§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [21st February.]—[See page 41.]270
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
moved as an amendment to the Address the insertion of the following words:—But we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the present system of administration in Ireland is harsh, oppressive, and unjust; that it violates the rights and alienates the affections of Your Majesty's Irish subjects, and is viewed with reprobation and aversion by the people of Great Britain. And we humbly represent to your Majesty that such measures of conciliation should be adopted as may bring about the contentment of the Irish people and establish a real union bhtween Great Britain and Ireland.The right hon. Gentleman said—Mr. Speaker, my right hon. Friend the member for Mid Lothian remarked the other night that one reason, if there had been no other, why we should have been obliged to challenge this paragraph in the Address, was that the Government had taken a very unusual course in the wording of that paragraph. Instead of making it neutral in its expression, such as, according to my right hon. Friend's judgment, has always been the case hitherto, the Government have chosen to make that a paragraph to draw the whole House of Parliament on to express a satisfaction which we, at any rate, on this side of the House do not by any means entertain. But, even quite apart from the wording of this paragraph in the Address, I think it will be felt in all parts of the House that, with our views on this side, we should have been bound, in the light of recent contemporary incidents in Ireland, to call the attention of the House to what is now going on, and to ask the House seriously to consider whether it justifies or does not justify the description of "salutary results" as the outcome of the present policy of Her Majesty's Government. It is, I think, about eight months ago since I had the honour of submitting to the House a Motion which, though not quite identical in its wording, was no doubt identical in its purport and its drift with the present Motion. Nothing that has happened during those eight months has weakened the convictions of those of us who voted for that Motion that it was well-timed then, and nothing has happened which can weaken our convic- 271 tion that it is still more urgently called for now. Sir, the propositions in the Amendment that I have put upon the paper are, in effect, founded upon two allegations. The first is that the Administration in Ireland has during the last few months, and during the last two or three months more especially, been singularly wanting in that prudence, that foresight, and that care, which are the cardinal virtues of all administration, but which are particularly required in the administration of the exceptional and repressive law which you passed, and which you are carrying out, against the opinion of the country upon which you have imposed it. The second allegation is that in one case, at least, a piece of legal iniquity has been perpetrated which in my judgment is tainted by every bad quality that can mark a judicial act, and which is worthy of some of the worst exploits of that ruffian judge in Scotland 100 years ago, who said "Give me a prisoner and I will find you the law." The Chief Secretary the other day—not in this House, but elsewhere—said he was glad to inform his audience that the relations between the people and the police in Ireland were more satisfactory now than they had been for a very long time past. Now, I for one should always—whatever might be the condition of parties, and however wide our views of policy—be glad to hear that; because, whether the Chief Secretary is a Liberal, or a Tory, or a Nationalist, we must all feel that nothing is more essential for anything like peace and order in Ireland than that the relations between the guardians of order and the people at large should be tolerably pacific and tolerably harmonious. As far, however, as has transpired in the public prints during the last few months, I can find no trace of anything of that kind. Indeed, I find traces of a very lamentably contrary state of things. What happened at Gweedore? The murder at Gweedore is one of those matters as to which there can be no difference of opinion in any part of this House, and the House needs no assurance that we here deplore and condemn that murder exactly as much as I am sure the hon. Member for Belfast and the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh condemned the murder of the cooper in the streets of Belfast in 1886. 272 But, in saying that, I cannot, nor does the country, I think, absolve the Government of gross carelessness and rashness in the way in which the arrest was carried out. Four or five constables were sent to arrest a popular priest in the presence of his flock at a moment when their feelings of attachment and reverence were naturally at their height. To do that was an act of rashness which has never been surpassed in police administration, and in this connection I will venture to use an illustration which I have used before. Supposing that when I was Chief Secretary it had been necessary to arrest Dr. Kane or Dr. Hanna, two popular divines in Belfast. If I had sent a small number of police to arrest either of those clergymen coming out of their places of worship in the presence of a great crowd of Orangemen, I am perfectly certain that the Members for North Armagh and Belfast would have come down to this House and moved a Vote of Censure on me, and they would have been right. But contrast this extraordinary carelessness with the precautions taken when removing Father M'Fadden to gaol. Then the authorities, who thought it sufficient to send a small body of police—I am aware there was a larger body in reserve—to arrest him—Surrounded him with a heavy escort of the 60th Rifles and police, mounted and on foot. Carriages containing the police formed a line stretching 30 yards along the road. In front was a detachment of Royal Engineers to examine the bridges, while skirmishers went along the hills to prevent boulders being rolled down on the men below.Surely this is very like a state of civil war. Contrast these precautions with the want of precaution shown at the beginning of this unfortunate catastrophe. I want to ask the House how they can have confidence in police administration which allows a handful of police to be brought into contact with mobs under such circumstances, and which affords such an exhibition of perversity and folly as was made on this occasion. And you will find that all over Ireland, except in the north-east corner, there are at this moment constant collisions, not always on a large scale, but irritating and vexatious, between the police and the people. Some of the cases are almost incredible. I admit that it is not very 273 easy to get accurate information as to what passes in Ireland. But at Tralee in February, on the occasion of Mr. O'Brien's removal, a number of men were brought up for cheering. One of them, for instance, was heard to cheer for Mr. O'Brien when being driven from the station. Will the House believe that for this offence, and this only, the prisoner was ordered to find bail, himself in £5, and two sureties in £2 each, or go to goal for a month? Another cried "Bravo, O'Brien." Mr. Roche, the magistrate, said the prisoner must clearly understand that conduct of this kind—cheering a prisoner while being conveyed to gaol—was illegal, and would not be tolerated. I submit to the House that that is not the law in England, and that no Home Secretary or magistrate would venture to act as if it were the law. Another case was brought up in connection with the same business, and the prisoner was charged with hissing Mr. Cecil Roche. He was bound over to the peace or three months in gaol. At Killarney, also connected with Mr. O'Brien, the crowd were treated with the greatest violence. Prisoners whose conduct appeared to be perfectly harmless were taken to the barracks, and some brought before the magistrates. At the platform where the train reverses there were about 40 boys collected, and while the train was reversing they raised a cheer. Colonel Turner from the carriage ordered the police to charge them. The police, using their rifles as clubs, most mercilessly used them. That was a sample of what was going on. Wherever they had the chance the police were ordered to behave in this brutal manner. There is one case in which I hope the Chief Secretary will give us further information, for the circumstances as stated are so extraordinary that I cannot believe it. But he, perhaps, can tell us whether it is true or not. Two young men were charged with obstructing a constable at Ennis on the 10th of February. The obstruction consisted in the defendants, while engaged in conversation, laughing at the constable. The defendants denied that they were laughing. The magistrate sentenced them to three months' each in default of finding bail for good behaviour.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The Freeman's Journal. [Ministerial laughter.] If I read it from the Times, you would, I suppose, believe it. I said it was not easy to get accurate information from Ireland. The man who has the worst chance of getting accurate information as to what is going on, is the man who is dependent for his information on officials who are never in contact with the people. I say, Sir, this case may not be true, but it requires investigation. There are other cases, but I will push on to more important matters. There was in January a case where there was an extension of the law of riot and unlawful assembly of the most serious kind. Here two men were found guilty of unlawful assembly and imprisoned for one month, and the whole offence proved against them was that they were said to have been in a crowd, some members of which raised a cheer for the Plan of Campaign. If you are in a crowd which cheers for the Plan of Campaign, then you are guilty of an unlawful assembly. That is not the kind of justice which we desire to see administered in Ireland. It is that sort of thing which justifies me in saying that the present administration of the law in Ireland is harsh, oppressive, and unjust. I will now proceed to the sentences of Members of Parliament. I will begin with the most recent of them—the case of the hon. Member for North Kildare, Mr. Carew. I think, Mr. Speaker, as these gentlemen are excluded from this House, I may venture to call them by their names. Now, Sir, I am not going largely into the details of Mr. Carew's case. He stated himself before the magistrates the circumstances out which his arrest arose. Mr. Carew stated the facts as to the tenant O'Byrne, who had been evicted for arrears—arrears with which we have always said you ought to have dealt—and Mr. Carew said that under the circumstances he was bound, as representative of the county, to go over and expose what he considered was nothing better than an act of highway robbery. "I admit," he says, "that I said that." He further admitted that he said if any one was imported into the district such a person should be left severely alone—Boycotted. "If that was a crime," Mr. Carew said, "I admit it. If it be a crime to say that the tenants of Lord Drogheda are under no 275 obligation to provide amusement for Lord Drogheda, by allowing him to run over their land, then I admit I am a criminal to the fullest extent." Now, I am not discussing for a moment the point whether Mr. Carew's speech was legal or illegal. I will take it the magistrate was justified in finding that he had broken the law. But I ask the House to consider what a state of law you have got which enables the Marquess of Drogheda and his agent, and as many other people as like, to oppress the tenants under the screw of arrears of an excessive rent, and yet which does not allow the tenants to combine, and does not allow anyone to advise them to combine, under the penalty of being brought before a coercion magistrate, and being sentenced to four months' imprisonment. The Chief Secretary said on Friday night that there was no distinction between giving advice of this kind and shooting a land-grabber. I do not believe there is a man in the House who will say that Mr. Carew's offence is to be put on the same footing as a crime of violence. Then I come to the case of Mr. Finucane.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I am aware of that. I have not forgotten what the right hon. Gentleman said, and I am going strictly to confine myself to the coldest and baldest statement of the case. Mr. Finucane was charged with conspiracy and intimidation. He made a speech at Castleconnell on the 28th October, 1888, at which he denounced crime, but the Grown brought in evidence of another speech made on the 4th November, and afterwards his attendance at a meeting on the 19th May. At the meeting in May, language of extreme and indefensible violence was used by one of the speakers, but not by Mr. Finucane. The magistrates said—and with these words I will leave the case, but I am bound to refer to it because it is one of the illustrations of the proposition I wish the House to affirm, namely, that the administration of the law is not calculated to win the affection of the people of Ireland—the magistrates, in pronouncing sentence, said Mr. Finucane was at this meeting and he never opened his mouth to condemn such violent language and the Court could come to no other 276 conclusion than that Mr. Finucane lent the sanction of his presence and influence to the urging of this cruel system, and the bench therefore had no option but to find him guilty, and he would be sentenced to four months' imprisonment. Another participator in the meeting who had not been present at the meeting in May, was sentenced to one month's imprisonment. Therefore we may infer that the difference in the punishment was owing to Mr. Finucane not feeling disposed to protest against language used by another person at a previous meeting. Now, Sir, I come to what I consider by far the worst case of all that has happened in the administration of English law for a very long time past—I mean the case of Mr. E. Harrington. [An hon. MEMBER, "In-famous."]. Mr. Harrington was brought up on three charges. Of these one was dropped and another dismissed, and he was convicted and punished for the offence of publication. The charges were—first, being at an unlawful meeting; second, unlawful publication; third, incitement. He was not punished for being present at the meeting; he was not punished for the words used, for the magistrate said, though the language was strong, it was not guilty language; he was, therefore, punished solely and purely for the publication of the proceedings of a suppressed branch of the League, the meetings of which very branch he had for 12 months every week or fortnight reported in the same paper without a word of protest being raised on the part of the Crown. It is quite true that a year ago he had suffered one month's imprisonment for the offence of publication, but he had never desisted, and other proprietors of newspapers in other parts of Ireland went on publishing, and no notice was taken. Yet for doing what he had been doing for 12 months, and what all the other people had been for 12 months all over Ireland and are doing now, he is at this moment enduring the punishment of six months' imprisonment with hard labour. The Chief Secretary spoke the other night of the shocking crimes for which men are imprisoned under this Act—and six months' imprisonment is the severest punishment that can be inflicted under it. Will the right hon. Gentleman get up and say that this offence—the publication of pro- 277 ceedings of suppressed branches of the National League—deserves to be called a shocking crime and deserves to be punished by the punishment that is due to a shocking crime? If it is a shocking crime, why was not he proceeded against before? If it is a shocking crime, why are not others proceeded against? If it is a shocking crime, how was it the magistrate said if he would promise not to repeat it, he would let him off? Is there a Judge or a magistrate in England who, if he deemed an offence actually committed such as to deserve six months' imprisonment, would content himself with ordering the prisoner to be bound over to come up when called upon? The Chief Secretary will, no doubt, get up and say I am attacking the administration of the law. No, Sir, I am attacking the prostitution of the law. There is a circumstance about Mr. Harrington's case which I cannot entirely pass over. You show no quarter in imputing motives to Gentlemen below the Gangway. I do not know why they should show quarter to you. What may have been the motive of the authorities in this case? The Special Commission, which you invested with its powers with such exultation and triumph, although I suspect now you look at it with rather more mixed emotions—the Special Commission was sitting. Mr. Harrington was taking part with the counsel for what I may call the defendants, in that he was advising them with his local knowledge on the Kerry cases then before the Commission. Not only so, but in this speech—not the incriminating portion of it, but in what was, by far, the most important portion of it—he said—I have come down from London to Kerry to warn you men of Kerry that if you go into public-houses to take a drop of drink you had better be careful whom you talk to, because there are spies here who are collecting evidence against Kerry for the Special Commission. I advise you to be careful, and to be kind enough to help me and my brother with any proof that you can find that outrages have been due, in seven cases out of ten, to private disputes, and not to agrarian causes in their proper sense.What authorities, with one spark of tact, with one spark of sense or of management, with one spark of common fairness, after allowing the practice, for which Mr. Harrington was punished, to go on for 12 months, would step for- 278 Ward and say, "We will stop this man; we will prevent his friends from having the benefit of his services; and we will deter the Kerry tenants from following the advice he very sensibly gives them." I now pass from the mode in which prisoners are made to the mode in which prisoners are treated. The Chief Secretary has made some very remarkable statements upon the nature of his own responsibility in this matter. He made a speech at Dublin last Saturday week—a speech, which I am bound to say, does more credit to his capacity for being merry under difficulties than it does to his right feeling. In that speech the Chief Secretary said, "The Prisons Board is not in my department;" and, in his letter to Mr. Armitage the right hon. Gentleman said, "I do not make the prison rules, and I do not administer them." [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman cheers that statement. Well, I do not like to use the language he has introduced into political controversy, as, for example, when he says a statement of my right hon. Friend is "absolutely false." I prefer to stick to the old phrase and to say, "The right hon. Gentleman is greatly mistaken." The Prisons Act, 1877, says:—"The said Board shall, in the exercise of their powers and jurisdiction under this Act, conform to any directions which may from time to time be given to them by the Lord Lieutenant." Now, the Lord Lieutenant is, of course, the same thing for official purposes as the Chief Secretary. "The Board shall exercise their jurisdiction subject to such direction as they may receive from the Lord Lieutenant under the provisions of this Act as to the control and management of all prisons and prisoners therein." I am unable to construe the English language if that does not invest the Chief Secretary with full responsibility for prison treatment. What has struck me very much, and what I cannot understand, and what I hope the Chief Secretary will be able to explain, is how it is that, though in the Chief Secretary's opinion the state of Ireland is improving, the treatment of prisoners is becoming more severe, that proceedings against Members of Parliament are becoming more frequent, and that there is every appearance on the part of the Government of alarm and dismay rather than 279 of confidence and complacency? Now, I am going to refer to a matter to which I am almost ashamed to refer—but after all the shame is not ours, the shame is there (pointing to the Ministerial bench)—and that is the matter of hair cutting. This is a comparatively new device. I believe that the first prisoner who has been subjected to this operation is an hon. Friend now sitting below the Gangway, who was imprisoned in November. Mr. Wilfrid Blunt was not subjected to it, nor was my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and it was never resorted to till the case of my hon. Friend below the Gangway, next upon Mr. Harrington, and now upon Mr. O'Brien. It is not only new, but I submit it is a complete violation of the spirit of the prison rules. What is the prison rule? The prison rule is this—unless it has been altered quite recently:—"Each male prisoner shall have his beard clipped or shall be shaved at least once a week, unless specially exempted by the governor." Therefore the governor has a full right of exemption; but, more than that, "the prisoner's beard shall not be cut closer than may be necessary for the purpose of health or cleanliness." Then surely the Chief Secretary is responsible, and the spirit of this prison rule, which comes under the head, by the way, of "personal cleanliness," has been violated by this odious practice. I wonder the Chief Secretary does not reflect that it is these small indignities that sting most sharply—these stupid, useless humiliations. They may seem very slight for us to be talking about, but they are neither slight nor meaningless in the eyes of those of whom Mr. O'Brien is the very idol. What is the meaning, then, of Mr. O'Brien's resistance, and, I suppose, of Mr. Carew's resistance, if it be true he has resisted? I will tell you what the meaning is, and it is one with which I sympathize. It is a repudiation by the only means, so far as I know, in his power that the offence for which he has been punished was on the same level with, or of the same complexion as, many of the vile, selfish, or brutal offences of common ordinary criminals. My hon. Friend below the Gangway, when he was in prison, I believe, refused not to wear the prison garb, but to take exercise with criminals. I do not know if the House 280 understands what that kind of thing means. I rather think that, in the case of the Member for Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond), he had to take his exercise with a couple of soldiers who had been guilty of an abominable kind of burglary. Would any of you (indicating the Members on the Ministerial side) consent to take your exercise—would the hon. Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), when his time comes, because he constantly says that in a certain event he will defy in arms the law, will he consent—I hope he will not—to take his exercise with ordinary and vile criminals?
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY
Then all I have to say is that I hope I shall be in the House to protest against it. I desire now to make a few general remarks on prison treatment, but I want to begin by saying there is a precedent for the treatment, which, in my opinion, is due to men committed under this Act so long as their offences are confined to incitement by writing or speech. For a precedent I should look into the General Prisons (Ireland) Act, 1877. According to a well-known section of that Act, every prisoner convicted of sedition or seditious libel is directed to be treated as a misdemeanant of the first division. Now, what is sedition? Sedition is defined as "consisting of practices, whether by deed or writing, which have for their object to excite discontent or dissatisfaction, to create public disturbance, or lead to civil war, to bring into hatred or contempt the Sovereign or the Government, the laws or Constitution of the Realm, and generally all endeavours to promote public disorder." Now, will anybody in the House say that offences of this magnitude do not lead to far more widespread peril than can possibly come from incitement to boycotting? I am not defending boycotting or incitement to boycotting, but I ask can it be contended the Acts treated as sedition in their definition are not far more serious to the public peace than the incitement to boycotting? Why should not offenders whose offences under the Crimes Act consist of writing and speech be treated as misdemeanants of the first division? Remember that the protection of a jury is withdrawn, and mark this—that two County Court 281 Judges in four cases have ordered prisoners under this Act to be treated as first-class misdemeanants, and I believe the Resident Magistrates have it fully in their power to do the same. But why are there only four cases in the long record? The answer is quite simple. It is because the Chief Secretary himself, in every speech he ever makes on this subject—I do not say he intends to do it—but the effect is to give his Resident Magistrates and the County Court Judges the cue. The right hon. Gentleman seems impatient at that remark, but it is a perfectly true one. Does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that a Minister in his great position and of his great authority can assure this House and great audiences in the country that there is no distinction between a criminal under this Act and a criminal under any other Act without that having weight with magistrates and County Court Judges? He must be held responsible. But let me say another word in the case of Mr. O'Brien. The Chief Secretary thought that some of us did not properly describe to the public what Mr. O'Brien's offence was. He will presently say that Mr. O'Brien's offence was one of the utmost gravity, because it was a serious incitement to boycott in a neighbourhood where there were evicted farms. Mr. O'Brien's words—and I have never attempted to shirk this—were these—I am afraid land-grabbers are living and thriving in the midst of you. If all our labours for the last ten years have not been in vain, you ought to know how to deal with a land-grabber.Those were the words quoted by the Chief Secretary as being the most important. Now, what did the Chief Secretary say?—If we had passed over those words so serious and so guilty we should have been making ourselves, and the Government would have been making itself accessory to assassination.
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY
He abides by that. Accessory to assassination! Mark this. This guilty speech was made in September, and Mr. O'Brien was brought to justice in January. Therefore, for four months you were accessory to assassination. On Friday night the right hon. Gentleman said, in reference to Mr. Carew's case:—I will not draw a distinction in practice between a man who shoots a land-grabber and a man who deliberately makes speeches having 282 distinct reference to taking evicted farms in the neighbourhood where he speaks.He says he admits no distinction in practice.
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY
You say you admit no distinction in practice; but you do. Do you mean to tell me that if you found a man shooting a land-grabber you would let him remain for four months without arrest? I know what the right hon. Gentleman will say. ["Oh!"] Mr. O'Brien was punished at this time, no doubt, for inciting to boycotting, but he was afterwards punished for the Plan of Campaign. But is advocating the Plan of Campaign as bad as shooting a land-grabber? I should be surprised to hear that, because for advocating the Plan of Campaign Mr. O'Brien got the other day at Tralee six months only, without hard labour, on account of his health; but Mr. Carew's offence, which the right hon. Gentleman thought ought to be treated like shooting a land-grabber, only received four months' imprisonment. Therefore, the law, at all events, treats these two offences in a way which shows that all this talk of putting offences of this kind on a footing with crime like murder is really idle and ridiculous and shameful talk. The Chief Secretary pretends—and I do not think it is a pretension he ought to lay so much stress upon; I do not think it is manly to lay stress upon it—that it was by pleading ill-health that Mr. O'Brien got more relaxation than any other class of prisoner. The truth is, it is the right hon. Gentleman who seeks refuge behind doctors' certificates. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: No.] Yes; and that was the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's despatch of Dr. O'Farrell to Clonmel; and the right hon. Gentleman said so practically. He said he did not send Dr. O'Farrell from motives of humanity or from apprehensions of Mr. O'Brien's health, but lest anything should happen to injure the Government.
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY
I quote from the Times, and here it is—I do not think we ought to permit Mr. O'Brien to ruin his constitution for the purpose of injuring Her Majesty's Government.It is because you did not think Her 283 Majesty's Government ought to be injured that you sent down Dr. O'Farrell. I do not profess to be so subtle a logician as the right hon. Gentleman, but I don't believe that will hold water. Now, Sir, I pass on to another class of inconsistencies of the right hon. Gentleman. He said on Friday night—Every man, so far as I am concerned, who may be imprisoned in Ireland under the law prevailing in Ireland shall be treated as an ordinary prisoner. Any relaxation of the rules must be made, in my opinion, on the authority of the medical officer of the prison.That is not in the least correct. A relaxation of the rules has been made in the case of priests by the right hon. Gentleman on his own authority. The right hon. Gentleman said, on the 26th of June last year—I decided that priests should be subjected to the same treatment as the other prisoners. In the matter of dress alone I would make a distinction.Even that is not correct. It is not in the matter of dress alone that the right hon. Gentleman has made a distinction. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me that in one single instance a priest has been ordered to clean out his cell? Not in one single instance. We know that the Canon Law which he pleaded prescribes rules de habitu clericali, but I am not aware that it lays down any rule de cellis purificandis. Now, do we blame the right hon. Gentleman for extending special treatment to the priests? Not at all; on the contrary, we all thoroughly applaud and approve of it. Even the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston), I believe, approves it. The essential point is this—that the Catholic Church is an entirely voluntary association, and that its disciplinary regulations are of no avail whatever, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, againt the law of the land. That is perfectly clear. Why, then, does he make these exemptions in favour of the Catholic clergy? By making them he admits the existence of the dispensing power, and thus makes himself responsible in every case. But why does he exercise it in the case of the priests? Because to carry out this system of odious humiliation upon the clergy of the Catholic Church, would be to wound and insult the popular sentiment. This is the basis of the exemption, and a perfectly adequate and 284 satisfactory basis it is. Why, then, does he not extend it? If this humiliating treatment of popular Representatives wounds the popular sentiment, why should it not be regarded as a basis for the exceptional treatment of the Representatives of the people? I do not want to go into any metaphysical distinctions as to what punishment is or ought to be, or to discuss whether, as the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) says, degradation depends upon the offence. All that I regard as idle. But I do insist that the Chief Secretary has a discretion, and if he asks me for a guide in the use of that discretion, I would say that, not speaking of a distant planet—not speaking of England or Scotland, but of a country like Ireland—I would say, let him ask himself this question—"What will be the effect of the treatment I am going to inflict, upon the public opinion of the country whose affairs I am administering? Is this harsh, this stupid infliction of personal indignities calculated to lessen the difficulties of government, or to revolt opinion and to sow the seeds of bitter hatred?" If my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) were here, I should read a paragraph from Bentham on this matter which would meet an argument of his. But perhaps the House will not object to hear a very few lines from that very wise man upon the infliction of ignominious punishment. He says—The infliction of ignominious punishments is an appeal to the tribunal of the public—an invitation to the people to treat the offender with contempt, to withdraw from him their esteem. It is a bill drawn upon the people for so much of their ill-will as they shall think proper to bestow. If they look upon him in a less favourable light than they would otherwise, the draft is honoured; if they do not it is protested, and the charge is very apt to fall upon the drawer. Ignominious punishments are like those engines which are apt to recoil and wound the hand that unadroitly uses them.Are these prisoners regarded with moral reprobation in consequence of these humiliating punishments? What did the right hon. Gentleman say in his speech in Dublin? He did not say that the Irish Leaders, these men who are being sent one after another to prison, are paid agitators—he did not say that they are a "a kept party." No, Sir; the Chief Secretary has seen 285 some things in the country, at all events, as they are. He said that the Irish Members of Parliament boasted—these are his words—that—They had a majority of their countrymen with them. They are leaders whom their countrymen are content constantly to follow. They wield a mighty influence.Now, in all seriousness, what do you gain by trying to wound the self-respect of men in such a position? You say they wield a mighty influence, and that they are the real leaders of their countrymen. Surely it is our business to raise their self-respect, and to treat them both in this House and within the doors of the prison as well as you can, and not as ill as you can. There is Mr. Harrington, who, on the occasion of his former imprisonment, was sent out among his own constituents to give evidence in a Court of Justice in a prison dress. Yet the other day, when they brought Delaney, the murderer, over here to give evidence, he was brought up in private clothes. Ah! but there is a great difference in the two cases. Delaney was brought up in England; Mr. Harrington was only brought up in Ireland. Sir, it is this kind of proceeding, the infliction of these small, irritating indignities, is the method by which in the past, as all who know Fenian history are aware, you manufactured rebels, and you are going the right way about manufacturing rebels in the future by all this vexatious, unworthy, unmanly treatment. As I quoted one philosopher, I will quote another, who ascended as far into the heights of political wisdom as, I am sorry to say, the right hon. Gentleman has gone down into the depths of political unwisdom. He says that it is the duty of a ruler not to provoke beyond the necessities of the case; not to leave stings in men's minds which must rankle after the appearances of tranquillity are restored. My charge is that the Chief Secretary has systematically provoked, and is provoking, beyond the necessities of the case. The other propositions of my Amendment do not call for many words from me; but I do ask the House to bear with me a little while longer while I speak rather more generally. The dissatisfaction with which your opponents regard the present harsh, oppressive, and unjust 286 administration in Ireland is almost matched by the impatience of your own friends. These scenes are not what the Unionists bargained for; and it is not only in England that there is great impatience, even on your own side. I should like to read a passage from a newspaper in Belfast, one of the strongest and most earnest supporters of the Government in a quarter where they have not very many, but in which they have the greatest body of supporters. This is a very able journal, very hostile to Home Rule, and very fervent for the Union. What did it say last Thursday?—It has been our duty to defend Mr. Balfour from the very unjust attacks of which he has been the object on the part of the Irish Nationalist Press. But we may state candidly that we believe a great many people who are not unfriendly to the Irish Chief Secretary think he is not so well served by his subordinates in Dublin Castle as he ought to be. They get him into all kinds of difficulties which might, with a little temper and management, very easily he avoided. In administering such a measure as the Crimes Act, as little as possible ought to be left to the discretion of subordinates. When Lord Spencer was Lord Lieutenant, he carefully superintended the working of the whole administrative machinery of Dublin Castle. Now, in everything done in giving effect to the present Crimes Act, there appears to be no effort made to prevent needless friction, or, we may say, needless irritation. The Irish police are an excellent body of men, of whom the country may well be proud. But we may, however, say that their system is not very elastic; it is rough and ready. Mr. Balfour may not be directly responsible for this; but he ought to see it, and do what he can to prevent it. Some persons are very seriously to blame. If they really wished to discredit the coercive system by making it appear to ignorant and prejudiced people as odious as possible, they could scarcely act otherwise than they do. It is the cause of the Union which is thus brought into obloquy, and which is thus misrepresented to the humbler classes, who have only recently been enfranchised. Some of the errors committed by the Castle officials, or those who are presumed to be under their control, seem so extraordinary that it is difficult to believe they could be the effect of mere wrong-headedness or imbecility. We are sometimes almost inclined to suspect that there must be treachery, and that Mr. Balfour is not receiving fair play from some of his official subordinates.The writer goes on to strengthen his case, and he finds the stupidity, want of tact, and want of management in the Executive authority so astounding that he can only account for it on the hypothesis that Mr. Balfour has traitors in Dublin Castle.
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY
The Northern Whig of last Thursday. That is a piece of very impartial and good evidence in favour of my Amendment. You are reducing Irish Government to a mockery and a farce. There never was a time when so many Irish Members of Parliament were in prison. You have got away Mr. O'Brien for six months; you have so disabled the hon. Member for Mayo that he will have to be away for some months. And you have tried another move—you have tried a more serious stroke—you hoped you were going to destroy their Leader. I am not sure their Leader will not destroy you. There never was a time when any Government—not a military despotism, not a Government by right of conquest—was so eager to take every opportunity in every direction, of openly, ostentatiously, and defiantly exhibiting their contempt, not merely for the legal rights of the people of Ireland, but for all their most honourable sympathies, feelings, and affections. We are told there is a policy of conciliation, and it is to be looked for in a development of material resources. The Chief Secretary is to come bearing balm upon his healing wings in the shape of a Drainage Bill. He is going to minister to a mind diseased by light railways. What position will this Parliament be in when you have got rid of a section of important Irishmen for criticizing, for supervising, for sanctioning these measures, which, more than all others, particularly demand special local Irish knowledge? The tide of opinion—you must know it—against the inanity of one part of your policy, meeting the tide of feeling against the barbarity of another part of your policy—the confluence of these tides is rising and will sweep you away. Sir, I am not fond of holding the opinion of the constituencies in terrorem over a lawfully constituted Parliament. I know it is the duty of a lawfully constituted Parliament honestly, courageously, and independently to shape its course, and not to waver because there may be transient changes in the current of public opinion. But it would be very wonderful if this change were transient, unless, the people of England and Scotland have completely changed all their habits of thought and feelings which have made 288 their country what it is. But, although I hold this view, there are peculiar circumstances in the present Parliament. Yes, the history of your Parliamentary majority is one long fraud upon the constituencies. There is not one in ten of you, on both sides of the House, who did not at the elections repudiate coercion. There is not one in 50 of you who did not promise local government extension in Ireland. What has become of your promise of local government? The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir John Colomb) who seconded the Address said what you all say—the time is not opportune; the country is not quiet. That is a very remarkable argument, because the Chief Secretary for Ireland is presently going to tell us that outrages have gone down from 1,100 in 1886 to 660 in 1888; that boycotting has gone down 75 per cent. If in 1886 Ireland was quiet enough to have local government promised to it, why on earth is it not quiet enough now? I hope my hon. Friend the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Courtney), who said in the House, if not out of it, that he will never stand indefinite postponement of local self-government—[Mr. COURTNEY: Hear, hear!] I am glad that he cheers—I hope he will ask the Government why they do not fulfil the promises he and others made on their behalf. The President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), whom I do not see in his place, spoke very strongly on the necessity of giving Ireland an extension of local government, if it is quiet. If it is not quiet enough, and you do not think it is quiet enough, what does that show? It shows that you do not in your hearts believe in your own salutary results; it shows that you do not believe your own figures; that you do not accept the very tests of returning order which you try to press upon the House. Well, how long is this farce of Parliamentary misrepresentation to go on? Is this the best, after three years, that you are capable of doing for Ireland? Is this all you can do towards the solution of the Irish question? Are we for three or four years more to endure the scandal and disgrace of scenes which your own friends condemn—the scandal and disgrace of a policy which is founded in error, which is persisted in with a blind obstinacy to 289 the lessons of experience, and which is carried on from day to day with a flagrant disregard of forethought, common sense, and policy? No, Sir, I do not think we are; I think the time is swiftly coming, I think the hour is almost now on the point of striking, when an irresistible voice will come up from the nation in the words of a great statesman of the last century, in a resolution to pray Her Majesty that she will be graciously pleased again to recur to the sense of her people, and to let her people decide the great issues, great for the peace of Ireland, great for the honour of England, which divide you from us. Mr. Speaker, there is one word more before I pit down which I feel bound to say. There is one chapter in the history of the administration during the last three or four months into which we shall, when the proper time comes—and I have no intention of anticipating that time—have to make a sharp and searching inquisition. We shall want to know whether it is true, and if it be true, on what principle it is, that officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary in receipt of public pay, have acted as collectors of evidence in the interests of one party in a great process now going on. We shall want to know whether it is true that Resident Magistrates in receipt of public pay assisted, or were present, at the taking of evidence in this great process, either in Ireland or in London. We shall want to know whether any one in the position of a Crown Solicitor has acted as a paid agent in an inquiry relating to crime in his own county, and whether such action is compatible with his position. We shall want to know whether Government officials have handed over secret and important documents, the property of the Government, to enable individuals to make a case against certain persons. We shall want to know all these things, and all else that you have done in furtherance of what may prove to have been a fabric of imposture and of plot, of which you have infatuatedly made yourselves the dupes and the accessories. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
In paragraph 8, line 4, to leave out all the words after the word "Country." to the end of the paragraph, in order to insert the words,
"But we humbly present to your Majesty that the present system of administration in Ireland is harsh, oppressive, and unjust; that it violates the rights and alienates the affections of your Majesty's Irish subjects, and is viewed with reprobation and aversion by the people of Great Britain.
And we humbly represent to your Majesty that such measures of conciliation should be adopted as may bring about the contentment of the Irish people, and establish a real union between Great Britain and Ireland.—(Mr. John Morley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ * THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down certainly did not require to make apologies to the House for this Motion. If we consider the attitude which the Opposition have taken up during the last three weeks of the Recess, if we consider the speeches they have made, and the accusations they have hurled against the Irish Government—accusations to the savage bitterness of which I think you will search in vain through history to find a parallel—we shall be of opinion that had they had not taken the earliest opportunity of bringing these charges against the Government in the House, where they can be replied to face to face, they would have shown themselves utterly unworthy of their Parliamentary position. I am therefore not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have brought forward this Motion, but I am surprised at something that he has put into the speech, and at something that he has kept out of the speech. I am surprised that he in the last few words of his peroration should have taken advantage of his position, and urged charges against the Government at a time when he knew that his words would pass current in the country, but that we could not by any possibility take up the challenge which he threw down. I am surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's having alluded to that question at all, but I am still more surprised that he has omitted to allude to another part of the controversy which has raged during the Recess. Why, Sir, the party whom on this oc- 291 casion he represents have filled my waste paper basket day after day with resolutions embodying the most horrible charges against me and against my colleagues—charges of cruelty, charges of brutality, charges of cynical savageness. Yes, Sir, these charges were made in the Recess, and they are cheered now. Why were they not made by the right hon. Gentleman in his speech? [An hon. MEMBER: They were!] Why was there not one word about these imaginary horrors alleged to have taken place in connection with the prison treatment of Mr. O'Brien? Why, Sir, because it has begun slowly to dawn upon the right hon. Gentleman that he and his Friends have either been dupers or been duped, and that the stories to which they have been giving currency—calumnious stories against prison officials and against the Government—have absolutely no foundation in fact. ["Oh, oh!"] [An hon. MEMBER: You shall have them yet.] An hon. Gentleman says we shall have them yet.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Quite so; you put up your leader upon Irish questions to state the indictment against the Government; then the Chief Secretary, the man implicated, follows him, but you wait to make the gravest of your charges until he sat down and has no further power of reply. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman began his speech by discussing certain matters, all, I think, the House will admit rather unimportant compared with the great issue which is before us, and with which I shall deal with great brevity. He read out an article from a newspaper called the Northern Whig, which appeared to accuse the Government of errors in its administration, and the right hon. Gentleman himself has brought forward one case which he considers a gross error committed by the Government—an error so gross that practically they ought to be made responsible for it. From the extracts which the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to hand me across the table, I could not see what it was precisely to which the Northern Whig alluded, but I gather that the blunders alleged against the Government have been in the methods by which the arrest has been made of certain Members of this House in England and Scotland. Now, Sir, 292 I take this opportunity of saying that that has nothing whatever to do with the Irish Government. I have no control over the matter at all. If there had been blunders, a point on which I offer no opinion as matter of law it rests with the local police to carry out the arrest at such time, at such place, and in such manner as they think fit; and the Irish Government and the Irish Constabulary are not responsible for it. Of course, with regard to the melancholy and tragical circumstance connected with Father M'Fadden, the case is different. Un-questionably there was an error committed by the officer on the spot, an error of judgment. Nobody doubts, that; but for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Central Government were responsible for that is surely very harsh, If we had not provided sufficient police, if we had not given adequate support to the officer charged with the duty of arresting Father M'Fadden, of course we should have been to blame; but the error was not that at all; the error was simply an error of strategy; an error of tactics committed on the spot—namely, that the large body of police who were there—an adequate body of police—were not close enough to the chapel where the arrest was taking place, and they could not therefore arrive in time to save the life of Inspector Martin, and drive back the cowardly mob which did him to death. Well, then, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman talked of the legal iniquities that are being perpetrated in Ireland, and he said that the motto of a Scotch Judge might be applied to the Resident Magistrates—"Bring me a prisoner, and I will find you the law." A grosser calumny upon a deserving body of men ["Deserving of what?"] who carry out duties of unexampled difficulty amid circumstances made unnecessarily difficult for them partly by the action of the right hon. Gentleman himself, has never been made. I think, without any long discussion, I can bring home to the minds of all who hear me in a very striking manner what kind of truth there is in these allegations, so constantly levelled, not, after all, only against Resident Magistrates, but against the County Court Judges, who have nothing whatever to do with the Executive Government. Now, Sir, a counsel who was in 293 Court the other day informs me, and, I have no doubt, informs me correctly, that the Chief Baron, whose authority in such matters the right hon. Gentleman will be the last to dispute, used these words in delivering a charge:—"If," said Chief Baron Palles, "a comparison was made between the number of cases where the judgments of the Judges of the Superior Courts were set aside in banc and the cases in which the decisions of the magistrates are reversed, the comparison would be most favourable to the magistrates." And I am also informed that Baron Dowse on the same occasion said:—"I must say that the judgments of the magistrates are submitted to the severest criticism and with no predilection in their favour." But that is not all. I have given you the opinion of a most competent authority.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No, Sir. If the accuracy is disputed, the hon. Member may charge me with inaccuracy if he pleases. Having given to the House the opinion of a most competent authority, will they allow me to give them certain figures which, I think, bring out the facts stated by Chief Baron Palles in a most striking manner? Under the ordinary law, as distinguished from the Crimes Act, I find the percentage of reversals of the total number of cases brought up on appeal is 26½, and under the Crimes Act only eight; and when the right hon. Gentleman tells the House that the motto for these Resident Magistrates is, "Find me the prisoner and I will find you the law," I further call his attention to this fact, that 66 per cent. of the persons tried before the Resident Magistrates were convicted, while the percentage of convictions before juries in the same year was 71. So much for the last shape in which criticism of the Resident Magistrates is presented to us. Now I will pass to that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in which he dealt with the question of prison treatment. I will later on deal with that part of his case in which he dealt with the method, as he said, by which prisoners have been produced. These are two altogether different questions—absolutely different questions—rather mixed up in the speech of the 294 right hon. Gentleman, wholly mixed up, as far as I can make out, in ordinary popular discussion. But there are two branches of this question of prison treatment which we ought carefully to distinguish. The first is, what are the actual prison rules, and, secondly, ought Members of this House, and others brought up under the Crimes Act to be treated according to those rules? I hope the House will understand that that distinction ought to be kept in view by any man who desires to have a perfectly clear view of this case. The right hon. Gentleman has, I think, again in this House, as he did in the country, entirely misled his audience as to my relation with the Prisons Board. I stated—and I am perfectly ready to state again—that the management of prisons in Ireland is not in my department; and no more it is. What is known as the Chief Secretary's Department is a perfectly definite official organization. I am not dealing with technicalities at all. The essential difference is this—anything which is in my department I am directly responsible for. It comes before me in ordinary course, and my signature is required before any matter can be carried out. It is carried out by a staff in the Chief Secretary's Department. The Prisons Board bears precisely the same relation to the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary, who advises the Lord Lieutenant, as the Prisons Board in England bears to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and that relation is not the relation of a department to its chief. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian expresses every sign of disgust and disapprobation at that statement.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am alluding to the Member for Mid Lothian, whom I saw express signs of disgust and disapprobation.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That does not alter the expression of disgust. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian agrees with 295 me and disagrees with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. And this seems the more probable when I recollect the statement made by the Member for Mid Lothian himself only last summer. At that time it was the cue of hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that I had everything to do with the prisons, in order that they might prove that I was responsible for the death of Mr. Mandeville. When they were in that frame of mind, what said the Member for Mid Lothian? "Who are the Prisons Board in Ireland? The Executive Government. I do not believe it is so in England, and I hope not, and I believe not." Now, apparently, contrary to the belief of the right hon. Gentlemen on his right and left hand, it turns out that this state of things which the right hon. Gentleman did not believe, or, if it existed, would deplore, is, according to the last liberal doctrine, not only the actual state of things in Ireland but in England also. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is right, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby is wrong. I have taken the pains to go into it. The interpretation which I understand is received at the Home Office in England is that the Home Secretary has no direct control over the destiny of prisoners. It is his business, no doubt, in conjunction with Parliament, to frame laws for prison discipline; but it is not the business of the Home Secretary nor of his department to control the separate destinies of individual prisoners. I have never denied that I have relations with the Prisons Board. Of course not. I have not only denied it, but I have proclaimed it on the house-top. I have not, however, that control over individual prisoners which Members opposite would attribute to me.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then comes down the right hon. Gentleman, and, not for the first time, says, "How comes it, then, that you have relaxed the rules in favour of priests?" I have never concealed from the House that it was, in my opinion, a doubtful point whether that relaxation was not a straining of the Act. I have said so before, and I am perfectly ready to say so again. But I have made inquiry, and I find that in England precisely the same kind of 296 relaxation is made when questions of religious feeling or religious prejudice come into account. I find, for example, in England there have been regulations made and acted upon by which Jews have certain privileges as regards food prescribed by the Jewish creed. I also find that, as far as possible, the prejudices of Hindoos with regard to caste are respected in English prisons. I maintain, therefore, that in making the relaxation to which I have alluded I have—unconsciously, I admit—followed the analogy of the English practice. How is that case to be distinguished from the action which right hon. Gentlemen desire me to take in dealing with the particular destinies of individual prisoners in the way of relaxation of prison rules? I maintain that the two cases are absolutely different. In one case I deal with a perfectly defined class. I deal with that class not by way of making their punishment less than that of their fellows, but by making that punishment equal, because I hold—and I am sure the House will agree with me—that it is an additional punishment to compel a priest to do that which the rules of the Roman Catholic Church either forbid or discourage him from doing. You will observe that there are two wide distinctions between the action I have taken and the action I am asked to take. On these two distinctions I have partly based—though I have another and stronger reason to give—my justification for what I have done, and my justification for refusing to do what I have been asked to do. There is this further reason—the right hon. Gentleman twitted me with considering Irish prejudices in what I did.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Irish sentiment is making the relaxation in favour of priests. Properly stated, I have no objection to that indictment. The House is aware that, speaking broadly, we may say that every member of the disestablished Church in Ireland, every member of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, every member of the Wesleyan body, and every Quaker is a man not only attached to the Union between Ireland and this country, but who fervently approves the administration of the Crimes Act as carried on in that country. I 297 admit it is true, that almost every leading Roman Catholic of position, whether at the Bar or on the Bench—well, I do not know about the Bench—whether in commerce, or in whatever line of life he may be—almost every leading Roman Catholic also shares the same view—but, nevertheless, the fact remains that undoubtedly the great mass of support which the Government receive in Ireland is Protestant. Was there not, under these circumstances, great danger that the issues we were fighting in Ireland—the issue between law and disorder—would be confounded with those ancient and perennial religious quarrels which have added so much to the unhappiness of a country whose political history has been far from fortunate? Was not that a reason, in addition to all other reasons, why I should take every pains in my power to make it clear to every Roman Catholic in Ireland and out of it, that, while I was determined, irrespective of creed or station, to enforce the law, I was most anxious in every respect to consider the legitimate feelings of the Roman Catholic priesthood? Then the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to make some observations upon the subject of hair-cutting in gaol, and he appears to assume that the practice of clipping hair began for the first time last October. That I believe to be an absolutely unfounded statement. A question has been put down on the Paper on this subject, but postponed, for I have not yet been able to get the information from Ireland, but if my recollection serves me right, as I think it does, no man has been excepted.
§ * MR. BALFOUR
Will the hon. Member allow me—except on a doctor's certificate. Speaking from recollection, that was so in the case of the hon. Member for East Mayo, and in the case of Mr. Blunt.
§ MR. DILLON
Will the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to state the nature of the disease which prevented my hair being cut?
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My recollection of the diseases of the hon. Member is not very complete, although I have read a great deal about them. I think hon. Gentlemen are a little unreasonable. If I am asked a question I may be permitted to answer it. There is no 298 doubt—there never has been any doubt—that the hon. Member for East Mayo is a gentleman of delicate constitution. He was in hospital during the whole time of his confinement in gaol, and naturally, under these circumstances, I had to read various reports concerning the state of his health. I have said nothing offensive either to him or to the House. I feel sure the hon. Member will accept my assurance that nothing personal to him was meant. But to continue my argument. Now the right hon. Gentleman appears to think that this is a specially Irish form of brutality in prison treatment. But there is the case of the Member for N. W. Lanark (Mr. C. Graham), and if any man in England was sent to prison for a political offence—assuredly he was. He had his hair cut, he had to sleep on a plank bed, he had to put on the prison dress, and yet without protest, without agitation, he went all through that so-called degrading punishment which now moves hon. Gentlemen to horror and tears.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The distinction, therefore, of the learned Gentleman is this—a man convicted by a jury may have these indignities placed on him, but a man who is not so convicted may not. There is an end of your prison case if that is your argument. I do not think I need go further into that question at the present moment. I have fully dealt with every point brought forward, but if hon. Gentlemen are anxious for me to say more, do not them suppose that I have not a great deal more to say. I said to the House on Friday night that the fears of the Member for Cork that no Irish Nationalist would henceforth condescend to take advantage of a doctor's certificate were wholly unfounded. I stated that the statistics I had collected proved that there had been a great deal more relaxation in the case of persons committed under the Crimes Act than in the case of persons committed under the ordinary law. According to the statistics for last month, the percentage is 4 per cent in cases of ordinary crime and 18 per cent in cases under the Crimes Act. The right hon. Gentleman then replies: "You are sheltering yourself under doctors' certificates." "You employ your doctors to alter 299 those rules by a side wind which you refuse to alter by a direct exercise of authority." That is his criticism. But how does that consist with the charges daily brought against me by the right hon. Gentleman's friends that I desire to murder my political opponents? Choose which branch of the charge you like to make, but do not make both. Do not at once say, "You are using prison doctors for the purpose of slaughtering your opponents," and at the same time say, "You are exercising illegitimate pressure upon your prison doctors in order to make your path in the House of Commons easier." Even more striking than the case of the ordinary Crimes Act prisoners is the case of the five gentlemen who have been put into prison in connection with the recent efforts to stir up disorder in Kerry. Of the five, I find that only one has taken his prison treatment in the ordinary way. The other four, although they have all shown great energy in carrying out the agitation, have acted differently.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Member for West Kerry (Mr. E. Harrington). He was not put in prison because the doctor said it would endanger his life. He had been working with great energy, and had shown no signs of weakness. [An Irish MEMBER: "What do you insinuate?] I am making no accusation against him. Then, Sir, there is the Member for North-East Cork, whose case we all know about. Then there is the case of a Mr. O'Connor—not a Member of this House—who was discovered to be epileptic, and he had to be discharged on that account. Then there is the case of the Member for East Limerick (Mr. Finucane.) He was put in hospital the first day of his arrival. That accounts for four out of the five whose lives I am accused of trying to take. Now I want to know what justification there is for accusing me of cynical brutality in the treatment of these men? I am not going to argue the case whether they ought to be treated as ordinary prisoners. I shall come to that by-and-by; but, assuming that they ought to be so treated, what justification is there for the charges made against me on every platform in England? How have I interfered to make 300 their punishment heavier than the law has made it. I am charged with having jested over the sufferings of these people. Sir, I have never jested. I have never done so; but in my opinion a great deal of what has gone on is essentially absurd and unworthy of grave treatment, although I have always tried to treat it gravely; and surely it indicates a morbid and diseased state of the public mind when an audience like that addressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle could find tears to weep over the self-imposed discomforts of Mr. O'Brien, but only laughed when the right hon. Gentleman mentioned the death of Mr. Inspector Martin.
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. I was present at that meeting, and all I can say is, I did not hear laughter, nor did the reporters of any newspaper, except two.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The truth is undoubtedly, that, as I admit, you have produced some temporary effect among your own followers. They believe seriously that a great tragedy is being enacted in Ireland. But we who see the mechanism of all this drama; we who see the trap-doors, the scene-shiftiers—yes, and the well-dressed claque sitting in the stalls—we do not think that amidst the real tragedies of contemporary Irish history—which is full of tragedy—the stage tragedy of Mr. O'Brien deserves an important place. But I pass from these criticisms to the larger and more important question, whether we ought or ought not to make a distinction between Crimes Act prisoners or a special section of them and other prisoners. Now it seems to me there is a confusion of thought here, almost exceeding the inaccuracy of statement. As I gather, there are three arguments for this distinction of treatment. There is the "distinguished and the popular man" argument—the argument which says that because a man is a good speaker, or happens to be popular with his fellow-countrymen, he is not to be treated as an ordinary prisoner. Next, there is the genteel argument—the argument which says that because a man has been brought up in circumstances of comfort and luxury, therefore he ought to be treated more tenderly than the man who has had a rough life and who has 301 had harder fare. And there is the third argument—that these are political offenders, and because they are political they ought to be treated with greater leniency than would be the case if they had committed ordinary offences. I think the first argument is wholly absurd. The Member for Bridgeton made a speech in Glasgow about the eloquence of Mr. O'Brien, and founded on that an argument that he should be treated exceptionally. I will not dispute with the right hon. Gentleman about Mr. O'Brien's style. No man has had more experience of it. But to me it seems absolutely absurd to say that because any individual happens to be gifted by nature with eloquence or any other qualities which endear him to large masses of men, for that reason he is to be specially treated. As to the genteel argument, I will only say that there is this much to be said for it. It aims at equalising treatment which, though nominally the same, is not really the same for persons differently brought up. I think, perhaps, that is a strong argument; at all events, it has some meaning. Very good, then; carry it out in your prisons generally. There are 20,000 prisoners, on any given day, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, under the ordinary law. There are about 100 Crimes Act prisoners. If you want to reform, begin with the 20,000, and not with the 100. Now, Sir, I come to the more important argument, which says that a distinction ought to be drawn in favour of the Crimes Act prisoners, because they are guilty of a political offence. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted Bentham, but I am bound to say that Bentham would have fainted if he had heard that argument. Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously lay it down in this House that the Executive Government should choose out for special favour, for special treatment, those prisoners who aim by criminal means legal objects? Bentham would have been shocked beyond measure. I do not deny that in one sense those offences are political, but in another sense they are not. You yourselves have been in the habit of saying that they are not. It is said their object is to simply relieve the Irish tenants and to prevent people from being turned out of their houses and 302 homes. That may be a good object, but it is certainly not a political object. Therefore, if your own account be taken they are not political offenders. But I will waive this. These men, I do not doubt, have a political object in view. They have stated over and over again that they are carrying on the work of the rebells of '98, the rebells of '48, and the rebells of '68. Some of them have announced that they adhere to the physical force party. They tell us they are engaged in operations which practically mean rebellion, or are intending to carry on the work of rebellion, and that therefore makes them political offenders. Yes, and it makes the dynamiter a political offender. It makes the political assassin a political offender. And until you are prepared to carry out your principle to a logical conclusion, until you are prepared to say that the man who attempts to blow up this House or murder a Chief Secretary or other official is to be treated with special relaxation of the prison rules, your political offender argument, in my opinion, absolutely falls to the ground. The right hon. Gentleman seems to hold that because a man aims at a good object, that justifies him. Is the right hon. Gentleman so ignorant of jurisprudence as to hold that because a man aims at a good object that is a ground for giving him special and exceptional treatment? I cannot imagine a man having a better object than that of supporting his wife and family; yet if he goes out and steals something from a baker's shop in order to effect that object you do not make that man a first-class misdemeanant—you send him to penal servitude. I want to know how you are to reconcile facts like that with the contention you now advance? I will take a stronger case—that of your own Corrupt Practices Act of 1883. Under that Act, if a man corruptly gives £5 to assist in bringing into Parliament a candidate whom he conscientiously believes will support that Party whose advent to power may in his opinion be the saving of the nation, you send him to prison and inflict on him all the ignominy of ordinary imprisonment. Perhaps he may be a Member of this House—he may be passionately beloved by the constituency he is wooing; but on that account are you going to give that man 303 exceptional treatment? Until you can draw a distinction between him and the Gentlemen below the Gangway. Your argument stands self-condemned. You take the case of the man who deliberately breaks the law in Ireland. I say that he is indirectly responsible for the crime which he knows often has followed and probably may again follow from the action he has taken. I think it would be a monstrous thing to distinguish between those who come down to preach against the land-grabber and the moonlighter who goes, in consequence of that incitement, and fires bullets through the landgrabber's windows. But, if there is to be different treatment, do you think the Government ought to decide that question? I say that a Court of Law, and a Court of Law only, is entitled to say what sentence the man shall undergo. The right hon. Gentleman thinks I ought to determine what sentences these men should undergo. I think that is a monstrous doctrine, which, if carried to its fullest extent, would utterly destroy all equality of punishment, all responsibility of Courts of Law, and throw on the Executive Government a responsibility which no Executive could bear without discrediting itself. You require me to modify arbitrarily the punishment of persons like the Member for North-East Cork, Mr. Sheehan, and Mr. Finucane. Am I to modify the punishment of their associates? Am I to distinguish between the inciter to crime and the committer of the crime? Does he found that doctrine upon any principle of jurisprudence? If so, does he limit it to Irish prisoners? Why, Sir, if this principle were carried out, we should have to remodel, not only the whole prison discipline from the top to the bottom, but the whole principles upon which the laws of the country have hitherto rested. I may say that I shall not object myself to have the general question adequately discussed; but what I shall object to is the carrying out of this principle for a first time in connection with a particular class of prisoners under a particular law. I shall require that you make any alteration general in its application, and that the measure you mete out to the Crimes Act prisoners in Ireland shall be meted out to prisoners in England and Scotland and the unproclaimed districts of Ire- 304 land. The right hon. Gentleman missed out, as I told the House, all reference to the accusations levelled against me with regard to the maltreatment of prisoners. And he did well, for those stories are false. He has also left out all reference to stories which, unhappily, are true of the monstrous system of intimidation to which prison officials in Ireland are subjected whenever it suits the political game of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. The story is a melancholy and disgraceful one—I will not weary the House with it, but I could show you in case after case how warders are insulted and sometimes assaulted in the streets. A Governor had disgraceful charges trumped up against him, I believe, simply and solely because he was engaged in one of those transactions. I would remind the House of the terrible tragedy of Dr. Ridley, how his windows were broken, how he was spit at in the streets, how he lost his practice, and was reduced to fear of want, all because it pleased hon. Gentlemen opposite, in pursuance of a political design, to set that agitation on foot against him. Now consider the last case—the case of Clonmel prison. The moment Mr. O'Brien was put into gaol the persecution began. It began with a most monstrous article published in a local print, called, I think, the Nationalist. I will not read the whole of that article, which suggests, among other amiable things, that I am a proper subject for assassination. Then it goes on to say that the callous and brutal conduct of the prison doctor was simply outrageous." The result was what you might expect—volleys of stones were thrown, his windows were broken, his shutters were broken. The unfortunate man had to turn out armed with a rifle, he had to seek the protection of the police, and since then he has not been a moment without that protection. Three societies employing him as their doctor at once gave him up, many of the Roman Catholics of the town rapidly left him, and every effort was made to ruin his practice or tamper with his honesty. The fate of the Governor is not much better. He and his wife and children cannot leave the prison without protection. Threatening letters—not like those foolish missives which are sent to me and to other right hon. Gen. when they are in power, 305 and are the outcome of a disordered brain—but threatening letters which mean something are sent to him, and this outrageous persecution is simply and solely the result of the fact that he has attempted to administer the rules imposed upon him by his superiors and by Parliament, and that in doing so he happens to have excited the wrath of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway and their friends in Ireland. I am glad to have this opportunity of calling attention to what I think one of the meanest and most disgraceful episodes of an agitation which has been stained by many mean and many disgraceful episodes. I now turn to the not less important—perhaps even more important question—of the grounds on which these men have been convicted. I would point out to the House that all these recent events in Ireland must be taken as parts of a whole. They are parts of one great conspiracy to make the administration of the law an impossibility. The hon. Member for North-East Cork advocated, to the best of his ability, in a letter which has been made public, a great movement in favour of starting the Plan of Campaign and making the administration of the law impossible all over Ireland. Please notice that it was not merely the Plan of Campaign which was to form the weapon of hon. Gentlemen. All those prison scenes—all those scenes in Court—are part of the same great drama. For they know that while disorder and outrage are the proper instruments for influencing Ireland, sensational scenes and inaccurate statements are the corresponding means of appealing to the English public. I call attention to an interview stated to have taken place between the hon. Member for North-East Cork and the representative of the Pall Mall Gazette, in which it was stated that one of the main objects of the drama as to the prison clothes was to make the administration of a Coercion Government impossible. The same statement has been made by other persons. The date of the paper is February 18, 1888. He said:—"My means are governed by great principles. First, it is absolutely necessary to avail yourselves of every possible opportunity you can to put every conceivable obstacle in the way of the easy working of a Coercionist Government." I am not arguing whether that 306 is a good or a bad object; I am pointing out that it was the object, and these scenes were the first steps towards the attainment of it. The hon. Member for North-East Cork has five times come before a Court of Law. The first time was at Mitchelstown, the second at Middleton, the third at Loughrea, the fourth at Carrick-on-Suir, and the fifth at Tralee. At Mitchelstown his counsel described the opposing counsel as a liar, he was asked to withdraw and refused, and went out of Court with a great flourish of trumpets. At Middleton, Mr. O'Brien attempted to escape in the middle of the trial, and a bogus telegram intended to facilitate that escape was sent to the police. At Loughrea, in the course of the trial there, the depositions were stolen. [An hon. MEMBER: By whom?] At Carrick-on-Suir, Mr. O'Brien and his counsel, the learned Gentleman the Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), engaged in a transaction which I can only interpret as a deliberate attempt to get up a riot. That attempt was finally successfull, and in the middle of the disorder, out goes the Member for North-East Cork, rides across country, turns up at Manchester, does exactly what he intended to do—namely, makes a scene, goes back to prison, and makes another scene. Then he is tried again at Tralee, and at Tralee the same drama, with slight variations, is played again. Again, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Longford insults the Court.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
How did I insult the Court? Will the right hon. Gentleman quote my speech?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman has insinuated that I called somebody a liar; next that I tried to get up a riot, and, lastly, that I insulted the Court at Tralee. Will the right hon. Gentleman justify his accusations?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then hon. and learned Gentleman is mistaken. I did not charge him with calling anyone a liar. He was not the counsel in the Mitchelstown case; when, however, he was counsel at Tralee, I believe, he used language of a very improper kind. 307 [A VOICE: Quote.] I shall not read, and I shall not quote.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to order. I wish to ask whether a statement can be made that I, in the course of my professional duties, insulted a tribunal without advancing some reason for that allegation?
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is not for me to order any reason to be given; it rests entirely with the right hon. Gentleman.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have not the least desire to hurt the feelings of the hon. Gentleman. [An hon. MEMBER: Quote the words!] I have not the words here, but I recollect them perfectly well, wherein he described Colonel Turner as a sneak. I do not know whether that is language that meets with the approval of the front Opposition bench. The Court held that that was not a decent proceeding, and the hon. and learned Gentleman left the Court.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I did not leave the Court. The right hon. Gentleman will do me the justice to say that I did not leave the Court. I was dragged from the Court. I did not insult the Court. Colonel Turner was not a member of the Court, and it is right that I should state that I said what I did of Colonel Turner under provocation given to me by him the previous night, when I arrived in the town and he shouted out I was a blackguard.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not make any comment upon the explanation the hon. Gentleman has given. At all events the fact remains that he was carried out of Court, and that he produced that kind of sensational scene which invariably accompanies these proceedings. Now, Sir, all these scenes represent the smaller and meaner side of the Irish agitation; the more tragic side is connected with the objects which these Gentlemen, the hon. Member for North-East Cork and his Friends, have had in view in supporting this agitation. When they found to their dismay and disgust that Ireland was quietening down, that crime was diminishing, that boycotted farms were being taken, they determined to do all that in them lay to put an end to a state of things so disastrous to them and so beneficial to the country. Their instrument was the Plan of Campaign. Now, has the House realized what the Plan of Campaign 308 is? We all know that it is an illegal action, and that high authorities pronounced it to be an immoral action. Has the House realized not onlv that it is illegal and immoral, but that it is productive of the most disastrous and tragic consequences in every district where it is set up? The Plan of Campaign means something more than an illegal combination among tenants; it means boycotting, it means evictions, it means outrage; it often means, or may often mean, murder. It promotes those scenes at the time of evictions which have been more than once on the very verge of producing bloodshed; and I say that the man who deliberately goes down to a district in order to further the Plan of Campaign and the invariable accompaniment of the Plan of Compaign, boycotting, who preaches it in a district where the Plan does not exist, and where land-grabbers do exist, and where they are known by name—I say that that man makes himself responsible for the crimes that follow from his action. I will take as an example of what I say what occurred at Kerry. In no district in Ireland have the beneficent effects of the Crimes Act been more apparent than in County Kerry. The recrudence of the agitation of which the hon. Member for North-East Cork is the leading Representative began at the end of September. In the County Kerry, from the 1st of August to the middle of October, the only agrarian crime was one threatening letter. The fiat goes out from the Member for North-East Cork, the whole machinery of agitation is set to work; meetings are held, the Plan of Campaign is preached, the land-grabber is denounced. What is the result? Why, Sir, the result is that from the 14th of October till towards the end of December eleven cases of crime, mostly serious crime, occurred. Killing cattle, maiming cattle, arson in various forms—all these occurred, and undoubtedly were in a large measure owing to the action of these gentlemen.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the hon. Gentleman doubts that there is some connection between the Plan of Campaign and crime, let me remind him that on the 1st of January this year moonlighters went round Lord Kenmare's estate and threatened the tenants that if they did not join the Plan—that peaceful method of adjusting differences between landlords and tenants—they would have to take the consequences. And let the House notice, when they talk of combinations among tenants, that these combinations are never, or hardly ever, the result of the spontaneous action of the tenants themselves. They are hounded on to these proceedings by Gentlemen below the Gangway. Of the four or five gentlemen who were specially engaged in this transaction, not one was a tenant-farmer. One was a journalist, one was an hotel-keeper, one was a shopkeeper in Killarney, and one a draper in Bantry. On the Olphert Estate, the name of which has become faithfully familiar to the ears of hon. Gentlemen, I believe the houses were fortified under the instructions of a stranger, and, in one case at least, they were defended not by the families to be evicted, not by people fighting for their hearths and homes, but by outsiders, brought in for the purpose of carrying on that which is to all intents and purposes an episode in civil war. [An hon. MEMBER: In three cases!] Yes, in three cases. I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his reminder. With these facts, what is the use of talking about conciliation? What is the use of stating in your Resolution that what you desire is conciliation, when you (pointing to the Members below the Gangway on the Opposition side of the House) are the people who stop conciliation? You foul the stream and you ask us to give you clear water. Where your baneful influence does not spread there will you find the relations between the people and the police, between landlord and tenant, daily improving. But let some of these successors of the rebels of '98, '48, and '68 come down, and speedily there is a change. Just because their object is not peace, but disorder, they produce war between classes; they produce outrage, riot, boycotting, and that which invariably, in the long run, accompanies boycotting—they produce 310 assassination; and under these circumstances surely it is little better than a mockery for the right hon. Gentleman to come down to this House and tell us we are the people who are to attempt conciliation, when it is the forces of the law, and the law only, which, under difficulties of an unprecedented character, made by you, are still nevertheless, in spite of all you can do, carrying out the beneficent work of conciliation in the most disturbed parts of Ireland. Although I am sorry to say that I have not finished yet, I do not think I need go any more into the case of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, but I must say a word with regard to the version of the imprisonment of Mr. Harrington, the Member for Kerry, which formed so large a part of the right hon. Gentleman's indictment in the country. The right hon. Gentleman has now dropped some of his charges. He boasted in the country that he would support in Parliament the case he then made; but he has not done so. He made a charge of a serious character against the magistrates; he said they had refused to state a case, although the Court of Exchequer declared the point on which a case was stated to be worthy of solemn argument. The right hon. Gentleman is entirely wrong. The matter which the Court of Exchequer declared was one for argument was not the matter brought before the inferior tribunal at all. The right hon. Gentleman owes an apology to Mr. Cecil Roche for making him the object of an accusation which will not bear a single moment's examination.
§ * MR. JOHN MORLEY
Since the right hon. Gentleman challenges me, I am perfectly prepared to meet him; but I omitted the argument on that point because I thought that it might be much more effectively presented by the hon. and learned Member for Longford. I am prepared to stand by every word I said on that subject, and I am supported by as competent legal authorities as those who advise him.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman is a gentleman of amazing courage. He wishes me to wait and see what is the result of an argument between the hon. and learned Member for Longford and my hon. and learned Friend near me. I cannot deal 311 with a case which has not been presented. I have stated my argument, and let the hon. Member for Longford refute it when it comes to his turn. The right hon. Gentleman described the action of the magistrates in sentencing Mr. Harrington to six months' imprisonment as monstrously vindictive, but at the same time he abuses the magistrates because they engaged that if Mr. Harrington would promise not to repeat the offence he should not be punished. Those two complaints are not consistent. If the magistrates were as vindictive as the right hon. Gentleman would have us believe, they would not have taken the course of offering to withhold punishment if a pledge were given. Let him choose which accusation he wishes to go upon, and not in the same breath complain of a vindictive sentence and of the offer of a too lenient alternative, if the hon. Member promised not to repeat the offence again. He states that Mr. Harrington was imprisoned on account of the Times' case, and that the sentence was vindictive; but Mr. Harrington had a right of appeal. If he had appealed he would at all events have been at liberty pending the appeal. And if the sentence were vindictive, why did not Mr. Harrington appeal? I hear something said about a County Court Judge, but County Court Judges in Ireland are not open to the charge that they have any connection with the Executive Government. They are as independent as any Judge on the bench in England or Ireland, and they hold by the same sort of tenure. As Mr. Harrington did not appeal, depend upon it the reason was that he knew very well he had committed an offence which the County Court Judge would not have looked on more leniently than did the Court of First Instance. What was that offence? The right hon. Gentleman said that he made a speech at Portsmouth, in which he said that the League and the law were in conflict, and he was in favour of the League. The right hon. Gentleman quoted a part of the Magistrate's speech, but unfortunately only part of it. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman's quotations generally begin too late or end too early; but he has been far exceeded in inaccuracy by the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Divi- 312 sion of Glasgow (Sir G. Trevelyan), who sits near him, for the right hon. Gentleman has stated that Mr. Harrington was condemned for a speech which was declared by the magistrates to be an innocent speech. That is absolutely incorrect, and totally without any kind of foundation. The magistrates never said, and never could have said, anything of the kind.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That is quite a different statement. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the speech of Mr. Harrington was an innocent speech—innocent information given to his constituents. ["No, no!" and "Quote the words!"] I will quote. The right hon. Gentleman said Mr. Harrington had made a speech which the Court pronounced to be a perfectly innocent speech. I say the Court did not pronounce it to be so. On the contrary, the Court distinctly said that such language often led to crime. It is perfectly true the Court did not convict him on that speech. But why? Because the only evidence they had of the speech was a newspaper report, and you require evidence other than that of a newspaper report to convict upon. Mr. Harrington admitted that he made the speech, but the magistrates did not convict him upon the speech itself, not because it did not deserve punishment, but because they did not happen to have the technical and legal proof they required. They convicted him upon the charge of illegal conspiracy.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to explain what it was I did say? What I stated was that Mr. Harrington was charged with having made a speech in defence of the Plan of Campaign, and the magistrates stated that the evidence did not bear out the charge.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman distinctly stated in his letter that Mr. Harrington had been sentenced to six months' hard labour for publishing an innocent speech for the information of his constituents, and that the Court acquitted him of having 313 recommended the Plan of Campaign. I say that this was a wholly erroneous presentation of the facts. The facts are that Mr. Harrington published this speech, which undoubtedly was his, that this speech preached boycotting and the law of the League. It suggested every species of intimidation, and it was made at a meeting of a suppressed branch of the League. He was convicted on that charge. Were the magistrates right or wrong in convicting him? Let me remind you that the object in suppressing the Land League, especially in Kerry, was that it was an instrument of illegal action; it was the instrument of the Plan of Campaign; it was the instrument of boycotting and intimidation. In furtherance of that suppressed organization Mr. Harrington made that speech, in which he powerfully advocated all the objects for which the National League has been suppressed, and that in a suppressed district—in a district where agitation was being carried on by his Colleagues for the same objects, which had been quiet, but which was becoming disturbed, and which undoubtedly, if the Land League had been allowed to revive and carry out the programme which in this very speech Mr. Harrington recommended, would have become as bad in 1889 as it had been before. Is not that a sufficient reason for putting in force the existing law with regard to suppressed branches? Recollect that where Mr. Harrington made this speech, where he tried to revive this suppressed association, was a county where not long ago, at the instance of this very association, Horan and Fitzmaurice had been murdered. If any hon. Gentleman will look at the policy of the Government as a whole, he will see it struggling all through the winter months with a conspiracy, the object of which was to revive all these frightful forms of outrage and intimidation, and he will feel that the Government could have done no less than proceed against Mr. Harrington when he did that which it was openly avowed and boasted of was against the law. When the right hon. Gentleman reproaches us with having suggested that Mr. Harrington should not be punished if he would promise not to offend again does he not see that the object of law is to prevent crime rather than 314 to punish it, and that there could be no more effectual method of preventing it than by getting Mr. Harrington to promise that he would not again offend? If we could have got that promise, we should have obtained all the advantages which I hope may accrue from his imprisonment without the necessity of having recourse to that unfortunate alternative. I now come to the inaccuracies of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division, and I call attention to those inaccuracies because inaccuracy of statement is the great difficulty we have to encounter in England. Of course we are accustomed to the amazing exercise of imagination on the part of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway; but we have some right, I think, to expect a little more accuracy than from one who is an ex-Chief Secretaries to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In this very letter to which I have alluded, the right hon. Gentleman, in reference to the case of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Patrick O'Brien), made some of the most astonishing mis statements. The right hon. Gentleman said—This very month the Member for Monaghan was charged with advising tenants not to buy their holdings under Lord Ashbourne's Act, and was convicted.That is the first proposition. That proposition is absolutely erroneous.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
But the right hon. Gentleman mentioned the case with a view to showing what is going on now, and he actually alludes to a case that happened a year ago, and speaks of an hon. Member who is at the present moment in the actual exercise of his liberty.
An hon. MEMBER: For a while only.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the hon. Member was sentenced to three months' hard labour. He was not.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
I said distinctly I was informed that the sentence was one of hard labour, but that I had been unable to verify it.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to interrupt me with regard to part of my argument, let him 315 by all means do so; but I hope the House will notice that I am subjected to an amount of interruption to which hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House never are. I have no objection to the hon. Member making an explanation, if it is relevant; but these interruptions break the thread of my argument.
MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
I only desired to say that I was sentenced to four months' hard labour; but my case, on appeal, came before the only independent County Court Judge in Ireland, and he reduced the sentence to three months as a first-class misdemeanant.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The explanation of the hon. Member is not relevant to my argument. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridge-ton Division went on to say that the offence of which the hon. Member who has just interrupted me was convicted—and he made this statement twice, in a letter and in a speech—was that he advised the tenants not to purchase under Lord Ashbourne's Act. That statement of the right hon. Gentleman has since been made the subject of severe accusations against the Government. It is not correct. The charge in connection with Lord Ashbourne's Act was withdrawn, and the hon. Member was therefore not convicted of that.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That charge was withdrawn, and he was sentenced, not for preaching against Lord Ashbourne's Act at all, but for preaching the Plan of Campaign.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman deny that Mr. Patrick O'Brien was sentenced by the Resident Magistrate on the charge of having made a speech to Lord Monck's tenants, in which he advised them not to purchase under Lord Ashbourne's Act?
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am always glad when the right hon. Gentleman makes an interruption, because—
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that the hon. Member was convicted on the charge of having made a speech in which 316 he advised tenants not to purchase under Lord Ashbourne's Act?
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has made this interruption, for it reminds me of a favourite method of his and of his Friends. A speech in respect of which a prosecution is brought often contains a variety of matter—some of it is guilty, some innocent, some more guilty, some less guilty. The conviction takes place on the most guilty part of the speech, and then the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends think they are making a fair accusation against the Government when they pick out some part of the speech which is innocent, and allege that the person charged was convicted on account of that part, and that, therefore, it was an unfair conviction. Such is the logic and fairness of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I maintain that the hon. Member for Monaghan was not convicted of having advised tenants not to purchase under Lord Ashbourne's Act. He was convicted of preaching the Plan of Campaign. When I reflect that the right hon. Gentleman must have in his own recollection the kind of misrepresentation to which Irish Secretaries are subjected, when he knows from his own experience the difficulties with which we have to contend, it is melancholy to see the right hon. Gentleman sinking to such depths in order to atone, if possible, for the unpardonable offence of having attempted for two years to administer the government of Ireland with honesty and courage. I have now surveyed all the important points in the indictment the right hon. Gentleman has brought against the Government to-night, and I think we have now the material before us for making some kind of comparison between our policy and that of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have stated that in England, Scotland, and Ireland there are 20,000 persons in prison. In Ireland there are only 100 persons in prison under the Crimes Act; and I say that if the object of imprisonment be to prevent crime, never before have such splendid results been achieved at so little cost. You may dislike the Act and the whole system of its administration, but the results can scarcely be denied. Only 100 men are in prison, and not one of these is innocent—indeed, it is made a matter of boast that they are guilty, and have been found guilty by the 317 tribunals of the country. And not one of these men is in prison for a political offence. Not one is in prison for the expression of his opinions, or for agitating for any general change in the government of his country, or for attacks, however violent and unprincipled, against any Member of the Government. Crime and incitement to crime are the only offences that are punished under this Act, and the punishment of crime and incitement to crime has always produced, as far as I know, good effects in every country. And the good effects of the Act are manifest and clear. In spite of the conspiracy—[An hon. MEMBER: Pigott.]—I say, in spite of the conspiracy of which I have said something to-night, Ireland shows every sign of improvement. I will not go over the figures again, which have been already referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, but I hope that every man in the House and in the country will realize that the statistics of agrarian crime and agrarian intimidation show the most marvellous improvement since the Crimes Act has been put in operation. Trade has improved, railway traffic has improved, agriculture has improved. Men are settling down to the business of life, and are beginning to find that there is something more profitable than agitation and turmoil. Good feeling is springing up between different classes of the community wherever hon. Gentlemen opposite will let it, and I think every competent observer will echo the resolution passed by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce—not a body of landlords, or a body specially connected with the agrarian interests of the country—in which they say they attribute a large part of the improvement in the country to the energetic action taken by the Government under the powers given them by the Crimes Act. This is what we have done and are doing, and we are in a position to contrast this with that golden age which will come in when right hon. Gentlemen opposite, instead of being critics of Irish Aministration, will have the control of Irish affairs. Then, I suppose, the work of '98, '48, and '68 will be accomplished. I refer to these things because they are always being referred to by hon. Gentlemen, not in their English, but in their Irish speeches. But I feel certain that the 318 men who were engaged in the movements of '98 and '48 would have shrunk from the methods which are being adopted to-day. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to Mr. O'Connell. Mr. O'Connell was not a rebel, and I also believe that if he were living now, patriot as he was, he would have shrunk with horror from the methods adopted by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and approved and condoned by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Those methods are methods under which no civilized Government can last. They would destroy any State to which they were applied. Under them no man can serve the master he will, no man take the land he will, no man can make the speech he will. I observe that one of the colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman has used every effort in his power to ruin every single individual who came to the Liberal Unionist banquet which was given to me in Dublin a fortnight ago. [An hon. MEMBER: Who gave it?] That is the value which hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and, I presume, above the Gangway, really attach to free speech in Ireland. Now, Sir, I call this slavery. To you (pointing to the Opposition) I understand it seems like freedom, and I admit that freedom of a kind is given by it. There is the freedom of every debtor to compound on his own terms with his creditors; there is the freedom of every citizen to decide what portion of the law he may think it worth his while to obey, and what portion of that law he is, in the elegant language of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, to trample and to spit upon—it is the liberty of every criminal to decide what sentence he shall suffer when the tribunals of the country have declared him to be guilty. Well, Sir, if these are principles now preached by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway and practised by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, I ask what is to be the future of Ireland when the happy day comes in which the constituencies will reverse their decision, and the right hon. Gentleman, instead of criticizing the Government of Ireland, has to conduct it? I do not know what the full consequence of that action will be, but I know that never yet in the history of the world have agriculture and commerce flourished under a system so absolutely subversive 319 of law and of liberty as the system which the right hon. Gentleman now desires us to administer in Ireland. I do not believe—and this is my last word—that these are the principles that will win the verdict of the country, and I am certain that if they are principles which are ever to be enforced they would destroy the best-compacted Empire which has ever been put together by the wit of man.
§ MR. LOCKWOOD (York)
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that I shall he very careful in what I say not to travel outside the indictment of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland which has been preferred by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Morley). I have a good reason for not doing that, because I venture to think that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has found in that indictment a great deal more than he has been able to answer to-night; and in the course of his remarks I am free to say that he has travelled both far and wide of the question which is now under the consideration of the House. Much of the right hon. Gentleman's speech will need little comment from me, for the greater part of it was nothing more than a confession of failure. Her Majesty's Government traverse the Amendment by saying that their policy has been attended by salutary results. But in commencing his answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, the Chief Secretary goes into details and incidents which really show that, so far from the policy of the Government being attended with salutary results, it is bringing the law which the Government have to administer into contempt in the country in which it is administered. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to a scene which took place in the Court in which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) played a part. Is that one of the salutary results of the Government for which the right hon. Gentleman is responsible? The right hon. Gentleman has also given an account of a speech made by Mr. Harrington, and has pointed out how Mr. Harrington advocated the Plan of Campaign, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think, successfully, and the right hon. Gentle- 320 man thinks that is one of the salutary results on which the Government are to congratulate themselves. Fully one-half, or more than one-half, of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was a confession of failure, and with regard to the rest of it, much may be left to be discussed between the right hon. Gentlemen on either side, and a good deal may be discussed, and I have no doubt effectively, by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Longford. But there is some portion of the Chief Secretary's remarks which seems to me to be relevant to the question now before us. As I understand the right hon. Gentleman with regard to his powers of interference, he has on many public occasions expressed what he considers to be his position with respect to interference with prison discipline. He says—I do not believe, and will not believe until it is demonstrated, that it is in the power, or can be the duty, of a Member of the Executive Government to modify the treatment, not of classes of prisoners, but of individual prisoners whom he happens to make the object of special favour or aversion.Now that is a view which I would interpret in this way: that he has no power to interfere in any particular case with the treatment of any individual prisoner. Now I think that the House will see that the right hon. Gentleman considerably modifies that statement. In the speech which he made on the 2nd February—I think at a banquet given by the Liberal Unionists at Dublin—the right hon. Gentleman considerably modified the statement he made on the 4th December, when he said the Prison Board was not in his Department; but on the 2nd of February we find him pointing out that there may be exceptional circumstances connected with any prisoner in Ireland which would come before him. But the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly aware that there are powers which he has in respect of prison discipline. I noticed that just now he made an appeal to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary with regard to his powers in this direction, and I inferred—though I may have been wrong—that my right hon. Friend did not agree with the observation made by the Chief Secretary. The Statute, which is perfectly familiar to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, gives him this power— 321That, subject as in this Act mentioned, the prisons to which this Act applies, furniture, food, appointment of officers, control and safe custody of prisoners, shall, on and after the commencement of this Act, he transferred to and vested in and exercised by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State.That is the power of the Home Secretary. The powers of the Chief Secretary are set out in 40 and 41 Vict., just as directly and just as clearly. In that Act it is provided that the Prison Boards shall be calledThe General Prisons Board for Ireland, and that such Board shall consist of Chairman and Vice-Chairman, and not more than two other members to be appointed by the Lord Lieu tenant….and to hold office during the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant.I call the attention of the Chief Secretary to these words, that he may not again fall into the mistake—Such Board shall, subject to such directions as they may from time to time receive from the Lord Lieutenant, and to the provisions of this Act, have the control and management of all prisons and all prisoners therein.Surely that Act makes it abundantly clear that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has this power. But is it not an idle waste of time to discuss whether he has the power or not, when we know, as a matter of fact, that he has exercised it, and in the very direction in which we wish him to exercise it? The right hon. Gentleman quoted from the judgment of Chief Baron Palles, and he read a Report furnished to him by a learned counsel, whose name he refused to give. I do not know why he refused, or whether it is that he suggests my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Longford (Mr. T. Healy) would take dire vengeance on the unfortunate member of the profession were his name given. Now, this gentleman, whoever he may be, who advised the Chief Secretary for Ireland, appears, in the advice which he gave, to have lost sight of one or two very important points. First, let me take his quotation from Chief Baron Palles's remarks. Suppose for a moment that the quotation is correct. It is suggested that he stated that he over-ruled the Judges of the High Court more frequently than he over-ruled the Resident Magistrates.
§ * MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No; that is not so. The Chief Baron was comparing the number of times in which he over- 322 ruled the decisions of Resident Magistrates with the number in which the County Court Judges reversed convictions on appeal before them.
§ MR. LOCKWOOD
That makes my point so much the stronger. These appeals to the County Court Judges are appeals which do not involve the mere question whether or not there is any evidence. The hearing before the County Court Judge, as some of the hon. Members who sit below the Gangway know to their cost, is practically a hearing de novo. It is a new trial; it involves not only the question whether there was any evidence on which to convict, but it allows the whole question to be gone into. Now, in a case coming before the Judges of the High Court, there is no such wide inquiry. The investigation is limited in its scope, and the only question which they can consider is as to whether there was any evidence or not before the Magistrates to justify the conviction and the sentence passed. The two cases, therefore, are absolutely different. In the one case it is an inquiry de novo before a County Court Judge, and you have the whole circumstances of the trial laid bare for re-investigation. In the investigation of the High Court, the Judge's inquiry is limited, and therefore one is not surprised that the statistics are as stated by the right hon. Member. I pass now to consider the other points which the right hon. Gentleman alluded to. I am not sure whether they were supplied by the anonymous counsel, but they come next in order to the quotation from Chief Baron Palles. The right hon. Gentleman told us, Sir, that the percentage of convictions before juries was higher than the percentage of convictions before Resident Magistrates. In the cases before the latter, the percentage was 71; in the jury cases it was 66. Why, Sir, what an admirable argument that gives us for the preservation of trial by jury in Ireland! How does it assist the right hon. Gentleman? Of course, we know that before the magistrates come all preliminary inquiries; it is their duty to sift the evidence, and say whether or not there is a case to go before a jury. You might as well say, Sir, you find that the Grand Juries return more true bills than there are convictions follow upon the proceedings before the Magistrates! 323 Such an argument would be worth just as much as that put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. The Magistrates make the preliminary inquiries for the purpose of ascertaining whether a case exists or not. Every case they dismiss, of course, affects the figures, and surely, then, these figures cannot be said to assist the right hon. Gentleman in any sense whatever. The indictment put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle was wide enough. I wondered how the right hon. Gentleman opposite would attempt to meet it. We know that in another place this indictment has been made, but I must say it has never before been preferred in such strong, eloquent terms as it was preferred to-night. In another place, in answering it, a noble Marquess relied upon statistics, and I waited to-night with some patience to see whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in answering my right hon. Friend, would also rely upon statistics, because I recollect that some time since he said that, for himself, he put but little reliance in them. I do not suppose he has changed his mind in that respect now; many of us, indeed, put little reliance upon statistics, and some of us have learnt to put less, since we have ascertained the method in which those statistics are obtained. Some of us have heard of the outrage book which is kept at district police stations; some of us have heard of the process of selection that goes on by the officers in charge at those stations which enables them to class crimes as agrarian or non-agrarian. We have heard also how these selections are again submitted to the arbitration of the Divisional Magistrate, who, if he does not approve of the selection, alters it in any way he chooses. Sir, this preparation of statistics is a matter of selection by persons who are firmly convinced that the only way to govern Ireland is by coercion, and who themselves are bound to provide the Government with the necessary material for showing that the system of government which they approve is the best. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, is perfectly right not to trust to statistics, for they are not to be relied upon. Now, we come to consider his answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. As I said just now in my opening remarks, I will endeavour not 324 to travel outside anything that was said by my right hon. Friend, for I fully recognize how unjust it would be to the Chief Secretary to have the case opened against him, to have to reply, or rather endeavour to reply to it, and then afterwards to have sprung upon him charges which had never before been made. Let us take the first case he quoted—the case of the Member for North-East Cork, (Mr. William O'Brien). I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider it in this regard: not as to whether Mr. O'Brien has been guilty of crime, but I want him to satisfy me, if he can, that the steps which the Government have taken to prosecute Mr. O'Brien have been attended by the salutary results to which claim is laid in the Speech from the Throne. What is the position of Mr. O'Brien? He goes from one prison to another escorted by troops. Is his progress from gaol to gaol that of a discredited prisoner? Why, Sir, it is the progress of a triumphant hero. Is this, then, one of the salutary results of the policy of the Government? And the more black you paint him the worse it makes it for the case of the Government. This man has committed what the right hon. Gentleman opposite considers to be a heinous crime, and accordingly he ought to be treated as a criminal and a man to be despised; but, as a fact, he is hailed as a hero, as a man who has carried on a brave and generous warfare for the sake of his fellow-countrymen. Let us pass next to the case of my hon. Friend, Mr. Carew. We have not heard so much about that case to-night: it is a painful case; for the hon. Gentleman, by his amiability and courtesy, has won the friendship, and he will continue, Sir, to maintain the friendship, of many Members of this House. What is the case with regard to him? I am anxious not to repeat anything that has been said before, and therefore I will not go into the question of what he said. We know that he was convicted because he made a speech alleged to be in the direction of inducing persons not to take an evicted farm on the estate of the Marquess of Drogheda. This speech was made on the 11th November last. Afterwards Mr. Carew attended his Parliamentary duties; he passed in and out amongst us; he went down to the Royal Commission, with which my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General 325 is so familiar. He passed in and out amidst the serried ranks of the Royal Irish Constabulary. No charge was made against him, but he goes down to Scotland—he goes down to East Perthshire to assist in the candidature of the hon. Gentleman whom we have been glad to welcome to day as a Member of this House; and the Government choose this unfortunate time for pouncing upon him. They arrest him, and he is dragged back to Ireland, and suffers the indignities of which we have read in the public Press, and of which we have heard mention in the House to-night. What is the offence he has committed? Are the Government prepared to deal out even-handed justice to both parties in the matter of these speeches? On the 18th February, the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh went down to Portadown, and in the course of his speech said—As to a Home Rule Parliament, nothing under Heaven will make us recognize it, or obey its laws as long as we have right arms to strike with; the very moment there is a chance of a Home Rule Parliament, we should arm; we should drill, and within a fortnight we should put 50,000 men into the field under arms.These, Sir, are the words of a disciple of law and order! Just imagine the converse being the case. Just imagine hon. Members below the Gangway on this side of the House addressing a public meeting in similar terms, and saying that they would arm unless they got a Home Rule Parliament. Why, the right hon. Gentleman would appeal to this House and the country, and say, the speech showed the true result of the policy of the Nationalist Members. Yet the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh preserves his moustache; he has his personal liberty, and he is still at large. We are told we are to put up with treatment such as has been received by Mr. Carew, and it is not to be criticized, whilst speeches of this nature are to be treated as the outburst of irresponsible persons, or are to be treated as speeches which do not tend to disorder or the breaking of the law. Now, with regard to the very sad case of Father McFadden, I join heartily in what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle said, with regard to the disastrous results which followed from the attack made by the 326 police upon Father M'Fadden, when he was almost on the steps of the altar, and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has frankly admitted that there was a grave error of judgment upon the part of the police in choosing that moment for the arrest of Father M'Fadden. Then who is responsible for it? It is a matter in which the Government are responsible, for they have the choice of persons who are to carry out their behests, and if they put the discharge of these duties in the hands of incompetent men then they must bear the burden of it. It is a doctrine of constructive responsibility which the Government are always attempting to fix upon hon. Gentlemen who sit upon these benches. Do the Government recognize salutary results of their policy in the way in which the public treated the arrest of Father McFadden? I have an extract here from a paper describing one of those salutary results of the Government's policy, which says that when Father McFadden was escorted from Gweedore he was surrounded by military and police over 100 strong; skirmishers on the hills kept watch in case of an attack, and engineers were prepared to repair any bridges that might require it. And this is the state of things which is going on in Ireland—a state of things which is the direct result of the policy of Her Majesty's Government; and so far from the Government recognizing this as being a salutary result, why, the very speech of the right hon. Gentleman tonight shows that their policy has been, as I say, a dismal and disastrous failure. We are told that crime and outrage have diminished. I am glad of it; I hope the Irish people are realizing—and I believe under the teachings of their national leaders they are realizing—that there are no greater enemies to the cause which we have advocated now for something like three years than those who commit crime and outrage. I have only one other topic to which I think it necessary to refer. The right hon. Gentleman opposite denies having spoken in a jesting spirit of the prison treatment of Mr. O'Brien. I am glad indeed to accept that denial, because it removes from my mind a very unpleasant impression which was created upon it by the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Dublin, on the 2nd February. He 327 says he was not jesting. I find the right hon. Gentleman addressing a very favourable audience, provoking laughter by his references to the historic breeches of Mr. O'Brien. He, amidst roars of laughter, described Mr. O'Brien as having been for 36 hours naked in his cell. Unless this denial had been made, and unless it had been accepted, I should have asserted that this incident of provoking laughter at the expense of a prisoner was one of the most deplorable incidents in a most deplorable business. Let us imagine any Judge of the High Court of Justice, who in the discharge of his duty had found it necessary to imprison any person brought before him, not only forgetting the dignity due to himself, but so utterly forgetting what is due to the dignity of his position and his office, as to stand up and provoke laughter by his description of the privations and hardships of the men for whose imprisonment he was responsible. I think such an incident, to use the words of the Amendment of my right hon. Friend, can only be viewed with "reprobation and with aversion," and I venture to think it is in that spirit that this policy of Her Majesty's Government is being viewed by the majority of the people; and, you may depend upon it, it will continue to be so viewed. It is no answer for the right hon. Gentleman to scoff at another policy, which we think a wiser policy; which we think a more peaceful policy, and which we think, in the words of the Amendment, "much more likely to bring about a true union between the people of this country."
§ MR. A. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
I cannot allow this occasion to pass without saying something in contradiction of the statements made by the Chief Secretary. He seems to suggest to this House that the Irish Members who are put in prison are treated just as are any other men who have broken the law. Now this is not the case. He does not speak from experience, and I do speak from experience. I remember being 23 weeks in a cell, 9 feet by 8 feet, at a period of the year when the weather was as cold as it is now, and many of my hon. colleagues occupied cells of similar size. When it is cold in London and snowing very hard, you who are outside the prison walls feel it considerably, but you have very little 328 sympathy with those men in prison who have been guilty of nothing except that they sought too well to defend their constituents. We who are sitting on these benches endeavour to defend our people, perhaps too roughly and too rudely, but still we do so honestly, if we have not the polish of University men such as some of those hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite may have, and who come to this House for ornamental and not for useful purposes. Now, I remember being taken before two magistrates with reference to an estate in Donegal owned by a man named Olphert, the same estate as that on which District Inspector Martin has lost his life. I deplore that loss of life as much as anybody. I suppose it injures our Party quite as much as any other, but we are not accountable for it, and I think it necessary that in this House some explanation should be given of our conduct. I was invited to go down to the Olphert Estate from my own constituency as a arbitrator, and I endeavoured to adjust the differences between the landlord and his tenants. At that time the Land Commissioners were giving reductions of 5s. 6d. and 6s. 6d. in the pound. I offered an adjustment on the basis of a 4s. 6d. reduction, and I think it was a most reasonable offer. This estate has from time to time been before Commissions and Committees of this House. It is the very estate for which I got six months' imprisonment; it is the estate for which Father M'Fadden got six months' imprisonment; it is the estate for which Father Stephens got three months; and it is for matters connected with the same estate that Father Stephens was re-arrested yesterday on coming out of church. The Solicitor General for Ireland last Session said this was a model estate, and that Mr. Olphert was a good landlord, who resided on his estate. But what is the description of a good landlord as gathered from the Report of one of the Select Committees, which some years ago inquired into the grievances of these tenants? One of the witnesses stated that he himself resided on this estate, and he knew that the people were not sufficiently clothed; that they had not sufficient dress for the purposes of decency; the dresses of the women were so short that they did not reach down to their knees, and 329 their necks, arms, and breasts were bare. A question was put to this witness, "Was it such clothing as modest women would wish to wear?" and he replied, "No; it was not." "These people," he added, "were ashamed to go out of their houses." This, Sir, is a description of the destitute condition into which these people were driven. Another witness was asked, "Do your people use seaweed as an article of food?" The answer was, "Yes, with Indian meal." The majority of the people have only one meal a day. In addition to all these hardships, the people are subjected to a sort of slavery which is called "duty work." A witness was asked what duty days meant, and his reply was that the people were pledged to do duty days—that was, to give three days' work at certain periods of the year, or to pay half-a-crown in money in lieu thereof. Another witness was asked if he saw people, and he replied that he made a house-to-house visitation. He was asked if the clothing of the inhabitants was sufficient for the purposes of decency, and he gave it as his opinion that it was not.
§ MR. BLANE
Thirty years ago; but it is the same now. I recently made a house-to-house visitation, and found exactly the same state of affairs prevailing. Charity was dispensed by Relief Committees, but the money was scarcely in their hands before the landlord pulled it out again. To be sure, the duty work has to some extent come to an end, but the result of the grinding system still exists. I and others have been imprisoned for the action we have taken in the hope of ameliorating the condition of these people, but it by no means follows that on that account we shall cease to defend the people. Father M'Fadden did his best to adjust the differences between landlord and tenants. He was always a valuable man to the landlord, as long as he could get charitable people to hand in money for relief. It was only when it was seen that he would not apply for any more, because he saw the robbery which was going on, that he was arrested and sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Part of the evidence given against me was a speech made by Father M'Fadden. The rev. gentleman enjoined patience, but ad- 330 vised the people to stick to their combination. To do that I hold he had a perfect right. My case, however, really turned upon the meaning of the Celtic word "Chiferma," the equivalent of which in English is, "I hope" or "I expect." It was argued that the word was used by me as a person in command to persons supposed to obey, and that it amounted to an inducement under the Coercion Act. Neither of the magistrates understood a word of the Celtic language, and yet they convicted me. I only mention this circumstance for the purpose of showing how absurdly the Crimes Act tribunals work. What happened in the case of the arrest of Father M'Fadden? There were plenty of police in the district who might have been used, but one police officer was anxious to distinguish himself. He drew his sword, and proceeded to the arrest of Father M'Fadden, whose offence, if offence it was at all, was a misdemeanour and not a felony. That was not a proper way to proceed against a man such as Father M'Fadden. The mere drawing of the sword and wielding it over the priest's head was a threat. I deplore the death of the constable, but surely it cannot be laid at the door of Father M'Fadden. What do the Government intend to do in respect to the case? They intend to change the venue. The Solicitor General for Ireland has already made an application to the Judges of the Superior Courts for the change of the venue to Fermanagh, in which county the prisoners will not have the slightest chance of obtaining justice. Every Catholic who steps forward to the jury box will be challenged and told to stand aside. You will empanel 12 Orangemen. You will beat the drum ecclesiastic against Father M'Fadden and his fellow-prisoners. All the dishonourable ways of government in Ireland will be resorted to, and Father M'Fadden will assuredly be deprived of every opportunity of showing what he has done in defence of his people. I cannot conceive anything more disreputable than the treatment Father M'Fadden has received at the hands of the present Government.
§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Stockport)
I am sorry to have such a limited audience, but it is quite clear the debate must proceed, and I will address my remarks and opposition to the Amend- 331 ment. Complaint was made by the hon. and learned Member opposite that the Chief Secretary has said very little indeed on the subject of the Amendment, but I do not think the hon. and learned Member himself said anything more or did more than to pick out and endeavour to answer small points in the Chief Secretary's speech. A great many small complaints have been made of the administration of the law by the Chief Secretary, but it seems to me most of these complaints should rather be made against the law than against the Administration. They are out of date; they would have been all very well two years ago, but they are out of date after the Act has been passed by large majorities in this Assembly, and with only one division in the House of Lords. It seems to me it would be very little use indeed to give votes to the large majority of Her Majesty's male subjects, and then ignore their Representatives here, who declare, by emphatic majorities, it is necessary to pass a law and do pass a law to effect certain objects. It is little use, I say, conferring these votes at all, if the minority is not only to be disgusted with their position, as indeed minorities generally are, but are to go about in a manner Parliamentary minorities never did before in the history of this country to render the working and enforcement of the law passed by the majority well-nigh impossible. In former times, when it was thought necessary by the majority who sustained the Ministry—majorities too, not so large as support the present Government, and not returned on anything like such a popular basis—when it was thought necessary to pass certain legislation, it was the honour, duty, and glory of Her Majesty's Opposition to support the Government in the maintenance of the law even though they disapproved of the law itself. But it has been reserved for the Opposition led by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian to do their utmost to make the administration of the law impossible. All we hear—all these dramatic scenes we have had performed—have had this object. All this has been done by leaders of the Liberal party, whose experience should have taught them their line of duty, who may at some future time—long distant, I hope—be again in office and entrusted with the 332 administration of law. We have been told by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite that no reforms have taken place except by first breaking the law, but he and I have read history very differently. I could point to reform after reform brought about not by breaking the law, but because the sense of the nation acknowledged the necessity. I will not deny that there may be circumstances when it would be politic to break the law in order to call attention to its badness, but then let it be done with real courage, in a dignified manner, in a way to call public attention to what you are doing, and show you are acting from principle and not from petulance, and take your punishment like a man, and not like a woman in a quarrel. According to the new doctrine promulgated, the motives of a man are to be considered in apportioning his punishment, together with his position in life, and knowledge. After all, what do we mean by enforcing the law? We have heard a good deal about coercion. I was not fortunate enough to hear the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, but I heard him say that not one man in fifty on our side of the House had gained his seat without giving pledges to his constituents against coercion. Well, though I may be the only man in the whole number, I can speak with a clear conscience, for the first time I went among my constituents I told them I was in favour of coercing anybody and any set of people who break the law; and I cannot conceive how law can exist without it. Law and coercion are correlative terms; coercion is simply an enforcement of the law in England or in Ireland, and the only question is whether the law is unfairly or unjustly enforced in Ireland. A great authority on the subject has told us in a letter written ten days ago—a letter read at the great meeting at Edinburgh, where Lord Rosebery was the principal speaker—I allude to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian—in answering the question "Why are these gentlemen, Irish Members and others who have been committed to prison for breaking the laws, political prisoners," that it was—Because the Tories and Dissentient Liberals thought fit, under the pretence of legislating against crime, to pass a law making that which 333 previously had no concern with any crime, except this which the Act itself creates, in making Irishmen liable to jail—I don't know quite what this means but the right hon. Gentleman is a master of the English language and can explain—for acts of exclusive dealing or for encouraging the same in others, which exclusive dealing is practised at will by Tories in England. What is a crime in Ireland is no crime in England.Later on the same letter says "that what Mr. O'Brien threatened to do in Ireland the Primrose dames can do in England." The statement is that ten years ago a law was passed making that a crime in Ireland which is not a crime in England. There is a noble Lord, an ex-Lord Chancellor, who has been Attorney General under the right hon. Gentleman—Lord Selborne—who fortunately spoke in the debate on Thursday night, and it would have been well if the right hon. Gentleman who, with all his knowledge and talents, is no lawyer, had consulted Lord Selborne as to the meaning and effect of the Act commonly called the Crimes Act, 1887. That noble and learned Lord showed very distinctly indeed that no new crime whatever was created by that Act, and that what is unlawful in Ireland is unlawful in England. What this Act did was this—it applied to acts already illegal both in Ireland and England a new procedure, under which two magistrates should try certain cases, instead of such offences being sent before a jury. No doubt, certain offences are described as crimes against this Act. That is only for matters of procedure. No new crime was created. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will, in the interest of truth, consult his tried and sometime trusted colleague before he commits himself to such another statement, and will be prepared to recant what he has said about crimes being created by this Act. Then he says the offence called boycotting is something quite innocent: it is only exclusive dealing as practised by Tories and Primrose dames in England! That is a remarkable statement, coming from the right hon. Gentleman; for do we not remember that at one time, when it was his duty to administer the law, he spoke in the severest terms against boycotting as ultimately resting upon and sanctioning murder? Its character 334 has not changed; it still means murder, unless the strong arm of the law intervenes. What at the very outside is the exclusive dealing of Primrose dames? It is practised equally by Radicals. A man naturally makes his purchases, if the articles are good and cheap cœteris paribus, of the dealer who has the same views with himself on religious and political matters. That is human nature. But can you point to any case where through exclusive dealing of Tories or Primrose dames any one was unable to buy the necessaries of life, having the means to do so? The fact of A buying from X instead of Y is a very different thing from a combination of A, B, C, D, and so on, to prevent a man buying, and shopkeepers from selling to that man, under a system of boycotting enforced by dread of murder. We know perfectly well how it has been carried out to the extent of preventing food being bought for a child or a coffin to bury one. The right hon. Gentleman having all the facts before him, tries to persuade an incredulous and mocking country that this is no more than the exclusive dealing practised by Primrose dames! If Primrose dames or Tories did the same thing there are plenty of people ready to prosecute them for it. I never knew Radicals unwilling to make an outcry against a Tory who did anything of which they did not approve. If Lord Salisbury is suspected of not giving a site for the erection of a building by a Dissenting body, there is at once a clamour in the Radical papers. If such things have been going on all this time, why have they not been exposed to an indignant public? I am sure Tories or members of the Primrose League would be the first to throw stones at anyone who brought disgrace on their cause by such conduct. Boycotting is such an innocent thing, says the right hon. Gentleman, although in olden times it was so horrible, it led up to murder. I am reminded of Sheridan's "Rivals." It will be remembered that Lydia Languish gets literature from the circulating library, not of the most select character, and hastily puts the books out of view on the approach of Mrs. Malaprop, Sir Anthony Absolute directing her maid to "Put the 'Innocent Adultery' into the 'Whole Duty of Man.'" The right hon. Gentleman includes "Innocent Boycotting" into 335 the "Whole duty of Irishmen;" but I disagree with him. We are informed in the Queen's Speech that the operation of the law has had a salutary effect, and it appears boycotting is likely to be put down; and, considering this as a challenge, the Opposition advance this Amendment. Well, I do not think this is a very strong remark to put into a Queen's Speech. I can remember the time when the right hon. Gentleman opposite boasted of the salutary effect of his legislation on Ireland, but I am afraid the results have not realised expectations. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle is moved to wrath, and does not think it right the Speech should claim any salutary effect for the Act, and challenges us to declare that the administration of the Act has been harsh and unjust, that it violates the rights, and alienates the affections, of Her Majesty's Irish subjects, and is viewed with reprobation and aversion by the people of Great Britain. I did not hear the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not understand that he showed what rights had been violated, though he said much of affections alienated. But what part of Her Majesty's Irish subjects have been alienated in affection? Not, certainly, those Protestants and Catholics so ably represented at that large meeting to which the Chief Secretary has alluded; not, certainly, the affections of loyal men in different parts of the Island. Those are alienated who were alienated long ago, who had no affection whatever left when the Government came into office, and went about protesting their intention to effect a final separation. I will not use the quotations I have here, but it is well known there were no affections to alienate on the part of those who had determined to do away with every link of connection between the countries but that of nominal sovereignty. Nevertheless, we are told that Irishmen, who three years ago had no affection for this country, who then used the most unmeasured terms of abuse towards Her Majesty's Ministers, terms I think not equalled by those to which the present Government have been subjected—we are told by the right hon. Gentleman, who, with Christian forgiveness, forgot all this abuse, that 336 in consequence of what they have been doing these men are coming round to love and admiration for England. That is a little inconsistent with the Amendment, which further declares that the administration of the Act is received with reprobation by the people of Great Britain. Nine tailors of Tooley Street once had an idea that they represented the people of England, and I do not know that nine or ten ex-Members have a better founded claim to represent the people of Great Britain. I find when I go down to my constituency that nine-tenths of the working men who collect in large audiences to hear what I and my colleagues have to say, sympathise entirely with Her Majesty's Government. I am quite aware there is a small number outside whose sympathies are the other way, but I am not able to discover that three years ago they held any other view, or have been moved to reprobation and aversion by the administration of Her Majesty's Government. The Amendment asks that such measures of conciliation may be adopted as will bring about the contentment of the Irish people and a real union between Great Britain and Ireland. Well, to my mind a deed of separation is not the best way to produce a union between a couple who have not loved one another before. If the Government have been unable to carry measures of conciliation that will improve the material condition of the people of Ireland, the obstruction of hon. Gentlemen opposite accounts for the fact. If hon. Members will look at the complaints made against the Irish Executive they will find that they all arise from the laudable desire of the Government to combine as far as possible with the exercise of their necessary and stern duty a regard for the views of hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are jealous of the success of the Government and do all they can to defeat their attempts at conciliation. We have been asked to express our dissatisfaction with the Government because of the manner in which they have administered the law; we have been told of the delay in prosecutions; we have been told of the folly of arresting Father M'Fadden on Sunday just after his service; we have been told that, although the Chief Secretary gave no order for the arrest 337 of this priest, on the doctrine of constructive liability he must be held answerable; we have been told that Mr. Carew ought to have been arrested a great deal sooner if he was to be arrested at all; we have been told that Father M'Fadden, or the other priest arrested before him, ought not to have been allowed to wear his own clothes, or, at all events, if he was allowed to do so, Mr. O'Brien ought to have been allowed to wear his. As I say, all these troubles of the Government arise from the fact that they have endeavoured to satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite. Why was there delay in the arrest of Mr. O'Brien? It was because the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House announced last Session that he would do his utmost not to interfere with the power of hon. Members to attend the House; and then, as the House will remember, the question of contempt of court arose in connection with the Commission of Inquiry, and it was necessary that Mr. O'Brien should attend the Court, and consequently it was not possible to arrest him. That was the reason of the long delay. The action that was taken last Session, involving the loss of two nights with regard to the Breach of Privilege question, entirely arose from the desire of the Government to give notice to hon. Gentlemen who were proceeded against by way of summons instead of issuing a warrant form. All these things have resulted from the endeavour of the Government to grant concessions and to meet the views of the Irish Members. If they had gone on doing their duty sternly and plainly without attempting to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, they would not have been so much found fault with. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last but one was rather severe on the Chief Secretary, on the ground that he had taken up, as he said, two inconsistent positions with regard to his powers as to the management of the Irish Prisons, and the hon. Member quoted two Acts of Parliament to show that the Home Secretary in England and the Chief Secretary to the Lord Leiutenant in Ireland have the power of controlling and managing the prisons, but he did not show, as he ought to have done, that all these powers are subject to a general controlling Act of 1865, and that that Act constitues Prisons Boards 338 and lays down distinct regulations, within which the Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant are bound to act. I confess that the Chief Secretary strained the law almost to the point of breaking when he allowed Roman Catholic priests to wear their clothes in gaol. But he did that with a good motive, and it ill lies in the mouths of Roman Catholic Gentlemen opposite to say that because the right hon. Gentleman strained the law in regard to those particular persons, therefore he ought to strain the law in order that the same thing may be done in the case of Mr. O'Brien. I desire to give that hon. Member credit for not playing the part of a child. I suppose he really has an idea that he is standing up for a principle when he will not get into a second class carriage, and insists upon not wearing prison clothes. I am not disposed to think that these prisoners ought to be treated differently from other people who commit the same crimes; because we are not dealing here with merely political offences, with sedition, and offences of that kind. We are dealing with acts that are offences against the law, quite irrespective of the motive with which they are committed, and the only thing that makes these Gentlemen political prisoners, or gives them the semblance of being political prisoners, is that their ultimate motive is said to be a desire to change the law. But, as the greatest crime against a State is the attempt to subvert it, the punishment of these Gentlemen ought to be heavier rather than lighter; for their conduct is provoked by no accidental ebullition of temper, but with the avowed desire of bringing the law into contempt. And why should so much sympathy be extended to the hon. Member for North East Cork? Surely a high-souled patriot who talks as the hon. Member does might submit even to the indignities of which he complains without making so much fuss. The hon. Member would go further if he dared. He is like the boy with the wooden sword, who is boasting of the great deeds he will do, when, while flourishing his weapon, he scratches his hand on a nail, and then begins to whimper. The hon. Member is quite willing, if he dared, to lead thousands in the field, but to have his hair cut short is a brutal indignity about 339 which the country must be roused. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh has said that in a hypothetical case certain people would resort to the divine right of rebellion. There is a right to rebel—I stand up for that divine right—but the rebels must look to their chances of success first. If it is successful it is no longer treason. What sympathy can you have with rebellion that ends in whimpering? He said, on the 4th of June, that he had promised his American friends that they would march onward until they had hauled down the flag of Orange ascendancy in Ireland for ever.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
May I ask the hon. and learned Member to be kind enough to tell the House if he is quoting from a pamphlet of the Loyal and Patriotic Union, connected with Mr. Houston, whose evidence we have heard with so much interest lately?
§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE
I have taken care, in giving these extracts, to give them from sources which cannot be disputed. They do not come from the Loyal and Patriotic Union, and I do not believe that the hon. Member whose language I am quoting will repudiate his words. On the Nth of July, 1887, the hon. Member said, "I only wish we had power and weapons to do something more effective than talking." That is the Gentleman who is now whimpering about his treatment in prison. It is a specimen of the language used by the hon. Member for whom we are asked, at the present moment, to show sympathy. Mr. Arnold Forster, speaking of Mr. O'Brien in the character of editor of United Ireland, says that he made himself, above all others, the advocate of every form of cruelty; that he has pursued individuals with malignant and cruel spite; that he has done his best to ruin those who differed from him; and that his chief efforts have been directed towards making more bitter and more forlorn the lives of poor men and women. I have myself read through many numbers of United Ireland, and I am able to say that the description of Mr. Arnold Forster is not overdrawn in the least. Mr. O'Brien has not contested that during the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) he assailed with most 340 virulent abuse nearly every Member of the Administration, particularly Lord Spencer and the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow. He said that Lord Spencer stuck at nothing, and was prepared to resort even to secret torture. A remarkable thing, however, is that, in doing all the things of which mention has recently been made, Mr. O'Brien should have the countenance of a statesman who ought to know better. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian is of opinion, like the statesman of whom Dryden wrote—that if he could not be in power himself, no one else should rule or be in power. I shall vote with great heartiness against the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ An hon. Member called attention to the fact that 40 Members were not present.
§ The House was counted, and 40 Members were found to be present.
§ * MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
I have only one remark to make with respect to the speech of the hon. Member who has just addressed the House. It does appear to me that when an hon. Member quotes the speeches of any hon. Member, he is bound to say from what source he has gained his information. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Gedge), as far as I gathered, quoted speeches made by the hon. Member for North East Cork some years ago.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS
But, when the hon. Member was challenged by the hon. Member for Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) he was absolutely unable to say from whence he obtained them. I do not think that is a desirable course to take. I wish now to bear a sincere tribute of admiration and gratitude to the right hon. Member for Newcastle for the vigorous, eloquent, and sustained arraignment of the policy of Her Majesty's Government which he delivered early in the evening. The force of that attack may be measured by the feebleness with which it was met by the Chief Secretary. I think that the Chief Secretary, who is a great master of debate, must have been sensible of the thinning of the ranks behind him while he 341 was speaking, and the silence which prevailed when he sat down. The right honourable Gentleman must have felt that his performance this evening was hardly so successful as it has been in the opinion of his Friends on previous occasions. The speech of the Chief Secretary recalled to my mind a long letter which was addressed by the right hon. Gentleman to Mr. Armitage, a constituent of his in Manchester. That letter occupied a column of the Times, and it was accompanied by another letter to the editor; but neither those letters nor the speech of this evening dealt with the real complaint which the people of this country have against his policy at this moment. The English people do not care whether there were five or four warders engaged in stripping Mr. O'Brien. They do not wish to know those trivialities. What they desire to know is why this spirit of brutality which the right hon. Gentleman has infused into his myrmidons in Ireland prevails throughout that country. What is the right hon. Gentleman's reason for visiting on hon. Members whom many of us are proud to call Friends those indignities which have shocked the minds of the people of this country? The right hon. Gentleman says that the public mind is in a morbid and diseased state. He may rest satisfied that there is a good reason for the outcry which has arisen in this country, and that the morbid and diseased state of mind is to be found somewhere else than among the electors. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that he had a great grievance. He twitted the right hon. Member for Newcastle with having omitted some of the charges made against him during the Recess. My right hon. Friend spoke for an hour and a-half, but it was impossible for him to traverse the whole ground of the right hon. Gentleman's administration. I myself ventured to interpose the remark that the House will hear plenty about these things before we have done with the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman then asked why all the accusations against the Government should not have been made before he rose. We did not put up the right hon. Gentleman to follow the right hon. Member for Newcastle. I remember last year when Mr. O'Brien told the right hon. 342 Gentleman he was there to meet him face to face that the Chief Secretary refused to follow his antagonist, and the excuse he made for not doing so was that he desired to hear the whole of the Debate, so that he might reply to other remarks as well as those of Mr. O'Brien. The hon. Member for Stockport said that the time has gone by when we should express our opinions against the law (meaning thereby the Coercion Act of 1887), but that hon. Members are free to criticize its administration. I can assure the hon. Member that he is very much mistaken in that view. I maintain that the manner in which that Act was driven through the Committee of the House took away from the persons to whom it applies a great deal of the onus of obeying that law. There are persons now in prison in Ireland for supposed offences created by clauses of that Act, which is now the law, and which the Chairman of Committees, by an order of the House on June 17, 1887, passed through the Committee within 12 or 13 minutes, no Member being allowed to ask a Question or move an Amendment. I say that that strikes at the root of the validity of all legislation in this House. If we are to have such laws forced through in this way, I declare that all confidence in the law of this country will have passed away. But there is another circumstance which ought to be borne in mind in connection with this matter. On April 18, 1887, on the morning of that day when it was known that the second reading of the Bill would be taken, these detestable forged letters appeared in the Times. (Cries of "Oh!") [Mr. DILLON: He believes they are ail right.] Well, the hon. Gentlemen opposite who cry "Oh!" have more faith than most of their colleagues. I used the words "forged letters" deliberately. Speaking in the light of recent revelations, it is not too much to say that that Act of Parliament was conceived in iniquity and brought forth in sin, and if any such Act were passed in relation to the county or division which I represent, and was so forced through the House, I would willingly and gladly ask the inhabitants of that Division to disobey its provisions, and run all the risk I might incur in doing so. But, apart from the nature of the origin of 343 this law, the mode in which it has been administered has deprived it of all title to respect. What I complain of is that the Government, in the action they have taken, have loaded the dice, and have placed in the hands of the owners of land the power of suppressing lawful combinations among the tenants, with the object of forcing the price of land above its natural level, under ordinary circumstances. And what is the conduct and character of the men with whom the administration of the law rests in Ireland? In my judgment the administration is open to the gravest animadversion and censure. All of us are familiar with the way in which it is administered. In February last I troubled the House with an account of the way in which the Executive Officers in close relation with the Government have selected particular magistrates to try particular cases. The Chief Secretary on that occasion refused to give the information I asked for, but through the kindness of a friend I obtained the particulars, and if any hon. Member will do the same he will find that the cases tried by Mr. Cecil Roche, Mr. Hodder, Captain Segrave and others, have been out of proportion to those which have been tried by other resident magistrates. No doubt there is a reason for that. In regard to Captain Segrave, the Solicitor General for Ireland has stated that an investigation, promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this House, on December 22, is now going on. Well, but the statements made by the honourable Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), if they are correct—I do not for a moment assume that they are—but if they be correct they prove that this man at the time he was administering the law was nothing more nor less than a common thief. If any such charges as those which had been made by the hon. Member for Mid Cork against Captain Segrave had been made against a stipendiary or any unpaid magistrate in this country, the Lord Chancellor would not have allowed him to exercise his functions for a single day until he had cleared, himself from them I maintain that immediately these charges were made against Captain Segrave, the Chief Secretary ought to have telegraphed to Ireland to relieve him of his judicial functions, pending a full investigation. By the first mail 344 home from South Africa the case ought to have been complete. It is monstrous that a man over whose head such serious charges were hanging should be allowed to continue the administration of justice.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) Dublin University
Let me remind the hon. Member that in reply to his question this afternoon I stated that, pending the investigation and since its commencement, Captain Segrave has not been exercising the functions of a magistrate.
§ * MR. J. E. ELLIS
The hon. and learned Gentleman says—"Since the investigation commenced." Am I to understand that Captain Segrave has not exercised the functions of Resident Magistrate in any respect since the 22nd of December last?
§ MR. MADDEN
I am unable to state the particular date, but the investigation commenced immediately after attention was called to the matter in the House by the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton). It is still proceeding, and during its prosecution Captain Segrave has nor been exercising the functions of a magistrate.
§ * MR. J. E. ELLIS
I accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's explanation; but my information goes to show he has been exercising his functions since the charges were made in this House. I do not now want to pin the right hon. Gentleman to any particular date, but I shall wait with anxiety to see the investigation concluded, as it no doubt will be before long, the charges having been made over two months ago in this House. I take Captain Segrave as an illustration of the character of the men who have been entrusted with the administration of the Crimes Act in Ireland. I will now turn for a moment to another incident upon which I asked a question this evening; and as it is illustrative of the state of Ireland, it is necessary that I should trouble the House with full particulars. The House will remember that I asked a question with respect to the action of a certain Mr. Hodder, a Resident Magistrate in the town of Ennis, in connection with the meeting there to protest against the prison treatment of Mr. O'Brien, and the reply of the Solicitor General was to the effect that the circumstances and details of the question were by 345 no means correct. I interposed, and asked the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he had obtained his information from the incriminated person, and his only reply was that he had obtained his information from the usual sources. I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Newcastle that in these matters the last person to learn the truth is the Chief Secretary, especially when he goes to what he calls the usual sources of information. I hold in my hand a communication from the Chairman of the meeting stating that he and others who went to hire the Temperance Hall for the purpose of holding a meeting to express the feeling of the people there as to the treatment of Mr. O'Brien were followed and obstructed by the police, and on their going to the barracks to complain of the conduct of the police, Mr. Hodder said he would not allow a meeting to be held to denounce the conduct of any high officials of the Government, and that those were his instructions. According to this account, the instructions of the Chief Secretary were that no meeting should be held at which speeches were made or resolutions proposed condemning high Government officials. The writer of the letter replied to Mr. Hodder that it would be impossible to hold any meeting and comply with the instructions he had received. At this Mr. Hodder expressed his intention to be present at the meeting, and that if anything occurred which he deemed improper he would call on it to disperse. The meeting assembled; a body of police, 20 in number, entered the hall with Mr. Hodder, who demanded to see the resolutions that were to be proposed They were handed to him, and, having glanced at them, he said that the resolutions were illegal, and constituted the meeting an unlawful assembly, and therefore he gave five minutes for its dispersal, and ordered the police to clear the hall. The Derbyshire Regimen was in the square outside, drawn up ready for action. The resolution that Mr. Hodder would not allow to be pro posed was a protest against the inhuman treatment of Mr. O'Brien, and it did no challenge the conduct of any high officials by name. The fact that Mr. Hodder would not allow the resolution to be put to the meeting is not denied by 346 the Solicitor General. All he said was that the account given in any question of the conversation was inaccurate. Now, the resolutions are these—First, that we, the Nationalists of Ennis, in public meeting assembled, protest with all our hearts against the inhuman treatment practised on Mr. William O'Brien, M.P., in Clonmel prison. Our feelings are so strongly agitated that we find it difficult to express what is surging within us at the barbarities to which Mr. O'Brien has been subjected have, to our mind, no parallel in the history of civilized Government. If this system of torture is continued we fear for the ensuing consequences in our country—a country scourged as it has been for centuries with the lash of oppression.Second, that if the professed sympathy of the English Democracy is sincere, we think the time has now come for united and determined and settled action on their part. That course is made perfectly clear by the treatment of Mr. O'Brien in Clonmel Gaol, and we call upon them at once to put into practice their professions of friendship to the Irish people.I am informed that these were the only resolutions proposed, and I ask the House what is the sort of Government of a country when the respectable people of Ennis cannot meet together in their temperance hall without an armed force of police constabulary traversing the town and putting an end to meetings in an arbitrary manner? It is a good illustration of the manner in which Ireland is being governed at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman did not think it beneath his dignity or his high office when at Dublin to deliver an extraordinary harangue to the Irish constabulary—a force of armed men—representing as if they were engaged in warfare with their fellow countrymen. That speech was unworthy to be addressed to an armed force of the kind by a Minister of the Crown. What is the effect of that course? I will give one illustration. We have heard a great deal about the expenses of the Special Commission, which will, of course, be enormous. Subscriptions were set on foot for hon. Members involved in the Charges and Allegations, and this has been interfered with by the Government. The facts are these, supplied to me by one of Her Majesty's Queen's Counsel, an authority altogether beyond dispute:—"The occurrence took place at Tiboline, French-park, Co. Roscommon, on Sunday, 19th December last. Subscriptions to the National Indemnity Fund were invited by a number of the most respectable men in 347 the parish, who met in the chapel yard of Tiboline, and appointed a man out of each townland to apprise the people of their own townstead that subscriptions would be received at the chapel gate. No posters or handbills were issued, so that nothing appears to have been published of an exciting or inflammatory character. The National League had been suppressed in the locality, but the subscriptions were invited quite independently of the League or its organization. The only element they had in common was that Mr. Thomas Morris Roe, who acted as secretary to the fund on the occasion, happened to be also assistant secretary of the branch of the League established in the parish. The meetings of the League were never held at the Chapel of Tiboline, but at the village away from it. On the 9th of December a table was placed outside the gate of the chapel yard, against one of the pillars of the gate, and Thomas Morris Roe attended there to receive subscriptions, having the lists ready to fill up, and containing the names of some who had already subscribed, including the parish priest and the curate. Two constables from French part, named McGlaughlin and Burns, came up and demanded to know what the collection was for, and being told that it was for the Mutual Indemnity Fund, replied that the money should not be collected in a proclaimed district for any purpose. They got the lists from Roe, and kept them, and he refused to return them, the only satisfaction they would give being that when asked for them they said they would send them to Roe 'from the right quarter.' Roe at first refused to desist from collecting, but after a time left the table and went into the chapel to attend Mass. When he came out the constables were still there, and when he resumed the collection they took the names of those who subscribed, and ultimately Burns called out to McGlaughlin that the people were holding a meeting and that they had a right to disperse them. At this point the people were showing signs of irritation, and Roe told them to go home, which they did. One of my informants states that the constables collared and jostled the people who were coming up with their subscriptions, and finally threatened to use their batons, and that one of them actually drew his baton. 348 These are substantially the facts so far as they have come to my knowledge." I ask, again, what can be the state of a country where constables can prevent subscriptions for any purpose whatever in a proclaimed district? I say nothing of the incredible meanness of this kind of thing. While you are asking the House for sums of money for this conspiracy which is being un-masked, your myrmidons in Ireland are preventing the collections which the poor peasantry of Ireland, out of their scanty earnings, are sending over to help their countrymen to fight their battles against you. It is like a strong man fighting a cripple; it is meanness to the depth of which one should have supposed no English Government would ever have descended. This is the system of which the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) said that in Ireland we find, "working from end to end a great system of justice and equality." The Prime Minister, in "another place," said that the people of Ireland were coming round to the side of the Government. Why, he knows very well that if a General Election occurred in Ireland to-morrow, the system of the Government would be condemned. The hon. Member for North Tyrone has acknowledged more than once that he would lose his seat.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (from below the Ministerial Gangway)
I never made any such acknowledgment, and that fact is as reliable as most of the facts I have heard to-night.
§ * MR. ELLIS
Of course, I accept the hon. Gentleman's statement. The Government has no mandate to govern Ireland as they are doing, as certain hon. Members have found in addressing their constituents recently, I will not refer to "Vote for Weymouth and no Coercion," nor to "Colomb and no Coercion." I will not refer even to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who promised a great deal of decentralization in Ireland; 349 I will not even dwell upon the President of the Board of Trade, who goes to his constituents and utters, more or less, platitudes about reform of the Government of Ireland, though evidently he is not able to carry them in the Cabinet; nor would I refer te the hon. Lord (Hartington) who, as the hon. Member for West Leeds said on the 15th February last, when face to face with his constituents, promised reforms of the Government of Ireland. I turn, Mr. Speaker, to the hon. Gentleman who occupies the distinguished position of the Chairman of this House. I hope I shall speak with that courtesy and respect which is due to one who fulfils so high a position, though it is not in that capacity I shall speak of him. I have carefully examined the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman on platforms to his constituents, and elsewhere, and I find they are in sharp contrast with his position in this House,—conduct which goes to the root of the representative character of this House. In his Election Address, dated 12th June, 1886, he says:—It is for the people to decide, and the judgment of the people will soon be declared at the polls. I trust it will be unequivocal in its resolution to maintain our Parliament, under which English, Scotch, and Irish may, without discrimination enjoy equal guarantees of liberty and justice. In Ireland, as in Great Britain, local self-government should and must be established.I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in all seriousness, what steps he has taken in this House to make good those words. He had an opportunity on the 25th April last year, on the Bill of the hon. Member whose absence we all regret, when the noble Lord, in a straightforward and manly way, washed his hands of all responsibility, and declared for simultaniety and similarity of Local Government for the two countries, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Courtney) did not speak on that occasion; I will not say he ran away from the division, but he did not record his vote. I now turn to another illustration of the same thing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) made some rather strong assertions in a speech addressed to his constituents on the 14th October, 1887, in regard to the Mitchelstown affray. I will read to the House an extract from that speech. The 350 right hon. Gentleman said on that occasion, after detailing the circumstances of the case:—The circumstances are very grave, and must be examined into and examined into in a very different way, and under different guarantees and securities from the way in which they were examined into at the Coroner's inquest. You must have a regular inquiry, and I await that inquiry, and I intend to suspend my judgment until that inquiry is fully and fairly held. It is impossible that justice can be satisfied without a full and impartial inquiry. The mind—I won't say of Ireland alone, but the mind of England and Scotland—the mind of Great Britain will not be satisfied without a complete and thorough inquiry. The Government would not be justified in attempting to prevent such an inquiry. It must be held, and I think we may go to the length of saying that it shall be held, because otherwise the Government will be accepting every accusation which, in the absence of an inquiry, would be levelled against them; but until that is done I am content in this matter to lay down the principle under which I think the thing should be judged. You must determine the action of the police to be innocent or culpable, according to the circumstances of each case. [A VOICE: The Government don't want to know more.] But we must make the Government know more. [A VOICE: But you won't.] Yes, but we will. ["No you won't."] Well, we shall see. It is a very hazardous thing to pronounce upon what people will do in the future. I think my Friend had better abstain from saying what I will do until he sees what I have done.These words were uttered on the 14th October, 1887, and I think that not only the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman, but we who sit in this House, are entitled to see what the right hon. Gentleman has since done in the matter. These are only illustrations of what I consider, with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman's great and glaring divergencies between his utterances on the platform and his conduct in this House; and here I may state that this is not a personal matter. I should be ashamed to make it one. I have always been treated by the right hon. Gentleman with uniform courtesy; but this is a point which, in my judgment, touches the character of this House as a representative assembly. It was said more than a century ago, by the first William Pitt, before he became Lord Chatham:—If the country cannot place confidence in the promises and pledges of their representatives the power and authority of this House must fall.I agree with this, and also with that very 351 strong sentence which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Morley), when he said the whole history of your Administration of Ireland—the way in which you obtained power, and the way in which you are keeping it—is a gross Parliamentary fraud. My mind and the minds of those I represent are made up on this subject. They and I fully agree with one other sentence which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard, in which he said the settlement of the question of the Government of Ireland was the great question of the present century. I have always thought it might be a long struggle, and have felt certain it would be a great one. Upon one other matter I desire to speak the minds of those I am sent here to represent. They desire me to oppose with vigour and persistence and by every legitimate means this ridiculous competition into which Her Majesty's Government has invited us, in the Queen's Speech, to enter against the great military nations of Europe; at the end of which, in my judgment, lies the Wolseley-cum-Chamberlain scheme of universal conscription. My constituents care nothing about the catalogue of sham proposals put forward by the Government. They believe that the settlement of this Question of the Government of Ireland is a vital and pressing matter. Relying not only on our principles, but on our mandate from the country, we feel perfectly sure that a clear and resolute policy such as ours is certain of ultimate success. People are too apt to look at the incidents of a great struggle, and to dwell on each particular, rather than mark the whole stream and tendency of things, and this great stream we say is in the direction which we, the Liberal Party, believe to be right. During the first 30 years of this century, both Houses of Parliament were breaking the Act of Union by taking from the Irish people the securities they had possessed. During the next 35 years there were some fitful gleams of light, for in the five years from 1835 to 1840, there was in Ireland under the administration of one of the most extraordinary men ever sent over to that country by us—the late Mr. Thomas Drummond—there was something like a time of just and fair government. During the last 30 352 years, mainly under the guidance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), we have been making great strides in the direction of justice. At the present moment there is a temporary reaction. The rump of the old Ascendancy Party, so well represented now by the hon. Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and the hon. Member for South Tyrone (T. W. Russell) think they have found their man. Well, I would say that, if great dialectical skill, literary culture, and absolute indifference to the sufferings of humanity, so far as appears from his public conduct, go for anything, the right hon. Gentleman is eminently qualified to fill the position of the leader and defender of that particular section. We have no desire to enter into competition with the Party opposite in the system they are applying to the administration of Ireland. The Government need no longer fear any rivalry from the Liberal Party in the matter of coercion. We have abandoned all that and have found a more excellent way, which is by reposing that faith in the people which alone can give a sure foundation or strength to the Executive. We believe that power and responsibility must be joined. We look with sympathy on the efforts made by the great Leader of the Irish Nationalist Party to win the Irish people from unconstitutional methods. We sympathize with the sufferings of our Irish fellow-subjects, and we wish the hon. Member for Cork Godspeed in his endeavours. As far as we ourselves are concerned, we will never cease in the exertions we are making to secure a settlement of this question until we have helped him and the other hon. Gentlemen who have come across the Irish Sea with him to bring about what we ask in the words of the prayer used when we assemble together, namely, that which will tend to the uniting and knitting together of the hearts of the people of these realms, so that at the end of the nineteenth century we may see accomplished a true and real and lasting union between the people of Great Britain and Ireland.
§ * MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I desire in the few minutes I shall occupy the House to say something in answer to the references that have been made to myself by the hon. 353 Gentleman who has just sat down. I cannot think I have been so wholly wanting in my duties as a representative as the hon. Member has endeavoured to make out. The hon. Gentleman has referred to three illustrations, which he doubtless supposed were the most striking he could bring forward with regard to what he represents as my political tergiversation. He has referred to what I said in 1887 in regard to the Mitchelstown occurrence. On that occasion, speaking to my constituents, I stated that that was a very grave matter, and I thought it ought to be made the subject of an inquiry, and I was then certainly under the very strong impression that, considering what had been said in regard to that matter, the Leaders of the Opposition would have taken the course of moving for the issue of a Royal Commission, or some sort of independent Commission, to inquire into the whole business. Had such a Motion been made at that time, or in the following Session, I should have given it my support. I will further say I still regret that no such Motion was made, and that I expressed my astonishment and surprise that none of the leading members of the Liberal Party had thought fit to adopt such a course. I think that this Motion for an independent inquiry ought to have been pressed. I regret that it was not, and, although it has been overlayed by subsequent events, I still express my regret it was not moved for. Whenever the administration of the Government of Ireland is discussed in this House two totally adverse statements are made. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the Opposition side of the House make statements which are too frequently marked by palpable exaggeration so as not to command our confidence, and on the other side, statements are often made by the Chief Secretary and other members of the Government based upon the reports of persons who are incriminated. Why, then, when you have got a case of a serious character, which requires impartial investigation, do you not follow up the declarations which are made in the country by coming to the House and taking the Parliamentary course of moving for an inquiry?
§ MR. COURTNEY
Oh, yes. When I said "We will," I spoke with complete confidence, not I admit justified by what has since happened, that the responsible leaders of the Opposition would make the motion, which I for one would have supported. I do not see why we should not arrive at some method of getting more exactly at the facts, and abandon the process, which is extremely exciting to the popular imagination, of holding adverse meetings in huge halls, giving rise to great declamation on one side and great declamation on the other. Have you not got a primâ facie case on which to found a Motion for such an inquiry?
§ MR. COURTNEY
If my right hon. Friend pleads inability to make any such Motion, I think he underrates his own powers. The next accusation made against me was with reference to declarations in my Election Address at the last General Election, that I thought local self-government must be given to Ireland. I have been for years in favour of extending local self-government to that country. I stated in my Election Address that I was of opinion than this was even more called for than was an extension of local government for England. I think so still, but I know the limits of Parliamentary power. I am very well aware, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lothian must be, that it was impossible to carry a Local Government Bill for the three countries during one Session. I was quite confident last year that it would be impossible to carry a complete Local Government Bill for England, and the result proved that I was right. It is all very well for those who have no responsibility to say that the Bill should have been wider in its scope. The Opposition always says so, while those on the Government bench, knowing the limits of their own power, always reply, "We go as far as we can." I think that the impartial judgment of the future with respect to last Session of Parliament will be that the Local Government Bill for England and Wales did go as far as the capacity of Parliament would allow. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle has said often and often that the Bill is 355 imperfect because it does not deal with district councils, and with local and and parochial matters. But he has answered himself. Very recently he commented on the slight attention that was paid to the London Government clauses. Is not this a confession that the Bill, even in its restricted and limited form, was too much to receive the close attention of the House of Commons? I would remind the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham that in the discussion on the second reading of the Local Government Bill for England, I protested against an indefinite postponement of the Irish Local Government Bill; and I will now say that if an attempt be made to indefinitely postpone that measure, I for one will not be silent. Perhaps, as I am referring to this subject, I may repeat something I said in the country. It had been said that a Local Government Bill could not be introduced so long as Ireland is in a disturbed condition. My answer to that is that Ireland as a whole is not disturbed. Why should we refuse local government to those parts which are quiet? I would suggest that a Bill should be introduced and made directly applicable to those parts which are at rest; or else that it should be applied to the whole of Ireland, power being taken to suspend its operation in any particular spot where its provisions are abused, just as Boards of Guardians are suspended. A Bill safeguarded in this way is asked for by the loyal and Unionist population [a laugh]. The hon. Member may laugh, but I would refer him to the "Northern Whig" which makes the demand.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, East)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to explain that I laughed at the suggestion that only Unionists in Ireland were to be allowed to carry on Local Government.
§ MR. COURTNEY
If the hon. Member gathered that view then, indeed, I expressed myself very imperfectly. The third point made by the hon. Member for the Rushcliff Division was a reference to what I said the other day at Oxford, and I am glad he referred to it for it enables me to restate it correctly. I have not the exact words, but the substance is that I recognized in Ireland a great system working of equity and justice; and it is 356 supposed that I was satisfied therewith. This is an error. I recapitulated in detail the many drawbacks and shortcomings of the situation and then I added that looking at Ireland as a whole I saw there, I believed that there prevailed in that country a great system working for equity and justice. I did not confound the Church Militant with the Church Triumphant; and I never suggested that Ireland showed us the Church Triumphant. But the system is waiting for right, and I uphold the present Government in its policy in Ireland, because, in spite of the imperfections of their agents—the Ministers who are responsible for the Administration of the country are perfectly conscious of those imperfections—in spite of the imperfections of the agents through whom it is necessary to work, and in spite of enormous difficulties, much aggravated by the attitude taken up by political parties in England, I believe that there is in Ireland a system working for equity and freedom, and an ever increasing attempt to give Ireland the same guarantee of independence as England possesses. Hon. Members below the Gangway do not show their capacity for establishing a Parliament in Ireland, nor their self command by the manner in which they receive this expression of opinion. As far as I am concerned, I shall continue to do all I can to promote a system working for those ends, which I believe can only be secured by the maintenance of the one Parliament for the United Kingdom.
§ SIR HORACE DAVEY (Stockton)
I am sure that no one who knows my right hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard can suppose for one moment that he is not capable of having the courage of his opinions. I am very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman still holds that an inquiry into what occurred at Mitchelstown was necessary, and I only hope that we may have his assistance and that of his Friends on future Divisions when questions of a similar kind come before the House. Now I should like to ask what was meant by salutary effects? If I could detect any improvement, such as was alleged, in the pacification of Ireland, I should be the first to congratulate Her Majesty's Government, but it is exactly because the Administration of Ireland has, in our opinion, been of quite the contrary effect, because we believe it has been 357 irritating and exasperating, and tending to widen the alienation between the people of this country and the people of Ireland, that we could not allow the passage in question in the Address in answer to the gracious Speech from the Throne to pass without a word of protest from our side. The House ought to have had some information, documents, papers, statistics, from which it could form some opinion before it was asked to join in an expression of opinion such as that proposed. Able and interesting as was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, it appeared to me that in many respects he failed to meet the point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, and that in some points he actually conceded the indictment against him. I ask the Government whether they think the storm of indignation which has been aroused by the personal indignities which have been inflicted upon certain Members is a salutary result of the administration of Irish affairs by them. At the bottom of this agitation I cannot help suspecting that there is a vague but a growing sense among the people that some of these Gentlemen, at least, have not been fairly treated, and that they are the subjects even of persecution, if not by, at least, with the assistance of, the Government; and in my opinion that vague but growing sense, which is gradually forming itself and seeking expression, is a factor in the political situation which the Government will have to deal with. I accept the statement, as I would accept any statement made by the Chief Secretary in the House, that the care and management of prisons is not within his department, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman, as the representative of the Executive Government in this House, to exercise the powers which are vested in the Lord Lieutenant under the 4th section of the Prisons Act of 1877. Why, it might be asked should the Government interfere in this case, and why should directions be given? It is because, it appears to me, that this is a matter of policy. I will assume, for the purpose of argument, that Mr. O'Brien, Mr. E. Harrington, and Mr. Carew have been rightly convicted of offences under the Crimes Act. Sir, I do not care to discuss the question whether prisoners thus convicted can be properly termed political offenders. That is to my mind a 358 question of a more or less academic character. But it cannot be questioned that the offences of which they have been convicted have directly arisen out of the political controversies of the day conducted in this House and outside this House, and that the Gentlemen against whom the powers of the Crimes Act are set in force are the political and Parliamentary opponents of the Government. I agree, Sir, with the right hon. Gentleman that the law should be no respecter of persons. I would never say anything to the contrary. But it seems to me, Sir, that this question should be dealt with as a question of expediency—a question of policy. What would be the course of a wise Government in a case such as this? I venture to submit. Sir, that a wise Government in administering the law would have regard to the ends for which the punishment is inflicted and to its effect, not only upon the offender himself, but on the people amongst whom the law is to be administered. Is it wise, prudent, or statesmanlike to attach the personal indignities which have been spoken of to these particular offenders? Is it not calculated rather to weaken respect for the law than to strengthen it? Will it not rather retard and postpone any permanent establishment of order? Is it desirable to encourage this state of things? This seems to me to be the real issue of this question, the issue which, I understand, my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle tenders to the House. If, as I believe, the Executive Government of Ireland has the most ample power of relieving these Gentlemen from these indignities, I beg of them to assure the House that the power will be exercised with some regard to public opinion, not, Sir, because public opinion is entitled to override the law—I do not wish it to be understood that I would say anything of the kind—but because, in my opinion, the effect of punishment is marred, and the true end of punishment is missed if punishment is accompanied with incidents which shock the public con science. If you inflict punishment with incidents which shock public opinion and the public conscience, you are more likely to create a sympathy with those who break the law than with the law itself. If the Chief Secretary desires some justification or desires some reason for exercising the discretion which, in 359 my opinion, the Government has in this matter, I will take the liberty of referring him again to the 49th section of the Prisons Act, 1879, which prescribes "That every prisoner under sentence inflicted on conviction for sedition or seditious libel shall be treated as a misdemeanant of the first division." A great many of the prisoners who have been convicted would, if there were no Crimes Act, and if they were tried in the ordinary way—in a constitutional way, and in the way in which they ought to be tried, namely, by judge and jury, be tried for sedition or seditious libel, and if they were so tried and convicted, they would be entitled to be treated as misdemeanants of the first class. I will not incur the right hon. Gentleman's criticism by saying anything about what he has called the distinguished man or the popular man argument. Although it is entitled to very considerable weight, it is an argument which is not conclusive. It is entitled to very considerable weight for the reason which I have just mentioned, namely, that the infliction of these personal indignities upon men who are so much respected, and so much beloved by a large majority of their countrymen, and have earned the respectful admiration of a great many people in England and Scotland, is calculated to increase the alienation of the people from the law There are at present 22 Members of the House who are either in prison [An hon. MEMBER: 25]—25 Members either either in prison or out on bail awaiting the result of appeals. Who are they? They are men who have been sent up to this House in obedience to Her Majesty's writ, to serve in Parliament as representatives of counties and boroughs in Ireland. They are men whose votes in this House might at any time deter mine the fate of a Ministry on the most momentous issues of Imperial policy even the issues of war and peace. Do hon. Members opposite think that when these Gentlemen come out of prison they will be less respected or admired by the majority of their countrymen? Do you not rather think that the infliction of these personal indignities will be an additional title on their part to the confidence, respect, and affection of the people; and, if so, I venture to say, as a mere matter of policy or expediency it is neither wise nor statesmanlike to unnecessarily inflict these indignities 360 upon these Gentlemen. The only object of inflicting personal indignities upon prisoners is to mark the moral degradation to which they have sunk. But if it ceases to have that effect then it becomes inexpedient and impolitic. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the success which has attended the Crimes Act. I was very much surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman quote in this House the Report of some anonymous barrister of what has been said by some Judge on some occasion in some case without any context whatever. I hardly think the House will be disposed to accept the Report of the anonymous barrister even on the right hon. Gentleman's guarantee. But the right hon. Gentleman went beyond that; he gave some statistics which seem more fallacious than figures usually are. He told us that of the ordinary Civil cases which come before Courts of Appeal 26½ per cent. succeed. Well, I know something about appeals, and I was surprised to hear that the average was not higher. I would have expected that it would be about 50 per cent. Under the Crimes Act it appears that the successful appeals are only 8 per cent.; but having regard to the nature of these cases, which turn not so much on questions of law, but on questions of fact, I wonder that the percentage is even so high. The House must remember that it is in the smaller cases, in which sentences of one month only are inflicted that the greatest injustice is done under the Crimes Act, these being cases in which there is no appeal. The right hon. Gentleman said that juries convicted in a larger number of cases than magistrates. I have no doubt that is so, and simply because those who have charge of prosecutions are not quite so ready to bring cases before the test of a jury as they are to bring them before the resident magistrates, from whom it is presumably more easy to obtain convictions. The right hon. Gentleman also stated that no one alleges that the prisoners convicted are not all rightly convicted. But that is an entire misapprehension. Owing to the difficulty of obtaining any certain information from the inadequate reports in the newspapers, and the great difficulty of obtaining the detailed facts of any case, it is not easy to point to any individual case and assert that in that case there has been a wrongful conviction. I would be no party to attacking any 361 decision of a tribunal unless I was quite sure of my facts. Nevertheless, I cannot acquiesce in the optimistic view of the Chief Secretary that all the convictions are legally justified. I will tell the House where the cases under the Crimes Act seem to me to be most faulty. I had not the honour of a seat in the House when the Act was passed, but the great defect, the great blot in the system introduced by the Act seemed to me to be that it left to persons of insufficient training and legal experience the adjudication on two branches of law of so elastic and ill-defined a character as the law of conspiracy and the law relating to unlawful assembly. Cases of this kind are peculiarly fitted to be tried by juries, and I do not think that any jury would find shopkeepers who combined together guilty of conspiracy because they refused to supply a person with goods which, in fact, he did not require, and only asked for so as to make a case for prosecution. There was one circumstance about the Milltown Malbay cases which threw a lurid light upon the administration of the Crimes Act, and that was that the police were employed by the Divisional Magistrate for the purpose of creating offences. I admit that since the decision in the Killeagh case there has been a great improvement in the way in which Resident Magistrates have dealt with this question. This is no doubt a salutary result; but it is due, not to the action of the Government in administering the Statutes, but to the course adopted by the hon. Member for Longford, in bringing the case before the superior Courts. The right hon. Gentleman asks the House to believe that all the convictions under the Crimes Act are right. Let me say a word or two with reference to the crime of unlawful assembly. It appears to me that in Ireland, whenever two or three people meet together, they form an unlawful assembly. In one case some people who had collected round a bonfire were dispersed by the police as an unlawful assembly. Perhaps the most remarkable case which has come under my notice occurred at Waterford, and was reported in the Freeman's Journal. A charge of intimidation was preferred against 14 persons in a Court held under the provisions of the Crimes Act. Evidence was given that the defendants and a crowd stopped opposite 362 the house of a man named Power, and shouted "Grabber." Power declined to give evidence, declaring that he had suffered more from the police than the people. Thirteen of the defendants were acquitted; but the fourteenth was convicted, and sentenced to one month's imprisonment. It is new to me that one man out of 14 can constitute an unlawful assembly or a riot. Perhaps some explanation may be given of the extraordinary cases mentioned by the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. J. E. Ellis). Certainly if such cases occurred in Ireland, they are a gross abuse of the law. In my opinion, the constant irritating interference of the police is calculated to weaken, rather than to strengthen, respect for the law and respect for the people who administer it. I do not hestitate to say that Ireland is one of the most—perhaps the most—police-ridden countries in Europe; and, therefore, I ask whether we are justified in addressing Her Majesty in language of gratulation respecting the state of the country. In his observations upon the Gweedore case and the murder of District Inspector Martin, the Chief Secretary seemed a little to miss the point of my right hon. Friend's remarks. The Chief Secretary said there was a grievous error of judgment committed by those who had charge of the police in the locality in not having a sufficient body of men present at the arrest of Father M'Fadden. But that was not the point of my right hon. Friend's observations. The Chief Secretary did not answer the question "Who gave the order to arrest Father M'Fadden on Sunday as he came from the celebration of Mass?" The point of the case, the light it shows on the tact and judgment of those who have the administration of the law in Ireland seems to me to lie in this, the mistake made—to put it at its least—in arresting a popular, a beloved priest just when he had taken off his vestments on leaving the altar, in the midst of an excited congregation leaving chapel. It is unnecessary for me to say that I do not excuse or palliate for a moment the brutal murder of District Inspector Martin; and I am quite sure the Leaders of the Nationalist Party in Ireland can only regard a deplorable incident of this kind as calculated to do grave injury to the cause they are agitating for. But I do say that whoever it was who was 363 responsible for the order to arrest Father M'Fadden coming straight from chapel, where he had been celebrating Mass, in the midst of an irritated and excited congregation, incurred a very grave responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman said nothing in his speech of the case quoted by my right hon. Friend of the two men convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for laughing at a policeman named Cole. But let me say a word as to the case of Mr. Edward Harrington. I have here the newspaper report of the Cork Herald. I do not from that report draw the same inference as the Chief Secretary, but at least it is clear that three charges were made against Mr. Harrington—one of attending the meeting, one for making a speech there, and another for publishing that speech in a newspaper. Of the two first he was not convicted, but of the publication alone. It may be that my right hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division stated the case too strongly when he said the Magistrates had declared the speech innocent; but this I point to, that the sentence was pronounced six months' hard labour for the offence of publishing the speech in a newspaper. I do not see the relevancy of saying he might have been convicted of making the speech if the evidence had been stronger; it is enough to say he was convicted simply for the publication, and the punishment was inflicted for that alone. The Chief Secretary thinks it is not unduly severe, because he might have been convicted of the other charges; but the conviction shows me, and must show any fair-minded man who considers it, there is truth in what we have been often told, that the Act creates a new crime. I am quite aware I shall incur the censure of a noble and learned Lord in "another place," for whom I have the greatest respect, when I say so; but I am fortified by the opinion of two respected Judges of the High Court in Ireland. I would ask any hon. Member to say under what Statute or Common Law a man might have been convicted and punished for publishing a speech where it had not been found that the speech itself was seditious, libellous, or otherwise unlawful. It will be answered, It was in a proclaimed district. Then I say the act only became a crime by virtue of the Crimes Act. When I hear it said that no new crime was created by the 364 Crimes Act, it seems to me that the case of Mr. Harrington is a complete answer to that. The right hon. Gentleman gave us rather a rose-coloured view of the present state of Ireland. If he had continued much longer, he would have pictured the country in a state of Arcadian happiness. What would be the obvious sequence, the natural political consequence, if the state of Ireland were as he describes it? We should expect to see in the Queen's Speech the announcement that the Government were now ready to fulfil the pledges so many Members on the other side gave to their constituents, that Ireland should have equal legislation with England, that the Government were at once prepared to bring in a Local Government Bill for Ireland. But he said, with perhaps a foreboding of what may not be so far in the dim and distant future as some people think, if the constituencies return my right hon. Friend to power how are you prepared to deal with this Irish problem? I have not the slightest hesitation in answering. I should say instead of continuing the heavy hand of coercion, which has only alienated respect for law and widened and deepened the separation between England and Ireland, I should say, place responsibility on the shoulders of those whom you yourselves say have the greatest political power in Ireland. Political power without responsibility in a free country is a danger to the State, and so long as that continues will danger accompany it. I should also answer this. Deal at once with the question of arrears, because it lies at the bottom of this question. Anybody who takes the trouble to read or who has watched the progress of events that have harrowed the feelings of so many people in this country will have seen that in almost every instance they arose from the inability of the tenant and landlord to come to an agreement on the question of arrears. In most cases the landlords were willing to make some concession, though not to the extent the tenants asked. What would be the sensible thing to do? Why, that some tribunal, the Land Commission or some other, should deal with the question of arrears in some way similar to the method pursued in the Crofters' Act, or in some way of arbitration between the parties. If it had not been for the 365 refusal to deal with arrears except in a manner that found no acceptance on either side, many of these events might have been altogether prevented. Anybody who has studied the question will confirm me when I say that the greater number of prosecutions under the Crimes Act have directly or indirectly arisen from the failure of Parliament to deal with arrears. In the first place, the powers of the Crimes Act are used to prevent combinations of tenants to obtain reductions of rent; then comes eviction, and people are prosecuted under the Crimes Act for resisting eviction; then these too noisy sympathizers are prosecuted for unlawful assembly, and when they come out of prison they are met by bands and processions, and greeted with bonfire displays; then there are more charges of the police, more unlawful assembly, and more persons convicted of crimes. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford has traced out of one eviction the ultimate punishment of 48 persons. If Parliament had dealt with arrears in a timely and suitable manner these questions would not arise. In discussing these cases it is impossible not to trench sometimes on personal grounds, but I desire the House should understand that we who advocate this Amendment attack the system and the way in which the system is administered. The Government have undertaken, what I believe to be an impossible task, to govern under the form of democracy, but by the method of despotism. There are two ways of governing Ireland. You may suspend Parliamentary representation, and govern Ireland as a Crown Colony would be governed, with the aid of your military and police. That is a conceivable mode of governing Ireland. As to whether it is possible I do not express an opinion. Or you may frankly accept the situation and place responsibility in the hands of those who are politically powerful in Ireland, and govern Ireland on democratic principles. But I deny that a mongrel despotism, under the form of democracy, will ever succeed in Ireland or in any other country in the world. I must say that when the Under Secretary charges us with want of respect for the law, and says the issue is between law and disorder, I must say that there are certain friends of his to whom that might apply. The hon. and gallant Menber for North Armagh I observe made a 366 speech the other day—I believe he intends to follow me—in which he said that if Parliament passed a certain Act he was prepared to put himself at the head of 50,000 or 100,000 men to resist that Act. What an example is that to set the peasants of Ireland, when a distinguished and gallant Member uses such language in addressing his constituents! I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Stockport also offer counsel that seemed to me extremely like counsel of rebellion. I know the hon. Member is a peaceful man, but, certainly, under the ordinary interpretation of language, he seemed to counsel rebellion against the constituted authorities. That there is an improvement in the material prospects of Ireland I do not deny, but when I am asked to congratulate Her Majesty on the material improvement of Ireland as the salutary result of certain Statutes, I am bound to say that so far as my observation goes I can see no ground for tracing any improvement in the social disease in that part of the United Kingdom, and I decline to be a party to congratulating Her Majesty on the result of Statutes which, in my opinion, have had the effect of weakening, not of strengthening, respect for the laws, and of widening the breach between the English and Irish people.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Colonel Saunderson,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till tomorrow.