HC Deb 08 August 1889 vol 339 cc852-70

"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."

Resolution road a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


Owing to the application of the Closure last evening I was prevented making a few remarks on this Vote, which I had been anxious to make, and which I had risen more than once for the purpose of making. The Chief Secretary for Ireland has delivered two speeches in the course of the Debate on this subject. The first was, if I may be permitted to say so, in his best possible style—his own peculiar style. But the second was in his worst possible style. He does not shine in a conciliatory attitude at all. He was in admirable form in his first speech; indeed, his form was so admirable that when he sat down he was appealed to by his Colleagues, and especially by the right hon. Gentleman who leads this House, and who always treats his opponents with courtesy, to withdraw, and apologise at the first opportunity for the most insulting observations which he addressed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. He did apologise for the observations, but he did not appear particularly to like the performance. I naturally, as an Irish Member, have closely observed the Chief Secretary's conduct since I have been a Member of this House, and I am bound to say that I have never seen one single trace of that good feeling and magnanimity which is generally supposed to be characteristic of the English gentleman. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who received the Chief Secretary' apology yesterday will, should he have occasion to visit Ireland during the Recess, exercise more than ordinary caution, because I am perfectly certain that if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary only gets a chance he will make the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford pay dearly for that apology. The right hon. Gentleman took great credit because, as regards some particulars, over which he said he had special control, with regard to police expenditure, he had effected a reduction, and he attributed that reduction to the improved state of the country under the Coercion Act. I do not attribute it to that. I attribute the reduction to the fact that there have been fewer evictions during the past 12 months. Why have there been fewer evictions? Because there are fewer properties on which the landlord and tenants are in conflict with one another. And why are there fewer properties on which there is this conflict? Not because of the administration of the Coercion Act by the right hon. Gentleman, but because there has been a system pursued by the Nationalist Party in Ireland with the express purpose of leading to settlements between landlords and tenants. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to dispute the fact that the Plan of Campaign has led to more settlements between landlords and tenants in Ireland than anything else. Whereas last year the Plan of Campaign was in operation on about 140 estates in Ireland, now it is only in operation on about 30. What have become of the 110 estates? Why, Sir, the fact is that the Plan of Campaign has led to a settlement on these estates, and there the landlords and tenants are no longer in conflict. But for that the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to any credit; indeed, he has done his best to prevent settlements being brought about by the Plan of Campaign. Nor is credit due to Members who, like the hon. Member for South Hunts, have gone out of their way to prevent these settlements. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is particularly proud of his statistics with regard to boycotted persons in Ireland. I do not attach much importance to statistics produced by the Irish Government, because I happen to know something of the way in which they are collected. If the Government want crime to rise up, up it goes. When they want it to occur, it does occur; and when they want undetected crimes to multiply, they do multiply at the mere nod of the head of the Chief Secretary. Boycotted persons in Ireland are fewer now, because there are fewer estates on which there is a conflict between landlord and tenant. The Plan of Campaign has stopped the conflict on a large number of estates, and therefore there is no longer any necessity to boycott certain persons. I said, Mr. Speaker, that when it was the desire of the Irish Government that the statistics of undetected crime should go up, that result was easily obtained. I am not in the habit of making statements without having some ground for them, and I intend to quote three cases in which the police apparently failed to make any effort whatever to detect crime, although they had every warning that it was likely to occur. There is a certain agent in the South of Ireland who made himself very unpopular. One Friday night a boycotting notice of a very violent character was posted on a gate about four miles from Listowel. This boycotting notice appears to have been the only one posted on that night, but the fact that it was posted came to the knowledge of the agent during the following day, and he immediately came to the conclusion that the notice had been posted up by mistake, and that a great body of similar notices would be posted up on the following night. He sent information to the police of what had occurred, and told them what he believed was likely to occur. Though they were cautioned to watch carefully during the Saturday night and Sunday morning, and though the Police Barrack is in the Square of Listowel, there was scarcely a house in the square which had not one of these notices posted upon it, and the person who posted them, having more than he cared to dispose of, threw the remainder of the bundle of notices into the police barrack-yard. The police, although warned, never detected the person who posted these notices. In the same district there was a farm from which the tenant had been evicted, and the agent had reason to think that, on a certain night, the crops would be removed from the farm, which was in the possession of a caretaker. He informed the police what he expected would ensue, and upon what night it was likely to be done. As a fact, on that very night the crops were removed and the police detected nobody. In the same district, during the same summer, the police were informed that an effort was to be made within the next few days to drive away and kill a number of cattle belonging to an unpopular person. The effort was made; the cattle were driven away and killed, and nobody was detected. Thus you have three cases in a small area of four or five miles, in which the police, although warned that outrage was likely to take place, failed to detect anyone committing it. And yet for these men, who so fail in their duty, this Committee is asked to pay close upon two millions a year. We have grave reason to believe that the police are at the bottom of many outrages. They know that their living depends upon the continuance of outrages, and therefore, so far from try- ing to prevent them, they wink at them. We shall not forget the case which occurred in the Castle Island District, in which a policeman, having by accident shot in the legs a man whom he was engaged in protecting, subsequently broke a pane of glass and tried to make out that an outrage had been committed. It was proved afterwards that he had done this and he was dismissed from the force. The Chief Secretary has said he was anxious in regard to the case of my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork, to so arrange his trial that he would be able to take part in this Debate. But I venture to suggest that he did not take the steps which he could have taken, in order to prevent my hon. Friend making a useless journey to Ireland. I should also like to know why he had my hon. Friend arrested at the Cork Railway Station. Why could he not have summoned him instead of arresting him? He says he prefers the system of summoning, but that he feared that the hon. Gentleman would not attend on summons, and therefore was compelled to issue the warrant. I venture to assert he had no reason whatever to believe that my hon. Friend would not attend upon summons, because on the last occasion on which he was summoned he obeyed the summons. But as he preferred the method of arrest, why did he not also arrest the Member for East Cork, who was named jointly in the same summons with the hon. Member for North-East Cork. Both hon. Members were on the railway platform when the one was arrested, and I should like to know why the Member for East Cork was not arrested until the following day. I contend the Government deliberately arrested the hon. Member for North-East Cork at a crowded railway station, and at a perfectly unnecessary time, in order to provoke a riot. We believe they wanted to provoke one, and we have every reason for believing that the police expected one, because a constable actually warned two ladies who were on the platform to get to a particular point, because, he said, there they would be safe. And then again, with reference to the events at Charleville, we learnt yesterday for the first time, that the Police Inspector had received an injury to one of his arms. My hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork, whose statement on that point I should prefer to rely upon, said that in the railway carriage he again and again after they left the station challenged the police to point out any injury which anyone had received, and the only answer that could be made was that the District Inspector pointed out to him a dent in his helmet. This was not an injury to the head, nor was it an injury to the arm; it was simply a dent in the helmet. The right hon. Gentleman was asked yesterday if an order was given to the police to fire on the crowd at the railway station. His answer was, "Yes, I believe so." Apparently, he did not take the trouble to inquire specifically as to whether the order was given. Does he consider the lives of Irishmen of so little importance that he does not think it necessary to do what I venture to say would be the first thing done in a similar case in this country—namely, to inquire as to whether the police were ordered to fire, or not? I should like to point out that the hon. Member for North-East Cork has clearly and distinctly stated that the policemen fired without orders, and without the knowledge of their officer. My hon. Friend said he told the Inspector to ask his men and he asked them all round the carriage, not knowing that they had fired, and two admitted that they had done so. Will the right hon. Gentleman still maintain that there was an order to fire? I say it is perfectly monstrous that when the police fire on the people in Ireland the right hon. Gentleman, who is really responsible for the act and who makes himself doubly responsible by the carelessness with which he treats it, will not take the trouble to inquire whether an order to fire was given or not. There is a strong case for inquiry. If this had occurred in England no Government would have dared to refuse an inquiry. In the Debate yesterday the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Sir W. Foster) referred to the manner in which he was followed by the police. The hon. Member was staying with me at that time. I did not accompany him because the property he was going to visit belonged to a gentleman with whom I had been on terms of friendship for some time, but the description brought back by the hon. Member of the state of the property induced me to do what I had never done before, and will never do again—write to the owner and offer to go down there myself and see whether I could be of any use in bringing them to equitable terms. What were the thanks I got? In reply to my friendly letter I received a cold and formal reply, saying that my letter had been forwarded to the agent, Mr. O'Brien. A few days afterwards I received a letter from that amiable gentleman, saying he had had forwarded to him my letter, and learnt from it that two friends of mine (Sir W. Foster and Mr. Schnadhorst), notorious as disturbers of the peace, had visited the property, and, with the impertinence usual to the Saxon ignorance, had ventured to pronounce an opinion on the matter. I commend that term "Saxon ignorance" to the right hon. Gentleman. It is from one of his violent supporters. After that I took the first opportunity of visiting the property myself and of getting more Englishmen to visit it. I was fortunate in securing a good many other visitors. The result is that there is no dispute between the landlord and tenants on that property to-day. The Plan of Campaign has won a victory there. The evicted people are back in their homes and the tenants are living in peace. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman how we stand exactly in Ireland as regards meetings. It is often represented in this country that meetings can go on anywhere in Ireland unless they are to be held in furtherance of "the conspiracy called the Plan of Campaign." A meeting was suppressed by the police at Bective Abbey in the County of Meath. There was no Plan of Campaign in operation there. When I asked a question in this House about it, the answer I received was that the meeting was held with the object of preventing farms being taken, and that the holding of it would have been an overt act in the general conspiracy now existing with that object. So that we have got on a step further. It is no longer the Plan of Campaign, but a general conspiracy all over the country for preventing people taking farms from which tenants have been unjustly evicted. That is a very serious change. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that every man in Ireland has not a right to refuse to take land from which another man has been unjustly evicted? If so, let him say it in plain language. Let us know where we stand. I have always seen the importance of this point. The very first time I spoke to tenants in Ireland, I told them that their very strength lay in this particular, and that if they could not keep up the feeling in Ireland, that no one should take land from which another had been unjustly evicted, they would not win the battle, and would not deserve to win it. I have repeated that over and over again. If it is illegal, why has not the right hon. Gentleman prosecuted me for it? I will repeat it again, and in doing so I shall be only following up the advice that was practically given in this House by Members of the Government, when, in the autumn of 1886, we called attention to the danger of evictions, and the right hon. Gentleman, who was then Attorney General for Ireland, said there was no danger of evictions, because the Irish landlords were not fools and that it would not pay the landlords to turn their tenants out. General Buller was sent over to Ireland during that autumn, and he gave evidence before the Royal Commission. His statement was that when the landlords could not let their farms, then they were forced to consider the question of rent. Under these circumstances we are justified in treading in the footsteps of these gentlemen—one adorns the Bench, and the other graces the British Army.


The remarks of the hon. Gentleman are not relevant to the Constabulary Vote.


I will draw my remarks to a close, but in doing so I want to allude very briefly to the remarks with which the Chief Secretary concluded his speech yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman said that we complained that the police in Ireland were used to buttress up the property of the few, and he asked us if we considered the property of the few less sacred than the property of the many. Certainly not. But there is a dual ownership of farms in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman forgot that point.


Order, order! Dual ownership has no reference to the Constabulary Vote.


The right hon. Gentleman distinctly stated that we complained that the police were used in Ireland for the purpose of buttressing up the property of the few. As regards the land in Ireland, the few have no property which is not shared by the tenants—the landlords and tenants are now joint owners; but I will not pursue the subject. The Chief Secretary concluded by alluding to what he called the absence of our Liberal friends during these Debates. I hope he notices that they have not been absent to-day. I think we may well feel our friends the Liberal Members have good excuse at this period of the Session for taking a little relaxation, and I am very much surprised, and I am also very thankful to them for attending in such large numbers. But the success of the cause in which we art working does not depend upon any party in this country. We rely on our own resources, we rely on the Irish people, we rely on a people who are not only in your very midst, in every large centre of population, but who are present in large numbers in every colony of this Empire, and who form a most important portion of the population of the greatest country the world has yet seen—the United States of America.

DR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)

This Vote involves a large amount of the taxpayers' money. It has been rushed through the Committee with great haste and by means of the Closure. I feel, therefore, that a few remarks from me will not be out of place. The sums set forth in the Vote are said to be necessary, but the Irish Government have shrunk from answering the grave and specific charges which we have made against individual members of the police force, and what is graver still, they have refrained from answering our charge that they themselves have stimulated the police force to those crimes against the people in Ireland of which we now complain. I consider I am singularly fortunate in rising to speak now, because I see the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) in his place. The other night the hon. Gentleman related some very interesting historical facts—facts which we have been endeavouring to place before the people of this country for a good many years—and he did it so lucidly and well I think, that now, as it were, in the evening of his somewhat chequered and unfortunate political career, the thanks of the Irish people and their representatives are due to him. The hon. Member told us of the good old days when the predecessors of those men with whom he is now in alliance were enabled to drive from their homes the peasantry of Ireland in order to make room for Scotch adventurers, to the good offices of whom we are indebted for the lustre which the hon. Member casts upon this assembly, and for the damage which he invariably does the Party opposite, with whom he has had nothing to do, but to whom he actually belongs. I am also fortunate in seeing the Solicitor General for Ireland in his place, who, on a former occasion, when the Lord Mayor of Dublin made the specific charges I am about to repeat, proudly described himself as the spokesman of the Irish Government. On that occasion the hon. and learned Gentleman invited my right hon. Friend not to discuss the question of the assault upon the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. P. O'Brien), and the question of the wounding of the man at Charleville, and the question of the arrest of the hon. Member for North East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), because, as he said, "the Government have no official information, and you as well as ourselves will be at a great disadvantage." From where did the hon. and learned Gentleman await information? From the source from which the hon. Member for South Tyrone derives his, which information has been shown in a law court recently to be absolutely untrue—information from the bailiff, from the landlord, from the emergency men, and lastly from the policemen, who are in alliance with the Solicitor General for Ireland and his party. But we forced the hon. and learned Gentleman to make some reply. He asserted that the railway station was a nice quiet place whereat to effect the arrest of the hon. Member for North East Cork, upon a day when the whole county and town of Cork was astir. When he made that statement I saw a bilious smile pass over the faces of his supporters. I am at one with the hon. Member for South Tyrone, because, after the lamentable event which followed the arrest of Father M'Fadden—the death of Inspector Martin, but which undoubtedly lies at the doors of the Irish Government—it is trifling with the House of Commons, and is an insult to the Constitution, for a responsible Minister of the Crown and a lawyer to make such a statement. On that occasion the hon. Member for Monaghan was assaulted. He received some injuries which have since prostrated him, and which will probably shorten his days. The hon. and learned Gentleman hinted—but afterwards withdrew the hint—that a rescue of the hon. Member for North East Cork had been attempted by the hon. Member for Monaghan. When, immediately afterwards, the Chief Secretary came into the House, and was proceeding to repeat the assertion, what was the learned Gentleman doing? Not looking over the fusty pages of the Acts of Edward III., but pulling the Chief Secretary by the coattail, and trying to prevent him making the ridiculous assertion which he himself had just partly withdrawn. The hon. Member for Monaghan was assaulted by the police force, of whose conduct I now complain. We heard the other night the Chief Secretary parading before the House, and really before the country, the amicable relations which exist between the police and the people of Ireland. I knew what was in the right hon. Gentleman's mind. I knew by the corner of his eye what he had ringing in his ears. He was replying to the speeches of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) and the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), which speeches showed that Englishmen can belong to a Party and still maintain their spirit of justice and fair play. The fact is the police force of Ireland is not a police force; it is a band of armed men who are under the control of an unfortunate clique of pauper landlords, who in turn control the action of the Irish Government. The first blight has fallen upon their cornfield in the shape of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington. A regular famine will undertake them before long. The people of this country will cut them adrift from their pauper landlords. Then, Sir, we will have the police in our hands, to use them, not as you have used them, for the purpose of crime and outrage against the people, but with that forbearance and moderation which is becoming honest and honourable men.

* MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

I rise, Sir, to move the Adjournment of the Debate. We have now carried on this discussion for an hour past midnight, and it really amounts to a prolongation of the Debate we had last night on the Vote for the Constabulary, which was brought to an untimely and, I think, unprecedented end last night. I will not stray into matters that would be out of order, but I think I may go so far as to say the discussion was brought to a close in an unprecedented manner. But with reference to my Motion for Adjournment. I wish to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I presume, is in charge of the House for the Government, to the Resolution under which we are now proceeding, and which was passed on April 30 last. Now, when that Resolution was passed, I think it was thoroughly understood, and I think pledges to the effect were given by the right hon. Gentleman who moved it and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who supported it, that in exempting Report of Supply from the 12 o'clock Rule, the Report should only be taken after 12 o'clock on exceptional occasions, and when there was any desire on the part of any section of hon. Members to discuss any question on the Report, then the exemption should not be put in operation. It was emphatically stated then, on behalf of the Government, that the only object in passing the Resolution was to prevent the use of the individual "I object" after 12 o'clock. I think, seeing the desire of hon. Members below the Gangway to continue the discussion, we may fairly claim the fulfilment of this pledge, and that the Adjournment should be agreed to. I make this appeal to the First Lord, who, I see, is just now entering the House, and I hope he will not resist my Motion.

Motion made, and (Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. John Ellis.)

* THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster

I am exceedingly reluctant to oppose this Motion; but I think it must be allowed that, after two nights' discussion, continued, as it has been, this evening, the matter might now fairly be disposed of. Some regard must be had to the necessary progress of business, and at this period of the Session I do not think it desirable that we should adjourn this discussion over another day. I think I may in reason ask the House to come to a decision on the Vote. [Cries of "No!" and "Certainly not!"] It is really necessary that the money should be voted.

MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

There are many of us who have been engaged on Select Committees, and who have been at work for 13 hours, and surely, under the circumstances, having the prospect of a Saturday Sitting in view, we may, on the ground of fatigue, fairly claim an Adjournment of the Debate now.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

It would be well, when the right hon. Gentleman makes what he considers a conciliatory proposal, that his followers on the other side should assist him by abstaining from interruptions which caused imitation on this side, feelings that have already been more than sufficiently strained this evening. As the Member for Nottingham has said, Parliamentary tradition is entirely on the side of Adjournment. This Rule was intended to prevent an expression of individual objection staying proceedings when there was a desire to go on. I must say that with the prospect of a Saturday Sitting in view I have little inclination to go on with the Debate now. But I think before we proceed any further the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary may give us that information we have sought so long in vain, and tell us out of what fund the charge for the battering-ram has been defrayed.


It is out of order on a Motion for Adjournment.


I only wish to suggest that the Chief Secretary should make the Debate on the Vote artistically complete by giving us an answer to this question.


I am afraid I shall not be in order in entering at length into this matter, but perhaps I may just mention, as a matter of personal explanation, that as the cost of the battering-ram is defrayed out of no public fund at all, the matter is entirely out of my control, I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman the information he desires.


Order, order!

MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)

It has come to my knowledge, examining these accounts, that under the head of Law and Justice there is expenditure which really should stand in the accounts of the Royal Irish Constabulary to the extent of £10,000 in the present year.


Order, order! That is a question that may be raised afterwards; it cannot be raised in the question of adjournment.


Then, Sir, I only desire now to support the Motion for adjournment.


Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow us to proceed with the point desired to be raised, and will withdraw his Motion for adjournment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.


I may allude more fully to the point I mentioned just now. In a discussion of this kind all the details of the accounts should be put before us that we may fairly estimate the increase or the decrease of expenditure and know the reasons for the one or the other. But there is a sum of £10,000 included in the Vote under the head of Law and Justice on account of travelling expenses, which really should come under the Vote for Constabulary. I think it is only right to call attention to this, and I have a strong objection to the system by which a Vote granted by the House for one purpose can be diverted to another. I think that the Auditor General's notes should be followed up in some way. I know this is a matter of detail, but I really think it is of little use our attempting to discuss these accounts if it is possible that an amount can be smuggled into one Vote when the expenditure is really under another head. I will not enter into the matter now, but it is a financial point that I think ought to be raised. I am satisfied that if we go carefully through the Law and Justice accounts, there is an amount of £10,000 in them that should be in the Constabulary Vote.

MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)

I ventured to say when the House was in Committee on this Vote that the Chief Secretary ought to give some explanation of the demand made for such an immense amount of money under this head. In the time of Sir Robert Peel the total amount of the Constabulary Vote was £437,000. In the year 1860–1 we find the Vote was £653,000, and now it has risen to the sum total of £1,439,371, and, possibly, if the system to which my hon. Friend has just referred is carried out to any extent, to a million and a half. There are a number of items in these accounts that require to be proved, money provided for half pay troopers and a class of mud-stranded Admirals, men who, unfitted for the services for which they were trained, are by this means enabled to earn further sums by dragooning the people. We see how the Vote is swelled by the increase in the pay of District Inspectors, who, some years ago, were well paid at £120, and who now receive £250, and, with their total allowance, nearly £1 a day. This, I think, is a monstrous charge. When the pay was £120, the appointments did not go begging at all, and I think the officers were a better class of men than they are now when we give them pay equal to that we give a man who commands a regiment in its full strength and has to face enemies and take all the chances of loss of life, while these constabulary officers have little to do but hunt down Members of Parliament. When we consider the cost of living in Ireland and the average wages among the people, we must consider that all grades are overpaid, and especially when we compare the scale with that of the police in the Metropolis, where living is so expensive. Where a constable used to get £60, he now gets in pay and allowances nearly double that amount, with a chance, too, of getting a share in the large amount voted for extra pay and travelling allowances. The other day I drew the attention of the Chief Secretary to a police outrage committed in my County (Armagh), and I mentioned the circumstances in which certain constables wantonly fired at and made bullet holes in fishermen's boots, and I desire to ask again are these men to be prosecuted? The Chief Secretary said that I did not furnish him with the names, but I may say that the men to whom the boots belonged were Joseph and John Robinson, and another man whose name I think is Fox. But even when we give the fullest details we do not get any satisfaction. I hold that such offenders should be prosecuted with more severity than ordinary civilians, for they are the men who should show example of obedience to the law. The Constabulary Code says that arms are to be entrusted to the Constabulary to be used with prudence and humanity, but what prudence or humanity is there in the conduct of these policemen, which I described in Committee? The duty of the Government is to prosecute, not to defend, in such cases. But this can be said, that no matter whether we have a Tory or a Liberal Government, we have the same class of men in Dublin Castle where the headquarters of the police are situated. I ask the right hon. Gentleman now to give facilities for justice to be done in the cases which have been referred to.

MR. COX (Clare, E.)

opposed the Vote.

MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)

It is much to be regretted that we have not had a Local Government Bill for Ireland, similar to the one which has been passed for Scotland, for I believe that, had such a Bill been passed, the cost of the Irish police would have been very materially reduced. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has drawn a comparison between the cost of the Metropolitan Police and the cost of the Irish Police; but he failed to take into the comparison the cost of the police in the remainder of England, and therefore I venture to suggest that the contrast he drew was not a fair one. There is no other nation in the world which presents such a picture of Government as is presented in Ireland. What are the police of Ireland? The Chief Secretary bragged about them being the best possible force, physically and militarily speaking. But did he not consider it was a degradation to his own nation, when he enunciated such a proposition? You brag about your freedom and your flag which sustains liberty and gives relief to the slave, and yet, in Ireland, you are holding down your people by the help of the police. The details which we have had during the last two or three days of police administration in Ireland ought to induce the right hon. Gentleman to take the helm of reform instead of lolling on the Front Bench in an attitude which is a disgrace to any Minister.


Order, order! The hon. Gentleman must not make personal remarks of that kind.


When one is addressing the House he naturally expects to meet with some attention; but when I am met with sneers and guffaws, such as the right hon. Gentleman indulges in, of course I do resent it. I say this Vote requires further explanation. The right hon. Gentleman stands in his place and contrasts the Metropolitan Police with the Irish Police; it is not a fair contrast, for he ignores the police of the rest of England, and, therefore, I say the Chief Secretary is simply sitting at ease and blowing bubbles in the air. Our time is not wasted even at this hour of the morning in impressing facts about the police on the minds of the English people. When we see a million and a half of money spent upon a Police Force which is not used for police purposes, I say we have great reason to complain. The sooner we can get rid of the present police system, and bring it within the scope of Local Government, the better it will be both for the English and the Irish people.

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

I wish to have further particulars as to the eviction of Mr. Molony at the instance of a Reverend gentleman living at Windsor, in England. The legal question raised in this case has been determined, but I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman by what power or authority he gave the Sheriff of the County of Limerick the use of a force of 60 men to put this Mr. Molony out of the holding the rent of which he had paid? This case affords an illustration of the manner in which the Sheriffs and landlords in Ireland have the forces of the Crown placed at their disposal. I again demand to know by what authority the police were used for this work? Six months ago I brought this matter before the House, and I was refused an answer as the case was then sub judice. Since then we have cast the landlord in damages, and, therefore, I again ask the Chief Secretary by what right sub-Sheriff Hobson used 60 policemen in order to turn this man out of the house for which he had paid the rent? Why do our Sheriffs and our landlords get police protection when they are doing an illegal act? How can you expect the people of Ireland will respect your Government if you allow your armed forces to engage in this work?

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I think I am entitled to ask for information as to whether a prosecution is to be instituted in the case of the four constables who, according to the testimony of my hon. Friend the Member for North Armagh, committed a most inexplicable outrage in that county, and destroyed a boat, by means of which a number of poor men earned their living? Also, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell us why a force of 10 men took up a post near the residence of my hon. Friend the Member for East Clare and acted as an army of occupation there?


With regard to the last question asked by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite I have not the facts before me at present and cannot answer it. As to the hon. Member for East Clare the hon. Gentleman had been guilty of several illegal actions, and accordingly the police were interested in his motions. But I should think it improbable that they camped out in his garden. With regard to the case instanced by the hon. Member for Longford, it is the business of the police to provide protection for the Sheriff if he applies for it. The police cannot inquire into the merits of every case before acting, because that would convert them into a judicial body. As to the question put by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, a warrant has been issued against one of the men referred to; and no exception will be made in favour of policemen any more than other members of the community.


With regard to Police-constable Robinson who gave evidence against the hon. Member for Louth and myself, is he to escape with impunity? Is it not a fact, indeed, that he is on the list for promotion?




I am assured for a fact that that is so.

Question put, and agreed to.