§ Order for Third Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Bill be now read the third time.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I regret, Sir, that through the action of the Government in appropriating the time of private Members and in postponing the discussion of the Irish Estimates until a late period of the Session, I have not been able to find a suitable opportunity for bringing before the House the facts connected with the failure of the national system of education in Ireland. But even at this late period of the Session I feel it my duty to bring forward the salient features of the case, and to invite the Government to communicate to the House any views and intentions they may have in regard to it. As long ago as the 31st of March the Standing Committee of the Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland adopted a series of resolutions upon the education question, and sent a copy to the heads of the Government in both Houses. I have not heard that the Government have as yet sent any reply to those resolutions, but I gathered from the reply of the Chief Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) that the resolutions themselves have been under the consideration of the Government. As they have had ample time to consider them I trust that they are now in a position to deliver their reply. My contention is that the just claims of a very important body of men have been systematically and unjustifiably neglected. I refer to the school teachers, who have performed their duty well, and are a patient, reasonable, and intelligent body of men. They do their work at least as well as the primary teachers of Great Britain. It is not to be expected that they should go on contributing to the support of a system which is entirely beyond the sphere of their influence and under which the industrial and technical training of the people has been deplorably neglected. Fourteen years ago an Act was passed with the object of improving the condition of the primary teachers of Ireland 744 by enabling Boards of Guardians to contribute to their income. I maintain that if the Act has failed to achieve its purpose, some other mode ought to be adopted. The Act has unquestionably failed. In 1878 this House unanimously adopted a Resolution declaring that the condition of the National School teachers required the immediate attention of the Government with a view to its amelioration. About that time the teachers received an increase of emolument, all round, of about 1s. 6d. per week; but in consequence of the reduction of the pension fund and the increasing claim upon the Guardians to contribute to the income, the upshot has been that the teachers are certainly not better off—probably they are something worse— that they were 11 years ago, when the House passed the Resolution to which I refer and declared that their condition demanded immediate attention. I find from a recent Return issued by the National Board that the average salary of the male principal teachers is £79 and of the female teachers £66. Of the assistant teachers the average salary of the males is £48 and of the females £39; and these averages are made up by leaving out 2,048 of the worst-paid teachers. If they were included, the average in the case of the highest class would be reduced to £65, or little more than one-half of what is paid in Great Britain. Very few of the school teachers in Ireland receive higher wages that an artisan; many of them receive less; most of them are worse paid than a police constable; and many of them receive as little as a day labourer. This is a state of facts which connot be paralleled in any other country, and it is certainly most discreditable to a country like this. The Chief Secretary has stated that the Imperial purse contributes more to education in Ireland than it does in England, but I must remind him that the system in England is controlled by those who use it. It is, therefore, I presume, acceptable to the public feeling of those who adopt it. In Ireland the primary education ignores the history of the country and neglects its literature, and so long as such a state of things exists it will be condemned. It is only under State control that such a system can be possible, and, of course, the State control which keeps up such a 745 condition of affairs must be paid for out of the Imperial Exchequer. But what I assert is that you have no right to use the energies and exhaust the lives of men in the Public Service, and not pay them adequately for the duties they perform. Until the Irish primary system is made such as the Irish people can accept, the responsibility rests on the Government of paying the men they employ, and paying them adequately. And now, Sir, let me say a word about the residences of the teachers. There are in all about 8,000 teachers, 12,000 of whom have residences provided for them out of private funds. At the end of 14 years, since the Act was passed which dealt with this subject, only 700 residences have been provided by the State—making about 2,000 in all, and still leaving 6,000 teachers unprovided for, who are compelled to live in unsanitary and unsuitable houses, many of them at great distances from the scene of their labours. I know of my own personal knowledge that a great number of the teachers, both men and women, have to trudge several miles, in all states of the weather, to the schoolhouse. This state of things should not be allowed to continue, and the only matter of astonishment is that it should have been allowed to continue so long. To remedy the teachers' grievances the amount of the grant ought to be liberally increased, the rate of interest on moneys lent by the State in connection with the machinery of education ought to be reduced, and the period of repayment extended, and compulsory powers ought to be given to acquire sites for the erection of teachers' dwellings. Before I come to speak of the Resolution which I propose to move, I desire to say something about the schools. Twenty years ago, Earl Powis's Commission recommended that the public should be left to supply the most suitable books. Nevertheless, the National Board continue to do what Lord Powis's Commission declared they ought not to do. They still continue to provide the books, and the books they provide are not suitable for the purpose for which they are supplied. They are marred by a dull spirit of pedantry, and are not well designed to interest and attract the minds of Irish children. If the existing monopoly were abandoned, I am satisfied that a much better description of books 746 would be provided by public competition, and anyone who has studied the matter knows that there is very great need indeed for revision. Let me refer the right hon. Gentleman to the 5th Reading Book published by the National Board. In that book you will find this extremely odd and silly doctrine laid down, that according to so distinguished a person as Archbishop Whateley, whatever their grievances may be, farmers and labourers are not on any account to seek for an alteration of the law. Then, again, on the top of page 62, it is asserted as coming from the pen of the same eminent Prelate—If you were to make a law for lowering rents, so that the land should still remain the property of those to whom it belongs, but that they should not be allowed to receive more than so much an acre for it, the result would be that the landlord would not let the land to the farmer, but would take it in his own hands and employ a bailiff to work it for him.This, in the light of subsequent legislation, is no doubt highly instructive, seeing that Parliament has established a Court by which the rent of a good deal of land in Ireland has been lowered, and I find that not only is the landlord willing to continue to let it to the farmer, but that he is anxious to sell it to the farmer altogether. The existence of such passages is in itself a reason for the revision of these books. The National Board, under whose auspices this rubbish is distributed, is composed of 20 gentlemen—10 Catholics and 10 Protestants, and it includes a number of officials and ex-officials and rejected Parliamentary candidates, with a residue of gentlemen entirely unknown to the country. They discharge assiduously those functions for which they are paid and give very little heed to those which are purely honorary. The people know very little about these gentlemen and have no great confidence in them. In return the members of the Board take no interest in the people; they discharge their functions in a perfunctory manner; the Judges have no time to attend, and the Board becomes, in fact, a one-man power, with this unfortunate result, that its administration is marked by numerous errors and defects. It has not applied itself diligently to the industrial interests of the people; but no doubt if it were reconstituted, these defects would speedily be remedied. The present Board, how- 747 ever, cannot be re-constituted, and the only satisfactory mode of dealing with it would be to place on it such gentlemen as the people themselves would place there if they had any power of choice. As regards the Catholic members of the Board, I feel bound to say that they do not represent the Catholic feeling of the country; as a matter of fact, they represent nobody but themselves. Two or three years ago I suggested that the four vacancies then existing should be filled up by the appointment of really representative men. But my suggestion was disregarded, and two Fellows of Trinity College and two other absolutely unknown men were appointed. The main point in the resolution of the Prelates relates to a fundamental rule of the Board—the combination of secular and the separation of religious instruction. This rule was devised for the protection of the minority conscience. When there really is a minority the rule is accepted and acted upon; but when, as in most cases, there is no such minority it is absolutely unmeaning. In what are called the "mixed schools" half an hour is devoted to religious instruction. During the rest of the day the Bible cannot be read, although all the children may be Protestants, and no Catholic emblems can be displayed, or the Angelus or other Catholic prayers be said, though all the children are Catholics. But whenever the denominations are able to provide schools of their own they do so. A school, however, is considered "mixed" if there is even one child who differs from the others in faith. Ten years ago the mixed schools formed 56 per cent, of the whole, and the unmixed schools about 43½ per cent; but at the end of that period it was found that the mixed schools had fallen from 56 to 48 per cent, while the unmixed schools had increased from 43 to 51 per cent. That course of progress in one direction has been steady and unbroken, and in Ulster, where the sectarian spirit most prevails, the increase of unmixed schools within the last 20 years has been much greater than in any other part of Ireland. The mixed schools have fallen from 83 to 67 per cent, whereas the unmixed schools have actually doubled in number—from 16 to 33 per cent. Is it not obvious that the mixed system is one which is objectionable to both 748 denominations? Last year there were 901 unmixed Protestant schools, attended by 95,000 children, and 3,297 Catholic schools, attended by 475,000 children, of whom but one was a Protestant. How, then, can the universal application of the Board's rule be defended? In the face of these figures why should religious teaching and practice be excluded from such schools as these, because in certain other schools Catholics and Protestants are mixed? To show the absurdity of the present system let me point out to the Chief Secretary that in the City of Dublin there are schools, under Catholic management, with 25,000 children, not one of whom is a Protant; but because these schools may have a Protestant child, which is almost impossible, there is a rule which deprives these 25,000 children of that religious instruction in school which their parents and guardians deem essential. I protest against that part of the Irish education system which prevents religion being taught in the schools during the whole of the time that secular instruction is going on. The State is only asked to pay for secular instruction, and the Irish Catholic Prelates are willing that the State should be satisfied in the most absolute manner that full value is being obtained for the public money granted to the schools, that the proper discipline and management of the schools are obtained, and that the secular instruction given is efficient. The people of Ireland have shown a desire that separate schools should be established for each denomination, in order that there may be no objection raised to the form of religious instruction that is given. If this proposal, which is in conformity with the recommendations of Lord Powis's Commission, which sat 20 years ago, when the case was not so strong as at present, were carried into effect, it would get rid of a great stumbling block of offence, and the Catholic Prelates and Priests, who now hold aloof altogether from the Irish National Board, would be willing to nominate representatives upon that Board, which would thus acquire a stability and strength it has never had before. The Government are themselves able to set a useful example in respect of authority by adopting the recommendations of the Powis Commission and showing that they are able to respect authority 749 themselves. As matters stand at present, tens of thousands of Catholic children are imperatively shut out from the benefit of the State schools and from participating in the advantages which are offered by the National Board; but if the demand of the prelates is acceded to, all the Catholic children in Ireland will come into the national schools with great advantage to the intermediate schools, which are now being starved for want of funds. The Irish model schools have been condemned in the most sweeping and unqualified manner by Lord Powis's Commission. Instead of being attended by the children of the poor, as it was originally intended that they should be, they are attended by children of the professional, mercantile, and official classes. The 29 model schools cost the State £32,000 per annum, and only return to the Exchequer the sum of £2,000 per annum, while the cost of each child in attendance amounts to the large sum of £4 a year. As a matter of fact, according to Lord Powis's Commission these schools have failed in everything; they are lax in discipline and unsatisfactory in educational results. Yet the National Board, with a coolness which is worthy of the Chief Secretary himself, continue to report year by year, in defiance of the Report of the Commission, that the model schools maintain their high character. If the Vote for carrying out primary instruction were conducted on the same scale, the Vote, instead of being three-quarters of a million, would be something like four millions. They were established to offer a model method of teaching, with an extensive and expensive staff of teachers and costly appliances. No doubt the children of the middle classes are in regular attendance; but the schools have afforded no assistance whatever to the ordinary Irish National teachers, who have to teach with little or no assistance, with meagre appliances, and, instead of a regular attendance of middle class children, with a casual attendance of the children of the poor. They are not primary schools for the people, but intermediary schools for one class and one creed. They cannot be much longer maintained, and they may as well be gracefully abandoned. The recommendation of the Commission was that the buildings should be used 750 for denominational training colleges. They might be used for that or some other public purpose; at present, instead of being used for primary education, they are used for an unauthorised intermediary education. I ask the Government to transfer them to an authorised intermediary education. At present one-third of the income of the Board is applied to the cost of administration; another third to prizes for the students; and the rest to the payment of result fees. By general admission that part of the income requires to be considerably augmented if the system is to prosper. The schools, which have been established as training colleges for teachers, are absolutely unnecessary, seeing that there are training colleges maintained by the State, while in addition each denomination has its own training college. One very objectionable feature in the model schools is, as was very well put by Mr. Chichester Fortescue, a former Secretary for Ireland, that young persons of both sexes are brought up together in a sort of domestic life without having identity of religious faith. These schools are attended by but a very small percentage of Catholic children. Let me now say a few words concerning the denominational training colleges. The claim of the prelates in this regard is a claim for equality, first with England, and then in Ireland. We have not at present equality with England, because in this country there is no State college to compete with the denominational training colleges. Moreover, in England, for the first 20 years of the training college system, the cost of erecting and maintaining the colleges was provided by the State. In England the sytem was nursed until it was able to do without nursing. This has never been done in Ireland. The two grounds of inequality in Ireland are these. No State provision has been made for the erection and maintenance of the training colleges, of which there are three, two of which are maintained by the Catholics, the third being maintained by the Protestants. These colleges are maintained out of private sources, and the first step in order to produce equality with England is to make an allowance for the cost of erecting and maintaining the colleges. Again, these colleges and the State-aided colleges ought to be treated equally in all respects. The teaching and practice 751 of religion ought to be free in all schools which are solely attended by children of one creed. In that way the intermediate system could be fortified, and it could be fortified also by applying to industrial and technical training the money which is now wasted upon model schools. The prelates make two other suggestions on the intermediate system. One is that when boys and girls compete in examinations the programmes and prizes for both sexes should be the same. They also suggest that Catholics should have an equal power with Protestants on the Board of National Education. The Catholics send up the majority of the successful students, and the prelates submit that it is not fair that they should be in a minority on the Board. This claim is so just that I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to concede it. With regard to the University question, what is its position in Ireland? We have, on the one hand, the University of Dublin with its solitary college and its magnificent endowment. This college and this University are essentially and to all intents appurtenant to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland. Then there is the Royal University. It is an examining body, which awards prizes to and confers degrees upon students, without regard to their place of education. This University examines the students from the three Queen's Colleges, which are richly endowed, and also the students from the Catholic colleges, which do not receive a single penny from the State. The Queen's Colleges have their professors and their teaching staff upon the Board of the Royal University as examiners. Consequently the Queen's Colleges have a controlling influence on the Standing Committee of the Royal University. With regard to the Queen's College at Belfast, I may say that I consider it to be an efficient teaching institution. There we get value for our money, as the college discharges a valuable educational function for the Presbyterians; but I must say that the Queen's Colleges of Cork and Galway have absolutely failed. Each of these Queen's Colleges costs about £10,000. They are practically closed against Catholic students. They have professors, laboratories, museums, libraries, and all the costly appliances of education. They 752 have very liberal prize funds, which are distributed among the students of each Queen's College without any outside competition whatever. The students of the Queen's Colleges are assisted by prizes from the purse of the State, while they are not able, in many cases, to qualify themselves even to pass the University examination. Is that a proper use of public money? The examiners of the students of the Queen's Colleges are those who have been their teachers, and that alone gives them great advantages. The student examined by his own teacher is certainly in a very different position to the student who is examined by a perfect stranger. How stands the case? The Queen's College is paid for by the State, and the students are pampered with prizes, for which there is no outside competition. Then they are sent forward to be examined for prizes by their own teachers, while the students of the Catholic Colleges have to struggle on without a penny of endowment, and have to be examined by strangers, who are the teachers of their competitors. Is that what is commonly called fair-play? Manifestly not. Yet even though Catholic students labour under these great disadvantages, what are the results of the Universities examinations, as between the two Queen's Colleges which get £10,000, and the two Catholic Colleges which do not get one penny? I take the Royal University Examinations for the preceding year, which do not materially differ from those of previous years. In honours of the first class the Queen's College, Galway, obtained 9; and the Queen's College at Cork, 6. The Catholic College at Blackrock, obtained 9; and the Catholic College at Dublin, 26. The Catholic Colleges, therefore, obtained 35, and the Protestant Colleges, 15. In Exhibitions of the highest class, Dublin, 2; Blackrock, 1; Galway, 2; Cork, 1. In Exhibitions of the second-class, Dublin, 6; Blackrock, 3; Galway, 1; Cork, 2. Other Exhibitions, Dublin, 8; Blackrock, 4; Galway, 3; Cork, 3. I pass from Arts to the Faculty of Medicine, and I find in 1887:—First-class honours obtained by Queen's College, Galway, 0; Cork, 0; by the Catholic College, Dublin, 2; Blackrock, 2. I ask whether an honest use is made of the £10,000; do you get any return for it? Would any body of 753 electors in this country tolerate such a condition of things? I say it is a shameful spectacle, and as a Catholic I protest against it. The Catholics of Ireland by your laws were long kept in a state of enforced ignorance. They have been slowly and grudgingly relieved of their disabilities, and though there is now a nominal equality between Catholics and Protestants in regard to the admission to degrees, it is a narrow and barren equality. It cannot become truthful until the Catholic and Protestant students are placed in such a position that they can wage the battle of life on equal terms. I do not pretend to be dogmatic; I only venture to put before you an alternative outline. This question may be determined upon the basis of one University. If it should be, it will be requisite to establish in Ireland a great Catholic College, placed on a level with Trinity College in point of endowment and privileges. From this concession two other essential conditions would flow. The first of them, that the Catholic students of a College so established would be on a level in point of eligibility, nationality, and privilege with the students of Trinity College in regard to the honours, distinctions, offices and dignities of the Common National University. And, further, that the Catholic body should have upon the governing body of the Common University a sufficient representation of persons possessing the confidence of the Catholic body, to secure the interests of the Catholic students and to protect their rights. That would be a satisfactory settlement of the question. In that event the Belfast Queen's College must continue in the discharge of a useful function. The Queen's College at Cork and Galway would have to be reconstituted so as to be available for the Catholic students of the West and South of Ireland without violation of conscience. The results of the examinations to which I have referred show that the Catholics are not only ready but able to meet any competition that can possibly arise. If the question is not settled upon that basis, then the failure—I put it upon record—to arrive at that settlement will not rest upon the Catholics of Ireland. I end by saying that the present Government has governed Ireland in a spirit of pure oppression, 754 owing to the sinister fact that Debates upon Ireland in this House are unfortunately a series of bitter and fierce contentions. Dealing, however, with the question of education, which ought to be above and beyond the sphere of Party, I have endeavoured to treat the case in a temperate spirit and to offer fair and moderate proposals for the consideration of the House. I for one shall be happy, and I think I can speak for the Leader of my Party the hon. Member for Cork, and for the body of Irish Members, if the Government will give us such a reply as will render it possible for us to believe that upon any Irish question the Government are willing to accept a principle which, unfortunately, they seem either to have forgotten, or to have utterly disregarded in all the concerns of Ireland, and that principle is that the Government ought not to be the instrument of any faction or any class, but the helper and friend of the whole people.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A.J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Sir, I think the House will consider that the right hon. Gentleman is to be congratulated not only upon the lucidity but the tone and temper which characterised his remarks. And, Sir, I think the House is to be congratulated upon hearing the ease of those gentlemen in the House and in Ireland, who are represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast, being so ably and effectively put before it. I shall endeavour to follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman as far as I can in the temper of my observations. This, I think, is one of the subjects on which differences of opinion, though they undoubtedly exist, are not so sharply marked and need not be so sharply expressed, as they have been, unfortunately, on certain other topics connected with the question of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by calling attention to a subject which has been before brought to the notice of this House—namely, the alleged inadequacy, I will go further and say the real inadequacy, of the remuneration of Irish teachers. None of the many gentlemen who have occupied the position that I now hold have ever concealed from the House their desire that the pecuniary position of the Irish teachers should be improved. The difficulty has not been as to the end 755 which we all desire, but the possibility of meeting it by further contributions from Imperial resources. Though I regret that the position of the Irish teachers is not more satisfactory than it is now, I am afraid I cannot go the length of the right hon. Gentleman in his contention which he made—namely, that since the year 1878 the Government has not carried out the Resolution which the House then arrived at as to the unsatisfactory position of Irish teachers. The right hon. Gentlemen himself admitted that there had been an increase in the class of fixed salaries, amounting, I believe, to £44,000 a year. But he appears to have forgotten that that was not the only amount which Parliament and the Educational Board in Ireland have been able to bestow upon this deserving class of public servants. There has been sanctioned a relaxation of the regulations as regards the contingent moiety of fees, the result of which has been that the sum received by the teacher in respect of the contingent moiety had risen from £08,000 in 1877 to £102,000 at the present time. It is quite true that the number of teachers is increased, but that increase bears no proportion to the actual amount of the augmentation of the contingent moiety. Again, since the resolution was passed by the House, the sum of £1,300,000 has been granted out of the Church surplus to provide pensions. That is a gift to the Irish teachers, which has no parallel in the dealings of the Government with English or Scotch teachers, and should not be left out of sight when we are considering how far the Resolution of the House has been carried out by successive Governments. The right hon. Gentleman led the House to believe that the system under which loans are granted to teachers fur residences is one peculiarly onerous to the borrower. And I think he based his contention upon the fact that the annuity asked for repayment of principal and interest is 5 per cent for 35 years, which, no doubt, represents a larger annuity than is required by the Board of Works for various other kinds of loans. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot at the moment, or perhaps he is not aware, that of this 5 per cent, a half is contributed by the Education Board for nothing, 756 so that practically, the terms for repayment of principal and interest are 2½ per cent per annum—a far lighter annuity than is required by the Treasury for any other class of loan. The amount of money which is being paid under that head to the various school managers in Ireland has increased, and is increasing with rapid strides—strides far less satisfactory to the Treasury than to those who are interested in the progress of Irish education. The total amount applied for by the school managers since this Act was passed is £172,000. To that there is no parallel in the history of education in England or Scotland. Neither in England nor Scotland can school managers borrow on terms like these for the Imperial Exchequer. With regard to the payment of teachers, while the contributions of the State to the English male principal teacher has been £57 per annum, to the Irish male principal teacher it has been £64 per annum; and while the contribution to the English female principal teacher has been £39, the contribution from Imperial resources to the Irish female principal teacher has been £54. Under these circumstances, however much we may be prepared to sympathise with the position of the Irish teachers, I must again repeat that the Imperial Exchequer is certainly not responsible for that condition, and in any case we may derive this consolation from a consideration of the figures during the last few years—namely, that the pecuniary remuneration of the Irish teachers has been increasing with rapid strides. Now, I pass from that which, I venture to think, is the least important part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, to the most important part of it—namely, that which dealt with the Resolutions recently unanimously arrived at by the Roman Catholic Episcopate of Ireland. Those Resolutions deal with a variety of topics, and I will endeavour briefly to touch upon them. The right hon. Gentleman has renewed the complaint, often made before, that the expenditure of public funds upon the model schools in Ireland is useless or wasteful. I, for my part, am prepared to admit that the condition of the model schools in many parts of Ireland is not one upon which the Educational Authorities have reason to congratulate 757 themselves. I admit that, in a town like Athy, the fact that not one Roman Catholic child should attend the model school is a very unsatisfactory result, and one deserving the serious attention of the Government. In Ulster, at all events, these model schools are largely attended by Presbyterians and Protestants and Episcopalian Protestants, and there they give great satisfaction. It may be true that they do not fulfil all the expectations of those who originally founded them. But we ought to consider whether this particular portion of the educational machinery commends itself to the sentiments and affections of the population of the various localities where the model schools are situated; and I venture to say that no general rule applicable to all parts of the country can be laid down as to the best method of dealing with this peculiar portion of the Irish Educational System. If it is unsatisfactory in some parts of Ireland, it is not necessarily unsatisfactory all over Ireland, and I am myself disposed to think that these model schools may, in many cases, supply a very useful link in the educational chain. With regard to the question of Training Colleges, an undenominational Training College was established by the Education Board at the sole cost of the State, and the denominational Training Colleges are a subsequent growth, and have been established in Dublin on the model of the English Training Colleges. Though it may be true, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that the Irish denominational Training Colleges are somewhat at a disadvantage as compared with the English Training Colleges, because they have to compete with State aided undenominational Training Colleges; nevertheless, in point of contributions, they are in as good a position as the English Training Colleges. But, says the right hon. Gentleman, this may be true, and yet it may be very unfair to run side by side with these denominational Training Colleges, a College supported entirely out of the Imperial Funds, for which no sacrifice is asked from the pulpit, or from any religious denomination, or from any section of the community. I am not disposed to contradict that statement of the right hon. Gentleman. I am inclined to think that there ought to be steps taken to put these Training Col- 758 leges on an equality, so far as Imperial aid is concerned. Of the various alternatives which present themselves to, anybody who considers this question, and which have been fairly be laid before the House by the right hon. Gentleman, I am myself disposed to think that probably the best alternative would be to adopt, neither a levelling up nor a levelling down policy, but to find some intermediate plane on which to place the I various Training Colleges. I pass from that not very difficult question to one of far greater complexity, that of the higher education in Ireland. Again I repeat in the House what I have said outside the House, that, in my opinion, something ought to be done to give higher University education to the Roman Catholics in Ireland. I regret—I do not deny that I do regret—that the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland have felt it their duty to discourage men of their religion from taking full advantage of the Queen's Colleges in Galway or Cork, or of Trinity College in Dublin. But regrets are vain thing1. The Roman Catholic hierarchy have thought it their duty to adopt this policy, and we have to take the facts as we find them. The experiment of undenominational higher education in Ireland has now been tried sufficiently long to make it, I am afraid, perfectly clear that nothing Parliament has hitherto done to promote that object will really meet the wants and wishes of the Catholic population of the country. That being so, we have no alternative but to try and devise some new scheme by which the wants of the Catholic population shall be met. This would not be the proper time for me to suggest, even in outline, the main lines of what the scheme should be, but we ought to make some attempt, if possible, to carry out a scheme of the kind I have indicated. With these few remarks on higher education in Ireland, I pass to the question of primary education. Well, Sir, here I am more disposed to part company with the right hon. Gentleman than I am on any other part of his speech. Anyone unacquainted with primary education in Ireland, and listening to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, would suppose that a system, practically undenominational, was thrust down the throats of the Roman Catholic population in Ireland against the 759 will of the people and against the will of the leaders of the people. Sir, I think that that is a very great exaggeration. Of course, in a primary system of education which is supported by the State, you must necessarily take into account the unhappy religious differences which divide society in Ireland, and have so long divided it. The religious question is difficult enough to deal with in England. The religious differences of the English people are as nothing compared with the religious differences in Ireland. Therefore, the difficulty of dealing with the matter in Ireland is necessarily greater than the difficulty of dealing with it in England. But what is the actual Irish system as it is worked? The State pays four-fifths of the income of the teachers. These teachers are not the servants of the public, but the servants of the managers. The managers of the Irish schools have absolute power of selecting their teachers, of paying their teachers, and of dismissing their teachers. The management of schools in Ireland is, on the whole, clerical—whether it be by the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Episcopal, or the Presbyterian Church. I find that of the 2,800 managers of schools in Ireland, no less than 2,000 are clergymen of various denominations. Recollect that not only does the State pay four-fifths of the income of the teacher—teachers in the schools so managed—but it pays for every child in Ireland 30s. against 17s. 6d. in England and Scotland. Here you have contributions out of the Exchequer, which is in the main a Protestant Exchequer, to the managers of schools in Ireland, who are largely composed of Catholic priests. While 88 per cent of the Protestant children attend schools where the teachers are wholly Protestant, 97 per cent of the children attend schools where the teachers are wholly Catholic. In other words, only 3 per cent of the children, being Roman Catholics, attend schools where there is any teacher who is not Roman Catholic. The managers of the schools are themselves Roman Catholics, they are generally priests; and the teachers are not only Catholic, but they are persons of whose faith and morality the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland are satisfied.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The restrictions to which the right hon. Gentleman refers are those which prevent the symbols of the Roman Catholic Church being put up in the schools under the National Board, and forbids and makes certain regulations as to the hours of religious teaching.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And Protestants. But I am dealing with the grievances of Roman Catholics. Well, Sir, I am disposed not to dissent from the right hon. Gentleman in this, that where there is no Protestant child attending the school, there need be no particular objection to the Catholic symbols being shown in the school. The difficulty is this: you are supporting these schools out of the public funds; they are intended for the education of every member of the community, be he Roman Catholic, or Episcopalian or Presbyterian, or a member of any other Christian denomination. But how can you be sure that your school will always only be attended by Roman Catholic children?
§ MR. SEXTON
We should be willing that the freedom should be dependent on uniformity of creed of the children attending. I would point out that there is no prospect whatever of a Protestant child attending a Catholic school, or of a Catholic child attending a Protestant school, in those localities where the denominations have severally provided themselves with schools.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That is so. It is true that if in every part of Ireland there were denominational schools the difficulty could hardly arise. But it is not easy to lay down a principle which would apply to those parts of Ireland where that is not the case.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am discussing how far there is a real practical grievance with regard to primary education. I would remind the House of a fact which is doubtless new to many of its Members—namely, that there are no less than 255 convents and 22 monasteries which have placed their schools under the National Board, and that no less than £77,000 a year are contributed out of the Imperial Ex- 761 chequer to support those schools which are denominational schools, if ever there were denominational schools. It is perfectly true that the Conscience Clause operates in the convent schools as well as other schools, but I think it will be admitted that this House cannot be accused of undue intolerance if it grants £77,000 a year towards convents and monastic places of education. We are all apt to forget, too, in discussing this question, the sums given to denominational industrial schools in Ireland. This sum is relatively far in excess of anything given in England or Scotland, and it is given absolutely to religious institutions, who use it practically for denominational education; and none of the restrictions which the right hon. Gentleman regards as vexatious in the administration of the national system of education at all apply to this large sum of money given annually to the maintenance of industrial schools. I find that £82,000 a year is given to these Catholic schools, outside altogether of the ordinary Education Vote; and £13,700 is given in a similar manner to Protestant Schools. Keeping in view how much this system of national education really does for the denominational education in Ireland, let us consider what has been the growth of contributions from the Exchequer to public schools since 1833. In that year £25,000 was given for national education, while in 1862 the sum increased to £317,000, which in 1888 advanced to £928,000, and if we add to this the £95,000 or £96,000 given for industrial schools, we arrive at a total of more than £1,000000, which is given from the Imperial Exchequer, to assist that which if it be not denominational in the full sense desired by the right hon. Gentlemen, is, I believe, more denominational than any system of public elementary instruction in any country of Europe. Recollect that this is substantially a Protestant Exchequer which provides these funds. ["Oh!"] That the great mass of the taxpayers are not Roman Catholics will not be contested. We support, in Ireland, where the majority are Roman Catholics, a system more favourable to the Catholics than is afforded by the Exchequer of any Catholic country in Europe to the Catholics of that country.
§ MR. SEXTON
The right hon. Gentleman is leaving out of view that I made my claim in respect of primary education on behalf of 900 Protestants as well as 3,000 Catholics.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I acquit the right hon. Gentleman of anything unduly Sectarian. Of course, he was speaking, and very properly speaking, on behalf of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland, and it was from that point of view I was discussing the subject and the arguments laid before us by the right hon. Gentleman. In conclusion, I would say this: I admit that certain reforms and alterations are practicable, and, if practicable, should be undertaken. I hope to be able to undertake some of them. Still, I wish the House to recollect, and especially the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, to recollect that this money obtained from the Imperial Exchequer, and which certainly could not be obtained from purely Irish sources, is expended, even under the present imperfect system, in a manner which I think ought to make them regard their lot, as compared with the lot of the Roman Catholic populations of the Continent, as extremely fortunate in the matter of education. I hope the House and the right hon. Gentleman will consider that I have not dealt with the subject in an unduly controversial sense; and I hope and trust that what I have said may do something in this country, and especially in Ireland, to remove any sense of real grievance on the part of those who are interested in denominational education in that country.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork City)
I should like to say I wish well to the Chief Secretary in his attempt to settle the much vexed question of University education in Ireland. But I should also be glad to know whether there is any prospect that the Government will deal with this important question early next Session, or what arrangements are in contemplation for bringing the matter before the House. On the question of primary education it is perfectly true, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, that the disproportion between local contributions and State aid is very great when Ireland is compared with Great Britain. The reason is that in Ireland the system of primary education, though largely denominational, is not so entirely 763 denominational as the people desire, and there will be no difficulty in increasing the local contributions so as to do away with this disproportion if more encourgement is given to denominational schools. But the fact must be faced as it stands. Whatever the personal opinions of hon. Members may be—and for myself I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of mixed education—the history of the question shows that the great majority of all creeds in Ireland are in favour of denominational education. This is as true of the Anglicans and Dissenters as of the Catholics. By persistently refusing to recognise the state of feeling in Ireland the Government prevent the people from so cordially co-operating with them as they otherwise would in the great work of education. There may be differences of opinion as to how a denominational system is to be carried out which thus necessitates separate schools and a separate system; but it is surely straining the point rather too much for the light hon. Gentleman to seek refuge in the plea that there are some districts where a few Protestants might have to attend a Catholic school, owing to want of educational facilities for themselves. I think that argument was very fairly met by the right hon. Member for West Belfast, who stated that in any such case we should wish that the present system should be maintained, and the consciences of these Protestant children be protected by the safeguards now in force. With regard to the question of model schools, I think those schools ought to be dealt with as a whole. The Government ought to consider, in determining as to their future existence, whether the £30,000 a year paid for their maintenance is justified by the result. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the advantages arising out of these model schools in certain portions of Ulster, but he seemed to ever look the fact that there they have been turned practically into intermediary or secondary schools. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks a good educational purpose is served by the existence of those schools in Ulster, perhaps in any modification of the system they might be still maintained. I think, however, that where education is so much required, and where money is so much required as in Ireland, it is a lamentable waste to continue the ex- 764 istence of those schools in the districts referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. I and my friends are anxious to know whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes to embody his attempt at a solution of this question in a Bill next Session, or what other steps he proposes to take for the purpose of bringing the matter under the notice of Parliament?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman rather misunderstands what I stated about the model schools. I told the House that no doubt their original objects had not been fulfilled, but I did not go the length of admitting that in Ulster they are merely secondary schools. They are a grade above the ordinary primary schools over a large part of Ireland, but they cannot properly be said to be secondary schools. With regard to the question with which the hon. Gentleman concluded, there is no possibility, I believe, of dealing with the question of University education without a Bill. Of course, I cannot give any pledge at the moment as to the exact order in which the questions will be brought before the House, and the; hon. Gentleman will hardly press me upon the point at present.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
The House must have listened with interest to the very valuable, temperate, and significant Debate on this question. But I must say that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary indicated an important departure and a disposition on the part of the Government to surrender some of the most fundamental principles on which the educational system of Ireland has hitherto been conducted. The Chief Secretary told us, that with regard to training colleges, model schools, and Universities, he is prepared to make a very important departure indeed. I beg to offer him my congratulations upon his conversion to the principle of governing Ireland according to Irish ideas, but I could have wished that he had gone further, and remitted this problem to the Irish people themselves. I have seen enough of popular feeling in Ireland to know how universal among the Catholic population is the feeling to which expression has been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and I may be excused, perhaps if I express my regret that there is such a difference between popular 765 feeling in Ireland and that which animates educational movements in all other countries, and especially the Catholic countries of the Continent. I admit there is great force in the assertion that this system which we have applied to Ireland has failed largely because it has not commanded the co-operation and support of the people themselves. At the same time I hope the Imperial Parliament will not go back from the undenominational principles on which that system has been based. If this important change which has been foreshadowed is to be made, it should he made by a popular representative body answerable to the Irish people and upon their responsibility.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
When the Bill to which the Chief Secretary has made reference is brought forward I am sure it will receive a kindly and considerate hearing from all parts of the House, not withstanding that there may be differences of opinion as to the fundamental principles upon which such legislation should be based. We hold it the first essential of good statesmanship to legislate in this matter in accordance with the prejudices of the large section of the people. I join with my leader in the promise that when the Chief Secretary brings forward the Bill, it shall have kindly consideration on our part, and we will do all we ran to help it forward. On the subject of model schools I desire to say a word or two. I have observed the operation of one of these schools in the City of Cork, and from this I can bear out the truth of the assertion of my right hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin, that these schools have failed to become what they were intended to be, primary schools for the education of the poorer classes of Ireland, and have become intermediate schools of the first class, and their operation is entirely confined to the superior education of those children whose parents are best able to provide for this superior intermediate education. To judge of all the model schools by what I know of the schools in Cork, they have failed to fulfil the purpose for which they were intended; and it is monstrous to maintain them at great cost to the State under such circumstances. As to primary education and its teachers, we have to approach the consideration of this subject, remembering that promises 766 have been made which have not been fulfilled. An Act was passed in 1875 for the amelioration of the condition of National School Teachers, and only three years elapsed when the House of Commons by a unanimous vote, and on the Motion of an hon. Member from Ireland, passed a resolution that the Act of 1875 had failed in its purpose, and since that time Chief Secretary after Chief Secretary has promised to remedy the state of things existing, but nothing his been done in fulfilment of those promises, or to give effect to the resolution of the House. Pro rises have even been made on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman who is now leading the House, at the time when Le was assuming office. Mr. Holmes, the then Attorney General and now Chief Justice, said in 1887, I think, in reply to my question, that "the right hon. Gentleman bad been working assiduously for some time in fulfilment of his promise"—he was alluding to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks Beach)—and that he had left the result of his work to the present Chief Secretary, his successor, and that there would certainly be no difficulty in the matter on the part of the present Chief Secretary. Does his speech of to-day fulfil that promise? Has he endeavoured to work out the skeleton of the measure that was contemplated by his right hon. predecessor? Has he searched the pigeon holes of Dublin Castle, that charnel house of stillborn hopes and abortive projects, for the measure that was to ameliorate the condition of a deserving class of the community? I cannot congratulate the right hon. Gentleman if his speech is to be taken as the result of his researches, because he has endeavoured to fritter away any good feeling that may have been attained in the House for the National School teachers, based un the examination of their grievances and the establishment of their claim to the consideration of this House. I said that nothing had been done since the resolution of 1^78, but perhaps I am not strictly accurate. Some temporary relief was afforded in 1878; a sum of £46,000 was given to the National School Teachers, but conditions were attached by which £12,000 of that amount was devoted to the formation 767 of a pension fund, and at the same time there was a decrease of £5,000 in the result fees they obtained from Poor Law Guardians, and so the sum of £46,000 was reduced to £29,000, distributed over 11,000 teachers. This is all that has been done to give effect to the resolution from the day it was passed until now. From that day the teachers have had to live on promises from year to year on the principle of "live horse, get grass." I must traverse the figures of the Chief Secretary by which he attempted to show that the State contributed £64 to male teachers in Ireland, as against £57 to the same class in England, and £54 to female teachers as against £39 in this country. The real facts of the case, as I draw them from official sources, are that the average payments to Irish male teachers are £63, and to female teachers £40, while the average payments in England are £120 and £73 respectively. "What on earth can be the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman coming down to the House and attempting to mislead us by his calculations? I quote from official sources—not for this year, because my opportunities for consulting my Parliamentary Papers have been restricted in the last few months—but I Imagine the figures of this and last year do not differ much. I protest against this attempt to fritter away the good feeling that has been established on behalf of the National School teachers by figures that are not supported by official information. Not only are school teachers of the same class in this country compensated at a rate almost double for their labours, but when we examine the Papers we find that the teachers in Ireland secure better results an the examinations in reading, writing and arithmetic as compared with the results in this country. If all the good things the Chief Secretary has stated to-day were true we should have no reason to complain, and should not have to recur to this subject year after year, and the House would not have had to listen to the able expoté of the condition of things from my distinguished Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin—of grievances often recognized and never rectified. It is discreditable to the Government that such a state of things should be allowed to continue. One word more in reference to teachers' residences. When I 768 brought forward a Motion some years ago on this subject I stated that 80 per cent of the teachers were without proper residences, and I believe I should not be far wrong if I applied that statement to the present time. No material improvement has taken place. Teachers have still to walk long distances to and from the scene of their daily labours, and to begin work that requires the exercise of all their vigour, fatigued by a long march, in some cases of more than an hour. The work of instruction must necessarily suffer, for it is work that requires energy unimpaired. The state of things upon which I founded my Motion years ago remains to-day, all the grievances are still alive, and the Chief Secretary has not given any hope in his speech that he will use his best efforts to remove the necessity we are under year after year to appeal to the House on behalf of this deserving class. Still, I trust the right hon. Gentleman may be induced to introduce some measure next year side by side with that he has promised in regard to higher education, and that the House will be ready to settle this question.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
I am unwilling to intervene in an Irish discussion, and I will confine myself to the single observation that I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary on having shown that it is possible to give the hope of redressing Irish grievances, temperately expressed, even in an Imperial Parliament. But I am tempted by what I have heard to make a brief remark or two upon a cognate subject—I mean the question of education in England. I have often admired the pertinacity with which hon. Members opposite advocate their views in the House, and the manner in which they endeavour to convey the conviction that they have popular opinion behind them. Differing from them, as I often do, I cannot but admire their earnestness and pertinacity. We, too, have our convictions; but there is a habit among English Members, and especially Conservative Members, to so subordinate our own views to the support of the Government in whom we trust that we sometimes fail to give public expression to our convictions in language adequate to the occasion. I am not quite certain that some of the failures of the Session, to which this 769 seems the proper opportunity to refer, have not been due to this silence or reticence on our part. One of the failures of the Session was the withdrawal of the Education Code, not that I think the withdrawal of the Code was in itself a misfortune, but the circumstances attending its withdrawal cannot have been satisfactory to anyone. The necessity for its withdrawal arose from the fact that Her Majesty's Government did not pay sufficient attention to the feelings of English Conservative Members and especially to those animated by the deepest convictions in regard to education, and particularly religious education; certainly that attention has not been shown to them which the Chief Secretary has shown to the convictions of hon. Members from Ireland. I would suggest that the Government, as a better arrangement for future Sessions, that they should take the opportunity to ascertain the convictions, which are just as deep, though not so loudly expressed, as those of hon. Members opposite, that they should take the proper means of ascertaining the deep convictions of English Members who represent the nation on important educational questions, and I will venture to say that they will not find the difficulties in passing an Education Code which they had to encounter this Session. If I may presume on the attention of the House for a moment longer I will touch upon one other failure of the Session, the withdrawal of the Tithe Rent-charge Recovery Bill, which can have given little satisfaction to anyone. Again, I mention this in support of my suggestion, for its failure was due to a somewhat similar cause, that Her Majesty's Government went into a large subject with small preparation. The Government, however, have indicated a different course this afternoon in connection with the Irish education question. They are going to grapple with it after great deliberation, great judgment, and with great courage—qualities which were not displayed in dealing with the tithe question, where they attempted to deal with a large question in a very small way. Having on the Tithe question changed their mind in the middle of their project they tried to substitute a larger measure; but no sooner had they displayed their new project than they fell, 770 Sir, under the lash of your most solemn and irresistible censure. This collapse they might have avoided if they had given a little more deliberate thought and consideration to their subject. I will conclude by saying that this great subject, this tithe question, must not be allowed to sleep by Her Majesty's Government. We must not be put off next year by any talk of a Joint Committee of both Houses. Her Majesty's Government must come to the House, after due deliberation and due consultation with those they ought to consult, prepared with a measure they will be determined to recommend to the consideration of Parliament, and having so determined they must do their best to pass it into law.
§ MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
I had no intention of saying a word in this Debate on the Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill; but what I have heard and seen since I entered during the latter part of this discussion has made it impossible for me to remain altogether silent. I have not had the benefit or the pleasure—and I am sure it would have been a pleasure—of listening to the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin; but I have heard enough from the reply of the Chief Secretary to make me understand that a most impressive and, to my mind, a most alarming departure has been taken in education policy not merely for Ireland, but for the whole Empire. I think that the statement of the Chief Secretary, followed as it was by the applause of his supporters—applause articulated as it has been by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—will strike a good many of the public, who look upon these matters from the same point of view with myself, with surprise and alarm. If I understand the policy—not simply foreshadowed now, but almost distinctly stated—it is that a great impetus is to be given to denominational education, first in Ireland, and then, by way of gratitude, in England From what we have seen of the extradinary billings and cooings which have been going on between the Government bench and the Irish Members, I think that the departure is quite as new as it is beautiful. It has not impressed me in a pleasurable way. I have seen with much greate satisfaction the hurlings of defiance of 771 both sides than these mutual embracings. We know when a certain class of persons fall out certain other persons come by their own; and now I am beginning to think that when a certain class of persons agree some other people ought to look after their own. Therefore, I think that those who understand the value of a true system of national education, as distinguished from denominational education, should take the alarm from what has been going on and be prepared for a struggle. I am not going to speak too hastily about a discussion which I have only heard fragmentarily until I have had the opportunity of maturely considering it in its reported state; but I think I may be allowed to state one or two impressions forced upon my mind. I was struck by the statement of the Chief Secretary, and I have no doubt it is perfectly correct, that nowhere in the world is a larger amount of Protestant money devoted to Catholic education than in this country.
§ MR. WALLACE
I have a right to my opinion. I am now reproducing the statement of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He said that nowhere in the world was so large an amount of Protestant money devoted to Catholic education as here, and, in this connection I naturally expected that the right hon. Gentleman was going on to make proposals to diminish what he evidently intended to describe as an evil. To my astonishment and consternation, however, the conclusion which the Chief Secretary drew from that was that he would magnify the evil which he had been deploring. He told us that the denominational system was immediately, or as soon as Government exigencies would allow, to be developed in one of its most important aspects in Ireland, and that we are going to have a Bill brought in for creating a Catholic University in Ireland, for a seat of learning devoted exclusively to the interests of the Catholic community. [Mr. SEXTON: Why not?] I am giving a narrative of the statements; I am speaking not in an argumentative or polemical sense, but from the historical point of view; and I will not be tempted by the interruptions of the right hon. Gentleman to attempt to speak from two points of view at once. I say the right hon. Gentleman has given an 772 alarming pledge that the Government will on the earliest opportunity bring in a Bill for the creation of an exclusively Catholic University in Ireland. Well, it is only 20 years since a movement was inaugurated, and thereafter carried out with triumphant success, to disestablish religion in Ireland; but now we are to have a reactionary policy for re-establishing religion in Ireland, for the creation of a Catholic University devoted to the purposes of one religious body alone. If that is not the re establishment of religion in a country where it was disestablished, then I am labouring under some hallucination as to the meaning of common words in the English language. I am one of those in whom the declaration of such an extension creates not hope, but first of all a feeling akin to despair, and then a determination to resistance that sometimes arises out of despair. Then the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University proceeded, to my mind in a most significant manner, to apply the idea originated by the Chief Secretary, for he said if you are going to apply this principle to Ireland, it would be a gratifying thing if the Government would pluck up courage and go on to apply it in England, evidently with the idea that the gratitude of hon. Members below the Gangway would be an important assistance in promoting what they think an admirable conception, but which some of us would describe in very different phrase. It is possible that the Government imagine that in this way they may succeed in driving a wedge into the constitution of the Party sitting on these Benches, and that they will produce a sort of estrangement between the Irish Members and many of us who have the greatest happiness in co-operating with them in what we believe are noble national aspirations. If that is the conception of the Government, I may inform them that this wedge will not be so successful a mechanical agent as it is found to be in Departments of more humble but honourable industry. This proposal to extend denominationalism in Ireland will make many of us not less ardent, hut more ardent, agitators for Home Rule than we are at present, though it may be from a different point of view and in a somewhat changed spirit. We shall be taught to see that the great educational difficulty in Ireland, and the 773 corresponding perplexities that spring out of it in this country, disturbing and poisoning the political atmosphere, constitute one of the strongest and most insuperable reasons why those who wish well to a true system of national education should do ail they can, and at the earliest moment, to realise the wishes of the people of Ireland. I agree that Ireland should be governed according to Irish ideas, but I also think it should be governed with Irish money. The Irish nation should be as speedily as possible put in a position in which they themselves can carry out their own ideas, according to their own will, and out of their own pockets. These are one or two of the views which occurred to me in listening to the speech of the Chief Secretary. I think I may promise the right hon. Gentleman and the Government that if this is the sort of march they are going to take in educational matters it will not be a funeral march, but a very lively march for them indeed. I hope that those who, in years gone by, have stood up for the principles of national, as opposed to sectarian education, will take warning from what has transpired here this afternoon, and that they will see it is necessary to concentrate their forces in time for the considerable struggle that seems to be approaching.
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
I am glad to have the assurance of my hon. Friend (Mr. Wallace) that no difference of opinion which he and his friends may have with us upon purely Irish matters will cause anything like a wedge to be placed between us and them, and that while he differs from us on this particular point he remains true to the principle that Ireland should be governed according to Irish ideas, and that the Irish people should have the means of carrying on the affairs of their own country in a Parliament of their own. But I must take exception to my hon. Friend's position in this matter, because this is an important attempt of the Government to legislate for Ireland according to Irish ideas, and I deplore that on one of the first occasions on which there has been an attempt to legislate for Ireland in that fashion, it should provoke the hostility of my hon. Friend. We hear a great deal about the British taxpayer, but I should like to say a word for the Irish taxpayer. What is this proposal? It is a proposal 774 to give the Irish taxpayers back some of the eight millions of revenue which the Imperial Exchequer annually receives from them. At present the Irish people only get half of that revenue back. We do not get anything like what we ought to receive. The provision of the Act of Union in regard to the Imperial taxation, and the proportion which Ireland is to bear, has been positively violated. Then, there are 5,000,000 people in Ireland, paying £8,000,000 in taxes to the Imperial Exchequer. Fully four-fifths of these people are Roman Catholics, and these four-fifths require for themselves a special form of education, and when this Government, for once in a way, recognises that the majority of the Irish people have a right to some measure of justice, I am surprised that my hon. Friend (Mr. Wallace) should run across the path of the Irish people. I am quite sure that when the hon. Member considers the matter more deeply he will find that the proposed Bill is one which he can well support. The Irish Catholics are not asking money from the British taxpayer, and I consider have a perfect right to obtain the redress they seek out of their own revenue, for their own purposes, and within their own country. My hon. Friend spoke about re-establishing religion. There is no proposal to reestablish religion or give an impetus to denominationalism. Denominationalism exists in Ireland at present, but it exists under grossly unfair conditions to the Catholic denomination. At the present time we have the established religion—if you choose to call it so—in Trinity College and in the Queen's Colleges. They are establishments which the great body of Roman Catholics of the country have insuperable conscientious objections to support, or to send their children to, and will anybody deny that if they choose to take that view they have not a perfect right to do it, and that their money should not be given to institutions of that kind when they want it for institutions of their own? The Chief Secretary expressed surprise and regret that the Catholic prelates do not make use of Trinity College and the Queen's Colleges, but encourage the members of their own religion not teenier these establishments. Let me say 775 one word as to the reason why we Catholics object to these Colleges. There is no difference of religious opinion in the question whatever, and there are many Protestants who hold quite as strong views on the matter as we do. What we say is that the whole system of training and teaching in institutions like Trinity College is fatal to the principles of religion, and is dangerous to the youth of the country in view of the battle which religion must wage against the illegitimate pretentions which science is setting up for itself [A laugh]. That is so. I had the honour to spend some years in Trinity College, and I know something about the state of things which prevails there. You have on the one hand either the worship of science, which is quite as blind and idolatrous as any form of religious fanaticism which the scientists condemn, or—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I do not think the relations of science to religion have anything to do with the Appropriation Bill.
§ MR. GILL
I will not pursue that line of argument any further. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman is about to introduce a measure to make proper provision for a Catholic University in Ireland. There were two alternatives submitted by the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), and I would like to say a word in favour of one of them. My right hon. Friend said that there might be a Catholic University absolutely distinct or incorporated with Dublin University, and forming with Trinity College a co-equal college, and standing on an equality with it. That is the form to which I would give the preference. Trinity College has been for a long time in many respects the National University, and though there are many reasons of complaint, there are a good many reasons why we should be proud of it. I would like to see its prestige retained, whilst its danger to the Catholic religion, from the method of training adopted and its unequal position, is altered. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, in the scheme he intends to introduce, will give due consideration to that form of alternative. It is one, at any rate, which manifests the readiness of the Catholic body in Ireland to enter into fair and friendly competition with the members of other religious denominations. It will help 776 to dispel the idea that there is hostility between the Protestant and Catholic bodies in Ireland, and that in seeking to give Catholic training in a Catholic University the Catholic body entertain any feeling of bigotry in any shape or form. Catholics and leading Protestants are agreed upon this point, and it is because I believe that a University formed on such lines will have a most potent and ennobling effect in the formation of public opinion in the country, in the removal of complaints between one religion and another, and in the removal of all quarrels, that I give this scheme my most hearty support, and I earnestly press upon the right hon. Gentleman not to lose time in devoting his best energies to its consideration.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I rise because the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down seemed to be aggrieved at the spirit in which his remarks were received in this quarter of the House. I can assure him that we have the greatest respect for his religious opinions. What I ventured to smile at had nothing to do with the religious convictions of the hon. Gentleman, but was the incongruity of the position he took up as compared with the alliance now subsisting between him and his friends below the Gangway and those who sit above the Gangway and support the Liberal Party. If hon. Members below the Gangway are to stand by the opinions which they have expressed today with regard to education, they will drive a very wide wedge between themselves and the Radical Party. The first principle of the Radicals is that education should be entirely free from clerical influence of all kind, and we cannot recognise the right of prelates, Catholic or otherwise, to dictate to this House how education should be conducted. As far as our legislation is concerned, we regard freedom from clerical control as essential. I am prepared to give as much power as any man to an Irish Parliament, but when measures are brought before this House we must act upon our principles, and one of those principles is that the State has no right to regard the existence of priests in matters of education. I did not hear the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is going to introduce a great measure of denominational Uni- 777 versity education in Ireland. On the bare principle of such a measure I roust express my entire sympathy with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. This scheme of a Catholic University is a cunning device resorted to by the Government in consequence of what has happened in this House in the present Session. The Government must know that on several occasions there have been very open divergence of opinion between the Irish Members and the Radical Party, and if they intend to put forward some measure to divide the ranks of the Liberal Party in this House, they could not have adopted a better one than that which seems to have been put forward by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The only question, however, to which I had intended to call attention, was that of the loss of Her Majesty's ship Sultan, and the inquiries which have taken place. When the first inquiry took place I and my friends deliberately refrained from bringing the question before the House, in order not to prejudice the inquiry then supposed to be pending. I ought to say now, also, that I do not mention the matter with the view of fixing the responsibility upon any of the gallant officers concerned. The Duke of Edinburgh has been mentioned in connection with it, but I have never mentioned his name, and if I do so now it is only because it is necessary to do so in connection with that of other gallant officers in recording the facts. The facts are these—On the 14th of March Her Majesty's ship Sultan was lost. No person has been made responsible for that loss. I believe that the invariable practice has been that when a ship has been lost all the persons who under the Naval Discipline Act can be held responsible are tried by Court Martial. That has not happened in the case of the Sultan, and, moreover, during the whole of the time that this matter has been before the country, we have tried in vain to obtain from the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord G. Hamilton) a promise that fall reports of the proceedings should be laid before House. On the 8th of August I was under the impression, from what had taken place in the House, that no obstacle would be offered to the publication of the reports of the entire proceedings as a Parliamentary Paper. Then we 778 were told by the First Lord that it had never been his intention to make the reports a Parliamentary Paper; and, that he had only said that he would consider it. As long ago, however, as the 17th of May the First Lord, in answer to a question put by the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Sir W. Law-son) distinctly said he proposed to present a Report of the whole inquiry when it had been completed, but that it must be postponed until the Duke of Edinburgh had come to England. Since then we have been given to understand that the proceedings cannot be laid before the House at all. I do not know whether the noble Lord draws a distinction between the proceedings before the Court Martial and those before the Court of Inquiry, and whether he intends to give the one and withhold the other. The Sultan was stranded on March 6 and was lost on March 14, and in April a Court Martial was held on the captain of the ship, but the charge was strictly limited to the question of "stranding and hazarding the ship." On May 28 the First Lord of the Admiralty gave the remarkable explanation that at the time of the Court Martial it was uncertain whether the Sultan would be lost or not; yet the first evidence produced before the Court was a letter from the captain of the ship saying that she was lost. The noble Lord referred hon. Members of this House to the reports of the proceedings in the public Press, and refused to produce an Official Report. That is very convenient, because the accounts in the newspapers are not full or accurate. Some of them were less than a column in length, and the longest was about a column and a half long. In each case the report professes to give the evidence of the officers, but not the actual words used. I have no means of testing the accuracy of the reports except from internal evidence, but it is perfectly clear that they are not accurate. I may also fairly complain that Members of this House, in a matter of this importance, should be driven by the action of the noble Lord to ransack the columns of a newspaper like the Times, when two or three months old. Of course I cannot tell whether the reports were cooked before they were sent to the Times or garbled afterwards, but they are certainly not such reports as this House might expect to receive. Let me 779 say what these reports show to have taken place. Contrary to the usual custom the Court Martial was conducted without the presence of a prosecutor. The noble Lord has throughout the whole discussion sheltered himself behind precedent, and it seems remarkable that, on the very threshold, we find that the Inquiry begins in a way that is unusual and that appears undesirable. The Admiralty has throughout pursued a very curious line of conduct with reference to this Inquiry, and the noble Lord has pursued an equally eccentric course of conduct in refusing to let us know anything about it. According to the account in the Times, the prisoner stated that he was not prepared to prove what took place subsequently to the ship striking, as the necessary witnesses were not present, the Duke of Edinburgh having only sent home those who could give evidence as to the stranding. The Court held that it was their duty to investigate all that occurred up to the time when the captain was relieved "by his superior officer who took charge." The noble Lord has told us all along that no person could be made liable except Captain Rice, and that the Duke of Edinburgh merely supervised the operations after the stranding took place. Here, however, we have the Court Martial conducting an Inquiry into what took place until the captain of the ship ceased to have command and was relieved by his superior officer. It appears from the evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh went on board half-an-hour after the striking of the ship. Therefore, according to the Court Martial, within half-an-hour after the stranding the Duke of Edinburgh took charge of the ship. It is no part of my duty now to insist on the culpability of anyone, and I will make no remark respecting the finding of the Court Martial. After the Court Martial had been held, a Court of Inquiry was ordered by the noble Lord into the circumstances that followed after the ship struck. On this occasion Captain Rice could not be tried, according to the noble Lord, because he had already undergone trial. I fail to understand the noble Lord's reasoning. Captain Rice having been tried on one charge, why should he not be tried on another? It must be remembered that between the moment when the ship struck and the loss of the vessel eight 780 days elapsed, and during that interval very important operations were carried out for which somebody was responsible and for which somebody ought to be made responsible. I will ask the House to allow me to state very briefly what is shown by the reports to which we are referred. The Duke of Edinburgh is reported to have said at the inquiry that he assumed the full responsibility for all the steps taken after the Sultan struck up to her sinking, observing that he was only absent during the time occupied in fetching a ship from the harbour of Valetta. On March 13, the Duke heard that Captain Rice was anxious to have a "pull at the ship that afternoon." The Duke went to the Sultan and decided not to make the attempt that day, taking upon himself, as commanding officer, the responsibility of that course. This delay appeared to be the proximate cause of the ultimate loss of the ship. Meanwhile a gale sprang up, the ship was forced off the rocks and suddenly went down. It is only fair to say that Captain Rice declared that he could not be relieved from responsibility by the Duke's statement, for every suggestion he made was carried out, and he was in charge till the ship foundered. Both Captain Rice and the Duke of Edinburgh, each in the most gallant manner, claimed responsibility, and if any difference could be made between them, I am bound to say that the Duke seemed to be more emphatic in his demand for responsibility than Captain Rice. The President of the Court Martial said that Captain Rice had been relieved of his responsibility by his superior officer. Next came the Report of the Inquiry made on June 15, published on July 14. That Report treats the Duke of Edinburgh as the officer in command. For example, it is stated that "after examination, we are of opinion that the commander-in-chief and the officers and men acting under his orders acted throughout to the best of their judgment and according to the circumstances," &c. I would draw attention to the phrase "acted throughout to the best of their judgment." If this Court of Inquiry had been a Court Martial, that would not have acquitted the officers, if their judgment was bad. One paragraph in the Report amounts to what in a Court Martial would have been a condemnation—namely, that it did not 781 appear that sufficient attempts were made to tip the ship. The conclusion seems to be that the Court thought there was negligence in not taking a step which the commander, as a practical man and doing what he regarded as the best under the circumstances, did not think it wise to take. The Report, however, abstains from expressing a final judgment. Nothing could more clearly prove the unsatisfactory character of the procedure which the noble Lord (Lord G. Hamilton) has thought fit to adopt. The noble Lord has maintained that only Captain Rice, according to the practice of the Admiralty, could be tried by Court Martial, or, I suppose, made responsible in any way for the loss of the ship. If so, I should like to know why Captain Rice was not court-martialled by his commanding officer. I find no justification whatever in the Naval Discipline Act for the limitation which the noble Lord seeks to place on the responsibility of officers and men. I cannot, of course, pretend to speak about the practice of the Admiralty, or the precedents by which the noble Lord professes to have been guided. I am content to consider what is the law of the land, and it appears to me that the Naval Discipline Act furnishes no justification whatever for the contention of the noble Lord. Section 29 of that Act says that every person subject to the Statute who shall negligently or by any default lose, strand, or hazard, or suffer to be lost, stranded, or hazarded any ship in Her Majesty's Service, shall be dealt with in a way which is described. It seems to me that the language of the Section covers every person who has any hand in the management of salvage operations respecting one of Her Majesty's ships. If there has been any negligence it appears to me that no person, whatever his rank, is entitled to escape a Court Martial. I am not saying this with reference to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Here you have a case of the most serious loss. This ship is alleged to have cost something like three-quarters of a million sterling. I do not know whether that is the case, but no Court Martial has been held upon anyone, and a line of investigation has been adopted by the Admiralty which seems to me to have been tortuous and unsatisfactory to an extreme. The Court Martial was not 782 allowed to inquire into the question of the loss. A Court of Inquiry is not a Court Martial. It is a mere confidential investigation for the information of the Admiralty. It has, I believe, no judicial power or authority. It cannot summon witnesses and it cannot compel anyone to attend and give evidence. I do not believe it can take evidence on oath, and its conclusions are worth no more than the opinion of the First Lord about those conclusions. Undoubtedly, the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry in this case have partaken of a confidential character, inasmuch as the noble Lord has refused to lay the Report before the House. I think I have said enough to show that the conduct of the Admiralty certainly demands some explanation. We are entitled to something more than the garbled Reports to which we have been referred. ["Oh, oh!"] I call a Report garbled which attributes to the Duke of Edinburgh a letter written by Captain Rice. I think the House is entitled to have all the facts laid before it, and I hope the noble Lord will even now consent to lay all the Papers on the Table. They are all imperfect and incorrect, and my contention now is that we in this House are entitled to have before us all the proceedings—first, of the Court Martial which was held on Captain Rice for the stranding of the ship and, secondly, of the Court of Inquiry which, in substitution for a Court Martial, was held into the circumstances which occurred after the stranding.
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
I would point out to the hon. Member what a Court of Inquiry is. It is not in substitution for a Court Martial, but to elicit facts for the information of the authorities.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I did not say that a Court of Inquiry was always in substitution for a Court Martial, but that generally speaking it was.
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL
If a Court of Inquiry establishes a set of facts which show a Court Martial to be desirable, of course a Court Martial is held.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Lord GEORGE HAMILTON,) Middlesex, Ealing
I am glad the hon. Member has at last brought this matter formally before the House after a great many insinuations and innuendoes.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
The hon. Member said the accounts of these inquiries were cooked and garbled, whether by the Admiralty or by the Press he did not care to inquire.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I said the noble Lord had referred me to a number of Reports which had appeared in the Press, and that I did not know whether they were cooked before they were sent to the Press, or garbled afterwards, but that one or other they were.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
That is what I say. In plain English the hon. Member desires in some way or other to insinuate that I have made use of my official position for the purpose of screening the Commander in Chief in the Mediterranean, the Duke of Edinburgh.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
The House heard the hon. Member, and will be able to decide for itself whether or not I put a correct interpretation upon the hon. Member's remarks. I think I can dispose of the series of charges and allegations the hon. Member has brought forward in five minutes. Captain Rice was the officer in command, and ran his ship aground. In consequence of that stranding the ship was lost—I will assume that it was lost in order to meet the argument of the hon. Member. If she had not stranded she would not have been lost. According to the invariable practice of the Navy the officer in command was responsible for the safety of the ship, and he and his officers were the only persons who could be tried by Court Martial for the loss. If the officers could have shown that they were acting under the orders of a superior officer, and that obedience to such orders occasioned the loss, or if it could have been shown that they had made suggestions upon which their superior had declined to act, and which would have saved the ship, the responsibility might have been transferred to the superior officer. To such an extent is this principle carried out that when the Captain was lost through defects in her construction, the gunner and two seamen the only survivors, were brought before a Court Martial. Therefore, in the ordinary course Captain 784 Rice would have been tried on two counts—first for the stranding, and secondly for the loss. The Court Martial would naturally have been held at Malta. But as those who would have sat on the Court Martial would have been the fellow officers of the prisoner, some of whom had been associated with the attempts to save the ship after the stranding, and as difficulties would have arisen, I deliberately changed the venue from Malta to Portsmouth, where I thought the proceedings would be above criticism. This change involved both convenience and inconvenience. It was better that the trial should be held on the Duke of Wellington; on the other hand, the witnesses who could speak to the efforts made for getting the ship off the rocks were at Malta; the Commander in Chief, the Chief Constructor of the Dockyard at Malta and the Commander in Chief's technical advisers, and certain officers of the Témé-raire who took part in the endeavours which were made to get the ship off the rocks, were all at Malta and could not come home for some time. It was clear when all the iucidents were fresh in the minds of those who were connected with the stranding that the Court should be held as soon as possible, and therefore I was compelled to try Captain Rice on the first charge only. But that officer was warned by the prosecution that the second charge was by no means dropped, and that whatever the finding might be on the first count, he would still be liable to be tried on the second. The Court Martial decided that Captain Rice was in default for the stranding of the Sultan. That meant a severe sentence on a distinguished officer who has served many years in the Navy, and it was a sentence which no doubt seriously affected Captain Rice. But a month or six weeks afterwards the Duke of Edinburgh's flagship came home and the time of the Chief Constructor at Malta was up, and there were at Portsmouth all the witnesses who could speak as to the efforts made to save the Sultan after she had stranded. We then had to consider whether, Captain Rice having been censured, we would try him on the second charge, that is to say for having lost his ship. I accept the full responsibility of what was done, but in the opinion of the Naval Authorities and of distinguished 785 officers outside the Admiralty it would have been a hard thing to try again a well-known officer on virtually the same charge. Accordingly I determined that the second charge of losing the ship should be inquired into by a Court of Inquiry, and reserved to myself the right of taking action upon the Report of that Inquiry. The Court Martial had sat with open doors, and the evidence had been reported in the public Press, and I therefore resolved that the Court of Inquiry should be equally public and the evidence was published verbatim in the newspapers, and when the evidence was concluded and the Court sent its Report to the Admiralty, that Report was also sent to the Press. Several newspapers published that Report in extenso, and thus the public were in possession of the whole proceedings in the case—of the evidence taken at the Court Martial, of the evidence taken by the Court of Inquiry and of the Report of the latter Court. Anyone who reads that Report—and the hon. Member apparently has read it because he quoted from it—will see that there was no case established before the Court of Inquiry for trying anyone else than Captain Rice. If the Court had found that the measures taken by the Commander in Chief or other officers had prevented the vessel from being saved, or that they had acted with lack of judgment, further inquiry might have been necessary. But it was decided that there has been neither lack of judgment nor of energy in the attempts to save the ship. Under the circumstances does the hon. Member contend that because the Commander in Chief happened to be a person of especially high position, he should, therefore, have been tried by Court Martial?
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
Then if he does not do that why does he find fault with me? The proceedings from first to last were perfectly straightforward and open. I have explained over and over again the reasons for the course I took, and I have now only to say one more word. The Commander in Chief has a very heavy responsibility resting on him. He was not disposed to shirk it, and I say it would be a monstrous thing to hold him responsible for his subordinate when he was not on the spot. The loss of the ship was due to 786 the stranding—if she had not stranded she would not have been lost. I cannot help thinking that if the Commander in Chief had been a person of less exalted position, the hon. and learned Member would not have brought the matter before the House on the Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill.
§ MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
I would express a hope that Her Majesty's Government will give instructions to the inspectors of Irish fisheries to meet at once in order that they may take the necessary steps to prevent the fishing gear of the fishermen on the Irish coasts from being destroyed by steam trawlers. Immediate action is necessary, owing to the passing of the Steam Trawling (Ireland) Bill. Many of us took exception to that measure, but seeing that opposition to it from this part of the House would have killed it we allowed it to pass. We thought it would not afford security to the fishermen along our coasts, but the Solicitor General for Ireland said it would do so, as it would give the inspectors of fisheries power to stop steam trawling where they thought it injurious to the fisheries. I would ask the First Lord of the Admiralty to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary for Ireland to this matter. We ask that an official communication should be sent to the inspectors, pointing out the duty which devolves on them under this Bill of preventing injury to our fishermen. I do not say that these inspectors are not zealous and efficient individuals. I believe they are, but they may be scattered throughout the country, and may not contemplate meeting for some time. I therefore hope steps will be taken to cause them to meet at once. This matter is one of special interest to my constituents, who live almost entirely by the fishing industry.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
I will communicate with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary on the subject, and will ask him to take such measures with regard to this matter as may be deemed necessary.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I desire to explain that I did not suggest that the Duke of Edinburgh should have been subjected to a trial by Court Martial for the loss of Her Majesty's ship Sultan. I did not say that the noble Lord should have made him subject to 787 a Court Martial. I made no such imputation, and from the beginning distinctly avowed that I did not.
§ SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
With the permission of the House, I desire to say a few words before this Debate comes to a conclusion. I may say that I think the Debate we have had to-day has been one of the most important Debates of the Session. Some most important statements have been made from the Government Benches to the Irish Members, and I think that when the public come to read, mark, and inwardly digest the incidents of to-day, these incidents will be found to have a very considerable influence on the political situation. I will not say more on that question, especially as the opinions which I hold very strongly on the question of denominational education have been expressed by two Scotch Members on this side of the House. But on the Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill it is very often the custom to review the legislative harvest—to sum up the legislative progress—to see whether much has been done for the good of the nation. Now, I am not going to find any great fault with anybody. Like the hon. Member for the University of Oxford I would deal with the failures of the Government—not make any condemnation of their sins of commission, but rather of their sins of omission. We should consider, I think, whether during the Session we have done much to promote the peace, order, happiness, and morality of the great body of the people. We have done some little, no doubt, in the passing of the Cruelty to ChildrenBill——
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Baronet is laying the foundation for his Motion on the Paper I must point out that that Motion is out of order. The subject it deals with is in no way connected with any clause in the Appropriation Bill. Anything that does not bear upon that Bill is quite out of order.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
I have put the following Motion on the Paper:—That this House is unwilling to pass a Bill appropriating a large portion of national taxation to the purposes connected with the prevention, detection, and punishment of crime, without expressing its opinion that one of the main sources of crime, the liquor traffic, requires the immediate attention of this House.788 I do not, however, propose to move that Motion, but merely to make a few general remarks upon the legislation of the Session. In doing so I am simply following the precedent set in former years by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale. In my opinion, the Bill for Preventing Cruelty to Children is one of the brightest features of the Session; but I greatly regret that the House has not dealt with the subject of the liquor laws, which so vitally affect our national life, habits, and character. There is very widespread dissatisfaction throughout the country that no steps have been taken to bring our liquor laws into harmony with the wishes of the people. We have been occupied during a great part of this Session with Irish matters, as we have been to-day; but I think we might do great good in Ireland by legislating on lines which we have not yet followed, though it seems to me eminently desirable that they should be followed. I do not know whether many hon. Members have read the Memorial presented by the Magistrates of Ireland.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must call the hon. Baronet's attention to the fact that it is out of order to discuss the abstract question of the liquor traffic. It has no relation to the action of the Government, nor does it bear on any clause of the Appropriation Bill. It has been ruled that the discussion of such questions as the land and state of agriculture are not in order on the Appropriation Bill when unconnected with Government Bills.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
Shall I not be in order in reading a Memorial on the subject which has been presented to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Baronet would be distinctly out of order in doing so. The hon. Baronet does not stand in the same position no w as he would on going into Committee of Supply on a Friday when he could raise any question, however abstract its character might be.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
; Should I be in order in alluding to the Sunday Closing Bill, which was a measure before the House this Session?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Baronet would be distinctly out of order in doing so, either on this stage or any stage of the Appropriation Bill.
§ SIR W. LAWSON
Of course I bow to the ruling of the Chair, although I greatly regret that I am thereby precluded from pointing to a great evil from which the country is now suffering. I am sorry that, although every other sort of Bill has been discussed, to-day, I am precluded from dealing with one which I consider the most important of all.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I gave notice a few days ago that on the Appropriation Bill I would call attention to the case of Mr. Browning, who, until lately, was Paymaster of the Royal Engineers at Chatham. But, as I have privately intimately to the Secretary for War, I do not intend to proceed with the case—not that I have altered my mind as to its merits, but because it could not receive that attention it deserves in the present state of the House, and because many hon. Members who would have taken an interest in the matter are absent. There are, however, two matters connected with the administration of the Criminal Law to which I desire to draw attention. I have already mentioned them in the House, and should not have thought it necessary to again bring them forward if my complaints had been fairly met, and the Home Office had appeared to appreciate the gravity of the cases. The other day I called attention to the treatment of unconvicted prisoners in England, and alluded specially to a case in Ipswich Gaol. If that case had been a single and isolated one it would not have been of much importance; but, as a matter of fact, it revealed a systematic breaking of the law by the Go-nor of an English, gaol, and it further revealed that, though there was a monthly inspection by the Prisons Board, yet the Visiting Commissioners had either failed to discover the violation of law or had winked at it. Parliament has done its duty in the matter, declaring the manner in which unconvicted prisoners are to be treated in a most clear and unmistakeable manner. It appears to me the Prison Commissioners are either incompetent or unable to protect unconvicted prisoners. The 39th section of the Prisons Act, 1877, declares the duty of the Home Secretary very clearly. It says a clear difference is to be made between the 790 treatment of persons unconvicted of crime, and, therefore, in law, presumably innocent, and the treatment of prisoners who have been convicted; and, in order to secure the observance of such a difference, the Act says there shall be in force in every place in which prisoners are confined special rules regulating their confinement in such a manner as to make it as little oppressive as possible having due regard only to safe custody, the preservation of order and good government, and the physical and moral well-being of the prisoners themselves. Therefore, it is enacted that the Secretary of State shall make specially rules with regard to various matters which may be conducive to the amelioration of the condition of prisoners who have not been convicted of crime. Then, again, by the ninth section we find that the duty of inspection and supervision is imposed on the Prison Commissioners, who are, subject to the control of the Secretary of State, to visit and inspect the prisons and inquire into the condition of the prisoners. I need not to-day repeat the particular misconduct of the Governor of Ipswich Gaol. Suffice it to say, it was thought sufficiently serious, in the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice and the jury who tried the case, to justify a verdict of £75 as damages. But now I come to the serious part of the case, showing the neglect of the Inspecting Officers of the Prison Commission. What was the defence set up by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Home Department when I brought this case before the House? It was that the Governor of the prison, in the exercise of the discretion vested in him to make rules, had made a rule which was in conflict with the statutory rules. He called it Local Option in fact, and in this case apparently Local Option means power vested in the Governor of an English prison to dispense with the laws of this land. I do not think that even the hon. Baronet who spoke last (Sir W. Lawson) would approve of such a drastic measure of Local Option as that. I also understood the hon. Gentleman to argue that these rules made by the Governor of Ipswich Prison were a survival of the local control which prevailed prior to the passing of the Prisons Act, 1877. Yet ever since the 791 passing of that Act an Inspector of the Prisons Commission has been constantly visiting Ipswich Gaol, and has never discovered that for a series of years the rules made and enforced by the Governor of the prison were in direct violation of the Statute Law, and that constant infractions of the law have occurred in that prison in the carrying out of the rules so made. It has often been said that abuses go on in the prison walls without the Prison Commissioners knowing anything of them. On the other hand, the Government have constantly denied that anything of the kind can occur; yet here we have a distinct case of a grave abuse carried on for a series of years without the knowledge of the Prison Commissioners, or, what is worse, if they had the knowledge they winked at the practice. Now, I desire to call attention to another matter, and that is, the present mode of conducting business in the Metropolitan Police Courts, and the inconvenience, unnecessary expense, and delay which arise from the block of business in the Courts. Owing to the enormous amount of business in the Police Courts, the aggregate number of hours of attendance by the Metropolitan Magistrates is insufficient for the discharge of the work. It is the duty of the Home Secretary to apply a remedy to this state of things. Mr. Sheil, one of the learned Magistrates, has been complaining in forcible language of the manner in which business is now conducted at the Wands worth Police Court, and particularly to the practice of remanding prisoners whose examination has been conducted at successive intervals by different Magistrates, none of whom had heard the examination from beginning to end. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary indulged in the gratification of a sneer at my expense yesterday, when he said he did not desire to be taught the elementary principles of law by me; but he gave himself away, because he permits and encourages Magistrates under his control to act in a manner inconsistent with the elementary principles of law. In a case which was recently tried in the Court of Queen's Bench, complaint was made of the most mischievous and untenable practice which had grown up in this country in regard to preliminary inquiries by Magistrates, and Mr. Justice Wills said— 792It seems to be contrary to every notion of what Judicial proceedings ought to he if depositions taken before one Magistrate are to be read by another Magistrate who has not seen the witnesses, and who comes upon them to a decision. A prisoner is entitled to a Judicial decision from the Magistrate, even though that decision should not finally decide his guilt or innocence. And how can such a decision be come to by a person unless he has conducted the case from beginning to end?The learned Judge also completely demolished the distinction relied upon by the Home Secretary, that the rule only applied to summary jurisdiction, and not to cases where the defendant was merely committed for trial. The preface to Stone's Justices, Manual shows that the practice to which Mr. Sheil has drawn the attention of the Home Secretary in a most unmistake-able and emphatic manner is now pursued at all events at Wands worth Police Court, and presumably at many other Metropolitan Police Courts, owing, as the right hon. Gentleman says, to the arrangements at present existing, and which the right hon. Gentleman told me yesterday cannot be avoided under existing circumstances. It cannot be contended for a moment that persons should be sent to prison illegally to suit the convenience of the Metropolitan Magistrates, or the right hon. Gentleman himself. Every prisoner who is committed for trial under the system which Mr. Sheil condemns is entitled to have his habeas corpus. It is true that when he gets that, the Queen's Bench may not discharge him, because they may think that the committing Magistrate had before him sufficient evidence upon which to justify his position. But, at all events, one of the highest Courts in this country has condemned the practice in the most emphatic and unmistakeable terms. I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the answer which he gave to me the other day, and weigh not so much my words but the representations the learned Magistrate, Mr. Sheil, has made; that he will make such arrangement one way or another as will supply this Metropolis with an adequate number of Magistrates, or with Magistrates who will give an adequate number of hours to the duties of their office, and thus put an end to the existing public scandal.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
The hon. Member, of course, knows that the work of the Metropolitan Magistrates has increased considerably of late, Wandsworth and Hammersmith Police Courts having been made whole day courts. The Treasury desire that an endeavour should be made to work these additional courts with an addition of only one Magistrate to the Magisterial Staff. There are now 22 Magistrates to do the work of 12 courts. I should myself prefer that there should be two Magistrates to each court, but the question of expense must be considered. The whole subject, as the House knows, is in a transitional state; and if the expense of the police courts are ever thrown upon the rates—a change which many people wish to see—a good opportunity will be afforded for reconsidering the present arrangements. I have drawn up a rota for the equal distribution of the work of the Magistrates; but I need hardly say that we are exceedingly anxious to return to the system under which there were two Magistrates to each court. In a very protracted ease it sometimes happens that the different stages cannot always come before the same Magistrate, and a part-heard case has sometimes to be heard de novo in consequence. This, in the circumstances, is almost inevitable, and I do not believe that much, if any, hardship is caused. I cannot assume that the law has been violated in the case specially referred to by the hon. Member. Coming next to the question of prison rules, I may explain that an untried prisoner has a right of option in the matter of bathing and wearing prison dress; but in the case of the bath his option is subject to the review of the Governor. The Governor of Ipswich Prison issued instructions to his warders which made the prisoner's option less apparent than it should have been, and the warders imagined that the bath and possibly the use of the prison clothes were imperative; and, in consequence, they exceeded what the rules warranted. In the vast majority of cases, it should be observed, both the bath and the use of the prison clothes are looked upon as privileges of untried prisoners, whose own clothes are often very much in need of purification. 794 The damages, amounting to £75, awarded against the Governor of Ipswich Gaol appears to me to be quite disproportionate to any injury received by the plaintiff, whose dignity alone suffered. The Inspector was, no doubt, to blame for not having discovered what was amiss. I agree that the Inspector was to blame, but I do not think that the fault was one that ought to have been treated with great severity. There has been no intention of overstepping the law.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I will only trouble the House for a moment; but in the absence of my Colleagues in the representation of East Anglia I desire, in a few words, to express my concurrence in the remarks of the hon. Member for Oxford University with reference to the tithe question. We, in the Eastern Counties, have been asking for bread for a considerable time, and at last the Government offered us a stone, which we declined, accentuating our refusal by putting the Government in a majority of four. I was extremely sorry to hear the answer given the other day by the First Lord of the Treasury to my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport, in which the right hon. Gentleman stated the intention of the Government to refer this subject to a Committee of both Houses next Session, because that practically means the postponement of settlement indefinitely; and I very much fear that if the consideration the Government can give to the subject during the Recess does not lead to the introduction of a sufficient and comprehensive Bill next Session, it is possible there may be an Amendment moved to the Address, and the agricultural Members may again succeed in placing the Government in the historical majority of four. I would not have ventured to take up time now, but that the remarks of the hon. Member for Oxford University induced me to say this much on behalf of the tenant farmers of South-East Essex.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I very much regret that we have had no opportunity during the Session of discussing some urgent Colonial questions. I must ask the House to listen to a remark or two upon the condition of affairs in our latest Colony; but, before I do so, I should like to express my very deep regret that the Government were forced 795 to withdraw the Western Australia Constitution Bill. I think if the Government had only had a discussion on the question, if they had stated their own case only, that opposition to the Bill would have disappeared, and the Bill would have been carried with the assistance of both Parties, for it was a very simple issue, and the Bill embodied a principle that has been carried out by both Parties in respect to other Colonies, and was a wise solution of what is left of the Australian question. It was out of the fear that people entertained that the giving away of the Crown lands would lead to much jobbery among a few persons that opposition arose against the Bill on both sides; but, as a matter of fact, I supported the Bill, because I know that the result of it would have been to stop land jobbing. I do not want to blame Mr. Forrest, the Commissioner of lands in West Australia; he discovered these lands, and nearly lost his life in doing so; but the jobbing away of millions of acres of Crown lands is just what has been done in most of our Crown Colonies, where the Governor appoints the members of the Council. But whenever a Bill of this kind is passed, and members of the Council are elected by the people, then this jobbing away of acres by the million is put a stop to. I am sorry the Government did not give us the opportunity of considering and passing this Bill. It would have been better had they done so, in compliance with the urgent requests of the other Colonies, instead of troubling about the Tithes Bill and the Technical Instruction Bill. Of course, I admit the importance of those subjects, but remember our Colonies are growing. They are still very loyal, and the sentimental feelings towards the Mother Country are still very strong, stronger perhaps than the feelings here towards the Colonies; but a younger generation is growing up "who know not Joseph," and the feelings of attachment cannot be so strong as among those who left their homes in England to found new homes in the Antipodes. If you estrange your Colonies the great Anglo-Saxon race will lose its mighty power for good, and this great Empire will be broken up. I am afraid the withdrawal of the Bill will have a very bad effect in the colony; but I earnestly hope the Government will reintrodnce the Bill next year, and 796 unless both sides have changed their principles in regard to Colonial Government I am sure the Bill will pass without difficulty. And now a word upon our latest colony, I mean Zululand. In South Africa we have had a very discreditable record, and there has been much both in the action of the British and the Boers that cannot be justified. I am generally supposed to be in favour of the Boers, and to support the Boers; but in 1887 I moved an Amendment to the Address against the settlement by which Sir Arthur Havelock transferred to the Boers a large territory in Zululand. Of course I was defeated, and the land of the Zulus upon which, white men had never set foot was given to the Boers, and the interests of the. Zulus were sacrificed by that settlement. In 1887 Dinizulu, the son of Cetewayo, was King of Zululand, but in 1887 Zululand was annexed to this country.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I do not know how the hon. Member proposes to connect his remarks with the Appropriation Bill, in which I believe no Vote for Zululand is included.
§ DR. CLARK
There is the Vote for the salary of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and there is the Vote for the expenses of Sir Arthur Havelock, the Governor of Natal, in connection with Zululand; and it is on the present condition of Zululand I wish to say a word or two, and as to the action the Secretary of State has taken in regard to the ex-King Dinizulu and his uncles. I will not enter fully into the subject. In 1887 you annexed the country and made Dinizulu an unwilling subject. Probably it was the wisest course. I am not prepared to say it was not. It was a difficult problem the Government had before them, and they thought this the wisest settlement. But you appointed the enemies of the Zulus to govern your unwilling subjects, and by the end of 1887 the action of Mr. Addison and Mr. Osborne had goaded the son and the brothers of Cetewayo into rebellion. I say they were goaded into rebellion, though as the result of the trials this, was not established. This arose from the action of the representatives of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Dinizulu was defeated, and took refuge in the Transvaal, and was advised by Miss Colenso to come and defend his conduct before a jury in Natal, and he 797 eventually surrendered himself for the purpose. What has been the result? I have a great respect for Sir Arthur Havelock; he is a nice gentlemanly man, but not the sort of man for dealing with the class of men you have in South Africa, and he, after resisting a little, surrendered to the pressure brought to bear upon him, and the result has been a most discreditable condition of things, which is, I understand, to end in the deportation of Dinizulu and his uncles to St. Helena or elsewhere. Dinizulu has been on his trial, not for murder, the charge upon which Mr. Melnotte Osborne and the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Richard Addison, got him extradited, and not before a Jury, but on another charge, before a Commission like the Parnell Commission, by whom he and the two old brothers of Cetewayo were sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, for the old men a life sentence. Now, if these sentences are going to be carried out, if these men are going to be deported, Zululand will remain in a state of anarchy for years. If you shot the men the thing might be finished perhaps, but you will have the state of things repeated such as arose when Cetewayo was sent away. I have read carefully all that has been published by the Government and much that has only found publication in the Natal newspapers; and I say if these sentences are to be carried out, if you are going to carry out the sentences of three roving Commissioners who were not bound by the ordinary rules of law, but who made rules for themselves; if Dinizulu and his two uncles are to be imprisoned, then the state of things in Zululand will be that of anarchy. It seems to me that the only solution now would be to annex the new Crown Colony of Zululand to Natal. You have got rid of Sir Arthur Havelock by kicking him upstairs, you have a new man, and you may have a new policy. If you want the new colony to have peace and prosperity annex it to Natal, and let other white men have a voice in its destinies besides Messrs. Melnotte, Osborne, and Co. You can give the Chiefs a location within defined limits. Usibepu is a splendid old fellow, a brave man who fought for his own hand, and wanted to be King in Zululand when the Kingship was thrown open to fight for, but there is 798 plenty of room for Usibepu as well as for the King's party. A peaceful settlement you cannot have while Messrs. Osborne and Addison are allowed to remain the arbitrary dictators of Zululand. Dinizulu is young and has been misled; but from what I have seen of him he might be made loyal to the British Government, if only the Government would do something to bring about a settlement, and to undo, as far as possible, the troubles and evils that have arisen from the letting loose of Messrs. Osborne and Addison. If I remember rightly, Mr. Addison was one of Usibepu's white men, one of the filibusters fighting for his own hand under his black chief. He took Usibepu's side against Cetewayo, and now takes his side against the son and brothers of Cetewayo. I do think the Colonial Office should bring about a settlement by annexing the country to Natal, with reserves for the chiefs, and thus bring the reign of misrule in Zululand to an end.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. DE WORMS,) Liverpool, East Toxteth
In reply to the first observations of the hon. Member for Caithness, in reference to the West Australia Bill, I can assure him on behalf of the Government that we entirely sympathise with his views, and we extremely regret that it was not possible to proceed with the Bill this Session. When the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and others gave notice of opposition a pledge was exacted from Her Majesty's Government that they would not proceed with the Bill at a late period of the Session. The Bill was set down for Second Reading in the hope that it would not meet with serious opposition, and that, at all events, the principle of the Bill might be affirmed; but it was found that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and others were obdurate, they would not withdraw their opposition, and, therefore, in accordance with pledges given on behalf of the Government that no controversial matter should be proceeded with at an advanced period of the Session, Her Majesty's Government were reluctantly obliged to withdraw the Bill. But I can give this assurance to the hon. Member—that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed with it at the earliest 799 opportunity next Session, and I have very little doubt that with the assistance of the hon. Member for Caithness, and those who think with him, we shall carry it to a satisfactory conclusion. Now, in regard to Zululand. I am sure the House will not wish me to follow the hon. Gentleman into his retrospect of the events of 1887, or to give an opinion on the unfortunate occurrences of that period. It appears to me that the speech of the hon. Member was in the nature of an appeal ad misericordiam on behalf of Dinizulu, and the other Zulu Chiefs; and I can only repeat what I have already said in answer to questions on the subject, that the sentences upon Dinizulu and the other Chiefs will not be carried out until the Secretary of State has had the fullest opportunity of reviewing the whole of the evidence, and that Dinizulu and the other prisoners are being treated with the utmost leniency. The hon. Member may rest assured that the Secretary of State will consider most favourably any circumstances that may be adduced in their favour. The same remarks apply to Usibepu. I trust the hon. Member will accept my assurances that the Secretary of State will only sanction what is just and fair in this matter.
§ MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
I desire, in a few words, to call attention to the great neglect by the Government of London questions during the Session. After the London County Council was instituted it was expected by Londoners that the Council would receive increased powers. When Her Majesty's Government showed no disposition in that direction the London Liberal Members took upon themselves to introduce a few Bills; but the Government turned a deaf ear to these proposals, and took no heed to the representations of London Members. I do not propose to go over all these Bills, but there are two or three subjects upon which I must lay emphasis. Especially I would mention the London County Council Money Bill, into which the Government at first introduced a clause giving the County Council power to inquire into the water supply of London. Her Majesty's Government withdrew that Bill and introduced another, from which this clause was excluded, and we understand that this was done under the pressure 800 brought to bear upon the Government by those interested in the Water Companies on the other side of the House. Now, any hon. Member who has read the Report of the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes, and noticed the terrible state of water supply which it reveals, must admit that the Government have acted most unwisely in not giving the County Council this power of inquiry. We have now a great Central Authority to look after the sanitary condition of London, and the refusal of this power is a point I desire to strongly emphasise. Then there is the utter neglect by the Government of the question of the control of open spaces, and the regulation of the right of open-air meetings, which, I contend, should be in the hands of the County Council. Then, in regard to the control of the police, this is another of those questions that I commend to the consideration of the Government during the Recess, and I cannot better illustrate the absurdity of the County Council having no control in these matters than by a reference to what occurred at the Fire Brigade Review, and by the fact that when the Shah visited London the Chairman of the London County Council had to write to the Times to appeal to the people to protect their own property, and to see that their trees, &c., were not destroyed, simply because the London County Council have no control over the police. There was another occasion lately which illustrated the necessity of giving more control to the County Council. I refer to the order relating to the muzzling of dogs.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is now advocating a general change in the law. That is not relevant to the Appropriation Bill.
§ MR. CAUSTON
I will leave that matter, Sir, and refer to another subject which I think will be in order—the registration of voters. The Government lately adopted the Occupiers' Disqualification Removal Bill, to which I moved an Instruction to the Committee giving it power to widen the scope of the Bill in order to make provision for the removal of disqualification by reason of change in occupation. Now, I only wanted to deal with the question of the successive occupation of voters. The hon. Member for Chelsea, who sits opposite, 801 moved the Second Reading of the Bill; but the Attorney General refused to accept the extension I contemplated. Now, I want to guard myself and other Members on this side of the House against the supposition that we are not desirous of removing any disqualification. We are anxious to remove the voters' disqualification, but we want to have other disqualifications removed at the same time. The registration law of London and the rest of the country is in a disgraceful state, and I wanted to introduce a clause in the Bill which would enable men removing from one part of a town to another to have a vote as a successive occupier.
§ MR. CAUSTON
Then I must content myself with expressing my regret that the Government have not accepted the proposals that have been made on the subject. I hope that the Government will turn their attention to the question of registration during the Recess, because, owing to the present state of the law, hundreds and thousands of workmen do not appear upon the register at all. The Government have it in their power to remove this state of things by bringing in a thoroughly efficient Bill next Session.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I wish to obtain from the Government some assurance as to their action with reference to the Royal Niger Company. I desire to know whether the Government have received a Memorial from certain native Kings and Chiefs in the Oil River district, addressed to Her Majesty's Commissioner, declaring that the trade charges imposed by the company are ruining them, and that, while they and their fathers had traded down the river without hindrance, they are now confined to certain districts? The Royal Niger Company are asking for an extension of their Charter, so as to cover the whole of the Oil River district. The Aborigines Protection Society and others are anxious that nothing should be done until ample opportunity has been given for discussion. May we depend upon it that no extension will be granted before an opportunity has been given next Session of inquiring into the matter, and that the Government will give a candid and 802 careful consideration to the Memoria of the natives?
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I wish to ask a question as to the position of affairs in Asiatic Turkey at the present time. Yesterday there was a very important expression of opinion in the Press by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) as to the Treaty rights of this country in dealing with Turkey. The right hon. Gentleman states—It should be borne in mind that we are entitled by Treaty to demand from the Sultan the suppression of all such outrages and the condign punishment of the miscreants concerned.The crimes of Moussa Bey have been already brought fully before the House, and what I have to ask is whether Her Majesty's Representatives at Constantinople and Her Majesty's Ministers here are really exerting themselves to obtain the punishment of this notorious miscreant and those who have been guilty of the atrocious outrages in Armenia, and whether the Government are pressing on the Porte, in conjunction with other Powers, the wisdom as well as the duty of carrying out reforms in that country. I saw it to-day announced in the Press that some Armenian notables had been arrested for refusing to sign one of those false documents circulated by the Turkish Governors to the effect that Armenia was in perfect order and that the Armenians were contented. There is also a statement in the Press to-day that the Representative of this country, in conjunction with the Representative of Italy, has made representations to the Porte on the state of Armenia and that satisfactory assurances have been obtained. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Sir J. Fergusson) will say whether he has received any confirmation of these Reports. I see also that one correspondent declares that the disarmament of the Armenians has been determined on by the Turkish Government after long discussion. Has the right hon. Gentleman any information on this point? I would not for a moment suggest that Her Majesty's Government should contemplate the application of force to Turkey, but I think that every moral and diplomatic influence ought to be exerted to bring about a satisfactory state of things in Armenia.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir JAMES FERGUSSON,) Manchester, N.E.
I have not the least difficulty in answering the question of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton). An inquiry by Her Majesty's Commissioner is at this moment proceeding in the Niger district. The Commissisner will make the fullest examination into the circumstances of the case and report to Her Majesty's Government as to the forming of a firm administration in that region. Great Britain has incurred certain responsibilities to other European Powers in respect of its protectorate there, and it is desirable that some more regular form of Government should be established. With regard to the trading licences required by persons trading on the Niger there is much to be said on both sides. Her Majesty's Government recognise their duty in regulating the exactions of the Royal Niger Company, and those exactions are at that moment the subject of inquiry by the Commissioner. Certainly no decision will be arrived at in regard to the extension of the company's charter before the next Session of Parliament. I have seen in the Daily News the letter of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) referred to by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Channing). Two of the occurrences which are mentioned in that letter are embodied in the Blue Book containing the Vice Consul's Report, and therefore they have not escaped the Government's attention. It was in consequence of one of the grossest and most shameful of these outrages that Moussa Bey has been called to Constantinople to give an account of himself. The Ottoman Government has granted a safe conduct to all persons who wish to go to Constantinople to give evidence against Moussa Bey, and a large number of persons have safely passed through the district where his influence is predominant, and we have no reason to doubt that their testimony will be fairly heard. It would not be proper for a Foreign Government of the Porte to interfere in the internal affairs of the Turkish Empire so far as to prescribe any particular form of procedure. But undoubtedly, after the occurrence of certain events known to the whole world, the in- 804 vestigation of them will not be unobserved. I believe the Sultan and his advisers are anxious to rectify the evil condition of affairs in Armenia. They have given the best earnest of this desire by sending a new Governor-General, who when at Jerusalem gave strong evidence of firmness, impartiality, and justice. What is wanted is firm government; and the best way to obtain it is to appoint officers of known capacity and proved administrative ability. I hope the hon. Member will consider this statement sufficient. There must be prudence and reserve in the representations made by Foreign Powers. I can assure the hon. Member Her Majesty's Government has not failed to do that which seemed to them proper and likely to be effective in bringing to the notice of the Ottoman Government the occurrence of these painful events. The Government have received no intelligence as to the reported disarmament, but the hon. Member will observe it is not only the disarmament of the Christians which is reported in the newspapers to have taken place, but also the disarmament of the Mussulmans. Such statements must be received with caution. Only lately it was reported that certain persons who had made representations to the Sultan of occurrences in Armenia had been exiled; but that statement was quite without foundation.
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
I only rise to emphasise my complaint that an old man, over 70 years of age, has been imprisoned in County Kerry because some mysterious fellow took it into his head to hide a rusty rifle barrel and a stock, which did not fit the barrel, in an outhouse of the man's dwelling. I am, of course, at a disadvantage in raising this question when there is no Irish Minister present to answer me, and I intervene in the Debate particularly because I wish it to be put on record that I have brought the matter before the attention of the House. I wish it to be widely known that a man 70 years of age was, without the option of a fine, lodged in gaol for 14 days, though the Magistrate who tried the case assumed that the man had no knowledge of the possession of the rifle barrel and stock, or of the probability that they were on his premises. When I raised this matter the other day I was told there had not 805 been sufficient time to receive information from Ireland. I raised the point last night and again to-day, and on both occasions I was told there was no information in the possession of the Government. I was confined in Tralee Gaol a year and a half ago, and I there saw a man 75 years of age, belonging to Castle is land, who had been imprisoned because in a rick of hay on his premises there was found a gun. The theory put forth by the police and the Magistrates was that the gun might have been used by the man's sons. It was thought by the Magistrates it would be as good as a warning against crime and outrage in Kerry to imprison the old man. You actually punished a man whom you believe to be innocent in order to strike terror into the guilty. Such proceedings are not merely cruel, but cowardly.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.