—the purpose for which this word "allegations" was inserted. The object of the Government was to have the Irish Party—and, through the Irish Party, their supporters and protectors, the great Liberal Party—during the Recess, pilloried before the constituencies at every Conservative meeting of the country. Attempts would be made to make capital out of them, and every act of the Irish Party would be brought forward and commented upon in order to divert the attention of the public from the extremely bad administration of Her Majesty's present 841 advisers. This Commission was a Godsend to the Government for electioneering purposes, and for the sake of having this political weapon the Government refrained from bringing specific charges against anyone. They knew perfectly well that if they brought specific charges, though those against whom such charges were made would be put to some disadvantages for a month or so, at the end of that time they would be able to disprove the charges. The Government knew that hon. Members would be able to meet the charges, but now they wished to establish a packed Commission—because any Commission must be considered packed when the whole Opposition had voted solid against one-third of those constituting it—which would be able to inquire into every possible allegation made by The Times against the Irish Members simply for the purpose of blackening the Opposition and keeping Her Majesty's Government in Office. In one way he (Colonel Nolan) felt a certain amount of pity and regret for the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for England (Sir Edward Clarke), whom he supposed was going to support the proposal of the Government—the hon. and learned Gentleman could not help supporting it after the somewhat injudicious remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had dragged him in at this point. He (Colonel Nolan) was very sorry for him, because by his lawyer-like instincts he must be against bringing anomalies of this kind into legal procedure. The hon. and learned Gentleman would have to forget all his literary instincts—and he had shown on more than one occasion before he occupied the post of Solicitor General that he did possess such instincts—he would have to forget all these instincts in supporting the retention of this word "allegations" which was merely used for Party purposes. There was no disproving an allegation—it was too wide to attempt to disprove. He (Colonel Nolan) should look with some curiosity on a Division which he had no doubt would take place upon the retention of this word, and if none of the Conservatives showed their disapproval of its retention, all he could say was, that they were very good Party men, but that they were, at any rate, men whom he should be very sorry to be tried by if any question affecting 842 politics entered into the subject matter of the trial. If the question in dispute were, for instance, the ownership of a certain house, he should think the Commission proposed would be a very good one to undertake to adjudicate, but when it came to inquiring into political matters, to give a reference to a Commission of this kind with the word "allegations" in it, it would be found that the Commissioners would be guided by the tone of English society. Why, it was something of this kind—"I hope these persons will be convicted of murder." English society were not anxious to find out whether or not certain Irishmen had been guilty of murder, but they were anxious to fix the stigma of connection with Fenianism upon the Irish Members. The whole of the London Press had taken that tone. He was not speaking of Conservatives in the House of Commons, for they habitually came into contact with Liberals and Irish Members, and knew that a great deal of this talk was nonsense, but he spoke more particularly of the average Conservatives outside the House.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
Before we go to a Division on this question I am anxious to hear from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) what is his opinion of the difference of the meaning of the two words "charges" and "allegations." These two words are put in here, the most important and enacting part of the Bill dealing with what the Commissioners are to inquire into. What is the object of the word "allegations?" It must mean either the same thing as "charges" or something different. Does it mean the same thing? If it does there can be no objection to dropping it, and if it means something different, I think we have a right to demand some enlightenment as to the meaning of this word.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CLARKE) (Plymouth)
I am very much flattered indeed at the anxiety displayed by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to know what is my opinion on this matter. I think it is most important and just that the words "charges" and "allegations" should both be used. The object of this Amendment is perfectly clear. It is to confine the inquiry of the Commissioners to certain definite charges; and if the 843 Committee were to agree to strike out the word "allegations" they would go part of the way towards achieving the object of the Proposer of the Amendment, which is to require a definition to be put in a schedule of the charges which are made. The Government decline to become parties to, or to make themselves responsible for, any definition of the accusations with which the Commissioners will have to deal. [Cheers.] I am extremely glad to see that the consistency of their conduct in the matter is recognized on the other side of the House. They have said—"There is no accusation made by the Government. There are charges and allegations in these articles, under which for a very long time hon. Members have been content to rest quiet." Now it is proposed to establish a tribunal, which, in its personal composition, is I believe deserving of absolute confidence. ["Oh, oh!"] I do not say that it is so in the judgment of the hon. Members opposite; I say for myself what I believe. That tribunal is to examine into what has been said, has to examine into the charges and allegations made, and it is important that these words should be put in, for this reason—that, if the inquiry were confined to charges, at any point in the inquiry anybody appearing before the Commissioners might say, "To which charge against a particular individual is this piece of evidence directed?" It is important that that limitation should not exist. [Cheers.] It is important that that limitation should exist. [Renewed Cheers.] Those cheers are fainter. It is important that that limitation should not exist, for this reason—that there are many matters which may have to be proved, and can be proved before the Commissioners, which it is essential that they should examine into, in order that they may get to the bottom of the matter with which they have to deal, but which, at the moment the investigation is taking place, no one can point to as a charge against a specific individual. This is not a judicial tribunal—[Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear.]—I think, at least, the right hon. Gentleman might have learned the fairness of waiting until a sentence is concluded before he cheers. I was saying that this was not a judicial tribunal for the purpose of deciding a litigated question between 844 two parties, but a judicial tribunal for the purpose of examining matters which are of very great public importance, and which do involve the repute, in the largest sense of the word, of hon. Members of this House. It is therefore important, with these articles before them, as well as the matters which had been alleged in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter," that these Commissioners should have power of investigating every statement and allegation that has been made, and seeing to whose guilt, if to anybody's, the proof of those statements shall point, without being bound by a limitation to any specific accusation or charge.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I think that the explanation we have just received is a very valuable one. It makes it quite plain why this word is put in. We are told by the hon. and learned Solicitor General that this is not a judicial inquiry against any individual.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
If this is not a judicial inquiry between two parties why in the world is the action of "O'Donnell v. The Times" introduced? It is quite true it is not to be a judicial inquiry—that is the very pith of the whole thing.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
No; the hon. and learned Solicitor General very adroitly avoided that point. I will show exactly what the hon. and learned Solicitor General meant. The word "allegations" is to prevent the application of any particular charge. That is a point, and a most important admission itself. Now, it is of the very essence of a judicial proceeding that evidence should be adduced and addressed to some particular charge; but the object of all this is to escape from the whole judicial character of the Bill. It is too late to adduce it in any kind of loose farrago of calumny, unrestrained by any of those principles which lie at the foundation of all justice—namely, that evidence shall be produced for the purpose of addressing it to some charge or other, and we have the confession of the hon. and learned Solicitor General that the Commissioners will be at 845 liberty to investigate charges which no one as yet has ever seen, although in the words of the Lord Chief Justice, quoted so frequently by the Front Bench opposite, they form "a terrible indictment." "A terrible indictment" is the language of a charge and not the language of loose gossip which the Government endeavoured to impress in this word "allegations." Therefore, we have it from one of the Law Officers of the Crown that the very object of this word is to escape the principles of a judicial inquiry—to escape having to give evidence of specific charges made. The hon. and learned Solicitor General says that this Amendment is to be opposed, because it is connected with a subsequent demand to put specific charges into a schedule; but the two things are separate. You may leave out "allegations," and yet you may have specific charges in the schedule, or you may have "allegations" in the Bill with specific "charges" also in the schedule. The question is, whether the Government fairly and honestly mean to investigate certain charges against individuals or merely desire to introduce a general system of dirt throwing—of throwing promiscuous calumnies—before the Commissioners, in order that some of it may stick. Did they wish to escape the ordinary rules of procedure by which means characters are protected from slander and calumny, in order that their actions in throwing dirt may be uncontrolled? I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General will not say that the rules which long practice and tradition have discovered in English jurisprudence as being the best means of administering the law are unnecessary. Why are these rules adopted? Because experience has shown that they are the best way of resisting calumnies against which men may have no means of protecting themselves, and yet we have the confession of the hon. and learned Solicitor General that it is to escape from the application of such rules that these words are put in. I confess that until we have some better and more reasonable—I was almost going to say more decent—explanation of the word "allegations," we ought not to be a party to its appearance in the Bill.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
said, he could not help thinking that the Government was somewhat floundering in its definition of this word "allegations." They had had two definitions from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite which he did not think tallied the one with the other. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said it would rest with the Judges to say what were the allegations to be inquired into—he had said that they would be taken from the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster) in the recent case of "O'Donnell v. Walter." He had said that these allegations would be material to come under investigation, and he had stated also that if these charges were proved it would substantially amount to complicity with crime. Now, would it be defined in this Bill, or would it be defined in the instructions to the Commissioners what these allegations were which would amount to complicity of crime? The right hon. Gentleman also said, in answer to speeches on the other side of the House, that certain hon. Members amongst the Irish Party, although themselves engaged in the Constitutional movement, were associated with persons engaged in a movement of an entirely different character, and he mentioned in particular Mr. Patrick Ford, the editor of The New York Catholic World. But he (Mr. J. O'Connor) should like to know what amount of acquaintance with Mr. Patrick Ford would amount to complicity with crime on the part of the Irish Members. He was perfectly familiar with The New York Catholic World, and for a long series of years he knew that a list of subscriptions towards the conduct of the Constitutional movement in Ireland had been printed, whilst in the same paper from time to time were contained articles which might be construed into an incitement into the commission of outrages, or to the use of dynamite. Would hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House be held responsible for those articles, because forsooth, lists of subscriptions had appeared in the columns of that paper? Members upon that side of the House were the conductors of a Constitutional movement in Ireland. They did not guide or conduct The New York World, 847 nor could they help their friends in America sending their subscriptions to them through that paper. They had no control in the matter——
I fail to see how the observations of the hon. Member are relative to the Question "That these words stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, that he was of opinion that the word "allegations" ought to be expunged from the Bill altogether, or it ought to be defined. The word ought to be defined in a schedule, or if it were not he did not think it should be left for the Judges to say in what the allegations should consist. He had been about to state one case where it would be possible for misunderstanding and misrepresentation to take place. It had been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in his speech, that an endeavour would be made to prove that hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House were in communication with those who incited to outrage. For purposes of illustration, he might say an endeavour would be made to show that the Irish Members had been in communication with Sheridan and Patrick Egan in 1881 and 1882, and that these men at the time were engaged in questionable enterprises. [Cries of "Order!"]] If he (Mr. J. O'Connor) was not in Order in going into this matter, he failed to see how the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary could have been in Order in his speech. The right hon. Gentleman bad said that it would be established before the Commission that the persons charged in the case of "O'Donnell v. Walter" had been in company with those who had incited to outrage in Ireland, and he (Mr. J. O'Connor) was endeavouring to point out that it would not be fair to leave it to the Commissioners to say whether or not Irish Members had been associated with such persons, knowing them to be criminals.
said, the hon. Gentleman misunderstood the Question before the Committee, and was not at all addressing himself to the point.
§ MR. WHITBREAD (Bedford)
said, it seemed to him that this was one of the most important points of the Bill, and he did not think it should pass without a little more comment. The comment he would make was this, that after the very frank statement they had heard 848 from the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) they now know where they stood. This was not a Bill to enable hon. Members from Ireland to meet any charges against themselves. "No," said the hon. and learned Solicitor General, "that is too concrete a matter; we must have something looser than that. There are many charges that can be inquired into without making a specific charge." Then do not let hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite go to their constituents and say that they had offered these Irish Members an opportunity of meeting charges brought against them. The object of this Bill was not to enable these Gentlemen to meet charges, but to compel them to stand in the pillory to receive every filthy thing which their opponents could throw at them in their contempt, in the hope that some of it might stick, and then, if they found that some of it stuck, they would formulate their charge. He (Mr. Whitbread) had said on a former occasion that he thought this a fair tribunal if the charges were defined; but the proposal of the Government was not justified. It was asking men to stand in this position and offering a temptation to bring evidence against them. The Government invited every man who was conscious of having taken part in outrage to come and give evidence—they said in effect that if such people would only come and swear hard enough against these Irish Members they would get whitewashed. He did not know any ordeal which any body of men could pass through more terrible than that which was proposed under this Bill. He (Mr. Whitbread) and his Friends were in a minority, and could not by their votes enforce their ideas of justice; but, at any rate, they would take care that neither the Government nor the country should be ignorant of what they thought of this procedure.
§ MR. FINLAY
said, he apprehended that the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) could hardly have read the words that this discussion was taking place upon. Every one of the hon. Gentleman's observations would have been just as applicable if the word "charges" stood alone. But what was meant was not any charges of actual crime, but various charges which did not amount to actual crime, but still which were matters of such a nature 849 that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway would be anxious that they and their friends should have the opportunity of full investigation into them. He protested in the interest of a full investigation against confining the inquiry to charges of actual crime at law. It had been said that knowing that certain men were criminals, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway had maintained friendly relations with them, and had received money from them. Did they or did they not desire that such matters should be inquired into? It was not, so far as he was aware, a crime; but, at any rate, it was a matter which he should think hon. Gentlemen would be most anxious to clear themselves of. Both the country and the House desired that this inquiry should be a complete one, and he was, therefore, surprised that so much time should be wasted upon this question.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, there was a complete answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay), and whose only object seemed to be to prevent the application of law and justice to the case of the inquiry about to be instituted. Under the circumstances, he (Sir William Harcourt) was a little astonished that the Government had not made the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Inverness one of the Commissioners. He (Sir William Harcourt) thought the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to be the head Commissioner. Now, had it been proposed, or was it desired, that in any way the charge of complicity with crime should be evaded? He was astonished that the hon. and learned Member for Inverness should stand up and say that the word "charge" necessarily involved a charge of complicity with actual crime. It would be seen in Amendments standing in the name of hon. Members themselves and dealing with crimes and outrages, that they were anxious to meet all the charges which properly would be brought against them. They invited inquiry as to whether they had been guilty of the crime of murder or crimes of violence, and whether there was any truth in the charge that they had been guilty of complicity with these crimes in any form or shape, and, therefore, the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Inverness was absolutely 850 in contradiction with the facts which he must be perfectly aware of. The word "charge" did not mean a charge of actual crime. It meant a charge of complicity with crime, or condonation of crime if they liked, but it meant a "charge," and a charge meant a definite accusation. That was a difference between "charge" and the vague, loose, and unjust accusations which the Government desired to bring forward under cover of the word. "allegations." [Interruption.] When the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) had made up his mind to allow him (Sir William Harcourt) the ordinary courtesies of debate, he would proceed with his observations. They were used to such conduct from Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench. [Cries of "Order!"] Yes; order was exactly what he wanted.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
I rise to Order. I wish to know whether it is in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to declare that an hon. Member of this House is committing a breach of the ordinary courtesies of debate?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that he was sure that the hon. Member for the Oxford University (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was always conspicuous for his courtesy towards his opponents; and if he would use his influence with the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India to induce him to be guided by the same spirit he (Sir William Harcourt) would go on. [Cries of "Go on!"] Yes, he was prepared to go on. [Interruption.] He had to ask the Chairman if he would endeavour to procure for him a hearing?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, with that assurance from the Chairman he would go on. [Interruption.] He hoped what had fallen from the Chairman would have its effect. He thought it was high time that they should have an understanding with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen). They were engaged in a discussion in which a good 851 deal of feeling had been introduced, and he thought it would be a good thing if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would either use—[Cries of "Order!"]—He was in perfect Order, and if he was not, he should be glad to be told of it by the Chairman. He was going, however, to insist upon the ordinary courtesies of debate being extended to Members of that House. The objection he had been taking when interrupted was to the word "allegations," especially as it had been expounded by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General. They had asked the hon. and learned Gentleman to explain how the word "allegations" differed from the word "charge," and the hon. and learned Gentleman had told them frankly that the word "charge" meant a direct accusation, to which evidence must be directed.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he should be glad to give the hon. and learned Gentleman an opportunity of saying what it was he did say. What he (Sir William Harcourt) had said was, at any rate, the impression produced upon his mind; and, in the absence of any further explanation from the hon. and learned Gentleman he would point out that he had asked him to state the difference between an allegation and a charge, and that the hon. and learned Gentleman had distinctly said that a charge was a distinct accusation to which the evidence adduced was to be directed, but that that was not what the Government desired—that they wished for something much larger and more extensive than that. He understood from the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Government desired that evidence should be taken on any subject whatever, whether applicable to any charge or not. What was the answer attempted by the hon. and learned Member for Inverness? Why, he said—"Oh! a charge is something specific." Well, of course, a charge was something specific. It was the very essence of inquiry of this kind that a man's character should not be taken away unless it was by some specific charge. Unless a charge was specific, how was a man to meet it? How was a man to obtain possession of evidence to refute a charge unless that charge was specific? They made every provi- 852 sion for the administration of justice in this country to prevent men's characters from being traduced by all sorts of loose gossip. Let them not be told by the hon. and learned Member for Inverness that the charges must be made against particular individuals of complicity in particular crimes. That was not at all necessary. It was very easy to see exactly why the Government were not satisfied with the word "charges." They were not, as the hon. Member for West Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) had said, desirous of giving Irish Members an opportunity of meeting the charges. That they would not do. What they desired was to get their political opponents into a wide net of allegation, and that he thought had been made quite conspicuous by the speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor General, and for that reason he should vote against the words in question.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir JOHN GORST) (Chatham)
I rise to ask the attention of the Committee for one moment in order that I may express my great regret for having put out the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) in the course of his eloquent speech. The only discourtesy of which I was guilty towards the right hon. Gentleman was that of smiling; and my smile was at least excusable in consideration of the extremely vehement manner in which the right hon. Gentleman laid down the law in opposition to the hon. and learned Member for Inverness. I dare say that, as a politician, the right hon. Gentle-is immeasurably superior to the hon. and learned Member; but he must forgive the Committee generally if they attach some importance to the legal construction which the hon. and learned Member has placed on the word "charges;" and I ventured to smile when the right hon. Gentleman laid down the law as to what the word must necessarily mean. Let mo put before the Committee for one moment what appears to me to be the real issue before us. The question is whether, by adopting this Amendment, we shall take upon ourselves to limit the scope of the Inquiry which the Judicial Commission which we may appoint may think proper to undertake; and I should like to warn the right hon. Gentleman, great lawyer as he is, that by limiting 853 the discretion of the Judges and confining the Inquiry within narrower limits than those included in the Bill, he may possibly be doing his hon. Friends below the Gangway a bad service by actually excluding from the purview of the Commission some of the very matters which they may desire to bring to the notice of the Commission. I do not pronounce dogmatically what construction the Judges may put upon the word "charges;" but it is possible that they may place upon it the construction which has been placed upon it by the hon. and learned Member for Inverness. Let us suppose that that is the opinion which may be formed. Then how necessary is the words "and allegations"! One of the matters which I understand the hon. Member for Cork is most anxious to bring to the notice of the Committee is, whether or not he is the author of two letters. Is the authorship of those two letters a crime? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] Certainly not with regard to the first letter. I should be inclined to think it was not. The first letter published two years ago, is, I think, beyond all question not criminal. Even if the hon. Member for Cork were proved to be the author of that letter, to be the author of that letter is not a criminal offence. Then there is a necessity for the words "and allegations." If the words were not in the Bill, it is conceivable, and not at all improbable, that the question as to whether the hon. Member for Cork was the author of the letter referred to might be cut out altogether from inquiry. I am surprised that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway should be so eager to shut out full and fair investigation. I can quite understand their Friends above the Gangway throwing every obstacle in the way of the Bill, but how hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, who profess a desire to have a real investigation into the charges and allegations made against them, can lend their support to an attempt to limit the discretion of the Judges, I for one fail to understand.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down informed the Committee that he indulged in a smile when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) was speaking. He (Mr. Illingworth) knew it was possible for 854 Gentlemen of the Legal Profession to be amused when other people were writhing, and it was unfortunate, when the most serious charges and a most serious condition of things were being examined, that there should be levity on the Treasury Bench. The Government were now seeking to impress the House of Commons and the country with its sense of fairness and impartiality in bringing forward this measure. But he (Mr. Illingworth) had observed that not alone in the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby had the conduct of right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench been somewhat out of place. Had they no feeling or consideration for those who were lying for the moment under these charges? Let the Government put on, at least, the appearance of fairness. The hon. and learned Member for the Inverness Burghs had stated that not only would hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway seek to be relieved from the charge of complicity with crime, but other charges laid against them; he said he could well imagine that they would seek to be relieved of the charge of receiving money from those who were criminals or who were charged with connection with crime. He could imagine that the National League or the Land League had received money from persons who might have been connected with crime, but that it was necessary to insinuate that they desired not to have an inquiry into such a charge passed his comprehension. Suppose that it was the duty of the hon. and learned Gentleman to take money from a man placed in the dock charged with an offence; the hon. and learned Gentleman would take that man's money, go into Court, and make the best possible defence for the prisoner. But were they, on that ground, to insinuate that because he received money from such a source he had complicity with the criminal? The idea would appear absurd to any reasonable man. The money sent to these men was to be used in political combinations. It was of the utmost importance that they should understand the meaning of the term "allegations." Suppose the term were absent, were the Judges so far a-field as to charge these Members with the things he had mentioned? It seemed to him that the inquiry was to take such a range as to be almost interminable; 855 and when the character of so many Members of the House was at stake, he should gladly support the excision of this term so as to confine the clause as the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) bad said, to something which should be just.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the Government professed to be impartial and neutral in this case; and while, on the one hand, they refused to put the charges against Irish Members into an intelligible form, on the other there was the further evidence of their impartiality in the fact that they permitted, encouraged, and compelled the Commission to inquire into the most shadowy allegations. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, in the words of the Lord Chief Justice, had referred to this as a "tremendous indictment." But the Lord Chief Justice was then referring to the crime of murder only. He should not argue with the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) the question as to whether the authorship of the fac-simile letter published by The Times last year amounted to a criminal charge; but he would remind him that the hon. and learned Attorney General in his speech declared that the letter constituted one of the worst accusations and libels ever made and published on a public man. He doubted whether the hon. and learned Gentleman who had spoken of it in that way would agree with the hon. Gentleman that whether it amounted to a crime or not, the Committee should remember that the Inquiry had been ordered by the Government at the request of a Member of Parliament; and one thing would follow, even if the letter was found not to be a legal crime. If his hon. Friend the Member for Cork were found guilty of the authorship of that letter, did anyone believe that he would be allowed to continue in that House for one day more? That being an inquiry, therefore, ordered at the request of a Member of Parliament, he could not conceive that the Commission would regard the authorship of the letter of May 15 as otherwise than a charge which they were bound to investigate entirely apart from the question of allegation. The hon. and learned Member for the Inverness Burghs had referred to the receipt of money from America for political organization in Ireland; he mentioned that as an instance of what 856 he considered to be no charge. The source of money from persons in America for political purposes was a matter of public record; it had been acknowledged in public meetings and in the public Press. [Cries of "No!"] He said that every penny of the money handed in at the meetings of the League had been publicly acknowledged at the time. But whatever opinion hon. Gentlemen opposite held on the matter, they could not contend that what had been a matter of public record could be properly made the subject of inquiry by a Special Commission. Every Member of the House was in as good a position to form an opinion as to those moneys as he would be after the Royal Commission had met. He would conclude with the observation that the Government were going further on behalf of The Times than The Times itself wished to go. The day on which the First Lord of the Treasury put his Notice on the Paper, The Times wrote—Since the proposal has been made on behalf of the Government, we may say at once that we are prepared to accept it, provided it is so far framed as to embrace the whole mass of facts in our charges.Not a word about "allegations." But, perhaps, in the course of those interesting interviews which had been held between the First Lord of the Treasury and Mr. Walter and Sir Richard Webster, the counsel for Mr. Walter, they had changed their minds. At any rate, The Times was willing to go before the Commission on the basis of its charges. The Times did not invite that "allegations" should be considered. He declared that the Government, having now so far committed themselves to a policy of pursuit and attempted destruction of Irish Members, had endeavoured to carry their inquiry beyond the scope of the charges themselves.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 265; Noes 200: Majority 65.—(Div. List, No. 247.)
MR. R. T. REID&c.) (Dumfries,
said, he rose to move the insertion in page 1, line 18, after the word "allegations," of the words "of complicity with murder or violence." As the provision of the clause stood, it was incumbent upon the Commissioners to inquire into and report upon all the charges and allegations that were made in the course of the pro- 857 ceedings in connection with the action of "O'Donnell v. Walter," and there was no power, as he read the clause, to enable the Commissioners to limit themselves to any particular class of charges or allegations—whenever charges or allegations were made they must be inquired into and reported upon. That imposed upon each Member of the House the duty of investigating what were those charges and allegations, and the duty, for that purpose, of scrutinizing all the lengthy statement of the hon. and learned Attorney General on behalf of The Times in that proceeding. He had endeavoured to do that to the best of his ability, and he had endeavoured to classify the different kinds of charges and allegations, with the view of seeing what it really was that the Judges would be asked to investigate, and he found that they came under three classes. The first class consisted of charges of complicity with murder and violence, by speeches, by letters, by silence, by underhand communications with men on both sides of the Atlantic—charges made by the hon. and learned Attorney General in the course of his speech in the most definite and, at the same time, in the most vehement form. Now, these were charges which he, for one, heartily desired to see investigated; they were charges which had poisoned the political life of that House for the last 12 months or more—ever since they had been brought forward—and they were charges which were regarded by the people of the country as the only charges of any importance at all which had been made by The Times. There were other considerations connected with them. No one could conceal that they related to the most frightful form of crime; no one could conceal that the Judges were pre-eminently qualified to deal with charges of this character, both by their training and experience. They might be disposed of within a reasonable compass of time, so that ruinous costs might not be imposed on hon. Gentlemen who had to defend themselves; and it was those charges which he proposed should be the subject of investigation by Her Majesty's Judges. But there were other charges and allegations contained in the very voluminous speech of the Attorney General. It was said that hon. Members and the National League aimed at the confiscation of 858 landlord's property. That was laid down in the speech of the Attorney General; and it raised a very acute political contest. It had been a subject familiar in their debates during the last 18 months, whether the National League or hon. Members desired to plunder the landlords, or desired to prevent them plundering their tenants; it had been made the subject matter of several Blue Books, and of many speeches throughout the country, and he desired to point out that, if Her Majesty's Judges as Commissioners were to be expected to report on questions of that character, they would have to undertake an investigation of the Land Question in Ireland in all its length and breadth. Unless all this was considered by them, they would not be able to give a satisfactory answer on the charges made. Every reason which he had before urged in favour of leaving the first charge to the consideration of the Commissioners he would use against these charges being so left. In the first place, the country would not attach the smallest importance to the finding of three learned Judges on anything relating to the Land Question; the inquiry had to be interminable; he saw no possible means of limiting it within a reasonable compass. He was not speaking in any sense of disrespect to the Judges; but he thought that if the House put before them a question involving social and economical consideration such as he had adverted to, it was the last question on which they should be invited to express any judicial opinion. Again, when these great instruments of inquisition were set up, as they had been once in about seven or eight years, it was generally for the purpose of getting to the bottom of deeds admittedly nefarious, which both sides of the House agreed in denouncing as wicked and outrageous. Now, it was obvious that the use of dynamite or the dagger was hopelessly wicked, and had been condemned by all honest men, and the opinion he was perfectly certain was held as much on that side of the House as upon the other; but when they came to the consideration of the legality of the Plan of Campagn or Boycotting, the case was entirely different. Boycotting must be one of the most cruel and odious practices that could be conceived; but he could also understand it existing in 859 a comparatively innocent form, as it did in some parts of his own constituency, where it had been the subject of complaint, but he had not been associated with intimidation. Now, that second class of charges, he submitted, ought not to be in any sense introduced into an inquiry of this nature. Then there was a third class of charges and allegations which the fertile instructions of the hon. and learned Attorney General enabled him to put forward. He said that he charged the Nationalist Party with the object of separation of Ireland from Great Britain and the dismemberment of the Empire. He said—It is proved up to the hilt that the Irish conspiracy is one and indivisible, and that it is manipulated in all its branches by the avowed enemies of the Empire, that it is inspired from top to bottom with the desire for complete self-separation from this country;and he pictured Mr. Parnell as grasping Mr. Gladstone with one hand and Ford and O'Donovan Rossa with the other. With regard to the last sentence he (Mr. B. T. Reid) supposed that meant that Mr. Parnell was guilty of complicity with murder and violence; and if so, it involved charges of the character which the Amendment he was now proposing would not prevent coming within the cognizance of the Commissioners. But did hon. Gentlemen opposite really think that this question could be fairly submitted to a Commission in the form of three Judges—namely, whether it was true that this Irish conspiracy—that was to say, this Irish agitation—was from top to bottom moved by the desire to effect complete separation from England? Was that a question which it was possible for a tribunal such as they were setting up to investigate, or in respect of which it should be asked to report? Did any human being in the country believe that the Report would be accepted as final? It meant nothing more or less than that they were asking the Judges, who were suitable instruments for investigating crime or the participation in it, to involve themselves in the details of discussions in that House on subjects which were controversial, and perhaps the subject of a political struggle that would have hereafter to be settled. It was for these reasons that he desired to limit the words of the clause in the manner which he had indicated. As he 860 had said, the first class of crimes could be investigated if that Amendment were admitted; the Commissioners could inquire into and report upon charges and allegations of complicity with murder or violence. Every suggestion of connivance with fomenting or approval of murder or violence would come within the terms of the Bill. If it was suggested that hon. Members, even short of making themselves responsible to the Criminal Law, had been by direct or indirect act guilty of complicity with crime such as he had indicated, then it would remain open to the Commission to investigate the circumstance. He put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether it was not their desire as English Gentlemen that when these Members of the House were sent before the three Commissioners to investigate their conduct, they should have four-fold justice. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) had said the other night, they did not ask any favour, but simply fair dealing. If these hon. Members were tried before any jury of their countrymen, the Government would not be allowed for one moment to enter into any one question that had not been put forward against them; if they were sent to be tried criminally for the offence of being guilty of complicity with murder or violence, or anything of that kind, as every Chairman of Quarter Sessions knew, the prosecution would not be allowed to enter upon a political, social, or economical question; they would be allowed to enter upon nothing whatever that did not bear strictly on the charges made. Hon. Gentlemen, he was sorry to say, had suggested in the course of this debate that hon. Members on that side of the House were desirous of limiting the scope of the inquiry, and he regretted to observe that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary thought fit to echo that sentiment. What did they desire in limiting the scope of that inquiry? It was a most unfair and untrue charge to say that they desired in any sense to limit the scope so as to exclude from consideration those things which honest men desired to have considered. It was an unfair thing to charge them with desiring to limit the scope of the inquiry, because they desired to place upon it bounds which would make it a fair inquiry; they sought to put in the Bill such words as would 861 make it clear that complicity with murder and violence was the charge made by The Times and echoed by Members on the Ministerial Benches. He wished to exclude those social, political, and economical questions which were not suitable for the consideration of Judges, and therefore he begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 18, after the word "allegations," to insert the words "of complicity with murder or violence."—(Mr. Robert Reid.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he certainly agreed with what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member just now; but when he looked through the Amendments on the Paper, he found that their object was to limit and contract inquiry. He could not, indeed, find one Amendment which had not that tendency. With reference to the arguments which had been used in support of the Amendment, he pointed out that they had all been brought before the House more than once in the discussions on the Bill, and also last year, when the Government were asked to bring all the charges made before a Special Committee. The Government had proposed to refer them to this Commission to inquire into and report in consequence of the desire expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite; but now he found that Amendment after Amendment was put down on the Paper with no other purpose but to limit, cut down, and restrain the inquiry, and confine it to certain particulars. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. R. T. Reid) would know well that if these words were introduced objections would be taken to questions on the ground that they went beyond the terms of reference, and every moment there would be some objection taken by those who were interested in checking and stifling this inquiry. [Cries of "No, no!"] Well, what the Government referred to the Commission was the whole matter that had been charged. What unfairness was there in that? The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. R. T. Reid), who had not been able to find anything unfair in the reference, had conjured up certain ideas from his imagination. He ventured to say that the Committee would deny that the proceedings in 862 "O'Donnell v. Walter and another" would bring before the Commission such questions as the confiscation of landlord's property or capital, the payment of rent, or the Plan of Campaign. He had read these matters with some diligence, and he could only say that nothing of that sort would be referred to the Commission under the proceedings of this Act. There was no doubt that some passing allusions to these subjects might be made; it would be difficult to deal with Irish matters without such allusions. He distinctly challenged the hon. and learned Member to produce passages which referred to economical political questions or to the Plan of Campaign. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated that the question of Home Rule would be referred to. But would anybody read these articles with a candid and fair mind, and say that it was imputed that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were in favour of Home Rule measures. [An hon. MEMBER: Certainly.] He had read the account of these proceedings with some care, and he could find nothing of the kind. He could hardly fancy that anyone would suggest that The Times had been so foolish as to make charges against hon. Members below the Gangway, that they had shared opinions which many illustrious Members of that House had first taught them. He did not mean to say that in the course of these proceedings there might not be some passing allusion to the history of the Home Rule movement, but he did say there was no possibility for any fair man to suggest that the question of Home Rule was made a matter of charge or allegation or complaint against a Member of that House or any other person.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast)
said, the words of the Attorney-General were—"The object of the movement was, and is, the complete separation of Ireland and England."
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that was neither a charge nor an allegation that involved the examination of the Home Rule policy. But he took issue with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and said that no sensible Commissioners reading these articles or proceedings would trouble their heads or allow any others to trouble themselves with these economical, political, or social questions; they would put them aside in a few 863 moments. The hon. and learned Member wanted to confine the inquiry to complicity with murder or violence; but was arson a matter which he thought of no moment, together with threatening and intimidation, with all the horrors of the Moonlight gang? All that would be shut out by the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Member would restrict the inquiry of the Commission to complicity with murder and violence, but threats and intimidation, however culpable they might be, and however much terrorism might have been created, were to be shut out. The hon. and learned Gentleman was a master of language, and he had chosen words of plausible appearance, but only with the object of strangling this inquiry. No one knew better than the hon. and learned Member that complicity with murder and violence was only half the charge. It was connivance, condonation, and collusion that were charged. It was of necessity that they should know once for all whether it was true or false that a political Party in this county was in close alliance with a Party of crime. He said it was not complicity with murder for a person to have allied himself with, or to have taken advantage of the help of, or accepted money from men who were murderers and guilty of crime in Ireland. Those were the allegations made from which hon. Gentlemen opposite desired to clear themselves, but all of which would be shut out by the Anendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He said that those Amendments went on one ground—namely, to confine the scope of the inquiry; but to limit the inquiry to the least, so as to shut out the matters referred to. They would be steadily refused by the Government.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he had listened with astonishment to the very extraordinary statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid) would exclude arson. Certainly not. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) would say that arson would be included under the head of violence. If the right hon. Gentleman denied that the Commission would take that view, 864 all that he would say was that his idea of the intelligence of the Commission was vastly inferior to that which anyone else had conceived. Was it not trifling with the Committee to say that complicity with murder or violence would not include the crime of arson. That was a matter on which, not being a lawyer, he would not express a dogmatic opinion; but he said that, as a matter of common sense, it must be supposed that the crime of arson would not be excluded. But if the Government fancied that it would not be included, by all means let them put the crime into the Bill. No one wanted to exclude from the Bill the charge of complicity with crime, in any shape or form, on the part of any Member of the House, using the term as legally understood, and not with reference to crime as created by Coercion Acts. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Home Rule and rent movements in Ireland would not come under the Bill. But he could understand that the right hon. Gentleman would have an objection to any exhaustive inquiry into the Home Rule movement; because the first thing which would be inquired into would be the circumstance that at one time the right hon. Gentleman was not only a Member of the Home Rule body, but actually a generous subscriber to the Home Rule movement. He thought he saw the right hon. Gentleman wince under the charge of the hon. and learned Attorney General, quoted by an hon. Gentleman, that Mr. Parnell had held hands with O'Donovan Rossa on one side and Mr. Gladstone on the other. Now, the one man in this House who owed his entrance into political life to O'Donovan Rossa was the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews). Why, oven in these days of perfidious tergiversation, was it not too indecent that this Bill, charging Members with complicity with O'Donovan Rossa, should be brought into the House by a man who came into politics under the patronage of O'Donovan Rossa? He could quite understand the delicacy which the right hon. Gentleman had lest the Home Rule movement of O'Donovan Rossa should be brought into this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman made an astonishing statement; he said there was no allusion amounting to a charge or allegation in The Times with regard to the Home Rule movement. 865 His hon. Friend had read a sentence which, standing alone, would justify his contention that the Bill, as it stood, and the articles as written, would lead to a discussion on the Home Rule movement. What did The Times say? It said that the Irish Members and their associates elsewhere were engaged in a movement, the fundamental purpose of which was separation between England and Ireland. Was that not a political question? That was the cry by which hon. Gentlemen opposite were constantly appealing for support in the country. They said that the statement that the Irish Members and the Irish people would be satisfied with such a measure as was proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was a false statement, and that what was really aimed at was separation. They said further that, even if the Irish Members did not mean separation, such legislation as was proposed by the Liberal Leader would unquestionably lead ultimately to separation. These were opinions which might be held, he did not think by rational men, but by hon. Gentlemen opposite; and he did not at all question their right to hold such opinions and to preach them, if they liked. But was it not a monstrous absurdity that matters of political speculation like these should be brought before three learned Judges for decision? In the first place, he should say they were not matters for the Judges to inquire into at all; and, secondly, that if they did decide upon them, their opinion would not be worth one penny more than the opinion of the first man he met in the street. They were experts in evidence and law, and not experts in political speculation. The Times, all through, had been preaching that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) meant separation, and had always meant separation. That statement was made over and over again in the course of the articles; and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary must really not have read the articles at all, or must have read them so superficially as not to understand their bearing, when he stated that the Home Rule movement would not be brought into this matter. What justification had the right hon. Gentleman for saying they wanted unfairly to limit the inquiry? They wanted to bring into relief the charges 866 upon which the country was really interested. Who, in the name of Heaven, cared to debate before a Commission of Judges whether or not a certain speech delivered eight or nine years ago was or was not calculated to lead to a disturbance of the peace? If it was any satisfaction to the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues and his Party to think that certain speeches made by his (Mr. T. P. O'Connor's) hon. Friends and himself did tend to a disturbance of the peace of the country, they were perfectly welcome to that opinion; but what was protested against was that questions of inference and speculation should be sent to the Judges for the purpose of obscuring the real issue. Now, what was the real issue? It was that they had been accomplices with perpetrators of murders and violence. It was said that they wanted to shuffle out of the inquiry because, instead of letting these things, which were the real gravamen of the offences, be submerged in irrelevant and speculative matter, they wanted them to be put in the Bill, and in that way to have them enforced upon the immediate and prompt attention of the Commission. If he were to imitate the strong language of the right hon. Gentleman, he should say that the Government and The Times were running away from the real charges. He pointed out upon the second reading that the matter upon which the mind of the country was fixed was the authenticity of the letters attributed to the hon. Member for Cork. He was glad to find the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockport (Mr. Sydney Gedge) took exactly the same view as himself, and he was more delighted still to find the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) also took the same view. He regretted, however, to find that the right hon. Gentleman's view slightly altered last Saturday; but then he never did expect the right hon. Gentleman to be consistent for four days in succession. The case before the House turned more upon the letters than upon any other question. So far as the general statements in Parnellism and Crime were concerned, he and his hon. Friends regarded them as so very irrelevant, very ancient, and very speculative, that up to the last two or three days he and other Members who were directly 867 charged in the articles never took the trouble to read them, thinking that the penny was better in their pockets than expended on the articles. For his part, he never read the articles with any attention until these debates began in the House. The country did not care about the general attacks on Irish Members; and as to hon. Gentlemen opposite, he thought that they, of all others, ought to try and take the general charges out of the scope of the inquiry, because those general charges were made years ago—were made at a time when the Irish Members were going night after night into the same Lobby with them—when they, with the aid of the Irish Members, were embarrassing the Liberal Administration of the day. Those charges were made at a time when hon. Gentlemen opposite would have been in a hopeless minority were it not for the constant assistance, both in debate and division, they received from the Members against whom these charges were made. If these charges were true, the guilt of association with the Irish Members must fall upon hon. Gentlemen opposite. The country wanted to know whether Irish Members had been accomplices in crime either by complicity or condonation; and he held that the word condonation was included in the Amendment. What was said upon this question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain)? It was true it was nearly a week ago, therefore he did not expect the right hon. Gentleman to agree with it now. The right hon. Gentleman said—"If hon. Members say, 'we shall be satisfied if you propose to inquire into the charges of The Times, into our connivance with crime, into our complicity with crime, into our condonation with crime,' it appears to me we ought not to stickle as to words. These are, I feel, the matters into which the Government want investigation, and these are the questions it would be proper to enter into." He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) accepted that statement. If condonation, in a guilty sense, was not included in complicity, his hon. Friend, he was sure, would be willing to accept an Amendment including it. What his hon. Friend objected to, and what they objected to, was that they should deluge them with a lot of charges as to the tendencies and re- 868 sults of their speeches, and that thereby they should drag out the inquiry and hide and obscure from the public mind the practical, narrow, and real issue—namely, whether they were or were not accomplices in crime and outrage.
§ MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
said, he was unwilling to prolong the discussion on this Amendment, and if it stood by itself he should certainly not undertake to do so. But this Amendment appeared to him to be eminently a representative Amendment; it was evidently framed with great care and legal knowledge, and had the same object in view as a great mass of Amendments on the Paper, that object being to limit and cramp the scope of this inquiry. He was surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) speak of this inquiry as absolutely without precedent. He understood the hon. Gentleman to say that an inquiry of his kind had never previously been embarked upon, because the inquiry was aimed at the conduct of individual persons. Reference had been made in the course of the debate to two precedents, to the precedent of the Board of Works inquiry, and to the precedent of the Sheffield Trades Unions investigation. No hon. Gentleman appeared, however, to have thought of a far more analogous precedent, as it appeared to him—namely, the precedent of the inquiries into alleged corrupt practices at Parliamentary Elections. These inquiries concerned Members of Parliament and other persons, and appeared to him to be upon all fours with the inquiry contemplated by this Bill. He would not refer to inquiries before Election Commissioners, which had resulted in the establishment of allegations of gross corruption; he would refer to inquiries which had terminated in a sense satisfactory to Members of the House. He saw the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) was apparently doing him the honour to take interest in what he was saying.
§ MR. JAMES LOWTHER
was very sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby should have met with so prominent a rebuff so near at his hand, because the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) raised his 869 hat in acquiescence in the observation that he was paying attention to his (Mr. James Lowther's) remarks, and was immediately and promptly contradicted by his Leader. What he was proposing to refer to was the inquiry into alleged corrupt practices in the Parliamentary Election at Oxford; an inquiry which was general in its character, and extended over a very wide field. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby had an opportunity of conclusively proving, to the entire satisfaction of the Commissioners, his innocence of any complicity whatever in the charges made, and he had the satisfaction of displaying to the world at large his absolute guiltlessness of anything of the kind. He mentioned that as a case where a Member of the House of Commons was enabled to clear himself creditably before a Commission of this kind. Hon. Gentlemen had repeatedly said that this inquiry, if it was conducted in the way proposed in the Bill, would lead to injustice to individuals. As a matter of fact, what those who supported this Bill wanted was that the inquiry should be complete and thorough, and that if, as they trusted, hon. Gentlemen who sat in the House of Commons could prove they were absolutely free from any share in guilt, they should have an opportunity of establishing their innocence before this tribunal. It had, he thought, been too often said that this was a question which really affected the hon. Member for Cork, and those who were more immediately associated with him. He (Mr. James Lowther) ventured to think that the quarter of the House from whence emanated just now the very candid and straightforward interruption was more interested, if possible, than the hon. Member for Cork. What was the position that the right hon. Gentleman the Member Mid Lothian and his immediate surrounding occupied with regard to this subject? He did not wish to make use of any simile which could be in any shape or form offensive, and he would venture to compare the right hon. Gentleman in this connection with a person who was following a very honourable and respectable calling—namely, that of a pawnbroker. Suppose a charge was made against a pawnbroker for having received goods knowing such goods to have been stolen. He was as- 870 suming that the pawnbroker was highly respectable, and could conclusively show that his antecedents were above reproach, and that he had always denounced malpractices, and that throughout his career not a single syllable could be uttered associating him with crime. But if it transpired that the person who was alleged to have brought stolen goods to his premises had been more than once laid by the heels at his instance, if it could be proved that his legal advisers had described him, acting on their instructions from him, as steeped to the lips in crime, and that throughout many years past he had pointed at that person as a person to whom the eye of the law should be specially turned, such a man would, at any rate, have an object in having his connection with that person relieved from any possible suspicion. He (Mr. James Lowther) maintained that a person occupying that position, although his antecedents were absolutely irreproachable, would very likely find himself before a disbelieving jury, and forced into a position which might enable him, if he had an entire absence of dignity, and no sense whatever of the ridiculous, to go about the country complaining that he was not allowed to wear his own trousers. He would not pursue the simile any further. What he wanted to do now was to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that if they were to go into all these Amendments, which really bad one and the same object in view, their discussions would be almost limitless. What he thought the House had by a large majority decided upon was that an inquiry should be held with a view, once and for all, of clearing up these matters. The tribunal selected was, as he thought, analogous in its main features to the tribunals which had been appointed to conduct inquiries into certain Parliamentary Elections. Those inquiries had resulted, he thought, in a manner most satisfactory to certain hon. Members of the House, and he trusted the Commission would not be led aside by any argument that departed from the broad principle of conducting this inquiry, and enabling it to be conducted in a full, free, and comprehensive manner, without any limitation whatever.
MR. ASHER&c.) (Elgin,
said, he agreed with what had been said by the 871 right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. James Lowther) that this was a representative Amendment. The discussion upon the Amendment would afford an opportunity of ascertaining what was the exact line of division between the two sides of the House with regard to the scope and purpose of the present inquiry. On the Opposition side of the House he believed there was a unanimous feeling that the inquiry to be instituted before this Commission should be for the purpose of discovering whether the allegations as to complicity with crime on the part of Members of this House were well founded or not. On the other hand, it appeared that the general desire of hon. Members opposite was to make use of this Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the political character of the movement in Ireland. If anything were wanted to establish that fact, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. James Lowther) would have afforded conclusive evidence in that direction, because it appeared to him (Mr. Asher) that every sentence the right hon. Gentleman uttered demonstrated that his object and desire—and he presumed that of the right hon. Gentleman's Friends also—was to use the Commission for the purpose of going into matters political rather than criminal. The right hon. Gentleman said he desired this inquiry should be complete and thorough, and he (Mr. Asher) cordially echoed that desire. But it appeared to him that the very first condition of a complete and thorough, and, he might add, satisfactory inquiry, was that they should have the limits and the scope of the inquiry properly and accurately defined. The proposal of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Reid) was that there should be added to the words "charges and allegations," the words "of complicity with murder or violence." Now, suppose there never had been any charge made against any Member of the House of complicity with murder or violence, would they ever have heard of the proposal which was at present before the Committee? Suppose the only allegations had been that they were connected with the Home Rule movement in Ireland, certain proceedings of which all right-minded people disapproved, would they ever have heard it suggested that 872 there should be a Commission of this nature? Was there ever a political movement of this character in any part of the world in connection with which certain matters did not occur which everybody was prepared to condemn? It was impossible for anyone to take part in any political movement which had connected with it any such proceedings without making the suggestion possible that there was some link of connection between the two extremes of the movement. But what the country—and he apprehended a great number of hon. Members of the House—desired an inquiry into was, the clear and distinct and specific charges of complicity with crime on le part of certain Members of the House. He confessed that if the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department were well founded, and if the words of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Reid) were not broad enough to include cases of arson, he should be disposed to advise his hon. and learned Friend to change his Amendment so that it would include such cases. Personally, he was quite in favour of the Commission being charged with the investigation of everything which could properly be described as crime or complicity with crime; and he had no hesitation in saying—speaking with some experience of the investigation of such matters—that the very first condition of a satisfactory inquiry in regard to a matter of this sort was that they should define specifically what the scope of the inquiry should be. If the opinion of the House was that the Commission should confine its attention to the investigation of complicity with crime, most certainly that ought to be stated distinctly in the Bill creating the Commission. The point which was raised by the Amendment was simply this—was the Commission to be constituted for the purpose of investigating charges and allegations generally, or charges and allegations of crime or complicity with crime? Charges and allegations meant charges and something which were not charges; but if they were going to stop there and not to qualify the words at all, but simply make them read as charges and allegations contained in a speech extending over several days was that fair 873 to the tribunal or fair to the parties who were to come before the tribunal? How could the parties possibly tell what was the thing they had to meet? The broad point raised by the Amendment was whether this Commission was to be constituted for the purpose of investigating alleged complicity with crime. If that broad doctrine were once accepted, he could hardly doubt that both sides of the House would easily agree upon words which would give effect to that view. The words which stood in the Bill in contrast to the Amendment were so vague and indefinite as to leave it absolutely uncertain what they meant; whereas the Amendment did qualify those words so as to make them plainly mean charges and allegations of crime or complicity with murder or violence. He hoped the Committee would look at this matter from a judicial point of view—that they would accept, atleast, some modification, if they did not accept the particular words of the Amendment, which would, undoubtedly, limit the scope of the inquiry to charges and allegations of complicity with crime or with violence.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I have already spoken upon this Amendment, and all I wish to do now is to take the opportunity of stating that the statement which fell from the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) with regard to O'Donovan Rossa having had to do with my entrance into public or political life is absolutely unfounded.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I beg to repeat in the most positive manner my statement that the right hon. Gentleman entered life under the patronage of O'Donovan Rossa and his party. The circumstances under which the right hon. Gentleman entered political life are these. Mr. Serjeant Barry was at the time Crown Prosecutor for the then existing Government. In the course of his speeches as Crown Prosecutor against certain Fenian prisoners he made some charges which greatly exasperated the Fenian Party. He stood for the town of Dungarvan immediately after making the charges. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Matthews)—then an English lawyer—absolutely ignorant of Ireland, came over to Dungarvan, took advantage of the exasperation then 874 produced amongst the Fenians, was introduced by a Catholic priest to the Fenian leaders at Dungarvan, posed as a violent Nationalist—[An hon. MEMBER: Violent?] I use the word advisedly, for it was the strength of his opposition that got the right hon. Gentleman the full support of every Fenian in Dungarvan, and so he entered public life.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
What has just fallen from the hon. Member is absolutely inaccurate. It is perfectly true that I entered political life as Member for Dungarvan in 1868. It is perfectly true that my opponent was Mr. Serjeant Barry. It is true that Mr. Serjeant Barry was counsel in a case against certain Fenian prisoners, and that he had exasperated against him the whole of those who were either Fenians or sympathizers with the Fenian movement. It is perfectly true that certain persons, not Fenians—[Laughter.]—I do not think any of them were Fenians, not one to my knowledge—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"]—well, I will repeat what I say, and I think I know as much about Dungarvan in 1868 as any other hon. Member. I knew every man in the constituency of Dungarvan, from my chief supporter, Lord Waterford, down to the lowest of the electorate—down to the most advanced Nationalist of the electorate. I had constant and familiar relations with persons then holding positions in the Fenian organization. I am perfectly prepared to avow every word I said, and every act I did. Those people did give me a certain amount of support in the election. They did it not—as they said most honestly in their speeches and in the Press—on account of my merits, but on account of my demerits. [Laughter.] Well, that is a slip of the tongue; I meant to say the demerits of Mr. Serjeant Barry. The instant I was elected The Irishman—which I think was an advanced Nationalist paper—described me in the contemptuous language which is commonly used by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite towards such Gentlemen as myself. For instance, they said that any stick was good enough to beat a dog with, and that I had been used as a Tory stick with which to beat Mr. Sergeant Barry. With regard to O'Donovan Rossa I never saw him, I never heard of him, and I never came across 875 him in any kind of way. He had nothing more to do with my election than the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said, he proposed, in a few words, to close the debate upon the Amendment which was now before the Committee, and those few words would be spoken more out of respect to his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary than because there was any real necessity to restate the position of the Government in regard to the matter. He was somewhat surprised to hear from so fair a reasoner and political combatant as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Elgin (Mr. Asher) the statement that there were two sides to this matter—that one side wished to confine the inquiry to considerations of crime and wrong; and that the other side wished to extend it to the discussion of political matter. That accusation was entirely unfounded. There was not the smallest desire on the Ministerial side of the House to set up a Commission for the discussion of political topics. This was not a Commission which was being instituted at the desire and wish of those who sat on the Government Benches. It was plain that this tribunal had been framed for the consideration of matters which were quite distinct and separate from the controversies of their political life; matters which involved wrong-doing of some kind or other. With regard to the Amendment, he would like the Committee to recollect that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Asher) had not denied that the words of the Amendment were words of a narrowing character. It had been pointed out that they would exclude, for instance, cases of arson. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not challenge that statement, but said that if the words did exclude arson, he would be prepared to amend the Amendment so that it might include arson. There was another objection to the Amendment, and it had been admitted by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. That hon. Gentleman said that complicity included connivance with and condonation of crime. He (Sir Edward Clarke) disputed that proposition.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that what he said was, that if the words of the Amendment did not include that, 876 he had no doubt his hon. and learned Friend would amend his Amendment, so that it should do so.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said, that if the hon. Gentleman had waited, he (Sir Edward Clarke) would have closed his sentence by pointing out that he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) as well as the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Asher) proposed an Amendment upon the Amendment, and that therefore they both admitted that the Amendment, which the Committee was now asked to vote for, would in itself have a limiting effect. Suppose the words were amended so as to include arson, so as to make complicity include condonation of and connivance with crime. What about intimidation? That was not included in either the Amendment or the proposed Amendment to it No. 1, or the proposed Amendment to it No. 2, and the Amendment would have to be a third time amended in order to include intimidation, which, of course, was a thing which must be included if the Commission was really to deal with the series of questions contained in the articles in The Times and in the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General. The speeches of the advocates of the Amendment had shown the Committee conclusively that the Amendment itself would be one which would have a narrowing effect. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Asher) that this was a representative Amendment. The Government desired an inquiry into all the matters alleged in the course of the proceedings. They declined to limit the inquiry by leaving out any of the matters from the consideration of the Commissioners, and they objected to, and would resist, any Amendment the intention of which, or the effect of which, either intended or not intended, would be to limit the inquiry and exclude any such matters from the consideration of the Committee.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
said, he quite agreed that this was a most important and governing Amendment, and as such they regarded it. It was so important and so governing an Amendment that if on the Opposition side of the House they had had the least notion or conception or shadow or idea that it would have been rejected by the majority of the House, it was probable that the second 877 reading of the Bill would have been a very different affair. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman on his left the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) laughed; but the right hon. Gentleman, at a critical time of the debate on the second reading, made a speech of admirable rhetorical effect, the best speech he had heard even from the right hon. Gentleman since the first speech he made in the House, which anyone who heard it would never forget. The right hon. Gentleman's speech was the turning point in the debate on the second reading. He understood—and he thought everyone else understood—the right hon. Gentleman to propose two Amendments of very great importance, the first of which was to limit the inquiry to—he used the word very broadly—murder, and crimes of violence. Many of them—those of them especially who were exceedingly anxious to have this inquiry for the honour of the House of Commons, and for the honour of public life—had been considering very carefully how the inquiry might best be limited; and when the right hon. Gentleman made the suggestion that he did make, they felt that it was worthy of his knowledge of Public Business and of the House of Commons. That suggestion was received in a manner which satisfied them that not only their side of the House, but the House of Commons as a whole, was prepared to limit the inquiry to complicity with, and condonation of, murder and crimes of violence; and they felt that all the more because this was not a question in which the Opposition side of the House, or the House of Commons generally, was interested, but it was a question in which the country at large was interested. What the country at large wanted to know was whether there was any truth in the charges; and the only charges that it cared anything about were the charges against hon. Members of the House that they had been concerned, more or less directly, with murder and with murderous crimes. If there were any other crimes, crimes real or imaginary, which required to be inquired into—and they had heard first one and then another named until at last they had come down to intimidation—could they forget that at this moment there was a Crimes Bill under which, whether justly or not, hon. Members in great numbers not only could but were 878 being actually punished severely for crimes of unlawful assembly and intimidation? Some hon. Members had gone still further. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. James Lowther)—who, he was sure, as a private individual, they were all very glad to welcome back again to the House—in a speech which reminded him strongly of the fact that he actually was responsible for the government of Ireland during the most critical of all periods in that country, plainly showed that he wished that the Commissioners should actually take cognizance of purely political questions as between Irish Members and men who were not returned to Parliament at all. The fact was, if the Bill were left in its present state, there would be sent to this Commission of Judges an immense mass of allegations, allegations some of which had already been read to the House, allegations which bore upon questions that everyone regarded as purely political; but if this Amendment were passed, then it would be laid down as the opinion of the House of Commons that this unusual and extraordinary step of appointing a Commission of Judges had been taken for the only purpose that the House had a right to take it—for the great and cardinal purpose of determining whether a number of brother Members of the House were or were not concerned in the crime of murder or crimes of violence. If hon. Members of the House had thought that the Commission was demanded for any other purpose, the second reading of the Bill would never have passed the House unanimously; and he would venture to say that if the House endeavoured to enlarge the scope of this inquiry beyond these charges, which were really the charges against hon. Members in the minds of all Members who believed either the writings in The Times or the speech of the hon. Gentleman which was referred to in the Bill, if the House went beyond these special charges, he would venture to say the House would not have the country with it.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had certainly paid him one of the greatest compliments he ever received in his life, for he had been good enough to tell the 879 House that upon an occasion he himself described as critical in reference to a measure, the importance of which he was well able to estimate, he (Mr. J. Chamberlain) was fortunate enough to make a speech which enabled the right hon. Gentleman to make up his mind. But for that speech it appeared doubtful whether the right hon. Gentleman would have found himself able to support the second reading of the Bill. He was very glad to think that he had so much influence with the right hon. Gentleman, and he was encouraged to try his hand once more, and perhaps he might induce the right hon. Gentleman to vote against the Amendment before the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not wish to chop words with him; but he wished the right hon. Gentleman and those who agreed with him would not chop his words, but quote them as they were delivered, and as they would be found reported in any newspaper. What he (Mr. J. Chamberlain) said on a previous occasion was, that it seemed to him there was a general agreement on both sides of the House as to the object of the inquiry, and nothing had been said in Committee, either in support of the Government or in opposition, that had altered that opinion in the slightest degree. He said the object of the inquiry was to find out—and he was speaking, not, of course, in legal language, but using a layman's language—to find out if hon. Members of the House and other persons had been guilty of crime, of complicity in crime, of connivance with crime, of condonation of crime, and he said it was no part of the object of the House to inquire into the Plan of Campaign or Boycotting, except so far as they were proof of complicity in crime. Now he said the same thing again, and if hon. Members could find any words that would carry out legally that meaning, which he believed was the meaning of the Government and of everyone who spoke in favour of the Bill, then they would find him ready to vote for them. But this Amendment did nothing of the kind. It proposed to confine the inquiry into charges and allegations of complicity with crime, and his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. R. T. Reid), who was a lawyer, went on to explain what he meant by the words. He said, by complicity with crime, he 880 meant by speech, by letters, by silence, and by communication with other persons here or in America. Well, but even that was not wide enough, though it was an immense deal wider than the Amendment. [Mr. R. T. REID: No.] Well, then let the hon. and learned Member put these words in, and he would show him, although he was not a lawyer, that his Amendment would not carry out the hon. and learned Member's own intention. His intention was that the inquiry should include complicity with crime by letter. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman say it would be possible for the Commission to inquire into the first of the letters alleged to have been written by the hon. Member for Cork? [Mr. ANDERSON: Yes.] He did not put his question to the hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson); he asked his hon. and learned Friend who moved the Amendment (Mr. R. T. Reid), and would take his explanation of the Amendment, and even his explanation of law, before that of the hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn. The letter which was attributed by The Times to the hon. Member for Cork was a letter which certainly did not necessarily involve complicity with crime, and which could not be investigated if the charges were confined to complicity with crime; and, therefore, he said the effect of the Amendment would be to limit inquiry on a point the hon. Member for Cork said was one to which he attached prime importance. He wondered what his hon. and learned Friend meant by saying that in his Amendment was included complicity with crime by silence?
§ MR. R. T. REID
asked to be allowed to explain. His right hon. Friend had fallen into a little misunderstanding, and very likely it was his (Mr. R. T. Reid's) own fault. What he said in stating his intention was, that The Times had charged the hon. Member with complicity with crime by speech, by letter, by silence, by underground communication, and so on; and what he thought he said, and certainly what he meant to say, was that his Amendment was designed to cover what he understood to be the effect of The Times' charges. That was what he meant.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
said, he thought his hon. and learned Friend would find, when he saw the report of 881 his speech, that that was not what he did say. At all events, if that was what he meant to say, the Amendment would not carry out his intention, for it would exclude from inquiry a great portion of the charges made by The Times. If he did not intend that the speeches of hon. Members, letters of hon. Members, and their communications with other persons here and in America who had been guilty of crime, and their silence when silence involved condonation of crime—if he did not intend that these matters should be included, then the inquiry would be incomplete, and he (Mr. J. Chamberlain) would be no party to it. The limitation would exclude intimidation when it led to crimes such as arson and other forms of violence ordinarily understood, but not included in the legal definition. What he had to say upon the whole matter was, that the intention of the House was perfectly clear; and if lawyers could agree that any form of words could be adopted in the Bill which, while admitting to the full inquiry into all these points, incitement, condonation, and the various steps which led up to crime, and which, at the same time, would exclude unnecessary investigation into the Plan of Campaign and political agitation, however extreme, then he did not believe there would be any difference of opinion as to the adoption of such an Amendment. But, on the other hand, nothing could be more unwise than to introduce words of limitation that would prevent the inquiry being as complete and full as the country desired it should be.
§ MR. R. T. REID
said, he had been very unfortunate in dealing with the words of the right hon. Gentleman, because, really, the idea he had intended to convey in the Amendment was the idea to which expression had been given, or which he thought had been given, in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to which he listened a few days before. Referring again to the reported words, he found that the right hon. Gentleman said, alluding to matters he desired to exclude from inquiry, he meant Boycotting, the Plan of Campaign, and political agitation—Exclude these," he said, "by all means. I think matters of this sort are altogether irrelevant to the main object of inquiry. I do not see why the inquiry should not be confined to charges of real importance, affecting complicity 882 with crime by hon. Members, with crimes of personal violence and outrage.He (Mr. R. T. Reid) was very far from denying that his language was somewhat different from that of the right hon. Gentleman; but it differed in the sense that it was more comprehensive. The words of the right hon. Gentleman were "personal violence and outrage," while the Amendment referred to murder and complicity with murder or violence. He would not waste time in the discussion of mere words, but, for himself, would say frankly that, as his object appeared to be the same as the right hon. Gentleman had that night expressed, it would be a great pity if difference of language prevented their coming to an agreement on the subject. If it was the case—which he did not for a moment believe—that the Amendment was open to the criticisms—perhaps he might be permitted to say the verbal cavils of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary—he was the last man to wish to exclude such an offence as arson. He did not believe it would be excluded. He hoped that it might be possible for the Government, with the assistance of their Legal Advisers, to suggest to-morrow the use of language which, while excluding what most of the House thought ought to be excluded, would not exclude matters of real crime as ordinarily understood.
§ And it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.