Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £889,371, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1890, for the expenses of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
§ * MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
I think the Irish Members are entitled to complain 557 that the Government should have introduced so important a Vote at so late a period of the Session. It is an innovation of the Constitutional system, and of late years it has tended to become more and more the practice of the Irish Executive, and of those connected with the administration of Irish affairs. More than one half of the financial year has now been allowed to lapse, and I presume I am right in concluding that more than one half of the money asked for in the vote has been expended. We are asked to criticise the administration of affairs for which the money is required at a time of the Session when the energies of hon. Members are supposed to be more or less dissipated. It may have been possible on other occasions for the Chief Secretary to tell us that the delay has occurred in order to consult the convenience of the Irish Members; but that has certainly not been the case this Session, because there has been a strong wish that the Irish Votes should be taken at an early period, in accordance with Constitutional practice and the usage of this House, so that the Estimates might be criticised in the way they deserve to be criticised. In regard to the present Vote, the first thing that will strike those hon. Members who are interested in economy is the continuous increase of the sum of money asked for under this head. I find that in 1871 the Constabulary Vote, including that for the Dublin Metropolitan Police, came to a total of £1,016,000, and this year we are asked to vote the enormous sum of £1,587,995, being an increase of 40 per cent. These are startling figures, which ought to make the Committee reflect on the vice of a system which necessitates an increase so enormous and lamentable. In 1875 the Vote rose to £1,208,000; in 1881 to £1,327,000; in 1885, £1,525,000; and in the present year it has practically reached £1,600,000. As a matter of fact, the amount per head of the population of Ireland has very nearly doubled in 17 years. In 1871 it was 3s. 9d. per head, and it is now 6s. 8d. That significant fact is in itself an eloquent commentary on the whole system under which it becomes necessary that so large a sum of money should be raised under this Vote. Comparing these figures with the cost of the police in Great Britain, it will be found 558 that in Sunderland it is 1s. 5d. per head; Leicester, 1s. 9¼d.; Dundee, 1s. 11d.; Bradford, 2s. 1d.; Leeds, 2s. 3d., and Birmingham, 2s. 4d. The average cost of the police in the Dublin Metropolitan District is 8s. per head, or more than four times as much as that of principal centres of population in England. These facts are startling in their significance, and ought to invite the serious consideration of every Member of this House who is interested in keeping down the expenditure of the country. But this expenditure, enormous as it is, would not be objected to if it were productive of good to the people in whose behalf it is expended, but not alone is the system bad, but the administration of the system is as bad as it can possibly be. Indeed, that is the reason why the Vote increases so rapidly. The chief duties of a well-organised Constabulary Force are the protection of life and property and the preservation of order. But we maintain that the Irish police are largely employed in propping up the property of a small fraction of the population to the destruction of that of the toiling hundreds of thousands, who form the real buttresses of the prosperity of Ireland. We further complain that the bulk of the money, instead of being expended in the preservation of order in Ireland, is expended in a manner that is provocative of the greatest disorder. The cases which I am about to bring before the Committee I have taken at random, but they go far to proving beyond a doubt that the manner in which the Irish police force is at present administered does not tend to good Government or to the tranquillity of the country. We are informed by the newspapers that not long ago in the County of Tipperary a policeman was brought before County Court Judge Anderson, charged with a wanton assault. It appears that the prosecutor went to the railway station to meet a friend, and seeing that Dr. Tanner was in the train he had the temerity to cry out "Three cheers for the hon. and gallant Member for Mid Cork," whereupon the police-constable James Rippon struck him on the head with his truncheon. The jury found for the prosecutor, with £5 damages and costs. In this case the prosecutor was able to bring the case before a jury and recover damages because he could identify his 559 aggressor, and there would be hundreds of similar cases brought before juries if it were not part of the tactics of the Chief Secretary to extend the protection of the Executive to the police in matters of this kind where savage assaults are committed by the police upon an unoffending people. Every application to obtain the name of the policeman by whom an assault has been committed is refused. If the application is made in this House it is met with equivocation and prevarication, and it is impossible to obtain the name of the constable who, as a general rule, has been drafted from some distant place. That is the reason why we have been able to bring comparatively few cases before the Civil Tribunals to expose the proceedings of the constabulary in the way they deserve. I will tell the House as briefly as possible what occurred on the occasion of the brutal assault by the police on my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan (Mr. Patrick O'Brien). The hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. William O'Brien) was returning from a journey, and the hon. Member for North Monaghan went to the railway platform with some friends and some ladies to meet him. There were comparatively few persons on the platform, because the fact of the return of the hon. Member for North-East Cork had been purposely concealed in order to preclude the possibility of an attack upon the people. The police on the platform placed the hon. Member for North-East Cork under arrest. Mr. O'Brien asked for the production of the warrant, and while the warrant was being produced some enthusiastic gentleman in the rear of the crowd cried out "Three cheers for William O'Brien." An order was immediately given to the police to "Draw batons," which caused them to commit a furious assault upon the bystanders with truncheons and clubbed rifles, not only upon the people assembled on the platform, but on the passengers. Various persons present, including many clergymen, affirmed that the hon. Member for North Monaghan was beaten with truncheons on the back and head and knocked to the ground, and struck while on the ground by some policemen with their clubbed rifles. He tried to rise, with blood pouring from two or three wounds, but was knocked senseless on the pavement, when some 560 police bore him off in a cab to a doctor. I have evidence, and I can substantiate it on oath, that the attack on my hon. Friend was premeditated, that before the train arrived he was pointed out by two or three constables, as was also the gentlemen who accompanied him, and the moment the train arrived the assault was made. The reason is believed to be that the hon. Member had been successful that day in holding a series of meetings in defiance of an illegal proclamation which had been issued suppressing meetings near Cork. We asked in this House for an explanation of the assault, and we received two—one by the Chief Secretary, and the other by the Solicitor General for Ireland. The latter dismissed the suggestion that there had been an attempted rescue of the hon. Member for North-East Cork as an utterly absurd and baseless fiction of the right hon. Gentleman's creation, or of that of his subordinates in Ireland, while the Chief Secretary, not knowing what had been said, deliberately suggested, with the airy nonchalance which we all admire, but which is hardly consistent with the grave duties he has to discharge, an attempted rescue as the cause of the disturbance. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give a fair, straightforward, and honourable answer to this question. Will he assist us by giving the name of the head constable who gave the order to draw batons, the result of which was the wanton assault upon my hon. Friend which I have described. The right hon. Gentleman has already said that the Inspector gave no order, but that the head constable said, "Draw batons." I am not very well versed in the regulations of the Constabulary, and I should like to know whether an order to draw batons is sufficient to justify a brutal attack of this kind? Let us know who gave the order, and we will test once for all before an impartial tribunal the responsibility of the action of the police on this occasion. The nature of the attack can be proved by the results which followed. 14 or 15 persons were taken to the infirmary more or less injured, and the indiscriminate nature of the assault may be seen from the fact that a number of the passengers who were injured were gentlemen opposed to the Nationalist Party, among them being a 561 son of Sir John Arnott, of Cork, who was returning from a fishing excursion, and the Mayor's sergeant, who went down to the station to meet his wife on her return from a trip into the country. While the hon. Member for North East Cork was under arrest the train arrived at Charleville, at 12 o'clock at night. A small crowd of persons were on the platform to meet friends returning from Cork, and when it was found that Mr. O'Brien was in the train, some cheers were raised and an attempt was made to shake hands with him. As the train was in motion, a shot was fired by District Inspector Concannon, and two other shots were fired by constables. Had any one been killed by those shots there can be no doubt that it would have been wanton and unprovoked murder on the part of the police. District Inspector Concannon's shot took effect in the thigh of a young man who was sitting on a wall at some distance from the train, and bad it proved fatal all the sophistry of the Chief Secretary would be insufficient to clear the police from the dreadful charge of deliberate murder. In reference to this matter the Chief Secretary appears to have discovered for himself, or to have adopted the most extraordinary theory, that shots were fired by the crowd upon the police. In the first place, the police were in an ordinary train returning from Cork, and there were very few people assembled at the Charleville Station, as I can prove if the right hon. Gentleman will afford me the chance of an inquiry. There were none of the local police on the platform, which is hardly consistent with the fact that a criminal so notorious and so dreaded as my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork was known to be in the train. In the second place, the railway station of which I speak is 40 miles distant from Cork. It was a Sunday, and there was no possibility of communicating with the town of Charleville after 10 o'clock in the morning. The crowd who were awaiting the return of their friends beard that the hon. Member for North-East Cork was in the train; they cheered him, and attempted to shake hands with him, and thereupon the constables, headed by their District Inspector, fired three revolver shots. Such grave circumstances demand some more satisfactory explanation from the right hon. Gentleman than that he has yet 562 given. Passing from this matter I come to the question of the employment of the Constabulary at evictions in Ireland. I do not believe there can be two opinions in the House that the real cause, or at any rate one of the principal causes, of the enormous and continuous increase in the Constabulary Vote is the manner in which the police are placed at the disposal of every landlord and County Sheriff who requires them. I do not contend that the Constabulary cannot be called upon or cannot be employed by the Executive in the enforcement of law, and the carrying out of evictions; but I maintain it is an absolute misuse of an expensive force of this kind to place them solely at the beck and call of one particular set of creditors in Ireland. It is a matter of some difficulty for the ordinary creditor to get the Sheriff to move at all; but these extraordinary, these unjust debts, take the first place in the estimation of the Executive, because the landlords are their friends, and because in collecting rents they are carrying out the policy which recommends itself to individual members of the Executive. Why, in the name of common sense, should a body of able-bodied constables be placed at the disposal of any body of creditors in a different manner to that in which they are placed at the disposal of ordinary creditors? Some of the evictions in Ireland are carried out, if not under the immediate presence, at any rate under the patronage of the right hon. Gentleman. It is, no doubt, an instructive lesson in law and order to see the Constabulary sitting down near the homes of the wretched people being evicted drinking champagne with the Private Secretary and Colleague of the Chief Secretary. What lesson can the people draw from that? Does it tend to give them any belief in the impartiality of the Irish Government? With regard to the actual presence of police at these evictions, I want to ask the attention of the Committee to one or two instances as showing a close connection between the landlord, the heads of the Irish Executive, and the principal officers of the Irish Constabulary. The Luggacurran evictions were carried out under the immediate patronage of the right hon. Gentleman. There we had the landlords' figures as to acreage, rent, valuation, and arrears, in 563 the hands of whom? In the hands of the private secretary of the Divisional Magistrate in charge of the police, the private secretary himself being an officer in the Constabulary. It seems an extraordinary thing that when reporters came down they should, instead of proceeding to the tenant's or the landlord's agents for information, proceed to the private secretary of the Divisional Magistrate, who had obtained his information in the landlord's office. Is that part of the business of the Executive of the country? What business had the private secretary there at all? When he was giving the figures to the reporters around him he used a formula which is very instructive. He said, the tenant need not be evicted if he paid so much. I asked him, "But would that clear the tenant up to the present date, or to the last gale day." His reply was, "Oh, no, if the tenant paid so much he would get a clear receipt up to September, 1886," nearly three years ago. The business of the private secretary or District Inspector was simply to mislead the representatives of the Press present. There are other matters in connection with the presence of police at evictions to be referred to. I have said that evictions are distressing and saddening spectacles. It does seem extraordinary that large sums paid by the taxpayers of Great Britain should be expended upon work of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman says it is unavoidable. He attributes these evictions to the Plan of Campaign. We shall discuss that point on another occasion. But at the Ponsonby evictions there was a force of Constabulary of between 300 and 400, supplemented by a large number of soldiers, all under the charge and command of the notorious Divisional Magistrate, Captain Plunket. Have hon. Members seen the secret letter—secret because it was not intended to be known to us—written by the agent of the estate, in which he practically acknowledged that the landlord's claims were unjust and extortionate, that the tenants' claims were less than just? The letter was written by Mr. Townshend to the Secretary of the Land Corporation, and the writer said—From what I have seen of the Ponsonby Estate, I am sorry to say I believe the Land Commission, if it ever goes before it, will reduce 564 the rents on it very heavily.…The existing rents of light tillage land, which might have been fair 15 or 20 years ago, are far above the present value. A good deal of the land I saw I was told was rented at 20s., but it will go under the Land Court at 12s. or 13s., and that is the reason I advised Mr. Smith Barry and the other members of the syndicate to make public as soon as possible that they are only fighting against the way in which the tenants want to cut the rents down.I invite the attention of the Committee to the fact that the hon. Member for South Huntingdon (Mr. Smith Barry) can put pressure on the Irish Executive to bring enormous forces of constabulary upon the scene to evict, under circumstances of great brutality and hardship, large numbers of industrious tenants, when all the time the injustice and the iniquity of the whole transaction is actually acknowledged by this letter to the agent of the syndicate, whom the Chief Secretary has not scrupled to defend in this House on more than one occasion. All these are circumstances which ought to cause the Committee to pause before voting the enormous sum of close on £1,600,000 for a force which is absolutely exasperating the people of Ireland, which is so expensive to the people of England, which is not productive of any solid or useful benefit to the country, and which, instead of being used legitimately for the protection of life and property and the preservation of order, is being used as a political machine by the Executive and the landlords of Ireland, and is producing an amount of disorder it would be impossible to counteract, were it not for the help and exhortation which comes from quarters in Great Britain to which the Irish people look with confidence.
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
Since the Chief Secretary accepted his present post the Irish administration has been characterised by overwhelming cruelty, and the right hon. Gentleman's chief agents in carrying out the policy of cruelty have been the Royal Irish Constabulary. It is, no doubt, difficult for English Members to understand what the Royal Irish Constabulary means. In England the constable is the person to whom the people go for protection and support, but in Ireland he is a member of a foreign force engaged in carrying out a policy antagonistic to the wishes of the people. The Irish police are a military force. They have officers and 565 military accoutrements and rifles. They only lack colours to complete their military character. I would recommend the right hon. Gentleman to signalise his administration by presenting the force with colours, upon which "Do not hesitate to shoot the people" would be a, very fitting motto. This order was the first command given under the right hon. Gentleman's administration to the members of the Irish Constabulary. It was telegraphed by Captain Plunket, and that telegram was the initiation of the policy which has characterised the Chief Secretary's three years' administration. I invite the Committee to consider that during the last 10 years there has been a decrease in the population of Ireland to the extent of half a million, while on the other hand there has been an increase of the constabulary by 2,000 men. In no other country with which I am acquainted has there been a steady decline of population, and at the same time a steady increase in the armed men engaged to keep the population down. The cost of the constabulary during the last decade has risen from £1,400,000 to £1,600,000. There is in Ireland at the present moment, including police and military, one armed man to every 17 of the population, not to every 17 fighting men, but to every 17 men, women and children. I submit the reason of this is, that the police are not employed as a protecting force, that they are not employed to enforce just debts between man and man, but that they are employed for the partisan purposes of the Government. I desire to direct attention to three phases of constabulary government in Ireland—namely, to the relation between the Irish Constabulary and the people at large, the relation between the Irish Constabulary and a newspaper called the Times, and the relation between the Irish Constabulary and the landlord class in Ireland. My hon. Friend (Mr. Flynn) has not cited a single case of police brutality towards the people. It will be remembered that the hon. Member for the Holmfirth Division (Mr. H. Wilson) and I have frequently asked the Chief Secretary and the Solicitor General for Ireland that the Irish Constabulary should be numbered or lettered for the purpose of identification. The Irish police are clothed in the same uniform as the Rifles, and we all know that as the 566 Rifles are used largely for skirmishing their uniform has been adopted in the hope of avoiding detection. Let me give several cases in which the police have acted brutally, and refused to give their names. I find that an aggravated and brutal assault was committed by the Irish police at the Clonmel Railway Station—railway stations seem to be the happy hunting grounds of Irish constables. On the 3rd of March, when Dr. Tanner arrived at Clonmel Station he was cheered by the people. There was the usual baton charge by the police. A reporter from Tipperary was grossly maltreated by a constable, who politely refused to give his name. On the 4th of May, at Kanturk, a Poor Law Guardian was assaulted by a sub-constable. The head-constable, with whom complaint as to the assault was lodged, refused to give the offender's name. At Fermoy the police burst into a meeting which was attended by a Mr. Barry, who had been imprisoned under the Coercion Act, inquired what the people were doing, assaulted men, and refused to give their names. Early in February a crowd in Killarney was dispersed by a baton charge, offence cheering Mr. William O'Brien. On the 23rd of March, at the same place, a crowd was batoned, offence cheering Mr. William O'Brien. The Committee will remember that Mr. Patrick O'Brien was recently assaulted so brutally that for some days his life was in danger, and that even now—a month after the occurrence—he is unable to appear in Court to give evidence in a case vitally concerning himself, and which arose out of one of the numerous libels of the Times' correspondent. A lady, the wife of an English Member of Parliament, desired to attend the meeting at which Mr. Patrick O'Brien was assaulted. Knowing the eagerness of the police to baton and assault I dissuaded the lady from attending the meeting. I feared that if she attended she would be maltreated by the police, who would probably think that an easy way to earn promotion would be to assault the wife of a Member of this House. The police in Ireland are adepts at creating offences. In proof of that charge I need only refer to the notorious Milltownmalbay case. The parish priest of that place having requested the publicans to close their houses on the occasion of a particular trial of an exciting 567 character, his sole object being to prevent the least disturbance of the peace, the police visited 26 of the closed establishments, though they were not in want of refreshments, and asked for drink. The drink was refused them. Twenty-one of the publicans were summoned before a Coercion Court and sentenced to one month's imprisonment apiece. Eleven did not apologise—I wish they had all refused to do so—but suffered imprisonment. The conduct of the constables must be very bad to provoke the indignation of the right hon. Gentleman's "removables," and yet they have often drawn on themselves the censure of these not over scrupulous gentlemen. In the Court-house at Let-terkenny on the occasion of one of the numerous remands of Father M'Fadden, a constable named Boyle was seen earmarking the prisoners for another constable to identify. The man was ordered out of Court by Mr. Hamilton, but was afterwards seen sneaking back again for the purpose of carrying on the same operation. Another constable on the occasion of one of the numerous remands of Father M'Fadden was removed from the Court in a state of intoxication. I will not say anything about the note-taking Constable Robinson, who was declared by the Presiding Magistrate to be untrustworthy. The Committee may ask itself why constables like this man Robinson take notes which cannot be relied on. The answer is, because it is better for an Irish constable to convict an Irish Member of Parliament than it is for a military man to get the Victoria Cross. Such is their anxiety to get hold of Irish Members that they have been known after molesting a gentleman to apologise and say, "I beg pardon, but you have a tall hat on, and I thought you were a Member of Parliament." The dealings of the police with Roman Catholic priests, to whose good work in Ireland I can testify, although I kneel at a different altar to them, has been marked by insult and brutality. Father Clarke, of Wicklow, who advised the tenants in regard to the Plan of Campaign, had a warrant out against him; and, though he made it known that he was perfectly prepared to meet it, the police broke into his house to serve the warrant at a little before 4 o'clock in the morning, when he was absent, and terrified some of the female ser- 568 vants by rushing into their room. In another case the police went at midnight to arrest a priest who had previously stated his readiness to meet the warrant taken out against him, the object of such proceeding being obviously to terrorise the people. The same thing also was done in another case, the warrant having been in abeyance for five weeks, and the arrest being at last made at midnight. To be persecuted by the Government is a great honour to us, the Irish Members, and by trying to degrade us you only exalt us; and the same may be said of the Irish priests, for whom you simply inspire greater reverence by your action. I will not refer in detail to the death of District Inspector Martin, which took place on Sunday, February 3. I will merely say that on Saturday evening, February 2, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in that speech which we will take care shall never be forgotten while the right hon. Gentleman remains in his present office, and which was addressed to the Liberal Unionists of Dublin, who were ashamed to give their names as being present—in that speech, delivered in absolute unconsciousness of the irony of the situation, the right hon. Gentleman congratulated the miserable toadies and place-hunters who surrounded him on the excellent relations existing between the police and the people. That speech was reported in the newspapers on the Monday morning, and side by side with the report was an account of the death of Inspector Martin. It is a small thing, no doubt, but a straw shows which way the wind blows; and this set the Government are making against priests and Members of Parliament is a straw in the present situation. At the last Spring Assizes, at; the Courthouse of Tralee, an over-zealous constable seeing a Roman Catholic priest listening to the trial went up to him and hustled him out of Court. This peccadillo on the part of the constable was admitted by the Solicitor General for Ireland when questioned about the incident. The hon. and learned Gentleman admitted it, and said it was an error of judgment; but I regard these things as not so much errors of judgment as errors of heart, and I say they arise through the systematic attitude of the Government towards the Irish people. With regard to the seat of war in 569 Donegal—and I think the use of the phrase "seat of war" is permissible—on the 6th of May the right hon. Gentleman in a moment of candour spoke of County Donegal as being in a state of revolution; but when this expression was afterwards commented upon the right hon. Gentleman said that that state of revolution extended only to one barony. Well, I have often heard of a storm in a tea-cup, but never before of a revolution in a barony. What was the state of Donegal before the right hon. Gentleman's administration? Why that county which now, according to the Chief Secretary, is in a confused and disturbed state was the most peaceful district. I do not know if hon. Members have ever been in a country in armed occupation. If they have not they will hardly understand the state of things which has existed in the County of Donegal—a state of things which one could understand in Russia, but which within the Queen's dominions it is impossible to understand. After the death of Inspector Martin wholesale arrests were made without warrant and without evidence, and passes were given to the peasants to allow them to go to their duties. Constable Mahony—now Head Constable Mahony, for every policeman in Ireland who distinguishes himself by his brutality to the people gets promoted—gave this pass which I now hold in my hand to a peasant, "Please let so-and-so pass," and it is signed by this man. There were wholesale arrests made after the murder of Inspector Martin, none of them, however, on sworn information or warrant. In one case a large number were handcuffed and kept for four hours in an open boat on an angry sea. Is it not amazing that in a country calling itself Christian such brutality should be allowed? I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that they will here more of this at the next Election—you will have it ingrained into every one of you. In Father M'Fadden's case, in which there were no fewer than 14 different remands, a special train was employed on the occasion of each remand to run from Letterkenny to Derry, a distance of 25 miles, when an ordinary train would have answered every purpose. There was frequent and easy communication between these places without the employment of a special train, and it cannot 570 be said that the police were afraid of a popular tumult breaking out. I travelled in the special train myself—although if I had been found out I might have got a month's imprisonment at the hands of one of the removables—but this enables me to say how needless was the expenditure. There has been a reckless, wicked, and profligate expenditure on the part of the Administration; and I ask—will the right hon. Gentleman justify that expenditure out of the Constabulary Vote? As to the spying operations of the police the Irish Members do not mind it, but it comes somewhat hard on English Members like the hon. Member for the Holmfirth Division. That hon. Member went to Ireland to inquire into the unfortunate state of the people on March 16. He was dogged and followed by the constables from one end of Donegal to the other. He could not go into an hotel without being immediately followed there by a policeman, who tried to find out what he was doing, and where he was going. The carmen who drove him were stopped and interrogated. In one case a tourist who had gone over to see the country went to a Chief Inspector and said it was hard to be pursued by the police, and the answer he received was, "You are a respectable person—we will not mind you. It is only Members of Parliament we watch." One person—a Member of Parliament—however, was allowed to go from one end of Donegal to the other without being dogged, and that was because he was the friend of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. It is only those Members who have the interests of the peasantry at heart who are insulted; the friends of the Chief Secretary and writers in the Times being allowed to wander where they like without being watched. In Donegal the police are quite numerous enough to prevent evicted tenants from returning to their wretched hovels; but they cannot protect the tenants from the robberies of the military. I would here instance again the case of the poor woman whose eight ducks were stolen by the soldiers, and I am surprised that I do not hear the cackle from the hon. Member for South Tyrone with which he greeted the case when it was first mentioned. In another case a girl was brutally assaulted by an Emergency man in the presence of Mr. Harrison and 571 another gentleman, and although those two gentlemen swore informations, Mr. Cameron, the police officer, refused to receive them. Mr. Cameron has been promoted, but a man called Markham, who once withdrew the police under his command in order to avoid bloodshed, was degraded. This man did not act up to the Chief Secretary's motto, "Do not hesitate to shoot," and he did not belong to that class, half serf, half squireen, from whom District Inspectors are mostly chosen. He was a man who had risen from the ranks, and consequently had sufficient sympathy for the peasant class to wish to avoid a reckless use of the bayonet on them. I possess a tabulated statement showing that the law is administered one way in favour of the police, and another way against the people. And now I bring this charge against those who have authority over the Royal Irish Constabulary, that whilst it is their proper duty to maintain law and order in Ireland—or, at all events, that wretched substitute which there stands in the place of law and order—they have been transferred to London as the mere dustmen of the Times, and I will show that the men drafted to London were as much the agents of the Times as were Pigott or Houston. Is it not a strange thing that the same men, or the same class of men, who were employed for collecting evidence for the Times were also employed to prevent the collection of evidence on behalf of the Irish Members? It seems to me beyond the possibility of doubt that the men acted upon some hint from headquarters. These men catch the tone of their masters. They know what their masters think with dog-like fidelity and carry out their master's wish, but not like dogs. Dogs generally are actuated by affection, but the Irish Constabulary are stimulated by the low, gross motive—the hope of pecuniary reward. Constables have been known of late to molest men collecting for the Parnell Defence Fund, to seize their collecting cards and disperse a small gathering of Nationalists. Recently also there has been a case of constables tearing down placards asking for subscriptions in aid of the legal expenses of the Irish Members, and three young men who were engaged in innocently tabulating statistics of crime to be produced before the 572 Special Commission were followed by police and deprived of their papers—though these subsequently were grudgingly restored after questions galore had been addressed to the Chief Secretary on the subject in this House. How was the Times treated by the Government—of course in their private capacity—according to the statements of Head Constable Quinn, Michael Roche, and Iago—and a better name for a witness for the Times was never devised? Why, it is clear that the police were employed to get up the Times' case. On the 11th April we find there was close connection between the constabulary and the Times. A secret Police Circular was issued to the constabulary early in November, the first sitting of the Commission Court taking place on the 22nd of October. This circular was sent to every police station by every District Inspector with instructions to find out, almost in the language of the Charges Commission, the connection between the League and crime. We have read this circular before the House, and the right hon. Gentleman has exercised great discretion in regard to it, neither admitting or denying it. But we have further evidence; we have evidence of the eyesight of a Member of this House. It happens that the chambers of the hon. Member for Rushcliffe Division overlook Mr. Soames's office in Lincoln's Inn, and he saw Mr. Soames's office looking like an office of the Royal Irish Constabulary, around which Irish constables lounged and smoked, and the men thus engaged week after week are those we are now asked to vote this money for as preservers of law and order in Ireland. Hanging in Mr. Soames's office was a notice, signed by County Inspector Flockton, requiring men of the constabulary to enter their names in a book kept in the office for the purpose. Inspector Flockton was never examined before the Commission. What was he doing there? Coaching Times witnesses. And for this we are asked to pay this Inspector his salary. Further, the connection has been shown between the constabulary and Pigott. So long as Pigott was of value to the Times and the Government he had a guard of honour of the Royal Irish Constabulary; but when he ceased to be of value, the guard dropped their arms and Pigott was allowed to go. Two Irish sergeants 573 of constabulary, Sergeants Fausett and Gallagher—I hope they have had promotion for their services—were placed under the orders of Shannon of the Times, and these formed a bodyguard for Pigott. But this guard allowed Pigott to escape after they had got from him on the Saturday a sworn affidavit to be read in the Court on Monday. Then we had Head Constable Preston, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, interviewing convicts in English prisons, at the instance of Mr. Soames, for the purpose of getting up evidence for the Times and to incriminate Irish representatives. We know that he visited Nally and Mullet in prison and held out to them almost any bribe to induce them to bear evidence against Irish Members. So to this further depth were the Irish Constabulary allowed to sink. They were employed to introduce into England the methods of Irish administration to the shame of both nations. Tracey was thus visited, and he was not afterwards examined; but there is good reason to believe that he was offered bribes to give evidence on behalf of the Times. Why were these members of the constabulary placed at the service of Mr. Soames of the Times? Why are we asked to pay their expenses in London when they should have been discharging their duties in Ireland? The Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court Hotel, were swarming with Irish Constabulary, and I am not exceeding the mark when I say that not more than a third of those brought over to London were examined before the Commission. An industrious gentleman has noted the numbers of constabulary present in Court when the Court on one occasion adjourned because witnesses were not ready, and at that time there were in Court eight members of the force in uniform, 10 in plain clothes, five District Inspectors, and four members of the Dublin Police. We have heard on previous occasions how an Inspector endeavoured to get evidence from a man named Welsh, under threat of prosecution for certain insurance frauds in which the man was supposed to be implicated. They were Liverpool frauds, said the Chief Secretary; but, as a fact, the trial would have had to be held in Ireland, for there the frauds were committed. We have Mr. Houston acting as paymaster to the men of the constabulary for their expenses 574 during the time they were kept in London for weeks and months beyond the time they could have been required to give evidence; and, as a matter of fact, they never gave evidence at all. Why were these men in London, and why are we to pay their salaries as if they had been attending to their duties in Ireland? Why are we asked to pay these men for time in which they were assisting in an infamous conspiracy? I have described these men as the dustmen of the Times, and now let me touch upon them as the merciless, heartless, cruel bailiffs of merciless landlords of Ireland. Nothing, I suppose, in connection with the cruel eviction proceedings in Ireland sent a greater thrill of horror through this country than the action of the police at the Glenbigh evictions when they protected emergency men, while the latter used petroleum for firing the wretched homes of the evicted tenants. At Falcarragh a new form of police administration was entered upon. Special bailiffs, not the Sheriff's men, but servants of the landlord, were employed; and here we first have the now famous battering ram brought on the scene. My right hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton), a man not in the habit of going back from his word, has said that if we do not find out how the expense of this battering ram is paid, we shall oppose vigorously all efforts to get this Vote. Now, after much questioning, we did obtain from the Solicitor General for Ireland the fact that the ram cost £48 18s. 2½d., and that it was sent to District Inspector Law, of Letterkenny. I suppose hon. Gentlemen opposite will regard the Dublin Daily Express as a trustworthy authority, and in the issue of that journal for March 28 we have a description of the battering ram, to the effect that the ram is 15 feet long, mounted on four wheels, suspended by chains from iron uprights, and that the men working the ram have the protection of an iron shield—in addition to the protection they receive here from the Chief Secretary—picks, crowbars, scaling ladders, and other gear was attached, and the whole paraphernalia was sent on to Inspector Law, at Letterkenny. But we have had the greatest difficulty to find out how these expenses were paid. Who paid for this ram? 575 Who owns it? I hope now that the Chief Secretary will not exercise any maidenly reserve in this matter. I may refer the Committee to the questions many of us asked about this ram earlier in the Session; but with the exception of the information I have mentioned as extracted from the Solicitor General for Ireland, we have not yet found how this ram has been paid for. On Friday the Chief Secretary informed me that it is an item that does not appear in the Estimates; and yesterday, exercising the better part of that courage with which on the assurance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer we are asked to credit him, the right hon. Gentleman discreetly stayed away and avoided further questioning. Well, this battering ram was received by the police, and the police tested its qualities at Gweedore. I being in the neighbourhood at the time addressed the local Inspector with a courtesy to which he at first responded; but when I asked him for information as to the practice with the ram, our relations immediately became strained, and have so continued since. The ram was brought out for active operation at the Olphert evictions on April 11th this year, to be used against miserable turf hovels that even a kick from the Chief Secretary would demolish. The ram was not actually used then, but it was present. Now, I want to use this battering ram against the police. I know the right hon. Gentleman will say he is accustomed to these strictures, and that after all they are no more than his predecessors, and notably the late Mr. Forster, had to submit to. The late Mr. Forster had a tender heart and a conscience; but the present Chief Secretary has only an uncle and a battering ram. At these Falcarragh evictions the homes were without food—the tenants in the poorest possible condition. I have seen a good deal of misery and destitution and suffering under various aspects, but I confess I have never seen anything so pitiable as the employment of the ram against those wretched hovels and the turning out on the roadside of miserable people with starvation marked on every lineament. On the Good Friday I was present, and saw one of the tenants, a man of 45 years perhaps, waiting for the battering ram to smash his wretched house away. Not a morsel of food had he in the house; his 576 potato crop of three acres had failed. On this cold clay floor his mother was lying in a state of stupor; a little child was playing about; starvation was written on the man's face. The usual policeman had followed us to take note of our proceedings, and to him I turned and invited him to join with us in giving the man assistance. To do him justice he did so. I will not give his name, for a black mark might be set against it. It is against scenes of this kind we protest—scenes which are enacted at the instance of the amateur apostle of Church Congresses. What an example of practical Christianity, on the anniversary of the death of our Redeemer! On this Olphert estate the cost of these evictions was 10 times the amount of the rent due; but the landlord derived some pecuniary advantage from letting the wretched hovels of his evicted tenants as temporary police barracks. These things I can prove, though now I only state them. Removing the trappings from the pretence of maintaining law and order, we find that Irish administration is a gross, wicked, villainous, sordid system of tyranny. Those who ought to be the natural guardians of the people are those who, carrying out the behests of the Chief Secretary, have promoted these scenes.
§ * MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I do not propose to trespass on the time of the Committee in reference to those questions of administration hon. Members have raised, upon which Members who have been in Ireland are better able to speak than I am. Approaching the Vote from an economical point of view, there are a few questions I should like to put to the Chief Secretary, and that the Committee may be able to understand the position of Ireland in regard to police, I would refer Members to the particulars given on pages 279 and 319 of the Estimates. On page 279 we find it stated that the number of police employed in Scotland is 4,027, and the number in Ireland which are to be provided for by the Vote is 12,810, the population of Ireland not being more than a million greater. The Committee have already voted for the Scotch police £156,125, the total cost, adding everything together, being, I calculate, about £376,000, whereas the cost of the Irish Police is £1,439,000. The 577 first question I wish to put is with reference to the pay, allowances, and extra pay. The ordinary pay is £871,000, allowances £77,000, and the extra pay is £34,000, besides travelling expenses. I find the pay of these officers higher than they would receive as officers in Her Majesty's Army, and very much in excess of the pay received by officers occupying similar posts either in the counties or boroughs of England, or in the Metropolitan Police Force. Take, for instance the District Inspectors. You have 36 first-class Inspectors with salaries rising to £350 and £450 per annum, and 90 District Inspectors of the first class with salaries rising from £225 to £250, £275 to £300 a year. But that does not represent the whole of the pay of these gentlemen. If you simply take £200 or £300 a year, it is a very large sum for an Inspector. I find in the Metropolitan Police Force that there are two Inspectors who receive £200 a year; five £195, and 36 £190 a year. The population of Ireland is about the same as that of the Metropolis, and the number of the Irish Police is about 1,500 less than the number of the London Police; and the Irish Inspector is not called upon to perform more responsible duties than an Inspector of the Metropolitan Police. But if the Committee will turn to pages 322 and 323 of the Estimates, they will find six District Inspectors are specially employed on detective duty, each at £120 per annum, and I want to know whether that is in addition to the salary of £300 or £400 a year. Then there are five District Inspectors employed on detective duty at £100 a year, and I wish to know whether that is in addition to these gentlemen's salaries. We next come to an item in these gentlemen's pay for which I can find, no parallel in the Metropolitan Police Force accounts. There are servants allowed to officers of the Irish Force—255 servants, each at £45 per annum, for whom we have to pay £11,475. Now, I cannot make out the 255 servants, unless these officers have several servants each. The Inspector General and Deputy Inspector General are, of course, superior officers, and also the County Inspectors. But, assuming that you give one servant to each District Inspector of the first class, that 578 would only give you 140 officers who would be entitled to servants. But you have255 servants at £45 per annum. You ought to pay to the Irish Inspector, as you have to pay to any other public servant, his full remuneration. This allowance of servants is merely an imitation of what goes on in the Army. Then there is a very large amount for these Inspectors' lodging allowances. I presume the Chief Secretary will be able to tell us that these amounts are checked; that they do not represent the estimates, but that they represent actual payments duly vouched for. Then I come to the stationery allowance. These County and District Inspectors receive stationery allowance to the amount of £2,700 a year. When I had the honour of sitting on the Stationery Committee some years ago, I found that in certain instances the stationery was sent, and the allowances were made. I should like a little explanation of this £2,700. Then I come to "special allowances," which I think must apply to the question to which the hon. Member has been drawing attention—special allowances to policemen serving in Great Britain, £1,358. Why are the Irish Constabulary introduced as serving in Great Britain? We are quite capable of managing our own police; and I never heard of the County, Borough, or Metropolitan Police requiring to be supplemented by the Irish Constabulary. But I take it that this is part of the expenditure of the recent migration of the Irish Police to England, where they have been in London, as we know, for some time. But there being a charge for "lodging and fuel," I should like to ask the Chief Secretary where the item appear on the other side to credit. A large number of the Irish Police have been in London on the service of the Times. These men have been paid. I have no doubt that the Times has been put to a very heavy outlay with respect to police witnesses. According to the Treasury rule, when a servant of the public receives pay from a third person, the amount must be carried to the credit of the account, from which the charge for that service is paid. If the House turn to the Metropolitan Police Accounts, they will find that the sum of £169,000 has been received for various purposes. Then we come to the items "receipts from public companies and private in- 579 dividuals, £16,659." Whatever service is rendered by the Metropolitan Police to a public company or private individual, that public company or private individual has to pay for it, and the money is carried to the credit of the Metropolitan Police Account. A little lower down on the page we have medical allowances and funeral expenses, £14,696. I make no comment on that, further than to point out that in the case of the Metropolitan Police, with between 1,000 and 1,500 more men, the medical and funeral expenses amount to £10,280. The Irish police under this head cost nearly £15,000; the Metropolitan Police about £10,000; and I do not think that medical attendance costs less in London than in Ireland. I should think that item might be considerably reduced. Then I come to extra pay, £31,800; and the sub-head of this item is "extra pay on account of elections and disturbances. We have to pay for that next year, £3,000. How many elections does the right hon. Gentleman expect next year. At all events, the right hon. Gentleman has provided £3,000—having got the police a million-and a-half—for extra pay on account of elections and disturbances. Well, then, I go a little further. We have not only allowed them £18,000 for their horses, and £2,000 for their arms and saddlery and so on, but there is car hire, mileage, and marching money, £35,000. Then there is another extra for elections again. These extra allowances for elections are to be paid next year; it is not last year's expenditure. Then we have "incidental expenses and contingencies," £1,000. I should have thought "contingencies" was enough. No; we have "miscellaneous stamps on attestation, carriage, clothing, &c," £5,000. Then, besides the £18,000 for forage, we have £3,000 for the keep of horses and repairs of cars. I wish the House of Commons to look at the whole of these items, not from a political point of view, or as raising the question of Home Rule, but simply as a question of administering public expenditure. There is the item of postage, £6,800. That represents, at a penny stamp, the police in Ireland writing 4,400 letters a day. It would be an insult to the House to make any comment upon that.
§ * MR. H. H. FOWLER
Page 319. It is very singular that no details are given of this sub-head. Now, I come to an item in which the House may be always sure to find out extravagance—I refer to pensions. I have always been of opinion that the superannuation and pension allowances to the Metropolitan Police Force were upon the most liberal scale. The entire expenditure under this head on the Metropolitan Force last year was £193,977. The expenditure on the Royal Irish Constabulary for pensions and superannuation allowances was £298,395—that is, £100,000 more. We have been talking about an extra charge of £36,000 a year, but here you have £100,000 more a year for pension allowances for the Royal Irish Constabulary than is incurred for the Metropolitan Police Force. Without raising any question as to whether this Force is necessary, whether you should have four times the police there are in Scotland, I want to know, from a purely economical point of view, why it should cost this enormous sum, so much in excess of similar forces elsewhere; and I should like to know what responsible authority checks this amount? I do not suggest for one moment that the Chief Secretary has personal knowledge of this matter. Sir, these are precisely questions I would have asked and the statements I would have made, had I been sitting behind that Treasury Bench.
§ * THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
Mr. Courtney, perhaps I had better, as the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with an aspect of the question somewhat apart from that which hon. Members below the Gangway were engaged in discussing, confine the remarks I now make entirely to the observations which have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, leaving to a later period of this evening dealing with the allegations brought against the Government by the two hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that he would have made precisely the same criticisms and asked precisely the same questions had he been sitting behind the Government instead of facing the Government, as he has done now. But the right 581 hon. Gentleman has occupied even a more favourable position than that of an ordinary member of a Government, because for a considerable period he was the responsible Treasury official before whom all the expenditure of the country, including the Irish Estimates, came, and it was his business not to make barren criticisms across the floor of the House, but to exercise direct supervision and control. Though I do not wish to cast his official position in the right hon. Gentleman's teeth, yet I must say that it was rather remarkable that the right hon. Gentleman should have deferred to this period of his Parliamentary career the statement he has now made.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would not misrepresent me. I made the statement when the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was in office, and I sat where the hon. Member for Preston is sitting now.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not doubt the right hon. Gentleman's consistency as a Member of the House and when he sat where my hon. Friend the Member for Preston now sits. What appears remarkable was the right hon. Gentleman's conduct when, as Secretary to the Treasury, he was responsible not merely as a Member of this House, but as Member of the Government. I want to know why, holding the views he does, he let the whole thing alone at a period when he was brought face to face with the questions he has brought before us. One reason why the right hon. Gentleman let the whole thing alone may have been that, on investigation, he found, after all, that the expenditure was not without justification, and that, after all, there was no excuse for the severe condemnation which he has passed upon the Irish Constabulary. The right hon. Gentleman began by drawing a comparison between the cost of the Irish Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police. Well, while the number of the police in the Metropolitan area is not very different from that of the Irish Constabulary, the cost is in excess. I am informed that the total cost of the Metropolitan Police is a million and a half, and the cost of the Irish Police is less than that sum. Of course, I am perfectly aware that there 582 are circumstances in the condition of London which may lead to the conclusion that it requires a larger police force than is required for a population scattered over a thinly-populated area. But if there are special circumstances connected with London, there are also special circumstances connected with Ireland which render it necessary, and have always rendered it necessary, that a large Police Force should be kept there Without entering into the question of order or disorder—which I will reserve for a later period—I will point out that upon the Irish Police are cast a multitude of duties by various Statutes—duties in no was connected, directly or indirectly, with subjects of political controversy, and which do not fall upon the Metropolitan Police. [Cheers.] That remark is cheered ironically by the hon. Member for Donegal; but the hon. Member ought to be perfectly aware that on them are thrown such duties as the collection of statistics and other matters which have no counterpart in the case of the London Police Force. But it is perhaps enough to say, broadly, that the cost of the two forces is not so different as the right hon. Gentleman stated. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to allude to servants allowed to the force.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As to the special payments, they are made for special services. No other explanation can be given than that special services are required and have to be paid for. Then the right hon. Gentleman complained of the enormity of asking this country to provide £45 a year for each servant of each officer of the force, when that is not required in London. But every one of these officers of the Irish Constabulary is required to keep a horse, and that cost is not thrown upon the police officers in London. If they have to keep a horse, they have to keep a servant; and this expenditure should clearly not be borne by the officer. I would point out to the economical mind of the right hon. Gentleman that in former times the custom used to be that the duties were performed by an orderly at a cost of £80 a year, so that this substitution of a servant for an orderly was a great economy; and it is absolutely impossible, so long as the rule is enforced, that each officer shall 583 keep a horse to deprive him of the allowance for a servant. With regard to the stationery allowance, I have no information to give the right hon. Gentleman. I will inquire into the system, and, though I have no reason to believe that it is not economical, I will see that economy is practised. Then, as to the item of special allowances for lodging and fuel for men serving in Great Britain, I am surprised, not at the right hon. Gentleman's remarks on the subject, but at the vociferous cheers of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, who apparently think that the item is due to expenditure incurred in bringing over constables to the Special Commission. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether it is not a fact that this item is connected with the presence of a large number of police constables in London. ["No!"] The right hon. Gentleman asked if they were brought here for the Times.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I listened to the right hon. Gentleman, if hon. Members below the Gangway did not. To that I reply that neither directly or indirectly is this item connected with the Times case. For the last 40 years it has been the custom—as far as I know a beneficial custom—to have a certain number of members of the Irish Constabulary in the large towns of England and Wales, but they are not here in connection with anything that could be described as a political crime. Their duty is to detect ordinary crime committed by members of the floating population that spend part of the year in Ireland and part of the year in England. Then the right hon. Gentleman asked whether there has been any payment in favour of the Exchequer on account of the sums paid by the Times to the officers of the constabulary. To that I answer generally that the dealings of the Times with the witnesses has been precisely the same as in any ordinary case. The ordinary practice with regard to the cost of witnesses and the source from which such cost is defrayed, I have no doubt, has been strictly followed. The right hon. Gentleman next drew attention to what he calls "the magnitude" of the medical allowances. The explanation which I have to give is that where doctors are expected, as they are in Ireland, to make long journeys, considerable expense must often be incurred. 584 The concentration of the police force in London is no doubt a source of economy. Similar economy could hardly be practised where a Police Force is distributed over so large an area as Ireland. The heading "extra pay" is very misleading, for it does not represent what any ordinary human being would infer from the name. The pay here referred to is simply the allowance which must always be paid to people who are required to leave their ordinary abodes and to sustain themselves elsewhere. It does not represent pay for additional services, but it represents the additional expenditure incurred by members of the police force when they are required to support themselves in some other place than their own homes. The right hon. Gentleman has made merry over the item of £3,000 in connection with elections and disturbances, and asked whether a General Election is expected next year, as this item appears on the Estimates. But as the same amount was required last year, when there was no General Election, it is only reasonable to suppose that an equal sum will be wanted this year. There are many elections in Ireland in addition to Parliamentary elections, and at any rate the right hon. Gentleman will not deny that there are disturbances. As to the Transport Service in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman must know that large bodies of men cannot be moved without throwing considerable expense upon this estimate. The right hon. Gentleman also criticised the sum spent on postage. He said what an appalling thing—£18,000!
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, £6,800. That item, no doubt, has increased; but the increase is due to the fact that now great use is made of the parcel post. [Laughter.] The last point to which I need refer is the question of pensions. Undoubtedly, the tendency in recent years has been to improve the position of the Constabulary. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that their pay and allowances, including pensions, are too great, I cannot agree with him. I will, however, point out that I am not responsible for the present scale and rate of pay. If there is any responsibility in the matter attaching to one Government more than another, that responsibility rests with 585 the heads of the Party to which the Tight hon. Gentleman belongs. Considering the onerous duties devolving on the force, the extremely difficult character of much of the work which they have to perform, and considering also that the very best men that Ireland can provide are enlisted in the service, I do not think that they are overpaid. The excellent personnel of the Constabulary Force is notorious. We have secured the very pick of the Irish population. I will be no party to the kind of economy to which the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman points, and I will do nothing to injure a force of which, as I hold, Irishmen may be justly proud.
§ * MR. H. H. FOWLER
I wish to have one word of explanation in reference to the allusion which the right hon. Gentleman made to me. I never was responsible at the Treasury for the Irish Estimates. The Irish Estimates which passed through Parliament when I held office were signed and presented by my predecessor. I quite agree with the Chief Secretary that my own Party is quite as much to blame for the extravagant administration of the Irish Constabulary as the Party of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not approach this question from a Party, but from a purely economical, point of view. I made a far stronger attack upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton when he was Chief Secretary than I have made to-night; and I should wish to divert this part of the subject from a Party aspect.
§ * SIR W. FOSTER (Ilkeston, Derby)
Mr. Courtney, I have said on previous occasions that this expenditure was very useless, very dangerous; and the Chief Secretary has not given us that fair answer which we could have expected. I hope another year we shall have a more satisfactory explanation from him. There is one point to which he alluded which does open our eyes a little, and that is, that the Irish Constabulary get extra pay, and therefore have a great interest in disturbances.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. I explained, I thought clearly, that there is no such thing as extra pay in the ordinary sense of that word.
§ * SIR W. FOSTER
It comes out of the pocket of the taxpayers, and we 586 object to our money being spent on travelling expenses and conveniences for a military police. I happen to have, probably, a longer experience of the Irish Police than the right hon. Gentleman. Thirty years ago the Irish Police were the pride of Ireland. The physique of the Irish Constabulary is as good now as then, but 30 years ago they occupied a very different position in the regard of the people to what they do now. At that time the cost of the force was about £700,000, although the population was 6,000,000. Now it is £1,500,000, with a decreasing population. The great mass of the people are in bitter antagonism to this military police force, and I protest, as a taxpayer, against this wanton and wasteful expenditure. There is another way in which you can judge of the changed relations between the people and the police. Thirty years ago the privates in the Police Force were often enabled to marry above their stations in life, and you could not have a better test of the popularity of the force than that. But the other day I had a conversation with a young lady of good social position, and she stated that she was compelled to break her engagement with an Inspector of Police, such was the feeling of the district, and so strong the feelings of her own relations. What I wish to point out is that the condition of things is changed very much for the worse. In August last year I went to Abbeyfeale, in Ireland, in order to go over the estate, where 45 houses were being prepared against evictions. I went to the house of the Parish Priest, and when I came out I saw a little picket of police, and further on another squad beside a car. I drove with the Priest to the estate, and saw, to my astonishment, that the police followed in their car—an army of one sub-inspector, one head constable, one sergeant, and one rank and file. That was a disgraceful misuse of the Force. They kept a certain distance from us, but followed us the whole way to the estate, pulling up within a few yards of us. I looked at the fortified houses, and spoke to one policeman who followed me about, in order that no mistake might be made, and in order that he might ask me any questions. I said something about the evictions, and he said it was a bad day for them. It was raining, as if that had 587 anything to do with the cause of the misery which was being occasioned. He asked me no questions. I had conversation from time to time with the people, and the officer continued to follow my movements. We drove to another estate, and these men followed us. I say such conduct to a Member of Parliament was an insult to him and his constituents. If the officer had inquired from the Resident Magistrate, he would have discovered who I was. When I told the Resident Magistrate—to whom I had done a kindness by attending in my capacity of a doctor to his daughter, who was suffering from a sickness of a fatal kind—how I had been followed, he seemed ashamed of the indignity to which I had been subjected. My experience is not singular. I took refuge in the Priest's house, and when I came out I found I was watched. We drove to the station and found policemen there waiting for us. During the whole of my stay I and my friends were watched by policemen. Practically, we occupied about one-third of the force of Abbeyfeale. This misuse of public money, this barren use of the police, is a disgrace to any Government or any official who defends it. Similar indignities have been offered to other Englishmen travelling in Ireland. In England we do not allow our police to be used for private purposes without a money charge being made for their services; and if the right hon. Gentleman would introduce that system with regard to the Irish Constabulary, the landlords would be a little more tender in the administration of the law and in the execution of their decrees. Then we have, also, the charges of brutality of the Police Force, in such an instance as that of Mr. O'Brien, who was actually injured the other day. And we had frequently before this House, in the shape of repeated questioning, the telegram in which a Constabulary Officer said—"Do not hesitate to shoot."
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman will excuse me for interrupting. That telegram has been grossly misquoted. The words "if it be necessary" have been left out by those who have quoted it; and I suppose that even the hon. Gentleman opposite will admit that those words are not an unimportant part of the telegram.
§ * SIR W. FOSTER
I admit that these words, to a certain extent, take the sting out of the telegram.
§ * SIR W. FOSTER
But when a man puts the words, "Do not hesitate to shoot" in front, it shows the spirit by which the man is prompted who writes the telegram. If he had been actuated by a different spirit, he would have said probably, "Only shoot in the last resort." I believe that this expenditure on the Irish Police is bad because it creates disaffection among the Irish people. A more humane system should be introduced, for every week we have instances of the brutality of the police recorded. A brutal police means a brutalised people. The people of Ireland are being reduced to a state of bondage by the presence of a Military Force in their country, which is as if under a military occupation. You arrive at a station, and police are there to receive you and to watch you off. If a few people gather around you in conversation, the police come between you. This military spirit is rampant and dominant throughout the country, and the people resent it. It is a system of bondage for the Irish people, a life of bondage, and of licence for brute force; it is a system which is a disgrace to the British Government, and I hope that an end will soon be put to it.
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
I do not know when the right hon. Gentleman proposes to reply to the graver charges which have been made against his administration of the police; but before he does so, I wish to put a few questions to him, chiefly in connection with the incidents attending the arrest of my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork. On a recent occasion my hon. Friend brought this matter before the House, but he had to do so under very unsatisfactory circumstances. He was only allowed to make a personal statement, and moreover, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was, by the ruling of the Chair, precluded from making any reply to the statement. I trust, therefore, that this evening he will not treat this as a question which has been disposed of, more especially as he has taken very good care that this evening my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork shall be absent from the House. This is the day on which it 589 was necessary that he should be in Ireland in order to take his trial for the alleged offence for which it was thought necessary to arrest him in so summary and violent a fashion some weeks ago, and the day selected for the trial, notwithstanding the protests of my hon. Friend, was also the day selected by the Government for commencing the discussion on the Irish Estimates, and for discussing especially the Vote on which this particular question could be raised. Therefore, I repeat that the right hon. Gentleman has provided for the absence of my hon. Friend, and he has also provided for the absence of the hon. Member for Longford, who he knew would be engaged in the defence of the Member for North-East Cork. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will treat this question as if my hon. Friends were present, and that he will give us a clear explanation of the reasons why the Government adopted the course which they took on that occasion. First, I will ask, why was the hon. Member arrested in the manner in which he was? Why was it necessary to arrest him at all? Why did the Authorities not proceed in the manner in which they have proceeded in a subsequent prosecution—namely, by summons? The day on which the arrest took place was a Sunday, and a day of great excitement and commotion in the City of Cork.
Order, order! It dees not appear that the question which the hon. Member is discussing is pertinent to this Vote.
Order, order! The conduct of the police is quite pertinent to the Vote; but I understood the hon. Member to be entering into an examination of the reasons why this particular day was selected for the arrest.
§ MR. GILL
I was trying to point out that this was a day of great public excitement in Cork, and there was great danger in bringing the police into violent collision with the people on such an occasion. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman why, upon an occasion of that kind, he took a course calculated to result in violence, in bloodshed, and in a grievous disturbance of the peace. Why did he select that occa- 590 sion for the arrest of my hon. Friend? The first thing which occurred on this occasion was a baton charge by the police at Bandon Railway Station. The explanation for that charge offered by the Solicitor General for Ireland when this question was raised upon a recent occasion in the House, was that a rescue had been attempted by my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan; that there was a crowd of persons on the platform which intended to attempt a rescue, and that it was to prevent that that the baton charge took place. Now, that statement I brand as a monstrous fabrication, and whoever put it into the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman or of the Solicitor General for Ireland gave them an utterly unfounded and utterly infamous fabrication. There would have been no such thing as an attempt to rescue; there was no such intention in the mind of anybody present, for nobody had the slightest notion that the hon. Member was about to be arrested. A number of his friends, including some colleagues of the hon. Member for North Monaghan, went to meet Mr. William O'Brien on his return from a meeting in another part of Cork in order to accompany him to another railway station from which he was about to take his departure for London. There were several ladies among those present, and this is the crowd which it is suggested would have attempted a rescue. As a matter of fact, it was only when he stepped out of the carriage and a policeman laid his hand on the hon. Member's shoulder and announced that he was a prisoner, that anybody dreamt that an arrest was going to take place. At that very moment, without a moment's warning, and without the slightest provocation, the police rushed violently, baton in hand and muskets clubbed, on the crowd of inoffensive people on the platform, and they felled to the ground my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan, who is still suffering from the effects of the blow. They struck several people in the crowd, and they committed one of the most wanton and barbarous assaults that has ever been recorded in the annals of tyranny all the world through. Now I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman why he chose such an occasion for the arrest of my hon. Friend; and, secondly, what was the cause of this 591 baton charge. How can he explain the fact that this, violent criminal, whom it was necessary to arrest amidst scenes of violence, bloodshed, and disturbance has since that moment been walking about at large doing as he pleases, I think the circumstances I have narrated show the utter hollowness of the pretence which was put forward that a rescue was projected. Now I come to another grave matter in connection with this question, and that is the firing by Inspector Concannon and his men on the people assembled at the Charleville Railway Station. The Tight hon. Gentleman has explained that this crowd also had an intention of rescuing my hon. Friend, and that they were proceeding in a most violent manner to do so; that they were firing shots at the police in their attempted rescue, and that the police were therefore put under the necessity of firing back again in self-defence. Now, Sir, there is one very plain answer to that suggestion. Mr. O'Brien was arrested about 10 o'clock at night. The telegraph office at Charleville had been closed ever since 10 o'clock in the morning, and there was no possibility in the world of the news reaching Charleville before the arrival of the train in which Mr. O'Brien was being conveyed. What really occurred on that platform was this: A little group of band boys had assembled to meet the deputation which had gone from Charleville to attend the Cork meeting, and they intended to escort that deputation on its return home. When the train arrived, this band struck up a tune, which they were allowed to play right through. Then they commenced a second tune, and marched along the platform in the direction of the carriages, from which they expected to see the deputation alight. When they had gone half the way along the platform, they received the first intimation that Mr. O'Brien was in the train under arrest, and they at once gave a cheer for the hon. Member, and rushed to the carriage door asking leave to shake hands with him. Inspector Concannon, who was in charge of the police, thereupon became exceedingly excited. He drew his sword and declared that these men were about to rescue Mr. William O'Brien. An attempt was made to open the door, as the blinds to the carriage windows were all closely 592 drawn, but the police thrust out their rifles and drove the crowd back. Someone thereupon broke a window with his stock, and Concannon and two policemen drew their revolvers. At the same time, one of the porters employed at the station went to the carriage to collect tickets. He pulled open the door and asked for the tickets of the police, but they shouted out that they had no tickets. He told them that they must get some, and they at once hurled him from the carriage and slammed the door in his face. The crowd thereupon groaned, and the policemen, just as the train was moving off, fired three shots from their revolvers. I want an explanation of that conduct. Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House any means of inquiring into the responsibility for what might have proved a bloody and atrocious murder? I brand the conduct of the police on that occasion as deserving in the utmost degree of the condemnation of the Executive. The statement of my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork is before the House. He has described what occurred between himself and the police after the train had left the station. He has told the House how the Inspector admitted that only three shots were fired. He has shown how, upon examination, he found that all three shots were fired by the police, and with such unimpeachable evidence before him, surely the right hon. Gentleman, if he conducted the business of his office as it should be conducted, would agree to make a thorough inquiry into the proceeding, and to hold a public inquiry on oath, and thereby satisfy the public that the truth would be elicited. These are the heads of the very grave matters I charge against the police this evening. I shall reserve my comments on the right hon. Gentleman's reply until we have got his explanation. For the present I shall not deal at any greater length with the administration of the Police Force in Ireland, my desire being to concentrate the attention of the right hon. Gentleman upon these particular matters.
§ MR. O'HEA (Donegal, W.)
I wish to press upon the right hon. Gentleman a few further considerations appertaining to the same occasion. I was witness of most of the events that occurred in Cork in the earlier part of the day, but I was not present at the railway station, 593 although I have taken the trouble to satisfy myself as to what occurred on that occasion. My hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan, knowing that Mr. O'Brien was coming from a distant part of the country, left his hotel accompanied by two young ladies, the daughters of the proprietor, to meet his friend. I have since obtained a graphic account of the occurrence at the station. The party left the hotel about half an hour before the train was due to arrive at the station, and at the time of their arrival there, they found very few people present, although a large crowd of police had mustered. They ascertained from one of the porters at what portion of the platform the carriage in which Mr. O'Brien was travelling would be likely to draw up, and while the Member for North Monaghan was talking to a Tipperary gentleman, a policeman, known to these young ladies, recommended them to go down to the lower end of the platform, because he said they would be quite safe there. Why did he give that advice to the young ladies? The manifest answer is—that the policeman knew that something was going to happen, and that probably a baton charge would take place as soon as the train arrived. I do not propose to go into all the details of the bludgeoning which followed. I may merely remark that one of the persons who was so injured as to have to be conveyed to the hospital was one of the sergeants of the Mayor of Cork, who had simply gone down to hear the cheer given for Mr. O'Brien. He was in uniform, and one would have thought that his uniform would have protected him from assault; but, as a fact, he was so seriously injured that a fortnight afterwards he had not recovered from the beating he then received. But I repeat that I will not go into the details of so brutal and disgusting an occurrence. Comment has been made on the extraordinary methods employed for the arrest of Mr. O'Brien—
§ MR. O'HEA
Upon the arrest of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, and I respectfully invite the attention of the House to facts which sufficiently indicate the extraordinary circumstances under which my hon. Friend was arrested. It happened that the following evening I was driving on my way home, when I 594 called upon my hon. Friend the Member for East Cork. That gentleman told me that during the whole of the day the front of his office had been patrolled by policemen in uniform, and that the place had also been shadowed by constables in plain clothes, and he gave me certain instructions to carry out in the event of his arrest. While I was in his office a District Inspector, accompanied by the Head Constable and two other constables, entered and arrested him. I suggested to my hon. Friend that he should ask to see the warrant; and when it was shown to him, we found that his name was actually bracketed with that of the hon. Member for North East Cork, and that he was charged in respect of the same offence as had led to the charge against the Member for North-East Cork. Why, I ask, were not both hon. Members arrested on that Sunday? Why did the police distinguish between the two? They knew that my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork, was one of the best-beloved of the Irish representatives; that he was sure of an enthusiastic reception wherever he went, and yet the police took the opportunity of a day of great excitement to arrest him. I will give another illustration to show the temper of the police on this occasion. While a man who had spent the day in the country and had not been to any meetings was walking through one of the streets in Cork, he was pushed up against by a constable. He remonstrated with the man, and told him that if he repeated his conduct he would make it the worse for him. He was at once placed under arrest, marched to the Bridewell, and charged with being drunk and disorderly, and the next morning it was proved in Court that he had for three years been a member of a Total Abstinence Association called "The League of the Cross," and consequently was certainly not under the influence of drink. Thus we see what was the temper of the police at the time they arrested one hon. Member in the presence of another hon. Member, for whom they held a warrant for the joint offence, and which they held over till the following day. The Committee will await with some interest and curiosity the answer given to my hon. Friend (Mr. Flynn), and also to the considerations by which I have endeavoured to supplement his remarks.
§ MR. BLANE (Armagh)
I think it is not an unreasonable proposition that the Constabulary Force of a country should have some relation to the number of people in the country. The Irish Constabulary Returns, however, show that whilst the population of Ireland has decreased within the last 50 years, the Constabulary Force has increased both in number and expense. I find from Returns presented to the House, that in 1840 there were in Ireland 8,175,000 people. This year the population is only a little more than 4,000,000. One would expect that the force which in 1840 kept law and order very fairly going would be sufficient for the Chief Secretary now; but it appears the right hon. Gentleman cannot work with the same tools that equally distinguished men were fairly successful with in 1840. I find that in 1840 the pay of the Inspector General of Constabulary was £1,300. Nothing appears to have been paid him for allowances, travelling expenses, and the like. Now, however, the salary of the Inspector General is £1,500, and allowances bring up his total receipts to over £2,000. The County Inspectors of 1840 were thought to be well paid at £298. They received nothing for allowances or travelling expenses. Nowadays the County Inspectors receive £450, plus a large amount for allowances and travelling expenses. The first-class District Inspectors in 1840 were paid £150 and no allowances; now they get £300, together with allowances and travelling expenses. When we find that the travelling expenses alone for last year amounted to £38,361, and that in the present year they are estimated to be £41,861, the item is worthy of some consideration. I find that in 1840 the second-class District Inspectors thought themselves very well paid at £120; but the present second-class District Inspectors are not satisfied with less than £250, besides travelling allowances, extra pay, allowances for barrack accommodation, or, in lieu thereof, lodging money. The lowest class of District Inspectors were paid £100 in 1840, and there was no dearth of candidates for the post, but now similar officers are paid £125. The average wages of the heads of families in Ireland is about 11s. or 11s. 6d. per week, but the Irish constables, who are taken from the very 596 humblest families, received in 1840 £24 a year, but now they get £62 8s. A soldier only receives £18 4s., and out of that he has a large amount to pay for different expenses. Acting sergeants got £27 14s. in 1840, but a generous British public now pays them £72 16s. Sergeants received £32 7s. in 1840, but the pay has been increased to £80 12s. 6d. Head Constables in barracks received £60 a year in 1840, but now they get £104. Surgeons received £300 in 1840, but now they receive £400 and about £100 for allowances and travelling expenses. The members of the Clerks' Department of the Constabulary, Lower Castle Yard, in 1840 thought they were abundantly paid by £1,000. Then there was a population of 8,175,000; but now, with only half the population, the Clerks' Department costs more than four times as much—namely, £4,845. In 1840 the Paymaster of the Constabulary received £200, but now he is paid £557, plus allowances and extra pay, and, if I mistake not, a clerk all to himself or £48 in lieu thereof. The whole extra pay of the Constabulary in 1840 was represented by 0, but now it amounts to £34,804. The travelling allowances in 1840 were also represented by 0, but I can well understand that now, with marching columns at the beck and call of every rack-renter in the country, the travelling expenses should amount to £38,361. Many gross abuses are disclosed in the discussions on the Estimates; but I defy anyone to show anything so corrupt as the expenditure of the money under this Vote. Now, as to the character of the crimes committed in Ireland, I remember that one read out by the Chief Secretary with great unction was that of a man putting out his tongue to a policeman. An hon. MEMBER: In a threatening manner.] Just so. And then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that there were a large number of threatening letters. We have over and over again stated that the constabulary wrote threatening letters, sometimes by their own hand and at other times by deputy. £18,800 is set down for postage. I defy any Minister to justify the charge. It is physically impossible for the police in their ordinary work to expend £18,800 in penny stamps. I have seen some of these threatening letters. 597 I know that when an officer of constabulary in a particular district wants to be promoted and there is not sufficient crime in his district, he gets threatening letters sent. The place is proclaimed, new barracks are erected, and the officer receives promotion. Only the other day I received a letter from County Armagh in which it is clearly shown how the police get up outrages. It was only a few days ago that a Sub-Inspector named Bigley, stationed at Lurgan, thought he ought to be a County Inspector. He is a man that has got on step by step from the position of an ordinary constable to that of a second-class Inspector. In the constituency I represent this man paid for the getting up of a constituency, and when he got it up he hired one of his agents to swear away the liberties of the rest of the men. He secured the con viction of some 13 or 14 men, and he received promotion in the force. The other day this same man sent out a body of constabulary armed with rifles evidently with no other object but that of firing on three men who were fishing in Lough Neagh. The men were James Robinson, John Robinson, and John Cameron. They hold the Revenue licence; they were pursuing their calling of fishermen; but Sub-Inspector Bigley ordered three volleys to be fired at them. Two bullets went through the boat, and one struck a small iron vessel in which a fire is kept and smashed it to atoms. The fishermen swore an information against the police, but only one of the constables, a man named Myers, was arrested. Nothing will come of the case, because all the forces of the Crown are always brought to bear to protect policemen. If the fishermen had returned the tire, which I think they would have been fairly justified in doing, we should have had the Chief Secretary asserting that a gross outrage on the police was committed. The Irish Constabulary are above the law. The law is nothing to them except they can use it. When it does not serve their purpose, when it is inconvenient to them, they sling it on one side. In the district of Donegal, that I know something I of, the constabulary have endeavoured by every means in their power to get up outrages, and to provoke the people to breaches of the peace. County Inspectors make Returns as to the ne- 598 cessity of having large forces in particular districts, and when landlords turn out their tenants in thousands they must necessarily have a large constabulary force in the district by way of protection. Captain Hill, the cousin of one of the Conservative Whips, gets more by reason of the police and military being quartered in his district than the whole of his rents are worth. His tenants may adopt the Plan of Campaign; but the officers who are sent to the Gweedore Hotel are better tenants of Captain Hill than his ordinary agricultural tenants. Now, it is utterly impossible for any Minister to defend this Constabulary expenditure, which has risen from £419,442 in 1840 to £1,439,288. And the latter sum does not include the cost of Dublin Metropolitan Police. The Irish Constabulary are not a civil, but a military force, and yet they are kept up in defiance of the Military Act. The other night, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin said he was thankful that we had not a police system the same as in France. But I know that the conduct of the French Police is far different to that of the Irish Police. The Irish Constabulary are a far more formidable force than the French Force, and I fear that a similar state of things to that in Ireland will soon be setup in England. The action of the police in dispersing our meetings is hardly known in London, and I think that, taking all these things together, it would be well for the House to consider at least some of the matters I have put before it, dating from 1840 to the present year, not one of which can be contradicted by anyone in or out of this House. If that consideration is only given them, I think it will be seen that a case has been made out which urgently demands an immediate remedy.
§ MR. H. COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
The first thing that strikes me in regard to this question is that the home policy of this country, as well as its foreign policy, has the effect of doubling our expenditure. It is said that we must have a large expenditure on the police because it is necessary to maintain a large force, but we should not forget that the police force represents in itself the enormous amount of taxation we have to endure, the cost of the Irish Constabulary and military amounting to 25s. 6d. per head per annum to 599 every man, woman, and child in that country. We might, however, govern Ireland for a much less sum if we governed it on the principle of self-government which we adopt in this country. I think my hon. Friends have made out a very strong case, and I cannot but feel that while the suffering is theirs the degradation is ours. Indeed, I have felt a deep sense of degradation as I have heard the tales of sorrow and wrong that have been put before us, but I venture to hope that my Irish friends will recollect that there are many of us here who are not responsible for the state of things they have depicted—a state of things which we will alter as much as we can at the next General Election, whenever that may happen. This Debate has brought out very clearly the fact that the only two places in which the police come into collision with the people are those places in which the people are directly under the management of the Executive—namely, Ireland and London. In other places where they only deal directly with crime the police are the friends of the people, and it is only where they have to deal with the liberties of the people that this relationship is changed. I was much struck by the remarkable figures put before the Committee by the hon. Gentleman who introduced the discussion, as they showed that in 19 years, although the population of Ireland has very considerably decreased, the cost of the Police Force has increased by £571,572. This shows that where we have a statutory policy founded on justice, we can do with a small Police Force, but that where we have a policy like that which the Chief Secretary is trying in vain to carry out, it proves, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, an utter failure, as any policy must be which does not tend to cement the people to us in amicable relationship. If the object of the right hon. Gentleman has been to bring the people into collision with the forces of the Crown then he has been successful; but that is not the object he has to promote, and consequently his policy has been a failure. I think the questions asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. Fowler) were very remarkable questions, and it may be said that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary never answered 600 one of them. In fact, the flippant and slipshod way in which the Chief Secretary addressed the Committee showed that he wished to go round the Cape of Good Hope rather than deal with the matter at hand. I have, however, often noticed the facility with which the right hon. Gentleman evades a straightforward question. He was asked under what item we were to look for the charge for the battering ram, and we could get no direct answer. We have heard a good deal about the increased cost of the police; but, at any rate, the right hon. Gentleman cannot say the crime of the country is increasing, because the facts prove that that is not the case. Why, then, should we have to deal with the increased cost of that force at a time when crime is diminishing? For it is not on the Irish ratepayers alone that the cost falls, it is also made to fall on the taxpayers of this country. My constituents have to pay their proportion, and as their Representative I say they pay it unwillingly, and that we have no right to saddle on the hard-worked people of this country the cost of keeping up a force the main object of which seems to be to enforce the payment of impossible rents. This is a policy that cannot long be maintained. Last autumn I had the misfortune to be in Ireland and while there I witnessed some sad scenes. I was present at one case of eviction where the tenant had been bedridden for two years. There were seven policemen round the hut, and 30 or 40 emergency men, there being altogether about 100 policeman in the vicinity, and all this to get rid of a bedridden tenant. At last, after a deal of persuasion on the part of the priest and myself, we were able to get the tenant to pay the rent, which was only £11. I saw, on the same day, the eviction of the unfortunate man James Doo, of whom the right hon. Gentleman has said, the man was not killed by the eviction but by the exposure. He was over 80 years of age, and had lived on the farm for 60 years, and within three hours of his eviction he was a dead man. I do not hesitate to say—much as I loathe the idea of murder in the form in which it sometimes takes place—that in Ireland, where one man is killed by crime, ten men are killed by that policy of brute force, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secre- 601 tary is the distinguished representative. The Government are aware that this policy of brute force has never yet succeeded, much as it has been tried, and it never will succeed. The policy I believe in is that of removing the grievances of the people, and when we come to display an honest desire to meet the just demands of the Irish people, and to treat them as brethren and neighbours, we shall save the cost of more than two-thirds of the Police Force we now maintain in Ireland. I believe we shall, before very long, be able to put an end to the present state of things. I want to see a real union, not a union in which the policeman walks with his hand on the man he has arrested. I want also to see the time when the Representatives of the Irish people will no longer be subjected to the outrages they now have to encounter. We, on these Benches, are ashamed of such treatment, and want to wipe our hands of the disgrace of it. I protest against it in the name of the English Liberals, and I ask my Irish friends to excuse my intervention in this; but I want them to know that we sympathise with them in the state of things now going on in their country, and are desirous of helping them to remedy it. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman is, in fact, such that the country is only awaiting the opportunity of getting rid both of him and it.
§ MR. ARTHUR WILLIAMS (Glamorgan, S.)
I desire to draw attention to one of the incidents connected with the discharge of the magisterial duty in Ireland which has come under my own observation—I allude to the trial of the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. Cox), and the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. P. Gill), at Drogheda, on the 8th July. My object is to bring before the Committee the kind of evidence which is put forward on such occasions by police constables—evidence which, though tested and rejected on this occasion, is not, I believe, often tested or rejected. The trial took place before two Resident Magistrates, the defendants being charged under the Crimes Act with having taken part in a criminal conspiracy to induce persons whose names were unknown—namely, tenants on the estate of Lord Masserene not to comply with their legal obligations, and also with having taken part in an unlawful assembly to 602 commit such criminal conspiracy. On the 3rd June Drogheda was proclaimed under the Crimes Act, and on the 11th June a meeting was suddenly summoned and held. The two defendants attended and made speeches, which were fully reported in the Freeman's Journal and the Irish Times. The suddenness of the meeting apparently prevented the Magistrates from obtaining the services of a shorthand writer; but at the trial a constable was examined as a witness for the Crown, who swore he had taken, a longhand note of the speeches, and he proceeded to read parts of them which appeared to be fully reported, and were evidently copied from the newspapers, as when tested in cross-examination the witness was unable to take down a single sentence that was read to him, and it was evident from both his evidence and demeanour that he was stating what was absolute falsehood. That was the conviction forced upon my mind, and I think I may say that my friends who were with me were equally impressed with the fact that what he stated was absolutely and physically impossible. I have asked the responsible Executive in Ireland to furnish, the House with the depositions taken down, and which would have shown how the man gave his evidence, but I was told that it was not usual to do that. Surely, then, it is usual in criminal cases to have an inquiry when suspicion attaches to the evidence. I asked the Chief Secretary if such an inquiry had been held; I ask him again whether the circumstances under which this man gave his evidence have been investigated, and why the presiding Magistrate took a day to come to the conclusion that the evidence was unreliable. I have had some little experience—from observations and otherwise—of almost every kind of court in England and Wales—from the court of ordinary summary jurisdiction of the unpaid Police Magistrate—and I unhesitatingly say that if that evidence had been tendered on a charge of ordinary assault before a Petty Sessional Court in England, the Magistrate would have immediately dismissed the charge. I say unhesitatingly, and under a sense of responsibility, that if the Crown Counsel in any Court of Quarter Sessions or any Assize Court in this kingdom had put evidence of that kind in a criminal 603 charge before the jury, the Judge would have immediately invited him in a significant manner to withdraw from the prosecution. But on this evidence we were sent back to Dublin. The Court adjourned. We came back from Dublin, and absolutely the Counsel for the Crown was, I will not say allowed, but invited to address the Court after Mr. Bodkin had put forward proofs convincing to every one's mind of the absolute injustice of continuing the case. The case dragged on almost to the end of the second day before the Resident Magistrate acquitted the gentlemen charged. Now, I hold it my duty to bring these facts under the notice of the Committee. I think they throw a lurid light on what is going on in Ireland. If it is possible for a police constable to give such evidence and have it rejected, and to continue employed in the force and to be allowed to get up evidence of this sort—the only evidence very often which can be brought forward—then I ask the Committee and the country what is there which can be called a semblance of justice in the administration of law in Ireland?
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
I shall move a reduction of this Vote for the Royal Irish Constabulary, but I may say at the outset that it is impossible for Irish Members to refrain from thinking what a vain and hopeless task it is to present the grievances under which the people of Ireland suffer before this House and the Government, when we know that the Minister who is responsible for the administration of the law in Ireland, and who controls the Police Force in that country, said only two or three months ago, in a speech publicly delivered in this city, that he and his Government treated with silent contempt the hon. Member for Cork and those who followed him. It is natural that, under these circumtances, I somewhat reluctantly condescend to address a few remarks to the right hon. Gentleman or to his colleague in the Irish Government. Over and over again, on the floor of this House and throughout the length and breadth of this country, our ease has been stated against the Royal Irish Constabulary; and although the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in the few words which he uttered to night, treated very lightly the charges which 604 have been made, still I think the speeches which have been made by English as well as by Irish Members show that throughout England the people are now becoming thoroughly acquainted with the true nature and object of this so called Police Force in Ireland. The Chief Secretary sneeringly pretends to believe that there are no serious charges to be made against this force; but I think that what we have heard goes far to prove to the people of Ireland, who have borne so much suffering for so long a time, that at last the English people recognise that this Constabulary Force is not a mere Police Force, but that it is simply a power used to enable one class of the inhabitants of the country to trample upon the rights and liberties and property of the rest of the people of that country. Now, it is commonly supposed that in the people of Ireland there is an inbred instinct of opposition to policemen, and it is often stated, as a matter of course, that the Irish people natarally object to the police and rebel on every possible occasion against the constituted authorities. But I do not believe hon. Gentlemen will contradict me when I say that there are no people on the face of the earth who would object less to the existence of a proper and necessary Police Force than the Irish people, and it is simply because we have got a so called Police Force in Ireland that allows crime to exist, and spends its time in interfering with the political life of the country, that we complain in this House and attempt to show the people of England that the Constabulary Force is used in Ireland, not for the purpose of putting down real crime and outrage, but for the purpose of maintaining the ascendancy of the landlord class in Ireland, and of the landlord government which, unfortunately, has the control of the police at the present time. We are not objecting to the Police Force in Ireland as police, but we do object that while there are parts of Ireland wherein moonlighting takes place and crime is allowed to exist, yet the Police Force is simply used for the dispersal of meetings which ought to be free from disturbance, and which certainly have no intention of disturbing the public peace; and while the police are engaged in shadowing Members of Parliament and interfering with public meetings in Ire- 605 land, the real perpetrators of crime and outrage are left alone, and are not interfered with at all. Now, in the course of my journeys through England to address public meetings I have often been asked how it is that, year after year, crime recurs in certain districts with extraordinary regularity. I have been asked, for instance, why it is that in given parts of Kerry moonlighting frequently takes place, and in answering I never could use an argument more powerful and more convincing than that at the very time these crimes are going on, the whole Police Force in Ireland is being used to disperse public meetings and to arrest Members of Parliament for so-called crimes, which were brought into existence by the Coercion Act, passed by this House two years ago. I honestly believe it would be impossible to find an Irishman in this House, either a Conservative or a Nationalist, who would for a single moment utter the slightest complaint against the Police Force in Ireland were its efforts directed against the authors of real crime and outrage. But the reason why we do complain here, year after year, when the Votes for the Royal Irish Constabulary come to be discussed is because we know from the experience of our daily life in Ireland that this vast sum of money is expended in supporting a large force of men who are not policemen, but who form a military body engaged not in the work of preserving the peace, but in work which is really responsible for disturbing the peace. Whenever the peace of Ireland is disturbed, it is upon such unfortunate occasions as the occasion of Mitchelstown, where a number of innocent people—an unarmed body of men met together without the slightest intention of breaking the law—were charged and set upon by these men for whom we are now asked to vote money as protectors of the peace. We know that on this occasion at Mitchelstown three unfortunate men were shot down in the streets of their own peaceful town by members of this force, which the Chief Secretary eulogised with so much warmth. The right hon. Gentleman in his cool, calm, cynical and sneering manner, said he regarded the Police Force in Ireland as the pick of the Irish people. That sentiment comes very well from the right hon. Gentle- 606 man, but I want to know whether it is a sentiment which is calculated to strengthen the hands of men who want to gain respect in Ireland and to govern the Irish people. I want to know whether it is not rather a sneer and an insult to the millions of Irish people, who hold that the police have misbehaved themselves, and who are told to-night by the Chief Secretary that the police are the pick of the population, and that on them alone depends the maintenance of law and order and of civilisation in our country. Had the right hon. Gentleman said the Police Force in Ireland were the only portion of the population that really and sincerely supports the Conservative Government to which he belongs, then he would have made a perfectly accurate statement, but when he comes here and tells the Irish representatives who have been insulted and imprisoned, tracked, and shadowed, and spied upon by these policemen—when he tells us that these policemen are the pick of the Irish population, and that they are the people of whom Ireland ought to be most proud, then I say he is adding a fresh insult to the long list of insults which he is never tired of flinging into the teeth of the representatives of the Irish people, who are elected as freely and as constitutionally and as justly to represent the Irish people in this House as the right hon. Gentleman and those who sit behind him are elected to represent their particular constituencies. The Chief Secretary, in his reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, who took to task on economical grounds the administration of the constabulary, said that the police of Ireland were undoubtedly well paid, because they had exceptional duties to perform, and he said they were men of such a class that it was necessary to pay them highly for their services. Yes, but he had not the hardihood or fairness to say what were the exceptional duties which the Royal Irish Constabulary are called upon to perform, and which necessitate their being paid at this extraordinarily high rate. He did not tell the House that they had to be ready at all times of the year, and at all seasons, in the middle of summer and in the depth of winter—that they had to be always at the beck and call of a few men, who, for selfish reasons, insist on depopulating whole 607 tracts of country, and driving men, women, and children out of the houses in which they were born. They are highly paid, but the word pay is not a proper description. It ought to be described as bribery, pure and simple, for I do believe that unless the Government paid the enormous prices which they do pay for the maintenance of the constabulary, they would not be able to maintain in Ireland a body to do the degrading and miserable and un-Christian work which the Royal Irish Constabulary do to their fellow-countrymen, day after day, on the occasions of these terrible evictions. I am sure that if the people of Great Britain understood that they are called upon to pay annually a million and a half for the maintenance of an armed force in Ireland which is used chiefly for evicting purposes, they would not so easily agree to the payment. It is impossible for any person who has watched the work of the Royal Irish Constabulary to ignore the fact that they are employed in the interests of the landlord classes, and when the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary refrains from telling the House what are the exceptional circumstances for which they are paid, he does well, because directly the people of England find out that they have to pay for the support of these men with their rifles and bayonets—not to put down crime and outrage, not to keep the country in a state of peace and order, but simply to be at the beck and call of the landlords to hunt unfortunate people from their homes for rents which they cannot pay—they will refuse any longer to sanction the maintenance of the force for that purpose. I think the history of civilisation affords no parallel to the scandal of the maintenance of a force like the Royal Irish Constabulary for the purpose of attacking a political party of the State, and for the purpose of enabling a class which is a small minority of the population to harass and treat with injustice the rest of the people who live on the soil of Ireland. If the Chief Secretary desires to make out a case for the Vote, let him get up and tell the House what crimes have been brought to light by the Royal Irish Constabulary within the last twelve months, and how many murderers have been brought to the scaffold through the instrumentality of that Force. Thousands of pounds are, I 608 see, put down for the Detective Department. What crimes have that Department discovered, and what outrages have they put an end to? Have they put an end to moonlighting? Have they swept crime from those portions of the country where outrage and injustice breed crime amongst the populations? No! You are going to pay a million and a half for the maintenance of a body of men who have been engaged—not in tracking murderers down, but in dragging to prison 26 of the lawfully-elected representatives of the people; for a body of men who have been engaged in dispersing political meetings at the point of the bayonet all over Ireland; for a body of men who have not hesitated, at the word of command, to dye their bayonets red with the blood of their fellow-countrymen, when the only crime committed by these men has been to denounce the miserable system of rule under which they live. When we speak of Mitchelstown, the Tories sneer and say we are never tired of talking of it. Why, if such an event had occurred in England, I venture to say it would have been a watchword for Englishmen for generations, and I predict that upon the very first occasion when an armed force of the Queen on the soil of England shoots down three English citizens for no crime except that of exercising the right of public meeting, you will have a revolution in the country which will render it impossible for such a thing to occur again, either in England or in Ireland. The only thing I regret is, that something of that kind does not occur in England, and I do not believe that even the best disposed of the English people towards Ireland really understand what we have to suffer at the hands of this military force which is called a Police Force. Mitchelstown is not an isolated case. Year after year, if you refer back to the records of the Royal Irish Constabulary, you will find they have done the same thing. I, Sir, in my very brief and short experience of public life in Ireland, can enumerate half-a-dozen cases in which the Royal Irish Constabulary have, in interfering with political meetings, shed blood in much the same way as they did at Mitchelstown. I remember a case at Ballyragget, in County Kilkenny, where a man was done to death by the police—where, when he was flying be- 609 fore them, they were not satisfied with merely pursuing him, but they stabbed him through and through the back with their bayonets. I remember when the police fired into a crowd of children at Belmullet, and wounded several of them. And these are the men for whom the Committee are to day asked to vote money! These are the men described by the Chief Secretary as the pick of the Irish population, but who really resemble those bravos and free lances who will, for the sake of money, carry war into the land of any unoffending people. I say it is not in the nature or in the hearts of the Irish people to have a dislike, a loathing, and a distrust such as they have for the Royal Irish Constabulary unless there is good reason for it, and if the police of Ireland are unpopular they have earned that unpopularity by the course of conduct which they have pursued. I, for one, would never allow this Vote to pass in the House of Commons without entering my most sincere and emphatic protest against a system whereby a real Police Force is denied to Ireland. I will never consent to Vote a single halfpenny for the continuance in Ireland of this military body merely for the purpose of supporting and sustaining the landlord class. I challenge the Solicitor General for Ireland to get up here and state upon what occasion the police in Ireland were ever brought to task for exceeding their duty, and upon what occasion they were ever brought to justice when they shed the blood of innocent persons. I know of no such occasion. I know of coroners' juries composed of conscientious and God fearing men who have deliberately set themselves to find out the truth in these cases, and who have brought verdicts of wilful murder against the police. This was done in the case of Mitchelstown, and in that of Ballyragget, as well as in other cases. But what was the result? After such a verdict has been returned, I have seen the police officers, against whom these verdicts were returned, walking up and down the public streets smoking pipes and laughing in scorn and derision at the peasantry, who were so foolish as to imagine that a policeman, whatever his grade, would be made amenable to the law. I complain that not only have you never punished these men, but you 610 have never even gratified that craving for justice among the people by giving them even an inquiry into the conduct of the police on these occasions. You take no pains to show that the police would not be allowed to exceed their duty, and can any Englishman wonder if the people of Ireland believe that the police will be held blameless no matter what they may do, no matter what crimes they perpetrate? Can it be wondered at that the Irish people believe this when they see these outrages committed by the police, and when they see no attempt made by the Government to punish even the most flagrant offenders? Does the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, with all this knowledge, think he is going to conciliate Ireland and disarm opposition when he gets up, and, instead of offering some hopes that justice may be done, or that an inquiry will be instituted, he deliberately and in a sneaking manner tells us that this force of men, whose hands are dyed with the blood of innocent people, and are hardly free from the blood of one of our own colleagues in this House, comprises the pick of the Irish population? I am quite certain that the result of this Debate will be to show the Irish people more clearly than ever that it is impossible to get any real appreciation of Irish grievances and Irish wrongs from Members of the present Government. It may be said it is a proper thing to give instances of police insult and interference in Ireland. Now, in my seven years' experience as a Member of this House, I have some knowledge of the Force, and I venture to say I have never spent a month in Ireland without repeatedly being the subject of insult from these men. It would be difficult to make Englishmen believe the unwarrantable manner in which Irish policemen intrude themselves into private dwellings, and order the people, without the slightest authority, to disperse. I remember that in conjunction with my hon. Friend the Member for the College Green Division of Dublin, I some time ago attended a meeting in the County of Wexford which was called to protest against the action of the Government in instituting certain proceedings which subsequently they were obliged to forego because they were miserably beaten. While the people were as- 611 sembled, two policemen came up and I ordered the meeting to disperse. They had not the slightest authority to do so, and it was only at the solicitation of my hon. Friend and myself that the people went away quietly and no disturbance occurred. I believe that nine-tenths of the collisions which occur between the police and the people are caused by the unwarrantable interference of the police with the people when they have no legal right to interfere. Now I come to the circumstances connected with the arrest of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, and I want to ask the Solicitor General for Ireland to explain the statement which he made in defending the conduct of the police in firing from the train at the crowd on Charlesville railway platform. He said that the crowd fired at the train, but he gave us no proof of the statement; and I say that there was never a more scandalous trick, or a more disgraceful piece of Parliamentary tactics intended to prejudice our case. I challenge him now to produce his proof, and I want to know will he grant an inquiry into what took place on this occasion. We maintain that the police acted in a most reprehensible manner in firing upon an unarmed crowd of inoffensive people, and I should like to know what can be the objection to the institution of an inquiry. I suppose the Government think that it might damp the ardour of the police if they granted an investigation into circumstances such as these, and that if the force received another telegram, "Do not hesitate to shoot," they might not fire so readily if they had reason to fear that an investigation would follow upon their conduct. I, therefore, fully expect that the right hon. Gentleman will refuse to grant an inquiry. I suppose he will refuse to believe the statement of the case which the Member for North-East Cork has seriously made to this House, and I suppose at the same time, while refusing to believe what the Irish Members say, and to grant the inquiry asked for, he will continue to eulogise the Constabulary Force.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
There are things upon which the Committee ought to have explanations from the Chief Secretary. We have discussed on two occasions, first, the attack upon the Member for North Monaghan, and secondly, what is called the Charleville 612 incident; but on both occasions the discussion took place with little or no official information. The time has now come when information must be in the hands of the Government, and the Committee ought to have it. I am one of those who believe that the police have not always been well handled, and that on several critical occasions they have been badly handled. So strongly do I feel it that if the hon. Member moves for an inquiry I will vote for it. There is another thing which the Government ought to grant. A complaint is made that the Irish police are not numbered. They are numbered in Dublin, Belfast and Cork. I do not see why they should not be numbered in every part of the country. Having said these two things, I will also say that I will be no party to any general attack upon the police, who have done their duty in difficult circumstances and, all things considered, fairly well. An hon. Member has said that the police are present at evictions for private purposes, and that the landlords ought to pay for their services. Why are the police present at evictions? I am old enough to remember that evictions used to be carried out without the presence of the police, or when they were present in very different numbers. But hon. Members below the Gangway have been advising the people for two or three years back to resist evictions, to barricade their houses, and to resist the officers of the law. The sheriff goes to carry out the law, and the Executive is bound by law to protect the sheriff. Hon. Members below the Gangway know well that the Government are bound to protect the sheriff, and therefore to send the police to protect him. Let hon. Members stop their illegal acts and the Government will not send the police.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Let the tenants pay their rent. The hon. Member for Donegal talks of people who have applied to the Chief Secretary for appointments, as if the hon. Member never held an appointment himself and never applied for it. I wish he had been here to listen to what I have to say.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
On a point of order, I wish to ask if the hon. Member for South Tyrone was in order in making a statement of a most damaging character with regard to an hon. Member who is absent from this House.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The hon. Member for South Tyrone was not guilty of a breach of order. I call on the hon. Member for North Fermanagh to withdraw the words he used.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Of course I bow to your ruling in the matter, but if the hon. Member likes to meet me outside I will repeat the words.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
With great deference to you, Sir, I beg your pardon, but I did withdraw the expression. What I said was that I withdrew in deference to your ruling the words to which you objected, but I would be glad to have explanations with the hon. Member on the point outside.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
That is not a satisfactory explanation, and I call on the hon. Member to withdraw the fresh words he has used.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Well, Sir, I take the hon. Member's speech. He talked of the issue of passes by the police in the county of Donegal. What were the facts with respect to the issue of these passes? After the murder of Inspector Martin the police made no effort to arrest anybody for 48 hours; but when they began the work of arrest they made up their minds that the persons wanted were within a certain area, and round that area they drew a cordon. People whom the police knew to be perfectly innocent then came to them and asked for a "bit of paper," as they called it, authorising them to pass through the cordon. The responsible police officer issued no passes except on the personal request of individuals. Another case which has been brought before the Committee was that of a policeman who was ordered out of Court on the ground that he was intoxicated. It is true that the man was ordered to leave the Court; but the Committee should have been told that two days afterwards he was sent to a lunatic asylum, where he still remains. The unfortunate man was not drunk when he appeared in Court, but was becoming insane. Another instance of police brutality that has been brought before us is that of a constable telling some excited man at Clonmel Station to go to the devil. Then we had the old story served up to us about Widow Coyle's ducks. We have heard of these ducks all through, the Session, and now we are told that they are going to rise and condemn us at the General Election. I think the police were badly handled on the occasion of Father M'Fadden's arrest; but I maintain that, with that exception, they have all through this Donegal business acted with great prudence, caution, and moderation. The hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division of Derbyshire (Sir W. Foster) complained that when he visited the County of Limerick he was "shadowed" by five or six policemen. I think that was a regrettable incident, and I am very sorry that it should have taken place; but there is something still more regrettable—namely, that some English Members of Parliament should have gone to disturbed districts in Ireland and assisted the people to defy the law. If English Members, weighted with their Parliamentary responsibility, aid the people to defy the law, they must not complain 615 if the police think it necessary to "shadow" them. I regret that it should have been necessary to "shadow" any Member of Parliament; but, in the circumstances, I cannot blame the police. There are people who can go through Ireland from end to end without being "shadowed." I will tell the Committee why.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The observation of the hon. Member is very disorderly. I must beg him to restrain himself.
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON
I was merely saying that they are able to do it because they libel other Irish Members.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The reason is that the police have no cause to shadow them because they go to Ireland with no intention to rouse ill-feeling, and do not advise the people to defy and break the law. I maintain that any English Member of Parliament who keeps within the law can travel from end to end of Ireland and need not fear the smallest interference from any policeman.
§ * MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
The Debate has turned upon two very distinct questions, one being the purely economical question raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Fowler), and the other the question raised by the hon. Member below the Gangway. With regard to the economical question, my right hon. Friend pointed out that, although in London there are 1,500 more police than in Ireland with about the same population, the actual cost of the police is in Ireland £200,000 more than in London. These figures are, I think, very striking indeed, and deserve the most serious attention of the Committee and the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in his speech resorted again to the old tu quoque argument. I am ready to admit that under the present administrative system in Ireland it would be extremely difficult for any Chief Secretary to make any serious change in the emoluments of the police. As long as the existing system is maintained the good will of the police 616 force will be so necessary to the Government that no Chief Secretary would dare to incur the unpopularity of that body. But this is really only another argument against our whole system of administration in Ireland. Assuming, however, that the emoluments of the police must remain unaltered, is it absolutely necessary that the force should be maintained at its present strength? Ireland is a very poor agricultural country, and the part of the United Kingdom which can best be compared with it is Wales. Now, Wales has a population of 1,350,000 and only 900 policemen. If the same proportion were observed in Ireland her Police Force would number 3,150 instead of 14,500. The Police Force of Ireland relatively to her population is therefore four times as large as that of Wales. Nobody can fail in Ireland to note the superabundance of policemen. At every railway station there are two constables, and for their presence no one had ever been able to give me a satisfactory explanation. Another way in which the police are employed was in dogging the steps of the leaders of the Nationalists in rural districts. This very day I have received a letter from a leading tradesman in Castlereagh who complains that for months past he has been constantly pursued by two constables. I believe that the object of this surveillance is to prevent him from attending any meeting of the local Leagues, but he says that it is absolutely futile, for he can always evade the men who are watching him when he wishes. Then there is the question of the "shadowing" of Members of Parliament and other gentlemen who go over to Ireland from this country. Last autumn I complained myself in the House of having been shadowed by the police wherever I went, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary did not deny it, but justified it by saying that if I went to Ireland again with the same object probably the same course would be followed. It is an indignity to Members of Parliament, dishonourable to the Government, and altogether unconstitutional for the police to dog them in this way when they have committed no offence whatever. I willingly admit that the Constabulary are often placed in a position of great difficulty and responsibility, and that at times 617 they no doubt receive considerable provocation; but, even making every allowance for them, it is impossible not to see that in the last few months there has been a considerable increase of roughness and brutality on their part towards the people. Even the hon. Member for South Tyrone has said that the police have not always of late been very well handled. We have not yet heard from the Government any defence as to the incidents at Cork and Charleville; but the action of the police on those occasions appears to have been extremely rough and brutal, and calculated to provoke a conflict with the people. Again, on the occasion of the removal of Dr. Tanner from Tipperary to Clonmel, the people who cheered Dr. Tanner were immediately attacked by the police, 20 persons being batoned by them and seriously injured. There is practically no redress for injuries of that kind. If an appeal is made to the Magistrates by the sufferers, the story told by the police is taken as gospel, and the evidence of any number of respectable persons on the other side is disbelieved and rejected. The Chief Secretary himself has repeatedly spoken of attempts to disparage the statements of the police as gross calumnies. In the case of Denis Healy, who was charged with being present at a League meeting, the two Resident Magistrates ignored all the evidence for the defence, and sentenced the accused to six months' imprisonment with hard labour—a punishment very harsh and excessive, even if the offence charged had been fully proved. In another recent instance three men were charged with stoning the police on their return from an eviction on the Ponsonby estate. There was not a scrap of evidence to show that the accused men had thrown stones, and the Magistrates said the only doubt arose from none of the police having actually seen the men throw stones, but they were convinced the men were in the row, and they must give bail for their good behaviour or go to gaol for three months. I have no doubt that it is the line taken by the Chief Secretary in this House when complaints are made of such matters which gives the cue to the Resident Magistrates. The Constabulary Force is in the position of a kind of Prætorian guard in Ireland, and the 618 Government dare not interfere with it or with its emoluments from the fear of weakening its authority. It appears to me that the present position of things as regards the police is indefensible and deserves the most serious consideration of this House; and for my part I cannot conclude without condemning the action of the police and the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in this House.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has told the House that he is quite certain that I have to defend a great many things which I should be very reluctant to defend under any other circumstances. But I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that however that may be I have no reluctance, and that I feel no disinclination in defending the character of the Irish Constabulary. As I have said before, I believe the Irish Constabulary have shown themselves throughout circumstances of the most difficult and trying character, a Police Force of which any country might be proud, and which I believe to be superior to the Police Force which exists in any other country in the world. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford has for some reason or other I do not know what, been left to lead the Opposition in their attack upon the Government in the matter of the Irish Constabulary. I have watched with amazement the condition of the House above the Gangway opposite, during a considerable portion of the evening, and I noticed that while two important speeches were being delivered, that the solitary occupant of those benches was an hon. Gentleman whose name I do not know, but who was fast asleep. Not a single Member on the Front Opposition Bench was present. When I reflect that on the Front Opposition Bench usually sit two Gentlemen who have held the office of Irish Secretary, I really cannot conceive why the Leadership of the Opposition was left to the right hon. Gentleman whose only connection with Ireland has been that he refused on a critical occasion to accept the office of Irish Secretary. Now I do not propose to go at length through certain parts of the speeches delivered from below the Gangway opposite. I do not complain of the tone of those speeches; they are, as compared 619 with what we have heard in previous years, moderate and reasonable. Hon. Members will forgive me if I do not go at length into some of the wonderful fictions we have heard tonight—such as that we heard from the hon. Member for South Armagh (Mr. Blane) who told us that the police were habitually occupied in the part of the country with which he was acquainted in getting up crimes, in writing threatening letters partly in their own hands and partly by deputy, all for the purpose of increasing the number of their body who are required to preserve peace and order. Well, I think that is a kind of accusation I may be forgiven for passing by without further comment. There have been a good many vague attacks against the police made, sometimes without name, date, or place being given, sometimes without sufficient details to enable the truth of the matter to be found, and sometimes at such short notice that it is impossible for anyone who holds the position of Chief Secretary to find out the true version of the story which it has pleased hon. Gentlemen in the full glow of their eloquence to present to the House. But I propose to deal with most of the specific points which have been raised, and the first of these has reference to the actual number of men in the Constabulary Force. It has been said by various speakers, and it has been repeated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, that the number of the police in Ireland is totally disproportionate to the population. Well, in the remarks I made earlier in the evening, I pointed out that the cost of the Irish Force is not at all extravagant, as compared with the cost of the Metropolitan Police; but with regard to the actual numbers of the police I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has joined in the attack on this point, because at the present time the number of the police is smaller than it was in 1869 and in 1870, when crime was at an extremely low point in Ireland. It is very much less than it was in 1882 when the right hon. Gentleman was in Office, and it is exactly at the same point as it was when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was the Leader of a Government which brought in a Home Rule Bill. In 1870 there were 620 13,200 police in Ireland; in 1882 the number rose to 14,800, and it has now sunk again to a little over 12,000, which is the figure at which it stood at the introduction of the Home Rule Bill. If hon. Gentlemen, therefore, complain of the number of police in Ireland I hope they will not fall into the mistake of the hon. Member for Bristol and attribute the numbers to Conservative as opposed to Liberal policy. It has nothing to do with either. Both Liberal and Conservative Governments have felt it to be absolutely necessary to keep the police very much up to the present figures; and the highest number ever reached under any Government was in 1882, not under a Conservative, but under a Liberal Government. I hope hon. Gentlemen who have taken the trouble to study the Estimates have noticed the fact that whereas the two most important augmentations in the present year's Vote have been due to the auto-tomatic action of Acts of Parliament, which prescribe the amount of pay and pension, the two greatest diminutions in the Vote have been due clearly to the improved state of the country. While the augmentations are due to certain Acts of Parliament, for which the Liberal Government and not the present Government are responsible, the diminutions are due to a decrease in the transport of constabulary from one part of the country to another, and to other causes which are directly traceable to the improved state of the country, Passing from these more general accusations to certain specific accusations brought against members of the Constabulary Force, I will first deal with the statement of the hon. Member for South Glamorgan, with regard to the evidence given by a policeman of the name of Robinson in the case of two hon. Members of the House, recently brought before a Court under the Crimes Act for speeches alleged to have been delivered in futherance of the Plan of Campaign. The hon. Member appeared to think that this case was a most remarkable illustration of the wickedness of the present Irish administration. I confess I could not entirely follow the hon. Gentleman in his reasoning on this point. It appears that the two Members 621 in question were acquitted, so that the monstrous proceedings of an Irish Court of Justice are in the mind of the hon. Member for South Glamorgan (Mr. S. J. Williams) illustrated by the fact that the two Gentlemen were not found guilty of the offence with which they were charged ["Deal with the policeman!"] I am dealing with the argument of the hon. Member in the order in which he developed it, and though it may not be pleasing to hon. Gentlemen opposite I am justified in so doing. As far as I understand the case, which the hon. Member has taken some trouble to inquire into, the Magistrates were of opinion that the constable's evidence was not trustworthy, and that the report, which he stated to the Court was one he had derived from listening to the speeches, was not, in their opinion, a trustworthy reproduction of the notes taken by that constable on the spot. I quite admit, if that is any consolation to hon. Gentlemen, that this was a grave accusation to bring against the constable, but what has not been sufficiently dwelt upon by hon. Members opposite is that the speeches, according to the Freeman's Journal, were actually delivered, and that the account given of them in Court was not inaccurate; so that in all probability, if that account had been supported by evidence of which the Court could have taken cognizance, the hon. Members in question would have been found guilty. The hon. Members themselves will not deny that.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Very well; the hon. Member will have an opportunity of explaining. It is said that the constable, instead of trusting to his long-hand notes of the speeches made, doctored them up from the report in the Freeman's Journal. But it has not yet been denied that the speeches were delivered as reported in the Freeman's Journal. Of course, the fact that they were reported in the public Press is not legal evidence; but if those reports were accurate, it is sufficient ground for thinking that the hon. Members were guilty of the offence charged against them.
§ MR. GILL
The right hon. Gentleman has entirely overlooked the point, which is, that this policeman in Court swore that the notes of the speech which he read out wore taken verbatim at the meeting, and that what was produced was a transcript of those notes, whereas it was proved in Court that this was a perjured statement, and that the policeman had copied the speech from extracts here and there in the Freeman's Journal. He was guilty of perjury.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member was one of the two Members accused on this occasion, and after his explanation, I suppose it now may be taken that the hon. Gentleman did deliver the speech, as reported in the Freeman's Journal?
§ MR. GILL
On this point of personal explanation, may I say that I do not rise to explain my position before the House. I have been tried before the Court, and I am prepared to defend my position on any proper occasion. The question before the Committee is the conduct of this policeman, and the object of my interruption was to correct the mis-statement of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman is very good. I quite understand the point of accusation against the policeman, and it is as the hon. Gentleman has stated it. But what I wish to point out, in answer to the hon. Member for South Glamorgan, who adduced this incident in proof of the iniquities of the administration of the Law in Ireland ["No, no,"] and that the police were improperly employed.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
No doubt the hon. Member for South Glamorgan was called to order, but he was somewhat persistent in spite of that. The right hon. Gentleman is not repeating that offence.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I will assume for the sake of argument—I am sorry that this interruption may destroy the continuity of the record of what I am saying—that the policeman doctored the long-hand notes which he took with the help of the Freeman's Journal; that the report of the Freeman's Journal was accurate; and that 623 if the report was accurate the recollection of the policeman was substantially accurate also, and that the two hon. Gentlemen were presumably guilty of the offence charged against them.
§ MR. GILL
I am sorry again to have to interrupt the hon. Gentleman on a personal matter, but I really would submit it is most unfair that the right hon. Gentleman should be placing on Irish Members the necessity of defending a position which they have already had to defend in a Court of Law, instead of arguing the point before the Committee, going off into extraneous personal matter to which I submit he has no right to allude in this manner.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is not called upon to make any statement. The question is simply as to the evidence produced.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I was explaining the relation which the evidence of the policeman had to the broad equities of the case, as brought before the Committee by the hon. Member for South Glamorgan. This was the case which, in the opinion of the hon. Member, "threw a lurid light upon the Administration of the law in Ireland." This was the hon. Member's sole case; it was his standing example of the iniquities of the Irish Administration. It was a ease in which a policeman grossly transgressed his duty ["Perjurer." "Was he punished?"], in which the evidence was so carefully sifted by the Magistrates that it was rejected, and the two hon. Members were acquitted; yet in which it is not denied that they were guilty, and yet we are told by a Welsh Member that this is a typical example of the iniquity of the administration of the law in Ireland as carried out by Magistrates and Policemen.
§ MR. ARTHUR WILLIAMS
I am sorry I have not heard the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but I must disclaim the sweeping assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that I brought forward this as a typical case of the iniquity of the administration of the Law in Ireland. I brought it forward as duty impelled me, as an instance which came under my notice of the kind of evidence which appeared to prevail in Ireland.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, the hon. Member brought it forward as the 624 kind of evidence that convinced a Court of Law in Ireland, but as a matter of fact the evidence did not convince the Court of Law. The hon. Gentleman was not, unfortunately, in the House when I began, but certainly he told us in a strain of rich poetical metaphor that this case threw a lurid light over the administration of the Law in Ireland. I am certain he will not disclaim the phrase; indeed, I thought he seemed rather proud of it. Now, when the hon. Member speaks of a case "throwing a lurid light" I conceive that in my mild and more prosaic language I do not misrepresent him when I describe it as a typical example. And now I pass to the various incidents connected with the arrest of the hon. Member for North-East Cork. The hon. Member for Louth has attacked me because the hon. Member has been prevented from being present in the House this evening. Now, for my part, I have taken great pains to secure the attendance of the hon. Member this evening. As soon as I heard that the trial was to take place on Thursday I wrote to the Attorney General for Ireland saying that after what had passed in the House I thought that the case should be postponed. I believe that telegrams were also sent to the hon. Member himself and to his solicitor saying that the case had been postponed.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member for North-East Cork only arrived this evening in Ireland. In any case telegrams were sent. As soon as I heard that the trial was to be on Thursday, I took what steps I could not only to have the trial postponed, but to have the hon. Member informed that the trial was to be postponed. Besides, there is no reason why the hon. Member should have left London last night even if the trial were not postponed. He might have been at the trial on Thursday, and yet be in the House during the course of the present Debate.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
Corrections of fact are not points of order. The hon. Member may make his statement later; he is not entitled to interrupt now.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am sorry the hon. Member for North-East Cork is not here, and pass from what after all is not material to the main issues before us. It has been asked why procedure against the hon. Member was taken by arrest instead of by summons. I greatly prefer procedure by summons, and I have done my best, and shall do my best to continue the procedure by summons; but it is perfectly impossible for the Irish Government to give effect to the practice if hon. Members choose to disobey the summons, or, as the hon. Member for North-East Cork has done, escape from the Court after he has nominally obeyed the summons, and career about the country making speeches. [Cries of "Manchester."] I have no objection in the abstract to speeches by the hon. Member, whether made in Manchester or anywhere else; but if the hon. Member is going to take advantage of procedure by summons instead of by arrest to disobey the summons and to make speeches, it does not lie in the mouth of the hon. Member nor in the mouths of his friends to complain of the Government if they abandon process by summons and adopt that by arrest. But it is well known that Mr. O'Brien is not the greatest sinner in this respect. There are other hon. Members who have been proceeded against by summons, and who have simply regarded the summons as an indication that their business was to evade arrest by the police and career about the country. It is in connection with this arrest that the terms "recklessness" and "brutality" have been used about the police, and that the injuries were inflicted which are said to have been inflicted, and which I have no doubt were inflicted on the hon. Member for Monaghan, though I have no official information on the subject. I have no official knowledge on the subject, but, as far as I recollect, what happened was this. There was a considerable crowd collected at the station to meet the Member for North-East Cork. One hon. Member has said that nobody knew that the Member for East-Cork was going to be arrested, 626 and that therefore the crowd could only have been collected to welcome him. That may be perfectly true; but does it follow that when the hon. Member was arrested this crowd assembled to welcome him would not attempt to rescue him? What happened was this. The crowd surged forward. The officer in charge of the police gave the order to draw back in preparation for a charge. After that order he was himself driven by the advancing crowd against the railway carriage. The officer, therefore, could take no further part for the moment in the proceedings, and the police very properly charged against the crowd to prevent further conflict. Whether it was in the course of that mêlèe that the Member for Monaghan (Mr. P. O'Brien) was injured I do not know. [Cries of "You ought to know."] I am told I ought to know. From what source? [Cries of "The Police."] The police probably did not know the Member for Monaghan by sight. The police cannot be expected to give information of a person of whom they very likely knew nothing. The police do not know at this moment at what period of the day's proceedings the Member for Monaghan was injured, and I do not know myself. The only information I have is from the speeches of Members opposite or the reports of the Nationalist newspapers. I should deeply regret if the injuries of the hon. Member were of a serious character. I know the hon. Member for Monaghan was unfortunately not able to be present at an interesting trial the other day. But, although the hon. Gentleman was not present at that trial, he was present at a demonstration on Sunday, and walked for two hours in the garden of the hon. Member for Cork. On Monday also he went to a neighbouring town; on Tuesday went to the fireworks; and on Wednesday morning went to the steps of the court-house to see whether his case was coming on. If, then, on Thursday he found himself so unwell that he was prevented from subjecting himself to cross-examination in court on Friday, there is some hope that his illness is not wholly due to the injuries which he received at the railway station. Now I come to the incident at Charleville. The first point I have to note is the statement that the mob at 627 Charleville, collected at the station, could not have known that the hon. Member for North-East Cork was in the train and had been arrested. It is asserted that the crowd had assembled to welcome the Members who had gone to take part in the deputation at Cork. I give no opinion as to whether the crowd knew that the hon. Member for North-East Cork was in the train or not; but I wish to point out that there was no obstacle to their knowing. It is said that the telegraph office at Charleville was shut at ten o'clock in the morning; but everybody must be aware that if a telegraph clerk was in attendance—and I believe a clerk was on the spot—there would have been no difficulty in tapping the wires and finding out what messages were being sent. There was no difficulty in ascertaining whether the hon. Member had been arrested. Whether that information was obtained or not I do know, nor is it material to the case. What is material is that at the station there had assembled a large, disorderly, and excited mob, who showed every disposition to rescue the Member for North-East Cork, and might very likely have rescued him if they had not been prevented by the police. The hon. Member for Louth has stated that all that was collected at Charleville Station was a little group of band-boys who wanted to shake hands with the hon. Member. I would ask hon. Members to study their own Nationalist newspapers. The Cork Examiner states that on the arrival of the hon. Member there was a tremendous crowd with a band playing "God save Ireland"; that the people were wild with excitement, wanting to get Mr. O'Brien out of the train; that the police fired, but the people showed determination and dared the police to come out and fight. I admit that is not conclusive evidence on the whole case, but it is conclusive against the contention of the hon. Member for Louth that all that was collected was "a little group of band boys wanting to shake hands with the hon. Member for North-East Cork." Let the Committee compare the magnitude which these incidents take as represented by the Nationalist Press in Ireland, which wishes to excite the 628 people, with the magnitude they bear in the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite who wish to reassure the English public. In that comparison the Committee will find the whole secret of the method adopted by hon. Gentlemen opposite when they are dealing with Irish questions before the English constituencies. The hon. Member for North-East Cork gave an account of the Charleville incident as it appeared to him. It is absolutely impossible to reconcile the story as told by the hon. Member with the story as I have received it from the various police officials concerned. But I feel sure that the inaccuracy is not wholly on the side of the police officials. If we could have taken the account of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, which I have not the least doubt was delivered with his ordinary good faith, we should have been led to believe that no injury whatever was done on that occasion to District Inspector Concannon except a slight dent on his helmet. As a matter of fact, that gentleman received a severe blow on the head and his left arm was so seriously injured that he was threatened with the permanent loss of it, and prevented from attending duty for, I think, a fortnight. There has been some conflict of evidence as to whether the crowd fired or not. If, however, it be true, as the Nationalist journals assert, that there was at Charleville on the arrival of the hon. Member a tremendous crowd, wild with excitement, waiting to get at the hon. Member, and desiring to fight the police, I think that even if the police, a small body of men, six in one carriage and about six in another, showed undue excitement in the matter, their action ought not to be seriously condemned by any man who realizes the situation in which they were placed. For my own part I regret that it should even be found necessary for any officer of the Irish Constabulary to use any weapon of any sort or kind. I think it would be far better that they should, where it is possible, confine their energies to directing their men; but that I am to bring an accusation against these gentlemen on the facts presented to me, even in the Nationalist journals themselves, is a course which I for one absolutely decline to take.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I believe they were. Now, Sir, I pass from that. Two hon. Members, the hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division of Derbyshire (Sir W. Foster) and the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) have complained that when they went to Ireland they were shadowed by the police. Well, I am very sorry any hon. Member should be subjected to inconvenience, and if the Irish Constabulary knew the right hon. Member for Bradford as well as I do I am certain they would never take the trouble to shadow him. But the right hon. Gentleman must recollect that everybody is not as innocuous as he is, and there have been cases where Members of this House have gone to places where an illegal conspiracy was in existence, amd have been known to sympathise with it and to do their best to propagate and promote it, and under such circumstances the police would not be doing their duty if they did not watch the movements of those hon. Members. In watching the hon. Member for Ilkeston, who was going to look at houses which had been barricaded in order to resist the officers of the law, the police might have made a mistake, but I cannot say it was a very blameworthy one if they thought the hon. Gentleman was a person who sympathised with such proceedings. I suppose they thought the hon. Gentleman looked a suspicious character. I think they were mistaken.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that he said at the time if I went there again I should be treated in the same way.
§ * MR. BALFOUR
I do not think I could have said that. I must have overrated the right hon. Gentleman's importance at the time. The hon. Member for Donegal has raised a question with reference to the action of the police in regard to the battering ram. The battering ram has been a fruitful topic for the hon. Member, and I am the last person who would desire to destroy the hon. Member's monopoly, but I must inform him that the reason the battering ram does not appear in the Estimates is that it has not been paid for out of Public Funds.
MR. MAC NEILL
On April 15, 1889, the right hon. Gentleman said that if there were any cost at all it would fall upon Public Funds and would appear in 630 the Estimates. On April 16, the right hon. Gentleman's legal adviser, the Solicitor General for Ireland, was able to inform the House that the cost of the battering ram was £48 18s. 2½d. There has, therefore, been a cost. Where does it come from?
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member has entirely misapprehended my answer. Of course, if the taxpayers were asked for the money it would appear on the Estimates, but if they were not asked to pay it would not appear.
MR. MAC NEILL
Will the right hon. Gentleman give me an English answer? Once for all, who pays for it?
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The only question the hon. Gentleman has a right to ask me is whether the Government do or do not pay for it.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member is entirely mistaken on that point. I am perfectly ready, however, to defend the use of the ram, although its cost does not appear on the Estimates. It is unnecessary to go further than the Donegal evictions to see the enormous advantage which the ram was to the people themselves, if to no one else. The use of any instrument which shortens the painful scenes which hon. Gentlemen think it right to get up at the time of evictions is of immense benefit to all concerned. The Freeman's Journal gives an account of the scene at an eviction on the Olphert estate which happened before the use of the implement so dear to the heart of the hon. Member for Donegal. The account states that the house was prepared for attack, the doors and windows being removed and obstructions erected. When the emergency men rushed forward with crowbars to remove the obstruction, the men in the house opened a fusilade of stones upon them from the windows, encouraged, and perhaps directed, by the shouts in Irish of their 631 friends on the neighbouring mountains, and drove the attackers away. The emergency men again rushed forward and succeeded in pushing down the first obstruction at the entrance, but found a second. Then the slates were knocked off immediately above their heads, and these dangerous missiles came down in such a shower about their ears that they were driven back, to the frantic delight of the crowd and the evident gratification of the besieged. After several hours' fighting the besieged garrison only surrendered when the military were about to fire. Had the surrender been delayed a moment or the order to fire hastily given there might have been heavy loss of life. That, Sir, was the kind of eviction that went on upon the Olphert estate before the battering-ram was used. Now, in the later evictions, no less than eight evictions have been made by the same party in a day, although every preparation has been made for resistance, owing to the mere fact that the battering-ram was present. The battering-ram has been present, but not used on many occasions, and it has only been actually used two or three times in the whole of Ireland. The mere fact of its being known that it is there causes the resistance to be brought to summary termination. I am prepared to defend the use of the instrument on any platform in England. In the interests of humanity alone we are bound to use every legitimate method of terminating as rapidly as possible those painful scenes which it is the policy of hon. Gentleman opposite to get up. They have said that the police are at the beck and call of the landlords for the purpose of exacting unjust rents, and that they are used, not in the interests of law, but in the interests of a class. I entirely deny it. The police are bound to protect the officers of the law in the execution of their duty, whether the debt is due to a landlord or a tradesman, and that duty the Government will fulfil so long as I have anything to do with it, whether the creditor be a tradesman or a man whose rights, hon. Gentlemen think they may sweep aside because he is a member of an unpopular minority. 632 One hon. Member said that the police of Ireland were being used to buttress up the property of the few. Does the hon. Member think the property of the few is less sacred than the property of the many? Does he think that because a man belongs to a class whom it suits a certain set of politicians to attack that, therefore, he is to be deprived of the elementary rights of citizenship? That is not the theory of the Government. We mean to protect the officers of the law in carrying out their duties for the exaction of debts, which the Legislature has taken every possible precaution shall not be unjust. It is asked, in reference to the Ponsonby Estate, "Are you going to lend the forces of the Crown to exact rents which would be cut down by the Land Courts?" But the offer of the owners of the Ponsonby estate was that every tenant should have the right to go into the Land Courts. [Several hon. MEMBERS: "No, not the evicted tenants"] Yes, the evicted tenants. And as to tenants in possession, the owners have offered to every tenant liberty to go into Court to have a fair rent fixed, and, if reductions are made, to make them retrospective with regard to arrears. Terms at once more just and more liberal could hardly be offered by any landlord. Members below the Gangway would lead the House and the country to believe that there was profound discord between the police and the people of Ireland. This is wholly incorrect. During the last two years the tendency of events has been towards bridging over the separation and diminishing the difference which had heretofore existed between police and people. There never was a period within the last ten years in which the people and the police were on better terms than now. That improvement has been continuous. Hon. Gentlemen know it, and if they will only cease from their peculiar methods of pacification, I will undertake to say that in the course of a comparatively brief period the relations between the police and the people will be as cordial as the relations between any people and police on the face of the globe; and inquiry into facts will show that, in circumstances which would have tried the temper and the judgment of the wisest men, the Irish Police have shown themselves, as I 633 think, superior to any force of whose doings we have any authentic record.
MR. MAC NEILL
I am sorry to interrupt the Debate with reference to a personal matter, but remembering that if you give a falsehood 24 hours' start you cannot overtake it, and hearing that the hon. Member for South. Tyrone has during my absence, and without having given me the slightest intimation of his intention, stated that I, having obtained one Government office, had applied for another—
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
What I did say is in the recollection of the House. I was referring to those observations in the speech of the hon. Member for South Donegal in which the hon. Member said that those present at the Liberal Unionist Banquet to the right hon. Gentleman opposite had since applied for appointments. It was then I asked. Has the hon. Member never held a public appointment himself?
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member for North Fermanagh has used an expression quite unparliamentary, and must withdraw it unequivocably.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
He has flatly contradicted a statement made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, and it is that flat contradiction he must withdraw.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Will you allow me a word of explanation, Sir, and if you still think it my duty, I will withdraw anything I have said. What I meant was to correct the statement of 634 the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who really did say in his speech that the hon. Member for South Donegal had extracted from the Lord Lieutenant a Government situation. That was what I and others understood him to say.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The question of accuracy or inaccuracy of statement is nothing to the purpose. The statement made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone may have been most inaccurate; but the hon. Member for Fermanagh contradicted him flatly and committed a gross breach of the order of this House. I call upon him to withdraw.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Under the circumstances you mention, Sir, that the accuracy or the inaccuracy of the statement has nothing to do with the case, I, of course, Sir, withdraw at your direction.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I am sorry that I should have been interrupted in making an explanation. What I said, and said advisedly, was this: Knowing the painful feeling caused when the hon. Member brought a charge against absent Gentlemen who could not defend themselves, I simply asked whether the hon. Member had not held a public appointment himself, and whether he had not applied for it. I knew that he held such an appointment under the Benchers in the Four Courts, and I believe he had applied for it. (Loud cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Shame," and various interruptions.)
§ THE CHAIRMAN
I cannot but observe the unparliamentary conduct of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Their interruptions are of the most unseemly fashion. It is impossible to identify from whom the interruption proceed; but I do hope that some Members sitting there will endeavour to restrain their colleagues from indulging in exhibitions most derogatory to the character of this House. I think the hon. Member for West Kerry made some comment on what I have just said?
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON
I am quite ready to make any apology for any irregularity, if you, Sir, will only specify how I have offended.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I believe that the hon. Member for Donegal held the appointment under the Benchers, and that the Benchers derived the money with which they paid him from the public funds.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I wish to say that in the heat of debate I used an expression towards the right hon. Gentleman opposite which was perfectly in order, but was of a kind which, I think, ought not to be used in Parliamentary debate. I desire to express my regret at having used it.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
Before I proceed to deal with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I may be allowed to say, in reference to the unpleasant incident that has taken place, that the feeling displayed by hon. Friends near me found vent in expressions of indignation at the attempt to calumniate them by unfair insinuations. We have looked on the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) as the chief calumniator, and I think the manner in which he has referred to my hon. Friend the Member for South Donegal is only a specimen of that oratory which he is in the habit of presenting to the people of England who know nothing of the case, of ourselves, or of him. But now I should like to refer to the speech we have had from the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It is a speech, of course, of which his party are proud; but all I can say is that if his party have any hopes of the Government of Ireland, any hope of tranquillizing the Irish people, and of making them accustomed to English rule, this is not the character of speech to bring about this result. If there is anything, in addition to the conduct of the Irish police, calculated to irritate Irish feelings, and to excite their natural hostility against 636 the Government and the Government system it is such a sniggering, drivelling speech as we have listened to to-night in defence of the Government. It really was no defence; nothing more offensive to the feeling of the people, nothing more calumnious of their motives was ever offered to an intelligent assembly. In the face of the events that are passing in Ireland, in the face of the complaints that are made night after night by representatives of the Irish people as to the conduct of the police throughout Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman has either the hardihood or the folly to say that there never was a time in the history of Ireland when the feelings between the people and the police were better than they are now. If we credit the right hon. Gentleman with sincerity when he made that statement, it simply proves that he is incapable of judging the situation in Ireland, and unfit for the position he holds. Never has there been a time in the memory of any man living, when the relations between police and people have been so strained as they are at present; never has there been a time when any Government in Ireland has set itself so deliberately to work to produce these strained relations. That is not the state of things the right hon. Gentleman wishes to bring about he will say. But the policy which has hitherto been pursued by the Irish Government appears to us to be animated by the deliberate desire and intention to create bad blood between the constabulary and the people. You do not trust the people of Ireland. The Chief Secretary regards not only the Irish people but the representatives of the Irish people as liars. He treats every statement made by Irish representatives as a calumny, and such being the case it must be hypocritical to pretend that there can be happy relations between his officials and the people of whom he forms so low an estimate. The hon. Member for South Belfast will bear me out when I say that, not only under the present Government unfortunately, but for years back the policy has been to bring about a hostile feeling between the police and the people, and the officials who encourage this feeling are the most trusted. When in times past the Member for South 637 Belfast wished to hold a meeting of his Orange brethren to celebrate the glorious memory of which he is so proud, police were whipped up from the South of Ireland, all Catholics, because it was supposed that they would be animated by feelings of hostility towards the crowd they were intended to keep in order. The hon. Member will not deny that it has been the subject of complaint in the House.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I have only to say that the statement of the hon. Member is perfectly without foundation. I have never attributed to the Government any desire to bring about a conflict between the police and the people.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I must confess I am very much surprised at the innocent statement of the hon. Gentleman who, I believe, was the one who originated the phrase "Morley's Murderers." Does the hon. Member mean to say he has never referred to the police as "Liveried Assassins" and "Morley's Murderers?" Everybody knows it was so. I regret it as much as anybody else. At the beginning of his observations the Chief Secretary declared it to be a monstrous allegation that the Irish Police would have anything to do with the writing of threatening letters or getting up outrages; but the right hon. Gentleman must have very little know, ledge of the country if he does not know that in many instances policemen have been convicted of such offences. The police in fact have a direct interest in the increase of the number of threatening letters, because that leads to an increase of the police in the district and an increase of the rates of that place. When it is necessary for us to do so we can justify that statement by many instances. But now I ask the Committee to consider what is the result of the defence the Chief Secretary has made on behalf of the Irish Police? and I will ask any hon. Member if, since the Chief Secretary took office, he has ever ad- 638 mitted any fault against the Irish Police? Irish Representatives are always liars, no matter how specific their allegations are. Their allegation is made light of, and denied by the Chief Secretary in the very same terms; and he takes every opportunity, by eulogiums, to encourage the police in similar conduct in the future. Let me take one instance of what I mean. Take the case of the man Hanlan, who was stabbed by the police at Youghal. He was stabbed by one of 32 policemen as he was running away. Obviously there was no necessity for violence, for no resistance was offered. At the inquest I represented the next-of-kin of this unfortunate man. What, on this occasion, was the conduct of the County Inspector? He refused to allow any of his men to make any statement in relation to the occurrence. How, I ask, is it possible for any people to have confidence in an Administration which allows such conduct as this? The same story was repeated at Mitchelstown, where three men were shot by the police in the public square. The right hon. Gentleman has no information of the injury inflicted by the police on my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan. Yet he has a system of police espionage that ought to furnish him with any information he desires. Do we not know that the extraordinary item for postage in these Estimates includes the cost of telegrams to notify the movements of Irish Members? Why, I never have to attend a trial in any part of Ireland but I receive information from official sources of cypher telegrams being sent and received by the police announcing that Harrington passed at such a time on his way to such a trial. The right hon. Gentleman boasts of the vastly improved condition of affairs in Ireland, and this at a time when Irish Members of Parliament can scarcely dare to hold a meeting of their constituents without running the risk of being batoned by the police and subsequently lodged in goal. As a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman is only at the beginning of the struggle.
§ It being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.