HC Deb 26 November 1888 vol 331 cc201-22
MR. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)

I wish, with the permission of the Chair, to call attention to a matter of Privilege. As I was leaving the House a moment ago, one of the attendants brought me a card from a person apparently in the Lobby, and when I wont out, a police constable from Ireland asked me to take a summons from him. I asked him if he had the audacity to attempt to serve a summons inside the precincts of the House, and the man said he did not think it would be out of order if I would take it from him, and he did not think he was inside the precincts of the House, being in the Lobby. I beg to move that Progress be reported, so that this grave breach of privilege can be considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress."—(Mr. Sheehy.)

MR. BBADLAITGH (Northampton)

I think, after the intimations we had from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, and from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, that at any rate some influence should be used so that the summonses against the seven Members of Parliament should not be heard during the time of the discussion of the Estimates, it is really too much that the service of this summons should have been attempted in this way, and I desire, in supporting the Motion to report Progress, to record my protest against what does seem a most shabby proceeding.

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

I thoroughly endorse what has been said by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bradlaugh). I do not in the least know who is to blame; whether it be the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, or whoever it may be. I say publicly, it is a scandal, it is a deliberate insult to the House of Commons, and especially after the promise made by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, it is a monstrous thing that Members of this House should have summonses served upon them within the very precincts of the House itself. I say, and I speak not only for myself but for other Conservative Members of the House who feel as strongly as I do, that it is the duty of Conservatives and Liberals alike to resent this gross outrage. I hope that unless some decided and satisfactory answer is given from the Front Bench, we will take such steps and support such resolutions in the House as will at once and for ever put an end to such proceedings.


I think my hon. Friend has spoken with a little unnecessary heat. As far as I am concerned, I never heard of the occurrence until this moment. When the hon. Member came in a moment ago and said that he had something to tell the Committee connected with an incident which had occurred in the Lobby, I confess I sat in my seat prepared to listen to one of those episodes which, unfortunately, on one or two occasions in the course of last Session, occurred between Members of the House. I had not the slightest idea that the hon. Member was served with a summons. I asked my right hon. Friend the Homo Secretary (Mr. Matthews) whether he knew anything about it, and he informed me he knew nothing about it. Therefore, I am afraid, as far as information is required from Members of this Bench, no information can be given, because no information is possessed.


I rise to Order, Mr. Chairman. I beg to ask you whether the question before the Committee is that you should report Progress?


I do not know whether we are strictly in Order in discussing this matter; but I understand that Progress was moved so that we might discuss it. Now, I have said that both my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and myself had no idea that anything of the kind was taking place. The hon. Gentleman stated, and I have no doubt stated correctly according to his belief, that the notice in question was served by a member of the Irish Constabulary.


He informed me that he was an Irish constable.


I am surprised at that. I had thought that in these cases the more ordinary practice was that any legal documents should be placed in the hands of the Metropolitan Police, and that when any Member was to be arrested the arrest was to be made by the Metropolitan Police, and not by the Irish Constabulary. I do not know how this incident occurred at all, and my right hon. Friend the Home (Secretary is also entirely ignorant in the matter. I believe I am right in saying that we have no control over this incident at all. I have not had time to inquire, and I should like some hon. Member more learned in criminal proceeding in Ireland than myself to explain to the House how far incidents of this kind are or are not under the control of the Executive with regard to the time at which they take place. I entirely concur with my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Banbury) that it is a grievance and an unhappy thing that such an incident should occur within the precincts of the House. In my opinion, it is a matter in which, if we can interfere, we ought to interfere. In my opinion, if there is any legal power on the part of the Government, or any Member of the Government, to see that such a thing shall not occur again, that power should be exercised. More than that the Committee will hardly expect me to say; more than that I cannot say. With regard to the particular incident that has led to this debate, I can only repeat that I am totally and absolutely ignorant of anything that has happened, except so far as the hon. Gentleman has informed us.


What I am informed is this:—The hon. Member for South Galway (Mr. Sheehy) was addressing the House upon matters deeply interesting to his constituents and other Irishmen, when there was sent into him in this House one of the ordinary cards of visitors seeking the presence of Members. The card was addressed—"David Sheehy, Esq., M.P. Jeremiah Sullivan, R.I.C., Limerick." Therefore, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary sent in a visitor's card to a Member of this House in order that he might serve upon that Member in the Lobby a note—[An hon. MEMBER: A summons.]—a summons. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has disavowed this proceeding as a scandal and an outrage; but I cannot understand how he can disavow his power of dealing with the matter. I know something of the position of the police—both the English police and the Irish police. Is it possible that there are to be men in London claiming to be policemen serving processes upon people for whom no one is responsible? I know perfectly well that Irish policemen have been, and probably are now, in London, but surely they are either under the authority of the English Secretary of State or under the authority of the Irish Secretary, and either or both of these authorities must be responsible for keeping the men in order and for their doing what they ought to do? The situation would otherwise be perfectly intolerable—that a man should assume the authority of a policeman, come and do what he pleases in this House, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews) and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland say that they know nothing about it—that they have no authority to deal with the matter.


I never said that.


The right hon. Gentleman spoke of it as extremely doubtful whether he or anyone else could interfere. I cannot understand that it is possible there should be a man exercising the authority of a constable at the door of this House, and that there should be any doubt as to who was responsible for his conduct. It is perfectly plain the Executive Government is responsible, and what we want to know is what instructions have been given and what instructions are to be given in this matter? I understand that there is considerable difficulty in discussing this matter at present. We are more or less out of Order in discussing this subject on the Motion to report Progress. Indeed, the proper course to pursue would be to report Progress, so that the Speaker might attend in order that a matter deeply affecting the dignity of this House, and I will say the character of the Executive Government, can be dealt with in a proper way. In order that the Government may give such assurances in a proper way to this House, as to how this matter should be dealt with, I support the Motion that Progress should be reported, and that the Speaker should resume the Chair.


Perhaps I did not make myself perfectly clear to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Committee; I absolutely disclaimed any sort of knowledge of this matter. I did not disclaim responsibility, nor did I claim responsibility. The Committee must be perfectly aware that it would be folly on my part, off hand, without having the slightest notice, and without having any power of consulting my legal advisers, to give the Committee an authoritative estimate of the precise responsibility in this matter which rests on the Executive Government. It is a very delicate matter, on which I should certainly not like to give an opinion off hand, or without careful consultation. I do, however, emphatically give this pledge to the Committee, that if and in so far as the Executive Government for Ireland may be shown to be responsible, and if it does in any way, directly or indirectly, rest with me, I shall take care that an incident of this kind does not occur again.

MR. ILLINGWOETH (Bradford, W.)

I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) has pointed out the proper way in which this question should be treated. It is quite evident that Castle rule is coming very near Home It was predicted long ago that if we abandoned Constitutional principles and Constitutional practice in Ireland, we should soon have a taste of it on this side of the water. What has happened? A deliberate trap has been laid in order to seduce a Member from his place and his duty in this House, to get him within the reach of an Irish constable. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, at the outset, disclaimed that he had any knowledge of this proceeding. Of course, we admit that he had no knowledge of the matter, but the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has acted all the way through these melancholy Irish proceedings was the strongest possible assurance that as he acted so would his minions act. The Irish Constabulary have been emboldened to take a step that no English constable would have ventured to take, and the sooner Progress is reported and the Speaker returns and this grave insult to the House is dealt with, the better it will be for the British people and the British House of Commons.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

I rise for the purpose of saying that we, on this Bench, support the proposal that the Speaker should be called in and take the Chair in order that we may afterwards bring forward and support proposals for appointing a Committee to inquire into the circumstances of the case.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TERA-SURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

On behalf of the Government, I at once assent to the Motion to report Progress. We are willing that Progress should be reported on the understanding that a Motion will be made to appoint a Committee. I will move a motion myself that a Committee be appointed forthwith to inquire into all the circumstances of the case, and to report to the House.

Question put, and agreed to.

House resumed.


Mr. Speaker, an incident has occurred which has occasioned great regret to the House and the Government, to which I desire to call your attention. An hon. Member has been served—or rather has received a message from a person who has intimated a desire to serve him with a summons in the Lobby of this House. The Government think it is desirable that a Committee should be forthwith appointed in order to inquire into the circumstances in which this attempt to serve a summons was made within the precincts of the House, and should forthwith report to the House. The terms of the Reference which I should venture to suggest are as follows:—"That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the service—"

Several hon. MEMBERES

It was not served.


"The alleged attempted service—"


The word "alleged" is an insult.


"The attempted service of a summons upon Mr. Sheehy, Member for South Galway, made in the outer Lobby of this House;" and the names I would suggest for this Committee are—Sir William Harcourt, Mr. John Morley, Sir Charles Russell, Mr. Parnell, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Solicitor General, the Solicitor General for Ireland, and Sir Matthew White Ridley.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I wish to point out that there is a danger of narrowing the inquiry. The outrage did not consist alone in attempting to serve a summons, but also in the fact that an Irish constable had the audacity to send in a visitor's card to a Member of this House, and decoy him out into the Lobby, with the deliberate intention of serving him with a summons; and what we contend is that it departs very little in its nature from an attempt on the part of the constable to serve the summons actually in the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the alleged—"

MR. T. M. HEALT (Longford, N.)

The word "alleged" is an insult.


said, the word ought to have been struck out of the Motion.

Word omitted.

Motion made, and Question proposed) That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the attempted service (together with the attendant circumstances) of a summons upon Mr. Sheehy, Member for South Galway, made in the Outer Lobby of the House."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)


How soon is it intended that this Committee should sit? It is necessary that instant and unequivocal action should be taken, because the government of Ireland is now conducted by persons who delight in heaping personal indignities upon the Representatives of the people. It is not alone the hon. Member for South Galway who is concerned. I wish to point out that summonses are also pending against six other Members of this House, and I want to know what action this House is about to take this night and now to satisfy Mr. Jeremiah Sullivan and his 11,000 colleagues in the police force in Ireland that he has committed a breach of the Privileges of this House. I would remind the House that for some time past the policy pursued towards the Irish. Members has been a policy of aggression. There was a time not long ago, when our conduct was impeached, when we were allowed at least to return to Ireland before being summoned. There was a time, a little later on, when we were allowed to go outside the precincts of the House before we were molested. But now it appears it is not enough that Irish Members who, by reason of their position as Irish Members, are deliberately selected and singled out for insult by every creature of the Irish Government—it is not enough that we should pass to and from our duties through groups and rings of pimps and spies, but that, in the actual moment of the discharge of our duties in this House to the people who sent us here, we must be disturbed, molested, and insulted by agents and creatures of the Government. I say the case is one that admits of no delay. If the Committee is to sit directly, I am satisfied, but without any delay I suggest that Constable Jeremiah Sullivan should be brought to the Bar and admonished.


The intention of the Government undoubtedly is that the Committee should sit forthwith. We are as fully sensible as any hon. Member can be that the question should be dealt with without any delay whatever; it is our hope that the Committee will sit to-morrow. [Irish MEMBERS: To-morrow! Why not to-night? Now!] I wish to point out that the facts of the case have to be carefully examined, for, however strong the indignation of hon. Members may be, it is most desirable we should proceed with care and that full examination of the facts which the circumstances seem to require. As to sitting to-night, that would be a course, I think, absolutely unprecedented. [Mr. DILLON: So is the offence.] I do not desire to place any obstacle whatever in the way, but I think that, consistently with the regulations of the House, the whole matter should be examined carefully, judicially, exhaustively, and, at the same time, immediately.


Will the constable be detained?


Of course the constable will be before the Committee.


There is another question I should like to ask. The Chief Secretary has six or seven other Irish Members waiting to be arrested, and I want to know whether constables are now waiting about the Lobby for them or not? I want to know whether orders have or have not been given now, at this moment—without waiting for to-morrow—to seize these men in the Lobby, or serve summonses upon them if there is opportunity, I would ask whether those orders have been given, and, if so, by whom they have been given. We should have an answer to that question—an assurance from the Irish Secretary that he has given orders that the Irish constabulary, who are under his control, shall not to-night act against the other six Members against whom proceedings are to be taken. I also venture to suggest an alteration of the Reference to the Committee. I suggest that inquiry should be made into the circumstances attending the attempt.


Yes, certainly.

MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

It is most desirable that this question, which is one of extreme gravity, should be approached in as judicial a manner as possible. At the same time there are circumstances that possibly ought to be inquired into without the slightest delay. There is certainly a precedent for a Committee sitting forthwith. We know it has only formal work to do of no great importance, but the Committee which is appointed to settle the address in answer to the gracious Speech from the Throne does retire immediately and reports before the sitting is over. What I would suggest as worthy of consideration is this—that the Committee which is appointed should retire forthwith, and should probably have before them the hon. Member for South Galway and the police constable, and then, after hearing the statements on both sides, it would probably be desirable they should adjourn further proceedings and consider the nature of what has been done, and what steps are proper to be taken in this House to-morrow, or at some subsequent time. But it is desirable to have the facts at once ascertained, so far as the hon. Member and the constable are concerned, and have those persons before them. For that purpose it is desirable the Committee should immediately withdraw, and then the House would probably proceed with ordinary Business, leaving the matter to be brought forward, after the facts are ascertained, in that judicial temper which is becoming in a matter of great gravity.


, who was received with cries of "Oh!" said, We are not in Ireland, and are not altogether under Castle rule yet. It would, therefore, not ill become hon. Members opposite if they did not attempt to boycott an individual Member, or to interfere indecently with the freedom of debate. I wish to remind the First Lord of the Treasury that he has given no assurance on the point put by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). Has the Chief Secretary instanter taken steps to prevent the repetition of this outrage? Will the right hon. Gentleman confine these proceedings to Ireland? In bygone days Irishmen had some security on this side of the water, and I want English Members to insist that there should be in England something like security from Irish methods of procedure. This is not only an insult to an individual Member, it is an insult to the dignity of this House; and I am glad the hon. Member has not lost a moment in bringing the matter before the House.


The hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby have asked me to give some assurance that this scene shall not be repeated, and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has dilated at length on the want of security which now exists, as he alleges, with regard to Irish Members—a want of security which did not exist a few years ago. I have already told the House—this whole scene has taken place within the last ten minutes—that I have not been able to inquire into the exact relation of the Executive Government to whoever administers the law in this matter. But I cannot conceive anything which would more tend exactly to produce that want of security of which the hon. Member complains than, without consideration of the proper limits of Executive authority, that I should state that such and such a thing should not occur again. I absolutely decline, without consideration and without consulting those who are competent to give me advice, to make any statement in this House which should lay down categorically what are or are not my powers in this matter; for if I were to overstretch the limits of my powers, or were to exercise powers which it should turn out I do not possess, then, indeed, there would be that interference with private liberty of which hon. Members complain.

SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

I think that this affair has a slightly broader aspect. This police constable appears to have done a very crude and very brutal act, which shocks the House, and will shock everyone who reads about it. But I conceive that that is not the important question which underlies it. The important question which underlies it is whether Members of this House shall be able to go about their Parliamentary work with the security that they will not be arrested in a manner equally dangerous to their independence as Members and outrageous to the dignity of this House. Now, I cannot see any difference whatever with regard to either of those two considerations between the actual arrest of a Member within the precincts of the House and his arrest by men waiting outside the House for him the moment he leaves the doors. I think that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, or some Member of the Government, ought to reply to the appeal made from this side and from behind the Front Opposition Bench in a more full manner than the Chief Secretary for Ireland has hitherto done. This House ought not to delay this question until we have taken advantage of this great abuse of authority on the part of a subordinate—an abuse of authority, I am convinced, that was suggested to his mind by the fact that virtually the same thing was done in the earlier part of the present year, when two hon. Members were arrested at the doors of the House—this House, I say, ought not to leave this question until we have got a promise, which, I firmly believe, men on the Treasury Bench—perhaps most men on that Bench—would be only too glad to hear, that this odious question of the arrest of Members going to and from their Parliamentary duties should be put at rest for once and for ever by a declaration from the Government of this country that it ought not to occur and shall not occur again.

MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

It seems to me that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has given the House every reasonable assurance in this matter. ["Oh, oh I" and Cheers.] What do I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) asks the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to do? I understand the right hon. Gentleman to ask the Government to give an undertaking that they—the Executive Government—will step in and interfere with the action of the Courts of Law. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has assured the House that he would carefully inquire as to what his responsibilities are in this matter, and what action it is in the power of the Government to take to prevent a repetition of what we all admit to be a public scandal. What more, I venture to think, can Her Majesty's Government he asked to do? If we are to set up the authority of Parliament as against the authority of the Courts of Law, the House does not require to be reminded we should be threshing out again the old question "Stockdale v. Hansard," and raising again any number of constitutional points. I hope the Government will not do any more than support the reference of this matter to a Select Committee.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

The argument of the right hon. Gentleman would be perfectly sound but for the fact that a summons cannot be taken out except on the initiative of the Attorney General for Ireland and of the Executive Government. The House had nothing to do with a Court of Law, but with the action of the Attorney General.


I understand this action was taken under the authority of a Court of Law.


I am surprised at the ignorance of the right hon. Gentleman, whose career in Ireland should have left historic memories. The right hon. Gentleman, who once held the Office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, is so ignorant of this proceeding as not to know that the act in question is an Executive act, and had nothing to do with the Courts of Law, unless, indeed, the Chief Secretary for Ireland meant us to understand that an act of the Executive and an act of a Court of Law is one and the same thing. I wish to call the attention of the House to another occurrence which has taken place this evening. The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Limerick (Mr. Finucane) was that evening, when about to enter Palace Yard, served with a summons—[An hon. MEMBER: Six summonses]—by a constable acting under the authority of the Attorney General for Ireland. We might have allowed this proceeding to pass if it had been a novel occurrence; but it is a repetition of the scandalous proceedings which took place some time ago. Irish Members, when coming down to the House, or when leaving it, were, some months ago, actually arrested. I must say that the Chief Secretary is finding that this kind of thing can go a little too far, and the sooner he gives his subordinates instructions not to outrage the dignity and privileges of this House the better it will be for him.


was astounded when he heard it stated that the proceedings of which they complained were carried out under the authority of a Court of Law. The matter had nothing whatever to do with a Court of Law; it was an Executive proceeding with which they were well acquainted in Ireland. It was not at all an uncommon thing for the police in Ireland to hold in their hands warrants for the arrest of Irish Members for days together, and not to execute them until they were directed to do so by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. Notwithstanding this, the right hon. Gentleman now stated that he did not know whether he could control the action of the police constable in this matter or not. It was a thing which he did every day in Ireland, and if it was now stated that the matter had passed out of his hands and into the hands of the Home Secretary, he would like to point out that the right hon. Gentleman had the Home Secretary sitting next to him to consult. He thought that right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary ought, before the debate closed and before the Committee retired, to state to the House, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow, that the Irish Members should not be insulted by the service of summonses or by arrest. It was a monstrous outrage on the proceedings of that House and on the liberty of its Members that hon. Gentlemen when leaving or entering the House should be arrested by policemen, when it was a matter of notoriety that there could be but one object in view—namely, to inflict insult on Irish Members. It was perfectly easy to serve these summonses or to arrest Members when they were not entering upon or leaving their duties. But they expected, and received, nothing else but insult from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland on every occasion. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] It was a part of his policy that he should carry that insult to the very doors of the House of Commons. He would be a wiser statesman if he directed that such proceedings as these should take place when Irish Members were so far removed from the House that there would be no fear of that sense of dignity which induced the House to protect its Members being outraged. The right hon. Gentleman had done a foolish act for his Government, but he was not sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had been led to bring home to the minds of Englishmen in this striking way so brilliant an illustration of the methods and courses of government which he pursued in Ireland.

MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)

said, it was possible that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was technically right when he said that he had no power to interfere, but the Attorney General for Ireland could do anything he liked in this matter, and the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Mr. Madden), who was sitting next to the Chief Secretary on the Treasury Bench, was his Parliamentary mouthpiece. Would the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Mr. Madden) give to the House that assurance which had been asked of the Chief Secretary? Another point was this. His hon. Friend (Mr. Sheehy) might be arrested on leaving the precincts of the House that night. Being arrested, they might be told that he could not appear before the Select Committee. This had been done on a former occasion. Would the Government give an assurance that his hon. Friend would not be arrested?

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland made one splendid point in the course of this debate when he said he was not sure how this thing could have occurred, because in all previous arrests and services of summonses they had been effected by the Metropolitan Police. What were they coming to, then, when a standing Army which this country kept in Ireland, and which by Statute could only act in Ireland, and which could only use their revolvers, guns, and rifles there, had taken upon itself the seizin of English soil? If these officers attacked an Irish Member in England, what was there to prevent any Englishman from being served in the same way? The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had stated that he would neither acknowledge responsibility nor deny responsibility for this act, and added that he had not had time to consult his law advisers. He (Mr. T. M. Healy) thought that every Member and every Englishman was acquainted with the privileges of that House, and knew that every man in that Palace of the Queen was in the enjoyment of the Queen's peace. Every hon. Member and every Executive Member, he thought, knew that there was a right of privilege and sanctuary in that Royal Palace. It was upon that ground, and that ground alone, that this act was constituted an insult. It was upon Constitutional grounds that this was an insult to the Sovereign. It had been so regarded in times past, and yet the right hon. Gentleman now said that he did not know whether the constable was acting upon his instructions or not. Every Member was supposed to be acquainted with the doctrines and privileges upon which the whole freedom of debate in that House rested; but the right hon. Gentleman, instead of vindicating the rights of Members—because if Irish Members were attacked the turn of English Members might come next—had stated that he would consider whether this Irish policeman had his instructions before he censured him. That was not the ground to take up in that House. He rejoiced with the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) that that policeman had invaded their privileges in that way, because it showed how different was the administration on the part of those who carried out the law in England and in Ireland. Here they had a vulgar Irish policeman, coming from his Irish bog, and so little respect had he for their Parliament that he outraged that House. The poorest English constable in the New Cut had learnt something of the privileges of the House of Commons, and had imbibed something of the spirit of the Constitution; and it was only because the Irish Government preferred to use instruments of that kind, and assured them that whether they shot down people at Mitchelstown, or bayonotted them as they did at Youghal and Midleton, or committed any other act of violence they would be backed up, that an incident like the present one had occurred. Jeremiah Sullivan had earned for himself not only an historical niche, but the high approval of the Irish Secretary. Lord Rosebery had said of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that it was not a very noble thing when they had a prisoner behind bars to poke at and torture him. That policeman had succeeded in getting inside the bars to poke at and worry his victim; and no doubt his conduct met with the right hon. Gentleman's approval. They looked to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith) to assert the rights and privileges of its Members. They looked to him also, as a courteous opponent, to see that a true view would be taken of circumstances affecting the rights of Members; but, above all, they held him to his promises. Those promises might not have been expressed, but they were certainly implied. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was absent at the time, or perhaps they would not have been given. But the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House said on Friday that, as far as the intended arrests of Irish Members were concerned, he was not only entirely ignorant of them, but was most anxious that no infringement should be committed which would interfere with the services of hon. Members in Parliament in regard to Irish Business. One drop of oil poured on the troubled waters would do more to smooth the course of Business than all the bitterness of the Chief Secretary. The present affair might have been settled in five minutes if the right hon. Gentleman had only said—"Whoever committed this act, we disapprove it. The rights of all Members, whether English, Irish, Scotch, or Welsh, are equally dear to us; we deplore and condemn this act. Every Member in this Royal Palace had a right of sanctuary; we shall take steps to vindicate that right, to punish those who violate it, and to defend it to the utmost of our power." The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, however, with that lordly sneer which had done so much for the pacification of Ireland, said he really thought that what they were going to hear about was one of those rencontres in the Lobby which they were so accustomed to. Was not that observation unnecessary? And whatever was uunecessary was unstatesmanlike. It would have been far better if they had seen the right hon. Gentleman even erring on the side of condemnation of the act of a policeman than attempting to hold the balance in the fine way he did for the sake of his official position. A spirit of moderation and mutuality in the relations between Member and Member would do far more in conducting the Business of that House and also in the government of Ireland than the spirit of hatred, contempt, and malevolence which the right hon. Gentleman had learnt to exhibit on every occasion.


I hope I may interfere in the interests of the House, and with the fullest desire to preserve the privileges of Members of the House. I trust that the House will not in any way prejudge this case, but will allow the proposed Committee to inquire most fully into the circumstances, and do what, in their wisdom, they may think fit to guard the privileges of every Member of this House. The question immediately before the House is the appointment of a Select Committee and the terms of the reference to that Committee.


I have risen to enter my protest against the appeals which I have heard made to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Government for an assurance against further indignities in the precincts of this House. The House is able to take care of itself. If the House neglects to take care of itself, the people electing the House can pass judgment upon it. I think it will be understood outside now the fashion in which the Irish question is aggravated by such proceedings as we have had tonight. I was one of those who felt the kindly way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith) expressed his opinion that nothing ought to interfere with hon. Members doing their duty while the Estimates were under discussion, and I cannot believe that the responsible Law Officer for Ireland can be utterly ignorant of what is now being done in breach of that intimation; an intimation which was expressed in so gentlemanly a fashion, and with the consideration to what is due to hon. Members—however much he might differ from them, having regard not to any lawyer's trick, but to the traditions of the House—which ought to guide one in the right hon. Gentleman's position. It cannot be believed, it will not be believed, outside, that an officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary can come over here with processes to serve except with the full knowledge and under the direction of his superiors. There are other places where a judgment may soon be given stronger than any we may express, by the people of London, which has always been famous for its protection of the liberties of this House. I have only risen to ask hon. Members on my side of the House to make no other appeal. I can understand the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division (Sir George Trevelyan)—an appeal made by a gentleman to gentlemen. That appeal has not been answered, and any further appeal would show a lack of dignity on our part.


It is only by the leave of the House that I can say another word; but I have made inquiries how an Irish policeman and not an English one came to be concerned in this proceeding; and a great deal has been made of that point. The hon. and learned Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) dwelt upon it, and the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Brad-laugh) also referred to it. Now, I find that the reason was this. Unfortunately, last year it was necessary to proceed against hon. Members of this House. The proceeding was by way of warrant—namely, to arrest. It was at their request and the earnest request of the House that proceeding by warrant was given up that involves arrest, and proceeding by summons was substituted for it. Under proceeding by warrant there is a statutory method by which the warrant is served. It is served by a Metropolitan policeman. If you substitute the method by summons there is no statutory means.


Then why did you arrest the two Redmonds by warrant?


I understand that a summons cannot be served by the Metropolitan police, and it has to be done by the Irish police. Therefore this thing which has been made a matter of complaint by the hon. and learned Member for North Longford is really the direct consequence of a concession which we made, and gladly made, to the feelings of hon. Members. Perhaps the House will allow me, by way of personal explanation, to repudiate entirely certain observations which fell from the hon. Member for North Longford as to my conduct in this debate, although the hon. and learned Member could not have been present when I made my speech.


I have not left the House to-night since Questions.


Then either I am very deficient in powers of expression or he is very deficient in powers of understanding, for I appeal to every hon. Member who heard me whether I did not state that this subject had burst upon me like a thunderclap in a clear sky; and, in the first place, I uttered, and uttered as strongly as it is given me to do, my profound regret that an incident of this kind had happened; and I followed that up by a pledge as clear, as specific, and as categorical as could be made, that if the direction of such an affair does rest with the Executive, no such incident will be repeated. Many hon. Members were present when I spoke, and they will bear me out that I have not exaggerated in the least. I have not in the course of the debate moved from my original position. My words were full and complete, and such as I have just described them to the House.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

Heaven preserve us from the concessions of the right hon. Gentleman, for if this goes on from concession to concession, we shall find ourselves with our heads cut off by-and-bye. Why this debate has lasted is because we could not get from the right hon. Gentleman a clear and specific assurance, not that this would not happen to-morrow or the day after to-morrow—because we will take care of that ourselves—but that similar proceedings should not happen this evening before the Committee was able to report. Well, there is an excuse for the Government. It is a dual Government. We know generally the Government cannot take any resolution without asking the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). Here sits the Great Llama. I have had my eye on him. He has remained in the House. He has not gone out to consult the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury behind the Speaker's chair. No, Sir; he has been here, and that is why we have been kept more than an hour and a-half, because the Government were not able to ask his permission even to give this simple pledge. Let this be another instance of the evils of the dual Government—not a public, open Government, but a secret Government, which at present exists with regard to Ireland and this country.

Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Committee do consist of the following Members:—Mr. Secretary Matthews, Mr. Childers, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. John Morley, The Solicitor General, Sir Charles Russell, The Solicitor General for Ireland, Mr. Parnell, and Sir Matthew White Ridley.

Question put, and agreed to.


I would venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the strength and character and authority of the Committee would be much greater if there were two more Irish Members upon it. I beg to move that Mr. T. M. Healy and Mr. Dillon be added to the Committee.


There is no indisposition on the part of the Government to accept the addition of those hon. Gentlemen if they are desirous of serving; but then it will be necessary also to strengthen the Committee by the addition of two other names.


The right hon Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury has mistaken altogether the object of the Motion of my right hon. Friend (Mr. John Morley). It is to strengthen the Committee by a larger proportion of Irish Members. I hope this matter is not going to be regarded as one of a sectional or Party vote. It is very desirable it should not be. It appears to me that what is wanted is that the Irish Members should feel that they are having fair play—if possible, something more than fair play—in the consideration of this matter. We ought not to be too nice as to whether their representation on the Committee is exactly in proportion to their numbers in the House.


I think it will be very desirable to have Mr. Healy on the Committee. I have already stated on a previous occasion in this House, on a very much greater issue, that I would select, or readily allow to be selected, a Committee wholly composed of English Members, provided only that the keenest partizans of the House are excluded, and on the present occasion I am perfectly content with the Committee as it stands, and I believe it will do us justice. My suggestion, however, is that it will be desirable to have an Irish barrister acquainted with the administration of the law in Ireland added to the Committee, and from that point of view I think it desirable to have Mr. T. M. Healy appointed on the Committee.

Question proposed, "That Mr. T. M Healy be a Member of the Committee.';

Question put, and agreed to.


Then as the hon. and learned Member for North Longford is to be added to the Committee, I will propose that Mr. Elton be also added to the Committee. [Cries of "Hanbury!" Well, if it is wished, and as it is desirable that we should arrive at a unanimous conclusion, I have no objection to withdraw the name of Mr. Elton, and substitute that of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury).

Question proposed, "That Mr. Hanbury be a Member of the Committee."

Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records; that five be a quorum; to withdraw immediately.

Question put, and agreed to.

The following is the Entry in the Votes:—

Complaint being made to the Committee by Mr. Sheehy, Member for South Galway, that he had been served with a Summons in the Outer Lobby, the Chairman was ordered to report Progress.