(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £26,271, 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 and expenses of the Offices of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Dublin and London, and Subordinate Departments.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I was interrupted at 12 o'clock last night, when upon this Vote I was endeavouring to bring before the Committee some matters of detail in reference to the fishing industry of Ireland, especially in connection with my own constituents, and also what I conceive to be a failure of duty upon the part of the Government in regard to their assistance towards the development of that industry. Two years ago an Act was passed enabling two-thirds of any body of fishermen in a particular locality to make representations, or present a petition to the Fishery Commissioners with a view of prohibiting trawling. That Act provided that if the Commissioners did not see fit to comply with the prayer of the petitioners, a Report should be forwarded to the Lord Lieutenant, who would have power to accede to such prayer over the heads of the Commissioners. It also provided that the Commissioners should forward to the Lord Lieutenant a detailed statement of the reasons of their refusal. Since the passing of that Act there has been over a large portion of the coast line of Ireland a good deal of friction between the line and net fishermen, especially in Lough Swilly, where the fishing has been dwindling down, and the condition of the fisheries much injured in comparison with former times. There are four trawlers engaged there, and the damage done by them is represented to be very serious. It is admitted on all bands that the fishing industry in the lough has materially diminished, and that great injury has been done to the dines and nets employed by the fisher- 6 men. This is a grievance of long standing. In 1844 the prohibition the fishermen now ask for was made, and for a period of 25 years trawling was prohibited. During those 25 years the condition of the fishermen was satisfactory; the number of fishermen increased, and their comforts were far greater than they have been since. In 1869 the prohibition was withdrawn, and from that day the fishing industry has been suffering, and the condition of the fishermen has become seriously embarrassed. Under these circumstances, the fishermen presented a petition to the Fishery Commissioners, but the Commissioners refused to entertain it, and forwarded it to the Lord Lieutenant, together with their reasons. The determination arrived at had nothing to do with the merits of the case, but it was pointed out that it was desirable to carry out a series of experiments in different districts round the coast, such as those which have been carried on in Scotland with great advantage. That is quite true, and the Fishery Board of Scotland has performed inestimable services to the Scotch fisheries. If similar experiments, under similar control, were carried on in Ireland, I have no doubt that the result would be the same; but those experiments show that the take of fish has largely increased since trawling was prohibited. What I want to know is, why Ireland should be treated differently from Scotland? It seems hopeless, however, to induce the officials of Dublin Castle to make the least move where the industry of the country is concerned. Year after year the representations made by the Irish fisheries are disregarded. The entire body of line and net fishermen in Lough Swilly are convinced that trawling does interfere with the fishing—that it frightens the fish away, destroys immature fish, and does damage in other respects. I wish, therefore, to know why the Lord Lieutenant and the Irish Administration are so inert in affording to Ireland the advantages, facilities, and powers which are possessed by the Fishery Board in Scotland. The amount of money involved is very slight. Nobody complains of the expenditure connected with Scotland, and it is scarcely reasonable that the Irish fishermen should be expected to sit quiet and see the development of the fisheries of their Scotch 7 neighbours through the assistance of the State, when they find the same advantages refused to themselves. The fishing interests of Ireland are quite as important to the people of that country as those of Scotland are to the Scotch people. I would, therefore, urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to do for Ireland something like what has been done for his own country during the period in which he was connected with the Scotch Administration.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
With such knowledge as I have of the temperament and disposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, I am afraid that the real uses of the present Debate are of a very limited character. I will illustrate what I mean by a reference to the question of evictions, but I confess that I do not expect much in this particular matter from a Government which utterly disregards both legal and moral obligations in its dealings with the Irish people. Whoever may forget it, I remember that the present Chief Secretary for Ireland is the author of Section 7 of the recent Land Act. It smoothed the preliminaries to eviction—the eviction-made-easy clause. The battering ram was the natural complement to this clause, and of the battering ram the right hon. Gentleman is certainly the patron, probably the patentee, possibly he paid for it. As the right hon. Gentleman has exerted himself to smooth the way to evictions and make the process more rapid, it is only a man of sanguine temperament who can imagine that he would do anything to mitigate the hardship and serverity of the law. I know that it is in his power to do so. The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, the Member for Bristol (Sir M. H. Beach) used what was described as pressure within the law, and exercised discretion in regard to the times and places of eviction with considerable effect. I do not look to the present Chief Secretary to imitate the example of the right hon. Member for Bristol; on the contrary, I am sorry to say that I look upon him rather to stimulate evictions than to prevent them. I cannot forget that the right hon. Gentleman as a Minister has not been ashamed in his public speeches to describe evictions as "dramatic effects," although every one who knows 8 Ireland is impressed with the sad knowledge that, of all the operations of the law next only to capital punishment, the infliction of evictions upon poor Irish peasants is the most painful and distressing. It comes strangely from the apostle of the battering ram to speak of dramatic effects in connection with evictions. At the same time I feel I am unable to add that the right hon. Gentleman who has applied the science of the battering ram to the social question in Ireland is the first distinguished Minister who has produced an effect contrary to that which he intended. I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to have produced the correspondence between himself and certain clerics in the West of Ireland. These gentlemen, occupying public positions, wrote to him upon certain questions of a public character. He has no right to regard that correspondence as being of a private nature. They wrote to him because he was Chief Secretary, and as Chief Secretary he replied to them. They desire the publication of the correspondence, and I maintain that we have a right to call for it so that we should be able to make the scrutiny we are entitled to make in regard to the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman. It is a common boast that the Chief Secretary has singularly succeeded in his administration of law and order in Ireland. If there is any reality in the boast, why should we be discussing this Vote on the 21st August? If he feels the confidence he professes in his administration, he ought to have brought forward this Vote in a full House and in. the vigour of the Session, so that he might have brought confusion into the camp of his adversaries and joy to his friends. He has preferred to defer the Vote until the majority of hon. Members are on the moors, and until the House of Commons is so thinly peopled as to resemble somewhat his Irish Star Chamber. The Debate upon this Vote, which covers matters of the highest Imperial interest and of unexampled public importance, has been left to a discussion between, the Chief Secretary himself and the Irish Members. I cannot refrain from making this reflection, that after 89 years' enjoyment of the Act of Union, and the varying vicissitudes of the Irish representation, the present Chief Secretary has brought the relations between 9 himself, as the chief administrator of the law, and the representatives of Ireland, to a pass unparalleled since that Act of Union was passed. The right hon. Gentleman in his public speeches is in the habit—an acquired habit among Ministers—of casting doubt and throwing discredit upon the veracity of the Irish Members, even when they give testimony upon matters within their own personal knowledge. He is in the habit of imputing to Irish Members the basest of motives for entering public life, and the basest of motives for continuing in it. He does this by habit, although no man can be bettor aware that if they were actuated by such motives he would have an easier way of dealing with them than resorting to violence and persecution. The right hon. Gentleman is supported by 18 Irish Members, and opposed by 85, and I submit that never since the Act of Union has such a state of affairs arisen as that which now exists. His servants in Ireland, by his instructions and with his encouragement, insult and beat the people in the public streets. They baton them and thrust at them with their rifles, they prosecute them upon the most flimsy of charges; they knock them down and strip them in his prisons even to the shirt, and then send them to famish and starve in the prison cells. The number of Irish Members who have been subjected to this arbitrary and tyrannical treatment is larger than the total number of his own Irish supporters in this House. He boasts that to has made the Irish Members look ridiculous by stripping them to their shirts, but I imagine that if the same treatment were applied to the right hon. Gentleman himself it would try him very severely. Upon a recent occasion on the floor of this House he passed from language of indignation to insulting gestures of violence and menace, and it was only owing to the firmness of the Chair that we were saved from a scene unprecedented since the day when the Speaker was held down in the Chair by Members who disapproved of his action. I trust that the memory of what he so nearly provoked upon that occasion will remain with him so long as he retains office. But whether it does or not I say that the right hon. Gentleman by his conduct to Irish Members both inside the House 10 and out of it has produced a state of things incompatible with the management of our ordinary Parliamentary Constitution, and the state of things existing between the Chief Secretary and the Irish Members is, in my opinion, sufficient ground for supposing that we are near to a great organic change. But I will pass from the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in this House to his administration of the government of Ireland, and I say that he administers that government upon the principle of bad law, arbitrary use of physical force, and the suppression of the truth. The latter is the point upon which I propose now principally to dwell. With regard to maladministration and bad law, I will simply say that our charges were abundantly proved on the Vote for the Resident Magistrates. So also with regard to the arbitrary use of physical force; instances have been given ad nauseam. Turning, then, to the question of the suppression of truth, what is our daily experience here? An Irish Member on his responsility brings forward a grave and serious charge of misconduct, of fraud, or of subornation of perjury, but what satisfaction does he get? The Chief Secretary refers for a reply either to the man accused or to one of his official abettors, and the right hon. Gentleman at once accepts the reply he gets. He puts to the defendant the question, "Are you guilty, or not? "and he accepts as conclusive the reply, "Not guilty," without a word of further inquiry. That is very different from an ordinary case of investigating a charge of misconduct. We call for inquiry. We allege that we have facts in our possession which we are ready to prove. But the right hon. Gentleman declares that he is satisfied, and adds that that should be enough for us. Surely it is not the theory of the Government of this country that the Minister of the Crown should satisfy himself as to the conduct of his officials, and that the representatives of the people should be deprived of the means of investigation. Yet this has been the course pursued ever since the right hon. Gentleman held office; but I must lay down before the House and the country the principle that when Irish Members bring forward charges against officials and, when those charges are denied, state that they have proof in their hands and challenge in- 11 quiry, it is the duty of the Chief Secretary to institute such inquiry. Yet that is a duty which the right hon. Gentleman since his accession to office has never once discharged. He has not only refused inquiry into certain cases of taking life in which coroners' juries have afterward found the accused guilty, but he has not been ashamed in this House as a Minister of the Crown holding such a responsible position to hold up the most ancient Court of the realm—a coroner's jury empanelled by his own police and containing a majority of Protestants—to contempt as conspirators against law and order. If I were to give instances of this refusal of inquiry, the Debate would be continued for a week. I will only give two or three illustrations. Why has inquiry been denied in the case of Colonel Turner, the principal official of the Crown in West Munster, who, instead of being a guardian of law and order, has applied himself to promoting evictions, preventing settlements between land lord and tenant, and leveling the homes of the tenants after they have been evicted? In one case where a settlement was in progress—where 26 families had been restored to their homes, and 500 others were in negotiation with their landlord, Colonel Turner, of his own motion, took on himself to come forward and visit a farm where a tenant had been replaced by another, and from mere wantonness he induced the woman who was in possession of the farm to hold on and refuse to come to any arrangement. Was that the act of a guardian of the peace, or was it not rather the act of an enemy of public order? We have asked for inquiry. We want to know why Colonel Turner went there. Surely he might have waited until he was asked. Everybody desired that the settlement which was pending should be completed, and why did Colonel Turner come forward and take a line of action which can only be accounted for upon the theory that he was anxious that no settlement should be arrived at? I am willing to meet the right hon. Gentleman at any public meeting in Great Britain. [Ministerial tries of "Oh!"] Well, no doubt, it would be a very lively meeting, and so far as he is concerned he prefers ticket meetings, but I am willing to meet the right hon. Gentleman at any public 12 meeting, whether at an election or any other time, and to (argue whether the Government are justified in refusing an inquiry into the conduct of Colonel Turner, who receives £1,000 a year as guardian of the peace and displays his; zeal in producing disorder. I read the other night a letter from Colonel Turner to another official, in the County of Clare, in which he said, "Things will never be right in Clare until the Vicar General of the diocese and his villainous priests are removed." I say that this was an incitement to violence. It was a letter addressed to an official, the substance of which was intended to percolate through all the officials under him; and it advised them that the best way to procure order was to baton the priests. Has a public official, controlling the police and able to use physical force through the agency of the Crown, a right to say that things will not be right in his bailiwick until the Vicar General and his villainous priests, are removed? How did the Chief Secretary reply to the charge made against Colonel Turner? He did not deny it. He said he knew nothing about it. He deemed it to be consistent with his duty four days after the charge was made to say that he knew nothing about it. It was his duty to know all about it. Not only did he not attempt to apologise, but he endeavoured to prop up the position of Colonel Turner by saying that some of the priests of West Clare do little honour to their cloth. I say that they do as much honour to their cloth as any body of clergymen with whom he is acquainted; and I maintain that it was shameful for a Minister of the Crown to make such an accusation without attempting to sustain it. Let me tell him what one priest says of him— that he finds it safe to shoot at priests from behind the hedge of the House of" Commons, but that if he will repeat the same accusation outside the House, it shall be made the subject of investigation by a legal tribunal. The right hon. Gentleman who ran away from a midwife is not likely to face a priest. In the meantime I shall continue to maintain that until the right hon. Gentleman yields to our demand for inquiry into the conduct of Colonel Turner, that official is not fit to remain in the Public Service. Let me take another instance. Are we to have any inquiry into the occurrence 13 at Charleville? If a similar circumstance had happened in England, and an English Member had demanded an inquiry it would at once have been granted. It is not denied that the police did fire upon the people, the foolish argument of an attempted rescue is now given up, and the only contention is that the people fired first. Are we to have any inquiry into the Gartmore evictions on the Ponsonby estate? This is the case where a body of police broke into the chapel grounds against the will of the owner, expelled the owner, and remained there against his will. Is there to be any inquiry into the case of the poor girl who, having been evicted from her mother's home, was insulted by an agent of the Government, and by the Magistrates in charge of the police? I asked for inquiry but inquiry was refused. The right hon. Gentleman upon his usual anonymous information declared that no insult had been offered. I have since communicated with the persons concerned, and I have here the sworn affidavits of the girl and her sister in which they say that the girl was requested by the agent to kiss him, that she indignantly claimed the protection of the police, whereupon the man turned to Colonel Caddell and—" There, Colonel, you see she would not give it to me." Upon this Colonel Caddell replied, "She would prefer to kiss a constable. It is evident from the state of her back (referring to some marks of lime on her dress) that she has had a tussle with a policeman against a wall." The right hon. Gentleman not only denied these insults, but made a gross and unmanly imputation against the girl herself, and not only against her, but generally against the peasant girls of Ireland. Now, I repeat the demand for inquiry. If these girls have sworn falsely, they have subjected themselves to penalties for perjury. If they have sworn truly, this special agent of the Crown and the Resident Magistrate ought to be prosecuted, at any rate, for conduct calculated to lead to a breach of the peace. I would submit that if any man, except the police, had been present when this most base and unmanly insult was offered to a helpless girl in her agony, or if it had come to the knowledge of the people before they dispersed, the consequences would have been very 14 serious indeed. And who was the man who committed this gross insult? The right hon. Gentleman says he was a person in the employment of the local agent. He was nothing of the kind; he was a man who can be proved to have attended the Massareene evictions, and he turns out to be no less a person than the Secretary of the Ulster Loyal Anti-Repeal Union, of which Lord Arthur Hill, one of the Whips of the Tory Party, is one of the Executive Council. This is the special agent whom, the right hon. Gentleman selects to accompany a cordon of police to an eviction. I am not one of those who desire to see dramatic effects at evictions, and it is because I do not, that I ask the right hon. Gentleman why he should permit a man of this description to go through the police lines while he rigorously shuts out the parish priest, the Member for the Division, and the public Press? I hold the right hon. Gentleman personally I responsible for the working of the Coercion Act, because I trace the refusal to legislate on rents in 1886 and on arrears in 1887 to the personal influence of the right hon. Gentleman. That refusal led to the Plan of Campaign and ultimately to the Coercion Act. Two years ago the right hon. Gentleman declared that the National League was a dangerous association in certain counties in Ireland, aid when those counties were proclaimed the National League was suppressed. Prosecutions were instituted. Why have those prosecutions ceased? Have the offences ceased? Not at all. The newspapers show that meetings of the suppressed branches take place every week, although every one who takes part in them commits an offence against the law and is punishable by six months' imprisonment. What, then, is to be said of a Minister whose proclamations are so impotent? I charge against the right hon. Gentleman that by his administration and the impotence of his Coercion Act he has brought the law into such contempt that no one cares one halfpenny for it. It is quite clear from the statistics of crime that the existence Or non-existence of the National League has had no conceivable bearing upon the causes of crime except that it formerly exercised a more restraining influence, and was a safeguard against secret 15 crime. The right hon. Gentleman claims that there has been an improvement in the condition of Ireland owing to his administration. Then why does lie not do something to show that he really entertains that belief? Why does he continue his proclamations? Why not revert to the ordinary law? I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to issue a Return giving the proclamations which have been issued under the Coercion Act, showing the places in which the Constitutional rights of the people have been diminished, and then the extent to which, owing to the great improvement which has been brought about, the proclamations have been revoked. There has been next to mo revocation, and in spite of the protestations of the right hon. Gentleman he can at any moment set up a Star Chamber to try prisoners, changing the venue to any other county, and empannelling jurymen from a class opposed in sympathy and in interest to the prisoners. If such a Return is produced I will undertake to show that the plea of improvement rests on no solid ground. If there is any improvement it ought to appear upon the face of these Votes. There are four Votes connected with the administration of Ireland which ought to show a reduction if any improvement has been effected— the Votes for the administration of Criminal Law, for the Constabulary, for Law Charges, and for the Prisons. Fortunately we can get the information elsewhere. I find that at a very recent date the right hon. Gentleman had no fewer than 111 police hut stations, the cost of which was charged to the occupiers. And at the end of last year he had 160 protection posts, charged upon the occupiers. How does it happen that these police huts and police posts are studded over the counties which he has termed most orderly and peaceful? There are two points in regard to the administration of the law as to which I fix upon the right hon. Gentleman's personal and special responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman made a solemn promise to the House that there should be an appeal in every prosecution instituted under the Crimes Act. He has broken that promise, but that is not all, He followed up his breach of promise by a public speech, in which 16 he incited the Magistrates not to allow appeals, by pointing out the inconvenience of long sentences and the appeals which followed. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to retrace his steps, and to undo the evil he has done, to withdraw his incitement, and make good his original promise in Parliament by directing the Magistrates in the interests of public policy to pass such sentences as will allow appeals to be entered. The Chief Secretary and his distinguished relative the Prime Minister, seize every opportunity of declaring in their public speeches that the public men in Ireland who publish articles and make speeches, in the conscientious discharge of their duty, are worse criminals, baser criminals, and criminals more dangerous than those who murder, rob, or steal.
Order, order! That remark of the right hon. Gentleman is beyond the bounds of Parliamentary language, and I must ask him to withdraw it.
§ MR. SEXTON
The phrase was too brief to convey my meaning clearly. What I meant to say was that the hon. and gallant Gentleman by his incitement to certain disorderly classes in Belfast has produced a condition of things which has led to repeated and numerous murders.
§ MR. SEXTON
Certainly, Sir; but I trust the hon. and gallant Gentleman will remember that he is the one Member of this House whose interruptions I cannot tolerate. When one Member has called another a liar, relations between them become strained, and I must beg the hon. and gallant Gentleman if he has any regard for the order of this House, when I am addressing it not to interrupt. These speeches of the Chief Secretary and the Prime Minister put political offenders on a lower ground than the common felon. The Resident Magistrates in Ireland have never been directed that prisoners under the Crimes 17 Act should be treated as first-class misdemeanants, though an independent Magistrate of Dublin and the County Court Judge of Sligc have declared that the law is that a prisoner for sedition shall be treated as a first-class misdemeanant. How has it happened that in the past year the Irish official in London has become a sub-official of the Times? I invite the Secretary to explain a cypher telegram which passed between Ireland and London during the time of the cross-examination of my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor), who has come out of prison to-day. He is in his place in the House undaunted by the punishment which has been inflicted on him, and I hope unimpaired in health. While my hon. Friend was under cross-examination before the Special Commission, the cross-examining counsel being the Attorney General acting in his private capacity, a Sub-inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary sent a telegram to the Irish Office. I have the original, which is in cypher. The cypher was unlocked in half-an-hour, in the office of United Ireland. It was sent by Sub-Inspector Jones, from Cork, to Mr. Joyce, Magistrate at the Irish Office in London. This is the telegram:—It is fully reported in the Cork Examiner, 30th September 1886, that John O'Connor called for three cheers for Puff and Barret.This telegram reports a lie. My hon. Friend pledges his oath in the box that he never called for three cheers for Puff and Barrett. Here we have the Irish Office in London made a sort of bureau for the collection of information in the interests of the Times, and for the reception of telegrams making suggestions for cross-examination. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give such explanation as he can offer. It appears to me that the old friends of the First Lord of the Treasury, the owners and managers of the Times, have had the whole machinery of the Government at their disposal for the last year. The Irish Members are perfectly satisfied with the result of the Commission, and they take it in perfect calmness. I wonder how the Government will feel when their turn comes. There were two conspiracies—one has been investigated, but the other remains. The time of the Irish Members is coming when they will turn on the lime-light. I have no doubt we will 18 thus be able to cast a light on some very curious and strange proceedings, and to teach such a lesson to those in power, that no future Government will ever again initiate or abet a conspiracy against the character of hon. Members of this House or the liberties of the Irish people.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Sir, though unwilling to prolong the Debate I must necessarily reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which is, I presume, intended to be an elaborate indictment of the Government. Now, Sir, I have been attacked because of the manner in which I have treated Irish Members inside and outside this House. I do not propose to dilate at length upon the rights and wrongs of the matter, but I am bound to say that if any comparison were instituted between what I have said and what has been said against me, I should be greatly surprised if the balance of wrong were found on my side. [An hon. MEMBER: What about the things you did?] I do not complain; I am indifferent to these attacks; but I must express my surprise at such a complaint coming from the right hon. Gentleman. If hon. Gentlemen opposite are so sensitive on the subject of public criticism it would be well if they made a beginning of reform by amending the language in which they are accustomed to attack their political opponents. The right hon. Gentleman next complained that no inquiries had been held into certain occurrences in Ireland, the accounts of which as given in the House he alleges to be inaccurate. But what form does the right hon. Gentleman desire that such inquiries should take? Does he want another Commission of Judges? There are the ordinary tribunals of the country open to hon. Gentleman and their friends, and if their allegations are well founded those ordinary tribunals will afford them a remedy. The right hon. Gentleman gave three instances of matters which require investigation. The first was as to Colonel Turner and the mother of a tenant on the Vandeleur estate. The facts of that case are as follows:—A man named Jackson took a farm on the Vandeleur estate, but went to America, leaving his mother in pos- 19 session. A protection post tad to be established for this woman, against whom public feeling was excited as being what hon. Gentlemen denounce as a land-grabber. Colonel Turner visited this protection post, and, hearing the woman's complaint that persons were trespassing on her farm, advised her, if there had been a trespass, to apply to the Magistrates.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
They were inspecting the protection post, as they were bound to do in the course of their ordinary duty. What is there in that which requires investigation? The right hon. Gentleman referred to a letter, alleged to have been written by Colonel Turner to some subordinate, in which he commented severely on the Rev. Father Dynan and the priests of Clare. Last night—I was not in the House at the time—hon. Gentlemen opposite were engaged in a discussion on the wickedness of tampering with private correspondence; but, strange to say, the main case of the right hon. Gentleman to-day is based on a private letter which has been betrayed, and a private telegram which has been stolen.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong in both fact and inference. The letter was private, and it is an amazing doctrine that a telegram passing between two officials is not private because they were officials. The charge against Colonel Turner is that he held a bad opinion of certain priests in Clare. If he thought so, I do not see why he should not say so, and it hardly lies in the mouth of the hon. Gentleman who has described Colonel Turn eras a person who "incited to assassination "to criticise severity of language. Then there is the charge of shooting at the Charleville Station, and the right hon. Gentleman has asked why also no inquiry has been made into that; but I remember that later on the right hon. Gentleman said that if we only admitted the representatives of the Press to these scenes in Ireland there would be ample evidence before us which would prevent disputes across the 20 floor of the House. Well, when I appealed to the evidence furnished by the Nationalist Press in Ireland, I found an account of the transaction at Charleville, which bears out in most important particulars what I have stated in the House on more than one occasion. Therefore, I submit that, even on the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman himself, special inquiry is not needed. Then, Sir, I. come to the case of the evictions oil the Ponsonby estate, with respect to which the hon. Gentleman alleges that the police illegally occupied the garden of; the priest. If the police acted illegally in that matter there is a very simple remedy, and I would give the same advice to the right hon. Gentleman which Colonel Turner gave to the widow, that if there has been trespass the Law Courts are open in which protection, and, if need be, redress maybe obtained. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to another scene which is said to have occurred at these evictions in reference to two girls. I have given the House a version which I believe to be correct of that incident. If it be true that any insult was offered to-these girls, and if they bear the character which the right hon. Gentleman has given them, again I say that there ought not to be the slightest difficulty in having the facts investigated before a Court of Law. He went on to say that if the affidavits were true Colonel Caddell ought to be prosecuted. Well, Sir, let him be prosecuted if a prosecution would lie. Let those who are aggrieved take the ordinary course which is open to every one of Her Majesty's subjects. The right hon. Gentleman attacked me for the alleged action of. Mr. Crockett, and asserted that I was responsible for the behaviour of that person because, forsooth, he is an officer of some association in Belfast. I have nothing to do with any private association in Belfast, and have sufficient, responsibility on my shoulders already without accepting the further responsibility with which the right hon. Gentleman desires to saddle me. Then the right hon. Gentleman said I was directly and personally responsible for the want: of legislation in 1886, which produced the Plan of Campaign. The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten his dates. When the Arrears Bill of the hon. 21 Member for Cork was rejected in 1886, and when the Plan of Campaign was started I was neither Chief Secretary for Ireland nor a member of the Cabinet. I think I am justified, therefore, in saying that the right hon. Gentleman was peculiarly unfortunate in trying to make me specially and personally responsible for what may have followed either from the rejection of the Arrears Bill or the starting of the Plan of Campaign. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to criticise the action of the Government with regard to the National League, and said that we have not succeeded in suppressing the League or the reports of the meetings which appear day by day in Nationalist journals. I am perfectly indifferent to the publications of the Nationalist Press when they do not lead to intimidation or outrage.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
We only prosecute where, in the opinion of those who advise prosecutions, they do lead to intimidation or outrage. The Committee must not suppose for a moment that because proceedings are published therefore proceedings have taken place. I say nothing about the manufacture of bogus reports of League meetings except that no fact in the world is more certain than that the manufacture of bogus reports is in a far more flourishing condition in certain districts of Ireland than the manufacture of anything else. But when the right hon. Gentleman challenges me across the Floor of the House to say whether diminution of crime has in any case accompanied the suppression of the National League, I say most distinctly that it has. You have only got to consider the condition of Clare and Kerry since the National League was suppressed in those districts to see that the contention of the right hon. Gentleman cannot be sustained. Although I do not say that the suppression of the National League and the diminution of crime always stand together in the relation of cause and effect, I cannot doubt that the suppression of the National League has considerable effect in diminishing the curse of boycotting and intimidation. The right hon. Gentleman says I have done nothing by my acts to show my belief in the improvement of the country. I do not admit that. The area of Ire- 22 land which is under the exceptional1 legislation of the principal clause of the Crimes Act of 1887 has considerably, diminished since that Act came into force. The diminution of the area proclaimed under that section is somewhere about 250,000 acres, and I have every hope that it may be found possible to diminish that area still further. But do not let the right hon. Gentleman conclude that the benefits derived from the administration of the law in Ireland are to be measured wholly by the diminution of the area over which the legislation of 1887 has been allowed to extend. Though the diminution of the proclaimed area is undoubtedly one of the tests to which people may appeal in judging of the improved condition of Ireland, it is perhaps the weakest and possibly the most misleading. I do not propose at the present moment to go into the question of the improved condition of Ireland. I have stated my belief before now in this House and out of it that the improvement has been great, but when the right hon. Gentleman, accuses me of going about the country making my boasts on this subject the staple of my speeches, I am afraid he has not done me the honour to read my speeches with any care.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have stated what I believe to be the fact, but I have never boasted of it or made it the staple of my argument. I have never attempetd to conceal either from my friends or my foes that the idea that a permanent amelioration in the condition of Ireland, or in the condition of any country which was in the state in which Ireland was between the years 1879 and 1886, could be effected by two years of any form of Administration whatever was wholly chimerical. I have never gone beyond saying that there is a great improvement, and that the permanence of that improvement depends upon firm and consistent administration of the law—either by this Government or by its successors. I come now to the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which dealt with the alleged interference of the Government in the conduct of the case before the Special Commission. I have been perfectly frank with the House throughout as to the position which, in my opinion, officials in Ireland, 23 in common with other citizens, should take up with regard to that case. My opinion is that every man, be his position what it may, is bound to do all he can to aid that Commission in the duty of eliciting the truth. What bearing on this general principle has the particular accusation made against the Government in respect of the stolen telegram to which the right hon. Gentleman referred? I think the right hon. Gentleman said he had the original.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No, Sir; I make no accusation against the right hon. Gentleman of that kind I understand he says that telegram referred to the cross-examination then going on by the Attorney General of the Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor The right hon. Gentleman has been misinformed. The cross-examination on this particular point was not by the Attorney General but by Mr. Atkinson, and it was over the day before the stolen telegram was sent. It is entirely incorrect to say that it was in answer to a telegram sent from the Irish Office. To suppose that it was a telegram referring to the conduct of the Times case is to ignore the facts, or alleged facts, which had already been brought out before the Commission. What occurred was this. In the Attorney General's opening speech he brought out these facts, or alleged facts, with regard to the Member for Tipperary.
Order, order! That would be opening up matter not relevant to the vote. The only material point in connection with this Vote was whether the telegram was addressed to Mr. Joyce or not.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understand, Sir, you do not propose to allow further accusations to be brought against the Government in connection with this matter. That being so, I am perfectly prepared to drop it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The telegram was addressed, no doubt, to Mr. Joyce, but under the ruling of the Chair I am precluded from going into the case, and I therefore drop the matter.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I understand you, Mr. Courtney, to say that you only pre- 24 right hon. Gentleman from, going into the circumstances of the Attorney General's charge. You do not prevent him from making an explanation about the telegram?
The only matter which is pertinent to the vote and the one circumstance which may perhaps require explanation is the fact of the telegram being addressed to Mr. Joyce, of the Irish Office.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
With regard to that, I have to say that the fact that the telegram was addressed to the Irish Office is not due to any action on the part of Mr. Joyce. The reason I proposed to go into the other matter, when, you, Sir, interrupted me, was to show that the telegram was not and could not be of any utility whatever to the Times case. I do not know whether I ought, in conclusion, to say anything in answer to the observations, last night, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. Fowler.) I need not say that neither I nor any of my Colleagues have reason to complain of the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. On the contrary, if he will allow me to say so, I think his speech was effective from a moderation of statement to which, unhappily, we are little accustomed when we are dealing with these Irish controversies. He made three accusations against me, the character of which he made perfectly clear to the House. The first was that under the present Administration there was great dissatisfaction in Ireland connected with the administration of justice; secondly, that there was hostility to the administration of the law; and, thirdly, that we encouraged disrespect to Parliamentary government. I admit that every effort has been made by one political Party to cast discredit upon the administration of the law in Ireland. I go further, and admit that no doubt there may be a genuine hostility to the action of the Courts of Law among certain classes of the population, but I do not believe that any class in Ireland seriously entertain the opinion that men are sentenced for offences they have not committed. Under the influence of the unhappy teaching which is too prevalent in Ireland a large portion of the population have got to think that cer- 25 tain offences against the law of the land are not offences against morality. They have got to think, for instance, that scalding a policeman or violently resisting the officers of the law are actions innocent, if not commendable. But I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that anyone in Ireland supposes that innocent men are condemned for offences which they have not really committed. With regard to the second point, that there is hostility to the administration of the law by the police, he must be aware that the police exercise their duties in Ireland under difficulties to which no other police in the world are subjected. He complains of me because I defend the action of the police in this House, and he says that no Home Secretary would be allowed to defend the English police in the manner in which I defend the Irish police. Have the English police ever been treated as the Irish police are treated? I am not conscious of ever having defended n this House any policeman who was open to attack. I grant that policemen are not infallible, that with 14,000 policemen engaged in carrying out the law in Ireland, under circumstances of exceptional provocation, some errors of judgment and some unnecessary violence may undoubtedly be committed; but if he thinks those evils would be best remedied by my abandoning to their bitterest enemies the character of these men, who are unable to defend themselves, he is very greatly mistaken. The right hon. Gentleman says I have encouraged disrespect to Members of this House. I cherish as much as the right hon. Gentleman, or any man, the honour of this House. Personally, my whole life is and has been for many years bound up with this House, my work is largely carried on in this House, my ambition is indissolubly associated with this House, and certainly no one is more jealous of the honour of this House than I. But I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that the honour of this House is likely to be exalted by allowing Members of this House with impunity to break the law. I do not think that the honour of Members of Parliament can be sustained by regarding them as an exceptional class of citizens, who are to be allowed exceptional privileges in disobeying the laws 26 of the country. With regard to the special treatment of Members of Parliament who have been in prison, I should be out of order in alluding to that matter at the present time, but there will be ample opportunity later. It will be sufficient for me to say that the honour of this House depends, and must depend, on the conduct of individual Members of this House; and if we desire that nothing be done to attack that honour, nothing be done to lower the Parliamentary institutions of this country, or to bring those institutions into contempt in the eyes of the people, I know no better method of attaining those objects than by enforcing the law even against Members of Parliament.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
We can all sympathise with the eloquent passage in the right hon. Gentleman's speech in, which he referred to the honour of this House, but there are better things than eloquent words, and they are deeds. The right hon. Gentleman disclaims all responsibility for the Plan of Campaign. Was he not Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887, and had he not an important influence upon the Government in 1886, although he was not then in his present position? Did he not speak against the Bill dealing with the Arrears question, brought in by the hon. Member for Cork City in 1887? He cannot divest himself of being the most responsible person in this House for the adoption of the Plan of Campaign and for the numerous evictions that have taken place and the disorder which has unfortunately accompanied those evictions. The right hon. Gentleman has twitted the Irish Members with being sensitive to strong language and criticism. We have not complained of strong language, but strong language accompanied by brutal blows from a baton, or by prods from a bayonet, endangering life, is a very different matter. We have repeatedly demanded public inquiries into the brutal murders at Mitchelstown and Youghal, but the only kind of inquiry which was held was one in which the parties accused were themselves to inquire into the question of their guilt. The right hon. Gentleman frequently recommends Irish Members to try an action at law, but he does all in his power to prevent us acting upon his advice. He has refused the request of Members of this House that the Irish 27 police constables should be numbered, even though the request was backed up by one of his most enthusiastic supporters the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). But, I repeat, he has done all in his power to prevent aggrieved parties bringing actions at law. On the occasion of the brutal attack upon my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan by the police, it was impossible to find the official on whom the responsibility rested. We cannot find out if the responsibility for giving the orders lies with the Head Constable. How futile is it to talk of bringing an action when the officer in charge is not known, and, individual policemen not being numbered, there are no means of identifying a man. It may be premature to say there will be no action brought against the police for their conduct at Charleville. Let the Chief Secretary give us facilities, and indicate who is the official responsible for the firing, and we can promise there shall be a prosecution, and the whole facts shall be laid before the public. The right hon. Gentleman shows how much sincerity there is in his suggestion that actions at law should be taken when he refuses us information when we ask for means of identification. I listened last night with considerable interest to the wise and weighty speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), and with a great part of that speech I cordially agree. But I must dissent emphatically from the concluding observations of the right hon. Gentleman, in which he referred to the chivalrous defence of Irish administration by the Chief Secretary. I can understand the use of the term as applied to the defence of the oppressed against the oppressor, of the poor against the strong and mighty in the land, as applied to the assistance given to those overborne by the calamities and sufferings of their lot, but chivalry used in connection with the defence of the Irish Administration is debasing the term—it is the very negation of those honourable and noble ideas we associate with chivalry. The Chief Secretary did not reply to that portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in which he spoke of the distrust of the law existing in Ireland—distrust of the law and of its 28 administration. True it is that this distrust was not created by the present Chief Secretary, but it has been intensified by him to a point beyond any it has ever reached since the connection of any Chief Secretary with the Irish people. I say the policy of the Chief Secretary is a policy of defiance of the Irish people, supplemented by a defamation of those whom the people hold most dear; a policy of defiance, in paying not the slightest heed to the most solemn remonstrances of those entitled to speak as representatives of the Irish people—priests, Members of Parliament, and local bodies; and a system of defamation that the right hon. Gentleman himself has initiated. We had a noteworthy instance of this defamation lately in his speech to a Nonconformist body, when he struck the first note of indiscriminate abuse of the priests of Ireland. Is it wise, from his own point of view—if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to win the people to his own peculiar ideas of law and order—to attack, without reason or necessity, in what he himself would call severe language, a body of men who—whatever they may be—are held in peculiar esteem and veneration by the Irish people, and will so remain as long as Irish people live on Irish soil? The right hon. Gentleman commenced this attack in a speech delivered not many months ago; and we had a special instance of the attack a few days ago when he alluded to the priests of County Clare as a body of men who "do no credit to their cloth." He has been challenged to name any particular priest outside this House, but I know he will not take up that challenge. I do not think so unworthily of the right hon. Gentleman's consistency in his dislike and distrust of the Irish people as to believe him capable of a generous thought or sentiment for the friends of the Irish National cause, but I think he exceeds the limit of his own peculiar notions of his duty when he makes this attack upon the representatives of the Church in Ireland, totally unwarranted by anything that has occurred and which has justly aroused the profound resentment of the Irish people. I will not go out of my way to allude to the Irish Representatives. We have used strong language sometimes, we have to do so in regard to acts of administration, but 29 we do not use it in a personal sense. Not so the right hon. Gentleman, when to a company of office seekers at a banquet in Dublin he made merry with the indignities and sufferings inflicted upon a respected Member of this House. He passed out of the limits of honest political criticism and descended to a depth I find it difficult to characterise in Parliamentary phrase in order to attack my hon. Friend the Member for North East Cork. The right hon. Gentleman never hesitates whether in replying to questions in this House or in general Debate whenever it suits his purpose, to describe the Irish people as bad characters or as forming a mob. A few days ago my hon. Friend the Member for Clare asked a question as to a system of police espionage of the most irritating character practised on some of the most respectable citizens of the town, and complained of arrests made without the slightest cause, and the right hon. Gentleman's excuse was that these men "associated with bad characters." Now surely this is not language that should be used of others than those guilty of crime before the law? But these were some of the most respected inhabitants of this particular town in Clare—shopkeepers, farmers, and others, as respectable men as are to be found in this House. The right hon. Gentleman says he will not interfere with the administration of the law, and makes this his defence for his peculiar line of action in connection with the disputes on the Clanricarde estate, and on the Ponsonby estate in County Cork. But it is no secret that his predecessor in office did use "pressure within the law;" and undoubtedly it is within the power of the Executive, before using the forces of the Crown for eviction purposes, to institute inquiry, and to delay proceedings and to secure that those forces shall not be lent in such numbers and under such circumstances that evictions can be carried out with that facility and ease that some landlords desire. But in relation to the Ponsonby tenantry and the Clanricarde tenantry, the right hon. Gentleman departed from that negative attitude of his predecessor and took a course of action that seemed to indicate that he entered upon the business con amore, and regarded it more or less in the light of a pastime, and so these unfortunate people, struggling 30 with bad seasons and fallen prices, were cast out upon the world for no crime but poverty. From his speeches and his actions the Chief Secretary seems to enter upon this work con amore, and hence it is we have the battering ram and all the facilities to make eviction easy, and the defence in this House founded on the ex parte statements of the landlords. This last is no part of his duty. I could perfectly understand an attitude in which a Chief Secretary, while deploring evictions as a necessity, declares himself powerless to interfere with the administration of the law, or to prevent the presence of the forces of the Crown at these unhappy eviction scenes. I can understand that position, brutal and callous though it may seem, as perfectly logical. But the right hon. Gentleman goes beyond that negative attitude—he defends the landlords; he brings forward statistics in relation to the Ponsonby property; he goes outside his province as representative of the Government, and becomes the landlords' champion in particular controversies. There was an instance of this in connection with the Ponsonby estate. I asked him could nothing be done by his influence to delay eviction there in view of the circumstances brought under his notice, in view of the significant letter of Mr. Horace Townshend, the agent to the syndicate which had taken over the estate; but the right hon. Gentleman "could not interfere with the administration of the law." But he goes beyond that, and seeks to explain away the sinister significance of the letter of the agent; he causes his agent to make inquiry, and in connection with this the agent wrote the letter which caused such a revulsion of feeling through Great Britain. It was no part of his duty to come down to the House and contend, that the Ponsonby rents were fair, in view of the fact that the agent of the syndicate to which the First Lord of the Treasury subscribed had written a letter, which he did not think would come into our hands, admitting that the rents were unfair and unjust and their enforcement a cruelty. It was no part of the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to come here and defend the action of the landlord and to go into the question of rents to show that they were just, thereby showing sympathy with 31 the landlord and hostility to the claims of the tenants. It may be consistent with his duty that the hon. Member for Fulham should attend at evictions, so that, as it were, they are carried out under distinguished patronage; but I contend that the Chief Secretary has conducted his duty of administration in a partisan spirit; that he has shown that his whole sympathy is on one side in the struggle at present going on between the unfortunate tenantry and their hereditary task-masters. I think we have had no explanation from the Chief Secretary of those very ugly, those unmanly incidents in connection with the Ponsonby evictions a few months ago, to which my right hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin referred, at which an innocent girl, at a time of trouble and misery, cast from her father's home, was subjected to insult by low officials, who seem to gloat over the miseries of the Irish peasantry. Surely this was an occasion for inquiry, in order that Crockett might be made amenable to justice; and, at any rate, the right hon. Gentleman might have taken notice of the conduct of Colonel Caddell, the recent addition to the Irish Magisterial Bench. I think in this case the right hon. Gentleman suggested, "Why not take action at law? "But it took a month to find out who Crockett was. The right hon. Gentleman says he is not responsible for the conduct of Crockett. But how was it that this man was admitted within the line of police, when to priests, Members of Parliament, and the Press admission was denied? At any rate, if not responsible for the brutalities of Crockett, he is responsible for the conduct of Colonel Caddell on the occasion. How can you expect a poor peasant girl to bring an action against Colonel Caddell? Who is to find the money? There is an item in this Vote of £240 set apart for newspapers, and I presume out of that a certain proportion is paid for Irish newspapers, and a subscription to the Times; but does the amount include some of the chief Provincial newspapers? If that is so, how is it that the right hon. Gentleman is always ignorant of circumstances that we bring to his notice from the records of these newspapers? Out of this item of £240 he could supply himself with the information contained in the Cork 32 Herald, the Cork Examiner, the Belfast Morning News, the Leinster Leader, and many other papers from which he could obtain the elementary facts which we so of ten have to bring to his notice. Surely when he sees reports of circumstances, such as the assault on my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan, or accounts of distressing scenes at evictions, he might make himself acquainted with the facts, and when we ask a question a few days afterwards he might give us an intelligible if not a satisfactory answer. Before I sit down, let me refer to the right hon. Gentleman's observations on the condition of Ireland. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) has pointed out the significant fact, in connection with the number of police huts over the country, and as evidence of the improved condition the Chief Secretary claims for his administration, that where the National League branch has been suppressed there the police huts are more numerous. In the Kanturk district of East Cork, the League is supposed to be suppressed, and the huts are more numerous than they were two years ago. It is our proposition that the suppression of the League is likely to be accompanied by outbreaks of crime and disorder, fomented by secret societies; and I regret to say there are not wanting proofs of the truth of this, and even in those districts where the suppression of the League has been only partially carried out there has been a recrudescence of outrage, evidently the work of secret societies. When the National League was first suppressed I advised my constituents to resist that suppression by every honourable means in their power, and for taking my advice many of them were sent to prison, and I am perfectly willing to take my share of the responsibility and punishment. Upon the Chief Secretary lies the responsibility if, in the face of these warnings, he persists in his policy of suppression, and in closing this safety valve for popular feeling. Prom the Kanturk police district, I suppose, more men have been sent to prison for the technical offence of attending meetings of the so-called suppressed branch of the National League than from any other district in Ireland. The League is not suppressed there, though, of course, it does not meet with the same frequency or deliberate with the same 33 openness as before. But in those districts where the League is suppressed, and where no branch at present exists, there the Police Returns of outrages show an increase; and my own knowledge, gleaned from local newspapers, shows me the increase of the danger month by month, and the right hon. Gentleman will, I fear, have to recall every word he has uttered on this very painful subject. For my part, I hope the suppressed branches of the League will continue to held meetings, for to my mind that is the only means by which crime and outrage can be counteracted. It has more influence in that direction than the whole policy of the Chief Secretary. His whole policy is one of defiance towards the Irish people, and of deception towards the English people; he seeks to hide from the people of Great Britain the real manner in which his administration is carried on in Ireland and the real operation of the Crimes Act. It is part of our business to expose that misrepresentation, and to let the people of Great Britain see the facts as they stand. I can promise the right hon. Gentleman this—that as long as his administration is conducted on its present lines, and in the spirit in which he and his subordinates at present work it, the people of Ireland will offer him a hearty and absolute defiance.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I do not rise to enter into the present phase of this discussion, but to call attention, in connection with this Vote, to the statistics that indicate a gradual but steady increase in the number of lunatics in Ireland. Since 1882 that increase has been constant, and within the last two or three years has reached alarming figures. The increase of 1885 over 1884 was 131; of 1886 over 1885 was 283; and in 1867 there was an increase of 561 over the year before. Now I find that this large increase in the total number of lunatics in Ireland is especially noticeable in certain counties in the North—Londonderry and Tyrone, for instance. In a question which I addressed to the Chief Secretary last March, I raised the subject of the growing consumption of ether, and its effects; and the right hon. Gentleman in his reply stated the Constabulary Authorities reported that in certain parts of Ireland it was constantly used 34 as an intoxicant, and that according to the opinions of resident physicians insanity was, in many instances, induced by indulgence in thin habit. I am aware that the investigations made by the constabulary as a result of my inquiry were necessarily of a limited character; but the information which has reached me from people on whom I can place complete reliance shows that the traffic in ether is assuming very large proportions. I think the chief centre of it is the district of Portumna. In the town of Cookstown the ether sales of some traders equal 20 gallons per week, and they estimate a profit of £4 on this article alone. One trader imports 120 gallons a week, and over 900 gallons pass every year through Belfast for sale in Derry and Tyrone. Cookstown, Magherafelt, and Maghera take over four tons per annum carried by rail alone. Now, the ether imported into these districts is not used for trade purposes. A half-glass of it is sufficient for an intoxicant, and for a sum of 6d. a man could get drunk on ether three times a day. According to these figures enough is imported into the district I have named to account for 105,000 cases of drunkenness every year. A large proportion of the traffic is, as a matter of fact, conducted by cart from Belfast, and the drug is distributed in small quantities at the country shops, the keepers of which send it out in their parcels of groceries. This increases the difficulty of ascertaining the full extent of the traffic. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the General Synod of the Church of Ireland has repeatedly petitioned Parliament on this question; so also have the Synod of the Diocese of Armagh and the Young Men's Christian Association. I have here a letter from a gentleman residing in the neighbourhood in which the traffic is mainly earned on, and in it he says—When I first became a Magistrate, some 20 years ago, ether was only sold for improper purposes in one house in Maghera: it is now sold in four low lodging-houses, and it is a common practice for people when turned out of the public-houses to finish off their night's debauch. For consumption at home ether is also sold in more respectable houses, not only in Maghera, but in the small houses throughout the neighbourhood; and I regret to say that, in order to bring it within the reach of every one, two old women go through the country to barter it for empty bottles at the farm-houses 35 &c. From the fact that a pennyworth produces drunkenness, the terrible mischief that ensues is plain. For years I have persistently opposed the granting of new licenses, chiefly on the ground that if they were unreasonably multiplied the police would he unable to enforce the laws relating to them. Of late I have greatly moderated this opinion, for I think it would he better far for the country that every house in it should be licensed rather than that the drinking of ether should be substituted for that of whisky. On the latter, at all events, you can only get drunk once in 24 hours: on the former for the same cost you could be drunk and sober two or three times. I have always understood there is great difficulty in legislating on this subject. In my opinion great advantage would ensue if it were enacted that ether could not be sold unless when prescribed by a doctor) in less quantities than 5s. worth at a time "—
§ MR. MACARTNEY
I desired to point out that the increase of lunacy, especially in the North of Ireland, is attributable to the practice of ether drinking, and I do not know of any other Vote on which I could raise this question. If, however, Sir, you think am travelling wide of the Vote in bringing this subject forward, I will content myself with stating that I shall be pleased to lay what information I have before the Chief Secretary. This is a question which has attracted the attention of the clergy of all denominations, who are exercising all the influence they have to put down the traffic. In some neighbourhoods the practice has almost reached the proportions of an epidemic, and small shopkeepers are known to have actually given ether to children in order to secure their custom. I do trust that the Chief Secretary will give serious attention to this matter, and will see if it is not possible to introduce some measure on the subject next Session.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I shall be very much obliged if the hon. Member will supply me with all the information in his possession bearing upon this question. I will certainly make full inquiries on this important matter.
§ MR.MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)
I am willing to admit that in the remarks which the Chief Secretary has just delivered there was an absence of that aggressiveness to which we, on this side of the House, are accustomed when the right hon. Gentleman is reply- 36 ing to our speeches. I do not intend, in what I am about to say, to deal with, details which have already formed the subject of this Debate. I will not stop to inquire whether the Constabulary or the people are responsible for the deplorable incidents which are frequently discussed in this House; but the broad fact remains that these collisions take place, and that ill-will towards the authorities and distrust for the administration of the law prevails generally amongst the people; but I propose to refer back to the position in which the right hon. Gentleman found the country when he took office, and I desire to point out the considerable economic and social changes which have since occurred. The right hon. Gentleman found a great agrarian struggle proceeding in Ireland, and he determined, immediately he took office, to throw in his lot absolutely and entirely on the side of the landlords, and he has consistently continued that policy down to the present time. His efforts have always been directed to the support of one class of the community, and the result has been that the differences between the landlords on the one hand, and the tenantry on the other, have not been lessened through his attitude. The right hon. Gentleman has also shown that he is determined to support his subordinates in Ireland, whether they are right or wrong, and the action of his subordinates has always been directed to the support of one particular class—the landlords. The discreditable and disgraceful conflicts which have taken place in Ireland between the police and the people have been due to an unnecessary parade of police force. I always understood that the police should only be brought out in force when it was feared there might be a conflict between two sets of people. Of course, in view of such a probability, it would be only right to have a strong display of police. But, as a matter of fact, the policy pursued in Ireland has been to call out the police when there was no danger whatever of any conflict because the people are all of one way of thinking, and, as a consequence, the public feeling has been exasperated, and the presence of the police has produced a worse condition of affairs than prevailed before. In Dublin, where there is a Superintendent of discretion and judgment, conflicts of 37 the kind are practically unknown, although there we have political demonstrations of enormous size given in honour of the Chief Secretary's criminals, accompanied by displays of great enthusiasm among the people. Formerly conflicts between the police and the people were common in Dublin, but they no longer occur, because there is now an absence of aggression on the part of the force, and the authorities very wisely only send out a very few policemen to maintain order on these occasions, instead of making an unnecessarily large display of force; and I would commend this as an example to be followed in the country districts, as it would avert the disgraceful scenes of batoning and of bloodshed which we are constantly hearing of. The right hon. Gentleman claims that the improvement in Ireland of late years is owing to the policy of the Government. No one will deny that an improvement has taken place; but I do contest his assertion that it is attributable to his policy. We have had better harvests, and the prices of agricultural produce have risen, and these are the things which account for the improved state of the country. The system of police and Magisterial rule which the right hon. Gentleman has fostered has retarded the improvement. It would have been better for the country if the police had been kept to their proper work—the prevention and detection of crime, and if the course of persecutions—they do not deserve the name of prosecutions—directed against the popular leaders in Ireland had never been entered on. I do not know whether the result of the right hon. Gentleman's policy has been to develop secret societies in Ireland. His suppression of public meetings and of constitutional agitation is well calculated to produce such a result; but if it has not done so it is because, fortunately, the Irish people now realise that the present reign of terror cannot last much longer, thanks to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and of the Liberal Party. Prom a political point of view, nothing could better serve our purpose than that the Chief Secretary should continue his present policy. But were not anxious that this perpetual turmoil shall be kept up, although it would be politically advan- 38 tageous to us, and I will venture to offer the right hon. Gentleman, in all sincerity, some advice, if any advice coming from this quarter of the House can have any influence with him. Of course any Minister dislikes admitting that his policy has failed; but does not the Chief Secretary consider this an opportune moment for retiring from a policy which cannot be claimed to have succeeded? If he does I can assure him we shall be happy to find him a golden bridge by means of which he can retire from it. He can find an excuse in the improved condition of the country for suspending the system of persecutions and suppression of public meetings which have proved so inefficacious, and I would strongly urge the right hon. Gentleman at the same time, having regard to the small dimensions into which this particular question of the Plan of Campaign has resolved itself, that he should make some effort to bring about a settlement of disputes on these few remaining estates. His influence in this respect would be most potent—it would, in fact, be all powerful—for reasons which are easily conceived; and he could readily bring about a termination of the most acute cases of land disputes, if he so willed. I can speak, to a certain extent, as an impartial witness, of the vaunted success of the Chief Secretary in his government of Ireland, because I have not myself taken much part in the political movements that are going on, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that never in my recollection did I know anything like the feeling of ill-will and distrust such as now exists in the South and West of Ireland, both against the Executive Authority and the administration of the law. The right hon. Gentleman's policy will not, and cannot, survive a General Election. It cannot even survive the near approach of a General Election, and I warn the right hon. Gentleman that if he continues to pursue the course he is now following he will only find the weapon of coercion has broken in his hands, and he will end his connection with Ireland discredited and a failure, as all of his predecessors who pursued a similar line of policy.
§ MR. P. J. O'BRIEN (Tipperary, N.)
I wish to draw attention to the case of Mr. John Vowell who was charged before 39 the ordinary Court of Petty Sessions and ordered to find bail.
I do not see how this comes immediately under the Vote for the Chief Secretary. It should be mentioned under the Vote for Prosecutions.
§ MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)
I cannot sit here and allow the Vote to be passed without making my protest. I do so from the taxpayers' point of view. I say that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland is not worth one penny of the sum put down to him. If the amount were divided by 200 it would more nearly represent the value of the right hon. Gentleman. If we pay a man a salary, we ought to know what he has done for it. Now, I say that the right hon. Gentleman has brought mischief and misery to Ireland; he has raised ill-will among the people and the constabulary; he has destroyed all hope of an amicable settlement of differences; he has imprisoned priests and people, and has done no good to Mr. Olphert, who is now a poor, miserable man, living alone, and not having the property which he formerly enjoyed. Mr. Olphert has been driven by the Party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs to the forlorn position which he now occupies. I observe in the Vote an item of £1,400 travelling expenses for the Chief Secretary. I know the right hon. Gentleman does not spend 4d. a day. I would give the right hon. Gentleman something like a fair salary— say, £20 a year and 4d. a day for expenses. Then why is not the £350 for incidental expenses explained? The Chief Secretary ought to be paid on commercial principles; that is to say, he ought to be paid for the actual work he does. He has brought trouble on one of the most peaceable countries on God's earth. The Chief Secretary spends very little of his time in Ireland. I think he ought to travel North, East, South, and West. He need not be afraid. There is not one of our people who would touch his clothes, nor yet his body. They are the finest and the bravest people that ever existed, but they hate to be misruled, and they are being misruled now. We are longing for a General Election, and when it comes we 40 will soon bring down the Chief Secretary's salary to what it was before— that was, to the condition, I suppose, of living on his neighbours. We want peace in Ireland, and not the turmoil and confusion which for weeks together I have seen prevailing without any reason. I have seen Father M'Fadden and Father Stephens taken by the police along a circuitous route, so that they might be exhibited by the police like wild beasts. The police managed by some means or other to gather a crowd, and then the people, without even lifting their bands or their voices, were driven through the streets, and blood flowed like a rain-shower. I have seen policemen actually walk into private houses and baton the people inside. I have known one constable walk into my own establishment to drive me with his baton. I said to him, "Do you know these are my premises? If you do not leave I will shut the door and make you a prisoner." That is the only way of dealing with them. There is no use in appealing to the Magistrate unless you can take them red-handed. The right hon. Gentleman says the police have a difficult task to perform. But they get large salaries, and are the only body in Ireland which can live on what they get. Unless they receive large bribes the police will not enforce English Law in the country. But not a single Irishman is intimidated, and in another three years, if the Government lasts so long, the Chief Secretary will find that his coercion policy has been of no avail. Do you think you will make the people love coercion laws and tyranny and brute force? The Irish people will be loyal to fair and just laws, but the Chief Secretary has travelled outside the law, and if the right hon. Gentleman were tried and found guilty, he would get 20 years' penal servitude for breaking the law. But the right hon. Gentleman has behind him the Castle and the hon. Member for South Tyrone. Thanks to the hon. Member for South Tyrone, Mr. Olphert has got no rents and no goodwill, and Mr. Olphert never will do better as long as he takes advice from a running jackdaw. The Chief Secretary will never be able to get a situation anywhere outside Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman were to try to get a situation at £20 a year in Manchester, nobody would have anything to do with him at 41 any price. The only thing he is fit for is to be placed side by side with Le Caron and the convicts out of Down-patrick Gaol and the other Times' witnesses.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
There were some observations addressed to the Committee by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) as to the consumption of ether in some parts of the North of Ireland, and my own constituency was referred to. The hon. Gentleman said that about Omagh the drug was largely consumed——
I called the hon. Member for Antrim to order. If the hon. Member wishes to say anything, I hope it will be of a very restricted character.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY
I only wish to say that the Report of Dr. Nugent this year does not make the slightest allusion to the subject, and although I am in no way opposed to inquiry, I must altogether dissent from the opinion to which the hon. Member invited the Committee to come. Allusion has several times been made to the remarks in which the Chief Secretary, paraphrasing the language used in a letter by Colonel Turner, referred to the County Clare clergy as being no credit to their cloth. I do not think these reverend gentlemen need any defence of their character, and I do not think anything the right hon. Gentleman can say will in the slightest degree lower them in the estimation of the people; indeed, it may possibly be the best means of increasing their esteem. Who are these gentlemen who have been connected with the dispute upon Colonel Vandeleur's property? Dr. Dinan, the parish priest of the district, and three of his curates and a neighbouring parish priest. Dr. Dinan is a venerable and much-respected clergyman between 80 and 90 years of age, a man who a few years ago was selected by the diocese for the episcopacy, and who occupies the very high position of Vicar General. He is one of the most highly respected priests in the whole of Ireland, who is trusted by all, whose character and motives are above suspicion, who is an honour to his cloth, and who deserves the highest credit for the action he took in regard to the dispute on Colonel Vandeleur's property. The tenants were not compelled or cajoled into the 42 adoption of the Plan of Campaign; they adopted it of their free choice, and the upshot has been that, in spite of the action of Colonel Turner, a settlement has been brought about by the instrumentality of these gentlemen who were denounced by the Chief Secretary; and these gentlemen whom the right hon. Gentleman holds to be unworthy of their cloth are the gentlemen with whom Colonel Vandeleur entered into negotiation and conducted a personal treaty for the settlement of the unfortunate dispute on his property. I do not think it is necessary to allude to Colonel Turner at all. Anything he says is altogether beneath notice; he is but the servant of the Chief Secretary.
The action of Colonel Turner should have been, and was, discussed under the Police Vote.
§ MR. M.J. KENNY
I was only alluding to him, Sir, as the servant of the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary has further made allusions to certain prosecutions in the town of Ennis. Mr. M'Namara was arrested, brought before a Magistrate, and immediately discharged, and the right hon. Gentleman says this was due to the association of that gentleman with bad characters. Now, those whom the right hon. Gentleman so describes are respected men in the town of Ennis. I know them perfectly well, and I will undertake to say that they are as respectable in their position as the right hon. Gentleman himself in his. There is nothing that can be said against their characters. One of them seems to be Mr. Denis M'Namara, and he has been prosecuted and imprisoned for selling copies of United Ireland; but in the contest the Chief Secretary at last owned himself vanquished, and Mr. M'Namara is now allowed to sell the newspaper freely. The position of the Chief Secretary is one in which, no matter what may happen, he will not condemn the action of the police under any circumstances, and the police know that, and are encouraged in their violent conduct. By way of contrast, let me allude to the riot that took place at Cookstown, Tyrone. The police did not on that occasion enter into a conflict with the people; they prevented a violent breach of the peace, and they took the ordinary sensible course of summoning the offenders before a Magistrate, and they were properly convicted Now 43 with less excuse in the South of Ireland, the police would have proceeded to break the skulls of the people, and to become themselves the chief rioters in pursuance of a policy to justify coercion. The Chief Secretary seems to think that the forces of the Crown should be an automatic body, moving at the desire of the landlords; but in this respect he appears from the view of his predecessor and of every Chief Secretary since the time of Thomas Drummond. When Drummond was Secretary, he refused the forces of the Crown for the use of the landlords, and on many subsequent occasions they have been refused. It is a well-known fact that 40 or 50 years ago, Sheriffs had to carry out evictions at their own risk and peril. They had to bring their own posse, and it is only by a recent application of the policy of coercion that police are summoned in whatever numbers the landlords requisition, and even military force is brought to their aid. I can understand there are circumstances under which the use of the forces of the Crown might be necessary, but these have not arisen in recent years, and I altogether deny that it is obligatory on the Chief Secretary to sanction in every case where the landlords choose to requisition it the lending of an enormous force to carry out eviction decrees obtained by the landlords. The Chief Secretary is particularly responsible for the scandals on the Olphert estate. Not only did he agree to lend the police and military, but he encouraged the police to practices for the protection of themselves as he says, but really for the destruction of the houses of the people, for the shortening of eviction operations. From the time of the Bodyke evictions downwards, the police have discharged the functions of emergency men and bailiffs.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY
I will allude no further to that, Sir. Allusion has been made to the signs of increasing prosperity in Ireland, and I altogether deny the contention of the Chief Secretary that his administration is responsible for a condition of greater prosperity or that it is justified by facts. Year after year we have references to the cash balances in the banks and the amounts in the 44 savings banks. Increased cash balances do not necessarily indicate a state of prosperity; they may equally indicate a slackness of trade, and as to savings banks it is true there are increases year by year, but what does it all amount to? The deposits amount to£3,000,000, which gives a paltry sum of 12s. 6d. per head of the population. If the people are becoming thrifty in their habits, so much the better; but I may point out that the increase in the number of police is enough to account for the-increase in the savings bank deposits. A better index of the condition of things -is the state of investments in the public funds, and from this Return we have before us we find that there has been a decrease of investments in Imperial securities annually, and they are now £8,000,000 less than they were in 1871. These are more instructive figures as indicating a decrease in the wealth of the people of Ireland than cash balances and savings bank deposits. I think the contention of the Chief Secretary is untenable, and I believe the more we inquire into the real state of things the more we shall find that the condition of things is steadily growing worse in many respects—I will not say in every respect but in many respects—and I believe at the present time the people of Ireland have less money at command than in any period for the last 30years, or since foreign importation flooded the markets with cheap corn. I do not believe it is of any use offering advice to the Government; they are determined to stick to their line of policy and their avowed purpose of steady repression, but we shall shortly have the opportunity of carrying our appeal outside this House to the only tribunal competent to decide on a verdict.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
The Debate has hitherto been almost entirely confined to hon. Members below the Gangway, and I believe there is a general feeling in the House that the sooner it is over and the Vote passed the better. But it has been said more than once that there are two Irelands, and as yet the Committee have only heard the opinion of one Ireland in this matter. I come from, a part of the country where the police are in the proportion of 10 to every 10,000 of the population. Hon. Members below the Gangway come from a 45 part of Ireland where the proportion of police to population is as 38 or 40 to 10,000. This is a great difference; and I, as a Representative of North-East Ulster—that portion of the country where the police are 10 in 10,00 of the population, desire to examine the evidence of the witnesses from the other parts of the country. If the Chief Secretary's policy has not produced good results, then this Vote ought not to be passed. I go the length of saying that; but I am going to contend, and I am going to quote Parliamentary Returns to show that the policy of the Chief Secretary is bearing good fruit, and that although the end has not been entirely achieved, yet we have gone a good way towards securing it. For this purpose I take the two most disturbed counties, Kerry and Clare, and what are the facts? In 1887, before the passing of the Land Act and the Crimes Act, for both of which the Chief Secretary was responsible, there were in these counties 261 agrarian offences reported to the police; in 1888 there were 203, and in the first six months of the present year 69. Now, I hold, explain it as you like, these figures show the actual condition in these two counties in regard to agrarian crime, and if you look back to the years previous to 1887 you find the difference greater. Then I take the boycotting Returns. In October, 1887, the number of persons boycotted was—in Clare 506; and in Kerry 477; and on the 1st of July this year there were seven persons in Clare and 13 in Kerry, wholly or partially boycotted. Now if that does not indicate an improved condition of things, I do not know what would be called an improvement. Hon. Members may challenge the figures, but I take them from Parliamentary Returns. I have no other means of finding out the truth, and in the absence of contradiction, I take them as correct. Now if I take the whole country, apart from these two counties, I find the facts showing an equal improvement. In the whole country in 1888 there were 660 agrarian offences, compared with over 2,000 in 1880. As to evictions—which many will take as a crucial test—there were in 1880 over 2,600, some of the evicted being replaced as tenants and others as caretakers. In 1888 only 773 families were turned out of their homes. 46 Apart from the question of agrarian crime, let us take the general state of the country. The Judges have just returned from the Assizes, and we get a glimpse of the state of the country from their Charges. Doubts have been thrown on official statements, but I do not think the Judges get their information entirely from the police.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Well, if you cannot trust the County Inspectors, the Magistrates, and the Judges, whom are you to trust? Are we to trust the hon. Members below the Gangway? I respectfully decline to do that. The Judges practically say, with the exception of three counties, Ireland is in a state of profound quiet and peace. They admit that three counties are disturbed, but even there the improvement is very marked. Then as to the state of trade. I will not dispute the inference of the last speaker as to cash balances in the banks; but the increase in the deposits in the savings banks happens to be largest in the five counties where the police are fewest in proportion to the population. The hon. Member will have to find some other means of explaining the Returns. The hon. Member is right in his reference to Indian and Government Stock; but I am a little surprised to find hon. Members talking about fundholders in whom they have never professed any interest hitherto; their interest has been in the depositors in savings banks and post office banks. When you take the Railway Returns and the Banking Returns you have a distinct improvement within the past two years. You find there is less agrarian crime, that ordinary crime is at a minimum, and that evictions are fewer, and if these are the signs of a ruined country governed by a despotic Minister I should like to know what are the signs of a prosperous country governed Constitutionally. I would ask hon. Members below the Gangway to face this-fact. The five counties in the North of Ireland, where hon. Members have least influence, but which are equally with the rest of Ireland under the Chief Secretary's administration, are profoundly peaceable and fairly prosperous, while the counties which the hon. 47 Members below the Gangway represent are neither peaceful nor prosperous.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I want to know why Belfast and Londonderry at the present moment have employment for every one, while Cork and Limerick and Waterford have not? Surely there must be some answer to that. It is because the people in the North mind their own business. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton that there is no hostility to the law or to the administration of the law in the five counties to which I have referred. They are inhabited by the same classes of people as the Southern counties—by farmers, labourers, artizans, mechanics, merchants, shopkeepers—and no doubt the Southern counties would be equally quiet and prosperous if hon. Members would but let them. The trouble arises from the necessity which hon. Members below the Gangway find of keeping the pot boiling for themselves.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Dublin, College Green)
The speech we have just heard has been heard and answered many times before. It appears that there are five prosperous counties in Ireland represented by gentlemen like himself, whilst all the other counties in the country are unprosperous.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
He said they were unprosperous, and he contrasted the condition of the prosperous counties with the condition of all the remainder of the country. He challenges us to enter into an explanation of this matter. But I own it would take too long, and probably be out of order, to enter into a full explanation of the comparative prosperity of the northern and southern counties; but even in the peaceable and prosperous northern counties it is not so very long ago that the police were catching it very hot and hard indeed, and were stigmatised as "uniformed assassins" and "cowardly murderers." An hon. Member of the House, and a Representative of one of the northern constituencies, was brought to 48 task in the House for having applied such language to the police, and he refused to apologise or to withdraw. And I hold in my hand a proof of the statement I have just made. I find in the leading organ of the so-called loyal minority in Ireland such language as the following:—The first duty of the Government is to reduce the passionate assassins who potted the women and children.And a little further on its says—Are the uniformed criminals to escape; are the miscreants who fired on a solitary little boy in a deserted street, who potted a girl looking out of a window, and the mother of a young family as she stood in her own doorway—are these and the men who performed similar acts of murder to go free?These things occurred in the loyal part of Ireland—in the great City of Belfast. The writer relates in this article how the Royal Irish Constabulary shot down an innocent and unoffending crowd of people, and how, when the military came on the scene, these "uniformed cowards slunk away." How the Royal Irish Constabulary must have cursed these English and Scottish troops for depriving them of their congenial work! This article I have quoted shows how the loyal minority in Ireland can speak of the Royal Irish Constabulary when it comes to their turn to get a little of the rough usage that has hitherto been given to the South. Let them take care. I believe that the Irish Constabulary would be just as ready to break the heads of Orangemen as of Nationalists. I wish that there might be an end of the trouble between the people and the police; but of this there is little chance so long as the right hon. Gentleman opposite is the master and director of the police. They take their cue from him, knowing that he will sustain and defend them and excuse them in the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman has his bitter and clever tongue to use against Irish Members; but the Irish Constabulary have another weapon. They are not allowed to abuse, traduce, and calumniate these Members, but they have their bat>ns, and with these they translate into action the spirit of the discourse of their master. The whole of this contention about the prosperity of the North of Ireland, as I have just said, has been discussed and answered many and many a time before. 49 There is, indeed, less distress, less hardship and suffering in Ireland to-day than at a former time. Irish Members are proud to acknowledge the fact, but they deny that the credit of the improvement is due to the present rulers of the country. Badly as they have misruled the country, and cruelly as they have used the leaders of the Irish people, they cannot prevent some share of the general prosperity from coming into the land. England has herself had a revival of trade and commerce, and Ireland has come in for a little share of it. But I deny that credit for it is in any way due to the Chief Secretary. We Irish Members take credit for a considerable part of this increased prosperity; for it has been by our long struggle and sacrifices that we have won for the Irish people some important concessions. We have extorted these concessions from the British Parliament, and thousands and thousands of tenant farmers have now some protection and security for their earnings, where before they had none. We won it for them by many a hard battle on the floor of this House, and by labour and struggle, night and day, in sunshine and storm, on the hills and plains of Ireland. We have won important concessions for the Irish tenant farmers, and these things are operating for their benefit to-day; and to them may largely be traced the improved condition of this class of people. I rise to oppose this Vote for many reasons, but -chiefly because in doing so I am protecting the interest of the British taxpayer. The salary of the Chief Secretary is given him to support the British Constitution in Ireland; but the policy pursued by the right hon. Gentleman in that country tends to produce hatred, strife, and ill-will, and to keep the people of Ireland at enmity with the law and the administrators of the law. I wish to corroborate the words spoken by my hon. Colleague the Member for the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin. He, as everyone knows, is a man of moderate opinions and of a quiet un-aggressive manner. He takes little part in what is called agitation in Ireland; but he claims to know—and he does know—a great deal about the feelings of the Irish people. He declares that never in his recollection has the strain between the authorities and the people been so severe and bitter 50 as it is at the present time. I believe that to be true, and, moreover, I say it could not be otherwise under the circumstances. There are other things telling in favour of peace, patience, and good temper in Ireland. The Irish Representatives tell the Irish people, and ask and implore of them, to be patient and long-suffering under the inflictions, injustices, and insults which are poured upon them by the right hon. Gentleman and his obedient servants in Ireland. The Irish people know that for whatever hardships and injustice they are suffering at the present time the English people are no longer responsible, and that only the Tory Government and the right hon. Gentleman are to blame. They well know also that the term of the power of that Government to harass and torture the Irish people cannot last for ever, and must soon come to an end. These are some of the reasons why the Irish people are as patient as they are under present circumstances. But the Irish police, as I have said, translate into action the feelings and the spirit displayed towards the Irish people by the Chief Secretary in his speeches in and out of Parliament. They know, and have reason to know, that they can do nothing, no matter how brutal, cruel, unjust and illegal, which he on the floor of this House will not excuse. I stand by the side of one of my Colleagues (Mr. P. O'Brien), who has been most cruelly ill-used, and that for no offence. He was not assailing the police, nevertheless he was batoned and wounded by many savage strokes. He was struck from behind, and I myself have been treated in a similar manner by the police. These things will rankle in the minds of the Irish people, and I firmly believe that if there were not some pacifying influence at work, if there were nothing between the Chief Secretary, his police, and his removable Magistrates, the condition of Ireland would be bad indeed. As I say, there are other influences working in favour of peace, happiness, and good temper, and I trust those influences will continue. I trust that whatever insults may be offered us, and whatever sufferings may be inflicted on us, we shall be able to live through these few additional years of Tory Government. The Irish people have lived through 51 harder times and have met with sterner men than the Chief Secretary. They are people who can recover from their sufferings. They are a forgiving and a generous people. I do not know what amount of forgiveness they may be inclined to extend to the doings of the present Government and the Chief Secretary; but I believe that in a while they will think very little about them, and give themselves very little concern indeed about them. I daresay the Chief Secretary imagines he is doing wonderful work and making a great name in history, and all that sort of thing; but my idea is that if in Irish history the right hon. Gentleman finds himself mentioned in a foot-note it is about as much notice as he will receive. He defends the Royal Irish Constabulary, and is greatly offended when it is suggested that they have taken to drinking very considerably. But I believe that to be a fact. The invariable accompaniment of their eviction excursions is a barrel, or several barrels, of porter, and now and then a little of something stronger, and they indulge in this refreshment pretty freely. Whether it is an insult to them or not to mention the circumstances, I think it is a charitable view to take of their conduct to say that they are not always responsible for their actions. No doubt there are decent and noble-hearted men amongst the constabulary, but they do not count for much. We do not come into collision with these well-meaning men. They do no harm and inflict no wounds; but we have to deal with men of the force who are the exact converse of these. In conclusion, I will only say that I think the money spent in Ireland for the encouragement and sustainment of this policy of insult and aggression and injustice is money badly spent. Again and again the Chief Secretary has assailed the Irish Representatives and the Irish race, declaring them to be unfit for self-government. He forgets how many leading men Ireland has given to every Department of the Government of this country. He has especially selected for defamation the hon. Member for North-East Cork, but that hon. Member's replies to his attacks he has invariably found himself unable to meet. I hope we are now near the end of all this trouble. I trust the 52 people of England are beginning to see-that the policy of coercion in Ireland is an absolute failure. The Chief Secretary knows it is; but he sees that in order to hold any sort of a place in public esteem it is necessary—although he does it without warrant—to take to himself credit for whatever little return to prosperity there may now be in Ireland. That is his only defence to plead for his tyrannical and unjust rule in Ireland. He says that crime has-diminished, that boycotting has gone down almost to zero, and that there are fewer campaign estates. The campaign has fulfilled its purpose on many estates. Landlords outside the campaign have come to terms with their tenants, and no sooner has this taken place than boycotting has ceased, and there is at once a diminution in crime and outrage. In. conclusion, I would only say that the increased prosperity of the country, such as it is, is due to causes with which the right hen. Gentleman has nothing to do, although he has been trying to cover the failure of his coercion policy by taking credit for the improved condition, of things which has no connection either with his action or that of the Irish Executive.
§ MR. P. J. O'BRIEN
I desire, Sir, to review the conduct of the police at the Bandon Railway Station, in the City of Cork, on the occasion of the arrest of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), on the 30th of June last. Of that occurrence I have a reminder which, I suppose, will stick to me during the remainder of my life. It is not, however, because of the consequences to myself that I desire to testify to what then took place—everyone of the 28 citizens of Cork who were maimed and carried to hospital on that occasion were of as much or more importance-than I—but for the purpose of affording the right hon. Gentleman the-Chief Secretary the opportunity of justifying the statement he made upon the subject in this House at a time when I was in such a condition that I could not even be made aware of what he and others were saying, or, indeed, of anything that was happening in the world outside. I desire to give my account of what I saw up to the point when I was rendered unconscious——
Order, order! I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman; but I must point out that a discussion as to what took place on the occasion referred to would be appropriate to the Police Vote, and not to the present Vote. I have no doubt, however, that the Committee will extend its indulgence to the hon. Member, if he will confine himself to a personal statement.
§ MR. P. J. O'BRIEN
I should be sorry to trespass against the Rules of the House; but the fact is, that I was in such a condition that I was not able to be here when the Police Vote was taken, and if I had acted on the advice of my medical adviser I should not have been here to-day; but I was anxious to meet the right hon. Gentleman face to face, and ask him to justify the attacks and insinuations he has made against me behind my back. Perhaps, Sir, I shall best be able to carry out your suggestion by stating what it was that really did occur. I was in the City of Cork on the 29th and 30th of June, to address one of the many meetings caused by the suppression of a public meeting in the city. On returning from that meeting to the city I learnt that the hon. Member for North-East Cork would probably arrive at Cork by the 9.30 train. I proceeded to the railway station, accompanied by three lady friends. About half-past 9 o'clock, just outside the station, I noticed a body of police, probably about 50, lounging against a wall, and close to them stood Pasha Plunket and Inspector Concannon engaged in conversation; there were not three other persons on the platform when I and my lady friends arrived. The train was late, and in a few minutes 50 police, headed by Inspector Concannon, marched on to the platform. The officer asked me to move away and I declined to do so. Inspector Concannon said he knew whom he was speaking to and also the ladies who were with me on the platform, and that he did not wish to be uncivil. I replied that I was not complaining of incivility on his part, but that he was interfering with my right to be where I pleased on a public railway platform, and that I would not move until compelled to do so by force. The body of police, seeing that I had refused to move away at the bidding of their officer, began to dis- 54 cuss my identity and passed my name from mouth to mouth. When the train came in I advanced to the carriage from which Mr. W. O'Brien was stepping out to shake hands, and was speaking to him about the conveyance which we had provided to take him to the Royal Victoria Hotel, when Inspector Concannon touched the hon. Member for North East Cork on the shoulder and told him that he must arrest him on a warrant for misdemeanour. Instantly the police seized me and pulled me away from Mr. W. O'Brien, and I received two baton blows on the back and shoulder. I then went to take the ladies out of danger, and on reaching the gate of the station I saw a policeman strike a man on the back of the head with a clubbed rifle, felling him, and leaving him apparently dead. I lifted the man into a sitting position and called a priest, who, with others, was running out of the station to escape the police charge, to attend to the man. I then walked with the body of police who were conducting the hon. Member for North-East Cork to the police-station. I thought they were twisting my hon. Friend's arms, and I wished to watch what was done. I intended to procure bail for my hon. Friend when we reached the police-station. At no time were there 30 people, apart from the police, at the railway station, there was not a single stone thrown, and only one cheer was raised for Mr. W. O'Brien. There was no cause for any attack by the police. I was proceeding in the direction of the police barrack, and had not gone 50 yards from the Railway Station gates when I received a blow in the back from a rifle, followed by another on the head, which rendered me insensible. When I came to myself another policeman approached and struck me on the temple, knocking me insensible again. I do not know by whom I was taken away to the Royal Victoria Hotel. During the whole time no provocation whatever was given to the police. The Chief Secretary has said, in justification of the treatment which I and many others received, that a crowd had assembled for the purpose of rescuing the hon. Member for North-East Cork. If the citizens of Cork had had that purpose they would have acted very differently in giving effect to it. There were not enough police in the city to hold Mr. William O'Brien if 55 the citizens of Cork desired to rescue him; and there was not a gaol in Ireland which would have held my hon. Friend if the Irish people had thought proper to take him out. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to justify the statement he has made. Then the right hon. Gentleman declared that the police had not known who I was. But, as I have already said, Inspector Coneannon indicated on the railway platform that he knew me, and the police had in my hearing discussed any identity. I am quite satisfied that the officers knew who I was; I had been accompanied by police from Killarney to Mallow, and thence to Cork, on the Friday previous, and on stepping out of the carriage at Cork, at 2 o'clock in the morning, I had been followed by two detectives on a car to my hotel, and was shadowed everywhere I went, even while visiting the house of my hon. Friend the junior Member for Cork City, on the Saturday. Again, on the Sunday I was in like manner dogged by police to mass, and I saw my shadowers point me out to the police on duty in the streets, and these men were, I believe, among the police who batoned me afterwards. These men had shadowed me wherever I went, even from my hotel to the Bandon Railway Station, half an hour before I was bludgeoned, with the exception of the meeting to which I have referred, on which occasion I had got rid of them, and in these circumstances I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to say that the officers did not know me. Then, I believe, the right hon. Gentleman has stated that I was not seriously injured. I only wish that that had been true. It is a fact that I had paid a visit to the seaside about the middle of my illness, by direction of my doctors, but by venturing too much I had got knocked up again. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is prepared to cause any inquiry to be made into this matter? I understand that the right hon. Gentleman has glibly told the House that anyone who has a complaint to make against officials of the Crown in Ireland has his remedy at law. I have no great love of the law, but I will accept the Chief Secretary's challenge if the right hon. Gentleman will carry out one condition. I was struck from behind four times, 56 twice with clubbed rifles, as I was told, and as my doctors believe, and it is manifestly impossible for me to identify the men who struck me with clubbed rifles from behind. Will the right hon. Gentleman assist me to identify publicly the men? Again, if the officer did not give the order to baton the people, who did? Will the right hon. Gentleman make an investigation into that also? The right hon. Gentleman may say that that is a very unusual thing, but it is not so; for where the right hon. Gentleman has found that the officials do not carry out the "Do not hesitate to shoot" policy, the right hon. Gentleman has instituted an inquiry and has punished the officials.
§ MR. P. J. O'BRIEN
Then I will not go further with the matter; but I was going to refer to what took place at Gweedore, and I now challenge the right hon. Gentleman to make not a Departmental inquiry, but a thorough public inquiry into the matter of the attack made upon me. If the right hon. Gentleman does that, and thus enable me, as he, and he only, can, to identify my would-be murderers, for my own part I will go into a Court of Law, and if there is any justice to be got in Ireland against the so-called officers of the law, I will give these ruffians the benefit of it, though I know that the whole forces of the Government and the Treasury will be arrayed against me, as they have been in another place where the Government has propped up the slanderers of the Irish Members in the Times case. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to justify the charge that I or anyone else attempted a rescue on this occasion.
§ MR. SEXTON
The expressive speech of my hon. Friend has been followed by a moment of still more expressive silence. The Committee has just obtained a vivid glimpse of the methods pursued by the Government in Ireland, and, unless I am very much mistaken, the demeanour of my hon. Friend and the suggestive significance of his remarks have gone home to every man in this House. My hon. Friend who has been batoned by the servants of the Chief Secretary, and, in his absence, 57 defamed by the right hon. Gentleman himself, has now risen in his place, and having recited the facts by the permission of the Chair, he challenges the Chief Secretary to justify what he has stated. But the right hon. Gentleman finds it more convenient to defame Irish Members beyond their backs than to meet them face to face. After the speech which we have just heard and the silence of the right hon. Gentleman, I wonder what the English people will think of their brave Minister. The main principles of the Government of Ireland seem to be, first, insult and violence directed against the Representatives of the people; secondly, a wanton use of physical force; and, thirdly, a dull and obstinate silence when any claim is made for explanation of an outrage or any appeal for an inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman has evaded the substance of the case brought against him, and has merely directed his reply to some small points; his answer has not been frank, direct, nor sufficient. On the case at large he has been silent. The Irish Members deny the right of the right hon. Gentleman to be silent; he is an official of this House and bound to defend himself. The conduct of the right hon. Gentleman is utterly unworthy of any man in the position of a Constitutional Minister and disgraceful to a Government professing to derive its power from the votes of a free people. I beg to move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £4,425, being the amount of the salary of the Chief Secretary.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £4,425, the Salary of the Chief Secretary."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork, City)
I think, Sir, we are entitled to an answer from the Chief Secretary to the speech of my hon. Friend, who has been so brutally assaulted by the right hon. Gentleman's police in the city which I myself have the honour to represent. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman appears to me to be a policy of incitement to his instruments in Ireland to exceed the law; to use violence, in the first place, to unfortunate tenants when they are being evicted from their homes—violence by the police, who rush in and baton these unfortunate creatures with the utmost brutality. This violence is defended by 58 the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary when the matter is brought forward, and the victims of the violence are told that they have their ordinary remedy in an action at law. The same thing has been said to-day in this case. I maintain that the right hon. Gentleman knows well that there is no such remedy here—that those policemen who have committed these illegal acts did so with the knowledge, in the first place, that they would be cloaked by the right hon. Gentleman; with the knowledge, in the second place, that it is utterly impossible to identify them; and with the knowledge, in the third place, that owing to the state of feeling in Ireland it is always possible to get one red-hot Orangeman on a jury who will refuse to give a verdict against the police in any question of a political complexion. Does the right hon. Gentleman know that it is utterly impossible to identify a policeman? They are in many cases brought from a distance; they have no numbers. If an English policeman misconducts himself, the first thing is to take his number; but there is no number to be taken in the case of the Irish Constabulary, because they wear none; one might as well seek to take the number of a soldier in the ranks. Men are drafted from one station to another with the incitements of the Chief Secretary for Ireland ringing in their ears, and with the knowledge that every act of theirs will be cloaked up and lied down in the House of Commons. It is utterly impossible to identify constables with a view to bring them before the tribunals of the country, in consequence of the absence of the ordinary means of identification. Now, I will put this question to the right hon. Gentleman. Will he consent to number his men, so that the next time an Irish Member is brutally batoned from behind it may be possible to identify his assailant? Will the right hon. Gentleman, who prates about his desire to conduct his administration of Ireland upon the same lines as those on which an administration of the same sort would be conducted in England—will he give to the citizens of Ireland the same opportunities of identifying constables who exceed their duty as are given to the citizens of London? Will he put numbers on the Irish Constabulary in the future, or will he continue 59 the system of sending these men, who carry deadly arms, from one station to another, so as to preclude all possibility of identifying them in case they exceed their duty? The absence of a number on the constable's uniform renders it impossible for my hon. Friend to identify the man who struck him. To the questions which I have put to the Chief Secretary for Ireland I think we are entitled to have a plain answer.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In a somewhat thinner House than the present one I made earlier in the day a long speech giving a detailed answer to the attacks which had been made against me and the Irish Government, and I had hoped to be able to spare the Committee the trouble of listening to any more remarks from me on the present occasion. I fear that I cannot satisfy hon. Members opposite either by speech or by silence; but, after the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin and of the hon. Member for Cork, I suppose that I must say a word or two more. The hon. Member for North Monaghan has accused me of having declared in this House, in the hon. Member's absence, that when he was assaulted he was engaged in an attempt to rescue the hon. Member for North-East Cork. He also, in what he was pleased to call a personal statement, described my conduct as unmanly. As he has told us he was unable to read the newspapers I attribute to that inability the fact that he appears to be imperfectly acquainted with the Debates that have occurred upon the points under discussion. What I said was that the mob in Bandon Station surged forward, and that the constable in charge of the police, thinking that a rescue might be effected, gave the order to prepare to charge, and that the police did charge I have never said, and never thought, that the hon. Member for North Monaghan appeared upon the scene with a desire to carry out an organised rescue; such an idea never crossed my mind. Then, according to the hon. Member, I said that the police did not know who the hon. Member was. That is an error. What I said was that I did not believe that the policeman who actually struck the hon. Member knew who he was. The hon. Member has distinctly told the Committee that 60 the serious wound dealt him was not inflicted in the station, but by a man whom he did not see. For all we know, therefore, the blow might not have been dealt by a policeman.
MR. P. J. O'BEIEN
I did not state that what I said was that I walked by the side of a body of police whom I heard using my name, and while so walking I was struck on the head. If my name was known to any one of the police in the ranks it must have been known to those who struck me, at least four in number. I must have been struck by at least four policemen—by two on the platform and by two on the road, not one minute's walk from the platform.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understood the hon. Member to intimate that the Inspector of Police on the platform and some of the men knew who he was. I also understood the hon. Member to say that he was on the road when the serious blow was dealt, from which I regret that the hon. Member has since suffered. The hon. Member does not know who struck him, and that being the case the Committee of course cannot tell whether he was struck by a policeman who knew the hon. Member, or whether he was struck by a policeman at all. To the hon. Member for Cork I would point cut that even if the policeman who struck the hon. Member—assuming that it was a policeman—had worn a number upon his coat, it would not have assisted identification in this particular case. The hon. Member for North Monaghan has attacked me on another matter, and has imputed unmanly conduct to me because I criticised the hon. Member's behaviour in his absence. But I do not remember criticising the hon. Member's behaviour. I only stated the facts relating to the hon. Member's appearance at the station, as I knew them at the time. I never did attack him. But how was I to avoid dealing with the subject; when it was brought forward as a matter of charge against me on the Police Vote? If the hon. Member did not wish the subject to be mentioned in his absence, he should have requested his friends not to bring the matter forward and not to insist upon an answer being given. There is evidently some inconsistency here. The hon. Member appears to be greatly aggrieved because I stated that I 61 had reason to hope that the hon. Member's injuries were not of a very serious character. Now, I had already expressed regret for his sufferings, but seeing in the public newspapers that he had been able to make two or three trips to the country, was I wrong to draw that inference and to express that hope? I gathered from the hon. Member's statement that the policemen who struck him at the station were the men who had been shadowing him all day. If that is the case the hon. Member can, without difficulty, bring an action against them in a Court of Law. With respect to the request of the hon. Member for Cork that the police should be numbered, the hon. Member is no doubt aware that that question has been brought before successive Governments. It has always been felt that there are strong administrative reasons against it; it has always been acknowledged that it would not be a convenient practice to put numbers on a police force who, unlike the police force in England, are constantly moving about from town to town and district to district. In those parts of Ireland where the force is stationary, as in Dublin and, I believe, Belfast, the men are numbered.
MR. H. H. FOWLEE (Wolverhampton, E.)
I venture to think that the right hon. Gentleman has failed to appreciate the real point at issue. What he had to deal with was not the question as to what was said in the absence of the hon. Member for Monaghan and whether or not he had acted in a manly way. That is simply a question between himself and the hon. Member. What the House expected him to deal with was this: We are asking that there shall be an inquiry into the truth of the charges made by the hon. Member for North Monaghan on his responsibility as a Member of this House. We ask upon the statement of a Member of this House—and I take it we have not yet derogated from the rule that we believe a Member of this House when he makes a statement here with the full responsibility of his position—for a full inquiry into this matter. The hon. Member has charged the Irish Constabulary with an unprovoked, brutal, and disgraceful assault. We ask for an inquiry into the truth or falsehood of that charge, and we want to know on what ground the right hon. 62 Gentleman refuses it. It is not a question of an action at law. The right hon. Gentleman has complained that I want a different mode of administering justice in cases where Members of Parliament are concerned, as against cases concerning private individuals. I want nothing of the sort. Members of Parliament, if they break the law, ought to be treated precisely as any other subject of Her Majesty would be; but in this case there is no allegation against the hon. Member of having broken the law. Had he done so he would have been summoned by the police to answer for it. It must be taken as admitted that the hon. Member acted legally and within his rights under the Constitution, and that he has done nothing wrong. No charge has been brought against the hon. Member that he was acting illegally or improperly, and the House of Commons has, therefore, a right to demand that there shall be an inquiry. A Constitutional inquiry either by the superior officers of the police or by independent Commissioners, such as were appointed by the right hon. Member for Newcastle in the case of the Belfast riots, would soon bring out the truth. It is not proper for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the hon. Member might bring au action against the policeman. That would be no remedy, because the hon. Member cannot know which man struck him, and cannot bring an action against the whole body of police. If an inquiry were held, and if Inspector Concannon were strictly examined before a Commission, the culprit would soon be discovered. Assuming that the state-meat of the hon. Member is correct—and in this House we are certainly bound to believe it—that an unprovoked assault has been made on him, the House of Commons is entitled, nay bound, to insist on an impartial inquiry by a competent authority in whom both sides can have confidence. If the right hon. Gentleman refuses that inquiry, all that was said last night of his conduct, with reference to his being determined to uphold the Irish Constabulary whether they are right or wrong, will be fully justified.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understood from the hon. Member for Monaghan that there were two occasions on which he was attacked by the police; one at the station, and the other in the street 63 on an occasion of which I have just heard for the first time. I now gather that the hon. Member received a serious blow at a subsequent period. [Mr. P. O'BRIEN: One minute after.] I have no ground for believing, and do not believe, that the hon. Member went to the station with an illegal or criminal intent. The hon. Member was in a crowd of people which was pressing on the police in a manner which led them to anticipate a serious accident. I greatly regretted that any injury should have been done to the hon. Member. Such things, however, cannot always be avoided. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton has asked me to institute an inquiry like the Belfast inquiry. That is, he asks me to pass an Act of Parliament, and to send three Judges to investigate what was no doubt a regrettable incident, but one of no great magnitude or importance. I will certainly make such inquiry as I can into any new facts which may be brought forward. But the larger inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman appears to suggest, the right hon. Gentleman will himself see is absolutely impracticable.
MR. H. H. POWLEE
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong. I only mentioned the Belfast inquiry as an illustration of an independent inquiry into a serious matter. There is no parallel between the two cases. But I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman could appoint a Queen's Counsel in Dublin, and a layman in whom both parties could repose confidence. These gentlemen might go down to Bandon and hear evidence, and soon get at the truth. It is a Departmental inquiry which I propose, constituted by the right hon. Gentleman, and responsible to him.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
I do not think we can allow this matter to drop until we get something like a satisfactory answer from the Chief Secretary. We plainly see that what the right hon. Gentleman wants is to shuffle out of inquiry altogether. He gives reasons for objecting to an inquiry which we all know to be bogus and sham reasons. He says if there was to be an inquiry such as that suggested, an Act of Parliament would have to be passed—an Act of Parliament to inquire into a small incident like this in which one individual 64 charges a small body of police with committing a grievous and unprovoked assault upon him. The right hon. Gentleman is trifling with the House when he says so. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton has said, the Chief Secretary has it in his power to select two or three Queen's Counsel in Dublin, or two or three other independent individuals, who in the course of three days could find out all the facts, and who in the course of a week could report either as to the falsehood or the truth of the statements made by my hon. Friend. It is a scandalous thing after the House has been deeply moved by the narrative of my hon. Friend, I think anybody, every impartial man, who heard the hon. Member must own that his narrative bore upon its face the intrinsic marks of truth, fidelity, and accuracy. It is scandalous after such a grave charge has been made that the right hon. Gentleman refuses on one pretext or another to make any form of inquiry. The only conclusion we can draw from the Chief Secretary's refusal is that he approves of such outrages as that committed on my hon. Friend. Does it not fully bear out the charge made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton when he said the right hon. Gentleman was determined to stand by the police whether they were right or wrong? And when you have a large force like the Irish Constabulary armed to the teeth in favour of the Government, is it not likely they will be incited to commit assaults such as that upon the hon. Member for Monaghan, when they find that the chief Irish Official in the House of Commons is ready to stand by them no matter whether they act rightly or wrongly? Let me cite another fact in proof of the contention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton that the Chief Secretary encourages and approves of violence. I have in my hand a list of the promotions and transfers in the Police Force, and I find that a County Inspector has been—
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I was speaking of the action of the Chief Secretary in regard to police outrages, and I was about to illustrate my point by giving some examples of the promotion of the 65 men who have committed some of the most violent outrages, but I will not pursue the subject. I will make an appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury, He having heard the speech of the hon. Member for Monaghan, I ask him, as the head of the Government in this House, whether or not he is going to back up the Chief Secretary in refusing any inquiry whatever of an independent character into the charges brought against the police of Ireland and the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman has refused every form of inquiry [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: I have not.] The right hon. Gentleman contradicts my statement. What form of inquiry has he promised? He has promised that he, the Chief Secretary whom we are charging in this matter, will be the judge and the jury in the case of charges made against himself. We know well what such an inquiry means. From whom will the right hon. Gentleman make his inquiry? On whose evidence will he rely? The very police officials whom my hon. Friend charges with assaulting him, and then we must take the evidence of the police charged, tested by the judgment of the Chief Secretary charged as a conclusive inquiry. In face of that the right hon. Gentleman is merely playing with words when he contradicts my statement that he refuses every form of inquiry. I appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury to intervene in this matter, and not to allow the administration of law in Ireland to be further discredited than it is already, if that is possible, by this refusal in the face of the House of Commons, to inquire into as gross, as brutal, and as unprovoked an assault on one of its Members as ever was detailed.
MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen)
I am not going to speak on the conduct generally of the Chief Secretary for Ireland; I could not trust myself to express the feeling of disgust and indignation which his conduct has produced, not only in my mind, but I believe in the mind of every honest man in the country. But what has been presented to the Committee? Clear evidence of about as cruel as unprovoked and as brutal a crime, coming almost to the verge of murder, by officers employed by the right hon. 66 Gentleman. Here is an opportunity for a Star Chamber. What is the use of a Star Chamber if the right hon. Gentleman cannot find out who are the guilty constables? If he desires to find out the truth he can do so, but we know very well he does not desire to get at the truth.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 83;: Noes 112.—(Div. List, No. 337.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.