Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £84,062, 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 Salaries, Allowances, and Expenses and Pensions of various County Court Officers, of Divisional Commissioners and Magistrates in Ireland, and the Expenses of Revision.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
It might perhaps be in accordance with the wishes of the House that I should make a short explanation, almost in the nature of a personal explanation, with regard to an episode which occurred in the course of my speech last night on this Vote. It will be recollected that one of the subjects that came up for discussion was the conduct of Mr. Cecil Roche and Colonel Turner in declining to subscribe to the Kerry Hunt, and I stated that one of the reasons which I understood to influence these gentlemen was that they were of opinion that the attacks made upon them in the newspaper of an hon. Member who was on the committee of that hunt were of such a kind as to make it impossible for them to continue their connection with the hunt any longer. I read out certain phrases which I had understood afforded some of the grounds on which these two gentlemen had come to their decision. The hon. Member referred to appeared to dispute the general accuracy of the phrases, and I have done my best since then—I have not had much time—to discover how far the view which I understand to be the view of Mr. Cecil Roche and Colonel Turner, is absolutely justified by the contents of the newspaper in question—the Kerry Sentinel. The Kerry Sentinel is in the habit of giving publicity to the resolutions of various branches of the Land League in that part of Ireland——
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman proposes to justify the opinion of the Magistrates by citations from a newspaper. I think that is in- 918 troducing a new element into the Debate foreign to the question.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
On the point of order, Sir, may I point out this to you? The contention of the two gentlemen in question, Mr. Cecil Roche and Colonel Turner, whose conduct was publicly called attention to in the House, was based on certain expressions which they said, or thought, were used in the Kerry Sentinel. The reply made was that these expressions were not used in the newspaper; therefore, I would ask you, Mr. Courtney, whether it would not be relevant to the Debate to point out that, as a matter of fact, absolutely equivalent expressions have been so used?
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
That would be wandering into an entirely new controversy. The only question is as to the accuracy of the representation of the views entertained by those two Magistrates. As to going into a justification of the views, I do not think that would be regular.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of course, I do not wish to press the point; but I would ask, is not the accuracy of the representation dependent upon the fact that those quotations did occur in the newspaper in question? If they did occur, the representation of the views of the Magistrates would be correct; if they did not occur, it would be incorrect. In that way would not this matter be relevant?
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
No, I think not. The point raised last night was, the justification of the right hon. Gentleman in making his statement in which he represented the views of the Magistrates. The point is the justification of the right hon. Gentleman, not of the Magistrates who held these views.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
If the right hon. Gentleman proposes to adopt the language last night as representing the views of the Magistrate and wishes to make that language his own, he will in that case be justified in going into this evidence. But I would strongly deprecate such a course as fatal to the conduct of business.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In the face of your strongly-expressed opinion, Sir, I shall abstain from going into the matter further.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
On the point of order, may I ask, Mr. Courtney, whether the right hon. Gentleman would be entitled to reply to a question on the subject of the language actually used?
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
Order is generally preserved by paying deference to the wishes of the Chair, and the right hon. Gentleman has elected to do that.
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
I should be very happy, indeed, if you saw your way to afford the Chief Secretary the facility he desires. The charge last night was that I in my paper did use that language, and I call upon the right hon. Gentleman to substantiate it.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
That is not quite what was said last night. But I appeal to both sides of the House after the expression of opinion that has fallen from the Chair to let this digression cease.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I will pass over the incident of last night, merely remarking that the Chief Secretary, through his secretary or his secretary's secretary, may easily manage by letters to the newspapers to fully explain his position. The matter upon which I first wish to ask a question is strictly relevant to this Vote, and has reference to the action of the Government in regard to Resident Magistrates. These Resident Magistrates are allowed not merely to practice in a particular Petty Sessions district, they are armed with powers to sit in various counties through out Ireland. About four months ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave a distinct pledge that a Paper would be laid upon the Table explaining the position of the Divisional Commissioners. I had never seen any Paper explaining under what circumstances these gentlemen were placed in their new position. They started as ordinary Resident Magistrates, and remained so until Mr. Forster issued what was called his "satrap circular" making them Divisional Magistrates, dividing Ireland into six, and placing one man over each Division. It will be remembered that the Auditor General stigmatised the proceeding as "grossly illegal," and it was the subject of discussion during the whole of a 920 night in this House. It shows extraordinary elasticity and suppleness in the law that when Government cannot get the salaries of these gentlemen as Divisional Magistrates, they can elude the Auditor General by turning them into Divisional Commissioners. The Lord Lieutenant shifts the slide, the Lord Chancellor turns on his limelight, and these gentlemen blaze forth as Divisional Commissioners with judicial functions in 12 counties. Then I come to the Resident Magistrates, and first to Mr. Cecil Roche, of whom I wish to speak with the utmost respect due to him personally, and to his office, or as I may say offices. Mr. Cecil Roche began official life as a Land Commissioner, and in that capacity it may be remembered how he punished Lord Annaly by cutting down his rents. Mr. Cecil Roche had a quarrel with Lord Annaly, and that nobleman got it hot and heavy from Mr. Cecil Roche. To use a common expression, he "wired into" Lord Annaly with equal energy to that he has since displayed against my hon. Friend and the Nationalists of Kerry. For private reasons, into which I will not enter, Mr. Cecil Roche left the position of Land Commissioner and became a Resident Magistrate. As a Land Commissioner he had £1,000 a year and expenses. How it was that he was compelled or induced to become a Resident Magistrate with £450 a year I will not now inquire into. He was appointed to Kerry, and there he carried out the views of the Government so well that they increased his salary and jurisdiction. They made him a Magistrate of the County of Clare. Now the practice of these gentlemen is to travel from one Licensing Sessions to another, and whenever a Nationalist publican applies for a renewal of his license in Clare, Mr. Cecil Roche sails up from County Kerry, and takes his seat on the Bench to secure the refusal of the license. And this brings me to the case of Mr. James Byrne and the manner in which he has been treated. How can the Lord Chancellor defend his action with respect to Mr. James Byrne, a tenant-farmer in the neighbourhood of Mallow and a Justice of the Peace? Mr. Byrne is a moderate politician, but he was an old member of the Tenants' Defence League ten or more years ago. It happened that at the Sessions at 921 Fermoy, which is 10 miles from Mallow, where Mr. Byrne resided, there was a case in which the police were charged with having batoned the people. Mr. Byrne came up from Mallow, and sat on the Bench during the trial, and for thus sitting outside his district Mr. Byrne's name was removed from the Commission of the Peace. At the same time Mr. Eaton, R.M., was brought from Mitchelstown, a distance of 15 miles. It was all right for him to come, and he was paid for it, but because the unpaid Magistrate came a lesser distance he was dismissed from the Commission. This I say is a scandalous exercise of the authority of the Lord Chancellor. How does the law stand as laid down in a case decided as recently as two years ago? The action of the Lord Chancellor is in absolute opposition to the law laid down in England in the case of "The Queen v. Bickley," in which the Queen's Bench, upholding the decision of Quarter Sessions, held that a Magistrate's jurisdiction extends to the whole county, and is not confined to his own Petty Sessional district. Such is the decision of Lord Coleridge and Baron Pollock. Why, then, was Mr. Bryne dismissed?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The point I wish to raise is the difference of treatment of Mr. Eaton and Mr. Byrne.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The action of a Resident Magistrate in acting outside his district is another point; the hon. Member was going beyond that.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
What I urge is that the treatment applied to Mr. Byrne should be equally applied to Mr. Eaton, and all the rest of the noble army. Why is that which is forbidden to Mr. James Byrne conceded to Resident Magistrates in whom nobody has any confidence, and some of whom are in a hopelessly insolvent condition and figure in the pages of Stubbs' Gazette? Many of these gentlemen I allude to are allowed to go about from one district to another, now acting as Resident Magistrates, now, like Mr. Cecil Roche, leading a baton charge of the police, and continuing at Licensing Sessions to deprive Nationalists of licenses. Why should these men be allowed to pack the Bench on such occasions? Why is Captain 922 Stack, of whom, personally, I say nothing, allowed to exercise jurisdiction over 12 counties? From experience we have had of their conduct, I verily believe that many of these Magistrates would, instead of the plank bed and six months' hard labour, be willing to have the penal laws re-enacted. I am sure that Mr. Cecil Roche would gladly set up a triangle for the purpose of inflicting 100 lashes with his own hand on my hon. Friend the Member for West Kerry. Still, these men have their uses, and when Home Rule is established they may be sent to Belfast, where Inspector Kerr, after being prosecuted for breaking Nationalists' heads, had his own head broken by the Orange rioters. One of these Magistrates, Mr. Hamilton, during the Home Rule Debates, expressed the willingness of himself and his colleagues to serve a National Parliament with as much zeal as they now serve the Tory Government. No doubt they would. Mr. Roche and Mr. Hamilton would do a good deal for £600 a year. Well, if the civil war breaks out as predicted by the military Member for Belfast, these gentlemen may be placed in the forefront of the battle, and display their zeal for law and order. Meantime, I am anxious that Irishmen under this administration and the next should have an equal administration of the law. Among the appointments I find the name of Mr. Bruen, and I ask what are the special qualifications he possesses for the Magistracy? He is the son of a Privy Councillor and of a former Member of this House, and I believe he has shown some skill in cricket. We have the "demon bowler" put on the Bench, and I would suggest that the "demon bowler" should be kept within something like reasonable limits. The other Magistrate who sat with the "demon bowler" was Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald. He, I see, figures in the book of biography—a kind of Magisterial Dodd, I think the Chief Secretary called it yesterday. His qualifications are those of an officer in India. Poor Mr. Fitzgerald. I understand that the heat has a great effect on a certain class of officers in India, and Mr. Fitzgerald, I am informed, has become, what is called in Indian slang, a "gonner," from sunstroke or the heat of the weather. So Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald was sent 923 home from India a "gonner," and having some influence at Dublin Castle, this "gonner" and this "demon bowler" are set up as a tribunal to try Members of Parliament. What is the record of this Mr. Vesey during his operations under the Crimes Act? I first heard of him in the Clongurry prosecution, in which he expelled from the Court my hon. Friend the Member for Wexford, who had the misfortune to appear for the defence. I next heard of him in a casein which he expelled Mr. Stephen Brown, a man of high character, great business capacity, and known for his amiable and mild manners. I challenge the hon. and learned Gentleman to deny my propositions, and nobody knows Mr. Stephen Brown better than does the hon. and learned Gentleman. Having got rid of the barrister, the hon. Member for Wexford, Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, next gets rid of the solicitor, Mr. Stephen Brown, by expelling him from the Court. I say that was a monstrous exercise of power. But that did not suffice him. One of the defendants, Mr. Hurley, who was tried with seven or eight other men, was expelled for contempt of Court. He expelled the barrister and the solicitor, and then began upon the prisoners. Mr. Hurley was committed for a week, and, just as in the Special Commission the Court would adjourn for ten minutes, he would adjourn for ten days, and commit these men for contempt of Court. He sent all these eight or ten men to gaol for seven days for contempt of Court. Week after week and week after week he sent them to gaol, and then, as a grand finale and wind-up, he gave them three months' imprisonment. Why, it is worse than the Special Commission—it is more than a farce. How can you expect respect for the law or for the Magistrates when your Act of Parliament is administered in this way. In the troubles of 1818, a military officer was appointed with a barrister to sit with him as assistant. It was like the mixed Commission we have heard of in other countries. If they differed, nothing was done. You were far better off than now. Throw all forms to the winds; get rid of the horrid system of compelling men to answer summonses. Have out a platoon of soldiers, and stick the Union Jack in the middle of them; get rid of your handcuffs and your plank beds; get rid 924 of this system of Magistrates whose legal knowledge to every man in this House, barring the Chief Secretary and the Chief Secretary's two secretaries, is the greatest farce. Talk of law and justice to these men! You might as well talk of chastity in a brothel. Take the most recent case, that of Dr. Tanner. The warrant on which Dr. Tanner was committed for contempt was nearly a yard long. It would have taken a skilful scrivener nearly a quarter of an hour to write out, and it would have taken a draftsman like Mr. Chitty about an hour and a-half to compose it. But these Justices—the "gonner" and the "demon bowler"—said, "We will retire for 20 minutes," and at the end of that time they came out with two warrants—one for Dr. Tanner's committal for a month, which was not very long, and a long warrant for his committal for contempt. And all in 20 minutes! The Attorney General said before Baron Dowse that the warrant was very carefully drawn. I wonder whether these contempt warrants are supplied at so much a dozen from Dublin Castle. Baron Dowse said, "No doubt, it looks as if they came with their ammunition ready." I congratulate Baron Dowse on being a Judge of the High Court, and not subject to the "gonners" or "the demon bowlers," because that is exactly what Dr. Tanner got three months for. He did not use that elegant periphrasis, but he said that "You have your sentence in your pocket." It would tax the fine intellectual capacity of the Resident Magistrates to distinguish between the two phrases. I would recommend you to repeal this Act of Parliament and substitute the mere lettres de cachet, the issuing of warrants without process, in order that you might enjoy the luxury of shaving the beards of Members and colleagues in this House, putting them on plank beds, and dieting them on brown bread. To ask us to respect a law which is so administered is absurd. The Chief Secretary said yesterday—and I think on the comic stage he would have made a larger salary than he does from his office, even with the coals thrown in—in the case of my hon. Friend the Member for West Kerry; "Why did he not appeal?" How often have these appeals been taken, and how often have they been reversed? Dr. Tanner 925 refused to give bail to be of good behaviour. And English. Gentlemen go to their constituents and ask, "Why did he not appeal?" But they will not tell their constituents, or the Government will not inform them, that the Queen's Bench decided that in Ireland there is no appeal in such cases. I raised the point, and it was decided in the very case of Hurley. A copy of that judgment was circulated amongst the Resident Magistrates. There is no appeal in any of these cases; yet the Chief Secretary, on the 17th May, 1887, said:—We will give you an appeal in all cases, and if in this dangerous and technical law of conspiracy an appeal is even denied from the County Court Judges, we will give it. The drafting of the Act has been framed too slavishly on Lord Spencer's Act; we will depart from the slavery; we will put Lord Spencer behind us, and we now give you an appeal in all cases.We know how that promise was kept. We know how the Members for West Ham and Peckham wrote to the Times, and how it was said, "What are wanted are short, sharp sentences to strike terror; we want no appeals;" and the Chief Secretary gracefully yielded to the instructions of the hon. Members. If that were the law practiced at the Old Bailey, I would like to know how the two Members would face the "gonner" from India and the "demon bowler," or what chance the prisoners would have before gentlemen like Mr. Cecil Roche. Of course, in this country it is quite right that the law should be administered; and even when a verdict of guilty is given the newspapers may take it up; they are English, and belong to people of your own blood; and the whole matter may be revived. But in the case of men like the Member for West Kerry or Dr. Tanner, or the Member for North-East Cork, what are wanted are "short, sharp sentences." You have provided under the Act of Edward III. a law by which Resident Magistrates are not confined to the infliction of three or six months' imprisonment, but they may, if they choose, give three or six years, and they may do that without appeal. They can send you to gaol under Edward III. as under Balfour I. Then there is the fact that you may give a month's sentence without any appeal whatever; that you may give two sentences of one month to run consecutively, as was done in the case of 926 Mr. Alderman Hooper, late a Member of this House, and as was done in the case of several other Members of the House. Under Jervis's Act you cannot put two charges in one summons against a man; you can only make one charge against him; but under the Irish Petty Sessions Act you may bring 900 charges. It will be said that there are cases in which appeals can be taken. There are. I will give you an instance, Mr. Courtney. In the case of the Clongurry prosecution the men first of all were sentenced under the Crimes Act, and tacked on to that was the sentence of imprisonment under Edward III. Under Edward III. they had no appeal whatever. Under the Crimes Act sentence who were they to appeal to? They had the felicity of living in a county where the County Court Judge was Judge Gardner, who has laid down that he will never interfere with or revise the sentence of any Resident Magistrate unless some new fact is brought forward. What new facts can there be? Therefore, what would be the good of appealing to a man like that? My hon. Friend (Mr. E. Harrington), it is said, would have appealed to County Court Judge Curran, and it is observed that the County Court Judges are not removable or promovable at the will of the Irish Executive. There were circumstances which prevented the appeal. Had there been an appeal I have no doubt the sentence would have been reduced, there would have been no hard labour, and practically the Judge would have wiped out the sentence, leaving only the sentence of a month. My hon. Friend made no appeal. Why? For a reason entirely creditable to him, and which I have no hesitation in mentioning My hon. Friend is editor of the local paper in the county in which Judge Curran sits; and he has constantly to criticise the action of the County Court Judge in relation to land cases, fair rent cases, processes, and the administration of the law generally. He has taken up the attitude of fair criticism towards him, and County Court Judge Curran I am aware does not resent that in the slightest. But my hon. Friend would not appeal to any man whose judicial action would come under his own review as a newspaper man and a journalist. The other reason why he did not appeal 927 was this: He applied to Mr. Cecil Roche to state a case. Now, the Chief Secretary knows that if you omit to get a case stated your right of appeal is gone. Mr. Cecil Roche refused to state a case, and therefore his only resource was to try habeas corpus, and he very nearly succeeded on the technical point. And that is the explanation of the action of my hon. Friend. But are these County Court Judges removable and promovable? I am sure they are just as removable and promovable as the Resident Magistrates. What was the meaning of the County Court Judge Curran's promotion? He was first appointed a Police Magistrate in Dublin. For his services in connection with the Park investigations he was made a County Court Judge in King's County. Then when the present President of the Board of Trade wanted somebody to join General Butler in the County Kerry he was sent there by Lord Salisbury, who thought he had in him a suitable instrument. Have I shown whether the County Court Judge is independent of the executive or not? Then there is County Court Judge Henn, who confirmed the sentence on Mr. Wilfred Blunt. Is he independent of the executive or not? He has a son who is a Resident Magistrate. Is he going to throw dirt and discredit upon the decisions of Resident Magistrates by revising their sentences or quashing their convictions, when his own son is dependent for favour and promotion upon the paymasters of the Resident Magistrates? I assert, as a matter of fact, that with two or three exceptions, all over Ireland these County Court Judges are as sensible to the thermometer at Dublin Castle as the Resident Magistrates themselves. There are some counties in Ireland where the County Court Judge is an independent officer. Take Waterford. The House perhaps recollects Mr. Pine, who was a Member of this House. He is the son of a Protestant rector in Essex. He went over to fight the Duke of Devonshire in the County of Waterford, and the noble Duke got him lodged in Clonmel Gaol as a suspect, and kept there for several months. He was elected a Member of Parliament by the Catholic people of that county. Mr. Pine was prosecuted on two charges; for one he got a month, and 928 for the other two or three months. He got three months on one charge, and while he is waiting the appeal during a month or six weeks, they gave him a month on the other charge to show there was no ill-feeling. He was brought up to Court in his prison clothes. The Chief Secretary made a great point of my hon. Friend the Member for Kerry appearing at his brother's trial in his prison clothes. But he was dragged before his constituents in garments that certainly would not do credit to Poole, to put it very tenderly. Mr. Pine was brought up in the same way to the City of Waterford. Observe, he was an Englishman, with pure blood of the Saxon flowing through his veins. Of course, we cannot expect any sympathy for Irish Members of Parliament. But he is one of your own who was brought up. I took a point on the summons, afterwards held to be good by the Superior Courts in Dublin, because Mr. William O'Brien got out upon it. The County Court Judge quashed the conviction. From that day to this, Mr. Courtney, no sentence of more than one month has been given in the County of Waterford. There may have been one, but I think I am right in my statement. The County Court Judge (Mr. George Waters) does not pretend to be a Nationalist; he was Member at one time for Mallow; and I think he must have been a County Court Judge for nearly 20 years. He is one of the most respected of the Judges; he is a man of great tenderness of heart; there is considerable precision in his decisions; he is an honest and independent man. Because he has nothing to expect from you, you will not allow your decisions to go before him. I read the other day that the rioters in the City of Waterford deserved much more than a month's imprisonment. The riot was provoked by the police, if it could be called a riot. They could have given these men six months each for the riot. Did they? No. Why? Because there would have been an appeal to Judge Waters. They returned them for trial before a special jury in Queen's County; they changed the venue—a most improper thing to do in a case of the kind. They would trust nobody in Waterford; they trusted only to the Crimes Act. As to County Court Judge Webb, in the City of Dublin, I 929 will not say anything, because, since the Member for West Birmingham has declared that the practice to which I have referred is more honoured in the breach than the observance, the gospel according to Joseph has been taken to heart by the Resident Magistrates. And I would observe that one hint from the noble Marquess or the Member for West Birmingham would be worth all the law in Coke upon Lyttelton. I believe they would not disdain advice even from the Member for South Tyrone, who, since his recent action, may have fallen in their estimation, but who may be regarded as a suitable conduit-pipe for the wise counsels which proceed from Devonshire House. I say these Gentlemen could do a great deal of good by a word to such men as Cecil Roche. A respectable Tory on that side of the House was introduced to Mr. Cecil Roche, and he said, "Well, Mr. Roche, I have often been anxious to see you, because you have done our Party more mischief than any man in Ireland." I do, therefore, entreat English gentlemen to address a few words of remonstrance to these men, even if it is only in a private letter. They have only to say they are Tory or Liberal Unionists, when they see a man getting three months for winking at a policeman, and they will exert a salutary influence. Roche sentenced Mr. Woolstack for waving his hat for Mr. Wm. O'Brien. Mr. Woolstack gave bail, it is true; but did not Baron Dowse yesterday declare that in such cases nothing would induce him to give bail. That statement coming from a judge whom everybody respects, will have a powerful effect throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. I appeal to English gentlemen, when they see the law being so administered, to hint that it does not help the policy of Her Majesty's Government to hold up these object lessons in law for the advantage of Irish Members, and to the detriment of the Tory Party throughout England. In that way English gentlemen could do a good deal for the Tory policy. I need not comment upon Mr. Roche, for, after the promises held out to him of promotion under the next administration, I hope when I again have the misfortune to appear before him I may be allowed to get out two sentences without being expelled from 930 the Court, so amenable are these men to reason. I have, however, entered my protest against the course the Government are taking, for they are taking it with no other view except the exasperation of the people. Two great Acts of Parliament have been passed, we are told, by Her Majesty's Government—the Crimes Act and the Land Act. One works very smoothly, there are no exceptions from it. There are no demesne lands, no town parks, no residential holdings exempted. There is the plank bed. There are no exceptions in the course of the Crimes Act; it applies to everybody, it falls upon the just and the unjust. One Act works smoothly down an incline, the other drags wearily uphill, and the people get access to the land or remedial courts with the greatest difficulty. Something like decency is attempted to be preserved in the one case; but in the other half-pay officers, broken down Anglo-Indians, briefless barristers and experienced cricketers are sufficient to destroy the liberties of the people. Why, even at Jamaica, even at the Cape, even in the islands of Malta and Cyprus, and even in places where the British Government have Crown Colonies, you do attempt to give some satisfaction to the subject races. But here, in an integral part of the Empire, an island which we are told is the brightest jewel in the Crown of Her Most Gracious Majesty, and from among whose people have come some of the most valiant sailors and ablest soldiers of that Monarch, you find that 28 of the Parliamentary representatives of those people have been sent to gaol. Yet you would not part with us for the whole world. The Liberal party is rent in twain when it is proposed to withdraw the Irish Members from the House of Commons and to send them to a native Parliament. But they may be withdrawn in dozens to send them to the plank bed. It is only sending them to College Green that is objected to. You may send them to Kilmainham and Tuilamore as long as you like, and they are not missed. I must say that statesmen who trust to this mode of cementing the unity of the Empire, who think that they will thus best carry out their1 wretched policy with any success, are under a most miserable and lamentable delusion. But I do not 931 believe that it is even a delusion. I believe the Chief Secretary is far too clever a man to nurse or hug any delusion of that kind. His position is this, as I apprehend. He is like Prometheus: he is chained to his post. His friends will not allow him to leave. They say—"You have been such a success in the Irish Office." He wants to be somewhere else; he would like to have some other work than that of promoting Resident Magistrates, and looking after the interests of the Irish landlords in Gweedore and elsewhere; but he has been so great a success that he cannot be spared; and having entered upon this false and foolish policy he is bound to see it to its end. His predecessor was wiser: he got out in time. He knew what was coming. While I admire the courage and ability of the right hon. Gentleman in carrying out the Coercion Act in the way he is doing, I cannot but think that he is only actuated by a false and foolish pride. It is to my mind a miserable thing that the two nations should thus be kept divided, and that our nation should be crucified—not between two thieves, but among seventy-two of them—for I believe there are 72 Resident Magistrates operating from one end of the country to the other. I say it is a miserable thing if this state of things is to be allowed to continue, and that if you are reasonable men you will appoint Magistrates of character and substance, who will administer the law with discretion, who will examine into the state of the people and do something for them that will be better than sending them to a plank bed. We have had announcements made that never was there a period of greater prosperity in Ireland than now; that never were there more amicable relations between the Resident Magistrates and the people than those which exist at the present moment. Does any one believe this? Do we believe it? And we, after all, are the best judges. If our country were only content, should we not be delighted? What have we to gain by a contrary course? I put it to you whether the fact that the representatives of five sixths of the Irish people are against the present system of administration ought to count for something; and in view of all the follies and mistakes these Magistrates have made I ask you why 932 can you not begin a new life, and do something to earn the gratitude of a people over whom you now insist on ruling?
§ * THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN, Dublin University)
When the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Healy) condescended from the region of general denunciation of the follies and mistakes of the Resident Magistrates, and from the sallies with which he has diverted the Committee, and came to the regions of fact, the hon. and learned Gentleman was not, I think, very happy in the illustrations he employed in order to enforce his general accusations. He has spoken of the qualifications of these Magistrates, and asked who are they? He also drew a picture of a Court composed of two Resident Magistrates, one of whom he described as a "Demon Bowler," and of another, whom he alluded to as a retired Indian Official; but I would point out that the very case which had been decided by this Demon Bowler and the retired Indian Official was discussed in this House, when three learned Gentlemen, Members of this House, undertook to lay before us their version of the law upon the subject. The three hon. and learned Gentlemen who undertook to give their opinions on the legality of the sentence of the Court referred to and criticised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford were men of whose legal competence the Lord Lieutenant might fairly have been satisfied. They were the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Western Division of Durham, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dumfries, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stockton, who was formerly Solicitor General; and they all took the same view of the law, and pronounced against the legality of the decision of the Resident Magistrates in ordering the Member for Mid Cork to find securities of good behaviour. But when I look at what took place before the Court of Exchequer, I find that that Court decided that the action of the Magistrates was perfectly legal, and that those learned Gentlemen were wrong. This, I think, is a very significant fact; and an incident of this kind brought home to the Committee is worth a good deal of denunciation. I can 933 hardly suppose that the three hon. and learned Gentlemen to whom I have referred came down to enlighten this House upon that case without having looked into the law on the subject, or for the mere purpose of making an attack on their political opponents. I do not believe it; and it only serves to show the enormous room there is for differences of opinion on questions of this kind. Now, when we are told to look at the qualifications of the Magistrates I would wish the Committee to turn to see the extent to which their decisions have been questioned; and what do we find? for this, I say, is the broad and proper way of looking at the question. Whether this or that man acquired his experience or legal knowledge by study and practice as a barrister, or by practical experience as a Magistrate, is not the point; the question is, whether the magistrates have acquired legal knowledge and experience sufficient to enable them to discharge their duties in a satisfactory manner. I say, therefore, that when you find it recorded that there are only 9 per cent. of successful appeals against their decisions, and when you find in the case of the hon. Member for Mid-Cork that only on one point, and that a purely technical one, was the order of the Magistrates reversed, the ground being that one Magistrate had not the power to adjourn the hearing, I do not think a case can be made out against the Magistrates by discussing their antecedent qualifications for office. We are not now discussing the Crimes Act, but the allegation that the Government have worked that Act by improper means and by the employment of inefficient and incompetent men. Well, how are we to bring charges of this nature to the test? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford has said there is no appeal in certain cases, but I say that there is, under the Crimes Act, the same appeal as in cases under the ordinary law in Ireland. Where points of law are involved there are means of having any questions decided by the Superior Courts. Now, I ask the Committee to look at the results. It seems to me that the most conclusive answer to the accusations of incompetency brought against these gentlemen is the fact that so remarkably small a number of appeals against 934 their decisions should have been successful. It has been found that the decisions of these Magistrates, whom the Committee are asked to condemn as a class, have on the whole, with a remarkably small number of exceptions, been upheld, whether by the County Courts on appeal or by the Superior Courts. But the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford has asked the Committee to believe that the appeals which go before the County Court Judges are not fairly heard. We have been told that a certain Judge has a son who is a Resident Magistrate. Now, I put it to the Committee, is that a serious way of dealing with such a question? And, again, I ask the Committee to look at the broad facts. What is the position of the 22 or 23 men who are County Court Judges in Ireland? Who are they, how are they appointed, and what is their tenure of office? I challenge any one to say that, as a body, they do not fairly represent the practising Bar of Ireland—I do not say those very first flights; but they are men who have all won their way to their present position by sheer merit. When we are told that one of these gentlemen has a son who is a Resident Magistrate, I ask whether that can be regarded as a serious criticism of such a body? Can it, for one moment, be considered a ground on which we are to discuss the action of the two, or three and twenty Irish County Court Judges? And here I hope the Committee will not, for one moment, understand me to suggest that it is a ground which ought to be put forward even against the individual Judge to whom reference has been made. Well, I have shown what is the class of men of whom the County Court Judges of Ireland are composed; and when I say that their tenure of office is such as to render them absolutely independent of the Executive, I think I have placed the position they hold in a light which the Committee will be able to appreciate. Complaint has been made, and an explanation demanded, of the statement made by a certain County Court Judge to this effect, as it is suggested, that he would not entertain appeals in Crimes Act cases. Now I have had that statement before me, and I deny it is of the nature which has been suggested by the hon. Member. 935 I have been asked to explain the position of Divisional Magistrates under the new rules. The action of the Government with reference to the substitution of Divisional Commissioners for Divisional Magistrates has been very simple. Divisional Magistrates are not Magistrates in the sense of acting judicially; they are always Executive officers, and I think that the name was an unfortunate one. This class of appointment was first made, I believe, in 1882, in the time of the late Mr. Forster. Those gentlemen who were appointed Resident Magistrates under an Act of Parliament had a fixed salary, and as long as they held that appointment it was held—and rightly held—by the Committee of Accounts, that the only salary they could draw was the statutory salary of a Resident Magistrate; but it was never doubted that the Government could appoint Executive officers, and so instead of being appointed Resident Magistrates they are now appointed Executive officers, with a fixed salary, and that salary will have to be voted by Parliament. Reference has been also made to the fact of these Magistrates being put upon the Commission of the Peace to enable them to discharge the duties of their office. That is by no means an unusual proceeding, and as to its legality and conformity with precedent, I do not think that there can be any doubt. The point has been raised that it is allowable for Resident Magistrates to reside in a different Petty Sessions district from that in which they act, whereas ordinary Justices of the Peace must not habitually reside out of their own district. The cases, however, are totally different. Resident Magistrates are paid for going round to assist the ordinary J.P.'s in carrying out the law; that is the purpose for which they are appointed. They are to be experts and competent practised Judges, to discharge duties in various Petty Sessions districts, and not confine themselves to one district as an ordinary Magistrate, but go on service as they are required from one district to another. Do hon. Members opposite by their ironical cheers mean to suggest that this statement is inaccurate, and that it is the duty of a Resident Magistrate to adhere to a single Petty Sessions district during his tenure of office? Such a contention would be absurd. Reference has been 936 made to a recent decision with regard to the power of a Justice of the Peace; but that decision has no bearing upon the subject now under discussion. It merely amounts to this—that the Commission of the Peace gives jurisdiction in every part of the country; for my own part, I only wonder that such a proposition has ever been seriously doubted. With regard to the occurrence at Naas where it is stated that the Magistrate turned the counsel in a case out of Court, I have the report of what occurred on that occasion, and I find that the learned counsel in the case used language which the Court regarded as improper. He said the conduct of the Bench in regard to the cross-examination of a witness was a scandal. The Resident Magistrate, Mr. Fitzgerald, asked him to withdraw the expression. He refused to withdraw it, and said that he had used it deliberately, and the Court refused to hear him unless he withdrew it. The learned counsel had spoken of scandalous conduct——
§ MR. J. REDMOND (Wexford, N.)
That is not a true report of what I said; it is substantially accurate as far as it goes; but without a full report the matter cannot be fairly judged. I will supply the hon. and learned Gentleman with a report of the exact language which I used.
§ * MR. MADDEN
I should be very glad if the hon. and learned Member would correct me if the report before me is inaccurate; but I am bound to deal with the question as it has been brought forward. No explanation, however, can remove the fact that on being called upon to withdraw his language the hon. and learned Gentleman refused to do so, and said that he had used it deliberately. If an incident of that kind had occurred in any Court, high or low, in England, and counsel had used words similar to those which the hon. Member admits to be substantially correct, I think that precisely similar action would have been taken. With regard to the solicitor, I am informed that at a later period he addressed the Court, and dared the Magistrate to put him out.
§ * MR. MADDEN
In the opinion of the Court the proceedings were systematically disturbed, and as a matter of 937 fact I am informed that Mr. Brown was not turned out.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
Does the Solicitor General derive his information from the newspaper reports, because they are entirely different from each other?
§ * MR. MADDEN
My information is derived from official sources, not from newspaper reports. As an instance of the recklessness with which assertions are made, it has been stated that Mr. Cecil Roche gave a sentence of six months' imprisonment to a person for waving his hat for Mr. O'Brien. As a matter of fact, Mr. Roche did not adjudicate on that occasion at all, and never gave the sentence; it was given by a different Magistrate altogether.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I have got the deposition of Mr. Cecil Roche, signed at the police barrack, stating what had occurred on that occasion.
§ * MR. MADDEN
The sentence attributed to Mr. Roche was not passed by Mr. Roche; it was passed by Captain Walsh; and that was rather an important fact when Mr. Roche is being attacked for that particular sentence. The hon. Member for Stockton asked me in this House upon what evidence Captain Walsh acted, and whether he had anything before him except the deposition of Mr. Roche; and the answer I gave was that Captain Walsh acted on the evidence of his own senses. A Magistrate in requiring securities for good behaviour is entitled to act upon his own knowledge of what is occurring in his presence, or, in other words, the evidence of his own senses. Mr. Stock did not go to gaol for an hour, because he gave sureties to be of good behaviour. These Magistrates perform their duties in the full light of day. "The fierce light that beats upon a throne" is darkness compared with the glare of publicity in which they discharge their duties. This I do not complain of, and the Government have no reason to complain of it. I am certain that the Resident Magistrates have no reason to complain of it. Is there a single act of the Resident Magistrates during the last two years that has not been carefully looked into? Looking at the whole record, looking at the proportion of suc- 938 cessful appeals, looking at the isolated cases that have been taken up, I believe the Committee will think that the Resident Magistrates have come out of the ordeal to which they have been subjected with every credit to themselves.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman has tried to prove too much. Whatever else the Resident Magistrates may be they are not competent and practised Judges. It would have been more to the purpose to show that they were an average body of men who have been entrusted with functions of a very difficult character. Although there is reason to complain of the conduct of individuals, I cannot treat the question apart from the policy of the Coercion Act they are administering. No matter what body of men are employed to administer it, they cannot give satisfaction in carrying out its provisions. I object to the method in which the Magistrates are selected, to the method in which they are instructed and inspired, and to the manner in which they do their work. No men could satisfactorily discharge the duties of Judge and jury that are cast upon them. No law is more complex and difficult than the Law of Conspiracy; and one of the most competent Judges resigned rather than take upon himself the administration of that law without the assistance of a jury. Yet in administering that law the Resident Magistrates have to act as both Judge and jury. It is generally held that the liberty of the subject would not be worth a moment's purchase unless it were safeguarded by Judges independent of the Executive, and by juries indifferently chosen; but as Judges the Resident Magistrates are not independent of the Executive, and as jurymen they are not indifferently chosen. Coming to individuals, it is impossible to avoid giving expression to strong feelings of resentment at many things which have occurred. It is irrelevant to compare the qualifications of Members of Parliament with those of Resident Magistrates, as the Chief Secretary has done, because Members of Parliament have not to try charges of conspiracy. Recently I was interested in an intricate case of conspiracy tried by Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Macleod. Mr. Bodkin is said to have been, before his appointment, a civil engineer, a farmer, 939 and a Militia officer; and Mr. Macleod had been for some years a Constabulary officer, and these are the men supposed to be qualified to deal with a difficult question of law. It is monstrous that such enormous powers should be entrusted to men with these qualifications. A power committed to them is that of instituting secret inquiries, by examining witnesses in the presence of no one but a shorthand writer. Mr. Justice Stephen, in his history of the criminal law, deals with secret inquiries, and he says:—The substitution of secret interrogation for an open investigation would appear to us to be poisoning justice at its source. An English Judge would feel himself degraded if he were required to extort admissions by elaborate cross-examination.Yet this is the system which is at work under this Crimes Act. In these secret inquiries no rules of evidence guide or fetter the discretion of the Magistrates. A secret inquiry was held recently in the County of Wexford, and presided over by a gentleman named Considine. He summoned people before him, and in secret questioned and cross-questioned them, so as to extort admissions from them. As to his qualifications for the exercise of legal functions at all, I find it stated that he served as High Sheriff in County Limerick in 1881, and that he kept all his terms for the Bar, but for family reasons was not called. The other day Mr. Considine admitted in evidence that years ago he kept all the summer terms at one of the English Inns, but never attended a lecture or attempted to pass an examination. It seems to me, therefore, that the description of this Magistrate is a dishonest one. Now, the Solicitor General's argument, that the charge of incompetence brought against the Magistrates is negatived by the number of appeals in which the convictions have been confirmed by the County Court Judges, was primâ facie, no doubt, a strong one. But when we look into the facts we can see what this confirmation is worth. One County Court Judge who has jurisdiction over three counties—I refer to Judge Darley—has declared that he will not interfere in any of these Crimes Act cases with the discretion of the Magistrates, unless he is satisfied they have made a mistake in point of law. 940 What did that mean? It meant that appeal, which by law should be a rehearing of a case, was absolutely taken away from every man who was within the jurisdiction of that County Court Judge. Take another instance. The Solicitor General was indignant at the suggestion that these County Court Judges could be anything but independent and impartial administrators of the law. I should like the hon. and learned Gentleman to state whether he seriously considers that County Court Judge Webb is a gentleman entirely independent of the Executive Government. We know how County Court Judge Webb got his preferment. We know that Judge Webb was the pamphleteer for the Conservative Party in Dublin and was engaged in the preparation of articles for which he was paid by a certain political association, and which in another shape formed the origin of the Times' articles on "Parnellism and Crime." Although Judge Webb may have had at one time some practice, I deny that he ever had such legal professional work as to justify his appointment as County Court Judge. I say his promotion was the payment for the political service he did to the Party opposite. To ask us to have confidence in a gentleman of that kind is about as absurd as to ask us to have confidence in the legal knowledge of Mr. Cecil Roche and men like him. I hope the people will notice to-morrow that the Solicitor General thinks that Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald and Mr. Civil Engineer Bodkin are competent and practised Judges. One of the Judges of the Supreme Court—Mr. Baron Dowse—has said there are several things he has never been able to understand, and one of them is the mind of these local Justices or how they bring their mind to bear on a case. He was still less able to understand the state of mind of Justices of whose competence the Lord Lieutenant has been satisfied. In another case the learned Judge said one might as well ask one of these Justices to write a Greek Ode as to state a case themselves. In a case which was before the Courts yesterday the Attorney General said he was collecting into one volume, which he was about to have published, all the Judgments of the Superior Courts in these Crimes Act cases, and Mr. Baron Dowse said— 941If you wish that to be of any use you must collect all the Magistrates together and give them a good grind in it.These are the practised and competent Judges the learned Solicitor General said are quite fit to administer the law of conspiracy and other official powers vested in them by the Crimes Act. I notice there has been a recent development in the action of these Magistrates; they have recently taken to tacking on to their sentences under the Crimes Act further sentences in default of finding bail. I do not believe that when the Legislature limited the imprisonment to be inflicted to six months, it contemplated that it might be extended to nine or 12 months under an Act of Edward III. Had such a thing been thought possible, I believe that the House would have introduced a provision to prevent it. It is all very well to say that a man need not be imprisoned because he has only to give bail for good behaviour. The way that Irishmen look at that is shown by what Chief Baron Palles said the other day—namely, that if he were asked to give sureties for good behaviour, he would sooner die first. I should like to refer to an incident in which Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald took part; but before I come to the particular point let me say that there is only one barrister practising in Ireland who has succeeded in appearing before Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald without being turned out of Court, and, as far as I have been able to ascertain, there is not a single solicitor in the district, except the Crown Solicitors, who has not been removed from Court by this Magistrate's order. Some time ago I was engaged at the Winter Assizes in the town of Maryborough, where Lord Chief Justice Morris was trying cases. Some of the prisoners were defended and others were undefended, and I was greatly struck by what I saw and heard. If a prisoner was undefended the Judge allowed him in statement and in cross-examination the most enormous latitude. I left the Court and went into the Court of Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald. There were eight or ten defendants in the case in which I appeared, but I appeared for only one of them. The Magistrate did not interfere with my discretion, but the moment one of the undefended prisoners rose in his place in the dock and 942 commenced—perhaps incoherently, perhaps irrelevantly, but certainly not with any intention to be disrespectful to the Court—to cross-examine one of the witnesses, Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald at once interfered, and said, "You cannot ask that question," "That is irrelevant," "If that is the kind of question you have to ask, sit down; if you do not, I will order you to be dragged down by policemen." I turned to my solicitor and said, "This interference with the cross examination of witnesses by undefended prisoners is the most scandalous thing I ever saw." Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald's ears are somewhat long, and he caught my observation, although it was not addressed to him, and he asked me if I said that. I said I did. He asked me to withdraw it; but I, remembering what I had just seen in the Lord Chief Justice's Court, refused to withdraw the expression. For that offence I was ordered out of Court. My solicitor remained, and what occurred in his case was this: The Magistrate was writing down the depositions himself. Mr. Brown, the solicitor, complained that a certain answer was not correctly taken down. The Magistrate said, "Sit down, sir, and hold your tongue," and Mr. Brown answered, "I will not; I am discharging my duty to my client, and I insist upon that answer being taken down correctly." For that Mr. Brown was seized by two policemen and dragged out of Court. This is the kind of thing that is constantly occurring when cases are tried before Mr. Fitzgerald. Reference has been made to the fact that his action in the case of Dr. Tanner has been upheld. But it was reversed upon one point, which was a very simple one—namely, that a Court not properly constituted to hear a case could not adjourn it; and as to the second point, with regard to the holding to good behaviour or committing for three months for contempt of Court, it is a strange thing that the brilliant idea of falling back on his alternative jurisdiction under the Act of Edward III. should strike Mr. Fitzgerald—an ex-Civil servant of India—whereas it has never occurred to any of his colleagues, some of whom do possess some legal knowledge. Mr. Baron Dowse, in alluding to the warrant on which Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald 943 committed Dr. Tanner under the jurisdiction given by the Act of Edward III., said—This is a very elaborate document;and further on the learned Judge said—Mr. Attorney General, it is so peculiar and so elaborate that it does seem to be some confirmation of Dr. Tanner's idea that these Magistrates came with their ammunition ready.I am free to express my opinion that Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald did not act on his own initiative in the matter, but that he was inspired by the legal advisers of the Government in Dublin Castle. The Chief Secretary denies that there is any fusion between the Executive and the Judicial functions of Magistrates; and he added that one of the reasons why Magistrates move about so frequently is that the Government desire that those who exercise Executive functions should not preside over Courts. But there are Judges in many parts of Ireland who are every day in the week combining Judicial and Executive functions. It is only the other day that I appeared before a certain Magistrate in a Crimes Act Court, and that within two hours of the close of the Court I witnessed the Magistrate leading a body of baton men in the dispersal of a meeting. Colonel Miller is constantly exercising both Judicial and Executive functions in my own county; therefore, it is not true for the Chief Secretary to say that the Executive and Judicial functions are kept distinct. The action of these Magistrates is going very far indeed to intensify the contempt in which the administration of the law is held in Ireland. The Irish people have got into their heads that what Erskine said long ago is true—namely, that where the administration of the law is left in the hands of the deputies of the Executive Government; there can be no liberty except such as is convenient to the Executive Government. Under present circumstances a sentence of imprisonment inflicted by one of these Courts is regarded not as a stigma, but as a title to honour. These Courts are not engaged in punishing crime, but in attempting to break down combination on the part of the people. As an instance of this, I may point to the fact that the Crimes Act is being vigorously put into operation in the County Wexford 944 —a county in which within the memory of living men there ha8 not been a single serious agrarian crime, where at the last Assizes the business for the whole county, with a population of 150,000 persons, only lasted one hour and a half, and consisted of one case of petty larceny. Yet this county is being singled out for the most thorough and whole-hearted administration of the Coercion Act. This is the county where secret inquiries are being held right, left, and centre. This is the county where some of the Priests who have preserved the public peace for half a century are being prosecuted under the law of criminal conspiracy, which law is administered by ex-civil engineers and ex-Indian political officers. The object of these prosecutions is to put down what the Chief Secretary regards as illegal combinations on the part of the people. There are in the county only three estates in which the Plan of Campaign is at work; on all the other estates the tenants have come to terms with their landlords. Wherever the Magistrates are exercising their sway, wherever they are sending the local leaders to prison, public opinion is indignant at the system of Government. Public opinion justifies the action of the local leaders who may have made use of such extreme expressions or assisted the tenants in their action against their landlords. These combinations are defying the Coercion Act and defying the action of the Resident Magistrates, and, so far as crime is concerned, the action of the Coercion Act is absolutely unneeded. Let me say I attribute more to faults in the system than to faults in individuals. I do not deny that there are individuals among the Magistrates utterly unfitted by training and utterly unsuited personally for the performance of Magisterial functions; but still it is more to the system and policy that I attach fault than to individuals. The right hon. Gentleman is degrading the law; he is destroying whatever remains of confidence in the minds of the people in the administration of the law. He is postponing, so far as in him lies, the approach of that day, the arrival of which I and my Colleagues ardently desire, when the law will be impartially administered between man and man in Ireland, will be regarded with confidence and respect by the people, and will cease to be an 945 instrument in the hands of the rich and the few to be used against the poor and the many; when it shall be no longer true, in the words of Sir Redvers Buller, that there is no law on the side of the poor man in Ireland; when the law shall be administered with firmness, discretion, and justice between man and man. When that day comes, I believe the British Empire will have in no part of its vast dimensions a more loyal or more law-abiding people than in Ireland.
§ MR. COX (Clare, E.)
The Chief Secretary last night repudiated with considerable heat the assertion made that there is collusion between Dublin Castle and the administrators of the Coercion Act. The assertion that sentences were prepared in Dublin Castle and sent down to the Courts he repudiated in the most emphatic manner, and denied that the statement had any foundation in fact. Well, we must accept that statement of his, but while we do so, it must be admitted that there are peculiar coincidences in the administration of the Coercion Act that to our, perhaps, prejudiced minds seem to require some explanation. I may refer to one of these coincidences in relation to my own case. It may be within the recollection of the Committee that I was arrested under the Coercion Act here in London, the first Irish Member so arrested in England. I was taken across to the capital of my county and brought before Mr. Cecil Roche and Mr. Hodder. The case lasted two days, and my hon. and learned Friend who has just eloquently addressed the Committee defended me on that occasion. To prove the charges against me it was necessary to bring up no fewer than 85 policeman; I think that was the number present. As I was, on the second morning of the trial, being escorted in this way from the prison to the Courthouse there occured one these coincidences to which I have alluded. As I passing into the Court a Government official whispered to me—"Cox, you'll get four months to-day for your speech at Ennis. Of course you will appeal, and you will be re-arrested and then you will get one month for your speech at Kildysart." This was in the morning, and the case proceeded through the day. At the end of the proceedings, as was predicted, a sentence of four months' imprisonment was passed upon me. I 946 should have mentioned that, to the communication whispered in my ear, was added, "Orders have come down." Whether the orders came from Heaven or from Dublin Castle was not stated. I appealed of course, and upon leaving the Court I was re-arrested, brought before the same tribunal, and committed back to prison, bail being, as in the former case, refused. On the Tuesday following I was brought up for trial at Kildysart, where scenes occurred at which I shall have to refer later on. The charges and allegations against me on both occasions were word for word, letter for letter—in every respect identical. My first offence was my speech at Ennis, and there there might be supposed to be some excuse for me. I advised the people to stick to the constitutional agitation of the National League. Portions of that speech were read to the Committee last night by the hon. Member for York (Mr. A. Pease). There might have been some palliation of my offence on that occasion, because the proclamation of the National League in Clare had only appeared in the Gazette the day before. But my second offence was the delivery of a speech ten days afterwards, and then there was no excuse of absence of knowledge of the proclamation; and so I submit the second offence was the graver of the two, and the sentence should, therefore, have been heavier. Well, I was tried, and, of course, found guilty, and for this second offence, word for word, letter for letter, in every respect identical with the first, I was sentenced to a month's imprisonment. Against this sentence there is no appeal; it was pronounced to fill up the period of time between the one imprisonment and the other. We will suppose this is merely a coincidence, but what I would like to ask is, how was it that the Government official was able to learn what the sentences were going to be? Well, so much on the question of complicity between the Castle and Resident Magistrates in the exercise of their judicial functions. I now come to their executive functions. I was taken, as I said, to Kildysart under strong escort, and at the entrance to this small village of 30 or 40 houses I was placed in the centre of a square, and Mr. Cecil Roche, his famous blackthorn in hand, led the way. In the street, at the entrance 947 to the village, a few women and children were assembled. I assert and maintain that these, women and children principally, and not men, did not number more than one to every three policemen, and they had the audacity to raise a cheer for me, their Representative. Without a moment's warning this body of police, numbering at least three to one of the people in the street, charged in every direction, and in less than three minutes the village street was strewed with women and children who had dared to cheer. I saw one man, who had rushed to his door to see what was the cause of the commotion, felled by a policeman on his own doorstep. Not a stone was thrown, no offence was committed, simply the people had raised a cheer for me. When the people had been bludgeoned and dispersed the square was re-formed, and, Mr. Cecil Roche at the head, we went on to the Court House, where, in a judicial, calm, impartial frame of mind, Mr. Cecil Roche proceeded to try me for the offence of delivering a speech in that village. These are the judicial officials to whom you intrust the administration of the Crimes Act in Ireland. Disgraceful as this outrage was there is still more to tell. During the progress of the trial a considerable number of persons assembled, and many priests were present in Court. I said to the parish priest, "For God's sake get the priests to go out and clear the streets of people; do not leave them to be massacred by this ruffian Roche." The priests used their influence and cleared the streets peaceably. A few people outside cheered, but there was no further offence. One man, who appeared to be the town foil, waved his hat and commenced to cheer, and instantly half a dozen policemen rushed at him, collared him, and while they held him another policeman drew his baton and struck the man on the head. I heard the thud of the blow 50 yards distant. The baton was raised again, but District Inspector Carey and Mr. Mensell stayed the ruffian's hand. Mr. Cecil Roche looking on never attempted to interfere. Well, I was sentenced to a month's imprisonment, as I have said, and the next day I was conveyed to Ennis, and at the railway station there I chanced to overhear a conversation between two officials which I mention as 948 bearing directly on a case that has been more than once mentioned, the prosecution of 21 traders of Milltown Malbay, and because I think I am indirectly responsible for that prosecution. I was standing outside the carriage when I heard one official—his name I will not mention, though I know he is one of those who hate the work they are set to do—I heard this official say to another that there would be hot work in Mill-town Malbay on the occasion of the approaching trials because Mr. Cecil Roche would be there. Well, I, with the scene at Kildysart fresh in my mind, determined to do all in my power to prevent a recurrence of a savage onslaught upon defenceless people. I mentioned what I had heard to my solicitor, Mr. Lynch, and he in my name wrote to Father White, the parish priest at Milltown Malbay, asking him to use his influence to prevent the people assembling. Father White a short time ago in the Commission Court swore that he received such a message from me. It is well-known that there is no more zealous advocate in the cause of temperance in Ireland than this parish priest. Father White thought to improve on my suggestion, and he went round to the traders and asked them to close their houses on the day of these trials—trials, if I remember rightly, for alleged boycotting in the town. The publicans did as Father White suggested; they closed their houses on the day of the trial, and Mr. Cecil Roche found no excuse for bludgeoning the people there. He determined, however, to have it out with the people in some other way. It was sworn at the subsequent trial that the police station was well supplied with provisions and liquor of all sorts; but by the orders of Mr. Cecil Roche the police went round to the different traders, and for refusing to sell the police drink 21 traders of Miltown Malbay were prosecuted. This is the history of how the houses in Miltown Malbay came to be closed that day, and it will be seen that the responsibility lies with me. I am proud of the responsibility. Although it entailed a considerable amount of suffering upon these unfortunate people who were sent to gaol for refusing to open their houses, there is not a single man of them who would not be prepared to accept my 949 advice if I called upon them to do the same thing again. Last night the hon. Member for York (Mr. Pease) referred to a trial in which a difference of opinion arose between Mr. Kilkelly and Mr. Cecil Roche as to the sentence to be inflicted. On one point the hon. Member was mistaken, or he did not make it clear. The offenders were children, the eldest of whom was not more than 14 years old, and their crime was defending their home against eviction. Mr. Cecil Roche wanted to send the children to herd with common criminals for four months, but Mr. Kilkelly, more humane, wanted to give the minimum sentence, and accordingly, as the Magistrates disagreed, the children were discharged for the time, and were never called up for sentence afterwards. What happened? Mr. Kilkelly was sent to Drogheda, and one of the most notorious firebrands of that place—Colonel Keogh—was sent from Drogheda to replace him in Clare. Mr. Kilkelly, I am sorry to say, seems to have learned his lesson, and has taken a leaf out of the book of Mr. Roche, seeing that doing this is the only way to promotion. We had another Resident Magistrate in County Clare, a gentleman in whose administration of the law the people had entire confidence, Mr. Crotty. Before the passing of the Coercion Act, Mr. Crotty had charge at Tulla, where he had gained the respect and confidence of the people. But the Chief Secretary knew that this gentleman was no tool in the hands of the Executive—he was not a machine for the administration of the Coercion Act—so Mr. Crotty was, on the passing of the Act, removed, and the firebrand Colonel Keogh replaced him. Clare has been tried in the crucible of the Coercion Act more, perhaps, than any other county. Clare has sent more men to prison in defence of free speech, of public meeting, and the right of combination than any other county in Ireland, and I, as Representative, am proud of my county for this. The Chief Secretary has sent me to prison, either by the sentences of his Removable Magistrates or by refusal of bail, four times, but if he makes it 44 times I shall continue the same. The right hon. Gentleman has proclaimed the National League in Clare; he boasts of being the saviour of Clare and the true friend 950 of the people, and I challenge him to test the opinion of the people. It would be too much, perhaps, to ask him to condescend to the representation of such a barbarous constituency; but if he will not submit to that, let him nominate any gentleman among his friends, and I will resign my seat and contest the election on the lines of the National League, and if my opponent polls one vote to every 50 given for me I will undertake never to seek a seat in the House again.
§ DR. KENNY (Cork, S.)
The right hon. Gentleman opposite has given as the reason for the peripatetic action of the Resident Magistrates that it is necessary that their experience should go round to assist the Magistrates of Petty Sessions in their work; but I think it may more correctly be put in another way, that they go round, not to assist, but to terrorise Magistrates at Petty Sessions, and make them do the work demanded by the Government. We had in Ireland, in days gone by, a gentleman who was known as the "walking gallows." At that time, as now, I suppose the ultima ratio of justice was not sufficiently carried out. Then, as now, men were found to interpret the wishes and designs of the Executive, and this "walking gallows" did the dirty work of the Executive, and, with a few honourable exceptions, Resident Magistrates follow his example, and lend themselves for similar work. The Solicitor General dwelt with great fervour, and worked himself into a white heat of indignation at the idea of impugning the decisions of Resident Magistrates, because he said so small a proportion of those decisions were reversed on appeal. But our position is, that the administration of justice has been polluted at its source, and, with a few honourable exceptions again, it is with deep regret I say it, County Court Judges to whom these appeals are made, are, in the main, as much tainted as the Resident Magistrates in being the willing tools to do the behests of the Executive, and as willing to curry favour to get for themselves or their relatives fresh places or promotion. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Longford (Mr. Healy) has given an example of what occurs when the Executive find out whether a County Court Judge is willing or not to agree 951 with the decrees pronounced by the Resident Magistrates, Because it was known that Justice Waters was a man who, on the rehearing of a case, gave equal weight to the evidence of the witnesses for the accused and the police witnesses, appeals were not referred to him but to Mr. Justice O'Brien, a legal luminary who can be relied on to give thumping sentences whenever a packed jury find a verdict of guilty. Now there is one case upon which I wish to put a question to the Chief Secretary. The case of the hon. Member for Mid-Cork (Dr. Tanner) has been before the Court of Exchequer in Dublin, and we have had a very strong expression of opinion from the Judges, chiefly from Chief Baron Palles, of whose legal knowledge L hope the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary are satisfied. The Chief Baron expressed the strongest opinion as to the state of the law which enables Resident Magistrates to deal with the offence of contempt of Court under the Statute of Edward III. I am no lawyer, but every citizen knows that that Statute was introduced for a totally different purpose than for dealing with persons guilty of contempt of Court, and I want to know why it is that this musty old Statute is used for this purpose. Was a hint sent from Dublin Castle that this was the best method of dealing with contempt of Court when it was found that the Coercion Act was rather deficient in dealing with this offence, though Heaven knows its net was sufficiently widely spread to include most offences; was there a hint, I say, thrown out that this was a convenient method of dealing with inconvenient political adversaries, to bind them under greater stress and duration than under the ordinary powers of the Court in dealing with contempt?It is a strange thing," said the Chief Baron, introducing a very significant phrase, "it is a strange thing that the industry of the learned gentleman who represents the Crown has not produced a single case where a person has been held to peace for words spoken in Court.The Chief Baron went on to say that in Ireland until within the last two or three years the respect for the Courts must have been such that no case on the subject could arise. That is perfectly true. At Petty Sessions before these tremendous powers were given to peripatetic Magistrates under the Coercion 952 Act, a rough and ready kind of justice was administered, and there was no punishment for contempt of Court, because there was none necessary. The Chief Baron said also that the defamation was not that of an individual but of justice itself, and that he conceived that the words of Dr. Tanner though unmannerly might be regarded as having some relation to his defence. The hon. Member for Mid Cork was first deprived of his defender by the action of the Court, and then, being left to his own defence, because he uses language which somewhat goes beyond the normal limits of propriety, he is dealt with without warning and without caution in the most offensive manner. Why could not these gentlemen have dealt with him at once for contempt of Court? Why could they not have cautioned him? It is true, as Chief Baron Palles remarked, that it was not incumbent on them to do so. The learned Judge said he himself certainly thought that before being committed for contempt the person should have an opportunity of being heard, but the doctrine of the common law that no one should be condemned unheard, did not apply to our law, at least since the time of Edward III. Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to carry out the sentence against my hon. Friend in face of the fact that this oppressive procedure was used against him—does he intend, in face of the declaration of one of the highest Courts in Ireland, to carry out a sentence which in infamous in its character, and which ought never to have been pronounced? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will also let us know whether he has any intention of amending the law next Session in this particular direction. What is the position of the hon. Member for Mid Cork at this present moment? He committed the alleged contempt of Court when there was being passed on him a sentence which has been quashed. For expressing his contempt for an absolutely illegal decision he is now being imprisoned for three months if he does not give these sureties, which I think he ought not to give, and which I hope he will not give. There is another case which, as far as I know, has not been alluded to—namely, that of Mr. Powell, the editor of the Midland Tribune. That gentleman has been up twice before under the Coercion 953 Act, and he edits a paper that does not find favour with the powers that be in Ireland. The case appears to me to be on all fours with that of the hon. Member for Cork. It illustrates, first, the oppressive nature of this proceeding for contempt of Court, and secondly, the fact that the Resident Magistrates are the creatures of the Executive. Mr. Powell published a Report in his paper, and he was charged with having used intimidation towards Her Majesty's subjects, and endeavoured to set Her Majesty's subjects against each other. The prosecution was instituted by County Inspector Ross. The counsel for the defendant asked the Resident Magistrate, Mr. Waring, whether he would state a case. Mr. Waring said at first that he saw no objection, but he had scarcely spoken before the gentleman of whom we have heard a great deal of late, Mr. Bolton, said "I object." Mr. Waring said there was no case to state. Mr. Bolton said the stating of a case intimated that in the opinion of the Court there was something to be argued. Mr. Waring then said, "Then I will not do it." Now, I wish to know whether in this case the sentence is to be carried out. I protest most strongly against Courts of Summary Jurisdiction in Ireland, which are endowed with enormous powers—powers of a character admittedly never before conferred on Courts—being allowed now to use at their pleasure the Statute of Edward III. It is notorious that these Magistrates are not thoroughly competent, and that they act from anything but the highest possible motives. I will give a little instance of the even-handed justice which these gentlemen mete out. In Macroom on September 29th, last year, Mr. O'Shea, the secretary of the branch of the League, was convicted of writing a letter inviting a man to explain his conduct, and was sentenced to four months' imprisonment with hard labour, without the option of a fine. All Mr. O'Shea did was to write a letter just as the secretary of a club would write to a member asking him to give an explanation before the committee of something which was supposed to be an offence against the members of the club. Two days later the Magistrates who passed this sentence on Mr. O'Shea had to adjudicate upon a charge against a clerk to the firm of Hussey and Towns- 954 end, the well-known land agents, of having assaulted a common prostitute on a Sunday morning. He had got the woman into his office, and the police, assisted by some corporate officials, had to come and rescue her. Evidence was given to the effect that they found the woman lying on the floor in the hall, looking very faint and with tears in her eyes. The Magistrates convicted the person, and said the justice of the case would be satisfied with the infliction of a fine of £5. No doubt the character of the person assaulted might cast some suspicion on her testimony, but the man was convicted not on her evidence, but on that of the police-sergeant, and yet the Magistrates who two days before gave Mr. O'Shea four months' imprisonment for writing a letter inviting an explanation of a man's conduct, let this man off with a fine of £5. That, Sir, is the even-handed justice of the Resident Magistrates. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary what he has to say about the proceedings of Major Cadell in turning Canon Keller off his own premises during the Ponsonby evictions. The Canon was at the time standing in the churchyard, which, as is customary in Ireland, is absolutely vested in him. There is no allegation by the police that there was stone-throwing where he was standing. The police ordered him out of his own premises, and used a certain degree of force in ejecting him. I want to know by what right they did this. Is there any common law right in Ireland which enables the police to enter on private premises where no felony is being committed and violently to remove the owner? I want to know also whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to keep Mr. Powell in prison? There is one fact which ought to weigh with the right hon. Gentleman. Mr. Powell has been previously in prison, and, in consequence of his imprisonment, has lost the sight of one eye. This is no exaggeration, but is a well ascertained fact. Of course when the sight of one eye is lost, there is always extreme danger of the sight of the other going by sympathy, and if Mr. Powell now remains in prison, he is in a much worse position for standing the effects of the imprisonment. I say that if by a system of imprisonment you endanger the life, or seriously impair the physical well-being 955 of a person, you are giving that person more punishment than the tribunal before which he appeared had rightly or wrongly given. When you give a man four months' imprisonment, plus the loss of an eye, you give him more than the tribunal intended to give him, and there is a gross violation of every principle of justice.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I am sure we have heard with interest the speech delivered by the Solicitor General for Ireland, who is honestly opposed to us, but who always recollects that he is speaking to his own countrymen, for he never acts in a way to provoke irritating or hostile personal comment. I will endeavour to follow his example. I may say, in all sincerity, I was astonished when the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of the Resident Magistrates as a body of competent practised Judges. In what does their competency or practice consist? It consists of being well versed in all the significance of the nods and winks of the Castle officials, and their competency lies in their power and ability to convict. The Resident Magistrates have merely the courage of convicting at the beck of the Government. I think it would be useful for the House to consider the enormous powers given to Resident Magistrates. Cecil Roche and O'Neill Segrave have a power and influence over the fortunes and liberties of their countrymen which is not possessed either by the Lord Chief Justice in England, or by the Lord Chief Justice in Ireland. The highest magistrate in the land cannot try a case of conspiracy without the intervention of a jury, but Cecil Roche and O'Neill Segrave have been able to. The Lord Chief Justices I have named hold, I believe, the Commission of the Peace in every county, and if they both, or either of them, were to enter a Coercion Court in which two Resident Magistrates were trying a case of conspiracy, they could not interfere, because the Coercion Act has taken away from ordinary Magistrates the power of sitting in these Courts, and has entrusted the administration of the Act to removable Magistrates paid by the Government, and liable to dismissal without notice and without explanation. These Magistrates hold their Commission by the influence of one man, for 956 the Second Reading of the Coercion Bill was carried only through the influence of the publication of Pigott's forged letters in the Times. The Solicitor General endeavoured to discount the value of certain extracts, quoted from a Judge's charge by my hon. Friend, by eliciting that the charge was delivered before Resident Magistrates came into existence. It is certainly true that they did not exist in Ireland at that time, but as we go on we find fresh means of tyranny. The hon. and learned Gentleman must remember perfectly well the late Archbishop Whateley, who was not a partisan, for he kept aloof from Irish political parties; yet he said in 1852 that the Lord Lieutenant's time was largely occupied in deciding what ruined gambler should have this or that Stipendiary Magistracy. Again, Lord Rosse, the Chancellor of Dublin University, whose son stood against the hon. Gentleman as an independent Conservative, and whose election I did my best to promote, said the men selected for the position of Resident Magistrates were generally elderly roués with broken fortunes and damaged reputations, who were made stipendaries because their patrons dare not venture to make them anything else. He goes on to say that the Government appoint only those who are absolutely dependent on them. Some are habitual drunkards, and more than half unable to show themselves except on Sundays. They are called "Sunday birds." There was, I believe, one whose body was seized by his butcher after death. I have here some of the characters written for applicants for these posts of "competent and practised judges," by their relatives to the Lord Lieutenant of the day. They were read in this House on the 1st April, 1887. I will only read one of them. It was addressed to Lord Carlisle, and the writer applied on behalf of his brother, "who had been leading an idle life and contracting habits injurious to his health as well as distressing to his family." The letter continued—He has latterly, I rejoice to say, been leading a different life; he has recently formed an attachment to an interesting Scotch lady, one who in point of deep religious belief is all that could be wished for. Their union is only delayed by financial reasons, and under these circumstances I venture to ask your Excellency to procure for him a situation as Stipendiary Magistrate, for which he is extremely well 957 qualified, as he regularly and efficiently discharges his duties as J.P. in this parish.Later on the writer adds that "some post of less value would be acceptable." This letter is signed, "P. Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry." Now, that letter was written 25 years ago. But is this system of appointing Resident Magistrates still continued? What about O'Neill Segrave? How is it possible that that man, who was discharged from an inferior regiment for embezzlement of public and private funds—for frauds of a wantonly heartless nature, because he embezzled some money given him by a private soldier to take home to his mother—I ask how comes this man to be a competent and practised Judge? I fancy his head was filled with bad law, and his stomach with good whisky. What a Solon for the Government to place on the judgment seat! What a Daniel come to judgment! It was Dr. Tanner who first brought the case of Mr. Segrave before the House, and who first gave the House information, which the Government could easily have got through the Colonial Office. And now Dr. Tanner is punished, possibly by the exercise of an illegal and certainly an unusual jurisdiction, because he has unearthed that gentleman and stamped the character of the Resident Magistrates by giving Mr. Segrave as a specimen of the order. If the Irish Government did not know Mr. Segrave's antecedents when they appointed him, their negligence was in the highest degree culpable. If they did know them their conduct was wicked in the extreme. But is it to be believed that they did not know his antecedents? Credat Judæus Apella. I might freely translate that as "You may tell that to the Chancellor of the Exchequer." And now I come to the case of Dr. Tanner. He is at present serving three months' imprisonment. He was brought before a tribunal on a false and fictitious charge; he was charged under the Coercion Act, and if he misbehaved himself in Court the men who took him there were largely responsible for his misbehaviour. Of course, wonders never cease, but I want to know how it comes to pass that the two Resident Magistrates had a miraculous knowledge of the antique and obsolete Statute of Edward III., which was not possessed by the Law Officers of the Crown in this House, or 958 even by an ex-Attorney General for England? Who suggested it to these men? How did they find it out? Who drafted for them that elaborate and legal document of process for contempt, which they brought with them into Court? Was it done by inspiration? Where did it come from? Did it come from the recesses of the Cabinet? When the appeal was being heard one very interesting observation was made by the Attorney General for Ireland. He said—I have given my opinion that this jurisdiction exists in this case, whether justly exercised or not.Why did he go the extreme length of giving that opinion? I am certain that that document came from Dublin Castle. There is nothing new under the sun. A similar act of discovering musty and obsolete laws was once done in England in the days of the Stuarts, and all I can say is that a man who would dig down and exhume old statutes which everybody has forgotten for the purpose of doing an injustice, or what is worse, for the purpose of political calumny, is a person of whom no Administration need be proud. I regret that the Chief Secretary is not in his place. He has again and again reproved me for the tone of my references to these Magistrates. Of course I only laugh at his reproof. I again say that they are underground and secret agents carrying out the behests of the Chief Secretary. They are in a position of inferiority, they are dependent upon him. The "able and experienced judges" called Resident Magistrates are manufactured at Dublin Castle at round table conferences between them and the Chief Secretary for Ireland called to discuss the political situation. Otherwise what is the meaning of the paragraph recently published to the effect that Colonel Turner, Mr. Cecil Roche, and another Magistrate, who has been in attendance on the Chief Secretary during the last two days at the Castle, have returned to their districts. That is the way in which you manufacture your competent and experienced Judges. You have a conference between the starving Judges and their paymaster. When the Coercion Act first came into operation the right hon. Gentleman's minions thought they would best curry favour with him by inflicting the heaviest possible sen- 959 tences under the Act, and consequently we had quite a crop of sentences of six months' imprisonment. This, of course, led to appeals, and pending the hearing of these the convicted Members went about the country repeating the so-called offences. The right hon. Gentleman, speaking in Manchester, in November, 1887, said that Resident Magistrates ought to give one month sentences, so that there would be no fear of appeal or of the men who were charged going about the country promoting disorder and confusion before the appeal was heard. For three months after the delivery of that speech I noticed that sentences for one month, accompanied with hard labour, were given, and the persons convicted were thus robbed of their right of appeal. The right hon. Gentleman made a comical excuse about the peregrinations of the Resident Magistrates. I asked him how it came to pass that, although these Magistrates were travelling all about the country, we were refused statistics in reference to the number of cases tried by each of them under the Coercion Act? Why are they sent all over the country? Is it not because men like Hamilton and Cecil Roche and Segrave could be relied upon to convict? I was reading last Sunday the Book of Job, which I will recommend the Members of the Government to peruse. A question was put to one, who was certainly not an angel, whence he came. The reply was from going up and down in the earth and from going to and fro in the land. That is exactly the motto of the favorite Resident Magistrates, and I have no doubt that when these gentlemen have finished their careers they will receive from the right hon. Gentleman the commendation, "Well done thou good and faithful servants." Now, I think no accusation against the Government would be complete unless we brought in a touch of the Times. I find that Captain Plunkett, the "don't-hesitate-to-shoot" man, was away from his duties 56 days in London, and Mr. Slack was absent 60 days. Three other Resident Magistrates volunteered to help the Times in tabulating returns for the Special Commission, and the Government, which out of its generosity gave the services of its Attorney General, has given rapid promotion to these men. Mr. Cecil Roche is promoted, and why? 960 "Because," says the Chief Secretary, "he richly deserves it." At the risk of being a little out of order I may say I wonder whether that gentleman is a far-away cousin of an interesting family, because the country is being governed at present by a family party. In conclusion, let me say that Resident Magistrates in Ireland bring justice into contempt, and they are the chief priests in the blasphemy of justice which at present characterises Irish administration.
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
I believe that the Statute of Edward III. has been used against the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), Mr. Powell, and the rest simply for the purpose of depriving them of the right of appeal, and at the same time inflicting on them a longer term of imprisonment than can be inflicted under the Crimes Act without an opportunity of appealing being afforded. The case of the hon. Member for Mid Cork is by no means an isolated one. There is also the case of Mr. Powell, of the Midland Tribune, the case of Mr. O'Reilly, of County Tipperary, both of whom were sentenced under the Act of Edward III. I find also that, on Tuesday last, two Magistrates in County Cork sentenced one of the tenants on the Ponsonby Estate under that Statute. The young man was cited for one of the usual offences under the Coercion Act, and sentenced to a month's imprisonment. The defendant said, "I accept the sentence, and I would do the same in the morning." The Bench then reconsidered their sentence, and ordered the defendant to find bail for his good behaviour for 12 months, or to go to prison for a further term of three months. Besides these cases, there are six others, of tenants on the Leader Estate in County Cork, who were sentenced under the same Act. The fact is, that there is what I think I may call a wholesale application of the Act of Edward III., so as to deprive the people of the right of appeal. We have seen, in the case of Dr. Tanner, that no right of appeal exists. I denounce this as a conspiracy between the right hon. Gentleman and his Removable Magistrates, to effect the same purpose with regard to Coercion Act prisoners as he originally tried to effect by consecutive sentences of one month's imprisonment. The apologists for the Government may 961 say, as the Attorney General for Ireland said in Court the other day, that this is no punishment at all, because a man can escape going to gaol if he gives bail to be of good behaviour. The Chief Baron of the Exchequer said the other day, "For my part, if I was ordered to give bail for good behaviour, nothing in the world would induce me to do so." The Irish people have taken the very same view of this indignity. It is of course on the calculation that they would take that view that this policy is being adopted. It is known that in no single instance would any of these men, who are not criminals, consent to give bail to be of good behaviour and thus place a brand and stigma upon themselves. I trust the point will be dwelt upon by other speakers, and that public opinion will be so brought to bear upon this attempt to deprive the intended victims of the Coercion Act of the right of appeal, which even this House of Commons had the intention of giving them, that the scheme will be exploded as was that of giving consecutive sentences of one month's imprisonment. Now, Mr. Courtney, there is one very important matter to which I wish to refer in regard to the Resident Magistrates. One of the most important and prudent of these executive officers in Ireland is Colonel Turner. I wish to draw attention to some of the recent proceedings of that gentleman, and to call upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to say whether, in his opinion, Colonel Turner is a fit and proper person to hold the position he does hold. Colonel Turner is a Divisional Commissioner for the district of Clare, Kerry, and other counties, and I wish to refer particularly to his conduct in connection with the Vandaleur Estate, which has been the scene of some of the most striking eviction episodes that have taken place in Ireland, and which has been still more recently before the notice of the public as one of the most important instances in which the struggle of the Plan of Campaign has ended in securing justice for the tenant, and in bringing to reason a landlord who originally was mistaken enough to deny the just claims of his tenants. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) told me the other night that the battering ram had only been used in a 962 couple of instances. Why on this very estate when the evictions began there the battering ram was used under the active superintendance of Colonel Turner in the cases of some twenty tenants, and the whole district was devastated by its operations. Numerous evictions took place, and a number of houses were levelled with the battering ram. The result was that the peace of the district was disturbed, and Clare became one of those counties which the right hon. Gentleman was able to quote at the head of his Coercion statistics. Colonel Turner was not content with superintending and aiding in the operations for the clearance of the estate, but he actually wrote letters to the Times describing what ought to be done, and was one of the first of those to suggest that which was known some time ago as the plantation policy. He suggested that the farms of the evicted tenants should be given to people imported from the North of Ireland and elsewhere, and stocked with the cattle of the Landlords' Association. Well, a few months ago a change came over the spirit of the scene. The landlord was reasonable enough; and I give him every credit for his action. I think it was a course of action which the landlords through the West of Ireland would have been wise to follow. Colonel Vandaleur had the good sense and feeling to think that a war with his tenants under these circumstances was a great mistake, and he declared he was willing to submit the quarrel between them to arbitration, if the tenants were also willing. Of course the tenants were willing, as the tenants on every estate in Ireland are willing, to accept the principle of arbitration. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Sir C. Russell) was chosen by the landlord as arbitrator, and the tenants hailed his appointment with the utmost satisfaction. His award was made in a few days. It was carried out in the most whole-hearted spirit, and peace was restored to the whole district. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had been asked just before this whether he would interfere, and had declined. What the Government of the country, who are charged with maintaining peace and order, had neglected was carried out by the landlord himself and by the hon. and learned Member for Hackney, and the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton), 963 all of them private individuals unconnected with the Government. Under the award all the evicted tenants were to be reinstated, and the landlord announced that he would reinstate every one of them. The Emergency men took their departure, and the extra police who had been saddled on the district all went away. But there was one of these farms which the landlord had been foolish enough to use in the manner suggested by Colonel Turner. It had been let to a land grabber. The landlord desired to have the farm given back to the original tenant as the rest were. The land-grabber had been but a short time in possession of the farm when he felt the public opinion of the country was so strong against his action that he resolved to go to America. He practically abandoned the farm and went away. A few days afterwards, however, the grabber's mother took up possession of the farm. She was approached by the priests of the district, as representing the tenants, and it was found that with a very little arrangement she could be induced to place no obstacle in the way of the return of the evicted tenant. Everything now promised most harmoniously. But at this point there comes in Colonel Turner, the Divisional Commissioner, the gentleman whose duty it is to preserve the peace of the district and to give all his thought and energies to the study of how to preserve the peace of the district. What does he do in this case? He steps in between the landlord and the tenant and does his utmost—and has been doing his utmost up to this very moment—to prevent the peace of the district being established, and to prevent the carrying out of a settlement desired by landlords, tenants, arbitrators, and the friends of both sides, including an hon. and respected Member of the Tory Party, sitting opposite. It was proved in Court—not in a Court of Justice but in one of these Coercion Courts—that he went with a removable Magistrate, Captain Welsh, to Mrs Jackson, the landgrabber's mother, who was willing to refrain from throwing any obstacle in the way of the settlement. The visit was paid the day after the award was made; and they announced to her, in presence of the police-guard who were with her, that she had a claim on the holding which 964 she could maintain, in spite of the landlord and in spite of everybody, and they advised her to keep a grip on it, and not give it up. That is how the Divisional Commissioner for the West of Ireland carries out the duty of preserving peace in his district. So far had the negotiations gone for the restoration of the real tenant to that holding that his cattle had actually—in accordance with the award, and practically with the permission of Mrs. Jackson—been put to grass on his farm. His neighbours had also begun to build up again his house, which had been destroyed. After the visit of Colonel Turner and Captain Welsh the woman drove all the cattle off the holding, telling the evicted tenant clearly that she would summon him for trespass, and saying that Colonel Turner and Captain Welsh had told her to keep a grip upon the land. The woman took out a summons in the Petty Sessions Court for the trespass of the cattle which, by her own consent, had been placed on the land. And who was sitting on the Bench? The very Captain Welsh who had accompanied Colonel Turner on the visit to Mrs. Jackson. The woman was examined by the solicitor for the tenant, and admitted, without the least reserve, the whole story such as I have detailed to the Committee. She described the visit of Colonel Turner and Captain Welsh, and said how in consequence of that action she had taken the course I have referred to. Captain Welsh threw every obstacle in the way of the truth coming out by saying "You need not answer that question," and so on; but the fact was established that the visit had been paid in order to induce the woman to act as a rankling spearhead in the side of the country. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has left his place, because remonstrances have been addressed to him by the landlord of the estate and by a member of his own Party who acted for the landlord in the negotiations with regard to the conduct of Colonel Turner; and I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, in the interests of truth and in the interests of respect for the administration of his law, to produce those remonstrances and to give the House the reasons why he still retains Colonel Turner in the position of Pasha of this district, and in the possession of powers 965 not known elsewhere on the face of Europe, except, perhaps, in the countries under the rule of Turkey or Russia. Colonel Turner is a gentleman for whom the right hon. Gentleman need have no affection, unless it be out of gratitude for these left-handed services. He cannot claim him as an honest political partizan, or as a thorough-going believer in his method of governing Ireland. Before the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) came into office, and when another sun seemed to be rising above the horizon, Colonel Turner was not merely an ardent Home Ruler, but he has been described by a member of the Cowper Commission, in a letter which was famous at that time, as a noted Fenian. I do not myself allege that Colonel Turner was a member of the Fenian Body. But the description given by that member of the Cowper Commission of the hands into which General Buller had fallen—namely, those of Colonel Turner—was an illustration of what he regarded as the intensity of Colonel Turner's national principle. He said General Buller had fallen into the hands of a noted Fenian; and here I would point out that, at the time of the General Election of 1886, Colonel Turner did not devote his energies to the return of the Party to which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary belongs. A distinguished member of the Party to which I am attached is in possession of a letter written by Colonel Turner to another member of the same Party asking that gentleman to secure the attendance of a third gentleman at the election for the Ayr Burghs to aid in the return of the Home Rule candidate. But the Home Rule Party having failed to obtain a majority at the General Election Colonel Turner probably thought it would not be convenient to confess his political proclivities under the new régime, and so, like the renegade he is, he turned over to the cause he had previously done his utmost to defeat, with all the zeal and energy that usually distinguish a recreant. He has, indeed, in aiding the right hon. Gentleman to carry out his policy of coercion, overstepped what even the right hon. Gentleman himself would consider the limits of reason and duty; and, interfering as he has done, between landlord and tenant in the extreme and perverted zeal he has displayed, he has even gone 966 the length of insulting, in the most outrageous manner, one of the most respected and venerable priests of the religion which he himself professes—for Colonel Turner, be it understood, is a Roman Catholic. As an illustration, and a very forcible illustration, of the spirit in which he has acted throughout these negotiations in regard to the Vandaleur estate, I will read to the Committee an extract from a letter which has fallen into my hands, written by Colonel Turner to a fellow official. Father Dinan, the parish priest of Kilrusb, is one of the oldest and most respected of the priests officiating throughout the diocese of which he is Vicar General. Everybody who knows anything of the South of Ireland knows the character of the reverend Dr. Dinan. Such was the action of that venerable and beloved priest that to him mainly, when we go back to the ultimate source, must be ascribed the restoration of peace to the district to which that estate belongs. He it is who has brought about the beneficial results that have been produced in the face of so much opposition. I may here add that the reverend Dr. Dinan is aided by a body of curates and parish priests than whom, in no part of Ireland, are there men more highly respected and honoured. Well, here is the way in which Colonel Turner, in a letter to a fellow official, who senamel shall not disclose, speaks of the Rev. Dr. Dinan and his fellow priests. He writes from Ennis, and the letter is dated last December:—I shall be sorry indeed to lose your services at Kilrush till a better state of things is established; but how that is to be done, till old Dinan and some of his villainous priests are removed, I do not see.I have already explained to the Committee how Colonel Turner has done his part in establishing a better state of things, and I have also shown the part the Rev. Dr. Dinan has taken in the endeavour to establish peace. I have further shown how this recreant nationalist and Catholic does not scruple to describe some of the most respected priests of his own church: "How that is to be done, till old Dinan and some of his villainous priests are removed, I do not see." "Removed," in the sense in which it must here be taken, is a nice word to pass between one Irish official 967 and another. In fact, the whole letter is one of the most disgraceful and abominable revelations of the state of mind fostered by the judicial and executive functionaries, which the present Administration has enabled us to become acquainted with. There is but one more matter with which I have to deal. I have described to the Committee the restoration of the evicted tenants on the Vandaleur estate. Every one of the farms on which evictions had taken place, had been in the possession of emergency men with a special guard of policemen to themselves. Each of these policemen helped to swell the number ordinarily employed in the Clare District, and served to enable the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to draw lurid pictures of the state of that county. It was only the other day at the Clare Assizes, that Colonel Turner presented a Report to Judge Harrison, in which he stated that, owing to the operation of the Crimes Act, he had been enabled to withdraw 47 extra policemen from County Clare. These 47 men were the police who had been guarding the emergency men on the farms from which the tenants had been evicted. This is how the right hon. Gentleman fabricates his visionary statements as to peace being brought about by the administration of coercion. And yet, in spite of the exertions of the right hon. Gentleman, in spite of the most persistent, extraordinary and unparalleled exertions on the part of Colonel Turner, Captain Walsh, and other persons charged with the preservation of the peace in that District, the peace of the neighbourhood has only been restored by the action of private individuals. Nevertheless, here we have Colonel Turner addressing to the Judge of Assize a statement which I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman has docketted for the purpose of quotation on some future occasion in order that he may show that owing to the way in which the Coercion Act has been administered, 47 of the extra police employed in maintaining the peace of that county have been removed, and that the peace of the district has been restored. The whole case is as apt an illustration of the way in which the right hon. Gentleman employs the services of his Divisional Commissioners and Removable Magistrates as could 968 well be adduced; and it will be seen that it is not a system for the preservation of the peace, and the maintenance of law and order; but a system deliberately carried on for the provocation of disturbance, the prevention of peace, and the undermining of all respect for the administration of the law. I ask the right hon. Gentleman either to refute my statements as to Colonel Turner, and not to attempt this by a mere wave of the hand, or by an assertion based on nothing, except it be the statements of Colonel Turner himself, but by something in the shape of tangible fact; or else to tell the Committee the reason why he retains in the responsible position held by that Gentleman in county Clare, and several other counties, a man who has proved himself unworthy of his office, and who, instead of being the friend of law and order, has been the enemy of both, and a constant disturber of the public peace. I earnestly urge the right hon. Gentleman to offer some reply to me upon this matter, and I would appeal to the Committee to say whether what I have brought forward is not sufficiently serious to call for an answer. At the present moment Colonel Turner holds the position I have described, and I say it is a monstrous thing that a man should be retained in such a post who has been shown to have acted in the manner I have narrated.
§ * COLONEL BLUNDELL (Ince)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, has spoken of Colonel Turner having changed his colours in regard to political matters; but the hon. Gentleman seems to forget that there is such a thing as a process of slow conviction, and it is by that process that the opinions of Colonel Turner have been changed. I may add that it was entirely due to Colonel Turner declining to support the landlord that the compromise we have heard of was effected on the Vandaleur estate. I have this on the very best authority, and I would recommend the hon. Member for South Louth to ascertain for himself whether this is not the fact.
§ * MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in his place, not so much because I have risen to address the Committee, but because of the facts I desire to bring before him; facts 969 which I hope he will not endeavour to meet or refute by vague and general statements, without any satisfactory basis or foundation. In speaking of these matters the right hon. Gentleman usually winds up by paying a high tribute to the value of those officers who are discharging very troublesome duties at a period of great difficulty and danger with patriotic zeal and ability. I desire at the outset of my remarks to assure the Committee that in attacking the action of the Resident Magistrates and in mentioning some of them by name, we do not wish to be understood as attacking individuals; what we do is to attack the system they assist in administering. We look on them only as the miserable tools of a wicked system; as so many automatic machines into which the Crown Prosecutor or the district inspector shoves a copy of the Gazette, in some disturbed district, whereupon out rolls a conviction under the Crimes Act, as readily as a cigarette from the boxes with which we have latterly become so familiar throughout the country. We desire to assail the system under which these officials are appointed, and in order to do this terrible examples, which cannot be gainsaid by the other side, have been brought forward. A few days ago in anticipation of this debate, I asked for a very simple Return, but failed to obtain it. A Return has been in the hands of hon. Members since last March, but it does not contain what we wish to ascertain. In asking for the Return I have referred to, I regret to say that I did not meet with even the commonest of courtesy which the very youngest man of this House has a right to expect from any minister, however powerful or high in office. That Return would have needed very few headings, and I feel sure that it could have been made out in Dublin Castle, probably in ten minutes. It was to have been a Return showing the seniority of those persons who hold these appointments, and, had it been presented, the Committee would have been enabled to see, by reference to the salaries and dates of appointment, who among the total number, amounting, I believe, to 76, had been promoted over the heads of others; what increase of salary they had received, and the amount of class promotion they had obtained. 970 But although this Return was refused, I have, through another source, managed to get particulars as to the extraordinary manner in which the promotion of these Resident Magistrates is brought about. The right hon. Gentleman, the chief Secretary has told us that seniority is not the only consideration in regard to questions of promotion; but at the same time he cannot gainsay the fact that under a normal state of things seniority is a valuable consideration in matters of promotion. I find that certain individuals who have been conspicuous and notorious in the administration of the Coercion Act, are exactly those who have been recently selected for promotion over the heads of others, and that they have been promoted in a manner that cannot be looked upon as otherwise than extremely suspicious. I find that a certain Mr. Home, about whom, when we come to discuss the Times case, we shall no doubt hear something, and who was most active in working the Times case up, has been promoted over the heads of thirty of his colleagues, from the third to the first class, and that his salary has been increased by £250 a year. This may be a coincidence, but it is one of a number that go to build up a solid superstructure of fact which no hon. Gentleman in this House can explain away. Then we find that Mr. Harvey has been promoted from the second to the first class, with a rise of £125 a year, while Captains Walsh and Pearce and Mr. Maine and Mr. Irwin have also been promoted over quite a number of superior officers from one class to another. But what most concerns the argument in this connection is that the notorious Mr. Cecil Roche, whose name has so often been heard in this and in former Debates, has been promoted over the heads of at least 11 of his colleagues. Now, I say that the task of ascertaining these facts ought not to be left to the industry of any private individual. I ask, is the right hon. Gentleman ashamed of this system, or is he not. [Cries of "No" from the Ministerial Benches.] Then why does he refuse to present the simple Return that was asked for last Monday. Such a Return has always been issued to this House up to June, 1887, and I ask why has a change been made in the form in which it has hitherto been presented? 971 The reason can only be that the Committee would more easily be able to ascertain the modus operandi by which these men are promoted for the performance of their duties to the Executive. A great deal has been said of the want of qualification on the part of many of the Resident Magistrates, and I think we may divide the qualifications they possess into two classes, the negative and the positive. The negative qualifications belongs to the type represented by the Redmonds, the Gardners, the Segraves, the Warburtons, the Cecil Roches, and some others; and the positive qualification is that whereby they exhibit on every possible occasion a complete contempt for the public opinion of Ireland, and a stern antipathy to the Nationalist Party, whenever the opportunity offers itself. The right hon. Gentleman quoted with great glee last night—he seemed as proud of it as a woman of a new bonnet—a remark made by Chief Baron Palles, in reference to the case of the hon. Member for Mid Cork; but the same learned Judge and Mr. Baron Dowse, not long ago, in a celebrated case, delivered as crushing a judgment on a decision given by two of these Magistrates, Messrs. Redmond and Gardner, as any two Judges were ever called on to deliver on the action of inferior officials in Ireland. Besides this, I may remind the Committee that last November my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork brought under the notice of the House and the Government the conduct of Captain Segrave, and within a week of that time the Government were fully cognizant of facts that would have justified them in suspending Captain Segrave at once; but notwithstanding this, he was allowed to retain his office, and three months after he was in receipt of a salary of £435 a year. Then we have the case of Mr. Warburton, who was looked upon as an experienced Magistrate, in addition to being a well-informed and learned man. He is now dead and—de mortuis nil nisi bonum—I do not wish to say anything derogatory to his memory. Still, I may point out that Baron Dowse, in connection with a very ordinary case on which Mr. Warburton bad adjudicated, characterised an act done by him as most ridiculous. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary never 972 seems at all abashed by the most positive and incontrovertible statements of facts, which are public property and known to every man, woman, and child in Ireland. He denied last night what is a notorious fact. He denied that there was a combination of the Judicial and Administrative or Executive functions in the case of the Irish Resident Magistrates. Many extraordinary statements have been made as to matters of fact; but this statement of the right hon. Gentleman is not only utterly bewildering, but has not the slightest foundation. It is within my own knowledge, and that of my Friends near me, that the same Magistrates do discharge both Judicial and Executive functions in the same town and district—aye, and very frequently on the same day. There is nothing like reducing this statement to the closest possible issue. Take the ease of Captain Gardiner, the Resident Magistrate in Cork. The fact of his performing magisterial functions in Cork does not prevent his adjudicating in the Counties of Limerick and Kerry, and besides this, I have seen him charging at the head of a troop of lancers and going out at the head of a large number of police. I have, scores of times, seen him at the head of constabulary armed with baton and bayonet keeping order—or rather promoting disorder—in the streets of Cork and other places. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, therefore, if he will be candid enough to withdraw the statement he made last night with regard to the allegation that Captain Gardiner is to be seen one day adjudicating in the City of Cork and another day heading a battle charge. Captain Segrave was another Resident Magistrate who combined Executive with administrative functions whilst stationed at Kanturk. He sat in judgment upon myself and several priests, and on other occasions was in charge of constabulary. In April, 1888, when I, accompanied by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Longford (Mr. T. Healy), went down to test the accuracy of the statement of the Chief Secretary that the National League was a thing of the past, I saw Captain Segrave charging at the head of the constabulary. I will give another case—that of Mr. Cecil Roche of Tralee. Not satisfied with adjudicating 973 on the Bench in the Petty Sessions district of Tralee and at Killarney, we find him actually leaving the Bench to put himself at the head of the constabulary in order to beat the people, men, women, and children. Is that a mixing up of judicial and administrative functions, or is it not? I could give similar cases from almost every Petty Sessional district in Ireland, and I hope the Chief Secretary will now have the candour to withdraw the statement he has made if it is at all possible for him to do anything consistent with veracity.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must know that that language is not permissible. He must withdraw the expression he has used.
§ * MR. FLYNN
I withdraw, Sir, and apologise for using the word. What I wished to convey was that the right hon. Gentleman does not give an accurate idea to the House in his narrative of affairs that occur in Ireland, but brings forward and maintains as facts what we know to be absolutely without foundation. With regard to Captain Slacke, Divisional Commissioner, who was in command of the forces on the occasion of the painful evictions at Luggacurran a few months ago, I should like to know whether he was paid for doing the landlords' work or not? He and an Inspector of Constabulary, whom he had with him, brought forward from the rent-office particulars of the valuation and the rent and arrears due from all the tenants. They furnished the landlords' version of the dispute to all who wished to know it, in particular to the gentlemen of the Press; and, if these officials were paid for doing the work of the landlord, I think it ought to be known to the Committee. In connection with Captain Slacke, I have to complain of a most contemptible and discreditable breach of faith, for which, however, I do not hold Captain Slacke personally responsible. On the occasion of certain evictions, I was in attendance for the purpose of obtaining some information from the tenants, and Captain Slacke came up to me and two or three representatives of the Press, with whom I was in conversation, and 974 said, "Mr. Flynn, in case you may have business in Dublin or elsewhere, I feel it right to tell you that to-morrow these evictions will not be proceeded with." I and my friends accordingly returned to Dublin, and the next day I received a telegram saying that a large force of police had marched out from their encampment, accompanied by soldiers, and had evicted a number of families. Whoever was responsible for this I do not know; but it was a most contemptible and discreditable transaction. Whether it was done to withdraw the remainder of the evictions from the light of public criticism—to ensure that they should be effected in the absence of the gentlemen of the Press—I do not undertake to say, but tome it looks suspiciously as though that were the case. I will now only draw attention to one or two little matters which I think have, up to the present, escaped the notice of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, as well as the Solicitor General for Ireland, have referred in terms of triumph to the small number of cases on appeal in which the sentences of the Magistrates have been reversed. I think the hon. and learned Member for Longford (Mr. T. Healy) has pretty effectually disposed of that portion of the case, and I trust right hon. Gentlemen will not have the temerity to refer to it in the same spirit again. I would ask the attention of the Committee to this significant fact—that, from the commencement of the proceedings under the Coercion Act, there has been no recorded instance in which two Resident Magistrates on the Bench have differed in deciding a case. Chief Baron Palles, and Baron Dowse, and Mr. Justice Andrews may differ as to most important questions of law, and as to questions of fact, and the most learned and experienced Judges may differ. Ordinary unpaid Magistrates may differ, but there is no instance on record, so far as my observation goes, where Resident Magistrates have differed as to the cases which have come before them; and there has only been one case in which Members of the Nationalist Party brought before them has been acquitted. Another thing which shows the animus of the Resident Magistrates is this. They have power, under the Coercion Act, to make persons whom they con- 975 vict first-class misdemeanants, but I am not aware that they have exercised the power, although in a few cases the County Court Judges have done so on appeal. The Magistrates would have been guilty of no dereliction of duty had they exercised this power, but they have not exercised it—at any rate, if they have it has only been in one or two cases. They have acted entirely in negation of the legal maxim which obtains in every civilised country, namely, "Acquit if you can; convict if you must." Their policy has been to convict if they could, and acquit only if compelled to do so. Seeing that that is the spirit in which these gentlemen have performed their functions, and that the large salaries we are asked to vote would be paid for duties that are productive only of disorder and contempt for the law, I trust that the Committee will resist the demand of the Government.
§ * MR. A. PEASE (York)
I understand that under the Rules of the House, the Amendment I had the honour to move yesterday has lapsed. I beg, therefore, formally, to propose it again. I move to reduce the Vote by £1,000 as a protest against the system under which the Resident Magistrates are appointed, and against the manner in which the administration of Ireland is carried on by the Chief Secretary for Ireland.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £83,062, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Alfred Pease.)
§ * MR. PIERCE MAHONY (Meath, N.)
I desire to make a short personal explanation before proceeding to deal more directly with the subject before the Committee. I had the honour to address the House early this morning, and I find in the Times a report to the effect that I commented on the absence of the Liberal Party during these Debates. I am sorry that it should have gone forth that I referred deprecatingly to their absence. On the contrary, I referred to the observation of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who had said that the Liberal Party had been absent; and I said that so far from the Liberal Party being absent during these discussions what struck me was that so many Liberal Members were present at this late period of the 976 Session. I cannot imagine a more unfair way of reporting what I said. I trust that either the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary or the Irish Solicitor General will rise to address the Committee before we go to a Division, and that he will allude to the letter read by the hon. Member for Louth in which Colonel Turner used most insulting expressions against a revered priest and his colleagues in County Clare. I also trust that a pledge will be given that a subject to which I am now going to refer will be inquired into. I am delighted to see the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale in his place, for there are a great many people in this country who look up to him with great respect as a model of what an Englishman ought to be, and I am about to bring a case before the Committee which I think ought to appeal to the feelings of the noble Lord and to every English gentleman here. It is the case of Mr. Cecil Roche who pronounced sentence on my hon. Friend the Member for West Kerry. I hold that a more vindictive, cruel and abominable sentence was never pronounced by an Irish Resident Magistrate. What was the offence for which he was sentenced to six months' hard labour? It was not making a speech, it was merely publishing in his newspaper a report of a suppressed meeting of the National League as is shown in the letter in which Mr. Cecil Roche announced the conviction of my hon. Friend to the Speaker. Colonel Turner, the Divisional Commissioner who chose the Magistrates to try my hon. Friend, sat on the Bench during the trial. Owing to a remark made by my hon. Friend's counsel Colonel Turner left the Court, but before Mr. Cecil Roche and the other Magistrate gave their decision they took good care to "adjourn for lunch"—in order, as I believe, that they might consult Colonel Turner. When they returned they announced that they had convicted my hon. Friend. They had convicted him of what hon. Gentlemen opposite believe to be a crime deserving of the punishment of six months' imprisonment with hard labour and yet these Magistrates offered to let the convicted criminal go without a single minute's imprisonment if he would give his word that he would not offend in like manner again. Was there ever a greater farce 977 than that? You call my hon. Friend a convicted criminal in one breath, and a man of honour in the next. My hon. Friend did not appeal against the sentence, and some reasons why he did not have been given to-night. I want to give the Committee another, and it is this: Mr. Cecil Roche had been persecuting humble individuals in Kerry and Clare for months previously, and had brought those counties into a very dangerous state. My hon. Friend was aware of that, and he knew that the persecution of humble people did not attract the attention in this country that it ought to. My hon. Friend was known to some extent in this country and he wanted it to go before the people of England what these Resident Magistrates were capable of doing; he wanted the people of this country to realise the character of an unmodified, unaltered, sentence of one of these Coercion Courts. From the point of view of his own personal comfort hon. Members may not applaud his wisdom, but I think they must commend his courage. And, Sir, the sentence did come before the people of this country. It came to the electors of Govan. I brought it before them myself, and as a result I was able to send a message to my hon. Friend's wife, which, I hope, gave her some little comfort. A great deal has been made of the fact that Mr. Cecil Roche was appointed a Land Commissioner by the Liberal Government. It is no part of my duty to defend the Liberal Government. Their acts in the past have very often been bad, but I understand that they have now turned over a new leaf. Mr. Cecil Roche made himself con spicuous as a Land Commissioner by the insolence with which he treated his colleague Mr. Morrison, and, later, he has been notable for the evident pleasure which it gave him to attend evictions, to lead baton charges against the people, and to inflict severe sentences. This gentleman took a holiday last year, but even during his holiday this craze for eviction—this love of eviction, and delight in torturing unfortunate peasants—accompanied him. He actually was photo graphed in a group representing an eviction scene. This man, whose duties compel him to be present at these sad scenes, during his holiday for pleasure takes part in a mock eviction. I com- 978 mend that to the notice of English Members. I trust the mind of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale will dwell on this incident. I do not think the Committee will be of opinion that men of that kind are fit to have entrusted to their tender mercies the lives and liberties of the people of Kerry and Clare. It has been said that the Executive in no way interferes with the Resident Magistrates. Attention was called by the hon. Member for York to the case of Mr. Kilkelly, a Magistrate in the County of Clare. Mr. Kilkelly had the temerity, in a case under the Coercion Act, to differ from Mr. Cecil Roche, thinking that one month's imprisonment was sufficient, whereas Mr. Cecil Roche thought it should be two months'. The result was that Mr. Cecil Roche was left, in the county, and Mr. Kilkelly was removed. I think I am correct in saying that for months or years Mr. Kilkelly was not thought fit to serve in any Coercion Court in Ireland, and only recently when the lesson may be supposed to have sunk deep enough into his mind, has he again been allowed to take part in these proceedings. Then we have the case of another Resident Magistrate, Mr. Butler, who also was removed because he gave fair decisions. Mr. Kilkelly was removed to the North of Ireland, and Mr. Butler treated in a similar fashion was removed to the worst and most inconvenient district in Kerry, and has not, I think, been allowed to sit in a Coercion Court since. This is the way in which the Government intimate their wishes to these gentlemen in Ireland; this is the way the Government convey to them that if they wish to get on it is better under all circumstances that they should not display too much leniency towards the unfortunate people brought before them. Reference has been frequently made to the case of the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), and we have had a great many arguments from lawyers upon the subject. I am not a lawyer and do not pretend to put a legal view before the Committee, but I want the Committee to bear this in mind, that Chief Baron Palles has declared that under no circumstances whatever could he be induced to give bail for good behaviour. After that expression of opinion from the Judge at the head of the Judicial Bench 979 in Ireland, that he would refuse under similiar circumstances to give bail as Dr. Tanner refused, I ask do the Government mean to keep the hon. Member for Mid Cork in gaol? When we debated Dr. Tanner's sentence on a motion for adjournment a few days ago I thought we had too much of the legal argument whether the Magistrates had the legal right to bind Dr. Tanner or not. It appears to me the important thing to keep in view, is the fact that—whether the Magistrates acted legally or not—remains, and no one will venture to dispute it, that no Bench of Magistrates in this country would dare to rake up this musty old Statute of Edward III. in order to arrogate to themselves powers that the people of this country would not allow to be used. That this statute was deliberately dug up for the purpose is abundantly proved by the Magistrates coming to Court with a long warrant carefully drawn out, which they had not time to draw out in Court nor the legal knowledge either. The warrant was prepared for them by some one with very superior knowledge, and within a few weeks similar warrants were used in other Courts in Ireland, and there are now several persons in gaol because they refused to do what the Chief Baron on the Irish Bench has said he under similar circumstances would refuse to do, namely, to give bail for good behaviour under this musty old Statute of Edward III.
§ The Committee divided.—Ayes 107; Noes 149.—(Div. List, No. 295.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I do not wish to oppose the Vote being taken to-night, but I think we are entitled to a more definite answer as to when we are to have the papers which were promised some four months ago, in reference to the transformation of Divisional Commissioners or Resident Magistrates into ordinary Justices of the Peace. We understood these Papers were shortly to be presented, and I hope we shall have them before the Report stage of this Vote is taken.
§ * MR. MADDEN
If I recollect aright, when the Motion for a Return was put down by the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Government said they were prepared to assent to a Motion extending over the last 10 980 years, but the right hon. Gentleman did not move for this Return.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I will look into the matter, and shall be glad to give such information as can be given.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I beg to say that the Motion I put down for Paper, was in the form in which I thought it was necessary to have the information. I think we are entitled to the whole correspondence between the Government and the Lord Chancellor, in reference to the extraordinary manœuvre by which these gentlemen were removed from the position of Resident Magistrates to Justices of the Peace appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The Motion was blocked by the Government, though it is true when my patience was well-nigh worn out I did receive an intimation that the Government were willing to give the Papers in a less complete form, and I communicated to the Solicitor General for Ireland my view that, as proposed, the information would be of little use. I expected that the Government would relieve me from the responsibility of moving for Papers which I had said would be of little use, and would put down a Motion in the name of one of their officials. I trust now on reconsidering the subject the Government will give us a full and frank explanation on the subject. I will just add that I hope on the next Stage of this Vote the Chief Secretary will be prepared to offer some explanation in reference to the conduct of Colonel Turner and Mr. Walsh, whose interference in a dispute between landlord and tenants in a troubled district prevented the effectuation of a settlement when that was about to be arrived at.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY
There is an item of £448 for the examination of newspapers and hire of rooms, and it appears this expenditure is on account of a kind of Press censorship. It is very distinctly marked out, and is evidently an arrangement by which officers are engaged in various centres 981 to which newspapers of the district are sent and examined, on a kind of press censorship. Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any information upon this item?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No, the hire of rooms has nothing to do with a press censorship, which, as the hon. and learned Gentleman should be aware, does not exist in Ireland. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sexton) I have to say, I shall be quite prepared to consider the allegations against Colonel Turner and Mr. Walsh. I feel sure these gentlemen have no desire to prevent settlements, and I believe the occurrence alluded to is quite capable of satisfactory explanation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Rooms are not hired for newspapers. The grammar of the entry leaves something to be desired, and I will endeavour to correct the English when the Vote next comes before the House.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported on Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.