§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
, in rising to move—That, in the opinion of this House, the operation of 'The Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, 1887,' and the manner of its administration, undermine respect for Law, estrange the minds of the people of Ireland, and are deeply injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom,said: With reference to the remark that was made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite a moment ago, as to the production of this Return, I may perhaps be allowed to say that I myself only received it, and I am indebted to his courtesy for it, at 2 o'clock this afternoon. All I have been able to gather from that Return, so far, is that it contains 61 pages and rather more than 2,000 cases. Among these cases it is quite clear, I should think, that there is a considerable number of unjust arrests, which were in consequence withdrawn. As to basing any argument on so cursory a survey of this elaborate Return, it is obviously impossible to do so. I will only begin what I have to say by remarking how singular it is that we were asked to discuss the introduction of the Crimes Act without any statistics or figures as to the crimes which were supposed to justify that Act, and that we are now about to enter into a discussion of the operation of that Act without having had any fair or reasonable time to digest the details of this Return.
In no quarter of the House will it be thought necessary that I should make any apology for interrupting by this Motion the Bill which would have been otherwise before the House. One of the Three Kingdoms has been for nearly a year placed by Parliament under exceptionally repressive legislation. Seventeen or more Members of this House have been imprisoned in consequence. In one gaol in Ireland at this moment there are more than 40 prisoners under this Act. Collisions between the police and the people have been of almost unexampled frequency. What is most important of all, perhaps, the High Court of Ireland pronounced the other day a judgment 1149 which is in effect discrediting to the most important part of the machinery by which this Act is worked, The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) on Friday, when I gave Notice of this Motion, said that he understood it to challenge the conduct of the Government in every respect. Yes, Sir, in every respect. We challenge the policy of this Act, and its administration; we challenge its justice, we challenge its expediency, we challenge its wisdom, and we challenge even your allegations of its transient and temporary success. There are two special reasons why I have brought forward this Motion at the present moment. The first of those reasons is that peculiar difficulties have been experienced within the last few weeks in obtaining from the Irish Minister full and accurate information as to what has been really going on in Ireland. Questions have been asked with the object of eliciting information on the subject, and the replies of the right hon. Gentleman have led us to doubt, not his intentions, but his knowledge of what has been going on there. Out-of-doors the right hon. Gentleman has been guilty of more than one grave inaccuracy of statement. For example, in referring to the case of Mitchelstown, he said that the High Court of Ireland had decided that Leahy, the constable, who had been wounded, was legally occupied. I defied the right hon. Gentleman at the time to produce one syllable of evidence to show that the High Court of Ireland had over said anything of the kind. I defy him now. The right hon. Gentleman made reference, in the matter of increased sentences, to a Return which he had before him, and the deduction from the surrounding arguments of the right hon. Gentleman was that we had gone beyond the mark when we said that increase of sentences of imprisonment under the Crimes Act was unknown to the law.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. That was not my argument, nor was anything of the kind said.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Certainly the inference drawn by most hon. Members on both sides of the House was the one I have indicated. I was going on to say that I have at this moment seen 1150 a full Return for the first time—since I came into the House to-day—and on the face of that Return it is obvious that not in any single case in the proceedings under the Crimes Acts was a sentence increased. I mean the Crimes Acts of 1881 and 1882. Again, the right hon. Gentleman came down one day not long ago—within this month—and told us that the certainty of justice being done was amply secured by the right to have a case stated in the Superior Court. A day or two afterwards he came down, and with a suavity—which from the point of view of accuracy of information I distrust almost more than his severer manner—he told us that the right of having a case stated was compulsory. We shall see presently how far that statement was calculated to enlighten the House as to the true facts of the matter. On another day, Friday last—although the minds of hon. Members of this House were so deeply exercised as to the treatment of prisoners under this Act—he actually said that he was not acquainted with prison rules. Questions are asked in this House every night as to the administration of these Acts, and they are answered by the right hon. Gentleman with statements that I should admire if they were bouts of College dialectic; but as the object is to bring out facts and to get the information we want, I think that it is most unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman does not tell us plainly, and without fencing, what we seek to know. A Question is asked; the official answer is given; there are more Questions and more answers, and then after the process has gone on for a certain time, you, Sir, in the just and proper discharge of your duty, interpose, and the end of it is that the House is in no degree enlightened, but leaves off with a sense of bewilderment and confusion, and it is thought that Ireland must be satisfied because we are tired. We protest against the assumption that a matter is threshed out merely because there is a cross-fire of Questions and answers. There is another reason why this Motion is made. A Member of this House whom we all on both sides regard with respect, although we may not all endorse his policy, has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months. I am told that it is a mistake in tactics to have brought forward this Motion now. Some 1151 persons seem to think that politics are mainly made up of tactics. As a matter of tactics, I might remind the House of the example set by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) in the Parliament between 1878 and 1880, when he and his Friends constantly brought forward Motions arraigning the conduct of the Government of the day, and were constantly beaten by immense majorities, varying from 100 to 140. But it all came to an end in 1880. And whatever may be the the result of this decision—we know substantially what the result will be[Cheers]—whatever that result may be in this House, we know perfectly well that by taking the same analogy in 1890 the result will be what it was in 1880. [Cheers.] The other night hon. Gentlemen cheered very loudly the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury's promptitude in fixing an early day for this Motion. [Cheers.] Yes; but you would not have cheered so loudly if the right hon. Gentleman had got up and told you that he was going to send you to your constituents on the issue raised by my Motion. When I remember that the hon. Member for East Mayo—I should like, Sir, to be allowed to call him Mr. Dillon, for the fact of his being a Member of Parliament is a matter of very little importance to him or to anyone else just now and for long months to come—has been down to address vast audiences both in England and Scotland, and he has before those audiences said very much what he said the other day in Ireland in respect of which he has now been imprisoned—for my part, I should have regarded myself as one of the most contemptible of men if I had consented, when the holidays came, to enjoy books and refreshment of mind and all the glories of the summer weather, when I knew that Mr. Dillon was undergoing a sentence of this severity, unless I had taken an opportunity of arraigning the whole Irish policy of the Government, which can only be carried out by straining Statutes in order to lock up a man of Mr. Dillon's influence, power, and popularity. I shall presently say a word or two as to the special circumstances of this arrest and imprisonment; but the great political moral which we at this moment, as the virtual rulers of Great Britain and Ire- 1152 land, have to draw is one which I fear this House at this moment will not draw, but which our constituencies are drawing—that, after all that has happened in Ireland and in this country within the last eight years, and more especially within the last two years, you can only carry your policy out by an Act which in itself is an admission that that policy is a failure. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would deny that coercion is his only policy. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] He accepts that. Well, I notice that a few days ago he did the agent of an American newspaper the honour to grant him an interview. In the course of that interview he desired the agent to make a momentous communication to the American people, that he was maturing a policy, and that he had actually on the Table of the House three Bills—the Bills, I presume, for the better drainage of the Shannon and the Barrow. If he had said that he had a Bill for draining the Atlantic Ocean it would have been a matter of more lively interest to the American people, and not a whit more foolish as a policy for Ireland. I wish to say something now as to the scenes at Dundalk the other day. At every station on the road as Mr. Dillon went from Dublin to Dundalk the line was crowded with admirers. [Laughter.] The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) laughs. I shall have a word to say to him before I have done. At Drogheda there was a great assemblage of the people of the town, with the Mayor at their head. At Dunlear there was another great crowd, and another address was presented to Mr. Dillon. When he got to Dundalk there was an address presented from the Board of Commissioners, from the Board of Guardians; all the town was decorated as if, not a criminal, but a hero were coming. And the last address that Mr. Dillon received before he went off to gaol was one which is worthy of more consideration. It was an address from 150 Members of this House. Most of them are Members whom you yourselves would admit not to be lowest in repute, credit, honour, or substantial position in this House. They met this criminal to tell him that never before had Englishmen been so ashamed of this old story in the relations between Great Britain and Ireland, and never 1153 before so keenly alive to the meanness of visiting punishments springing from our own misgovernment of the Irish people on hon. Members of this House. These scenes are the latest outcome of nine months of coercion. They are the last fruit of the present policy of the Government, the last triumph of the policy of law and order and of the attempt to bring the mind of Ireland over to the side of England. Gentlemen on the opposite Benches know as well as I do that it is not only in Ireland, not only among politicians in this House, that great and profound sympathy is felt for this criminal. You know as well as I do that there are not three men in this House—I am not sure that there is more than one—whom our great audiences would more rejoice, and do more rejoice, to see and hear and receive with acclamation than the man whom you have chosen to put in prison.
In all these circumstances it is our duty to call the attention of the House to the conditions of his incarceration. I am not going at any length into the legal aspects of the matter, because this House is not the best tribunal for considerations of that kind. But there are one or two points which are of supreme importance in view of the character of the proceedings at Dundalk. The first is that Mr. Dillon was brought into a Crimes Court by the action of a Proclamation which was ex post facto. I do not dispute for a moment that, having issued the Proclamation, you had a right to try Mr. Dillon in a Crimes Court; but let us look at the state of the matter before the issue of the Proclamation. Mr. Dillon's speech was either an offence against the ordinary law or it was not. If it was not an offence against the ordinary law, then I remark in passing that it is clear that you will have to abandon your position that your Act creates no new offences. If it was an offence against the ordinary law, why did you not bring Mr. Dillon up before a Louth jury? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer smiles. If he knows anything about Ireland at all, which I sometimes doubt, he must know that Louth juries are among the best to be found in Ireland. If, therefore, a Louth jury could not be trusted to secure a conviction in this case, what a testimony is that to the 1154 state of mind in Ireland towards your rule! Passing that by, let me remark that the speech was made, I think, on the 20th of April or thereabouts. When Mr. Dillon made that speech he made it subject to prosecution, if his offence was an offence under the machinery of the ordinary law. I beg the House to remember that. The Proclamation was issued a few days afterwards. Why? This Proclamation was issued solely, merely, and entirely to deprive Mr. Dillon of the protection, security, and guarantees which the ordinary law gave him. It was done entirely to bring him within the special machinery of this Act. Nobody contends for an instant that there was any crime in Louth or any threatened outburst of crime in the county. It is one of the quietest parts of Ireland. There was nothing in the state of the county to justify the Proclamation, and the upshot of my argument is that this Proclamation was issued to deprive Mr. Dillon of securities which were in full force at the time when he committed the offence; these securities you took away from him after the offence was committed, and then you punished him. Now, I put it to the House, can you wonder after a proceeding of that kind that people say, and say in England as well as in Ireland, in regard to retrospective legislation so alien as this to the whole spirit of English jurisprudence and English policy—that it was prompted by a desire not to punish a criminal but to reach a political opponent? So much for the Proclamation. And now there is another point. At the trial before the County Court Judge at Dundalk a legal point of some intricacy and importance was raised. Into that question I am not going to enter at this moment; but if this case had been heard before a jury, and if this point had been raised, Mr. Dillon would have had an opportunity of having his case reviewed. Mr. Kisbey refused to place on his order the grounds on which he convicted. The effect of this was that Mr. Dillon was prevented from having his sentence reviewed and its legality tested by a Superior Court. Mr. Kisbey declined to make what I believe is known as a "speaking" order, and by so declining he sheltered his own decision from review by a Superior Court, I shall have a good deal to say presently 1155 as to the practice in other cases, but I wish to make that point clear. Let me say at once that if Mr. Dillon's speech was illegal, if the Plan of Campaign is illegal, and if his speech was an incitement to resort to the Plan of Campaign, then, like all others who break the law, Mr. Dillon must have been prepared to face the consequences. But about the Plan of Campaign, may I say that it seems to me there is a great deal of loose talk about the matter? General terms, as we know—and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary knows this as well as I do—relating to all subjects get into circulation and are used to cover inconvenient facts. I only say one thing about the Plan of Campaign, which I said before in the House, and which I say now after a further and longer observation of it. So far as I can hear no substantial injustice has been done under it. I have never heard of a case where the reduction demanded and carried out by the operation of what is called the Plan of Campaign, and where there was a chance of comparing them, exceeded the reductions that have been made in the same or similar circumstances by the Land Commission. It will be found so. I believe my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has taken great pains to inform himself accurately and fully as to the precise circumstances attending Mr. Dillon's speech, and he will probably later on this evening describe all the details to the House. I have seen a number of documents, including a letter from a distinguished dignitary of the Church, which clearly show that the tenants to whom Mr. Dillon went to speak were originally right; that the whole dispute had its origin in the invincible hostility of Lord Massereene to combination; that his agent resigned because he refused reductions. [An hon. MEMBER: Was dismissed.] I beg pardon, was dismissed; that the question might have been originally settled on the terms now proposed by Lord Massereene himself; that the remaining questions at this moment are two—not reduction of rent, that is conceded—but the payment of costs in cases which have been taken to Superior Courts. They are very ready to invoke the Superior Courts when the object is to harry tenants. They are very careful to keep away from these Courts when it 1156 is a question of justice to the tenants. That is the first difficulty. The second difficulty is the reinstatement of those evicted men who have been leaders in the combination, and who are admitted to have been substantially in the right from the first. These are, I believe, the things Lord Massereene has been fighting for—the power of dealing with individuals and the power of resisting combination. There we have the whole situation and the whole secret of the administration of this Act in a nutshell. The process is this—a just reduction is refused, then there is a combination; and I am glad to think that in these cases there is a combination; then somebody makes a speech to the tenants, then the coercion machinery is invoked, the district is proclaimed, and the man who makes the speech is tried without a jury and gets a double sentence because he is a leader of great popularity and importance. We told you all along that the object with which the Crimes Act would be worked would be to prevent legitimate combinations. I admit that Mr. Dillon used words which, in my opinion—and probably in his own opinion also when he had had time to reflect upon them—were regrettable. "If any man broke himself from this combination"—I am quoting the words—"his life would not be a happy one." I admit that that was regrettable language. [Cheers.] Yes; but do not let us have any cant about that. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham and the hon. Member for West Nottingham, I myself, and all who have known the history of Trade Unionism, know very well that language a hundred times more violent and dangerous was habitually used in connection with those disputes until you altered the Law of Trade Combination; and the remedy—the way to get rid of this language and the combinations which prompt this language—is to do with regard to agrarian combinations in Ireland what Parliament did for trade union combinations.
I venture now to quote the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, as explaining still further the object and intent of this Act. I hope I shall always speak of the hon. and gallant Member with respect, for he shows many popular qualities in this House. Here is a speech he made in the town of Ayr. He is reported to have said— 1157He would never be satisfied, and his people would never be satisfied, until they placed their heels upon their necks.[Colonel SAUNDERSON: Hear, hear!]It might be said this was a bloodthirsty policy.[An hon. MEMBER: Rather.]If they only manfully came forward and assisted the Government in laying in Ireland that respect for life and property which was the foundation of the prosperity of every civilized country, they would be conferring upon the Empire an unqualified benefit, and an inestimable blessing upon Ireland, his country.[Cheers.] Yes; but do not you see what you are thinking of is the defence of life and property in Ireland? What he and his friends, whose dupes you are—what they are thinking of is placing their heels upon the necks of the majority of their own countrymen.
Now a word as to equality of treatment. If Mr. Dillon had got up a meeting for promoting a Constitutional movement against the Government of this country, he would have been a first-class misdemeanant by the decision of Parliament a dozen years ago; he gets up a combination to induce a landlord to reduce his rent, and he is a common criminal. That is a difference which ought to make a deep impression on the minds of this House, as I am sure it will on the minds of people outside. Again, if Mr. Dillon had been a priest, he would have been a first-class misdemeanant. In all cases, I believe, except one, up to the present time, the priest has been treated as a first-class misdemeanant. Were they placed in prison clothes? You have boasted of your resolution to treat one man exactly as you would treat another; that you would have no respect for cloth or for a Member of Parliament—all those things show that the pretence of equality and impartial administration of the law is a farce and a mockery.
I will pass on to another point in support of this Motion. On May 17, 1887, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary came down to the House and told us this—talking of the Crimes Act, which was then under our consideration—he said—There will be an appeal in every case to a County Court Judge, and if, on legal technicalities, the County Court Judge is objected to, the Government will be prepared to consider a plan for giving an appeal in cases in which a legal difficulty may be involved to a still higher tribunal. "—(3 Hansard,  284.)1158 Now, Sir, that was surely a promise of a plan of appeal to a superior tribunal. My charge is this—that the Government not only did not last year consider or propose in Parliament any plan, but that they have, in administering the law with obstinate pertinacity on every occasion, moved Heaven and earth to prevent higher tribunals from dealing with legal difficulties. They have on every occasion used all the resources of what I feel hound to call chicane to oppose testing nice points of law in Courts of real legal competency in Dublin. Would you not suppose that if there was a chance of a man being detained in illegal custody the authorities would rejoice at any opportunity being taken to have the disputable and disputed decision reviewed and considered? Sullivan's case was the first I can remember. He was brought up for conspiracy with others in refusing to shoe horses for Mrs. Curtin. An application was made to the Court of Queen's Bench for a certiorari. The Counsel representing the Crown—that is to say, representing the Government, who had promised the House of Commons to do their best to refer legal difficulties to a higher tribunal—argued with might and main that the Court of Queen's Bench had no power to go behind the warrant, and the Court of Queen's Bench refused the prisoner's application. Happily for law and justice, the ingenuity of the prisoner's counsel—who is a Member of this House—hit on the device of an application for a writ of habeas corpus to the Court of Exchequer. Here, again, the Crown Counsel struggled as hard as he had done in the Court of Queen's Bench to prevent a higher Court from testing the legal points in the decision of the two Resident Magistrates. This time the prisoner was successful. The Court of Exchequer decided the Resident Magistrates were wrong, that Sullivan was illegally detained, and he was ordered to be discharged. Take another case. A man named Brosnan was convicted of selling newspapers, and the magistrates in the Crimes Court refused to state a case for a Superior Court. Counsel for the prisoner applied for a mandamus to compel them to do so, Counsel for the Crown, as before, doing their best to obtain a refusal. In the result, owing to the ingenuity of the prisoner's coun- 1159 el, the Resident Magistrates were directed to state a case; and the prisoner was released on bail, having undergone one-half of his imprisonment. The point on which the Resident Magistrates refused to state a case was one of great legal difficulty. I ask Chairmen of Quarter Sessions and other men of sense to realize to themselves the absurdity of a couple of ex-policemen hearing cases in a remote country town, far away from law books, and, without the opportunity of consulting with brother Judges, deciding nice questions of law which would puzzle the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of Exchequer. To think of these things is to realize what a farce the administration of this Act is. I am sure the common sense and the intellectual integrity of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary ought to be revolted; but, so far from being revolted by it and taking steps to have the magistrates punished, the right hon. Gentleman coolly told the House of Commons that the ends of justice were amply secured by the existing right to have a case stated for a Superior Court. Existing right What would have become of the existing right if my hon. Friend had not dug out of the law books precedents which enabled that right to be asserted and exercised?
A great number of the cases that have been brought before the House by Questions have been cases of refusal to deal, and they are of the greatest importance, because they have brought into the full blaze of a pretty fierce light the competency of the magistrates administering the Coercion Act. It is not to be denied by any lawyer that a man has a perfect right to abstain from selling to or dealing with another. An eminent Judge—Sir James Stephen—wrote an article just before the Coercion Act was brought in, in which he urged that, just as the driver of a hackney carriage is under a legal obligation to take as a fare or as a passenger any person for whom there is room and to whose admission there is no reasonable objection, so the same legal obligation to ply his trade should be imposed on a butcher, a baker, a chemist, a doctor, and, indeed, on everybody else. But neither Sir James Stephen nor anybody in the world is able to state that that is at present the law either in England or Ireland. If you wanted to make it 1160 illegal to refuse to deal, or to refuse to ply a trade, it was your business to have put a clause into the Crimes Act which would have made that change in the law. But you did not; and why? You may have thought you would have had some difficulty in getting such a clause through the House of Commons. I do not know why you should, considering that most of this Bill was passed in a lump without discussion. At all events, it was not proposed. But your Coercion Courts act just as if such a clause had been proposed and had been passed. I should like to give illustrations of the utterly odious way in which prosecutions for refusal to deal have been got up. Thank Heaven, there is no English word for it; we are obliged to use the jargon of Continental despotism, and to speak of the police acting as agents provocateurs. That is the expedient to which the Government have to resort. Here is the case heard at Fermoy, County Cork, of a man named John Moloney, who was charged with refusing to supply police constables. Two of them went into the shop, and the assistant refused to sell them a pair of boots they asked for. A few days afterwards, when the shopkeeper was in the shop, they went in and took up a small pair of boots and wished to buy them. The prisoner declined to sell them because they were required by a customer. One of the constables took up a second pair; the prisoner said he was busy attending to a customer, and the constable said he would wait. He then asked for any pair of boots in the house. The constables had been supplied with £1 by the District Inspector; and this is the cross-examination of one of them before the Resident Magistrates—What did he tell you to do?—He told me to get any pair of boots that were in the house. Was it for himself?—No. Any pair of boots you put your eyes on you were to get?—Yes. Did you go there by direction of your officer to entrap and ensnare this respectable man?—Certainly I went by directions. Was it for the purpose of a prosecution you went into these places?—I did not know at the time what it was for. Upon your oath, do you know the object for which you went in there?—Not at the time. Do you know it now?—Certainly. What was the object?—A prosecution. Did you want those boots or shoes for your own use?—No. Did you ask the price of the boots?—No. Is the District Inspector Jones you mentioned in Captain Plunkett's office?—I believe he is.There is another case of the same kind, 1161 A number of men were brought up charged with taking part in a criminal conspiracy to compel and induce shopkeepers not to deal with Mr. Leader, a local landlord. He swore at the trial that he had never before dealt with these men, and that he could get the goods elsewhere in the town. This is part of the cross-examination of Mr. Leader—Why did you go to these men whose doors you never darkened before?—I knew they were the most hostile people in the town, and that is why I went. Did you expect you would be supplied?—I was sure I would not be served. Knowing you would not be served, why did you go, if it was not for the purpose of getting up a prosecution against these men? (Considerable hesitation.) Can you answer?—I do not deny that I wanted to get up a prosecution.There was no evidence of conspiracy; the only evidence was that there was a refusal to deal; and yet four of the defendants were sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment. In another case a number of persons were brought up at Mil-town Malbay, charged with refusing to sell goods to a woman named Connell. Again, there was no evidence of conspiracy, but only of a refusal to supply goods, and yet four men were sentenced to three months' imprisonment with hard labour. They appealed; the sentence was doubled on appeal; and these men are in prison now, serving out the double sentence, for what, if the judgment of the Court of Exchequer be sound, is probably not an illegal act at all. One more case, again at Miltown Malbay, in County Clare. Twenty-four men were charged with refusing to supply goods to the police. The case arose in this way—A trial of a number of persons took place in this town on the 4th of February, and as at a trial which preceded that by some days it was found that some of the people who had taken drink during the day got into collision with the police, the parish priest requested the publicans of the town to close their houses on the day of this trial. The publicans obeyed. Evidence was given by various policemen that on the 4th they went to every public-house, and knocked at the door, but could not obtain admission. It was admitted that the police had in barracks as much refreshment as they required. On a previous occasion, when there had been prosecutions, disturbances had taken place. On this occasion all was quiet. The Rev. Father White, P.P., 1162 for the defence, gave evidence that the public-houses were closed at his request. He wished to prevent the possibility of a collision between the police and the people. In all 24 publicans were proceeded against. All were found guilty, and sentenced to one month's imprisonment; but an offer was made to release them if they made a promise to supply the police in future. Eleven refused to give any promise and went to gaol; 13 promised to supply the police, and were released. The 11 were sent to a month's hard labour for refusing to supply the police with drink on that one day. Yet the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has said—"What we are now fighting for are the elementary principles of private liberty; what we are maintaining is the cause of law, because it is the cause of freedom."
I now come to the Killeagh case heard last week. The charge there was that certain persons took part in a conspiracy to compel traders not to deal with members of the Irish Constabulary, and the defendants were sentenced to terms of imprisonment, the magistrates refusing to state a case. Against this refusal an appeal was made to the Court of Exchequer, and the actual words of the judgment have been reproduced in some of the English papers, but not in all. A constable said that he went into Heaphy's shop on the 16th of April to purchase some bread. Heaphy said that he would have nothing to do with it, but that his wife could give the constable the bread if she liked. The constable said that he put a shilling on the counter and saw some bread in the shop but did not get any. The Lord Chief Baron, in his decision on the case, said that there was a great deal of evidence that other persons on other days acted similarly towards the police, and he saw no reason to doubt that the magistrates had evidence from which they arrived at the conclusion that each of these persons had bread which they might have supplied if they had wished; and that their refusing to do so was in pursuance of common action. [Cheers.] Yes; but that refusal is not an offence at law. That is the point. Unless the element of conspiracy comes in and unless there is evidence of conspiracy no offence has been committed. What was the question which the two Resident Magistrates had to determine? The Lord Chief Baron 1163 said that it was whether there was evidence of conspiracy or what he called undue influence, and he said that he was bound to state that he did not find a shadow of evidence in that direction. There was another and most extraordinary case, that of David Barry. This man was asked for bread and he sold it. Afterwards he was frightened at what he had done, and said that he would rather give the bread for nothing than take money for it, adding—"I do not like being a black sheep any more than anybody else." This miserable man, who was frightened out of his life because he sold bread, was punished with a fortnight's imprisonment for joining in a conspiracy to intimidate others not to supply bread. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would appreciate the comedy. The Lord Chief Baron very naturally said that he could not see that there was any evidence of intimidation against the man, or that his terror of mind and fright was evidence against him. "It was mistaking the injured party for the person who was doing the wrong." Yet the injured party suffered a fortnight's imprisonment for intimidating, though all the evidence went to show that he was himself under intimidation. Is it not true that these magistrates' Courts are more like Courts at a comic opera than anything else? On the other cases the Chief Baron said this—Was there evidence from which they could bring home that act of intimidation to any of the parties who were parties to this common agreement? Was this statement of the police evidence against them, and evidence that they intimidated? Now, it was quite clear that it was no evidence against them at all. There was no evidence that Heaphy was a party to the conspiracy within the Act of Parliament; and the same observation applied to the other two persons who were in custody.Now, this is very important, and will have the effect, I hope, of stopping a most nefarious practice and of showing to the people of Ireland that the administration of the Coercion Act up to this point and in all this class of cases has been nothing more nor less than a scandal. But there was another Judge on the Bench who used to be a conspicuous ornament of this House—Baron Dowse. He dissented from the Lord Chief Baron's view, that the Court of Exchequer were entitled to go behind 1164 the warrant and take cognizance of what was going on in the Court below. That makes his remarks all the more important. Baron Dowse said that Mr. Healy had asked the magistrates to state a case and they had refused. Then Baron Dowse went on to say that there were several things which he had never been able to understand in the course of his life, and one of them was the mind of a local Justice, and he was even less able to understand very often the state of mind of a local Justice, of whose legal competence the Lord Lieutenant was satisfied. How the two Justices in question, the Lord Chief Baron said, could have satisfied themselves that the point made in favour of the case being stated was a frivolous one he could not comprehend. Why these Justices did not in a proper way state a case for the opinion of the Superior Court, I say, surpasses my comprehension. I hope for the future they will be wiser, and they will not be of opinion that a point practically decided by the majority of the Court of Exchequer, substantially decided by the majority, and practically decided by the whole of it, that that is a frivolous point. Whatever they may think privately, I do not think they can lay that down generally. I think they ought to bear in mind that men that are brought up under this Act of Parliament have rights, and that it is far better that acts should go unpunished rather than that parties should be punished against the law or by straining the law. Then Baron Dowse read a passage which is more a piece of history, and it is taken from a book which, some think, is a greater book almost than Gibbon—I mean Finlay's History of Greece. Mr. Finlay said that—Where true liberty existed every agent of the Administration from the gendarme to the Finance Minister.Baron Dowse supposed that Resident Magistrates, of whose legal competence the Lord Lieutenant was satisfied, would be included, though I should think the Resident Magistrate was much nearer the gendarme than the Finance Minister—Where true liberty existed, every agent of the Administration must be rendered personally responsible to the State for the legality of every act he carries into action.This, the historian said, and we say also, is the real foundation of English 1165 liberty and of the great principle which distinguishes the law of England from some of the Continental nations of Europe. Now, I submit that this principle and these remarks of the Judges of the Court of Exchequer justify all that we said before this Act became law with regard to the Resident Magistrates, and they justify what I have said tonight, that neither their law, nor their common sense, nor their equity, are on so high a level as to make them safe substitutes for a jury. It exposes the absurdity of denying us the fullest criticism upon their action, and of blaming, as your Press does—and as, perhaps, you will do when you get up to defend your action—of blaming us for our criticism as an attack upon a body of men, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said, who, under rare difficulties, are vindicating with rare impartiality the cause of law and order in Ireland. Baron Dowse is a Judge of the land; it is he who says this of your Resident Magistrates, and I need say no more.
The arm of the Coercion Act under this Ministry is very long and very powerful. It can grasp a great political Leader, and also the most miserable waifs and strays of humanity. I will give the House an illustration. This case happened in May, and it has already been before the House in the form of Questions; but I think the House should hear the story. It is the case of an old man and his wife charged with "taking forcible possession" of an outhouse after they had been turned out of their holding. They had nowhere to go to, unless they lay down to die on the roadside. The agent who went to the place, in his evidence before Messrs. Warburton and Caddell, the magistrates, said—I closed up the door; I nailed up one door, and built up the other one; I put up a hasp and a staple to the dwelling house and built up the outhouses with stones. I next visited the place the same evening; I found a woman in possession of one of the outhouses, and saw himself going in after. The defendants are husband and wife; I asked them both to leave, and the female replied that they had no place to go to, and that the weather was cold.The following conversation then took place—Dr. Levis (the landlord).—'I would ask you to deal leniently with them.' Mr. Warburton.—'It is a long time to keep possession since February.' Dr. Levis, J. P.—'Yes; but I am the 1166 person who has suffered most by it, and I would ask you to deal as lightly as you can with them, as they will give up possession to the parties with whom they agreed.' Mr. Warburton.—'How long have they been treating with him?' Dr. Levis.—'I cannot say, as it was only this morning for the first time they came to me, and they then said they were prepared to give up possession.' Mr. Warburton.—'Now, in this case both of you have made yourselves liable to a penalty of six months' imprisonment with hard labour. You have been keeping possession of this place in spite of all remonstrances and cautions of police, bailiffs, and everybody else, and you have been there for nearly three months—since the 20th of February. The Act leaves no option to us but to impose imprisonment. However, as Dr. Levis has said so much for you, we will take it into account.' The magistrates then sentenced the old man to one month's imprisonment, and Ids wife to a fortnight. Female Defendant.—'Oh, make it a fine on the old man; he is very delicate and feeble.' Dr. Levis—'I hope you'll reduce the imprisonment in the old man's case.'Mr. Warburton.—'We cannot, Dr. Levis. It is a long time to be over-holding possession.' Female Defendant (weeping bitterly).—'Oh, we never went to gaol before, and the poor old man is delicate. Wouldn't you put a fine on him, gentlemen?' The Bench were inexorable.Thus, an old man of 75 years of age, scarcely able to stand, and so deaf that he knew nothing of what went on during his trial, was sentenced to a month's imprisonment for the "crime" of taking shelter from the inclemency of the weather in an outhouse on the holding from which he had been evicted. Now I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has released these two poor wretches; I daresay he has. But whether he has or not, what a light this case sheds on the temper in which your Act is administered! I will not detain the House much longer. I think I have said enough. Instead of keeping the House for an hour, I could keep it for three hours with cases of this kind if the conditions of debate would permit. But I want to state one or two pieces of evidence as to the effect of all this harshness, this brutality—this odious brutality—on the minds of the people. As to increased respect for the law, has it promoted even quiet or the exterior observance of the conditions of order and peace? It has not. One of the sections of the Crimes Act which the House will remember that we had prolonged debates upon is what is called the Star Chamber Section, allowing private preliminary inquiries to be held without any prisoner being arrested. That section has been put in operation in the county of Donegal; and I just want to read to the 1167 House the evidence of a man whose authority and weight will not be denied. You are very fond of attaching importance to Ecclesiastical Rescripts. This is a little Rescript from the Bishop of Raphoe; and this is what he tells the Government as to the effect of their Star Chamber inquiry in the county of Donegal. He says—For the maintenance of good order among the people I am, by my position, more deeply concerned than any magistrate, and I cannot look on without protest while some of the most peaceful districts in Ireland are being thrown into a state of otter confusion by the needless operations of a secret Coercion Court.Dr. O'Donnell, Bishop of Raphoe, then goes on to describe the work of that Court to be "a standing menace to peace and incitement to violence." He says—The little town of Dungloe is in the midst of a population whose character for intelligence, industry, and peacefulness is not surpassed by the good name of the inhabitants at any point on the Irish seaboard. Until a few weeks ago its townspeople lived in a state of enviable quietude, such as the strained relations between landlord and tenant would allow few neighbouring districts to assume. As a matter of fact, the locality has always been remarkable for the amicable settlement of agrarian disputes.…A Resident Magistrate thought well to establish his Star Chamber in its midst. The leading men of the town were summoned on short notice before him, with no option but to decline answering or appear before the public in the odious character of informers on their neighbours.…These townspeople of Dungloe, some of them in a most delicate state of health, were made to come from Derry Gaol long journeys on outside cars at late hours of the night, and in torrents of rain, rather than have the name of yielding to the behests of this mischievous Court. I implore the people to be true to their Christian duty, to Ireland and to themselves, by not allowing even such insensate provocation to drive them into violence. They have not begun the disturbance. Let the whole responsibility of disorder rest on those whose tyrannical administration has called it into being.That case is only one of many others showing the course which these proceedings run in Ireland at the present moment. Some sort of action is taken in a Coercion Court; a crowd assembles to greet the prisoners; the police very needlessly attempt to disperse these, for the most part, innocent and harmless crowds; then a disturbance begins, bâtoning and bludgeoning begin, and disorder spreads. But all this has no effect in drawing the minds of the people towards your Government. They are not reconciled to it; they take every 1168 opportunity, on the contrary, great or small, of showing that their sympathies are for those whom you imprison, and that they have none for you or your law. Sir, I shall not be suspected, even by hon. Gentlemen opposite, of exulting in that. I do not. It is the object of all of us to bring the minds of the people of Ireland into something like harmony and sympathy with our law and government. But what do we find on every occasion? I never take up The Freeman's Journal or some other Irish paper without seeing an account of some demonstration by a crowd with bands and cars to escort somebody to prison, or to escort him on his way out of prison. Last Friday there was a priest brought up at Limerick for holding an unlawful meeting on the River Shannon. He went out in a boat, and five other boats joined him about 400 yards from the Clare side. The wind was blowing from the shore, and the tide was ebbing, but still the police heard enough words uttered to make a case for the Crimes Act Court, and I do not object to it; but when the priest went to the Court he was followed by a large contingent on cars and horseback, and one car carried a boat on the top of which was the inscription "Going to gaol for boating." When they got to Limerick again the prisoner was greeted by a large crowd; again there was disorder and a collision with the police; and, after all the importance attached to the action of the clergy in keeping the peace in Ireland, a conference of the priests of West Clare met last Friday and passed a resolution—That the prosecution of Father Gilligan only raises him in our estimation, and is another proof of his readiness to endure suffering in the cause of our oppressed people.How long, I ask, is this to go on? Under such a system as this—a system which has alienated and is alienating the minds of the people from the law, and throwing all their sympathies on the side of the offenders against the law—under that system no civil virtue can ever grow or ever thrive. The gross, savage ill-usage of the people, of the humble people, whom it is desired to terrify, the needless arrests, the humiliation, the constant intrusion and dominion of the police everywhere—that is no atmosphere for the preparation for freedom. But the just spirit of England recollects itself and is awake.
1169 I do not appeal to that spirit merely outside of this House; I appeal inside this House to the experience and the principles which have made England what England is, and I protest against blind and futile persistence in the principles and the practices which have made Ireland what Ireland is. This House may not, will not assent to my Motion, but I hope that hon. Members will lay seriously to heart the true character of what is now going on in Ireland. I do not want to make this speech an attack on the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary personally in any way. He is not more responsible than the majority of this House. He is only doing logically—rather harshly—what you gave him an instrument to do. But on you a great responsibility rests. I am quite aware that you have no intention of shirking that responsibility, and I am quite aware that my hon. Friends here do not shirk this responsibility. But I say that the responsibility is a grave one; I say that the state of Ireland is becoming not better from day to day, but is becoming worse. I ask you at least, if you will not vote for my Motion, to weigh its propositions; and I think that before many months are passed, if you test those propositions by all that comes up from Ireland, you will see the necessity for doing away with a system which is deepening the confusion in Ireland, and which tarnishes the credit, the honour, and the renown of this Parliament and of the people of this country. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, the operation of The Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, 1887,' and the manner of its administration, undermine respect for Law, estrange the minds of the people of Ireland, and are deeply injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom."—(Mr. John Morley.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
Mr. Speaker—[Interruption]—I had hoped to begin by complimenting the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House on the spirit of, at least, the end of his eloquent speech. But I cannot compliment him on the spirit in which his allies seem disposed to listen to a reply to that speech. Mr. Speaker, I cordially endorse 1170 one sentiment that has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, when he said of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) that he was not responsible for what is now proceeding in Ireland, but that that responsibility rests upon the Government as a whole, and on the majority which elected them. [Cries of "No!" and Interruption.]
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am really surprised that when this side of the House has listened without one single interruption to the speech we have just heard, in the very first sentence—and one, I hope, not conceived in any aggressive spirit—an endeavour should be made to interfere with the reply. It is not on my own account, but I think I may venture to say on account even of the dignity of these debates and the greatness of the issues at stake, that hon. Members opposite must try to contain themselves. I must apologize if I have been somewhat warm in these remarks; but the task is a great one to reply in a debate of this kind, and I wish to do so at least with consecutive reasoning—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman says "Go on." I intend to go on; but the right hon. Gentleman has never been interrupted in the opening of his speech, as I have been now. Well, Mr. Speaker, I was accepting, on behalf of the Government, the responsibility of what is proceeding in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman appealed to the experience of the principles that have made England what it is, and he said—"Let us apply them to Ireland." We are applying to Ireland the principles that have made England what it is; but it is owing to the persistent effort made on the other side to introduce a new standard of morality, a new standard of law, and a new interpretation of the duties of citizens, that Ireland is what it is. The right hon. Gentleman said, at the beginning of his speech, that he was asked to discuss this question without having full information in his hands. I do not know that he was asked to discuss this question.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Well, as a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman said he was asked, and he says now that he was obliged. But the challenge he made to this House was placed on the Table, I presume, with full knowledge of the facts, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman cannot complain that it was necessary to supplement that which was already in his knowledge with fresh facts before he discussed the Motion on the Paper. We noticed that there was a little consternation at the moment when we accepted his challenge. We were struck with the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), instead of asking that the question should be immediately discussed, said that three or four days afterwards he would ask the Government for a day.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman is really defective in his memory. He got up in his place, after the Motion had been read by the right hon. Gentleman, and said that he would on Monday next ask the Government to fix a day. That was three days.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Then Friday is not a Parliamentary day for that purpose? Why did not the right hon. Gentleman ask for a discussion at once? We were perfectly prepared to meet this Motion—in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne—in every respect. The right hon. Gentleman said he was going to challenge the Government in every respect. Well, we are prepared to reply to him in every respect. I call the attention of the House to the words of this Motion. They are these—In the opinion of this House, the operations of the Criminal Law and Procedure Act and the manner of its administration undermine respect for law, estrange the minds of the people of Ireland, and are deeply injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom.One would have thought from this Motion that there existed in Ireland respect for the law which we had undermined, that this country was in possession of the affections of the Irish people, 1172 which we, by our procedure, were estranging. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman did not address himself to this part of the case, and, indeed, it would have been difficult for him to attempt it. Our Predecessors did not bequeath to us in Ireland a state in which there was respect for law, or any hope of affection on the part of the majority of the Irish people for this country; and, in fact, those who have got good memories will find that speeches, extraordinarily like the speech just delivered, have been delivered, only in somewhat more violent language, against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and his Friends by their present allies. Undermining respect for the law was one of the favourite expressions used by hon. Members now sitting below the Gangway at the time when the right Gentleman was supreme. I have wondered from what pen this Motion must really have proceeded. Was it from an Irish pen or an English pen? I thought that possibly it was rather an English pen, which had assumed that respect for law had existed previously, the existence for which has always been denied by hon. Members below the Gangway. But a more accurate examination of the case seems to reveal the fact that this Motion is only a translation of passages spoken in 1883 by hon. Members from Ireland. There is an extract from a speech of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) which sounds very like the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman. Speaking in August, 1883, the hon. Member said—The whole system of Crown prosecutions in Ireland was infamous. The Government, by using this system, were responsible for all the crimes committed last winter in Ireland. The system created more crime than it punished, besides disgusting and disheartening anyone who desired to have respect for the law.That is a confirmation of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. There are other extracts which show that what we are now going through is but a kind of reduplication of debates that took place under our Predecessors, and there is no single charge made at present which—with a difference in details—has not been made in previous Parliaments. The hon. and learned Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. C. Harrington) said of the right hon. Gentleman opposite— 1173The means by which the right hon. Gentleman had worked up the Administration in Ireland had done more to injure law and the administration of justice than any system which was ever introduced into any country in Europe.In another speech the hon. and learned Member said—If they would study the working of the law in Ireland, instead of being surprised that the law was not respected, they would be surprised that the law was even so much obeyed as it was.Well, it may be the case that the law is respected in Ireland, or that it is not; but let it be observed that if in their whole tone and spirit these speeches are but a parallel to those made now, there is this great difference—that when you examine the charges that are made by the right hon. Gentleman they are light indeed in comparison with the charges that used to be made against the Administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. At all events, I think it must be said that we now know the worst. We may accept it that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, though he said that he could continue it for many hours, at all events contained the choicest specimens of maladministration on which he could lay his finger. Let us remember the fierce light—to use the right hon. Gentleman's own words—now beating upon every magistrate, every police constable, every Police Inspector, every Judge in Ireland. Never has an Administration been subjected to such Argus-eyed watchfulness on the part of its opponents as the present Administration. Yet, fter all, with the ubiquitous power of the League in every quarter in Ireland, and with all the means at the disposal of hon. Members opposite for the discovery of everything that goes on, we now know, as I said, the worst—we know the substance of the case that is to be brought against us, and the House will be able to judge whether it justifies the sweeping condemnation that our Administration undermines respect for the law—that respect for the law which we are endeavouring to enforce. The right hon. Gentleman certainly adduced one or two pathetic cases, and one in particular; but I think that if we were to make the attempt it would be found that there are still in Ireland, though in reduced numbers, cases of oppression due to the action of the National League, which 1174 are as revolting and as heartrending as any scenes which have been placed before the country in connection with Ireland in times past, and I think it only right that one or two such cases should be brought before the notice of the House. One would have gathered from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that the state of Ireland was perfectly peaceable, that all social and agrarian trouble was at an end, and that, but for the appearance of the police on the scene occasionally, we might hope to see a contented and peaceful Ireland. Well, Sir, is that the fact? Will the right hon. Gentleman himself contend that it is the fact? Is not the right hon. Gentleman one of those who, above all others, is aware that the agrarian and political questions are separate? He has been anxious that they should be regarded as separate; but when he makes it his argument that those engaged in this agrarian struggle are practically political prisoners he forgets his own contention and his own principle which lies at the bottom of many of his views and his speeches. Now, the main substance of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was the case of Mr. Dillon, which he dwelt on at great length—and I speak of Mr. Dillon as he himself spoke of him, by his name. At the commencement of his remarks on that part of the case, he dwelt upon the importance of that hon. Member in this House—he dwelt upon the respect in which Mr. Dillon was held in Ireland, and pointed to the serious character of the imprisonment of a Gentleman who was so dear to the whole people of Ireland, and who was feted on the road to prison. Does the right hon. Gentleman forget that there is another hon. Member of this House whose influence in Ireland even exceeds the influence of the hon. Member who has been imprisoned? Does he remember the case of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), who was imprisoned by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian? Had that hon. Member not also a position in Ireland such as that which the right hon. Gentleman now claims for the hon. Member for East Mayo? But I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman introduced the subject of that influence if ho did not, and could not, prove that the hon. Member was unjustly imprisoned. The right hon. 1175 Gentleman said he was no lawyer, and would not deal with the merits of the case; but he proceeded, nevertheless, to dwell at considerable length on the merits of the case. He admitted, indeed, that the language of Mr. Dillon was culpable, but suggested, as I understand, that the language was not illegal. He was not very clear on the point—that is to say, on the subject of the legality of the Plan of Campaign; but it came to this—that the Plan, in his judgment, at all events, had never wrought any injustice. Legal injustice it might have wrought, but not substantial injustice. But does he found upon that argument the doctrine that the Plan of Campaign is not illegal? The right hon. Gentleman is naturally silent—he must be silent, because the Plan of Campaign has been pronounced to be illegal by the very Judge whom he has been quoting with approval. Now, there is every respect shown for the judgment of Chief Baron Palles; but Chief Baron Palles himself has condemned the illegality of the Plan of Campaign. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured very assiduously in this House to treat the offence of the hon. Member for East Mayo as a political offence; but that is one of the charges that is always made against the Government and the majority in the country. The charge is that we are imprisoning men like the hon. Member for East Mayo and other hon. Members, not for acts illegal in themselves, but because they are our political opponents. Does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), in face of his own experience of the time when he was Home Secretary, accuse us of throwing political opponents into prison? Does he, sitting next the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, contend that the hon. Member for Cork was put into prison because he was a political opponent of his right hon. Friend? And if you do not hold that with regard to yourselves, by what right do you hold it with regard to men every whit as honourable as yourselves, and who are as anxious to do their duty by Great Britain and by Ireland? How can you say that in our case we are endeavouring to put our political opponents into gaol? I will leave it to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) to prove, at a 1176 later stage of the debate, why he contends that in our case we imprison men because they are political opponents, while in his own case he would contend that such a charge ought never to be made. I will examine the point whether it was for a political offence and as a political opponent that the hon. Member for East Mayo was put into prison. The admission has been made that his language was culpable; and the Plan of Campaign which he advocated has been condemned by the Judges in whom hon. Members on the other side have most confidence. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley) did not read out any portion of the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo; but I think it right to bring out distinctly the point which he was urging—I say that when I recommended the Plan of Campaign as a policy to the tenantry of Ireland, I did it deliberately, and I never concealed from the people of Ireland that I believed in it, because it is a policy that would make the fate of the traitor an unhappy fate.[Cries of "Go on!"] Yes; I am going on. This is not an expression, therefore, which dropped casually from the hon. Member in the heat of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman said that we ought not to have any cant about those words, and he spoke about the Trade Unions of this country, and of the melancholy revelations that were made in connection with them. But I never remember—I wonder whether he does—any man holding the great position of a Party Leader such as the hon. Member for East Mayo in the face of his countrymen not only palliating, but defending and recommending, a policy which would make "the fate of the traitor an unhappy one." This is the plan which is condemned by the highest authorities of the Church to which the hon. Member belongs. [Laughter.] It cannot be denied. Hon. Members may jeer at it in this House; but if the right hon. Gentleman opposite quoted an Ecclesiastical Rescript from one Bishop in Ireland which he said we should not like, I think I am entitled—he having introduced the subject of Ecclesiastical Rescripts—to say that this was precisely the crime which was denounced by the highest authority of the Church of Ireland.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Hon. Members will have the opportunity of reading the whole of the speech of the hon. Member; but I have more to read. After a recommendation of the Plan of Campaign and recounting its triumphs, he concluded—I have come here to say I counsel the people of Ireland, whenever they are unjustly treated by their landlords, to adopt this policy and to work it well.And well they worked it where they dared! We know the methods by which it is worked, and we know the sanctions by which it is worked, and the incidents to which it leads after it has been worked. We know the effects of the policy that would make the "fate of the traitor an unhappy fate." And this is the language of an ally of the right hon. Gentleman, who says we are "undermining in Ireland respect for the law." In this respect for the law which is enforced in language such as I have quoted? Sir, it is this law which we would wish to undermine; it is just this law which we are endeavouring to do our best, in the face of an opposition such as never before has been directed against the Executive Government in Ireland, to supersede by the law of the Queen.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Hon. Members wish for more of the hon. Member's speech. He said—I say that I like it—the Plan of Campaign—better now than I ever did before, and I say to the tenants of Lord Massereene that if they stand to their guns like honest and brave men I pledge myself that as long as I live, and the men who are working along with me, they will have at their backs the support of Irishmen and the Irish race all over the world.They will have at their backs the support of the Irish race all over the world while they are working the policy that would make "the fate of the traitor an unhappy fate."[A laugh.] I observe that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, by a solitary cheer, endorses that policy of the treatment of traitors. But, then, hon. Members may possibly assume that it is on account of the poverty of these tenants that the hon. Member for East Mayo went down to that estate. Now, on the question whe- 1178 ther it is only in defence of poverty that these methods are adopted, we have the evidence of Father M'Fadden, of Gweedore, who, on the 17th of April, 1888, said—Mind, I give no thanks to a man for not pitying rent because he is not able to pay. That man deserves no thanks; he deserves no applause. It is not in the cause of poverty that we are fighting.It is well known that—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
That is taken from The Derry Journal of the 20th of April. I hope that is a satisfactory reference. It is rarely that we are able to satisfy hon. Members below the Gangway by these quotations; but this, I presume, is the authentic language—the unchallenged language—of one of those gentlemen who are encouraging the tenants in that Plan of Campaign for which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle and his Friends have now no word of condemnation. That is the spirit in which they are fighting. It is not in the cause of poverty; it is not to rescue these tenants from the effects of bad seasons—We do not thank the man who cannot pay his rent, but we do thank the man who, being able to pay, will not pay his rent, in order to promote the objects of the National League.I was trying to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle in his discussion as to the parallelism between this agrarian "combination"—that is the favourite word—and the Trade Union combination. Said my right hon. Friend—"These Trade Unions have given up their crime because their proceedings have been made legal; do the same as regards the combination of the tenants, and crime will cease in their case also." That was substantially my right hon. Friend's argument, I believe. I hope I am not misrepresenting him. I judge by his silence that that is his argument. I invite the House to follow me in this. He says that as we have legalized Trades Unions, so we ought to legalize combinations amongst tenants in the direction of the Plan of Campaign. But is there no difference between the two? In the case of Trade Unions the combination is that a certain number of persons say—"We will all together refrain from doing that which we have a perfect right to do, and a I perfect right not to do." On the other 1179 hand, the tenants in their combination under the Plan of Campaign say—"We will all together combine to refuse to pay our just debts which we are bound by law to pay, which we are able to pay, and which, by a law passed by the Administration of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was the head, was considered to be a fair rent." And Her Majesty's Government are asked to pass a law by which tenants are to be allowed to combine in order to agree together to pay the rents, which are due to the landlord, to some other person until they—the landlords—accept any proportion of the rent which the tenants are willing to allow them. I think I may say that a more preposterous suggestion was never made by a responsible statesman, and that is not the whole of the position, because these tenants, while they are to be authorized by law not to pay that which they are now bound to pay, are, nevertheless, to remain on the landlord's property as long as they like. I confess I should like to see the draft of the Bill which would carry out the views of the right hon. Gentleman. What I wish to impress upon this House is this—and I think hon. Members opposite will agree with me to a certain extent—that this agrarian trouble is only indirectly connected with the political trouble. Supposing you were to grant Home Rule tomorrow, would the Plan of Campaign still be necessary or not? That is a point upon which the right hon. Member for Newcastle ought to be able to give an opinion, because it is he who says that this agrarian question ought to be settled before Home Rule is granted. I wish to put it to the House, would the Plan of Campaign be necessary if Home Rule were granted?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Certainly not. The hon. Member has given an answer which I am prepared to accept. But if not, why not? Would the tenants suddenly get richer, or be better able to pay their rents?
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN
Yes; but as the right hon. Gentleman has asked me, it is because the tenants would then get the benefit of the legislation from which they were excluded by the Act of last year.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Quite so. That is just what I expected. There would be fresh agrarian laws passed by an Irish Parliament, which would render all Plans of Campaigns unnecessary. That is precisely the contingency expected and foreseen by the right hon. Member for Newcastle. He knows his friends. He is acquainted with the tendencies of their prospective agrarian legislation. He knows it would be no longer necessary to send the police, or to despatch the most eloquent of their Members to endeavour to persuade the tenants not to pay debts which they are prepared to pay, and which they would pay but for such interference. It would not be necessary, because they would be relieved by law from all inconvenient payments. But then I say that one sees that, after all, it is not a political object for which they are contending, but it is through the political agitation that they wish to attain the agrarian result which they have in view. It is not the political offender, but the agrarian offender, who in this case is condemned by the law of the land for language which was an incitement for those not to pay, who, by the confession of Father M'Fadden himself, are able to pay. It was for that he was thrown into prison. Then the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the procedure, and shows that it was by the retrospective operation of the Act that Mr. Dillon was convicted. But the right hon. Gentleman did not contend—and it is most important that this should be thoroughly understood—that it was any retrospective creation of a now offence. That was not the contention. The attempt is sometimes made in the Press to suggest that our action amounted to making that an offence which was not an offence before. But that was not the case, and the precise procedure was discussed in the House, and it was decided that after a district had been proclaimed the procedure in that district should be under the Crimes Act and not under the ordinary law. I trust I have made the point plain to the right hon. Gentleman. "But," he said, "why not proceed under the ordinary law? Why not appeal to a jury?" Surely, said he, even I might know that a Louth jury would be a good jury, and a jury on which reliance could be placed. But I do not know whether the right hon. 1181 Gentleman forgot that with regard to an admitted offence, for which Mr. Dillon was tried by a Dublin county jury, the jury disagreed, and the right hon. Gentleman himself brought home to us the probability of a jury being influenced, when he dwelt upon the extraordinary enthusiasm with which Mr. Dillon was received in every direction as a prisoner, so that he him self made out a case for the application of the procedure under the Act. Well, Mr. Speaker, so much for the case of Mr. Dillon. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has gone through many individual cases, some of which will be dealt with by the Solicitor General for Ireland and the Chief Secretary, when they address the House. Of course, the House and the country will see the great advantage that right hon. Gentlemen opposite and hon. Members from Ireland have in chosing their line of attack, as it is impossible to foresee all the particular cases on which they will dwell when we come to close quarters on this matter. My right hon. Friends will be able to deal seriatim with the various cases which have been brought before the House by the right hon. Gentleman. But there is one case with which I can deal with at once, and that is the Killeagh case, upon which the right hon. Gentleman dwelt at some length, where the judgment was reversed on the ground that there had been no conspiracy to induce to abstain from selling. The right hon. Gentleman will remember the case. He amused the House by extracts from the judgment. But I doubt whether he told the House that the very Judge to whom he referred stated, in the clearest manner, that there was an offence. [Cries of "No, no!"]There is a good deal of evidence," said Chief Baron Palles, "that other persons on other days, commencing, I think, on the 9th of March, acted similarly towards the police stationed in that particular part, and I see no reason to doubt that the magistrates had evidence from which they would have been compelled to arrive at the conclusion that each of these persons, at least the greater number of them, had bread with which they might have supplied the police if they would; and I think the evidence showed clearly that their refusal to give bread to the police was a refusal in pursuance of a common act.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We will see— 1182I rather think there may be evidence from which a jury might have concluded that the sole object was to injure the police, and so there might have been a conspiracy punishable at Common Law.I do not think it was a very candid interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman. "There is no offence," says the right hon. Gentleman; but here the only Judge to whom the right hon. Gentleman has appealed says—"I rather think there was evidence from which a jury might have concluded"—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes. "Might have concluded." Does the hon. and learned Gentleman think that the Judge would have made use of such a phrase as that lightly?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
My hon. and learned Friend near me (the Solicitor General for Ireland) also says that it is a common expression to indicate that there is evidence. I do not wish to say absolutely that there was a crime; but when a Judge says that the magistrates had evidence from which a jury might have concluded that the sole object was to injure the police, I think we must accept his judgment. The right hon. Gentleman tried to put this case as if these poor people were being most maliciously and unfairly treated by the police. The fact is that there was a conspiracy with the sole object of refusing bread. [An hon. MEMBER: The Judge said he thought there was evidence.] Whether I am right or wrong, hon. Gentlemen will admit that this is an important point. Hero is what Baron Dowse says—The evidence given of the refusal of various parties to supply bread to the police, in my opinion, constitutes evidence from which a jury would come to the conclusion that a conspiracy existed to starve the police, and not to supply them with bread.I do not know whether the right hon. Member can deny that there was a conspiracy. That reminds me of a curious point that I should like to put to the House, and that is that in many of these cases no defence whatever is made at the time. The charge is made, and no defence is made; and why? Because it would not suit the purposes of the agitators in Ireland to prove that there was no conspiracy, even in order to prevent conviction. One of the chief engines 1183 of the action of the League would be destroyed if in Ireland they admitted there was no conspiracy. What would then be the effect of the threats of the hon. Member for East Mayo to make the life of the traitor unhappy? No; they do not like to deny in Ireland the existence of conspiracy. But in this House, when we come to close quarters, and when we read out from these judgments, to which they themselves have appealed, that there was evidence from which a jury might conclude that there was a conspiracy at Common Law to deprive the police of bread, they say—not distinctly, but they imply—that there was not a conspiracy. I am not aware whether the hon. and learned Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) ever contended in Ireland that there was no conspiracy. He may have said—"You have got the wrong man;" or, "You have tried the right man in the wrong way;" or, "Your procedure is wrong." But he has not denied that conspiracy existed to deprive the police of bread. Then, I ask, is that an offence or not? Of course, it is no offence in the eyes of those who think that the police are simply a brutal force, hired by the Executive to put down the people of Ireland. I know they go to considerable lengths. But it is hardly possible that right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench will say that a conspiracy to deprive the police of bread is a creditable, a legal, and a justifiable mode of action. At last I have come to a point which is not cheered even by the right hon. Gentleman. The House will understand that in this case, of which the right hon. Gentleman makes so much, these men had not been proved, to the satisfaction of the Judges, to have conspired to induce other people not to sell to the police. That was the point. But, at the same time, the Judges commented upon the evidence that there was a conspiracy. There may have been—nay, there must have been, since these learned Judges have said so—a miscarriage of justice in this case. I will not imitate the conduct of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, whenever a judgment of a Court is given against them, immediately proceed to attack the integrity of that Court. There may have been a miscarriage—there was a miscarriage of justice in this case; but I appeal to the common sense of the House 1184 and of the people of this country, who will read the statement which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman—[Home Rule cheers]—aye, and who will read the replies which will be made by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary and by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland to the specific allegations which have been made, whether, given the difficulties of the situation, were has made out such an overwhelming case as to discredit the whole of the magistracy in Ireland? Are there no cases in which magistrates have made mistakes in this country? Are there no cases in which magistrates err, and where their judgments are put right by a higher Court? I think it is eminently unjust if, from one or two cases carefully selected to prejudice this House, we should allow a stigma to be placed upon the whole magistracy of Ireland. Well, I will now turn to another part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, although he did not dwell much upon it himself, but touched it only with the lightest hand. The right hon. Gentleman said there was no progress towards order, as I understood it, under this Act. He would not admit that we had made any progress. I think that he said, towards the end of his speech, that we should not suspect him of wishing to make the government of Ireland impossible, but that we should believe he would sympathize with any progress in Ireland. Well, I think I can satisfy him that we have made some progress in the direction of reducing the number of those crimes which make a man's life unhappy. Here are the statistics of persons Boycotted. On the 1st of July, 1887, the number of persons comprised in wholly Boycotted cases was 870. On the 31st of January, 1888, there were 208; and on the 31st of May there were only 112. At all events, we have done some good in protecting persons from Boycotting. The number of persons partially Boycotted on the 31st of July, 1887, was 3,965; and on the 31st of May, 1888, it was only 1,278. Well, then as regards agrarian outrages. To begin with offences against the person, there were four murders in the first five months of 1887, and there were three murders in the first five months of 1888. I will say something, if the House will allow me, in respect to 1185 those murders in a minute or two. Of other offences against the person there were, in the first five months of 1887, 38; and in the first five months of 1888, 20. Of agrarian outrages against property, there were 76 during the first five months of 1887, but they fell to 39 in the first five months of this year. Of offences against the public peace, there were 125 in the first five months of last year, and 86 in the first five months of this year. I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) will see in these facts some satisfactory progress towards eradicating the mischief which has so long existed in Ireland. But it is not only a question of the amount of Boycotting, or of the amount of agrarian outrages; the question is whether the punishment of crime is more successful now than it has been. In two cases of murder, in the cases of Quirke and Fitzmaurice, convictions have been obtained by the process of the Crimes Act which would not have been obtained without the Crimes Act. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"]. Well, hon. Members say "Oh, oh!" but I think I shall be able to prove my point. In both these cases there was a change of venue, and in one of them the evidence could not have been got at all but for the power of preliminary inquiry. Are hon. Members aware that in the case of Quirke, his old wife, in the presence of whom he was murdered, in this land in which we are undermining respect for law—that this old woman, at first in fear of her life, refused to give evidence against the murderer of her husband? He was brought to justice in the end; but how was it done? It was done under one of the clauses of the Crimes Act, this clause which renders possible a preliminary inquiry, and the woman herself gave evidence; but if she had had to give evidence in public in the ordinary way, she would have been afraid of her life. Here are her own pathetic words—I was in dread of my life, and I am in dread of my life still, and I am in dread during my days; and it was this dread which prevented me telling all to the police the first day. Only for my dread, I would have told all.This woman is Boycotted, I believe, at the present moment; is Boycotted, because the murderer of her husband has been convicted. Fancy the position of this woman, with no one to help her, 1186 no neighbour daring to come near her, with no one to protect her but the police. The old woman further said—God help us, to be alone there all by myself and the Almighty God; only the police to be coming there, making company for me; to be alone there without anyone by me. And I was in dread by day and night there; that is what I was. I was in dread to speak a word out of my mouth. I was in dread I'd be shot. I'd be in dread I'd be shot out in the field to-day if I had not one of the police after me. I would be in dread to go for a gallon of water if I would not have one of them after me. I believe there would be no fear of me though if I hold my tongue, and signs on it I did not say anything to anyone; I keep my mind to myself.She held her tongue in fear. What is this organization, and who inspires it? Can hon. Members below the Gangway opposite not discover the instigators of these proceedings? Can they, with all their powers and all their ubiquitous influence, not attempt to prevent outrages such as this? A man murdered in the presence of his wife, and the wife fearing to say one word; and because she has said that one word, she has to be protected, not by her neighbours, but to be protected even when she goes out to fetch a gallon of water by the police; and then it is said that we, by interfering to put down crimes like this, are undermining respect for law and estranging the affections of the people of Ireland. In this case the murderer has been brought to justice. There is another case in which the murderers have been brought to justice, and that is the case of Fitzmaurice. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) gave us a number of pathetic cases of persons who were injured by the police. He kept out of sight, but he could not have kept out of his recollection, some of those crimes which still stain the agrarian history of Ireland. He must have known, and the country knows, that these crimes are still in progress, and that while these crimes are still in progress we cannot abandon the task which has been placed upon us of eradicating this mischief. [Laughter.] I am surprised that hon. Members below the Gangway opposite indulge in laughter. I think the country would judge them severely if they thought that they could indulge even in a moment's merriment when facts like these are brought out. I will recall the case of Fitzmaurice to the House, and we can- 1187 not forget this case. This case shows that Ireland is still in such a state that the Crimes Act must be maintained. What is the case of Fitzmaurice? Fitzmaurice was murdered in the presence of his daughter. He had been summoned to the presence of a meeting of the local branch of the National League by the local secretary. He had been pointed out to the hatred of his neighbours, and the result was that Fitzmaurice was killed in the presence of his daughter. His daughter was able to recognize the men; but mark this fact, the priest cautioned her, warned her as to recognizing the men, saying there had been blood enough shed already. Why did he say that? Did he know that there was any unholy organization still in that neighbourhood which would bring this poor girl to account if she recognized the murderers of her father, and if she did her duty as a daughter? Did he think that there were men who, following the behests of some terrible organization, would hound her down? The girl was too brave; the girl did denounce her father's murderers. The venue was changed under one of the clauses of the Crimes Act, and the murderers were executed for the crime which they committed. No assistance was given to the girl, no help was given her in her trouble, but she was cruelly Boycotted. Let the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne mark this—that the local secretary of the League has been committed to prison for organizing the Boycotting of Norah Fitzmaurice. The right hon. Gentleman may bring forward cases where there has been a miscarriage of justice, cases where harshness has been committed, and where magistrates have made mistakes; but what are the cases he has been able to put forward compared with such terrible instances which show the need there is for us to proceed in endeavouring to maintain order in Ireland? I have already detained the House at great length; but I wish to add that the Plan of Campaign itself has been broken down on the Massereene estate. Let me sum up the evidence of the progress we have made. We have decreased the number of offences against the person; we have decreased the number of Boycotting cases; we have been able to bring murderers to justice; and we 1188 are now seeing signs of the breaking down of the Plan of Campaign on some estates where the most stubborn efforts have been made in order to sustain it. The tenants are beginning to find out that it is not to their interest to follow up the Plan of Campaign, and that the arm of the law is strong enough to protect them if they defy the orders of the National League. We see some progress towards better times, and do not believe that all this indignation is felt against us by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite because we are breaking down, but rather because there is already some success attending the efforts of Her Majesty's Government. We are too successful now. It was precisely the same in 1883; when the Crimes Act of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was beginning to be successful, it was then that it was denounced in the loudest and most vehement terms by hon. Members from Ireland. We know our progress can be but slow. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne asks, have you succeeded in winning the affections of the people of Ireland; have you succeeded in making progress in that direction? Well, does not he and do not his friends do all in their power to make this task for us almost impossible? Are they not endeavouring to persuade the country that we are not only pursuing a course which to them is odious, but that we are doing so with odious motives, with the desire to crush the people of Ireland? They do that, and then they say we are not making progress. Although we think we see progress in many directions, we shall certainly find it difficult to win the affections of the people of Ireland in one way which seems to be open to a great many right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We cannot follow them in sacrificing all our previous principles. I recognize the gratitude of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite for the surrender of principles which right hon. Gentlemen have offered as a sacrifice to the people of Ireland. We will sacrifice much, but we will not sacrifice the interests of the British Empire; we will not sacrifice the unity of the Empire; we will not sacrifice those principles which lie at the base of all civilization, and which are attacked by the methods which are employed in this campaign; 1189 we cannot in that way compete with right hon. Gentlemen on the Bench opposite. We do not think, and here I go entirely with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley)—we do not think we have completed our task in endeavouring to maintain order. We know we have other duties to perform to the people of Ireland, and we are anxious to perform them. But as the time when we may hope to discharge them draws nearer, we see more and more fierceness in the Opposition, as if hon. Members were determined we should not attain our object. As we get nearer to the point where we might realize our hopes of benefiting the people of Ireland we meet with greater and greater opposition—opposition simply intended to thwart us in the task which we conceive it to be our duty to perform. There are measures which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Morley) scoffed at for the improvement of the material resources of Ireland. Why did he scoff at those measures? Those measures are demanded by his hon. Friends below the Gangway night after night with great earnestness, measures which we will do our best to bring forward. We know that as the richer country, it is our duty to do all we can to assist and develop the material resources of Ireland. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne in this, that we cannot hope to buy the affections of the people of Ireland. We do not think that by the expenditure, the most profuse expenditure of public money, we shall be able to destroy any sentiment which is deeply implanted in any people. I do not hold that any more than any right hon. Gentleman opposite. But that does not relieve us from the obligation to do our best to promote the material prosperity of Ireland, not because we are thereby sure to win, as we hope, her affections, but because we think it is clearly a duty imposed upon us. We do not despair, and we wish to hasten the time when we may realize the object which everyone knows we have at heart—namely, to multiply the number of owners of land in Ireland. That is a measure for which we are as anxious, perhaps, even more anxious than right hon. Gentlemen opposite; because we wish to put an end to this agrarian struggle, and we know that if 1190 we can once settle the agrarian struggle, we shall be better able than now to deal with the political issues from which right hon. Gentlemen opposite at present seem to shrink. We have done something during these last few years. I have spoken of other matters, but we have done something towards putting Home Rule into the background. [Cries of "No, no "] Yes; if hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway watch the speeches which are made by their right hon. allies, they will find that the question of Home Rule for Ireland is now being subordinated to other questions and left in the background as far as possible. Well, we are anxious to go forward in the direction I have indicated. We are anxious to go forward in the direction of multiplying the owners of land in Ireland, and we are anxious, in Ireland as well as in England, to decentralize as soon as it is possible. We have our hopes as regards Ireland; they are not shattered by the opposition that is offered to us in this House; they are not shattered by the opposition which is offered to us in that country. We shall go forward steadily in our course, not undermining respect for law, but endeavouring to maintain it; not estranging the affections of the people of Ireland, which, alas, have not yet been possessed by the people of this country, but striving with justice and with steadiness to treat the Irish people as subjects of the Queen, and to treat Ireland as an integral portion of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
said, both inside and outside the House the greatest efforts had been made on the part of the Liberal Party to defeat the action of the Government, who obtained a majority on something very like false pretences, and which had been consistently used for mutilating the liberties of the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was mistaken in supposing that no more would be heard of Home Rule. The Liberal Party were at the present moment engaged in trying to put an end to the iniquitous system which prevailed in Ireland, but the time would come, and that soon, when they would be able to carry a measure of justice for Ireland. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer's treatment of Mr. Dillon's case, it came badly 1191 from the right hon. Gentleman to attempt to justify the unjust treatment of Mr. Dillon by a tu quoque argument accusing Mr. Gladstone of injustice to Mr. Parnell.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that his contention was, that while Mr. Dillon had been justly treated by the present Government, Mr. Parnell was justly treated by Mr. Gladstone's Government.
§ MR. R. T. REID
said, he was unable in that case to see the relevancy of the argument. Then it was hardly worthy of the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that Mr. Dillon's language was an incentive to violence and murder.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he did not suggest for one moment that Mr. Dillon contemplated murder or anything of that kind. But he did suggest that the language fell upon the ears of persons to whom it might appear as an incentive to murder and outrage.
§ MR. R. T. REID
said, that the right hon. Gentleman ought to have read other parts of Mr. Dillon's speech, where Mr. Dillon strongly deprecated outrage and endeavoured to keep the people from the commission of crime. With reference to the Killeagh case, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not seem to appreciate its importance. Certain persons against whom there might or might not be evidence upon which a jury could act were brought before a tribunal not a jury, and it was contended that there was not authority in that tribunal under the Crimes Act with a case of conspiracy, if conspiracy there was. Nevertheless the persons were convicted, and now it had been decided that there was no evidence in any way to support the conviction. Such a case must shake their confidence in the magistracy. If they perused the records of convictions it would be seen that it was only in cases where there was no chance of conviction in ordinary circumstances, or where savage sentences were required that perambulatory magistrates were resorted to. Suitable men had been selected and sent round the country to try this or that particular offender. Having studied a multitude of these cases—some 600 or 700—he had come to the conclusion that the Crimes Act had boon worked in a spirit of persecution, and not of prosecution, and that some of the cases were wanton and petty. The Mayor of Cork, for 1192 pushing, a policeman, an offence which in this country would be punished by a fine of a penny, was sent to prison for a fortnight. After the language used by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer about murder, what was to be said about those men who had been sent to prison for selling newspapers? These cases began on the 25th of October and, except in one instance, ceased on the 9th of January, during which time 11 persons were prosecuted for the offence. Corcoran, a foreman printer, was sentenced to two separate terms of imprisonment, with hard labour, for one month, though the son of the proprietor, Mr. Crosbie, swore that Corcoran was not responsible, and had nothing whatever to do with the conduct of the paper. The last person sentenced was a man named Ferriter, a secretary of a branch of the National League, who, on the 2nd of March, was condemned to three months' imprisonment, with hard labour, for selling a copy of United Ireland containing accounts of meetings of suppressed branches of the National League. But United Ireland published then and was publishing now reports of those meetings. Another class of cases was where the police were concerned. With one exception, no policeman had been seriously injured in any riot in Ireland, and in the first instance the Constabulary were driven by their superiors into collision with the people. During the last four or five months, however, baton charges by the police were of weekly and almost of daily occurrence. One of those charges had been described to him by a friend, not a Member of the House, who said that he had never seen anything more brutal in the whole course of his life. The police batoned men, sometimes women, and in one case a poor blind boy. Of course, the crowd would retaliate, and then they were brought up in batches before ex-policemen, who had been appointed Resident Magistrates, to be sentenced. A savage spirit seemed to have arisen among the police, for which the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) was responsible. Then cunningly-prepared traps were laid by policemen for shopkeepers. Persons were sent round asking for goods, though these persons sometimes had not any money to pay for them. 1193 After the Killeagh case he would say that every man convicted on such a charge had been improperly and wrongfully convicted. The police behaved as they did because they were encouraged by their absolute immunity from the consequences of their action, as was evidenced by the quashing of the verdicts of wilful murder found by Coroners' juries against them in certain cases. At Youghal a lad was stabbed to death. A jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the police, and the verdict was set aside by the Attorney General entering a nolle prosequi. In Mitehelstown three persons lost their lives. A verdict of wilful murder was returned against six or seven policemen, and this Government, who were the supporters of law and order, instructed counsel to appear before the Queen's Bench and take every futile and frivolous objection that could be conceived to get the verdict of the Coroners' jury quashed. A private inquiry was held among the police themselves, and all responsibility was thus got rid of, and thus these four men lay in their graves and no attempt had been made by the Government of this Constitutional country to bring any one to book or even to satisfy the requirements of decency by having a public inquiry for the purpose of satisfying the minds of the people. In these circumstances it would be astonishing if the police cared two straws for what the Irish people thought of them. That evening the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in reply to a Question put to him on the subject, denied, on the authority of the police themselves, that the Constabulary had been guilty of violence to the people on the occasion of Mr. Dillon being sentenced to imprisonment. The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, however, was contradicted by the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Rowntree), who had been a witness of what had taken place. Was the ipse dixit of any single Irish constable to be accepted in preference to the deliberate statement made in that House by an English Member of Parliament? The position of the Irish police would be hopeless unless they knew that there were congenial spirits among the Judges by whom they would be tried. He had examined the details of some 700 cases, and he must say that the extraordinary 1194 nature of the conclusions arrived at and the brutality of some of the sentences imposed by the Resident Magistrates upon those who had been convicted upon the most flimsy and the most unreliable evidence was absolutely degrading to the judicial office in the eyes of the people. What would be said by the Judges of this country if it were to come out before them that an attempt was being made to keep back evidence on the part of the Crown or to pack juries? Such flagrant acts as those he had referred to ought to be at once brought to the knowledge of the constituencies of the country. The Resident Magistrates were in constant communication with the Government in connection with the discharge of their executive functions. These Resident Magistrates thought that it was fitting that they should step from the judgment-seat to take part in a street brawl. Thus one magistrate, having given judgment in a particular case, had taken up his stick and had headed a baton charge by the police upon a number of defenceless and innocent people. Was not such conduct as that enough to make people believe that all law in Ireland was a farce? Again, it could not be denied that the Resident Magistrates had continually imposed sentences of one month's imprisonment in order to prevent the person charged from having an opportunity of appealing from the decision. The Court of Appeal appeared to partake very much of the character of the original Court. For his own part, he did not care what had been the custom or the practice in Ireland with regard to increasing sentences upon appeal; he was satisfied to know that such a thing had never been done in England or in Scotland. The object of increasing sentences upon appeal was to place a penalty upon those who exercised their right of appeal. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the Crimes Act had been worked against crime. He believed only one murder bad been detected by virtue of the first section. Of the rest of the charges brought to their notice, some were political, some arose out of collision with the police, and some, he was afraid, arose out of petty or personal malice. But the great bulk were connected with some agrarian cause. The Act was being worked in the in- 1195 terests of the landlords of Ireland. Which was the better man—Lord Clanricarde, with his £20,000 a-year, or Mr. Dillon, who was imprisoned? Lord Clanricarde had never once been near his property for 14 years, and had not spent 1s. upon it, while nothing could be more condemnatory of the deadly policy of the Government than the fact that it had necessitated putting a man like Mr. Dillon—a man of the purest life and of the highest character—a man whose friendship he wished he could claim, and whom he admired and honoured as much as any man he knew—into prison instead of taking part in the peaceful government of his own country. There were now in prison 17 Irish Members of Parliament, all of whose constituents sympathized with them and were ready to return them again as their Representatives. Hundreds of men, of women, and of even children had been put into prison under this Act, while emigration was largely increasing. People were leaving in very much larger numbers from Ireland to be our enemies in America. The National League was more flourishing than ever. It would last to the end of the present Government. The victims of this Government had been received with acclamation in England and Scotland, with English and Scottish Members of Parliament on the platform beside them. It had been the boast of the Tory Government that the National League had been crushed, but the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had that night, by a slip of the tongue, perhaps, admitted that the League possessed a tremendous and ubiquitous power. This was a proof that the force of a Government could not prevail against the will of the people. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not claim that the landlords were any better than the tenants. Instead of that, the right hon. Gentleman referred to a Papal Rescript. That was the end of the great Tory Government; instead of being able to enforce the law in Ireland by means of their Coercion Act, they crawled to Rome, with a view to getting the support which they were apparently not likely to obtain from any of their countrymen. Such a policy had only been made possible by a wilful betrayal of the constituencies. The Gentlemen who 1196 called themselves Liberal Unionists were returned at the last Election on the basis that they would not support coercion. Some pledged themselves in terms, some impliedly, and all of them took the benefit of a public declaration. He did not refer to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because nobody knew what he was—whether a Liberal Unionist or a Tory. But the noble Lord the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) was bound to give some explanation. Step by step his Party was becoming the rump of the Tory Party. They had to do exactly as they were told by the Government, because if they did not the Government would send them to the country without the Tory support, and then they would be not merely beaten, but annihilated. He did not think there was a constituency in the country in which a Liberal Unionist would be returned without Tory support. It was the presence of that Party in the House that prevented the Opposition from having any prospects of success in the Division on this Motion; and although he was afraid that victory on this occasion was hopeless, ho was sure the time could not be far distant when the people of England would return to their old love of freedom, and would for ever put an end to a system of government cruel and ruinous to Ireland and dangerous and disgraceful to themselves.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin University)
There has been no lack of strong language on the part of the Opposition, and it will be for the House to say whether there is a corresponding strength of argument and of fact. The hon. and learned Member who has just addressed the House (Mr. R. T. Reid) characterized the proceedings under the Crimes Act as a revolting travesty of the judicial function, and the right hon. Gentleman who commenced the debate (Mr. John Morley) accused the Government of chicane in the carrying out of that Act, and further characterized their proceedings as scandalous. I do not intend, Sir, to enter into competition with the right hon. and hon. and learned Gentlemen in the strength of the language I shall employ. I shall content myself with dealing with facts. I shall take up the statements which 1197 have been submitted to this House as a foundation for these charges; I shall go through them in detail, and I shall ask the House to come to the conclusion that, in this case, strength of language has really been used in substitution for strength of case, or, in other words, to cover the weakness of the assailants. The particular case which has been most strongly brought before the House and which has been put forward as an illustration of what took place in other cases, particularly with regard to Boycotting prosecutions, was that known as the Killeagh case. I will tell the House exactly what took place in that case, and ask hon. Members to consider how far the circumstances of that case warrant the conclusions which have been drawn from it. Five men were summoned on a charge of conspiracy to compel and induce the traders of Killeagh not to deal with the police. A combined refusal to supply bread to the police was clearly proved. Each of the five was proved to have on several occasions refused the bread. It was also proved that intimidation existed. The evidence was that David Barry, who had first agreed to supply bread, afterwards went back of it, stating that he got such a fright that he would not be the bettor of it for a week, and that he would not be a black sheep among the rest, and that his own brothers would denounce him at the meeting on Sunday. Those are among the facts of the Killeagh case, and two of the Judges in the Court of Exchequer who decided the case stated most clearly that there was evidence proved in that case on which a jury might find the prisoners guilty of the indictable offence of conspiracy punishable at Common Law. It was said that the Judges did not go further and say that such a verdict would have been right. But we all know, even those of us who are not lawyers, that when a Judge says there is evidence in a case on which a jury might find a particular verdict, he means there was evidence which would warrant that holding. That is the whole of that case, and surely it does not justify the comments which have been made on it. It is a case, not of innocent men, but of men shown to have been guilty of a conspiracy at Common Law for the purpose of starving the police. If there is evidence in any case that a con- 1198 spiracy is entered into for the purpose of injuring an individual, or a class of individuals, the offence becomes indictable, and that evidence existed in this Killeagh case. But, although these men were guilty of conspiracy to starve the police, it was held that the section of the Act under which they were tried did not apply to their case. Sir, how can it be said that this case throws any light at all upon the prosecutions throughout Ireland for the offence of Boycotting? I may point out that in the whole of that case, from beginning to end, the word "Boycotting" does not occur. Will it be denied that the proof of a Boycotting conspiracy involves the proof of a conspiracy containing the element of "combined intimidation"? The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Morley) can hardly, I think, deny that. Certainly the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) cannot deny it, for, speaking on May 24, 1882, he said—What is meant by Boycotting? In the first place, it is combined intimidation. In the second place, it is combined intimidation made use of for the purpose of destroying the private liberty of choice by fear of ruin and starvation."—(3 Hansard,  1551.)The simple fact about the Killeagh case is this—that as regards proof it fell short of a Boycotting conspiracy as defined by the right hon. Gentleman, and ranged itself within another class of criminal conspiracy indictable at Common Law—namely, a conspiracy to starve. If the magistrates made a mistake upon that point, is it, then, to be paraded before the House as throwing a lurid light upon the whole administration of the Crimes Act by the Resident Magistrates? Is it to be taken as a test ease with regard to Boycotting conspiracies, seeing that the word Boycotting was never used by one of the witnesses for the Crown? It has been said, and the question has been asked, Why did the magistrates not state a case? ["Hear, hear!"] I am ready to confess that they should have stated a case. Hon. Members opposite are paying the very highest compliment to Resident Magistrates in Ireland, if they imagine that they ought absolutely to be infallible in everything. If the magistrates went wrong in this particular case, surely it was nothing so very remarkable, considering that the decisions of the 1199 superior Courts in England and in Ireland are frequently reversed. Well, Sir, the Statute contemplates fully that the magistrates may occasionally go wrong in this matter of stating a case, and provides for the event in a manner which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne seems to me to have overlooked. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to consider that the accused were in the power of the Resident Magistrates; but, Sir, I would repeat that the Act foresees that Resident Magistrates may go wrong, and if they refuse to state a case, it empowers the party aggrieved to go to the Court of Queen's Bench, and that Court, if it think proper, can direct the magistrates to state a case. It has been suggested a day or two ago by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy), during some of the short debates which have taken place after the answer to a Question, that it was useless to go to the Court of Queen's Bench, because they would net direct magistrates to state a case. If that means that the Queen's Bench would not administer the law fairly between the Crown and the subject, I must decline to enter into any argument upon that matter at all; but I understand the suggestion was based on the case of Brosnan. The version which has been given of that case might lead to misapprehension. That was a case in which the Resident Magistrates refused to state a case, in which the prisoner went to the Court of Queen's Bench, and they refused to order a case to be stated, The facts were peculiar. The Resident Magistrates came to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that the point on which they were asked to state a case had been already decided. The Court of Queen's Bench also, rightly or wrongly—and they have not been shown to be wrong—came to the conclusion that the point had already been decided, and on that ground they refused to order a case to be stated. An appeal was taken, but the Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that, the order being one made in a criminal matter, was not the subject of appeal, and, therefore, the question was never decided whether the Court of Queen's Bench was right or wrong. Because in that instance they refused to state a case, is it to be argued for a moment that the Queen's Bench, where a substantial 1200 question is shown to exist, would decline to order a case to be stated? I refuse to enter into an argument upon that point. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne referred to what he considered to be the absence of protection in cases which come before Resident Magistrates, and which involve nice points of law. Does the right hon. Gentleman quite realize the protection which exists in these cases? The right to have a case stated on a question of law—unless the application be frivolous—with an appeal to the Court of Queen's Bench whenever the magistrates refuse to state a case, exists in every case, whatever may be the length of sentence. Therefore, if a point of law exists in any case, it can be brought before any of the divisions of the High Court of Justice which the accused may select.
§ MR. MADDEN
I am endeavouring to impress on the House, in opposition to the argument of the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, that in every ease where a point of law is involved, there is a right to have a case stated, with a right to go to the Court of Queen's Bench if the magistrate refuses to state a case. But that is not all. Two Judges of the Exchequer have decided differently, I am bound to say, from eight Judges on this point. The learned Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench and one Judge of the Court of Exchequer have stated, it is true, that on a writ of certiorari and habeas corpus the depositions cannot be looked into, but a majority of the Court of Exchequer are of opinion that they can. Now, I want to apply this as a test. That decision was laid down by a majority of one of the Courts in Ireland in February of the present year. As long as that decision stands, it is in the power of anyone, so long as he is under the sentence of the Resident Magistrates, to go to the Court of Exchequer, and have the case decided by that Court on a point of law. [Mr. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.): The sentence had expired in one case.] I wish, then, to know how many cases since February of the present year have been brought in the Court of Exchequer under that jurisdiction? That is a test which I ask the House to apply. If there really 1201 existed in Ireland those cases in which it was desired to have a case stated, why were they not brought before the Court of Exchequer under the decision which I have mentioned? I ask the House to look at this one broad fact, which I hope hon. Members will remember in connection with the decision of Resident Magistrates, which are now impugned, that, except in one single instance, not a case has been brought forward since February last under that decision. There is another fact to be noted. In addition to this careful provision for the class of cases which the right hon. Gentleman had especially in his mind—cases of legal nicety—an appeal lies to the County Court Judge. Now, there are no Judges in the kingdom who hold positions so independent of the Crown as County Court Judges. They are not influenced by either hope or fear with regard to promotion; they are only influenced by a desire to do their duty between the Crown and the subject. What has been the record here? The broad fact is, that out of all the cases which have been appealed to them, the proportion in which the decisions have been reversed are very few—only some four or five. Looking at them impartially, these are tests which I think the House will do well to apply when they are asked to say that substantial justice has not been done. What becomes of the contention that innocent persons have been convicted when we have had an appeal on points of law, and when the County Court Judges have power to hear new evidence on questions of fact, and yet in the vast majority of cases the decisions of the Resident Magistrates have been confirmed? Then as to the prosecutions for the Plan of Campaign. It has been suggested that the Killeagh case had some relevance to the prosecutions connected with the Plan of Campaign; but there is no analogy between them. What was the ground of the decision in the Court of Exchequer in the Killeagh case? The absence of proof of coercion on the part of the prisoners. What is the essence of the Plan of Campaign? It is combined coercion. ["No, no! "] What is the Plan of Campaign? [An Irish MEMBER: Voluntary association.] The Plan of Campaign is a coercion of the minority by the majority. To do what? You have the rents, even what are admitted 1202 to be the fair rents payable to the land lords, taken absolutely out of their hands. Is there no evidence of coercion there? If the tenants chose to pay their rents to-morrow, they cannot get them back, because they are placed in the hands of trustees and taken out of their control. Then as to the backsliders. Is there no coercion as to them? The foundation of the conspiracy known as the Plan of Campaign is mutual and combined coercion. I do not ask the House to accept my statement on the subject. The question of the legality or illegality of the Plan of Campaign has often come before the Courts. It has been pronounced to be illegal by the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of Appeal, and in the judgment laid on the Table of the House in the case of "Blunt v. Byrne."
§ MR. MADDEN
Yes. The decision of Lord Chief Baron Palles has been published, and in it he says—In answer to the application which has been made to me on the part of the defendant, it is my duty to tell you that, in my opinion, a combination for the purpose of carrying out what is called the Plan of Campaign,' as explained by the speeches to which I shall hereafter call your at tendon, is essentially an illegal association; that any meeting for the purpose of promoting it is in law an illegal assembly; that the Crown, or any magistrate, has the power to disperse any meeting called for that purpose; and that when a magistrate has notice of such a meeting it is his duty to do all that in him lies to prevent, or, if necessary, to disperse it. I have heard with surprise the assertion that to the present time there has been no legal decision as to the legality of the Plan of Campaign. Let not that be said for the future. If you find a verdict in this case, every word that I say (which is being taken down by the shorthand writer) will be before the Court of Exchequer, and can be brought before the Court of Appeal, and from it to the house of Lords, and by my present direction to you I leave open for the determination of the highest Court in the Realm, whether I am, or am not, right in my view of the law.The Plan of Campaign has also been the subject of decisions in the Court of Queen's Bench and in the Court of Appeal, and has been condemned as an illegal conspiracy. The ground of these decisions is the existence in the Plan of Campaign of the element of mutual coercion, which was held not to exist in the Killeagh case. But we have been charged with prosecuting men for political offences. Can it for a moment be maintained that there is a political 1203 element involved in the Plan of Campaign? The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) some time ago gave a definition of a political offence, and he said any offence committed against the State or against a class was a political offence. But that definition is certainly one which no lawyer or statesman would assent to. What is Boycotting? It is directed against individuals, and so is the Plan of Campaign. It is absurd to say that Boycotting or taking part in the Plan of Campaign is a political offence because the individuals injured form part of a class which may be regarded as obnoxious. The right hon. Gentleman has also brought other charges against the Government, and one of these has reference to the Return of cases in which sentences have been increased on appeal. I do not quite follow the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. His point appears to be that cases mentioned in the Return are cases under the ordinary law, and not under the Crimes Act. That is so; but how can the right hon. Gentleman regard it as a point in his favour. These eases show that the power of increasing sentences on appeal is within the jurisdiction of County Court Judges, and that such jurisdiction is exercised in ordinary cases. They simply show that the course pursued is not exceptional; that it is part of the administration of the ordinary law in Ireland, and therefore there was nothing exceptional in its being applied to offences under the Crimes Act. Then the right hon. Gentleman proceeds to criticize the return of cases; and he says that one of them is a case where the person who was fined for an offence under the Fishery Law appealed, and the County Court Judge, finding that the magistrate had not imposed a fine amounting to the minimum penalty, increased it. But the right hon. Gentleman did not mention that the County Court Judge also increased the alternative imprisonment in the event of the fine not being paid, which he was under no obligation to increase and that this increased term of imprisonment was actually undergone. So that that case is a perfectly valid instance of a sentence being increased on appeal. The right hon. Gentleman referred to certain cases in connection with Boycotting conspiracies, especially to 1204 the Milltown Malbay Boycotting case. An old woman, Hannah Connell, whose son took an evicted farm, could not get any bread or buy a farthing candle, and was three days and three nights starving, until a Mrs. Moroney took pity on her. It was proved before the County Court Judge that the men who were prosecuted told her to go out of their shops when she asked for goods, and gave as a reason that she was Boycotted. There was also evidence that the boys threw stones at her. It was proved by the son that he went to the meeting of the National League and asked for liberty to fish. They would not listen to him, and he was turned out of the room. That was a perfectly clear case of Boycotting. Then complaint is made of the police, because when they were being Boycotted they went to various shops and asked to be supplied with goods, and, on being refused, prosecuted some of those who refused them. This it is said is creating crime. I cannot see that. To say so, is to confound the creation of crime with the obtaining of evidence for the conviction of crime. In one case which was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, the prisoners themselves actually pleaded guilty; and in another, the clearest possible evidence of intimidation was forthcoming, it being proved that a number of men went to a field where a man was working for a Boycotted person and forced the man to leave his work. The cases brought before the House by the right hon. Gentleman were not cases which he was forced to deal with, but were culled by him, with the best assistance at his command, as illustrations of the harshness of the Government in Ireland.
§ MR. MADDEN
But this is an attack on Her Majesty's Government, not an attack on the Resident Magistrates. The question is—What is the case made against the Government in those cases which have been selected for the purpose of impeaching Her Majesty's Government? Oh? but it is said—It was the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) who made the suggestion in the form of a question the other day—"We never entrusted the Resident Magistrates with jurisdiction 1205 over so difficult a question as the Law of Conspiracy. "The Act of 1882 has been gone through in this House over and over again, and every Member knows that its provisions are infinitely more stringent than those of the present Act. Moreover, I say that under the Act of 1882, jurisdiction was entrusted to the Residen Magistrate in a class of cases infinitely more difficult than those which are dealt with by the Act now in force—I mean that class which involved decisions on the law of unlawful assembly. The case of Mr. Blunt, although that was a case of unlawful assembly under the present Act, turned on the law of conspiracy, and every word of the judgment which I have read in that case could have been delivered with regard to a case under the Act of 1882. That being so, what becomes of the suggestion that we have entrusted jurisdiction to the Resident Magistrates which would not have been given to them by right hon. Gentlemen opposite? So much for there being any new departure, either in the class of cases or in the class of magistrates to whom they were entrusted under the present Act as compared with that of 1882. Now, Sir, I have gone through the instances which were mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. and learned Member who last addressed the House (Mr. R. T. Reid) referred to certain cases on which I will say one or two words. He referred specially to cases in which persons were punished for selling newspapers. First of all, the hon. and learned Gentleman asked what that had to do with crime. My answer is that it was for publishing, with a view to furthering the objects of an unlawful organization, reports of its proceedings that those men were punished. These prosecutions are brought forward in support of the indictment against the Government as evidence of harshness of administration. In the first place, a caution preceded prosecution in every case. ["Oh, oh!"] I speak from information which has been furnished to me, and I state to the House that in no case was anyone prosecuted for selling or publishing newspapers without being previously warned, and further that no person was punished if he undertook not to repeat the offence. Is that the kind and class of prosecution which they bring before the House to sup- 1206 port this indictment? With regard to the case of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) it has been said that he was convicted without having the case against him duly proved, without its ever being proved that he had done the acts with which he was charged. But did the hon. Member himself ever disavow it, either before the Court below or the County Court Judge? It is said he was convicted without legal evidence of the offence charged. If that was so, he was not bound to go before the County Court Judge at all. He was entitled to have the case legally proved against him, and was within his right in insisting upon that. If he was convicted without legal evidence, he might have had a case stated for the opinion of the Superior Court; but that is not the course he takes. He appeals to the County Court Judge. I will say one word with reference to the action of the County Court Judge. It was stated that he was asked to give what is called a "speaking order, "by placing the evidence on the face of his order, so as to enable his decision to be reviewed. The County Court Judge had no more power to do that than any Member of this House. The order and the conviction appealed from might be affirmed, reversed, or varied by the County Court Judge, but he had no power whatever to make such an order as was suggested. Therefore, what is the use of making suggestions of that kind? If the suggestion is, that he was convicted without legal evidence, he might have gone to the Superior Court direct from the magistrate; but what is the use of saying the County Court Judge had not made a speaking order, when the magistrates had made a speaking order, and it was in the power of the person convicted to have the question decided by a ease stated from them? Sir, the House is asked to condemn the Government on various grounds. It is asked to say, that in administering this Act they have been guilty of harshness; and, that they have been guilty of what the right hon. Gentleman calls chicane; and, as to the latter, I appeal to the judgment of the House as to whether there is a particle of evidence of any such thing. There are the judgments of the highest Courts in Ireland on the subject of the illegality of the combination against which the action of the 1207 Government has been directed. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he might enter into a combination in England which would be perfectly lawful in England, and for which in Ireland he would be had up before the Resident Magistrates. That I absolutely and entirely deny. I am able to point to a case which came before an English Court not long ago, and which was decided by a Judge who will be treated with respect by hon. Members—Lord Coleridge, the Lord Chief Justice of England. That was a case of conspiracy which the Lord Chief Justice in his judgment described as Boycotting. He decided that it was a criminal conspiracy, and he referred with approval to the judgment of an Irish Judge—Lord Fitzgerald—in an Irish case laying down the same principles as to the law of combination. And then we are told that you may enter into a combination which is legal in England but illegal in Ireland. Upon the whole facts laid before the House I submit that the case which is attempted to be made against the Government by the Opposition has failed; that this Act has been fairly administered; that although there has, no doubt, been some error, yet that no case has been made against the Resident Magistrates, and that no case has been made against the Government of unfairness or harshness in the administration of the law in Ireland.
Notice taken that 40 Members were not present, House counted, and 40 Members being found present.
§ MR. J. SINCLAIR (Ayr Burghs)
said, that under ordinary circumstances he would never have thought of opening his lips for the first time in a debate in that House on so important a matter as the Government policy in Ireland; but he could not forget that the mandate with which he came from the electorate of his constituency—a mandate not two years old as was the case with many Members of the House of Commons, but a mandate not yet a fortnight old—was based mainly, he thought he might say exclusively, upon the very issues that had been raised by the Motion now before them. Therefore it was that he ventured to take part in the debate. It was not his intention to enter into any detailed statement of what was considered wrong in regard to Ireland, 1208 either in the operation or the administration of the Criminal Law Procedure (Ireland) Act—a matter which had already to a considerable extent been dealt with by previous speakers; and what he and his hon. Friends complained of would no doubt be amplified still more by others far more competent than himself to deal in the matter. But what he should like to do was this. Taking for granted the details, he would ask what was their general character, and what wore likely to be their effects so far as it was possible to read them from the light of history? Their first accusation was, that these proceedings, carried on by the sanction, and under the direction of the Government in Ireland, underminded respect for the law. That was no new story, either as regarded a measure of coercion or a Tory Government. They could go back to three years ago, and recall the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) when he said in reference to a matter of this kind—I say that even by this one Act the Tories have done more to lessen the authority of law in Ireland than all the Radicals have said or done during the past five years—I might almost say, than all the nationalists themselves have said or done.It would be interesting to know whether the right hon. Gentleman still adhered to that opinion, or whether he believed that since that time the Tory Party had redeemed their character by repentance and reformation. Most hon. Members on that side of the House, where he believed the right hon. Gentleman still sat, thought that not only were his words just and true at the time they were spoken, but that they were oven more abundantly just and even more demonstrably true of the Tory policy at the present hour. That he took to be the meaning of the first clause of the Motion before the House. Now they took their stand on the principle which had been expressed in this wise, that the law did not create right, but that, on the other hand, right must dictate the law. If there were any truth in that dictum, he thought that when they found that the law had not been dictated by what they deemed to be right, and that, on the other hand, it went forward to the creation of what they believed to be wrong, it was no wonder 1209 that the respect and reverence which they should otherwise count upon on the part of the people for the law should be no longer forthcoming. They found, for instance, in reference to the Crimes Act, that it created a number of artificial offences; and what were the usual effects of these? Not to impress the people with the idea that the law was something sacred, something great, something noble, but rather to manufacture opportunities and cut channels of temptation in the direction of the commission of crimes which the moral sense of the man within did but very slightly or very insensibly condemn. And that was not only the case when the law was unjust; it was sometimes true of laws which were wise and good when they were unduly and harshly administered. They were then like grapes, which when too much pressed produced harsh and unwholesome wine. They said, further, that these proceedings estranged the minds of the people of Ireland. He had heard of a worthy old lady who declared that the doctrine of total depravity was a blessed doctrine if only one could only live up to it, and so they might say that the doctrine of the equality of treatment as between Great Britain and Ireland was a blessed doctrine if only the Government would act up to it. He was especially interested in this particular aspect of the case because it referred to the treatment of the hon. Member for East Mayo, who was not in the House. He had had the pleasure, or rather he should say the honour, of taking part with him in a meeting a short time ago at Campbeltown, and he (Mr. Dillon) afterwards delivered what was practically his last public speech in the town of Ayr before going to prison. Now, in the former of those speeches Mr. Dillon dealt at great length with the question of agrarian disturbance in Ireland; and having listened to that speech, and read the speech for which he was prosecuted and sent to prison, ho was bound to say that there was no substantial difference between them. But what did they find? The Government did not think it their duty, perhaps they did not think they were able, to take hold of Mr. Dillon because of what he said at Campbeltown. Why? It might be said by Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House that Mr. Dillon was 1210 not on that occasion addressing Irish tenants. But that argument would not hold water, because the words of a man of Mr. Dillon's position went swiftly over the whole face of the country, and the tenants of Ireland and the people of Ireland were too deeply interested in the movements and utterances of their Members not to have been certain to read what he had said at Campbeltown. But Campbeltown was not so very far from Ireland after all; only 30 miles of sea separated the two countries at that point, and yet they saw the difference of the treatment measured out by the Government in respect of substantially similar speeches delivered in the two places. He had heard with the greatest surprise the Chancellor of the Exchequer putting such an interpretation on Mr. Dillon's words in the speech for which he had been convicted, an interpretation suggested rather than expressed, which he did not consider consistent either with high honour or charity. It was a strange thing if words of the kind could not be used without certain people putting the very worst interpretation upon them, and that, he thought, was an unfortunate indication of the spirit that was running through the whole operation and administration of the Government policy with regard to Ireland. What results did the Government expect from their present policy? Did they expect the people to become more peaceable, more loyal, more contented, and more well-disposed towards the British Government? Surely not. The Government flattered themselves, in the language of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton in 1833, that under the shelter of these oppressive laws they would be able to apply remedial measures with effect; but it was just the reverse; those laws would blight their remedies, and "throw their withering shadow over all their concessions. "The policy of coercion as applied to Ireland seemed to him to be like the Sultan's horse, of which it was said that no green thing would grow on the spot where he trod. They might drive that prancing steed throughout the length and breadth of Ireland; but they must not look for the sweet flowers to spring up in the deep wounds of the living flesh of Ireland which his hoofs had made, for only those who had been nurtured in the generous breath of freedom and justice could be counted 1211 upon for the side of loyalty and law. Now, he came to the third point raised by the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle—namely, that these proceedings were deeply injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom. Perhaps they could not have ventured to make a statement of that kind if this had been the first application of a measure of coercion to Ireland, but now he thought they could safely do it. When thinking of the Crimes Act, the saying of Catharine of Russia often came to his mind, "There are laws which may be written on parchment which cannot be written on the skins of a whole people." Parliament, by pursuing the policy of coercion, were doing something which at no very distant date they would unquestionably first of all regret, and then be obliged to reverse. In that respect the Government and the majority in Parliament and the country which supported them were, in his opinion, doing nothing less than laying out money in the purchase of repentance, and the time would soon come when the saying of one of Ireland's greatest sons would be realized in this case as in many others—"We are very doubtful of our remedies, but the effect of our poisons is sure." They said in the interests of the United Kingdom, that the honour of the country had been tarnished by Irish Coercion Acts, and its unity in the broad sense endangered more by them than by any measure of self-government which could be proposed. More than that, in these times, they had to look to the very safety of the Kingdom, which, by these proceedings, might be imperilled. He thought he might venture to apply two adjectives to this policy. First of all he said it was heartless. He did not refer to these harrowing cases of imprisonment and arrest with which they were all so familiar, although with reference to those matters he might remark that that only disgraced a man which he had deserved to suffer, and therefore it was no wonder if some of these proceedings, so far from producing the effect intended by the Tories, raised the men who suffered by them in the esteem and admiration of their country. But this was a heartless policy, because it showed no real helpful commiseration for the admitted wrongs which existed in Ireland, and, on the other hand, it 1212 showed no real heartfelt sympathy with the just claims of the Irish people. Then, not only was it a heartless but it was a hopeless policy. It was hopeless in view of the lessons of the past, in view of the existing state of things in Ireland, and also because it gave no assurance of any better state of things even at the termination of the 20 years continuance prescribed for it by Lord Salisbury. Hon. Members were familiar with the beautiful pictures presented in Bunyan's Allegory. One of them was that at the interpreters' house there was shown a fire which burnt against a wall, close by which stood one who poured water on the flame, yet it burnt higher and hotter, and the secret of which was that behind the wall, and out of sight, stood another who poured oil upon it. It was so here—there burnt in multitudes of the Irish hearts and homes the aspiration for freedom from oppression and for self-government. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had poured water upon it; how much water and how cold he would not venture to say, but the flame continued to burn higher and hotter, and why? Because it was fed from an invisible source by a precious oil, the main ingredients of which were the love of justice, the love of country, and the love of liberty.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, two or three matters had been brought under the notice of the House in connection with the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle on which he should like to say a few words. It had been stated that night that the Crimes Act itself was a breach of faith with the nation, and the Unionist Party had been accused of winning the election of 1886 on false pretences; that was to say, it had been affirmed that the Unionist Party stood on the cry of one Parliament and equal laws for the United Kingdom. He thought he had put that accusation strongly and clearly before the House. Now, as far as he was concerned, he pleaded not guilty to the charge. He knew Ireland a great deal too well to give any such promise or pledge. He did not need the speech of the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Redmond) at the Chicago convention to convince him that, after the events of 1886, it would be the clear and bounden duty of the Irish Members to make the Govern- 1213 ment of Ireland by England impossible, and therefore on every platform on which he stood in Tyrone he had declared that if the ordinary law proved to be inadequate he would vote for strengthening it and making it adequate. Thus the charge to which he referred did not apply to him personally, and he was certain if the charge as against other Unionist Members were investigated the defence would be found to be as sound and solid. The present Debate was naturally coloured by the imprisonment of Mr. Dillon. He did not count that a small matter on the contrary, he thought it a very sad and serious matter for the country. What he complained of was that hon. Members on that side forgot that Mr. Dillon had been in gaol before. [Cries of "No, no!"] Well, if they did not forget it they kept very quiet about it, which was the next thing to forgetting it. Mr. Dillon and many of his friends were sent to gaol some years ago without being charged with any specific offence, and they were kept there without trial. That was in 1882. Now to send Mr. Dillon to gaol in 1882 charged with no specific offence, and to keep him there without trial was a part of the "resources of civilization." To send him to gaol in 1888 charged with a specific offence, tried before a competent tribunal—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Did hon. Gentlemen deny that a County Court Judge was a competent tribunal? To send Mr. Dillon to gaol after trial by a competent tribunal was barbarism and inhumanity. Wherein lay the difference between the two cases? In the one case, that of 1882, Mr. Dillon was sent to gaol under the auspices and with the sanction of a Liberal Government, at the head of which was the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Mid Lothian. In 1888, he was sent to gaol on a specific charge, tried before a competent tribunal, and sentenced under the auspices of a Conservative Government with Lord Salisbury at its head. That was really the only difference that he could see. If they turned to the Liberal Press of 1882, and if they consulted the Liberal speeches of that time, they would find practical unanimity as to the wisdom of the action of the Liberal Government and vociferous cheering at Leeds and the Guildhall for the "resources of civilization." But if they 1214 turned now to the same Liberal organs and to Liberal speeches, there was nothing but weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. He came now to the Motion before the House. It covered a very wide area—[Ironical cheers]—what he had said was no doubt inconvenient, but it was perfectly relevant to the Motion. It was not for him, a mere layman, to enter on the subtleties of the law of conspiracy, or to decide whether Resident Magistrates had always been right in the decisions they had given under the Crimes Act. There was a plentiful crop of lawyers in the House, who in such a discussion would be in their native element, and he would cheerfully leave it to them with two remarks. His first remark was that magistrates and Judges were not infallible either in England or Ireland, and his opinion, as a layman, was that it by no means followed that because the decision of an inferior Court was reversed it was necessarily incompetent. So far as he had been able to observe, much of the trouble which had arisen proceeded from the decisions of two out of three judges of the Exchequer Court, both of whom were famous lawyers. As he understood it, the point was whether on a habeas corpus Motion there was an appeal, on which question there were eight Irish Judges against two. He meant to go into the case of Mr. Dillon more minutely, and he hoped to show clearly why he should give his vote against the Motion. He had no personal feeling whatever against Mr. Dillon, who had said many things of him in Ulster which were utterly untrue, although he was sure Mr. Dillon believed them. But he had sat down deliberately in view of the whole case to investigate it on its merits as an honest juror would do. He did not know Lord Massereene, nor did he know any of the landlords whose estates were under the Plan of Campaign, and if he could urge any claim for intervening in the debate, it was that in a case of this kind he stood indifferent between landlord and tenant. He held that there were Members on that side of the House who would not challenge his contention. He had studied the Plan of Campaign as published originally in United Ireland, he had read Mr. Dillon's speech at Tullyallen on the 8th of April last, published in The Freeman's Journal, and he had read his speech at Keenagh, in the 1215 county of Longford, which served as a kind of glossary to the Plan of Campaign; he had read the defence of Lord Massereene offered by his Lordship's agent; he had read the reports of the trial of Mr. Dillon before the Resident Magistrates, and also of the appeal at Dundalk, and he had also read yards of leading articles complaining of the conduct of the Government and challenging the action of the Court. He should like to know how many hon. Members had done as much. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Probably it had not been done by many hon. Members. The first question that he submitted to himself as if he had been a juror in the case was this—did Mr. Dillon in his speech at Tullyallen advise and advocate the Plan of Campaign? Having read that speech as a juror, he replied that no honest man could give anything but an answer in the affirmative to that query. Mr. Dillon had shown how the Plan of Campaign had succeeded on several estates, he spoke of the unbroken story of success, which was not entirely consonant with fact, and he showed with great power what happened to people who were unfaithful to it. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) was not going to take any meaning out of his words such as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done that evening. It was unfortunate that Mr. Dillon had often spoken in a way which allowed certain conclusions to be drawn. In 1882 he declared that if certain cattle were put on some fields they would not prosper. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) knew that it was said that this might bear an innocent meaning; but, he repeated, that it was very unfortunate that the hon. Member should indulge in words susceptible of two constructions being placed upon them, and it was especially to be deplored that this was done upon a public platform in Ireland before an audience of peasants. While Mr. Dillon was speaking on that platform the Plan of Campaign was actually in operation, and it was absolutely idle to deny that Mr. Dillon was advocating the Plan of Campaign on the Massereene estate. He then asked, was the Plan of Campaign an illegal combination, and was it an offence to advocate an illegal combination? What was the Plan of Campaign? He would define it to the best of his ability, and he did not think that hon. Members would be 1216 able to cavil at his definition of it. In the midst of an acute crisis a rent strike was agreed upon. The rents upon the property were either fixed by judicial arrangement, or they were the subject of ordinary contract. The landlord offered an abatement, not an all-round abatement, but one which he deemed applicable to each case; his proposal was refused by the tenants, who made an all-round offer, which included the well-to-do farmer, who made and could pay his rent, as well as the poor cottar who had not made, and who could not pay his rent. The landlord refused this all-round offer, and the rent offered to the landlord was paid by the tenants to trustees into a sort of war-chest to be used against the landlord if necessary, and then the Plan of Campaign was complete. He maintained that the Plan of Campaign, as indicated in the original document, was absolutely indefensible. In the first place, it asserted the right of one party to a contract, or arrangement to vary its terms at his pleasure; and, secondly, it asserted that a well-to-do farmer who had made his rent, and was well able to pay it, should not pay it, because the poor cotter had not made his rent, and was unable to pay it. These two points were of the essence of the Plan of Campaign; and, in his opinion, they were grossly unfair and unjust. What was more important was that the Lord Chief Baron of Ireland, whom hon. Members below the Gangway professed to regard as an unbiassed Judge, had held that the Plan of Campaign was absolutely illegal, and that every meeting convened to advocate it was an illegal meeting, and was liable to be dispersed by force. That was not a pronouncement such as Mr. Justice O'Brien's in another case, it was a solemn and deliberate judgment which had been upheld by the Court of Appeal in Moronoy's case. For his part, he could not go behind this decision of the Lord Chief Baron. The result was that he found that Mr. Dillon did advocate the Plan of Campaign; he was bound by the decision of the Lord Chief Baron that the Plan of Campaign was an illegal combination, and therefore he was obliged to find that Mr. Dillon had advocated an illegal conspiracy. He then asked, what was the defence which had been put forward on behalf of Mr. Dillon; and here he came to the real 1217 germ of the whole question. It had been maintained that night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle that when Mr. Dillon spoke at Tullyallen the county of Louth had not been proclaimed under the Crimes Act. He wished to state frankly that that was not a defence that had been put forward by Mr. Dillon himself. Was he to be told that Mr. Dillon was only going to advocate the Plan of Campaign in places where it was safe for him to do so? He said that Mr. Dillon at Louth gave no countenance to such an idea, and it had never been put forward by Mr. Dillon himself, and he should never think of imputing to Mr. Dillon that he was capable of putting it forward. He said that no man who respected Mr. Dillon could possibly put forward this defence, that it would only go into a county where he was safe to advocate the Plan of Campaign. Certainly, he should not think of imputing any such motive to him. He now came to the case of the Massereene tenants; and in respect to them the contention was that their case was a desperate one. He had no doubt that, with regard to some of them, they were over-rented, as; was the case on many other estates in Ireland. But he desired that the facts in reference to the Massereene tenants should be put fairly before the House. He must first ask whether there were judicial tenants upon the property, and it was a remarkable fact that only two of the judicial rents as fixed by the Commissioners had been appealed against. The tenants, whose rents had been judicially fixed, had had not only the original reduction, but they were entitled to the reduction under the Act of 1887. He denied that any fair-minded man could say that the Plan of Campaign was necessary in the case of those tenants. In the next place, he asked whether there were tenants upon the estate who held their land under ordinary leases? He had no doubt there were, and the door of the Land Court had been opened to them—a door which had been opened to them by a Government that had nothing but a coercive policy to offer to the Irish people, but which had been kept closed by right hon. Gentlemen who sat upon the Front Bench below him. It was the present Government which had opened the door locked by the right 1218 hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
It was opened to them by the Plan of Campaign, not by the Government.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he would tell hon. Members below the Gangway what the Plan of Campaign had produced. It had produced the Crimes Act. Hon. Members below the Gangway had obtained a temporary Plan of Campaign but a permanent Crimes Act as the result of their herculean labours. Hon. Members below the Gangway contended that the Plan of Campaign was perfectly justifiable, inasmuch as there were £7,000 of arrears of rent due upon the estate. But he said that the Plan of Campaign was perfectly unjustifiable in the case of those tenants. He might be told that those arrears constituted a reason for the Plan of Campaign being directed against the estate; but the fact was that Lord Massereene had offered to do freely what the Bill of this year intended to do—namely, to deal with the arrears upon the same basis as the Commissioners had dealt with the rents. What did the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) demand? He demanded that, and nothing more; and, therefore, he (Mr. T. W. Russell) repeated that, as far as arrears were concerned, the application of the Plan of Campaign to this estate was wholly unjustifiable. His next inquiry was, were there perpetuity leaseholders on the estate—holders of town parks and demesne lands? No doubt there were, and these were outside the Act. It might be that there were a few such tenants; but would the fact of there being a few such tenants justify the application of the Plan of Campaign to the whole of the tenants without any discrimination? He said no man could fairly rise in his place and answer that in the affirmative. Now, he wanted to show the House what sort of men some of the tenants on this estate were. He could understand great efforts being made in the case of poor cottars, who were unable to live on the land they tilled on the Western seaboard of Ireland; but he said frankly that a good deal of sympathy would be wasted in the case of tenants such as he was 1219 about to describe. He had a dozen cases. First there was the case of Peter Roche, who was described in The Drogheda Independent as "one of the standard bearers of the Plan," who held two large farms under Lord Massereene and a third on a neighbouring property. This man held 50 shares of £10 each, fully paid up, in the Dundalk and Newry Steam Packet Company, 13 of which were seized and sold for £57 14s. 3d. in satisfaction of his rent. Would anyone tell him that the House ought to stand behind a man like that? He asked right hon. Members on the Front Bench below him why they had excluded such wealthy tenants as these from the operation of the Acts of 1870 and 1881? It was because they felt that such tenants were able to take care of themselves, but now "old things have passed away, and all things have become new." Did anybody think that the Plan of Campaign was justified in the case of Roche, who had other property probably besides what he had mentioned? There was another case in which the landlord seized eight head of cattle, 30 sheep, and 36 lambs. This was a poor struggling tenant who was unable to pay his rent! But it was only fair to say that the rent was paid after all. He had heard something about law costs tonight, and he stood there to assure the House that not one of those tenants ever instructed a solicitor to take up their defence; they had pleaded that they had never authorized a defence, and that the law costs had been heaped upon them without their knowledge or sanction. He would take the case of Michael Smith, a road contractor in addition to being a farmer, who assured the agent that he had never given instructions for the defence of his action, and had positively told the solicitor of the League that that was the course he intended to pursue. A defence was, however, filed by the League, and the result was that Smith was made liable for £37 costs. Lord Massereene, hearing that he was to have £8 from the Grand Jury, attached the money and paid himself, and Mr. Smith had to pay these costs simply because a defence was filed by a solicitor whom he had never seen and never instructed. [An hon. MEMBER: How did he get the writ?] That could be 1220 very easily managed. He would now take the case of James Burn. This tenant was evicted on the 4th of October, 1887, and at his eviction the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Stuart) was present. He had been formerly under agent on the Antrim estate of Lord Massereene. In 1864, when the particular farm became vacant, he obtained it on a lease of 31 years, at a rent which was £38 under the Government valuation; attached to the farm were several houses, from which he derived a profit rent of £42 a-year. Ho was one of the first to take up the Plan of Campaign, and other tenants soon followed. Ho refused an abatement of 10 per cent; it subsequently came to the knowledge of the agent that he was the sole owner of 20 shares in the Dundalk and Newry Steam Packet Company, which were attached, and on the last day for redemption these were bought back by Burn, who received the abatement referred to for which he had publicly expressed his acknowledgments. Then there was the case of Patrick Brannigan, who held a farm under a judicial lease at a rent of £126. He did not reside upon the estate, but he was a very active campaigner and joined in the protest against the rent. It was discovered before he was formally evicted in October last that he was the holder of ten 110 shares fully paid up in the Dundalk and Newry Steam Packet Company, besides shares in another Company. These shares were attached, and on the day before he was to be evicted he came to Lord Massereene's agent, paid the full amount due, together with costs, and was restored to his holding, being forgiven 210 in costs. This was another case to which they were asked that evening to extend their sympathy. He did feel for small tenants in times of acute agrarian distress, but he could not get up to the altitude of expending much sympathy on the holders of share property and of other property of this kind, and who had farms of such a size that right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench in 1870 and 1881 thought they ought not to be brought under the Acts at all. The third defence was the success of the Plan. He wanted to know whether success was to be set up as the test of the righteousness of anything. But he challenged this so-called success. He absolutely challenged 1221 the statement. He knew it had succeeded on estates like the Dillon estate, where the holdings were small and the tenantry were numerous; but he denied that it had succeeded at Lugga-curran, at Coolgreany, on the O'Grady estate, or on the Ponsonby estate. On the contrary, it had failed and had imposed nameless hardships on the people who had succumbed to it. They had been compelled to strip their farms and sweep them as clean as a billiard table. People tenderly reared and brought up and living in decent houses had been obliged to herd together like swine in outhouses. This Plan had inflicted nameless horrors and disabilities on people who declared when persons went to visit them that they had been forced to join it and wished they saw the end of it, If hon. Members wished proof of that fact, and proof which could not be challenged, let them go to Murray's Magazine and read in the article by Mrs. Bishop, a lady who visited Ireland the other day, and who was not of the same way of thinking as he was, what she had to say about a dozen well-to-do families whom she found living under these circumstances, who had been forced out of their comfortable homes, who bitterly lamented it, and prayed God that the Plan might soon come to an end. He did not care whether the Plan had been successful or not; ho was not going to stand up to vindicate successful villany. The next defence was the most potent of all; it was found in every Liberal newspaper and on the lip of every separatist Liberal; it was that Mr. Dillon should not have been 'condemned because he was Mr. Dillon. He deeply deplored the fact that any Member of that House should be brought into such a position; it betokened a diseased and disordered state of society. [Cries of "Oh!"] Why, the Chief Secretary himself would not challenge that statement; but until there was a section of the Crimes Act declaring that that Act should not apply to Mr. Dillon or any other Member of Parliament, no one had a right to demand that Mr. Dillon or any other man should go through Ireland inciting the people to do an illegal act. He desired to make his position entirely clear. Parliament had placed the Crimes Act upon the Statute Book. The Government were engaged in a great effort by its means to restore the sovereignty 1222 of the law in Ireland, and having had his share in placing that Act on the Statute Book, and he avowed it and gloried in it, he would be no party to weakening the hands of the Government in their resolute effort to enforce it. They and their instruments in Ireland might make mistakes; it was only an Irish Parliament that would not make mistakes. Very few mistakes had been made; but he should be no party to weakening the hands of the Government in the administration of that Act. He held firmly that so long as the Act in question was upon the Statute Book, it was quite impossible for the Government to allow the Act to be set at naught. Now ho came to the question of Boycotting, and in his mind there never would have been this Crimes Act had it not been for the Plan of Campaign and Boycotting. Now, he was quite aware of the policy of the Liberal Party in relation both to the Plan of Campaign and to Boycotting. As a Party they did not adopt the Plan of Campaign as a plank in the Liberal platform, nor did they advocate Boycotting as a part of the Liberal propaganda. The time was not yet come for such a thing; but they delighted to honour the patentees of both these plans. It was one of those cases where liberty in nonessentials was lawful, and by-and-bye there would probably be subtlety of intellect enough on the Front Opposition Bench to prove that these things were not only admirable, but even Christian methods of political warfare. They had not come to that yet, but they might by-and-bye. It depended on the necessities of the position entirely; there was nothing too strong for a Liberal candidate now. When he (Mr. T. W. Russell) came to speak of Boycotting he did not mean exclusive dealing, but something else. Of course, if shopkeepers combined to prevent the police or obnoxious people getting bread or the necessaries of life, the task was a very difficult and a very delicate one; and he did not wonder that mistakes should be made in trying to enforce the law. He wanted to show Boycotting as he knew it. Take the case of Dowling as it appeared before the Judge Curran the other day. He said that that case perfectly illustrated the whole of the subject. What were the facts on which Dowling was convicted? 1223 Here were two brothers in legal posession of a farm in the County of Kerry; they were joint owners, one paid his share of the rent and the other did not. The landlord evicted them both in order to get legal possession of the farm, and he put back into the farm the brother who paid the rent. The League deified the brother who paid no rent, but the other brother who did pay was Boycotted; from the day he paid his rent to the day of his death he lived under the protection of two armed policemen. Hero was the National League shown in all its beauty, and he recommended the consideration of this matter to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). Let them inquire still further. This man lived for some time under police protection. At 4 o'clock one morning last January, with the cold moon looking down on the scene—[Ironical laughter]. He noticed that not only in the House, but at public meetings he was in the habit of addressing, members of the Party which sat below the Gangway had a great objection to hear of this case; he could not understand why. On a January morning this old man got up, and with his daughter started for the fair at Listowel. The police started with him, but he told them when they had got a mile or so on the road that they might go back. They went back, and in a few minutes afterwards that old man, who had done no man wrong, but had striven to be an honest man, was foully and cruelly done to death before the eyes of his own daughter. Here came the point about Dowling. The trial took place; Norah Fitzmaurice swore at the trial of her father's murderers that she was afraid—and he asked the House to listen to this—that she was afraid to tell her priest that she knew the men. Could anything be more eloquent? The poor peasant girl, broken hearted and bereft, afraid to confer with her own priest on such a matter. Yes; but when the truth came out, what did this reverend gentleman say? He (Mr. T. W. Russell) quoted from the evidence. What did the priest say? This man, Father Sheehan, who ought to have comforted and shielded this brave girl in the absence of her murdered father, said to Norah, "You will get a deal of bother if you give evidence. There has been enough life lost already." This brave girl, he thanked God, rose to a 1224 higher altitude than that of her spiritual adviser; she did give evidence, and on her evidence her father's murderers were brought to justice. Let the House see what happened immediately. He would not dwell upon the fact that after the trial the Judge who conducted the trial, and who sentenced these men, was made the subject of furious tirades in The Freeman's Journal and The Nation, two newspapers owned and edited by Members who sat below the Gangway. This girl's father's murderers were taken back to Tralee. They were received, when they bad been found guilty and sentenced, by a cheering crowd of people at Tralee—these people to whom the Opposition were so eager to submit the interests of himself and men like him. How was Norah Fitzmaurice received when she went back? She was Boycotted, and when she went on the first Sunday to the House of God itself, this man, Dowling, had the baseness to attempt to empty the chapel with the priest at the altar. He tried to Boycot the brave girl in the House of God. That man was tried by two Resident Magistrates; a Question was asked on the 24th of April in the House as to Dowling's sentence, so much interest was taken in him as all that. Dowling got six months under this very Crimes Act, and he (Mr. T. W. Russell) told the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle that he was proud that he had helped to forge the weapon that punished him. He was denouncing Boycotting, and he was going to produce the evidence of a Nationalist on that very point. [Ironical cheers.] Aye, a Nationalist known to hon. Members below the Gangway, and as pure a Nationalist as lived. He was not founded on the Plan of Campaign model he (Mr. T. W. Russell) admitted, still he was a Nationalist of the purest type. In a public pamphlet Mr. Rolleston—[Derisive cheers]—Yes; hon. Members below the Gangway would hear what he said about them by-and-bye. Mr. Rolleston, in a public pamphlet, and he asked the House to listen to what Mr. Rolleston said in answer to a Gentleman who once sat on the Opposition side of the House, used these words—I have no right to feel any great astonishment or reprobation at Mr. Laing' s position. A little more than two years ago, I myself, in a passing allusion to the subject, wrote that Boy- 1225 cotting, however illegal it might be, was in many cases justified by the magnitude of the legalised crime against which it is directed. I wrote as I have been forced to see, with very imperfect insight into the subject. It cannot, however, be pleaded for Mr. Laing that he has as little. I am that sure he sees as little as I did then the intimate, the necessary connection between Boycotting and violent crime. But by his own account he sees with perfect clearness what I did not see, or foresee—the manner in which Boycotting has been extended to punish not only those who try to benefit by landlord oppression at their neighbour's expense, but also all who are in any way guilty of thinking or acting for themselves. A tenant will be boycotted if he does not join the Plan of Campaign, if he makes and pays his rent for his own farm. United Ireland calls for the Boycotting of jurymen who, in cases of disagreement, desire to convict agrarian prisoners. Witnesses who give evidence against agrarian criminals are Boycotted, and not one Nationalist leader dares to risk unpopularity in the defence of these innocent sufferers. I have known a man ruthlessly Boycotted by a whole country side, and his life at tempted, simply for taking a situation from which a drunken and dishonest bogranger was dismissed, who used to take money from the neighbours to let their cattle break in upon his master's land. The Coercion Act saved that man, He stood to his post, prosecuted his enemies whenever he could. At last they got tired of it, and he is now, I believe, rather a popular person in the neighbourhood. I or any other man would ten times rather have spent six months in Tuna-more Gaol, with or without prison clothes, than in the state of persecution in which this man lived for longer than that time. And, measuring his release against Mr. O'Brien's imprisonment, I am not prepared to call the Coercion Act a purely oppressive measure.Was it because a magistrate here and there might have made mistakes, might have erred in administering the law—was it because the Lord Chief Baron with his highly trained legal intellect could find flaws in evidence and procedure which were not even visible to his co-Judges in the Queen's Bench, much less to the mind of an ordinary man—was it because of these things, that he (Mr. T. W. Russell), forsooth, was to be asked to vote for a Motion of Censure on Her Majesty's Government? He should do nothing of the sort. Now, as to the administration of the Crimes Act. What was the contention of the Opposition? It was this—that some, at least, of the Resident Magistrates were incompetent. For the present let that be so. He desired to call the attention of the House to this fact, that since Her Majesty's Government canoe into Office they had appointed but three Resident Magistrates. [Mr. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.): Oh, oh! Oh, oh!! Oh, oh!!!] 1226 The hon. and learned Member for North Longford might cry "Oh, oh!" till 12 o'clock, if he liked; but he (Mr. T. W. Russell) said, so far as he was aware, and he thought it would trouble the hon. and learned Gentleman to find any more—
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he was perfectly certain that the hon. and learned Gentleman would not be able to prove what he said. To the best of his judgment, and he kept a pretty strict look out on Irish politics, Her Majesty's Government had only appointed three Resident Magistrates. [Cries of "Give us the names!"] He was going to give the names. Everyone of the three was a highly trained and competent lawyer. The first was Mr. Hodder. Would anyone deny Mr. Hodder's competency to discharge the duties of a magistrate under the Crimes Act? Would anyone deny Mr. Shannon's capability? The third was Mr. Cecil Roche. He knew all these gentlemen, and what he had to say was that they all had very respectable places at the Bar. [Cries of "No, no!"] Oh; but he had lived in. Ireland 30 years, and he maintained, from his own knowledge, that these men had all respectable positions at the Irish Bar, and were entirely competent for the work they had to do.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Well, but there were lawyers who had practised that were not worth much. Now, what he maintained was that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had been burdened with the tools Lord Spencer had left behind him; the right hon. Gentleman had these gentlemen on his hands; and the thing that astounded and astonished him (Mr. T. W. Russell)—he could not get over it—was that these men were entirely fit to administer the Crimes Act in 1882. But, said the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), they had no Law of Conspiracy to administer. Yes; but they bad a great many things to deal with that were not in the present Crimes Act. He protested against the persistent attacks upon these Resident Magistrates, both from below the Gangway and from above the Gangway. These attacks were to be expected from Members 1227 below the Gangway, and no one was surprised when they came from that quarter; but for men, who had sat at the banqueting table with Lord Spencer when he bore testimony to the services of these very men, to join in any such attacks was something little short of a scandal. These men were performing difficult and dangerous duties under the most trying and disadvantageous circumstances, and it was not censure but high praise they deserved at the hands of this House. A good deal had been said in the country about the conduct of Dr. Webb and Mr. Hickson, County Court Judges, in increasing sentences on appeal in certain cases under the Crimes Act. A Return had been laid on the Table giving some information upon the subject. He did not care one straw for that Return, or for what it might contain. What he asked was, had these County Court Judges, who were not removable, a legal right to act as they acted? That was the question he wished to put. The Court of Exchequer, the favourite Court of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, had decided that these men had a legal right to act as they did act. Very well, that being so, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, these County Court Judges having a legal right to increase sentences. what right, legal or otherwise, had the Government to interfere with them? He maintained that the functions of the Courts of Law in this country through a not inglorious past had been to stand between the people and the Crown, and if the Government had dared to interfere with these County Court Judges he said that then the House might have passed a Vote of Censure upon the Government for their interference. These Judges had a legal right to act as they did, and the Government bad no legal right, no moral right to interfere, and they would have been worthy of censure if they had interfered, and the House bad no manner of right to challenge the action of the Government for the conduct of men with whom they had no business to interfere. He should vote against this Motion, because he did not believe any one of its propositions. He honestly believed there was more, and not less, respect for law since the Crimes Act was enacted; he believed, indeed, that it might have still further estranged the 1228 minds of evil-doers, but he also believed it had made life possible and enjoyable for many thousands of honest men. He did not believe it to be injurious to the common interests of the United Kingdom, The great function of law was that it should be a terror to evildoers, and a protection to those who did well; the law was for the transgressor, not for the righteous. Addressing the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, the other day the Moderator of the Irish Assembly assured his Scotch brethren that not one of the 600,000 Presbyterians in Ireland was one whit the worse for this tyrannous code. The same thing could be said for every law-abiding citizen in Ireland, and, after all, they were not in such a wretched minority as people thought. This law, and the manly resolution which had been displayed in its enforcement, had affected all those—and he asked the attention of hon. Members to this—it had affected all those who did not pursue political ends by fair Constitutional means, but who resorted to the compulsion of their neighbours as a fair means of political warfare. It certainly did interfere with them. Did they doubt what he said, because, if so, he appealed again to a witness who was not on his side. He asked the House to listen to what Mr. Rolleston had to say upon the point—And when Norah Fitzmaurice, on her return to Kerry, is fiercely boycotted, and two of her persecutors sent to gaol—miscreants proved to be guilty of something even baser than murder itself—a Parnellite Member gets up in Parliament, with the tacit approval of his Party, to protest against the severity of their sentence. I have striven long—perhaps too long—to resist the evidence of for this solidarity of crime. I can resist it no longer. Too clear it is to mo that approval or support of the Irish National League means a consent to iniquities than which the chronicles of the world's worst causes, bloodier though they sometimes be, can show nothing more abominably vile.That was from a man who believed in "Ireland a Nation," but who did not quite s e that the Plan of Campaign was going to make her one. So long as he (Mr. T. W. Russell) had health and strength he should protest against what was nothing more nor less than the assassination of free political thought in Ireland. He said to Irish Members below the Gangway, in all candour—"You wish an Irish Parliament; I do not." But that was neither here nor 1229 there. He agreed to fight it out, but let hon. Members wage their fight as all honest political fights had been waged in the past. This House was free, they could go to the sovereign people of this country; they had the people to go to—[Cheers]—and he could go too. Let them go to that sovereign people; let them carry their plans if they could, but he protested against an Irish Parliament being secured at the expense of character, at the expense of the freedom of those who honestly differed from them. It was not thus that Irish patriots fought in the olden times; at least he did not read Irish history in any such way. It certainly required a great stretch of imagination to picture Thomas Davis defending the Plan of Campaign, and it was a great demand on the imagination to fancy honest John Martin claiming the right to Boycott his neighbour because he did not agree with him. He conceded the right of hon. Members to get whatever they could by fair means in that House, but he denied their right to punish people who did not agree with them, and who thought that hon. Members, in trampling down all free thought, and in obliterating the difference between right and wrong, were the enemies and not the friends of Ireland. He, for one, most heartily rejoiced that there was an Act of Parliament which declared in the clearest terms, that if hon. Members would do these things, they should and they must take the consequences of their action.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he thought he should best consult the convenience of the House if he confined himself mainly to one topic, and dealt chiefly with Mr. Dillon's trial and the Massereene tenants. His hon. Friend who had just sat down, and who claimed to speak impartially, evidently knew nothing at all of the case of the tenants on that property. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was present at the trial of Mr. Dillon, and he was proud to stand beside him on that occasion. It was his good fortune during the last few weeks to see much of Mr. Dillon, and the more he had seen of him the more he had been impressed by the nobility of his character, by his patrotism, and by his deep human sympathy. This opinion did not materially differ from that of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who, 1230 speaking at Battersea, not long ago, said that Mr. Dillon was able and eloquent, and of high honour and character. Yet this man of high honour and character was to be sent to prison as an ordinary criminal without trial by a jury. It was that of which they complained. Being in Ireland he was strongly urged by the tenants of Lord Massereene's property to visit them. He did so, and heard their story and also the story of Lord Massereene from his late and from his present agent. He also heard the story of the priest of the district, and he thought he was now in possession of the whole of the facts, which he believed were such as would convince many hon. Members who disliked the Plan of Campaign that there was much to be said for the course advocated by Mr. Dillon in the speech for which he was prosecuted. What were the facts? In 1886 there was a general fall of prices, and Lord Massereene's then agent, Mr. Wynne, advised his Lordship that all the rents of the property ought to be reduced, and recommended a reduction of 15 per cent in the case of non-judicial rents and of 10 per cent in the case of judicial rents. He gave the same advice to other owners. Lord Massereene refused to make any reduction at all. What was more, he dismissed his agent for his leniency to the tenants and for giving such advice. The tenants then met in a body and sent a deputation to Lord Massereene, who declined even to receive them or to make any reduction whatever. The tenants then entered into the combination known as the Plan of Campaign. They refused to pay their rents unless abatements were conceded to them of 25 per cent in the case of non-judicial rents and 20 per cent in the case of judicial rents. He had often said in public that there were in the Plan of Campaign features which he disapproved and disliked; but he had also said that the essence of the Plan was combination, and that combination was necessary and important in the circumstances which he had described. It was indeed the only way in which the tenants could meet such men as Lord Massereene and Lord Clanricarde. The Plan of Campaign was a desperate remedy for a most desperate evil. There never would have been a Plan of Campaign if the Government in 1886 had, in answer to the demand of 86 out of 1231 101 Irish Members, proposed legislation to deal with the agrarian crisis, and the Plan of Campaign would have disappeared last year, or even this year, if the Government had dealt with the question of arrears in response to the almost universal demands of the Irish Members. When the tenants entered on the Plan of Campaign Lord Massereene put his affairs into the hands of the firm of well-known Dublin solicitors, Messrs. Dudgeon and Emerson, whose function it was to put down combinations by proceeding in a manner which they were familiar with. They took law proceedings of the most expensive character against the tenants of this property, and loaded them with law suits of every kind. It appeared that about 130 tenants originally adopted the Plan of Campaign. Out of these about 38 settled at various times. But these solicitors issued 47 writs of summons in March last year in the Superior Courts, 37 in Juno, 47 in September, and 24 in April of this year. They instituted proceedings in bankruptcy in nine cases, and in 70 cases they issued ejectments in the County Courts. Besides that there had been numerous seizures which the firm had carried out themselves. By proceedings of this kind they harassed the tenants with law costs—in one case where the rent was £130 the costs of the ejectment had amounted to £124. In another case of bankruptcy, in which the tenant owed £43 rent and there was only one other creditor for £5, the costs amounted to £120. Ten tenants in all were evicted, and their farms were now derelict. In one case where there was resistance 10 persons were sent to prison under the Coercion Act for various periods with hard labour. Moro recently the solicitors of Lord Massereene had endeavoured to draw away the people from the Plan of Campaign by offering more favourable terms than before. In many cases of tenants on Lord Massereene's property the Land Commission had given their judgment on fair rents; in other cases the Land Commission had given their decision under the Act of last year with respect to judicial rents. As a matter of fact, the Land Commission had made very large reductions of rent in many cases to an extent greater than was originally asked for, the average reduction being 23 per cent, while under 1232 the Act of last year the judicial rents had, on an average, been reduced 15 per cent. Under the advice of his present agents Lord Massereene had recently offered to make his tenants the same abatement of arrears, both in respect of original and judicial rents, as the Land Commission had given. There could not be a doubt that if this offer had been made two years ago instead of being kept back to the present time, there would have been no combination, no ejectments, and no trouble whatever; but if the Plan of Campaign had not existed he would never have offered these terms, and to that extent the Plan of Campaign had been successful. At that moment there was no longer any difference between Lord Massereene and his tenants on the subject of abatement; but there still remained two great difficulties in the way of a settlement—namely, the costs which had been piled up by Lord Massereene's solicitors and the re-instatement of the evicted tenants. Unless those two questions could be settled amicably between Lord Massereene and his tenantry, there could be no peace on the property. He had often heard it stated that there would have been a settlement upon the property if Mr. Dillon had not gone down and made a speech. He ventured to say that that was not the fact, and he could prove it to the satisfaction of the House. The offer to which he had just adverted was made by Lord Massereene through the parish priest, Father Toofe, who was one of the two priests in the district not favourable to the Plan of Campaign. Father Toofe consulted the Archbishop of Armagh on the subject, and in reply his Grace sent a letter, which presented the ease of the tenants in as calm and unprejudiced a manner as possible, and showed the real difficulties now standing in the way of a settlement. The Archbishop wrote—I am sorry to say I can see in the proposal made but very slight reasons to hope for a satisfactory settlement. It appears that at this stage of the dispute the amount of reduction is a secondary consideration. The costs seem to me to be one main obstacle. From what I have heard I believe that the tenants, with the best will in the world to do so, would not be able to meet their costs or anything approaching to the amount. True, the solicitors say that their costs have been swelled by the useless defences taken by the tenants. From the information I could gather I am led to believe that these costs have been piled up to such enormous figures by vexatious actions taken in the Superior Courts 1233 while the decrees of a County Court would have served all practicable purposes equally well. But, apart from the many questions, I see in the solicitors' letter indications of an intention which, if carried out, would render an amicable settlement of the dispute, and one that would lead to permanent peace, impossible—(1) It appears from the letter that Lord Massereene wishes to deal with the tenants individually. That means war, not a peaceable settlement. (2) It appears his Lordship intends to make victims, and I am very much mistaken if that intention does not shut the door against all amicable arrangement. He may perhaps succeed in patching up some kind of temporary arrangement on these terms; but it will leave an amount of smouldering discontent which is likely to break out into a fresh flame of still greater violence.That letter very accurately described the present condition of things, and pointed out very clearly the difficulties in the way of a settlement. He had since seen Messrs. Dudgeon and Emerson on the subject, and had done his very utmost to bring about a settlement. He impressed upon them his belief that Lord Massereene must give way on the question of costs and the re-instatement of evicted tenants, but he was sorry to say that Messrs. Dudgeon and Emerson stated that Lord Massereene was inexorable on the subject of evicted tenants. It was under those circumstances, and knowing the facts he had mentioned, that Mr. Dillon made the speech complained of. He took it that that speech meant that the tenants should stand by the evicted tenants. Mr. Dillon considered that they were bound in honour, having entered into combination, to stand by those who had suffered for their cause, and he begged them not to come to au agreement unless they could make an agreement affecting all of them. With that view of the case be entirely agreed. He believed that Mr. Dillon was acting rightly in giving that advice, though he did not undertake to father all the speech Mr. Dillon made. It was true there were some expressions of a rather doubtful character, and though he would rather not have used them he did not agree with the interpretation that had been placed on them by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Substantially he agreed that after what had taken place the tenants on Lord Massereene's property were bound as honourable men not to come to a settlement unless it dealt with the case of the evicted tenants. He would illustrate this by what occurred on his visit to the 1234 property. He met 12 of the poorest of the tenants on the property, who were miserably poor people, all holding land under £8 a-year. They had joined the Plan of Campaign two years ago, and were now three years in arrear. Only two months ago the Land Commission reduced their rents by more than the abatement they originally asked—namely, by 27 per cent. Lord Massereene's solicitors had offered to make them the same abatement for arrears as the Land Commission had made in respect for rent if they would abandon the Plan of Campaign and pay their rents. They said they were very well satisfied with the terms offered them. To his inquiry whether they were going to agree to the terms they said—"No; we mean to stand by the Plan of Campaign, we mean to stand by the evicted tenants." He would ask hon. Members opposite what advice he should have given these men. Should he have told them that he disapproved of their conduct and recommended them to abandon the evicted tenants? [Mr. W. H. SMITH made a gesture of assent.] If the right hon. Gentleman thought so, he disagreed with him on the point of honour. As a matter of fact, he did not then know the facts of the case; but with the knowledge he now had, he should not hesitate to tell these tenants that they were bound as men of honour to stand by the evicted tenants. He did not know whether that declaration would bring him within the Criminal Law; but he presumed that, if the law were as laid down by the Judges in Mr. Dillon's case, had he spoken in that sense, he would have brought himself within the Criminal Law. He was quite ready to go back to Ireland and make a speech in that sense to those tenants only subject to this—that he should be tried by a jury. He was convinced that no jury in the United Kingdom would convict him of crime for giving advice of that description. No jury could have been found in Ireland which would have convicted Mr. Dillon of the offence with which he was charged. The Government had shown they knew that by the pains they had taken to procure his trial before Resident Magistrates. That showed that the Government was perfectly aware that they could get no jury in Ireland to convict Mr. Dillon, and it would have been equally difficult in any 1235 other part of the United Kingdom. It was the province of juries to temper the Criminal Law in such cases as this, and to distinguish between what were political and what were criminal offences. Their belief was that if it were any offence at all it was a political offence, and a political offender ought to have been tried before a jury and not sent to prison like an ordinary criminal. One main complaint they had to make against the Coercion Act, especially in the case of Mr. Dillon, was that men who had been convicted of purely political offences had been treated by the Government as ordinary criminals. It was the first time in history that a Government had treated their political opponents as ordinary criminals. There was not in the history of the country a precedent of that kind. Many references had been made to the Coercion Act of 1882, and it was said that Mr. Dillon and others were sent to prison under it. Yes, but they were not treated as ordinary prisoners, but as political prisoners. If we could imagine the two great antagonists in this case—the Chief Secretary and Mr. Dillon—side by side, and could take the verdict of the country upon their case—if the question could be put which of the two was the real patriot and the benefactor of Ireland, he ventured to think that by a considerable majority the verdict would be in favour of Mr. Dillon. The same majority, however, would not desire to treat the Chief Secretary in the manner in which he treated his political opponents; its desire would be that his only punishment should be the contemplation, in retirement, of the wreck and destruction of his Irish policy.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said, he thought he could congratulate the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) on taking a more rosy view of the opinion of the House than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley). Apparently, the right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that the House would, by an overwhelming majority, approve of the action of Mr. Dillon and disapprove of the action of the law and of the Government. He imagined that to-morrow night the right hon. Gentleman would no longer be of that opinion. Then the right hon. Gentleman informed the House 1236 how the Government ought to have acted in settling the Irish Question; he said that if they had consulted the wishes of the Irish people there would have been no more difficulty at all. Well, but what part of the Irish people did he mean? He certainly did not mean that part of the Irish population which he (Colonel Saunderson) had the honour to more or less represent. He (Colonel Saunderson) could quite conceive that if they did away with immunity from crime they would have no more criminals. There were a section of the Irish people who held certain views and who had adopted certain courses, and he could quite understand that if their advice had been followed they would have been perfectly satisfied, and they would not have adopted those courses which the Government and the law in Ireland at the present time were confronting. Then the right hon. Gentleman made some very brave statements as to his intentions. Why did he not make those speeches in Ireland? He said he was ready to make them, but he never did make them over in Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman really sympathized with Mr. Dillon and his views, why did ho not get up in Louth, when he was over there, why did he not get up at Woodford, when he was over there, and boldly state that he sympathized with the Plan of Campaign and with the resistance which a certain section of the Irish people were offering to the law of the land?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he spoke at Woodford in precisely the same sense as he had spoken in the House that night.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, he did not exactly know in what sense the right hon. Gentleman had spoken. Certainly the right hon. Gentleman said he was ready to make the same speech in Ireland, but with a very remarkable reservation: he must have the choice of a jury. He did not find so much fault with the right hon. Gentleman for his visit to Louth; but he did find great fault with him, considering the knowledge the right hon. Gentleman possessed of the affairs in Ireland, for his visit to Woodford. The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well, ho must have known, from his well known intelligence, the condition and the character of the neighbourhood of Woodford, to which 1237 he went to throw oil upon the fire, to incite as far as he could—at least that was how he read the right hon. Gentleman's speeches—to incite the tenantry to continue resistance to what he (Colonel saunderson) believed to be the law of the land. The right hon. Gentleman must have known, when he went to Woodford, that in that neighbourhood, in the course of seven years, nay, a little over six years, there had been 11 agrarian murders, 54 violent outrages, seven cases of firing into dwellings, 49 cases of threatening letters, and that there were 95 persons wholly Boycotted, 119 persons partially Boycotted, and 31 happy Irishmen under police protection. That was what they called in Ireland a hot neighbourhood. Knowing this perfectly well, as the right hon. Gentleman must have done, he went over there and backed up the efforts which were made by Irish agitators to hound on this inflammable and criminal population to further resistance of the law. He left the right hon. Gentleman to the judgment of every right-thinking man in the House of Commons and the country. He would now proceed to say a word or two on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley). The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had had ample preparation for the task he had to perform. Not only was he a gentleman of great talent and ability and remarkable ingenuity of intellect, but he had also the assistance of 85 hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who were as sharp as needles, who read every speech—especially his (Colonel Saunderson's)—who lost nothing that took place at any Petty Sessions Court in Ireland, who examined with the keenest interest all the proceedings of the magistrates of whom they were so fond; and yet, with all the ability which undoubtedly did exist below the Gangway, and with his own acumen, the right hon. Gentleman made out the very weakest case that had ever been presented to the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to him to be a just man labouring under difficulties in hot weather. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that in 1890, when an appeal was made to the country, the result would be the same as in 1880. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman 1238 gave them two more years of life. He thought, from the speeches he had heard, and from the articles he had read in newspapers, that his Party was on the point of disruption, that a General Election was in the immediate future, but now they found that they had two more years of life. He ventured to prophecy that this Government and this Unionist Party, with two years of life yet before it, would have ample time to settle for many a long year this Irish Question. The right hon. Gentleman made use of one extraordinary argument—he attacked the Government for locking up Mr. Dillon; and why? Because he said Mr. Dillon was a man of vast power, ability, and popularity. Well, he never in his life heard such an argument as that for not locking up a man who broke the law. Was it possible that in the 19th century—which was supposed to be a century of civilization—that because a man had succeeded, no matter how, in gaining power and attaining to popularity, which was really a very evanescent property, he might with impunity defy the law of the land. Surely the right hon. Gentleman could not have been serious when he made that the ground of attack on Her Majesty's Government for shutting up Mr. Dillon. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to ask, how could you shut up a man who is received by deputations and Boards of Guardians, and as a culminating point, as a mark of power and popularity, has had the unprecedented honour of receiving an address signed by 150 Members of Parliament.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, he was afraid, with all due respect to the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, that he must discount these 150 Members of Parliament. Eighty-five were bound to sign when they were told. [Cries of "No, no!"] Did hon. Gentlemen deny that? Did hon. Gentlemen opposite deny that they had to sign the pledge? [Cries of "No, no!] Besides, Mr. Dillon did unquestionably represent the policy of the Separatist Party, and, therefore, even if no Irishman signed the address, he could quite understand any Separatist Member signing it, because Mr. Dillon was the great 1239 exponent of the policy that the Separatist Party had adopted. So he did not at all wonder at the Address. Then the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to say that there had been a great deal of loose talk about the Plan of Campaign, and had defended, so far as he (Colonel Sanderson) had understood him, the Plan of Campaign on this ground—he said the reduction proposed by the Plan of Campaign in many instances had not been so large as the reductions granted by the Land Court. Now, the objection to the Plan of Campaign by himself (Colonel Saunderson) and his Friends was not that the reductions the Plan of Campaign proposed were in excess of the reductions granted by the Land Court. That was not the ground they had taken in opposing it; certainly not. He was not now saying whether the reductions proposed by the Plan of Campaign were greater or whether they were less than those granted by the Land Court. As he said, those were distinctly not the grounds upon which they opposed the Plan. They opposed the Plan of Campaign because they submitted to the House and to the country that no organization had a right to force upon them what the law did not decree. They refused absolutely to be bound by any organization in Ireland, whether it called itself the Plan of Campaign or whether it called itself the National League, and that was their objection to the Plan. The Plan of Campaign had now been declared to be illegal by the Judges of the land; it had oven been declared to be immoral by the Pope. [Ironical cheers.] Fancy living to see the day when hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite would deride the Pope? Why, he ventured to say that a very short time ago, if he had ventured to laugh at the authority of his Holiness, hon. Members below the Gangway would have risen at once and have said that he was insulting their religion, and now they were the first to deride him when he found that their policy was opposed to the Ten Commandments. Those were the reasons why they on that (the Ministerial) side of the House bad taken objection to the Plan of Campaign. The right hon. Gentleman had done him the honour to quote a speech he had made at Ayr, and he was very glad the right hon. Gentleman had done so, be- 1240 cause he thought that was rather a good speech. He (Colonel Saunderson) had made a statement in that speech which the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned. He had not made that statement in the heat of the moment, because he generally spoke with great deliberation. He had stated his belief that the settlement of this question would never ultimately be reached until they had their heel upon the necks of these people, and the right hon. Gentleman had said—and he (Colonel Saunderson) was sure that he believed absolutely what he did say—that in saying that he (Colonel Saunderson) referred to the Irish people. He had never meant anything of the kind. He had meant hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. [An hon. MEMBER: It is the same thing.] He had made that statement in answer to a speech made by Mr. Dillon himself. Mr. Dillon, in a speech he had made in Dublin, had declared that this was "a life and death struggle out of which only one party would come alive." Well, if anyone came alive out of this struggle, he (Colonel Saunderson) meant to be the man—that was, if he could. Then the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to attack the action of the police in Ireland in what he had called these "got up cases." But the right hon. Gentleman must know perfectly well, if he knew as much about Ireland as he ought to know, having been Chief Secretary in that country, that no man could come forward in Ireland to establish a Boycotting case, except at the peril of his life, and that the only course that could have been adopted was to break up this conspiracy by the action of the police, and by making those prosecutions; and whether the action of the Government bad been a success or not he left the House to judge from a telegraphic despatch which he had just received to the effect that Judge Curran, in addressing the Grand Jury in the County of Kerry—a county which, he was sorry to say, had had the worst reputation—had said that—"Moonlighting had almost disappeared, and Boycotting was a thing of the past." Well, he must say—and he thought he spoke for every hon. Member on that (the Ministerial) side of the House—that he hailed with unbounded satisfaction the Motion that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had placed on the Paper. 1241 He hailed it for this reason, that this debate would have the effect of crystallizing and putting into a permanent shape the policy of their opponents. He (Colonel Saunderson) had spoken a good deal about the country, sometimes with success and sometimes with the reverse; but the difficulty he had always found was to dress up and place before the people the policy of their opponents. He used the words "dress up" advisedly, because their opponents never supplied them with any clothes of their own. Their policy changed from day to day. They wore a short time ago wild about the Home Rule policy, but they had learned from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) that for the time being Home Rule was a thing of the past, and that a new issue altogether had been placed before the country. Therefore, they had hitherto found great difficulty in enforcing upon the people of the country that there were two policies placed before them, and that they had to choose between them. He thought this debate would make the issue clear and distinct. [Cheers and Laughter.] Ho was extremely glad that he had at last said something with which hon. Members opposite could agree. [An hon. MEMBER: You are always funny.] He and his Friends differed from hon. Gentlemen opposite on the proper understanding of fundamental principles. They differed altogether as to what the word "liberty" meant. [Cheers.] Yes, absolutely, he admitted that. He admitted that he held old-fashioned views. He believed that "liberty" meant what he always understood it to mean—what the Liberal Party as well as the Conservative Party in former times held it to mean—namely, that it was the right of every man in this country to do what he pleased within the boundary of the law, and that to allow a man to do what he pleased outside the boundary of the law was not "liberty," but license. Now the Separatist Party held entirely different views as to what liberty meant. So far as ho understood them, liberty, in their minds, meant that a man might do what he pleased even outside the boundary of the law so long as he happened to be either a Nationalist Member of Parliament or a Member of the National League. He (Colonel Saun- 1242 derson) could not conceive that that definition of the word "liberty" would find permanent access to the minds of the English people. Then they disagreed altogether as to the moaning of "legal obligation." He and his Friends had always understood that "legal obligation" meant the obligation of every citizen of this country, or indeed any other civilized country, to obey the law until that law was changed. But according to the definition of "legal obligation," which they had learned, especially from the Front Opposition Bench, if a law was a bad law its badness was to be decided, not by the House, but by the various persons in the country with whom the law interfered, and they were perfectly justified in breaking it and setting it at defiance. Crime was to be punished with the utmost severity—even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) would agree with that—so long as it was free from the garments of Irish Nationality; that was to say, so long as it was invisible. If they could only dress up crime, in the opinion of the Irish Nationalists or Land Leaguer it was to be altogether above the law of the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby spoke of the National League as a perfectly legal combination. How could any man, how could any Member of the House who had held the position of responsibility which had been held by the right hon. Gentleman, hold for a moment and have, he might say, the audacity to state before an intelligent audience, that this National League was a perfectly legal combination in face of the fact that an Act of Parliament passed by the British Parliament had declared it to be illegal. The National League had been proclaimed, and in many parts of Ireland it had been suppressed, and yet they found the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby defending the action of Mr. Dillon and other Members of the Party below the Gangway who, when they got down to parts of Ireland where the Land League had been suppressed and made speeches there, advocated their action and said that the combination was a perfectly legal one. Well, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, he must say, adopted methods in his attack upon the Government without parallel in the his- 1243 tory of Parliamentary warfare. What did the right hon. Gentleman say—what did he say the other day at Stockport? Why, he informed his audience that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland in imprisoning Mr. Dillon was doing it simply out of spite to revenge himself for the blow Mr. Dillon gave him at Ayr. [Cheers.] He could quite understand hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite cheering that. That was also their opinion; but he ventured to say that no statesman in this country had ever yet adopted so mean a method in trying to injure a political opponent. It was not his (Colonel Saunderson's) right hon. Friend who had caused the imprisonment of Mr. Dillon; it was caused by Mr. Dillon himself; it was owing to the fact that Mr. Dillon had chosen to state it as his deliberate intention to go on defying and breaking the laws which this Parliament had passed. He would say this for Mr. Dillon, that he was above-board in his statements. He had some respect for an enemy who openly stated what his intention was and carried it out, and he would say this for Mr. Dillon, that he had been very clear and distinct as to what his intentions were—namely, to defy the Government and to defy this Coercion Act which Parliament had passed. It was because Mr. Dillon had thus deliberately violated the law of the land, and not because the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had any spite against him, that Mr. Dillon now found himself in an Irish gaol. But these were not always the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby about Mr. Dillon and about the organization of which he was one of the chiefs. He (Colonel Saunderson) did not like to weary the House with quotations. [Cries of"Go on! "] He meant to go on, for it would be a pity to lose any of the refreshing eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman. He had taken some trouble with the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. He had arranged them in years—he kept them in bins, like port wine. He had them in various vintages which he occasionally, as circumstances required, decanted, and he had tried to discover, but had absolutely failed in discovering, 1244 how it was that Gentlemen who liked the vintage of 1881 and 1882 of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby could swallow and digest and smack their lips over the vintage of 1888. He would ask the House to listen for one moment to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby said about Mr. Dillon and his organization in this House in 1881. He said—We have heard the doctrine of the Land League explained by a man who has authority to explain it,that was to say, Mr. Dillon—and to-morrow every subject of the Queen will know that the doctrine so explained is a doctrine of treason and assassination. Tomorrow the civilized world will pronounce its judgment on this vile conspiracy.That was the vintage of 1881, and now he (Colonel Saunderson) would pour out a little of the 1888 vintage. The right hon. Gentleman said—To-morrow the Government were going to send to prison Mr. John Dillon, a man who had done more to defend the poor and the oppressed in Ireland than any other man.Here they had the right hon. Gentleman standing up before the House of Commons, a man, according to the best authority, in whose veins coursed the blood of the Plantagenets, deliberately adopting as the policy of his Party the doctrines of treason and assassination. He could understand any man changing his mind. It was done every day. They had a right to change their minds as often as they liked; but he maintained that they had no right whatever to expect others to follow them in that change unless they gave a logical account of how that change had taken place; and never yet had the right hon. Gentleman, either in the House or at any of the many meetings which he had addressed from time to time, stated he had altered in one iota the view he had entertained of the organization he now employs as one of the chief engines of his policy. He was glad that Mr. Dillon was the main subject of this debate, and that it was his imprisonment which had called forth this Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, because Mr. Dillon was the chief exponent, the principal embodiment, and the very life-blood of the National League. They could not disassociate Mr. Dillon's speech at Louth from the speeches which ho had, made at other 1245 places. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle said he thought that probably Mr. Dillon regretted, or might regret, the words he had recently used in Ireland. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he was mistaken in this belief. The reason he said so was, that he happened to hold in his hand three separate speeches delivered by Mr. Dillon, in which he iterated and re-iterated the same sentiments. He maintained that it was against men of this kind that the Crimes Act had been directed, and ought to be directed, if Ireland was to become a civilized country, and was not to be handed over to a criminal agitation which was sapping its very life-blood. What did Mr. Dillon say at the Rotunda last year, in speaking of the action he intended to employ? He said—If there is a man in Ireland base enough to back down and turn his back on the fight now coercion is passed, I pledge myself in the face of this meeting that I will denounce him from public platforms by name, and I pledge myself to the Government that, let that man be who he may, his life will not be a happy one in Ireland or across the seas. I know perfectly well what I mean, and you know what I mean.He should rather think they did. Making a man's life not a happy one in Ireland had already been exemplified by the case of Fitzmaurice, and now by the case of his daughter, and by hundreds of others who had been persecuted and tormented by the nefarious organization which it was the bounden duty and which he believed it would be the ultimate honour of this Government to destroy. But immediately afterwards, in the following month, Mr. Dillon went down to Limerick, and, showing how this subject dwelt in his mind, said—I say that the man who stands aside in such circumstances is a dastard and a coward, and he and his children after him will be remembered in the days that are near at hand when Ireland will be a free nation.What a happy country Ireland would be when she was a free nation, when a man, because he dared to follow his own wishes and opinions, was denominated as a dastard and a coward, and was held up to public execration and was hounded on to death and destruction. But he found that the same idea rankled in the mind of the hon. Gentleman, and in a speech which he made in Kildare on the 28th May last, it appeared that he held the same opinions. This system 1246 of intimidation had always been, and would always be, the backbone of the policy of the National League.Do we not know perfectly well?" said the hon. Member, "that we tried every means. Those who went before us tried good means and they tried bad means, a good many of them, and they did not succeed; and there never was the slightest bit of success until we hit upon the dodge of making it hot for the man who took his neighbour's land.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle need not therefore believe for a moment that the words that he had condemned were words that had sprung unbidden to the lips of the hon. Member for East Mayo. They were the words which accurately described now as they had described all along the only means by which hon. Members below the Gangway and the organization which they led had carried on their work in Ireland. Then the hon. Member for East Mayo went down to Louth. In one instance, which he should quote to the House, they would find that this principle of intimidation dogged the steps, or did dog the steps, of Mr. Dillon until he was put out of the way. This was a case that occurred on the estate of Lord Massereene. Within the last few days a tenant on the estate at Cullen, who had permitted the time for the redemption to expire, paid his rent and was restored to his holding, the sum of £12 being accepted to cover outlay in the action. Matthews's rent was paid by his son, James Matthews, vice-president of the local branch of the National League. On being questioned by the agent, he said his father had paid one year's rent into the Plan of Campaign. He was asked to whom he paid it, and he replied that he did not know, as his rent was paid through a window in a place in Cullen, and his father could not see to whom he paid it. On being interrogated as to whether he got a receipt, he said that he did, but there was no name to it. That was a Land League receipt. It merely said that the sum was subscribed to the Plan of Campaign. Matthews was accompanied by another tenant on the same estate, named Gallagher, who had been served with a civil bill process to appear for judgment at the Drogheda Quarter Sessions last Monday. Gallagher also paid his rent. The movements of these two men were watched, and they were summoned to appear before the local branch of the 1247 National League on Sunday, June 10. Gallagher denied and Matthews admitted the payment of the rent. The chairman then said "You are a second James Carey "—a man whose fate the House was no doubt well acquainted with. That was the way a man's life was made uncomfortable for him "even beyond the sea." Would this House, would this country, when they understood the real issue before them and the nature of this organization, condemn the Government because they endeavoured to secure for poor men like Gallagher and Matthews that they might live in Ireland without the danger of meeting with the same fate as James Carey? He did not believe the country would. But the hon. Member for East Mayo was not alone in his determination to hound to death, if possible, a man who might disobey the decrees of the organization. He saw the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) in his place, and that hon. Member had made a speech in which he spoke of the classes he meant to destroy in Ireland. On the 29th May the hon. Member said—It is now or never, now and for ever that we are called upon to make a stand for the liberties of our citizens and for the undying cause of Ireland. We will obey Rome to the death in religious matters, but we will not obey Rome in politics. We will stick to the Plan of Campaign until some more effectual plan makes its appearance; we will stick to Boycotting, and we will continue to regard every land-grabber and every exterminator as a public pest and a public enemy, more dangerous to society than a leper.That was to say, if any unfortunate Irishman happened to "back down," or to resist the policy of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, he was to be treated as a pest and a leper. Would the country venture to sanction such a policy as that? The more these things rang in the ears of the people of England the more they would find them rallying to the support of a Government whose object it was to render such things in Ireland impossible. There was recently a banquet at which were gentlemen who had earned the approval of their countrymen by breaking the law, and being, in consequence, imprisoned; and at this banquet the policy of the separatists was clearly defined. If he wanted to know what was the policy of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposi- 1248 tion Benches, he should not apply for information to them, but to those who dictated the policy. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) made a speech of his usual eloquence at the banquet. He said, speaking of the Separatist Party—They had won the extended franchise for Ireland, by the use of which they had attached to the Irish cause the Liberal Party. It was not, it appeared, because the Irish cause was just, but because the extended franchise had enabled the Irish Party to return 85 Members that the Liberal Party had adopted that cause.And then the hon. Gentleman went on to say—That they had secured for the tenants of Ireland that great change in the position of the main body of the Irish people by which they were converted from tenants at will into legal joint owners of the soil.The hon. Gentleman continued to say—Such a vast change had never before been achieved in the history of the world in so short a time, except by means of an armed revolution.And yet hon. Members would go about the country, and perhaps to the Isle of Thanet, and tell the electors that they were defending the cause of the oppressed tenants in Ireland, whom the right hon. Gentleman said had had gifts conferred upon them unparalleled in any country in the world. To adopt the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, of former years, the Government were not fighting against the people of Ireland, but they were fighting to deliver them from a tyrannical yoke. This was the task which they had taken in hand, and in which they believed they would ultimately succeed. At the banquet in question many statements were made; but there was one very signal omission, the health of Her Majesty the Queen was not drunk, and the toast of the evening was "Ireland a nation." In the many speeches which had been delivered by hon. Gentlemen opposite, they had heard no word of" Ireland a nation." He should like to hear right hon. Gentlemen opposite get up and state that "Ireland a nation" was the policy for which they were fighting. But" Ireland taking her place among the nations of the world, free from outside control," was the sentiment of the hon. Member for Cork a few years ago. That policy had been continuously carried on, and the 1249 words, if they meant anything, meant the disruption of the Empire. He could not feel a doubt for a moment that, though the Government might lose bye-elections on false issues, when the people of the country were brought face to face with the reality of the policy presented by the Opposition, they would not hestitate to decide in 1890, or whenever a General Election took place, that the policy of the Unionist Party was the one which they should adopt. It was his wish that that policy should succeed, because he trusted to the respect for the law which existed in this country. This ho believed to be the backbone of the country, because upon it were founded its greatness, its freedom, and its prosperity; and he had no doubt that when right hon. Gentlemen opposite confronted the people, they would find at the end of their path—which he and his hon. Friends believed to be a path of shame and dishonour—the condemnation of the British people.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. William O'Brien,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.