§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [21st February.]—[See page 41.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
Mr. Speaker, I looked forward with interest and anxiety to the attack that my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) intended to make against the Government. If the old adage is accurate that practice makes perfect, Her Majesty's Opposition ought, in the lapse of years, to arrive at considerable perfection in moving votes of want of confidence in Her Majesty's Government for their Irish Administration. We have had a series of these votes of want of confidence. We are just now considering one, and when I learned the Motion that my 390 right hon. Friend was going to move, I wrote down on a piece of paper I now hold in my hand the points which I imagined my right hon. Friend would strive to make. I imagined that my right hon. Friend would have tried to show that the Crimes Act, which is directed against crime, has failed to accomplish its object, and that crime, instead of diminishing, was augmented. I should also have thought the right hon. Gentleman would show that the Crimes Act interfered unduly with the liberty of the subject, that the innocent suffered whereas the guilty went scot-free, and I anticipated that he would have gone on to show that liberty of speech was interfered with in Ireland. But, on the first head, that of "crime," my right hon. Friend hardly said anything at all, because he knew perfectly well that crime has undoubtedly diminished in Ireland, and that so far from crime, as was said last year, being driven under the surface and taking that form of agrarian crime which, unfortunately, we have seen in Ireland, there is less crime now than at any time since the commencement of the agitation. The first count my right hon. Friend has not attempted to establish, and therefore I suppose it falls to the ground. With regard to the innocent being punished, my right hon. Friend certainly brought forward some cases; but I do not think, if I may say so, that they were seriously meant. He cited some cases of certain persons who had laughed at the police, and who were put in gaol. The right hon. Gentleman himself, however, expressed a certain amount of doubt as to the accuracy of the allegation. Why, I think its utter absurdity is stamped on its very face. I have not heard of the circumstance before; but I venture to prophesy that when researches have been made into the accuracy or want of accuracy of that accusation it will be found, as probably my right hon. Friend believes himself in the bottom of his heart, that it is a wild effusion of the imagination of some Irish editor. With regard to freedom of speech, I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that there is more freedom of speech in its proper sense in Ireland at the present moment than is to be found in any country in the world. On one occasion it was my good fortune to follow the hon. Member for the Scot- 391 land Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) during the recent electoral campaign at Maidstone, and the great point the hon. Gentleman made was that for a speech he might make with perfect impunity at Maidstone he would be imprisoned in Ireland. I said, "That undoubtedly is the case. It is perfectly true." But I also maintain it ought to be true. A homely illustration will exactly point my meaning. It is a well-known fact that some hon. Members are addicted to smoking. There is nothing to prevent them lighting a cigar in that portion of this building which is devoted to the worship of nicotine. It is a perfectly legal act, but there are conditions in England under which, if anyone lit a cigar, he would be instantly put in gaol. Let him go down into a coal mine and light a cigar, and he would find that what would be legal in the smoking-room of the House of Commons would, in an atmosphere filled with inflammable particles, be a criminal act of a heinous kind, because it would endanger the lives of those engaged in the mine. That may be a homely illustration, but it accurately represents the condition of free speech in Ireland. A speech may be treated with perfect impunity at Maidstone or in the House of Commons which in Ireland would mean the death of some unfortunate offender against the organization over which hon. Gentlemen opposite hold sway. The chief attack against the Government yesterday was their action in the case of Mr. Harrington. Is it unfair that Mr. Harrington should at the present time be undergoing punishment in Ireland? That is a matter of opinion; but, for my own part, I believe there is no man deserves it better. Mr. Harrington had ample opportunity of knowing the effect of language on the Irish people. In this House, and in his presence, not later than last year, I pointed out the result in a certain town in Kerry which he had mentioned by name; and in an article which he signed himself, so that there should be no mistake as to who wrote it, he held up to public execration land-grabbers, and he must have known that in that townland there was a land-grabber in danger of his life, whose name was Fitzmaurice. Within two months after that article was written Fitzmaurice was murdered 392 in cold blood. I should have thought that his better feeling might have induced Mr. Harrington to refrain, in a neighbourhood which he knew was stained with innocent blood, from trying to foster and revive an organization which he knew was stained with outrage and crime. Let me give one other instance to show the effect of these speeches, which might be made with perfect impunity in the House of Commons, or in London, or elsewhere in England. In this country people might think them bloodthirsty speeches, but they would not lead to crime; but in Ireland they lead directly to, and are directly answerable for, most of the crime which has disgraced and sullied my native land. [Home Rule cries of "Oh, oh!"] Yes, it is my native land as much as yours, and there is no man in this House who feels the honour of being an Irishman more than I do. Let me mention another instance. There was a speech made in the adjoining county of Limerick on January 29, 1888—I maintain that a land-grabber is a thief when he covets and steals his unfortunate neighbour's holding, and I want to say once more what I repeated on a hundred platforms—that the land-grabber incurred malediction in the days when the Holy Bible was written. 'Cursed be he who removes his neighbour's landmark' was the dictum of Holy Writ. He is a cowardly, slimy renegade, a man who should be looked upon as a social leper.That speech was made by Mr. Davitt on January 29, 1888. Two days after that speech had rung round Kerry and Limerick Fitzmaurice was butchered in the light of day before his daughter's eyes. I want to know, is that the sort of freedom of speech which hon. Gentlemen opposite claim? I say that is a sort of freedom of speech which cannot be permitted to exist by, or coexist with, a civilized or ordered society. The right hon. Gentleman blames the Government very much for the arrest of Mr. M'Fadden and the way it was carried out, and the right hon. Gentleman said, "What would be said of me if I, when I had been Chief Secretary, had ordered the arrest of Dr. Kane when he left his church in Belfast on a Sunday?" But the instance which occurred in Mr. M'Fadden's case could not have occurred in the case of Dr. Kane, for Dr. Kane would have obeyed a summons to appear, and if a warrant had been issued for his arrest Dr. Kane would 393 have allowed the warrant to be served. If a warrant were issued for my own arrest I should not go and live lying about in the mountains of Donegal; I should submit myself to be tried; and my hon. Friend near me, who at one time was arrested, did not run away and hide. Mr. M'Fadden was flying from the hand of justice; a warrant was out from which he was trying to escape; and I maintain and believe, and I think I shall be supported in that belief by a consensus of the opinion of the country, that the blood of the man who was killed is at Mr. M'Fadden's door, just as if it was shed upon his doorstep. That is my opinion, and I believe it to be the opinion of the country. I now pass on. I do not intend to take up the time of the House with details, although I admit their importance, but I think the attack upon Her Majesty's Government is of a Petty Sessions character, rather than a great attack on a great principle of Imperial policy. I am very glad that that debate has occurred, because I believe it will place before the country the difference between the Parties. [Cheers and counter cheers.] I am glad that for once we are all satisfied. We are fighting at the present moment the greatest and the gravest battle that any civilized nation can fight. We are fighting on the one side for the triumph and the supremacy of the law of the land, and on the other for the triumph and the supremacy of the law of the League. I do not think hon. Gentlemen opposite will deny that. They have declared in public that they intend to set the law of the land at defiance, that they intend to set at defiance the Crimes Act, which is as much part of the law of the land as any other Statute on the Book, and declare that that Act is absolutely incapable to arrest their proceedings. If they succeed in proving that the law of the land cannot arrest their proceedings and call them to account when they break its provisions, then I say that their triumph is complete. There are to my mind two ways of dealing with law-breakers. You must put them down or you must give in to them. There is a third course, which is sometimes to put them down, and sometimes to give in to them. That is a course which has been followed by both Parties, but I think we have seen the 394 unwisdom of that course; and when the right hon. Gentleman opposite says, "How can you hope that a coercive policy will now succeed in Ireland when in the past it has always failed," I answer that there is one great and marked distinction between a coercive policy for a fixed period and a permanent one—between the Crimes Act of the present Government and all those other Acts which were passed in bygone days. The present is a continuous Act. The reason the Crimes Act at present in force can be continuous is, that it does not in the very slightest degree interfere with law-abiding men, or with any liberty which any subject of Her Majesty the Queen should desire, whereas the Crimes Acts passed in former days by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian were of so severe and drastic a character, interfering as they did in an unlimited manner with the liberty of the subject, that they could not be allowed to remain on the Statute Book. It is because the present Act is continuous and does not hold out any hope that the policy of revolution will again triumph, that I believe that Coercion Act, which is really a reinforcing of the law of the land, will permanently remain on the Statute Book of the country, and help, as it is doing now, to establish in Irishmen that belief that the law of the land must be supreme which, I believe, will ultimately make the Irish people a law-abiding race. Of course, the Government have had much greater victories. It was prophesied on the front Opposition Bench that this Act was bound to fail. There are two kinds of prophets; one who lets his prophecy take its chance, and if it is fulfilled gets credit; and there is the other kind of prophet who fulfils his own prophecies or tries to do so. I might make a prophecy that some hon. Member would have a fall; but if I were surreptitiously and feloniously to produce that effect, and trip the hon. Member up, I should fulfil my own prophecy, but I should not deserve any credit. That is exactly what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have been doing with Her Majesty's Government. They have been tripping up the law. The Irish are a pretty quick people to learn a lesson., and when they are told—especially on high authority—they are right in disobeying the law, they take that advice much more readily than they do 395 better advice. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, in speaking about law in Ireland—I think it was pretty strong language from an ex-Prime Minister—said—Gentlemen, what I wish to state to you is that the Irish cannot, and the Irish ought not to, acquiesce in a Government which is against them, and is a Government of unequal laws. I take first the law of combination among the poorer classes of the community by which they seek in the use of a weapon that nature has supplied to them.The interpretation which any ordinary Irishman would put upon that is, that the "weapons" referred to were blackthorn sticks. I have been blamed for saying that under certain conditions I would disobey the law; but I have the authority of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) for saying I am right in that. I should look upon a Home Rule Government in Dublin as a Government of unequal law; and, therefore, when I say I cannot and will not obey it I have the right hon. Gentleman on my side. A great effort is being made to defeat the law which this Parliament has passed, and to show that that law works unfairly. We remember that Mitchelstown occupied a very large portion of the speeches of Gentlemen opposite; but, somehow or other, Mitchelstown drooped. The right hon. Gentleman tried to revive it by the help of photographs; but even those failed. Then we had Mandeville. The right hon. Gentleman said at Birmingham we should hear a great deal more about Mr. Mandeville, but we have heard nothing since about Mandeville. Mandeville would not stand examination. He did very well on the platform, when Gentlemen opposite said the Chief Secretary had murdered Mr. Mandeville; but we know very well that statement will not stand the test in the House of Commons, and they never now bring Mandeville forward except incidentally.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
We have heard nothing lately about Mandeville—nothing since the allusion of the right hon. Gentleman at Birmingham. Daniel O'Connell once said that when defending a man on a capital charge he produced the murdered man alive in Court, and yet the jury found his client guilty. 396 And Gentlemen opposite know that they could and did produce Mandeville alive and well for a month after he had left prison—he himself boasted that he could tell the Coercionist Government they had not knocked a feather out of him. For some time Mr. Mandeville went about making speeches and took to staying up very late at night, and in the end he, unfortunately, died. That case will not wash, and the right hon. Gentleman, as far as I can remember, did not say much about it. But some cry had to be got up—some cry which would attract the British public, and the cry which is now being got up to attract the public—[Cries of"Pigott;" cheers, and laughter from the Irish Benches.] I do not know why hon. Members opposite cry that name at me. [Laughter.] I know nothing of the man at all, except that I believe he has thoroughly qualified himself to belong to the first Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. But, Sir, what is the great attraction that hon. Gentlemen opposite have had for the last month or two now? The clothes of Mr. O'Brien. [Derisive cheers.] Well, I am sorry to bring that matter forward, but I must. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, above and below the Gangway, have gone up and down the country drawing harrowing pictures of this naked patriot, and have tried to throw utter discredit upon Her Majesty's Government, and particularly upon the law which this House has passed, because they say it has led to these terrible scenes—Mr. O'Brien sitting bereft of those garments which most people like to wear in the day-time. If a great Party in the State like to make those garments of Mr. O'Brien their Oriflamme—the flag under which they are to march—and to use them for the purpose of sweeping Her Majesty's Government off the Treasury Bench, I think I am justified in confronting that Party in the House, and asking them to prove their case. I cannot help admiring the theatrical way in which hon. Gentlemen opposite timed those events to come off just before the meeting of Parliament, or the proceedings which the Lord Mayor of Dublin takes for the purpose of emphasizing the agitation. I know I am about to tread on dangerous ground, but I must even venture to incur the wrath of that civic functionary who sud- 397 denly, in the dead of the night—or rather in the early morning—woke to a consciousness that Mr. O'Brien was naked in his cell. Now, as a matter of fact, I do not believe Mr. O'Brien ever has been naked. I understand he has been without certain garments, but not entirely naked. So impressed was the Lord Mayor of Dublin with bringing the matter under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government that he determined on a very remarkable proceeding. The Lord Mayor of Dublin at 1 a.m. was a very different being from the Lord Mayor of Dublin at 1 p.m.; and at the witching hour the Lord Mayor of Dublin appeared to be under the impression that the Home Rule Bill had passed, and that he was master of the situation. He rang for his ambassador, who appeared on the scene in the person of the hall-porter, wrote a letter at that hour, and sent away the messenger to the Chief Secretary, bringing to his cognizance the fact that at that moment Mr. O'Brien was in a naked condition. It would have struck many that most people are usually without certain garments at that hour of the night. Of course I cannot answer for the habits of Nationalist Members. When the messenger came back he told the Lord Mayor that the Chief Secretary had opened the door, having come down in his shirt covered with orders. The hon. Member failed to discern that there was something rather imaginative in the description of his emissary. Well, I should have thought I might have appealed from the Lord Mayor of 2 a.m. to the Lord Mayor of 2 p.m. on Monday, but strange as it may seem the Lord Mayor of 2 p.m. appeared to be under the same delusion. After a day and a half's reflection the Lord Mayor went into the Phoenix Park and made a speech, and said he was informed that the Chief Secretary was a prominent figure in the affair; but whether it was the Chief Secretary or Mr. Hayes Fisher, the Member for Fulham, it was no excuse for not giving a reply to the letter. Gentlemen opposite deserve great credit for the ingenuity which they display in their theatrical performances. Can anybody conceive such a thing happening in London? Conceive the Lord Mayor of London sending a message to the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt), when he was Home Sec- 398 retary, informing him that some malefactor had no clothes on at night, and then going into Hyde Park to make a speech, and saying that the right hon. Gentleman had come down in his night shirt covered with orders. Nobody could conceive such a thing happening in any other country but Ireland, and what I find fault with these Gentlemen for is this—I say they had no right to make such asses of themselves, and to bring down everlasting ridicule on the country to which we all belong. I have often heard hon. Gentlemen in this House talk of "Ditch-liners," but I do not agree with those who apply that name to us. We do not intend to line ditches; we will keep the ditches for hon. Gentlemen opposite when they get a chance to line them. But there was another speech made at that meeting which was of an interesting character. We all know the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. T. Healy), and what an able speaker he is. We are all accustomed to his courtesy in this House; we know his ingenuity and research, but we have never regarded him before from a military point of view. Well, this is what the hon. Gentleman is reported to have said on that occasion: "Instead of speaking that day, he wished he could lead them as armed men to clean out the entire gang of lily-souled assassins." Whenever this takes place I hope I shall be there to see, for it would be a sight to see the corner boys from the height of the Phœnix at Dublin rushing down the valley of the Liffey to sweep away the British Empire. Well, Sir, who are these Gentlemen? And there is another point on which I should like to ask a question. Why are they in gaol? The only answer we can give to that question is, because they want to go to gaol. They go there of their own free will. If they obeyed the law, like ordinary persons in this country, they would not go to gaol; but, as it is, they go over to Ireland with the express and deliberate intent to break the law. I have here an authority for this which I think no one can deny—namely, that of the hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor), as to whom I will venture to make this prophecy—and I believe he is going to gaol, for hon. Members opposite are always either coming from 399 or going to gaol—that when he does go to gaol he will take his punishment like a man. That is my prophecy with regard to the hon. Member. At any rate, he ought; because here is the speech he made to his constituents in Tipperary, and I think it will explain to the House why so many of our fellow Members so often find themselves within the four walls of a gaol. In the Cork Herald of the 8th October, 1888, the hon. Gentleman is reported to have said—If you are not going to help us, stand out from us in God's name. (Loud cheers.) I want to tell every man in your midst to take his side in the ranks of the enemy, or with us in the ranks of the people. I want to tell you here to-day to mark the enemy and shun him. (Loud cheers.) The word used to he, in the old days, 'Agitate, agitate, agitate;' the word in the present day is, 'Boycott, boycott, boycott.' (Loud cheers.) My friends, if you do this, and if you take my advice, you may have to go to gaol. Well, as good men as you ever were went to gaol. Your forefathers went to gaol, and under the shadow of the scaffold they cried out 'God save Ireland!' (Cheers.) Let us give Balfour plenty of 'criminals.' Let us fill the gaols, let us go man after man, and let us fill them until we burst them.Well, Sir, this shows that the hon. Gentleman is thoroughly conversant with the eternal fitness of things. He believes that all his Party ought to go to gaol, and I confess that I have racked my brains and exercised whatever ingenuity I possess to discover why they should not go to gaol, and I have failed to find a reason, nor have I ever found a reason why, if they be once sent to gaol, they should ever be let out. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members cheer. All I can say is that, if they themselves think gaol is the best and most fitting place for them, and just where they ought to be, I do not see why they should not go there, nor why they should not remain there. The next point made against the Government is the treatment of the men when they are in gaol. On that point a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) has filled me with astonishment. In a speech delivered on the 28th June, 1888, and which appears in Hansard, the right hon. Gentleman, speaking on this point, said—Is the prison dress for Mr. Dillon the same thing as the prison dress for a man in a frieze coat? Is it? Is it the same thing? The right hon. Gentleman says it is; I say it is not.400 Well, that is an aristocratic view of the execution of the law. I have always understood that all men, no matter what their rank in life, are equal before the law of the land; but, according to the right hon. Gentleman, because a man wears broadcloth he is to be treated in a different way, if in gaol, to the man who wears a frieze coat. I think that the man who wears broadcloth, and belongs to the upper spheres of life, deserves, when he has been convicted of crime, a far harder punishment than the man with the frieze coat. But some hon. Gentlemen opposite do not appear to be anxious to follow the advice of the hon. Member for South Tipperary. I remark that the Leaders of the Irish Party, as a rule, and certainly the lawyers of that Party, refrain from going to gaol. I suppose that an arrangement is made with some gentlemen that, when they become Members of the Party, they shall undertake to undergo the punishment that must inevitably be inflicted on them for following their leaders' advice. It was a habit in the last century for a Prince to keep a "whipping boy," who used to receive punishment instead of himself, when the Prince had incurred the wrath of his preceptor. It seems to me that the Leaders of the Party opposite keep "whipping boys," who are sent to gaol as a punishment for following the advice the Leaders themselves give. I should now like to point out how it is that issues are placed before the country. How is it that elections are fought in the country? What is the point of view from which the action of the Government and their policy are put before the electors? Well, there was an election the other day in East Perth, and at that election, as is the habit in Scotland, a certain amount of heckling took place. Questions were asked of the hon. Gentleman, who is now the hon. Member, as to his opinions on political affairs. One question put by a Scotch gentleman was, "Are you in favour of the Plan of Campaign?" The answer was "Yes, I am." The hon. Gentleman was afterwards asked whether he would be in favour of putting the Plan of Campaign in force on his own estate, and his reply was "No, I would not," which I can readily understand. The hon. Gentleman was then asked this very im- 401 portant question,—"Is it your opinion that the law is only to be obeyed by those who like it?" "Yes, certainly," said the hon. Member.
§ SIR J. KINLOCH (Perth, E)
I added to that statement, that if my estate was conducted in the same way as Irish estates—as the estate of Lord Clanricarde was conducted—I should not object to the Plan of Campaign being put in force upon it.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I accept that explanation, but it does not, of course, apply to a far graver question, which is one that goes to the very root of all social order, and that is whether a man should only obey the law of which he himself approves. It is melancholy to perceive, in the answer given, what a decay is taking place in the morals of what no doubt was once an honest Scotchman. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway ever harbour any feeling of revenge against their present allies above the Gangway, who, in former times, held them up to universal execration. Perhaps they do not; but, if so, they must exercise the highest of Christian virtues. But if sometimes they do cherish such a feeling, what an absolute triumph they may enjoy when they remember that not only have they forced their former foes to adopt their policy, but have also compelled them to swallow their own convictions and accept others. There is hardly a single thing which right hon. Gentlemen opposite did not absolutely abhor and condemn that they have not now been forced to swallow. The very first thing they had to swallow was the Plan of Campaign. They took some time in doing that. The Plan of Campaign acted as a sort of moral glove-opener which widens the space and renders it easy to swallow the rest. Once you swallow that, down goes the Land League, then down goes Boycotting, and down goes intimidation and all those other accessories of the Land League—crime and outrage, and what you are pleased to call esprit de corps. And how is it that they defend those things which they formerly condemned? They say the Government and the Crimes Act have no right to interfere with Boycotting, which they say is only exclusive dealing. Every man has a right to deal with whom he likes, but 402 no man has a right to break another man's head for dealing or not dealing with certain persons. Certainly, nobody doubts that. Nobody has a right to break another man's head because he does not yield when he is ordered. The Land League—what is it? I think it is defended by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian as an organization for protection against the rapacity of the landlord. The only way in which we can test for ourselves whether this is a true definition, or whether it is a moral act to support the League, is to put to ourselves whether such an organization could be established in England or Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman has repeatedly attacked Her Majesty's Government for interfering with the League, because he looked upon it as an organization necessary under the circumstances. Would he sanction the establishment of such an organization in England? If a thing is morally wrong in England it is wrong in Ireland. The House will remember that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) brought forward the case of Mary Collaton, who paid £3 17s. a year for 17 acres on the Shirley estate. The right hon. Gentleman received his information from an assiduous friend, and, therefore doubting it, I examined carefully into the case. I found there was no Mary, but it was Michael Collaton. Then there was the case the other day of a certain Elizabeth Woodhead, a person who held a farm of ten acres—about equal to seven Irish acres—at £25 a year; whereas Mary, who was Michael, paid £3 17s. I am not blaming the owner of the estate, who, I believe, is a relative of Mr. Gladstone, for charging the rent he does; but it was an extraordinary excuse he gave, that he did not lower the rents because the tenants were sinking deeper and deeper every year; what was the use of reducing the amount, and encouraging them to go on in that way? But there was a remedy which might have been tried. They might have put this widow, whose husband had died shortly before, and whose son had died within six months, into the house, where probably she had spent her young days, and to which she was attached. It has 403 been stated—I do not know with what truth—that the widow offered £8 for the house. Ten pounds were offered; that may not be accurate, but I am informed it is. There was a remedy then. It was to charge Elizabeth the same rent as was paid by Mary, that is Michael, on the Shirley estate. Now, the widow writes the following letter, sent to the Times by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone)—I was sorry to see false reports in the papers. I do not blame Mr. GladstoneThe, I understand, is a relative of the right hon. Gentleman—nor did I wish to remain in the place as I could not pay the rent.Where were hon. Gentlemen opposite—the friends of the tenants? I remember a speech made by an hon. and learned Gentleman well known at the Bar—the hon. and learned Member for the Brigg Division of Lincoln. He described an eviction which took place, in a manner that would have made any man shed a tear who did not know his antecedents. He escorted an old woman from the house where the eviction took place, giving her his arm, and that old woman, I am informed, was imported for the occasion. Why did the hon. and learned Member not go to Flintshire and show his sympathy to this poor widow? Charity begins at home, and on this ground we have the right hon. Gentleman writing a letter to the Times, in which he says—Your wanton intrusion into the private domain was alien to the honourable traditions of the British Press, and has compelled me to be guilty of a seeming impertinence by troubling the people with my private affairs."Wanton intrusion," when he and his friends had been wandering all over every private domain in my native land! Now, Sir, I ask the right hon. Gentleman for a definite reply to this question: whether it would be right and just in me to go to Flintshire and to start an organization, which would have for its object the intimidation, the murder, the ruin of, or the outrage upon, any incoming tenant who took the widow's farm? That is the defence which is set up for the Land League and for boycotting. They have swallowed the whole thing. They have drunk the very dregs from which they averted their 404 heads in former days. I believe that the policy of Her Majesty's Government, if pursued with unflinching courage, will ultimately triumph over the spasmodic efforts of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not believe in the solidarity of the two sides of the Gangway opposite. I believe that the English sense of justice and fair play, and manliness and courage, will rally round the Administration, regardless of torrents of the most infamous calumnies, and that the Government are determined to carry out the law without fear or favour or exception. I form my hope of success in Ireland on the fact that whatever faults they have, the Irish people are not absolutely fools. The Irish people know as well as I know the amazing benefits that this House has conferred upon them. No hon. Member opposite can deny that the Irish tenants have had benefits conferred upon them greater than any conferred upon any other tenants in the world. You have given them practically half the fee simple value, which they can sell in the open market and get far more for than the landlord can as a rule. They begin to realize this, and by-and-bye I believe you will find that Irishmen, who, as a rule, side with the stronger, will see that the law is able to maintain its own and to keep down those who oppose it. I can say, honestly and fearlessly, that there is no man among hon. Gentlemen opposite, or in the country, who more earnestly prays and desires the happiness and welfare of Ireland. They seek it in one way, I in another. I seek it by maintaining the law of Parliament and the authority of the Crown. I have been accused by hon. Gentlemen, in reference to a speech I made the other day, of not being a law-abiding man, and that, therefore, I had no right to condemn those whom I called lawbreakers. I maintain that that attack upon me has no foundation in fact. This Parliament may pass laws of which I entirely disapprove, but I would not raise my hand against them, but would seek to get them altered in the place whence they came. But a law passed by an Irish Parliament is a different thing. I have never consented to obey such an authority as that. Allow me to illustrate what I mean. What course would hon. Gentle men opposite pursue if the right hon. 405 Gentleman the Member for Derby, say, experiencing one of those sudden conversions which take place in some statesmen, were suddenly to propose—as he might propose some day—the establishment of a Parliament in Ireland, the first qualification for Membership of which was that the Member must belong to the Orange organizations. [Mr. T. HEALY: We would be very glad of it; we would be delighted with it.] If we were to judge their estimate of such a Parliament by their speeches outside of this House, I should say that would be the very last thing to cross their mind. [Mr. T. HEALY: We would take it to-morrow morning.] I venture to say that if such a monstrous proposition were carried, there is no method, even force, which would not be legitimate to be used by hon. Gentlemen opposite in disregard of such an authority. You have always pleaded against ascendancy, but you propose an ascendancy to endure for ever, an ascendancy in which we, the Party to which I belong, would not in any sense be represented. Sir, we will never acknowledge or be subject to such an authority. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh; they are are at liberty to do so, but they must admit that there are many in Ireland who share my views. The hon. Member for Cork, I admit, speaks in this House in the name of many Irishmen, but so do I. The House must remember there are two Irelands. ["No, no!"] A very high authority has said so. Listen to this quotation—You must never forget there are two Irelands, the Ireland of men of all parties, creeds, ranks, and callings, who, in whatever else they may differ, unite in the wish to preserve law and order, and the right of every citizen to go about his business in peace and safety, and that other and smaller Ireland of men who foment, condone, and sympathize with crime.These are the words of a right hon. Gentleman who was Chief Secretary for Ireland at the time he uttered them, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division (Sir G. Trevelyan). With all the information then at his disposal, including that of Major Le Caron, he formed that opinion and made that speech. That is what the right hon. Gentleman was, and that is what he is. Sir, I repeat what I said in Ireland. Whatever solution may come, to one solution at any rate we shall never 406 agree. If it is to be a rebel to refuse to obey rebel authority, then I am a rebel. If it is to be a law-breaker to refuse to obey the authority of those who have brought law into contempt, and as far as they could have trampled upon it, then I am a law breaker. But, Sir, I maintain that Her Majesty the Queen has no more devotedly loyal subjects in the world than in my native country. To Her we owe allegiance, to this Parliament we owe allegiance and obedience, but never to another. Whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may say, we should be unworthy of the blood that flows in our veins, of the race to which we belong, of our fathers who before us refused to bear the yoke you would now tie about our necks, if we, their sons, did not proclaim the fact that we never, never shall obey such decrees.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
It is customary for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to give these performances once or twice during the Session for the amusement of the House; but his performance on this occasion, to judge from the demeanour of those around him, was rather less amusing than usual. I think the sense of every quarter of the House will be with me, and I know the sense of the people will agree with me, when I say that such speeches may be very amusing, but certainly they are not politic or statesmanlike. If a good and strong illustration were needed why it is that the people of Ireland are always in a state of discontent and revolt against the Executive, I need go no farther than such a speech as we have just heard from a fair sample of the gang of men under whose guidance the mass of the people of Ireland are ruled against their will. An hon. and gallant Gentleman who thinks it highly creditable to himself, amid the cheers of his four followers, to declare that the ditches of Ireland shall be preserved to pitch us into whenever they can get the opportunity! I hope the day is near at hand, and will not be long delayed, when the people—I speak not for myself—will not be in the power of such men to be pitched into ditches or trampled upon. I have not the slightest intention, and I do not think the House will expect me to do so, to follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman through his long array of stale jokes, utterly beside the issue before us. There are 407 only two points in the whole of that long and rambling oration in the least degree worthy of comment. The hon. and gallant Gentleman deemed it consistent with fair play and manliness to commence his discourse with a virulent and calumnious attack on a Member of the House now undergoing six months' imprisonment with hard labour. Why did he not select as the object of his attack a man on these benches who could answer him? My hon. Friend could very well deal with the hon. and gallant Gentleman were he at liberty, but under the detestable system that prevails in Ireland he will not even hear the charges made against him. That does not accord with my idea of what is fair or manly.
§ MR. DILLON
Whether it was made last year or not, it should not have been made in the hon. Member's absence this year. With reference to the contemptible attack made on the right hon. Gentleman, whom I shall certainly not undertake to defend or speak for, I will only say the hon. and gallant Gentleman has not improved whatever position he had by these attempted sneers. Let the hon. and gallant Gentleman advance in force upon Flintshire and attempt to address a Flintshire audience, and I can tell him he will require strong protection to secure him from intimate acquaintance with the nearest horse-pond. The answer to all the silly talk of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is that the thing could not be done; there is no grievance to encourage organization among the tenants. There is this difference between such a case and our action in Ireland; we do not go down and force our system on the country; we are implored to go to the assistance of unfortunate oppressed people, and when we do go the entire population turns out to listen to us and carry out the policy we recommend. We have heard the statements of the Chief Secretary as to the improvement in the condition of Ireland, and these statements remind me forcibly of certain statements to be found in that most interesting volume, the "Life of the late Mr. W. E. Forster." In the winter of 1882 Mr. Forster wrote—it is touching and painful now to 408 read the letters—to his intimate friends, saying—My Resident Magistrates gave me the best reports, crime is declining and rents are being paid, and the people are being turned away Torn the Nationalist Leaders. We shall soon lave the whole country on our side.We know how in a very short time every one of these expectations was falsified. Just as in these days we are scorned and laughed at, so we were ridiculed and disbelieved then. The late Mr. Forster thought he had got hold of a patriot who had more influence and knowledge among the Irish people than we had. At the very time he was writing these letters he was in correspondence with the illustrious Richard Pigott, who undertook for a trifling consideration to convert the National Party of Ireland from the hon. Member for Cork to the Government of the day. I have not the slightest doubt that the present Chief Secretary has similar agents willing to enlighten the people and bring them over to the Government. The system that has existed for so long in Ireland breeds Pigotts as corruption breeds worms. There never has yet been a Government in Ireland that has not had communications with people of that class. But I content myself now with alluding to the decrease in crime. There is a decrease of crime in Ireland, and no person rejoices at it more than I do. The whole argument of many Members of the Party opposite is addressed to the supposition that we are working in Ireland for the increase of crime. I deny that, and always shall. It is part and parcel of that detestable system of calumny and insult now being exploded and blown into atoms. Our interest is as great as yours, and, indeed, much greater, in the decrease of crime. The reasons with which I account for the decrease in crime are chiefly two; the first is the numerous concessions and settlements which have been obtained by tenants hopelessly in arrear in certain districts by the working of the Plan of Campaign; the second and stronger reason is, that while in the winter of 1882 the people were driven to desperation by the knowledge that there was no feeling of sympathy for them in this House, they are now buoyed up with the hope engendered by the sympathy displayed for 409 them in this country. In my judgment the speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and by his friends, have had more effect in stopping agrarian crime in Ireland than all the Coercion Acts ever passed. It is impossible to escape from this conclusion, because in the course of Irish history you have tried coercion 70 or 80 times in every shape ingenuity can devise, and we have been taught by long and terrible experience that coercion will not put down agrarian crime, but, on the contrary, that agrarian crime follows in spite of any coercion you may devise. But what is the difference between the condition of things in Ireland now, and what it has been under former Coercion Acts? Hon. Members opposite would have us believe that we have a Heaven-sent Minister, and that is the distinction between Ireland now and formerly, when coercion was administered under less able men. I take a totally different view. I do not see the wonderful ability in the administration of the present Chief Secretary. I recognize considerable literary capacity—and a great gift of conveying insulting sarcasms in controversy. It is preposterous to say that the present Chief Secretary exceeds in ability all his Predecessors who have had to administer Coercion. The distinction that marks off the present period by a broad and manifest line from any previous period in Coercion history is, that for the first time a great Minister has come forward at the head of a great Party and bid the people be of good heart; has told them to control themselves and suffer with patience, for the time is approaching and near at hand when a termination shall be put to their sufferings. That alone it is that has made it possible to show a diminution of crime under a Coercion Act. Now, a few words on the question of prison treatment. First, let me say that we have from the very outset been grossly misrepresented in the whole business. It has been said that we claim that the man dressed in black should receive different treatment from that afforded the poor man in frieze. That is a pure invention emanating from the speeches of the Chief Secretary. Myself, Mr. O'Brien, and numbers of other leaders in the movement, have taken every opportunity to declare our repudi- 410 ation of the idea that we claim the slightest difference in food or treatment from the poorest man who is punished for acting on our counsel. That has been our attitude from the outset. We never ask for better food or any mitigation of the rules inflicting physical discomfort, and that I may say is severe. It would be more decent and manly for hon. Members to try the effect of the plank bed before they greet the mention of it with a laugh. What we asked and what we shall get in the end in spite of jeers and insults—and I believe the people of England are entirely on our side in this—what we ask is that a man who for political motives in Ireland does certain things that brings him under these so-called legal tribunals should not be subjected to those particular parts of prison discipline which are simply matters of personal insult and indignity, and, I repeat for the twentieth time, our demand is made on behalf of the poorest labouring man as strongly as in favour of Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Carew, or any other Member. In the first place we object to association with criminals; secondly, we object to the revolting service that is put upon criminals; and, thirdly, we have objected and do object to wearing the livery of crime. It has been used as a taunt against us that in objecting to wear prison clothes we are doing a very absurd thing. Do Members know what prison clothes are? Have they seen a prisoner in the prison dress? Are they aware that Conservative newspapers in Ireland boasted that when the Act was passed they would soon have us clad in the livery of crime? These words were used before we had appeared before your tribunals to be condemned; the intention was to humiliate us by putting on the dress worn by forgers and others guilty of disgraceful crimes. I say this attempt to humiliate us I will prove and bring home to the responsibility of the Chief Secretary. [An hon. MEMBER: Where is he?] It is part of that infamous conspiracy that has been carried on in this country by Pigotts, a department of which has come to be known as Pigottism. Let me, before I go into details of the attack upon Mr. O'Brien, draw the attention of the House for a moment to an observation made by the Chief Secretary yesterday. He said— 411Admitting, for the sake of argument, that men have a political object in view, if you therefore treat them as political prisoners you must admit dynamitards and assassins, and until you are prepared to carry out your principle to a logical conclusion, and say that a man who attempts to blow up this House, or kill a Chief Secretary or other official, should enjoy a relaxation of prison rules, your political offender argument absolutely falls to the ground.This is one of the most extraordinary doctrines I ever heard. It is a departure from the universal practice among civilized nations; it is the adoption by his nephew of the doctrine laid down by Lord Salisbury when he said that political prisoners were to be treated as others, in proportion to the formidable nature of the movement in which they were engaged. No doubt the Chief Secretary would have treated George Washington with all these indignities if he had him in his power—would have knocked him down, stripped him, and cut his hair. So the doctrine of the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary is that there should be no distinction between forgers and political offenders—they should be submitted to the same punishment and degradation. The question was raised here to-night whether it was reasonable or not for us to object to associate with forgers, pickpockets, thieves, and other low criminals, and an hon. Member opposite said it was not. It is possible, in view of recent developments, that certain Members of the Tory Party do not object to associate with forgers, but allow me to say we have not reached that pitch of civilization in Ireland yet. We are backward and Arcadian in our innocence, and we do object to associate with forgers or with respectable Liberal Unionists of Belfast, who poison people to get the amount of insurance. We feel it a degradation and insult to be clothed in the prison garb, and to tramp round a prison yard, with perhaps a poisoner in front and Richard Pigott behind. This is our objection—not to the physical suffering of the punishment. We object to the moral degradation to which the Minister who controls Ireland would subject his political enemies. I make the charge with all deliberation. I am perfectly aware it is an exceedingly grave and serious charge. I charge the Chief Secretary with deliberately, on his own responsibility, gratifying his personal enmity against Mr. O'Brien, in a 412 way that seems to me inconceivably mean. He stated in this House previously that on the occasion of the former imprisonment he had studied closely the Reports which reached the Castle as to Mr. O'Brien's health. He was not content with the local Reports, but he sent a physician from England, who also reported. He had the Reports of Dr. M'Cabe, the doctor of the Prisons Board, and of the famous, or infamous, Dr. Barr, and of the local doctor, to the effect that it would be dangerous to subject Mr. O'Brien to the ordinary prison treatment, or to violence of any kind. What happens? Mr. O'Brien, in this House and at Cork, had surely inflicted considerable annoyance on the Chief Secretary.
§ MR. DILLON
The general sentiment of this House, as far as I can judge, is, that in the encounter which took place some time ago, Mr. O'Brien had considerably the better of it. This, then, is what I wish to put to the House: If any hon. Member of this House had been engaged in controversy with another with whom he had had severe passages of arms, and if afterwards he got his opponent into his power, he would take every precaution to prevent the possibility of anyone saying that he had taken a mean and contemptible vengeance. But the case is greatly strengthened when the right hon. Gentleman has these Medical Reports, under which he is bound not to inflict these indignities upon Mr. O'Brien. The right hon. Gentleman, however, held his hand, knowing that some time ago he sent out a circular warning and intimidating the governors of prisons in Ireland, if they did not enforce the letter of the law in every one of the prison rules against Members of Parliament who might come into their hands.
§ MR. DILLON
It came from the right hon. Gentleman's Department, which he does not control except when he likes, very well knowing that he lets Mr. O'Brien go to a gaol where a special garrison had been placed to meet him—a garrison of men selected because they were known to be hostile and enemies. We heard the other day of the philanthropy of the doctor of Clonmel. I believe, from information I have received, that the doctor in Clonmel acted a low and, 413 I was going to say, a villanous part, because he was heard to say—"Shortly after he comes in here you will see that he will be stripped before he will have time to talk." I have proved that the right hon. Gentleman could, with the greatest ease, have prevented Mr. O'Brien from being assaulted. But scarcely was he locked up in gaol than he was attacked most violently, knocked down, brutally ill-treated in a way that no ordinary prisoner should be dealt with, and stripped naked. To show how indecent was the hurry, I might mention that when I was myself sent to Dundalk Gaol no question was raised as to the clothes I was to wear until the next morning—but they were decent men there—when an official came in and said—"Mr. Dillon, I am afraid I must ask you to wear these clothes." Now let me direct your attention to the action of the right hon. Gentleman. The Chief Secretary, having been made aware of the facts of Mr. O'Brien's case, went to a banquet in Dublin and never once alluded to the circumstance that Mr. O'Brien's treatment was accompanied by violence and insults, although for the first time yesterday he referred to the amount of violence which "unhappily" had to be used. He never said a word about "unhappily" in Ireland. Whenever he referred to the matter it was with words accompanied by insolent sneers and laughter.
§ MR. DILLON
But you did not at the banquet, for here is the official report. I want to show that the language the right hon. Gentleman used was brutally wanton and insulting to Mr. O'Brien; and, furthermore, that it was absolutely and entirely false. He takes out a telegram sent by the Lord Mayor, and says—I have this document about Mr. O'Brien's treatment. In this document I find 'Illegal and brutal violence [Laughter]—that is not it—[Laughter], 'unexampled indignation' [Laughter], 'system of attacking and breaking down your political adversary by torture.' [Laughter.] No; that is not it; here it is—'Mr. O'Brien has now been naked in his cell for thirty-six hours.' [Roars of laughter.]Recollect these roars of laughter are contained in the report sent out by the official shorthand writer, the Chief Secretary having refused to allow Nationalist reporters to attend the 414 banquet. This is the official description of what took place—When he got to Clonmel Prison he refused to allow—he threw every obstacle in the way of—any medical examination; he declined absolutely to be weighed [Laughter], and as he did not permit the doctor to form any judgment from personal examination of his case, he went through the ordinary process to which every prisoner is subject who offends against the laws.The right hon. Gentleman states that because Mr. O'Brien would not allow the doctor to examine him he was subjected to this violence. Now, every precaution was taken—and successfully taken—for a whole week to prevent Mr. O'Brien reading that statement. Can human meanness go further than that? But we broke the blockade at last, although illegal measures were even taken to keep the information away from Mr. O'Brien, who was refused permission to see his counsel. I have been able to obtain from Mr. O'Brien, in his own words—which are entitled to credence in this House just as much as if he were present—a description of what took place, and I will read it—About 11 a.m. on the morning after my arrival in the prison, the chief warder, Gough, entered my cell and said, 'Come to the doctor.' I followed him to the wide, open court, stone-paved. A gentleman was standing at a high desk in this open corridor. He did not salute me, nor in any manner inform me who he was. His first words were, 'Open your vest.' I was obliged to ask him, 'Are you the prison doctor? He said, 'Yes,' and drew out his stethoscope. I opened my vest, and he placed the stethoscope to my chest on the right and left side, as well as I can remember, without asking to have my shirt opened. He next said, 'Have you a cough?' I said, 'I should be very sorry to be personally discourteous, but owing to the past perversion on a former occasion of my communications with the prison doctor in Tullamore I have no means of protecting myself against misrepresentation, unless to decline to make any communication as to my health, but you are at perfect liberty to examine me in every way you choose.' He said, 'That does not matter; open your shirt; your shirt is too stiff.' I then opened my shirt, and he examined me with another instrument, I believe a binaural stethoscope—after which he said, 'Put out your tongue. I did so. He then struck me lightly on the stomach, and without another word put up his instrument. I had to ask him, 'Is that all?' He said 'Yes,' and I turned back to the cell with the chief warder, who had been a witness of the examination, and who, like the doctor and myself, was standing in the corridor during the examination.Now compare that statement with the one made to this laughing banquet, 415 that the attack made on Mr. O'Brien was in consequence of his refusal to allow a medical examination. It is as absolutely false a statement as could be made. Mr. O'Brien's description continues—About five minutes afterwards the chief warder returned to my cell and said, 'We must force you to put on the prison clothes. I asked to see the governor, who appeared to have been waiting outside the door, for he immediately appeared. I said, 'I have to ask that a doctor shall be present during any attack upon me.' He said, 'I cannot do that; you have passed the doctor.' Then,' said I, 'you will have to strip me by force,' or words to that effect. I placed my back to the further wall of the cell. Three warders immediately rushed at me with the chief warder. The four seized me, and a violent struggle took place between us, the governor standing by.What a noble revenge!—They succeeded after a struggle in flinging me on my back on the floor, dragging my clothes away meanwhile. When I was down one man placed his knee on my chest, not, as I believe, brutally, but with a pressure that caused me considerable suffering. I heard someone, I think the chief warder, say, 'Don't hurt him.' The pressure was then relaxed, and I struggled to my feet again, and renewed the struggle while my clothes were being torn off one by one. I was then flung down a second time on the floor, this time on my face. I continued to struggle with all my force while they were dragging the prison clothes on me, and from the struggle and exhaustion I became so faint that they had twice to cease in order to give me a drink of water. During this second struggle my strength was totally exhausted. I heard the governor give the order to have my hair and beard taken off, and I remember the first few dashes made at me with the scissors. After that I lost consciousness, and when I recovered found my mouth full of hairs, and was propped up on a stool between two warders, who still held my arms. The governor said, 'Surely you have resisted enough now; you know it has to be done.' I said to him, 'You know little of me if you do not know that the struggle is only beginning now. The instant my hands are free I will fling these clothes off again.' While we were speaking, Alderman Hackett, one of the visiting justices, whom I did not know at the time, came into the cell. I was still gasping for breath, sitting on the stool between the warders. I told him, as well as I was able in my condition at the time, what had happened. He was greatly shocked, but it was not at my suggestion he went for a clergyman. The warders having followed Alderman Hackett to the door, I instantly threw off the prison clothes. Three of them rushed at me again, and another struggle took place. They succeeded in forcing on some of the prison clothes again, seizing and twisting my arms all the time. In consequence of my resistance the chief warder told them not to mind forcing on the coat or vest this time. I again became so faint that they again 416 put water on my lips, but continued to hold my arms while I stood leaning against the wall for a considerable period. So far as I can estimate the scene had by this time lasted half an hour. The warders continued to hold me for a long time, when the chief warder said, 'Bring him along,' and I was immediately dragged to the door in my shirt-sleeves and with my feet naked. No intimation whatever was given me that I was being brought to be weighed. Up to this moment the question of weighing had never been mentioned to me either by the doctor or the warders, and I should never have made the slightest objection if I had known that that was their object. I was dragged across a large open space, which I have since learnt was the main hall of the prison. At the moment I was so stupefied, and my bad sight made me so helpless (my spectacles having been taken from me during the struggle and not returned), that I had only the most confused notion of where I was being taken; my impression was that I was being dragged to a punishment cell. I said to the warders who had hold of my arms again and again, 'Where are you dragging me to?' They made no reply, but pulled me on to what I now believe was a weighing machine, beside which the governor and the doctor were standing. My legs and arms were dragged about the machine in an exceedingly painful way, and I then said, 'As long as you are treating me in this barbarous fashion I will submit to nothing except by force.' The governor said, 'Take him away.' They apparently gave up the attempt to weigh me.Let the House compare this statement of Mr. O'Brien's with that which was made at the banquet by the right hon. Gentleman, not one word of which is true.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am very unwilling to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, and have refrained hitherto from doing so. I may say, with regard to the information I made public at the banquet, that it was founded entirley on a report in the Freeman's Journal. I had no official report at that time.
§ MR. DILLON
The right hon. Gentleman said at the banquet that the Prisons Board was not in his Department. Questions connected with prisons did not come through his hands, and therefore it was only from accidental circumstances that he became acquainted with the case. The right hon. Gentleman said that he went down to the office on the Friday, when the facts which he had just stated were brought before him.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That is exactly what I indicated. When I went to the office the Under Secretary brought me a copy of the Freeman's Journal of that day.
§ MR. DILLON
I leave it to any Member of this House whether any 417 individual reading that speech would not have taken it to be a statement of the knowledge of the Chief Secretary founded on official documents. The right hon. Gentleman said he went down to the office when the "following facts" were brought before him. The words are no quotation from the Freeman's Journal, and the Chief Secretary adopted the statements, whatever they were, and said that he immediately proceeded to write a minute to the effect that, though the responsibility for Mr. O'Brien's conduct in refusing to submit to medical examination would rest with himself, the Chief Secretary did not think he ought to permit Mr. O'Brien to ruin his constitution for the purpose of injuring Her Majesty's Government. There was not a person in that room who did not believe, and was not justified in believing, that the facts mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman were taken from an Official Report at his disposal. My attention has also been drawn to another point which strengthens my case. The right hon. Gentleman read first of all a telegram from the Freeman's Journal, and after reading it alluded to it in the following terms:—"That, gentlemen, is the important part of the telegram which you have all seen in the Freeman's Journal." Now I want the House to understand that the right hon. Gentleman, who stated that this telegram was wholly and absolutely incorrect, gives an account on his own authority of what actually happened.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have no desire to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. This particular fact is sprung upon the House. If the House will permit me, as far as I recollect, I will give the exact narrative. If I recollect rightly—I know I am taking a liberty with the hon. Gentleman—the events referred to occurred on the Thursday. On the Friday I was at the office. I had not seen the morning papers. According to my recollection, the Under Secretary came into my room and pointed out the story given in the Freeman's Journal. I did not accept that report as true; but I did think that the part of it which referred to Mr. O'Brien's refusal to be examined was probably true.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I may be 418 wrong, but I believe, if my recollection serves me right, the hon. Gentleman will find it in the Freeman's Journal. I have not refreshed my memory. I had reason to believe on the Friday that the sole reason for the report in the Freeman's Journal was that the medical examination had not been allowed to take place, and then I forwarded, by special messenger, the medical reports made about Mr. O'Brien on the previous occasion. On Saturday I made my speech. I think I must have received some kind of official notification of what did take place in the prison, or I should not have said at the banquet that these Reports were false. I do not think my Official Reports referred to Mr. O'Brien's refusal or non-refusal to be examined. I still believed the statement of the Freeman's Journal, when it might naturally be believed that Mr. O'Brien had refused to be examined. The matter was brought before Mr. O'Brien, and he took means of making his complaints public. I took the opportunity of correcting my mistake in the Press.
§ MR. DILLON
A very strange and wonderful story. I leave that explanation to speak for itself. Before I pass from this particular branch of the subject, I want to direct attention to what the Chief Secretary did and said. He said, "I do not think Mr. O'Brien should be permitted to ruin his constitution in order to injure Her Majesty's Government." He shows not the slightest symptom of a feeling of humanity; his one object of care is Her Majesty's Government. What did he do? He says, "I therefore gave directions that as Mr. O'Brien would not allow himself to be medically examined, the reports made by Dr. Ridley and Dr. Barr should be sent down by special messenger to the doctor at Clonmel, so that he might carefully watch Mr. O'Brien and take care that no eccentricity on his part should injure his constitution." But why were not these reports of the previous occasion of Mr. O'Brien's imprisonment sent down before this brutal assault of the Governor was committed? Why was not a telegram sent from the Castle? Perhaps it was in order that this brutal and disgusting assault on Mr. O'Brien might give the right hon. Gentleman the pleasure of sneering at him at the banquet. Then, finding that a large section 419 of his constituents at Manchester did not approve his conduct, the right hon. Gentleman wrote a long letter to a certain Mr. Armitage, in which be said that Mr. O'Brien's offence was of a very different character from that which it was represented to be by the right hon. Member for Newcastle. In the whole history of political controversy I know of nothing meaner than this attempt to fasten odious charges on an opponent. The right hon. Gentleman proceeds in the letter to give what in his judgment was a fair specimen of the speech for which Mr. O'Brien was convicted. He says—Take, for instance, these sentences:—'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.' I say without fear of contradiction that a Government which should allow words like these to be uttered, with whatever intention on the part of the speaker, in a district in Ireland where there were evicted farms, might be making itself accessory to assassination.Now let the House just listen for a second to what the real speech of Mr. O'Brien was. He did say—I am afraid they (land-grabbers) are living and thriving in the midst of you, and you know it. I need not go into particulars. If all our labours for the past ten years have not been in vain, you ought to know a land-grabber when you meet him; you ought to know how to deal with him without any instructions from me.But then my hon. Friend gave the instructions which were suppressed by the right hon. Gentleman. I will, however, read them to you—If you want a lesson how to deal with land-grabbers, go to the English trade unions, and ask them how they deal with cowards and sneaks.My hon. Friend went on to say—I just thought of a higher authority than Lord Salisbury upon the question of land-grabbing, and the words came back to my mind—the mighty words of Scripture—'Break not the bounds of the widow, and enter not into the field of the fatherless, for the Lord hath raised them up a kinsman whose arm is mighty, and he will avenge.' (Cheers.) The Lord has raised up for the homeless and defenceless Irish peasant; the Lord has raised up a friend whose arm is mighty. And I tell you that no law can deal with that power, because it is itself a law of nature. It is the first principle of self-preservation. For hundreds of thousands of the people of Ireland, no alternative, absolutely no alternative, for many of the homeless poor of Ireland, except the alternative of the blunderbuss. It is 420 because I abhor and condemn crime in every form that I hope that every man and every woman in Tipperary will to-day enrol themselves as Primrose knights and Primrose dames, and take a leaf out of the Primrose book.Sir, I say that a man is no man if he throws out unjust charges against an adversary who is unable to meet him, and denies him the right even of reading the charges levelled against him, but accuses him, upon garbled extracts, of inciting to assassination. Yet this is the kind of thing to which we are subjected in Ireland, That is the kind of war which is being carried out against the Nationalists, and I say that it is a method which will be known to all posterity as "Pigottism." Talk of calumny, and of insult, and of false accusations and slanders! I challenge the annals of political warfare to show anything like what has been levelled at our heads.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member has brought against me the accusation, couched in violent language, that I accused Mr. O'Brien of inciting to murder. Now, I guarded myself against attributing any motives to Mr. O'Brien in the matter. My words were these—I say, without fear of contradiction, that a Government which should allow words like these to be uttered, with whatever intention on the part of the speaker, in a district in Ireland where there were evicted farms, might be making itself accessory to assassination.The House will notice that I distinctly laid down that words like these might produce a collision. I adhere still to what I said; but I did not suggest that Mr. O'Brien had that intention, or any other intention, and I carefully guarded myself against it.
§ MR. DILLON
I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman considers it consistent with his ideas of proper political conduct to have suppressed passages which would fully have explained what the action of Mr. O'Brien really was? I read all that he said, but I say that his purpose was to convey to the people of Manchester that Mr. O'Brien had incited to assassination. That is the only plain meaning that can be put upon his language. If not, why were these passages suppressed, and why was Mr. O'Brien punished? The words, taken by themselves, did not amount to the 421 meaning sought to be put upon them; they were innocent words, and no man ought to be punished for using them. I am not at all surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have concluded his speech at the Dublin banquet by remarking that these little excitements were soon forgotten, but that the powers of mendacity were by no means exhausted. When the right hon. Gentleman was driven into a corner upon the subject of prison treatment, he said that all Irish prisoners were treated in the same manner; that he could not give dispensations, but that the law required that all prisoners convicted of offences should be treated in the same way. Now, I say that that also is false. It is not true that all political prisoners are treated in the same way. I need only refer to the cases of the Belfast swindlers, and Mr. White, J.P., who was charged with cruelty to a child, to show that, while political prisoners are treated with relentless severity, offences committed by friends of the Government are treated with the greatest leniency. The Belfast swindlers were guilty of a disgusting crime; but the redeeming feature in their case was that one of them was the Secretary of the Association which got up the demonstration for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). He was a man—for I saw him on his trial—of a sanctimonious cast of countenance, and the evidence proved that he never appeared out of doors without a silk hat. The Crown exhausted every contrivance to protect the Belfast prisoners, and although the evidence was overwhelming, no pressure was used for a severe judgment. Consequently, these men, who were convicted of one of the most abominable crimes known in civilized life—namely, the insuring of a number of lives, forging certificates, and then supplying men with whiskey who were known to be in the habit of taking too much in order to kill them—men convicted of this atrocious crime were sentenced simply to six months' imprisonment. That is the kind of law and order that exists in Ireland. The prisoners were brought to Belfast Gaol and then ordered to be removed to Derry Gaol. When they emerged from Belfast Gaol to be removed to Derry they were dressed in their own clothes, and one of them, who 422 is said to be the possessor of a fortune of £50,000, but was desirous of adding to it by nefarious practices, said he was cold, upon which the governor of the gaol said he would lend him his own overcoat. I do not state that as a positive fact, but such is my information. At Derry Gaol Mr. Alderman Bell, one of the visiting justices, visited the prisoners Dunlop and Matthews, and he reports that he found Dunlop reading and Matthews writing, and both were entirely satisfied with everything. The only thing they said they wanted was their liberty. Probably if they will send a petition to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham he will procure even that for them. Contrast this treatment with that of a Member of this House, whose only crime is that he has shown the spirit of a man, and has refused to desert his people in obedience to the dictates of the Lord Lieutenant. Mrs. Harrington writes to say, in reference to the treatment of her husband, that he was put to stone-breaking and chopping wood; that the skin was off his fingers with oakum-picking, and that he was driven in prison clothes from Tralee upon an outside car through the chief town of the constituency which he represents in this House, with no overcoat, and only an old blanket to use as a rug to cover him. She spoke to him for a moment and saw that his fingers were raw. See the contrast between the treatment of Mr. Harrington and that of the Belfast swindlers! But let me give another contrast. In December last, Mr. O'Shea, the Secretary of a local branch of the National League at Macroom, was accused of writing a threatening letter, and was sentenced to four months' imprisonment with hard labour. The charge against him was intimidation, and he was convicted, although the man to whom the letter was written came forward and swore that he was in no way intimidated. Here is a contrast. At Stapletown on the 1st of October, 1888, a member of the firm of Hussey &Co., well-known land agents, was charged with assaulting a common prostitute. The police were attracted by her screams, and arrested her assailant, whom they found lying in the hall exhausted. Mr. Gardner, R.M., convicted the offender, but thought the ends of justice would be satisfied by imposing a fine of £5. To make the 423 picture complete, Mr. Gardner is the magistrate who passed a severe sentence upon the Kerry prisoners, against whom no offence whatever was proved. Is it wonderful, under such circumstances, that the people of Ireland should not respect the law? If I were to take the trouble to inquire, I could give numerous instances, but I will content myself with one, that of Adam White, J.P., of the County Leitrim, who is a member of the Loyal and Patriotic Party. This gentleman appears to have been in the habit of returning home drunk, and upon one particular night, when in that condition—a cold and wet night—he stripped a servant girl of 14 stark naked, beat her with all his might, and then kicked her out into the road. She was picked up out of a ditch by somebody who happened to pass. This respectable gentleman—I do not know whether he is not still a magistrate—was brought up before his fellow magistrates, who convicted him and sentenced him to six months' imprisonment without hard labour. Of course, his offence was nothing like so serious a one as that of Mr. O'Brien. Beating and turning a poor little girl out into the road on a cold night in Ireland is a loyal and respectable offence, and I am told that this worthy magistrate enjoys in gaol a glass of whisky every day, and is supplied with the Freeman's Journal. The right hon. Gentleman says that the powers of mendacity in Ireland are absolutely inexhaustible. If the right hon. Gentleman would spend a little more time in Dublin Castle, he would see for himself that that institution is capable of challenging any other in the whole world in misrepresenting and colouring Reports in accordance with its own wishes. And now let me say a word or two upon the question of the improvement of the condition of Ireland. The Chief Secretary seems to think that he utterly crushes us by announcing that the condition of Ireland is improving. Now, I fail to see what point he desires to make from that statement. He has boasted recently of different kinds of improvement, and particularly of improvements in the amount of agrarian crime. I admit this, to a certain extent, and I rejoice at it. The only difference between us is, that the right hon. Gentleman thinks 424 it is due to his wonderful government of Ireland, whereas I say it is due partly to the Plan of Campaign, and partly to the action of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. But there is another cause. Everybody knows that this has been a better year in England than it used to be, and so it has been in Ireland. The price of cattle has gone up enormously, and as that is one of our chief articles of supply, there has been an increase in railway dividends, and perhaps a momentary gleam of prosperity. But one of the terrible evils which presided over the fate of Ireland in the past, but which, by God's help, I trust will never curse them in the future was, that whenever periods of prosperity came and the price of cattle and stock rose, instead of being a blessing it became a moral curse to the labourer. I trust it is true that this time, at least, the poor and labouring classes may have some share in the advancing wave of prosperity, and, if so, I say that it is to be traced to the results of recent agitation. We have heard of periods of prosperity in Ireland before, and it was the custom for the Lord Lieutenant to come down and tell us ad nauseam of the rising tide of prosperity, predicting that Ireland would soon become the fruitful mother of flocks and herds. But although we were told that the prosperity of the country was rising by leaps and bounds, we heard also of the people flying to another country with hatred in their hearts—people who were destined to give you greater trouble in their new land than in their own. But if the condition of the Irish people has been improved by a rise in prices, it is not the Coercion Act that has increased the price of cattle—at least I have not heard that that result has been claimed for it yet. And now I come to another kind of improvement which is claimed to have taken place in Ireland—namely, the pacification of the people. I utterly traverse the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the country has quietened down, and that peace and order have been restored where disorder prevailed before, or that a good feeling has been restored between the police and the people where ill-feeling prevailed before. But we have heard nothing this time of boycotted farms being taken; and I tell the right hon. 425 Gentleman again that there is no foundation whatever for the statements made by himself and his colleague, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that boycotted farms have been taken or will be taken. He is not able to show that they are being taken, and therefore he did not allude to them. He says that, on the whole, the relations between the people and the police have improved. I utterly and absolutely deny it. Never in my experience of Irish politics—now some 13 years—do I remember as bad a feeling between the people and the police, and I could point to whole districts which, when the right hon. Gentleman came into office, were peaceable and quiet, with disturbance unknown, where the police and the people got on very well, which are now in a state of siege. Take the County of Donegal. When the right hon. Gentleman came into office, and before the Coercion Act was passed, that county was in an absolutely peaceable state. Now it is the most disturbed county in Ireland, and that disturbance has been brought about by the outrageous action, pig-headed opinions, and deliberate misconduct of the officers in charge of the county, who have done everything that human ingenuity could devise to bring about a collision between the police and the people. Let me say a word about the catastrophe which occurred there the other day. I feel bound to protest against the language used by the Chief Secretary in reference to Father M'Fadden and the prisoners who are about to be tried for murder. No doubt it was an unfortunate catastrophe and a painful occurrence, but nobody can form an accurate judgment with regard to the case unless, like us, he has watched the conduct of the police. Outrageous insults to the people have long been given at Gweedore by Inspector Martin and those under his charge, and now that they have culminated in the death of a police constable hon. Members opposite assume that they amount to murder. [Colonel SAUNDERSON: Hear, hear!] I know that that is the opinion of the hon. Member opposite. It may seem an audacious thing for me to say, but I utterly and absolutely deny that there has been any case of murder at all, according to the dying declaration of the constable who is now dead. The doctrine—and this is a matter upon 426 which a great deal will be heard in England before the subject passes away—the doctrine attempted to be laid down by the Irish Executive is this and nothing less—that it is lawful for the police to attack peaceable people with deadly weapons without provocation, and that if the people so attacked strike a blow in self-defence, any death that may occur is murder. I deny that. I have always maintained that when an assault was made on the people in the square at Mitchelstown the people were perfectly entitled to resist, and according to sworn information I maintain that the people were entitled to resist the police at Gweedore. I am convinced that a grave and serious question will arise whether the people were not acting in self-defence and with perfect legality. If that be so, it is monstrous to assume that the police were acting within their legal right, and that the death of Inspector Martin was a murder. We know what the fate of the Nationalists is when the bloodhounds of the law, hounded on by the head of the Executive, who seems to forget every consideration of fair play, are let loose on the people. I believe that the arrest of Father M'Fadden was one of the wildest things that have ever happened in Ireland. The motive may have been to deprive the other prisoners of Father M'Fadden's evidence. At this moment the authorities are arresting every man and woman in the neighbourhood, so that the unfortunate prisoners may be able to call no evidence in their behalf. The police are sweeping the country night after night, and if to-morrow any man dare to come forward and say he was a witness of the transaction, he would immediately find himself in prison. I say that if there has been murder it is on the other side, and both in England and Ireland I shall continue to denounce the whole thing as a deliberate murder from beginning to end. What is the condition of Donegal? You found it peaceable; you have reduced the people to madness; flooded the country with police; and the last news is that a troop of dragoons is marching there, and that a gunboat employing the electric light is stationed off the coast. This is what you call concentration; and why is all this done? The forces of the Crown were refused to Lord Clanricarde, although he is threatening the Castle that he will levy 427 an army of his own. Why is it that Mr. Olphert, in the North of Ireland, has police, dragoons, and a gunboat placed at Ms service? It is because Mr. Olphert is an aide-de-camp at the Castle, and on that account you have reduced the county of Donegal from a state of order to a state of turmoil. In all parts of the North and West of Ireland that I am acquainted with personally the feeling of the people is becoming worse day by day, and it will soon lead you to a point of serious difficulty. I am bound to say it would be very little to the credit of the Irish people if that feeling does not increase and become more bitter, because it has now become the absolute practice of the Irish Police, acting under the incitement of the Chief Secretary and Chief Magistrates like Colonel Turner, to assault in the rudest and roughest manner, and without notice, men who are perfectly peaceable, by drawing their batons. The doctrine which is being instilled into the Irish Police is this—"Wherever you see ahead, hit it; murder men; kill, if you have got a shadow of provocation, and we shall back you up in everything. No matter what you do, it will be condoned." The right hon. Gentleman boasted a few days ago that he had unproclaimed several districts. Unfortunately for that boast, the right hon. Gentleman has, while unproclaiming several baronies, proclaimed seven more. And in this regard I will just point out a most striking illustration of the way in which Ireland can be, for political purposes, represented as either boiling over or quieting down, according as the Executive Officers in Ireland may desire. A few days ago the barony of Lower Dundalk was unproclaimed, and the Secretary of the League, Patrick Largin, was aggrieved that it should be unproclaimed. He wrote to the Freeman's Journal asking what they had done that the district should be unproclaimed, and stating that on the previous Sunday they enrolled 500 members of the League, and that at the meeting over 600 were present. They elected their officers, and the police stood round all the time, but did not attempt to interfere. "On Monday last," he continues, "I sent £20 to the Central Branch, our subscription for our branch, and, as a proof of our branch's activity, 428 we had bonfires all over the district a week ago to celebrate the re-instatement of a tenant in the parish of Coola, whose farm had been boycotted and kept vacant for seven years under the Coercion Act. The tenant was reinstated on his own terms, without a penny of arrears or costs, and at half the original cost. We are very anxious to do anything we can to deserve Mr. Balfour's attention, but what can we do with enemies who run away." I have not the smallest doubt in my own mind that if the statistics of derelict farms relet, given by the Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary, were examined, this Coola farm would re-appear as one of the relet farms, and I have no doubt that the list given by the Lord Lieutenant of evicted farms relet includes farms to which we have got the tenants back on the original terms. The Chief Secretary is contented, it seems to me, with the result of his government in Ireland; and, from the bottom of my heart, I can say that I am contented also. No one who knows Ireland can deny for a single moment the proposition that the Chief Secretary has succeeded in making the Castle more hateful, if possible, than it ever was previously in Ireland. Whether his administration is successful or not depends entirely on the object which the right hon. Gentleman has in view. If his object be to exasperate the people, to inflict a certain amount of punishment, and to make the people detest him and all those who serve under him, I think he has achieved a measure of success. But if his object be to conciliate in Ireland any considerable party who will support what he calls union between the two countries and the Unionist Government, then, I say, a more deplorable and disastrous failure has not been recorded in the whole of Irish history. At no period in the history of Ireland has the Unionist Party stood lower than they stand today. If you had the courage of your convictions, and faced us at the polls to-morrow—you will have to do it sooner or later—the people of this country would then be able to realize how much progress your great, beneficent, and wealth-bringing Government has made in the affections of the people of Ireland. I had an extract, which I think I have mislaid, of the 429 speech made by the right hon. Gentleman at the banquet in Dublin, which, I confess, made me laugh very heartily, because, in the course of that speech, the right hon. Gentleman said he had never, in the course of his political experience, addressed a more representative gathering. Complaints have been heard of a horrid outrage committed upon the banquetters. The atrocity was this—that the names of the guests were published. I understand that they had been going before the Courts in Dublin, weeping bitter tears, whining and groaning, and saying they never would have gone had they known their names were to be given. Let it be noted that this was the representative gathering of the "commercial and banking classes and leaders of the people" in Ireland—men who sneaked in, Crown Prosecutors, expectant place-mongers, and a very small sprinkling of those so-called mercantile men, who got the Chief Secretary, or whoever managed the banquet, to exclude the Press, nominally that the speeches might not be reported, but really that the names might not be published. If that is all the Unionist Party can show for themselves in Ireland their fortunes have reached a very low ebb. I do not think a more cruel illustration could be asked for of the great advance of the Unionist Government. Even when the Chancellor of the Exchequer went to Dublin they were not afraid to publish the names. We are getting on. But that is not all. Some of the great bank directors, who were alluded to, very much like the men in buckram, and whose names were not mentioned by the Chief Secretary, but were pointed out in camera as decorating the table at the representative banquet in Dublin, were questioned at the first subsequent meeting of shareholders, and they got up and apologized, and said they did not go there as directors, but under the impression that it was a private banquet, and that the names would not be published. I express no opinion as to the merits of the attacks that have been made on this banquet, but the opinion that I express is this—that it is a significant fact that the Leader of a Government with a thorough Executive at its back, with all the various machinery to bribe, to coerce, to conciliate the support, which is enjoyed to such an unparalleled ex- 430 tent by the Head of the Executive in Ireland, can gather around his board in an hour of crisis only so poor a body of men, whose greatest achievement was to roar with laughter when they heard of a political opponent having been knocked down and stripped naked, and who then were afraid to let their names be known to the Irish public.
§ * MR. FORREST FULTON (West Ham)
I feel it is extremely difficult to expect the House to listen to one who does not claim to possess the great gift of eloquence of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down; but there are some matters which I desire to refer to, and which appear to me of considerable importance, which have been touched upon by the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Morley). The latter referred to the unfortunate occurrences at Gweedore, and the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) said that he believed there was not the smallest authority for saying that under any circumstances the death of Inspector Martin could be the crime of wilful murder. There cannot, however, be the smallest possible doubt that the person or persons who caused Inspector Martin's death were guilty of the crime of murder. That matter has been placed beyond the possibility of controversy, because the subject was very thoroughly considered at the time of the murder of Sergeant Brett at Manchester, and Mr. Justice Blackburn and Lord Justice Mellor declined to grant a case on the ground that the point of whether or not the act was one of murder was too clear for argument, and in Mr. Justice Stephen's "Digest of the Criminal Law" it is set forth that when a constable or other person properly authorized acts in the execution of his duty the law casts a peculiar protection around him; and consequently, if he is killed in the execution of his duty, it is murder, even though there be such circumstances of hot blood and want of premeditation as would in ordinary cases reduce the crime to manslaughter. There cannot be the smallest doubt that Inspector Martin was murdered by some person or persons. That is the law of England and the law of Ireland. Now, the right hon. Gentleman, in support of his Amendment, quotes this case from the 431 Freeman's Journal, an authority which we on this side of the House, at any rate, do not consider an absolutely trustworthy authority. It is that of a person called upon by the magistrate to find bail himself for £5, and two sureties for £2 each, to keep the peace, for having cheered Mr. O'Brien. The right hon. Gentleman submitted that this was not the law in England, and that no Home Secretary would venture to act so if it were. I must really remind the right hon. Gentleman that such a power is inherent in the ordinary Justice of the Peace, whether a Resident Magistrate in Ireland or an ordinary Justice in England. If he thinks the action of any individual is likely to provoke a breach of the peace, the magistrate is perfectly entitled, by virtue of his authority, to call upon that person to find sureties for the peace. It has nothing whatever to do with the Crimes Act. I agree that the Home Secretary has nothing to do with matters of that kind, except to advise Her Majesty when a person should be pardoned, but nobody ever said he had. Quoting other instances from the Freeman, the right hon. Gentleman said that one person was bound over for hissing Mr. Cecil Roche. If it be true that there never was a time when the relations between the people and the police were so strained as the hon. Member for East Mayo contends, will any hon. Member deny that a Justice of the Peace was right in so acting? The right hon. Gentleman also says that Colonel Turner ordered four policemen to charge among some youths, and beat them in a merciless way. I should like that statement to be verified. I do not believe a word of it. And the right hon. Gentleman's story that one person, for laughing at a constable, in default of finding sureties, was sent to gaol for three months, is one that requires investigation. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman investigate the charge before he came to the House and made the statement with all his authority as a Privy Councillor, and a man who may some day be Prime Minister for aught I know? When asked for an authority, all he could say was that it was not from the Freeman's Journal, and that he did not vouch for its accuracy. The next case 432 the right hon. Gentleman came to was that of Mr. Harrington, and he commented upon the circumstance that the magistrate had promised to let Mr. Harrington off if he did not offend again. Anyone who has any experience of the administration of the law in this country knows very well that it is the ordinary practice of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions and of Her Majesty's Judges to abstain from passing any sentence at all upon the person convicted under certain circumstances, on their giving an undertaking not to offend again. Then, referring to the case of Mr. Harrington and Mr. Carew, the right hon. Gentleman alluded to their sentences, and said—"Just consider Mr. Carew gets four months and Mr. Harrington six." After 17 years' experience of the law of England, I, like many others, concur that there is nothing so unsatisfactory in the administration of it as the unequal sentences which are passed. One Judge may give five years' penal servitude for a crime for which another may give six months. Very often, to use a vulgar phrase, it is a "toss up" what sentence a prisoner gets. Then the right hon. Gentleman made reference to the fact of imprisoned Members being compelled to wear the prison dress when appearing as witnesses, while Delaney appeared before the Special Commission in his own clothes. I have never known an instance in which prisoners called upon to give evidence did not appear in prison dress.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Does the hon. Gentleman apply that to misdemeanants in this country, of which I know a dozen instances, or only to felons?
§ MR. FULTON
I am not aware of any distinction whatever between the case of a misdemeanant and a felon. I know of no instance in my experience of a convict giving evidence except in ordinary prison dress, save that of Delaney, to which reference is now made. The right hon. Gentleman said the history of this Parliament was one long fraud upon the constituencies. But what had 433 the right hon. Gentleman to say about the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham), who, in consideration of being a Liberal Unionist, was allowed a walkover in his constituency? Now, that hon. Member, so far as I know, has never once supported the Government. He did not act like the hon. Member for West Edinburgh, who returned to his constituents when he found himself unable to support the policy of the Government. I do not altogether approve of some of the acts which have taken place in Ireland. It is unfortunate there should be so long a delay in instituting prosecutions in Ireland. We find Mr. Carew, for instance, making a speech in November, and he is prosecuted in the month of January. It is a very great pity that Mr. O'Brien should make a speech in the month of September, and that he should not be prosecuted until November. So far as I am concerned, I think it desirable, if the law is to be set in force, that it should be done as quickly as possible. I have been very much struck by the fact that during the last few months there has been a great increase in the number of Members of this House who have been sent to prison. I have asked myself, is there any special reason why that should be so, and I have come to the conclusion that there is a reason. It is this. For the first time since the Chief Secretary filled the position which he now holds, there were signs during the last Autumn Session that the hand of the Government was beginning to be relaxed. They were beginning to make distinctions between Members of this House who had offended against the law and persons who were not Members. They did so in two notable ways. When some time ago the Chief Secretary for Ireland was questioned in this House as to the practice of arresting Irish Members of Parliament on a warrant in this country he made an answer that, acting on the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown, he did so because the service of a summons granted in Ireland was not good service in England. Therefore, there was no other means of arrest except by warrant backed by a magistrate in this country. Last Session, out of humanity and a desire not to inconvenience Members of this House more than he could possibly 434 help, he substituted the service of what was practically a worthless document—a summons. He granted that as a special favour to Members of this House. I am very strongly of opinion it is not the slightest use endeavouring to conciliate hon. Members opposite by any means of that sort. That was not all. There was another—a still more dangerous—departure from the straight and narrow road of absolute legality. Questions were pertinaciously asked by the Member for West Belfast as to whether the Chief Secretary would prevent service of processes during the continuance of the Autumn Session? I was of opinion then, and I am of opinion now, that the action of the Chief Secretary was most unfortunate and most unconstitutional. I do not think that there exists any power whatever in the Irish Attorney General of controlling a Court of Law in the execution of ordinary process, nor is any power of that kind possessed by the English Attorney General. I am quite sure that the Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke), whom I see here, would admit that he had no power to control a Court of Law as to when or how criminal process should be served. It seems to me that the Government, in these two things, showed signs of giving way. Signs of giving way on questions such as these are a great mistake, and the sooner we desist from giving way the better, because I am quite sure there is only one way of bringing this great contest to a successful close, and that is by continuing to walk in the straight and narrow road of absolute legality and Constitutional usage; to extend to all law-breakers alike the same even measure of justice, whether he be a Member of this House or a humble peasant. It is my firm conviction it is only by an impartial administration of the law that we can hope to be successful in the great battle which lies before us. I said, in the first speech I delivered in this House, we are standing on the threshold of a great controversy—a great battle. I am not afraid of it. As long as the Government stand to their guns, as long as they continue to act as they have hitherto acted—with these two exceptions—with absolute impartiality to all Her Majesty's subjects, I have the most perfect confidence in the ultimate 435 result. I have confidence in the good sense, common justice, and common honesty of my fellow-countrymen. I believe, if we only continue to act with firmness and impartiality, we shall be successful when the time comes in the great battle we have to fight for the continued union of these kingdoms.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
The hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke referred to the case of Mr. Edward Harrington, and he says it is by no means unusual for a magistrate to say practically to a prisoner, "If you will give an undertaking not to offend again, I will abstain from passing any sentence upon you." Well, Sir, I am not prepared to say that this is not occasionally done, but I think my hon. and learned Friend has completely mistaken the point of the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. He complains not of the action of the magistrate in offering to inflict no punishment if a promise were given not to offend again, but because the magistrate made this offer in respect of an offence which, when the offer was declined, he considered that six months' hard labour was the only adequate punishment for. And I think that my hon. and learned Friend, with all his great experience at the criminal bar, would have very considerable difficulty indeed in extracting from the criminal annals in this country a parallel case. Again, my hon. and learned Friend referred in terms of indignation—I know not whether it was real or assumed, and it is not for me to say—to the votes which have been given in this House by the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire since his return in 1886. Mr. Speaker, these indignant expostulations which he levelled against my hon. Friend ought, with far greater propriety, to have been applied to his own hon. and gallant colleague, the hon. and gallant Member for the Bow and Bromley Division of the Tower Hamlets. Upon these points both these hon. Members are precisely in the same boat. In 1886 each of them pledged himself against Coercion, but the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division has been honest enough to keep his pledge, while the hon. and gallant Member for Bow has grossly violated his. The Irish Secretary complains of the right 436 hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, because he did not in his speech last night dilate upon the details of the notorious scenes which have occurred in Irish prisons, and he entered into explanations denying the accuracy of certain statements which have been published in regard to them. The denials of the Irish Secretary remind me of an incident related at a recent meeting of the Royal Geographical Society by one of our great travellers, who stated that he was visiting a tribe which was shrewdly suspected of cannibalism. He asked a lady member of the tribe whether she had ever eaten "white man," and she indignantly denied it; but presently, as if to relieve her conscience, added, "I have tasted soup made from him." There is one particular part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I desire to refer. The right hon. Gentleman said that every person who had been punished in Ireland had been punished either for crime or for incitement to crime. Now, Sir, it seems to me that the crux of the whole controversy lies in this: What is incitement to crime? The Irish Secretary seems to have fallen into a great confusion of thought which led him to ask triumphantly, upon the one hand, whether dynamite outrages were political offences, and, on the other hand, why, when the Corrupt Practices Act was before this House, hon. Gentlemen on this side insisted that the offenders convicted under it should be treated as ordinary criminals. Now, I think that we, upon this side of the House, are not only willing, but we are anxious that everyone who, for instance, attempts to blow up this House, or who lays a finger upon the land-grabber in Ireland, shall be punished by the law and treated as an ordinary criminal. But when the right hon. Gentleman starts a quibble about incitement to crime, we have a right to ask that, at any rate, there should be established, clearly, connection between the incitement and the crime. The right hon. Gentleman has not been ashamed to throw at hon. Members who sit on these benches wholesale charges of incitement to crime. Well, Sir, there are historical instances, no doubt well known to the right hon. Gentleman, which I think should cause him to hesitate, and cause us to hesitate also, before we 437 endeavour to connect crime with public action. It will be remembered that in 1843, during the Corn Law agitation, there was much disturbance and violence; and Mr. Drummond, the Secretary to the Prime Minister, was assassinated, as was generally believed, in mistake for the Prime Minister. Well, on the 17th February in that year, the Prime Minister came down to this House, and, standing at that Table, deliberately charged Mr. Cobden with having used language calculated or designed to incite persons to assassination, because, forsooth, Mr. Cobden had, at various conferences of the League, declared that he should hold the Prime Minister responsible for the condition of the country. I do not recall that incident tonight, Sir, in order to cast any slur on the illustrious memory of Sir Robert Peel. I quote it simply to show how ridiculously the best of men may be misled when once they surrender themselves to associate crime with the public utterances of their political opponents. I was surprised at the Irish Secretary's references to Daniel O'Connell. He described him as an Irish patriot; yet Daniel O'Connell was prosecuted by the Government of his day, and the Attorney General, who led the prosecution, made almost word for word the indictment which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has on this occasion charged against the hon. Member for Cork, against Mr. William O'Brien, and against their friends. I could quote many instances in which these charges against Mr. Parnell correspond with those levelled against Daniel O'Connell; it is the old interminable story. There is no abuse so foul—there is no imputation so base—but that it may be heaped upon the head of an Irish patriot whilst he lives; but when he has been some generations in his grave then he is canonized by the Times newspaper, and the great name of Daniel O'Connell suffers the indignity of being eulogized by the lips of the Irish Secretary to-day. And 20 years hence, if we could imagine this régime lasting so long, the successor to the Irish Secretary would rise in his place in the House, and would talk about the patriot Parnell then, as the right hon. Gentleman now talks about the patriot O'Connell. He would compare the patriot Parnell with the Leader of 438 the Irish Party of that day, very much, of course, to that Leader's detriment. I had intended to address an earnest appeal to the Irish Secretary. I am sorry he is not in his place; but let me tell him that the course on which he has embarked can lead to no good. It is bad in its immediate effects; it will be infinitely worse in its ulterior effects. I hope to God that there will never be any Party in the State, when its turn comes to triumph, which will treat its political opponents as the Irish Secretary has treated his political opponents, and as he is treating them in the Irish prisons to-day. But, Mr. Speaker, this is not a visionary danger, for if there is one lesson which is to be learnt from history, it is that the effects of such a course as that which Her Majesty's Ministers are pursuing have an inevitable tendency to demoralize the people. I cannot hope that my words will produce the slightest effect upon the Irish Secretary or his Friends; but, as he has professed such great respect for Daniel O'Connell, let me then, in sitting down, warn him in the solemn words of the Irish patriot and orator. He said—You know not how soon and how bitterly the ingredients of your poisoned chalice may he commended to your own lips.
MR. SWIFT MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
rose, and an hon. Member having called attention to the number of Members present, the Speaker counted, and, 40 Members being in their place, the hon. Member proceeded:—The speech we have heard from the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite was in the usual form, and ran over the familiar lines, reminding me of those Jews mentioned by Josephus who ran about the streets of Jerusalem with cries of woe. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has repeated the substance of a speech he made at Portadown the other day, and more than 20 years ago I find a speech made in that same town prophesying, as the hon. Gentleman has, civil war. The dreaded cause then was the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. In May, 1868, the Rev. M. T. Ellis spoke in similar terms to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, declaring he and others would fight sword in hand and die for the cause in which their fathers had died, with the dying cry echoed from Earth to Heaven, "No Popery!" "No Surrender!" No par- 439 ticular result, however, followed all the talk in this strain. We are often told by the Chief Secretary, when he is engaged in defending his Coercion policy, and the statement seems to amply satisfy him, that Lord Spencer and Mr. Forster did the same thing. There was, no doubt, coercion in Mr. Forster's time, but there was a wide difference, in that it was not then a policy of exasperation. The policy of Coercion which was pursued by Lord Spencer and Mr. Forster produced great pain and suffering in Ireland, but the pain was also felt by the statesmen who adopted that policy. A policy of exasperation is a very different thing. I never admired Mr. Forster, but I respect his memory; and I may say that nothing would have induced him to adopt personal persecution towards his political opponents. The Chief Secretary has bestowed some praise upon O'Connell. Well, I do not know how O'Connell, if alive, would receive such praise; but I remember a remark he made in reference to a personal and jocular allusion of a Chief Secretary of his day, that it was "something like a sunbeam touching the brass plate of a coffin." With reference to the right hon. Gentleman's allusion to the men of '98, I may say that I have read and written much on the subject; and it is clear as any fact in history that the Government of the day goaded the people into rebellion. God forbid I should bring any such charge against the Ministers of to-day; but this I say, with some knowledge of the subject, that had that been your intention, you could find no better means of carrying it out than by your policy of the last three years. All the efforts of the Nationalist Party in Ireland—all the efforts of the Irish Leaders—would have been totally ineffective to allay the popular irritation, were it not that, for the first time in history, we have the support of the great Liberal Party. That alone prevents the Ireland of the present day becoming the pandemonium it was in 1798. We are the successors of the rebels of 1798, and are proud to be so. Many mistakes they may have made, but their motives were just, noble, and righteous. Again I refer to history, and declare that there was no attempt or idea of armed resistance in 1798 until all Constitutional agitation had failed. If the 440 rebels of 1798 had had, as we have now, the head of the Liberal Party and the heart of England with them, they would have been content to wait until they received liberty, equality, and equal rights. The policy of conciliation has made these sometime rebels join hand and heart with the people of England. We have challenged your treatment of prisoners in Ireland, and you reply, there should be equal treatment in England and Ireland. Yes, there should; but there cannot be while your laws in the two countries are distinctly unequal and administered in a wholly different spirit. Where in England have you anything like the system of jury packing which, according to the Dublin Express, a Conservative paper, makes trial by jury in political or quasi-political offences a mere pretence? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, the Chairman of Committees, says that in Ireland there is a great system working for justice and equity, although there are imperfections in its instruments. Who are the instruments of this system? They are simply the persons called Resident Magistrates. They are the pillars of the plank-bed system. They are the persons on whom the Government rely. They are, directly or indirectly, under the influence of the Crown, and these were selected to administer the Coercion Act. In England judicial officers are wholly independent of the Crown, but in Ireland they are dismissible at a moment's notice, and I assert that their decisions are not directly but indirectly influenced by the Crown, because human nature must be more than it ever will be if men whose means of livelihood are dependent on the favour of the Crown are not affected by that supreme consideration. These men are brought up from their counties to hold interviews with the Chief Secretary in Dublin Castle. No doubt the Chief Secretary said they did not come up to him for political purposes. What did they come up for then? Was it to talk about the weather, or the success or want of success of the Times trial? Disguise it as you may, these men went down to their districts to fulfil the behests, either expressed or implied, of their master, the Chief Secretary. The whole thing, as was said by Mr. W. O'Brien, is a grotesque and hideous farce. It will be within the Solicitor 441 General for Ireland's recollection that so far back as 1874 Mr. Cecil Roche was chosen auditor for the Session of Trinity College, and chose for the subject of his address an attack on Home Rule, and so violent was it that the Board of Senior Fellows actually took the extreme step of suppressing the address and not allowing the meeting to be held. And this was the man who was chosen to try Mr. W. O'Brien. Mr. Cecil Roche went into England at the recent election to speak for the Unionist Party, and it appeared from a correspondence in the newspapers that his hotel and travelling expenses were paid, and through whom? Through the hands of the distinguished Secretary of the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union, Mr. Houston. Captain Seagrave, who represented the military order of judicial chivalry in Ireland, was appointed a Resident Magistrate in October, 1886, and he was in command of the forces at Mitchelstown when three human beings were killed. Now, I hold in my hand an extract from the Cape of Good Hope Gazette in which it is stated that Captain Seagrave's services are dispensed with from the Colonial Service. It can be got from the Agent General of the Cape of Good Hope, or I should think from the Colonial Office—for surely the document is one which should find a place there. Here is this man's dismissal. The House knows very well what is the meaning of a person's services "being dispensed" with. It does not mean being cashiered, but it means dismissal with a stigma. Well, I say, from this document, that the man who was in command of the military and police when these shocking occurrences happened at Mitchelstown was a man who had been dismissed from his post at the Cape with ignominy; and I ask are we, in order to administer law and order in Ireland, to take up the castaways of the Colonies? In cross-examination at the Coroner's inquest Captain Seagrave stated that he had had no legal training, that he had got his military training in South Africa, never having had a commission in the Home Army, and that, though he had tried three times to pass a military examination at home, he had failed on each occasion. This was the gentleman who has sentenced a priest to six weeks' imprisonment and a Member of 442 Parliament to three weeks' imprisonment. The late Lord Rosse, in a conversation with Mr. Nassau Senior, said that one way to improve the magistracy was to get rid of Resident Magistrates, that no appointments were so infamously jobbed, and that no special education and no talents seemed to be necessary. This statement is strongly borne out by this incident of Captain Seagrave. At a loss to imagine how this young, inexperienced man came to be appointed to the Magistracy, I had recourse to "Burke's Landed Gentry," and I there found that Captain Seagrave was the son of a magistrate for three or four counties, and the brother-in-law of a well-known Unionist, circumstances which easily account for the singular appointment. And now, as a Representative of Donegal, I would speak just one word with regard to the shocking occurrence which occurred in the presence of Father M'Fadden. The arrest of this priest, and subsequently the arrest of Father Stephens, under the circumstances in which they took place, were peculiarly irritating to men who look to their priest as their only friend, their protector, and defender; and, I ask, why invest a hateful law with irritating and humiliating incidents which renders it ten times more hateful? I agree entirely with that part of the Amendment which says, that "this system is viewed with reprobation and aversion by the people of Great Britain." The right hon. Member for Newcastle winds up with recommending a policy of conciliation towards Ireland. I cannot but think that the right hon. Gentleman, when drawing up his Amendment, had in his mind the policy of that great man whose life he has written—Edmund Burke. If in the time of Lord North we had pursued the policy of conciliation advocated by Burke, the American Colonies would have been one with us to-day. Brinsley Sheridan long ago pointed out the fallacy of the assertion that there is no alternative between the Act of Union and total separation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has proposed the real solution of the Irish problem, and by that proposal has already wiped out from Irish hearts the memory of seven centuries of wrong.
§ * MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
said: It is not my intention to 443 intervene for more than a very few minutes in the course of the debate, but I cannot refrain from expressing the opinion that the solidarity which exists between the Party above and the Party below the Gangway on this side of the House, so far from being diminished, is likely, on the contrary, to be greatly cemented by the review which has taken place in the course of these debates of the events which have transpired in Ireland during the last few months. Reference has been made in the course of the debate, and allusion has been made in the course of the discussions which have been going on throughout the length and breadth of the land, to the various points of this measure of Coercion; but it appears to me that the methods by which this Act is being administered may be grouped under three heads. In the first place, we have attempts to impair the right of free speech, in so far as that right of free speech may be brought to bear on the right of combination; in the second place, we have endeavours to impair the right of a free Press, in so far as freedom of the Press concerns the purposes of combination; and, in the third place, we have attempts directed mainly and constantly against combination itself. Well, it seems to me, therefore, that, on all these grounds, we cannot altogether dissociate the agrarian from the political problem in Ireland. The treatment of political prisoners is, no doubt, one of the matters under the consideration of the House. But it seems to me that, in order to go to the root of the matter, we must consider the manner in which the Government have neglected on the one hand to attempt those remedies for agrarian grievances which are most urgently needed, and the manner in which they, instead of carrying out these remedies, have turned their attention to remedies which are in no way to be desired. Again and again it was urged last Session and the Session before that the great and principal grievance in Ireland at the present time was the fact that the question of arrears had been left open. It was urged that the Land Act of 1887, which was brought in as a companion measure to the Coercion Bill of that year, was merely intended for the purpose of gilding the pill. We were told that in that measure evictions were to be done away 444 with, and also the question of arrears to be settled. But it turned out that, instead of evictions being done away with, processes were actually rendered more easy, inasmuch as in place of the first process, which formerly took place in the light of open day, and subject to public criticism, we had a surreptitious and hidden process substituted, by which the landlord, by merely sending out a writ in the shape of a registered letter, was able to turn a tenant into a caretaker, and thereby deprive him of all his property in improvements which law and custom declared to be as much his property as the land was the property of the landlord. Another thing we urged against the Act of 1887 was that it entirely failed to deal with the great grievance that was the bane of the poor districts of Ireland—namely, that owing to the millstone of arrears hanging round the necks of the tenants, the landlord had it in his power, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, to evict without compensation. Attempts were made below the Gangway on this side of the House, and also above the Gangway, to get that grievance remedied, but the only alternative which was offered by the Chief Secretary was that if the question of arrears were dealt with at all, the debts due to the shopkeeper would be treated exactly in the same manner as the debts due to the landlord. In making that offer the Chief Secretary was under the same error as the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh was under when he compared the operation of the Plan of Campaign in Ireland to what it would be in Cheshire or Flintshire. He ignored the great and cardinal point concerning land in Ireland—namely, the dual ownership, Parliament having conferred on the tenant in that country certain rights of property in the land in connection with the improvements, which the tenant does not possess in this country. The alternative which the Chief Secretary offered was that the debts due to the shopkeeper should be dealt with on the same footing as the arrears of rent due to the landlord. That proposition of the Chief Secretary was, after all, simply a proposal that the shop-keeping Peter should be robbed of his just dues in order to pay the unjust dues of the landowning Paul. If any Com- 445 mission at any time declares that the present rent of a tenant ought to be reduced 50 percent, it is preposterous and altogether illogical not to give that Commission power to deal with arrears of rent, which ought, on that showing, to be equally unjust and exorbitant at the rent. All that the Chief Secretary proposes is that the arrears should be spread over a certain interval, which is no remedy at ail, because, if the rent is unjust and exorbitant and cannot be paid, the arrears also are unjust and exorbitant and ought not to be paid. The Liberal Party have urged that it is necessary to deal with the question of arrears, and that the agricultural problem lies at the root of most of the disputes taking place in Ireland, and it has been shown again and again that most of the imprisonments which have taken place in that country under the Crimes Act have been connected, directly or indirectly, with some agrarian dispute. It seems to me that the conclusion to be drawn from that is that the administration of this Crimes Act should be reviewed side by side with the administration of the Land Act. We should judge the one by the other, and, doing that, we cannot fail to come to the conclusion that in all these attempts to suppress free speech, and to put down the freedom of the Press, and to put a stop to combination, the administrators of the Crimes Act have had in view the propping up of a system of landlordism unsuited to the needs of the country, and the outcome is a state of things which is against the feeling of justice which animates the great mass of the people, not only of Ireland, but also of England, and which ought at once to be done away with. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh (Col. Saunderson), in the course of his speech to-night, gave vent to a certain amount of buffoonery and to a certain amount of braggadocio, but it seems to me that that buffoonery was considerably misplaced, and that that braggadocio, considering the events of the past few days, was particularly ill-timed. One point the hon. and gallant Member appeared to lay most stress upon was the way in which political prisoners had been treated under the Crimes Act. He endeavoured to dispute the statement made on this side of the House, that the treatment 446 of the Nationalist Members was of a different character to the treatment of other offenders, such, for instance, as those mentioned in the subsequent speech of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon)—those Orange offenders of the City of Belfast, but I do net think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is very successful. It appears to me, therefore, that not only ought we to consider the question in its agrarian aspect, but we should bear in mind the object the Crimes Act has in view, and the peculiarly unjust and preposterous way in which that Act has been administered, and the vindictive spirit which has been shown to certain individuals. On a previous occasion I took the opportunity of referring to a case that had attracted my notice in a special degree, and that was the case of Mr. John Roche. This man was arrested three times for various crimes within a short space of time, and similar vindictiveness was displayed in the case of Mr. E. Harrington. Although the magistrates could not prove Mr. Harrington guilty of making an illegal speech, they could prove him guilty of having reported one, and that was the ground upon which they visited him with the most severe imprisonment it was possible for them to inflict. There was a vindictive sentence of six months' imprisonment with hard labour passed upon him. The policy of exasperation has been persistently pursued in Ireland by the present Administration; but they are acting like drowning men catching at straws, for they know that after their present lease of power terminates, never again will they have an opportunity of trying the policy of coercion. The events which have occurred within the last few days tend to show that the policy of resistance to justice and liberty is mainly directed to the maintenance of landlordism. The speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh shows that there still exist in Ireland some of those whose scruples may be perfectly conscientious, but which can only be attributed to a spirit of bigotry which ought to have disappeared long ago. If the policy of the Government is supported on the one side by bigotry and bigots, it is also supported on the other by pigottry and Pigotts. The solidarity of the alliance 447 which exists between the Party below and the Party above the Gangway, instead of being weakened by what has occurred, ought to be cemented more closely by the revelations of that policy which have been placed before us by the Chief Secretary. Probably no more humiliating spectacle was ever witnessed in this House than the attitude of the Chief Secretary in the course of the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo. The hon. Member proved conclusively that in his letter to Mr. Armitage the right hon. Gentleman was guilty of a culpable suppressio veri, and we can only form our own conclusions in regard to the proceedings of the Government when we find that the Chief Secretary is unable to refute accusations of that kind. I think we can already see the dawning of a brighter and a happier day, when all this policy of exasperation and vindictiveness will be swept away. In one instance an hon. Member of this House (Mr. Finucane) was convicted and sent to prison because he had listened without remonstrance to a speech made by another person, and was therefore taken to be a consenting party to it. Surely it is absurd to expect every person who happens to be upon a platform at a public meeting to get up one after another and refute and contradict the statements of other speakers. Let me mention an instance which shows how this principle might be made to apply to the Chief Secretary himself. Not long ago the right hon. Gentleman attended a Conservative demonstration at Staleybridge, and in the course of his speech he took occasion to mention the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. Voices were immediately heard in the crowd. I suppose, if it had taken place at a Liberal meeting, the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh would have said they came from disciples of the hon. Member for Mayo, and therefore we on this side are justified in saying that they were the voices of the disciples of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. The voices, on the name of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian being mentioned, called out, "Shoot him." If the same course had been taken as that which was taken in the case of Mr. Finucane, a charge might have been preferred 448 against the Chief Secretary of having connived, by a tacit assent, at the suggested assassination of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and it would be impossible for any man to escape responsibility for speeches, innocent or otherwise, that were made by other persons who addressed a meeting from the same platform. Every man who speaks ought only to be responsible for what he says himself, and that such a charge should have been made against Mr. Finucane shows, in my opinion, how far the policy of vindictiveness and exasperation is being carried out. For these reasons I heartily concur in the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, believing that it would be highly inopportune for the House, by its vote or by its silence, to consent to the felicitations contained in Her Majesty's Speech on the improvement in the state of Ireland.
§ * MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
The speech of the hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill) contained a most unfair attack upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. It must be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman occupies an extremely difficult position, and a position of great responsibility, seeing that he has to contend with those who, the hon. Member for South Donegal tells us, are the successors of the rebels of 1798. That is the position which the hon. and learned Member has proudly asserted for himself. It is not to be supposed that the right hon. Gentleman can fight those persons with kid gloves. The object of the Members below the Gangway and their associates above the Gangway is sometimes forgotten. It is therefore necessary to advert to occurrences and speeches which are now conveniently overlooked, and to recall to the memory of the House that the comparatively mild utterances of some hon. Members in this House, and before English and Scotch audiences, are very different from the utterances of the same gentlemen in Ireland, where it has been plainly pointed out that the object of the confederacy which the Chief Secretary has to contend with is to sever the links that bind Ireland to England. The hon. Member for South Donegal, in claiming to be a successor of the rebels of 1798, conveniently forgot that their great 449 object was to establish a Republic in Ireland on the model of the French Republic, and that their efforts at all times were directed not to the formation of a Parliament that would profess loyal allegiance to the Crown of England, but to separate the Government of Ireland altogether from that of the United Kingdom. It is sometimes convenient to forget history, and the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, in asking us to study history for ourselves, seems to consider that history ought to be re-written, and that the records of the rebels of '98 ought either to be blotted out, or that their rebellion against lawful authority should be treated as if it were a meritorious act. When the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division (Sir G. Trevelyan) was Chief Secretary, and I occupied a subordinate position in connection with the Irish Fishery Department, he was pleased to write me a letter in which he stated that the Members of the Conservative Party had rendered him most loyal assistance in carrying on the government of the country. His allusions to the gentlemen who are now his associates were not of so complimentary a character. It is convenient sometimes to forget these things, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would now like to blot out the memory of the services rendered to him by the Conservative Party in Ireland when he was abused, and vilified, and calumniated by the Members of the Nationalist Party.
§ DR. COMMINS (Roscommon, S.)
I rise to a point of order. Is it competent for the hon. Gentleman to say that a right hon. Gentleman has been slandered by Members of this House?
§ * MR. JOHNSTON
continued: The hon. Member has a most convenient memory if he can forget the columns of United Ireland, and how bitterly the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division was vilified in them when he filled the Office of Chief Secretary. There is scarcely any slander against the present Chief Secretary which was not even more bitterly indulged in against the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division. It is not necessary that I should say a word in defence of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for 450 North Armagh, but I may be permitted to say that there is a solid and compact organization in Ireland, having its ramifications throughout the British Empire, which is resolutely determined to stand by the integrity of the Union of the British Empire and the honour of the Crown. My hon. and gallant Friend was accused by the last speaker of indulging in buffoonery and braggadocio in remarks he has made as to the attitude that will be taken by the loyal population of Ulster in the event of an Irish Parliament attempting to legislate for them. Perhaps it is well that I should mention on this occasion that, when the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian seemed likely to attain his object, and to establish in Ireland the Parliament which has been so long asked for by the Parnellites, I and my Friends were preparing actively and energetically for all eventualities, and that men were sending in their names who were perfectly prepared to justify by action the words which were uttered. It would have been very easy for the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, if such a Parliament had been established, to have placed 50,000 men in opposition to the successors of the rebels of '98. There is one portion of the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to Ireland which I am not altogether prepared to justify. I think they ought to interfere with the entirely unlicensed liberty of Press publication in Ireland. In former days, when rebellion and sedition were rampant in the land, the Press was interfered with, and those who incited to acts of sedition were prevented from promulgating in the pages of the newspapers those seditious doctrines which have caused so much mischief in that country. I hope the utterances of hon. Members opposite in this House or in the country will not cause the nation to forget the object they have had in view, which they have seldom hesitated to express when they truly spoke their sentiments, and did not cover their purpose with expressions which were intended to disguise and not to reveal their intentions. The object of hon. Members opposite and those who are associated with them is the dismemberment of the Empire. It is all very well to talk about promoting a better feeling between the two countries. Humbug is not a Parlia- 451 mentary expression, and therefore I will not use it—[laughter]—I think there are some hon. Members opposite who must indulge in laughter when they think of the ready credence which is given to their professions of friendship for this country. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian has done more to bring about the disruption and the disintegration of the Empire than a foreign foe could have done in 50 years. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite now pose in a new attitude as friends of the British Empire. Not so long ago, at certain meetings, the Mahdi was cheered because he was the enemy of England, and in the time of the Indian Mutiny the name of the devil was cheered by disloyalists in Ireland. I do not mean to suggest that that personage is the friend of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. A too ready applause is given to anyone at home or abroad who declares himself the enemy of England, and desirous of bringing about her downfall. In my opinion, the course right hon. and hon. Members opposite have adopted and the policy they have sanctioned will bring about in its eventuality the greatest curse to the country, and, if successfully carried out, it will involve the British Empire in ruin. I cannot help thinking that those who support it, either treacherously or timorously, deserve the reprobation of those who desire to see the great British Empire progressing, in the interests of humanity; and not its right arm paralyzed in a day of difficulty and danger, when we ought to be solid and united for the coming conflict, and when the efforts of all earnest and honest citizens ought to be given to promote the safety, honour, and welfare of the dominions of the Queen.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
There was one speech made tonight which, I think, the House could not help hearing with regret.—I mean the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. I do not think the tone of that speech was such as to afford any hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself would approach this question at any time, in the course of his career, in a rational and statesmanlike manner. It seemed to me—and I cannot help thinking that my hon. Friends below the Gangway share that opinion—to be a speech more suited 452 to an enthusiastic audience at an Orange meeting in the North of Ireland than to a deliberative Assembly. I do not propose to reply to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member, but with the permission of the House my observations will be addressed to the consideration whether the treatment which has been adopted by this Government towards certain Liberal Members is that which we ought to have expected from any Government representing the democracy of this country. The Chief Secretary, in a speech which was, undoubtedly, of considerable ability, conceded one point which I think, to a large extent, demolished his answer to the charges which have been made against him. He conceded that Mr. O'Brien and his friends, who are now in prison, are political offenders, and he conceded also that these Gentlemen have been actuated by the highest possible motives—namely, that they have obeyed the dictates of their conscience. Now my contention is—and I think it will find a response throughout the country—that political offenders should receive a totally different treatment from that to which ordinary prisoners are subjected. The difference should not be in the severity, but in the form of the punishment. The political offender should not be submitted to any punishment which is inconsistent with the moral nature of his offence and the objects which he has in view. You may have to take the life of a man, but there is no reason why you should scalp him or mutilate him. The Chief Secretary is, I think, the first responsible English Minister who has refused to recognize the widely marked difference which ought to exist between political offences and ordinary crime. Some time ago I placed on the paper a Motion for a Return of the treatment of political offenders, but it has been intimated to me by Her Majesty's Government that do not intend to grant it. Yet I may observe that a Return, which was moved for in similar terms nearly 50 years ago, was granted by the Minister of that day. I am told that the main objection to the Return is the difficulty of defining political offences. In the year 1840, and for many years antecedent, there was a great amount of social and political disturbance in this country, and in the year I have mentioned a large number of persons were 453 imprisoned for political offences. These prisoners were not the gentlemen wearing broadcloth, of whom we have heard to-night, nor were they distinguished and eloquent Parliamentarians. They belonged to such humble classes as those of the North Country miner and the Metroplitan labourer; and I find, among the offences of which they were convicted, and for which they were committed to gaol for various terms, there were such as the one I am about to cite. One man was convicted of having stolen a shot-belt, gun, and ammunition—an offence which certainly does not compare favourably with that of which Mr. O'Brien has been convicted, and yet that prisoner—a poor, humble man, belonging to the working class—was allowed privileges which are altogether denied to Mr. O'Brien. For instance, he had the free use of pen, ink, and paper, was allowed to read the daily newspapers, and was also permitted to partake of food of a much superior character to that served out as the dietary of the ordinary prisoners. Beyond this, he was allowed to see his friends, almost at will, and, further, was permitted—this being no small matter, when we consider, by the light of what has lately happened, what personal degradation means—to wear his own clothes. There was another case—and I will not weary the House with numbers of others that might be gone into—in which a man was imprisoned for having entered, or attempted to enter, and partly demolished a dwelling house. He, also, belonged to the labouring class, and, while undergoing the punishment accorded to him, was permitted to enjoy the same exceptional treatment, the same favours and alleviations, as were allowed in the case of the prisoner I have already mentioned. I will only add on this point that I hold in my hand a list, extending over almost every county in England, and a large number of counties in Ireland, in which men were convicted of political offences of a gravity at least equal to that of Mr. O'Brien, and were treated, while in confinement, with the greatest consideration and kindness. This being the case, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—or, as he is now absent from the House, either of the subordinate officials on the front bench opposite, why it is that a different punishment 454 to that meted out by the then Conservative Government is to be persisted in, at the present time, by another Conservative Administration? I say, without fear of contradiction, that the action of the Government in this matter is a scandal and a disgrace. You have the means of classifying, in an easy and facile manner, what are known as political offences, as against those that are non-political; and, consequently, there can be no justification, from the historical aspect of the case, of the treatment to which you are subjecting Mr. O'Brien. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite, seeing that he has now returned to his place, what is the object of this treatment? What rational purpose can it be expected to serve? Does the Chief Secretary suppose that Mr. O'Brien, when out of prison, will be more loyal, or that he will, in the smallest degree, be intimidated, by the punishment he will have undergone, from continuing the course he has, in my opinion, the greatest justification for pursuing? There is not a man sitting here among the Irish Members who is at all likely to be intimidated, by the gross and barbarous punishment accorded to Mr. O'Brien, from adopting the same line of conduct as has been followed by that hon. Gentleman. Does the Chief Secretary suppose that Mr. O'Brien's treatment will be likely to impress the Irish people generally with a sense of fear; or, on the other hand, that it will in any way tend to conciliate them in their attitude towards the present Government? If you look through the daily papers—even the now much discredited Times newspaper—you will find a record presented day by day of the enthusiasm and devotion of the Irish people, who have been worked up almost to fever heat by reason of the gross treatment dealt out to the champions of their cause; and I say, unhesitatingly, that there can be no surer way of continuing and intensifying the existing agitation than the course Her Majesty's Government are at present pursuing. I may also say that, even on the Ministerial side of the House, there are a large number of the Government followers who disapprove of their policy in this respect, and from whom, in private converse, one learns that they believe the Government to be now committing a great tacti- 455 cal error. We, who have nothing to do with their tactical error, say to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that he is carrying out a course of policy which is entirely obsolete and out of harmony and sympathy with the dictates of modern statesmanship. I freely admit that there may have been exaggerations on our side and also indiscretions, and I further freely admit that the right hon. Gentleman has made the best use of them he could. When, however, the right hon. Gentleman alludes to the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. T. Healy) as having used somewhat indiscreet language towards a magistrate before whom he appeared as counsel for Mr. O'Brien, I ask him, as an English lawyer, can he bring himself to conceive a case in which an English magistrate would be found arguing and recriminating with a counsel as to whether he ought to call a man a colonel or not? The absurdity and idiocy and indecency of the proceeding go far to justify, or, at any rate, to excuse the retort made by the hon. Member for Longford. With regard to what has been said with reference to the action of County Court Judges in Ireland, I may state that I have had the honour of conversing with an English judge, not at all in sympathy with Home Rule, or what I may call the tactics of the Irish Party, and he told me that it was contrary to the elementary principles of justice that a man's imprisonment should be increased on appeal. I say that the policy pursued by the Government is a policy which shocks the consciences of the people. It is all very well to punish offences, but when the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary admits they are political offences, and that the men of whom he speaks are actuated by the highest motives in doing what they have done—
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
The right hon. Gentleman stated that he believed they acted from conscientious motives; and, if conscientious motives are not the highest motives, I am at a loss to understand what else they can be.
§ MR. BALFOUR
I do not think I ever committed myself to any expression of opinion as to conscientious motives. I spoke of political motives.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
At any rate, I would ask, is it not a gross outrage on the common sense of the House to suggest that Mr. O'Brien and other Irish Members are not actuated by conscientious motives; and, if the right hon. Gentleman conceives that they have been actuated by conscientious motives, I would recommend him to read what has been written by his predecessors in England—men holding a similar office to that which he now fills with regard to Ireland. Let him read what was written by the Marquess of Normanby, and by other men holding a similar post, who, in giving directions to the Justices having the administration of prisons, insisted that the greatest tenderness and consideration should be exercised towards all political prisoners. We do not quarrel with the fact that punishment is awarded for political offences; but we do quarrel with the unnecessary degradation that is inflicted on political prisoners by Her Majesty's Government. We say that, in our opinion, it is intolerable that a man like Mr. O'Brien should be ruthlessly assaulted by prison warders, and compelled to submit to the injury and humiliation to which he was subjected; and, in conclusion, I warn the right hon. Gentleman that the course he is pursuing is one that can only end in absolute and complete disaster to the Government. I give him this warning, coming, as I now do, from addressing a public meeting, and bearing in mind the sympathetic English cheers raised by the people there assembled when I told them how Mr. O'Brien has been treated—cheers that were a monition to me that the time will arrive, be it soon or late, which will undoubtedly bring forth this result, that Her Majesty's present Government will be ejected from office by an overwhelming majority of the people.
§ * SIR G. TREVELYAN
Sir, those who have been present during the early hours of the debate may in some respects consider themselves remarkably fortunate, because they have been able to see the Irish difficulty in a nut-shell. Any one who witnessed the duel between the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) must have had a very shrewd idea of the difficulties of Ireland. On one 457 side of the House we have had the Member for North Armagh giving vent to a series of propositions incredibly insulting to the great majority of his fellow-countrymen. He said that, if their chosen Representatives got into gaol, he should never let them out, and that he would not line the ditches of Ireland because he would keep them to throw his political opponents into. He also said that the great advantage of the Crimes Act was that it was permanent. It is significant to observe that that sentiment did not elicit a single cheer from the crowded benches round him, although his friends are only too ready to laugh and cheer when they see an opportunity. I think that what would throw the greatest light on the difficulties of Ireland is the nature of the hon. Member's jeers and sneers at Mr. O'Brien. I saw, when looking up to the Gallery, Lord Spencer watching the proceedings with some interest. I could not but wonder what Lord Spencer would have thought, when he was responsible for the destinies of Ireland, if he had heard one of his leading supporters talking in the same tone of levity of the sufferings which had been inflicted upon one of the Representatives of the country he had to govern. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman sat down, the crowded benches on the opposite side at once emptied, and only one Party remained to hear an Irish Member who was second scarcely to any of his colleagues in eloquence, and certainly second to no Irish or English Member in his power of crowding important facts into the compass of a speech. Hon. Members opposite refuse the Representatives of Ireland any other place in which they may express their views about the government of their own country; and, when they rise to express those views here, they will not stay to hear them. We have been told by the greatest of American statesmen that the government we should aim at is the government of the people by the people and for the people; but the present is the government of the majority through the minority for the minority. I wish, however, to refer to the speech of the Chief Secretary last night—a speech made at a great crisis in the history of the nation he has to govern. That speech put before the House the full 458 views, I presume, and the full policy of the Government, and showed Ireland what she has to expect in the present and what hope she has for the future. I congratulate the House on having got rid of the line of argument which many of us have had to pursue during the last two years. There is an end from the mouth of the Chief Secretary of defending his policy by quoting similar, or nearly similar, actions of former Governments; and with twenty-five Irish Members in prison, or recently come out of prison, or on their way to prison, not as first-class misdemeanants, but as common criminals, I think these references to any former Government might well be a thing of the past. The right hon. Gentleman's speech was not devoid of personalities, and what it wanted in tu quoques he made up in charges of inaccuracy. With what grace did those charges come from a Minister who had just had the dressing which the right hon. Gentleman has received from the Member for East Mayo! The Chief Secretary began his speech with a well-known rhetorical device. He said—You put up your Leader on Irish questions to state the indictment against the Government. Then the Chief Secretary, as the man principally implicated, follows; but you wait to make your charges until he has sat down, and when he has no power of reply.I think that was a very undeserved charge. From the first word to the last the noble and eloquent speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. John Morley) was packed close with the most damning facts, placed in the very clearest light, and spoken without the slightest circumlocution. The main point of the Chief Secretary's speech turned on the question of his prisoners. The circumstances of the arrests has varied, but there is one thing common to all. They have always been carried out so that they might give as great a shock as possible to the greatest amount of sentiment and feeling. If a place could be found where an Irish Member has endeared himself to the community or distinguished himself by political action, that has been the place chosen for his arrest. One hon. Member (Mr. Kilbride) had domesticated himself at Leicester, and had many friends there. It was at Leicester he was arrested. The Member for South Galway came to Govan and 459 made his mart, and he was arrested almost in sight and hearing of the people with whom he had influence. Mr. O'Brien was arrested at Manchester, and Mr. Carew at the house of a candidate whose election he had come to assist. The Chief Secretary claimed that the Government are not responsible for the circumstances of these arrests. The Government are responsible to the House of Commons; and the Government deliberately encouraged the police in this sense of public duty which was so severely commented on by the Northern Whig. Not content in the earlier part of last Session with dogging the precincts of the House of Commons and arresting sometimes the right, sometimes the wrong, Member at the door, an Irish constable at last presented a summons within the precincts of the House itself. A Committee of the House was appointed to consider the question, and they found that a breach of privilege had been committed. [An hon. MEMBER: An idiotic Committee.] No, it was not an idiotic Committee; it was an extremely good Committee; it had, I believe, a majority of supporters of the Government upon it; and it presented a Report to the effect that the administration had been lax. But the Government used its majority on both sides of the House to insist that that Report should not be adopted, and by that course they sanctioned this outrageous conduct on the part of the police, and as much as in them lay encouraged them to the still greater outbursts of offensiveness in which they had recently been indulging. In the case of the arrest of Members of Parliament care seems to have been taken to give offence to political feeling, and in the case of priests still more care seems to have been taken to give offence to religious feeling. On this point the right hon. Gentleman made the nearest approach to an admission that I have ever heard him make. The right hon. Gentleman said, with regard to that melancholy and tragic affair at Gweedore, that unquestionably there had been an error of judgment committed, an error of strategy, an error of tactics. But that was by no means the view of the Northern Whig, and there it is that the right hon. Gentleman has seriously mis- 460 read the opinion of by far the ablest of his supporters in Ireland. That journal stated that, with a little delay, the arrest might have been made in a much easier and quieter manner, and if it had been made in a quieter manner this terrible calamity would not have occurred. What does the Irish Correspondent of the Times, describing the state of Gweedore at this moment, say?—Twenty persons, including the Rev. Ja me M'Fadden and four women, are now in custody charged with the murder of District Inspector Martin. The police are looking for numbers of others believed to be concerned in the deed, and almost nightly houses are searched in which some are suspected of being concealed. The parish is practically depopulated; very many of Father M'Fadden's parishioners who attended Mass on the fatal Sunday morning have left the district, if not the country.I was much struck by an observation which fell from the hon. Member for East Mayo about the state in which the Government found Donegal, and the state in which they would leave it. When I was connected with the government of Ireland we used to point to Donegal as a portion of the country—not owing to any merit of ours, but owing to the character of the people and its long history—where, though the people were very poor, there was no disturbance or disaffection whatever. In the course of my connection with Donegal the only difficulty which I can recall is a trumpery question of a Protestant Board of Guardians which would not appoint a teacher to the Catholic children in the workhouse; but of serious crime there was none. But now what is the state of this great district? The Times says it is depopulated. That is the pacification of Ireland according to the notion of the Government—solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant. This is the state of things in Gweedore. From the ghastly murder itself down to the last drop of retribution which will be eventually exacted, all is due to the fact that a priest has been arrested coming away from saying Mass. It is not merely a mistake of strategy or tactics; it is worse. But, strange to say, the Government have not profited by that lesson, for in the Times I observe that another priest on his way to Gweedore after saying Mass was arrested. What are we to think of a Government, after such a lesson as that, which could repeat such a blunder? 461 When the Government have got those Gentlemen in prison, what is their treatment? Are the Government responsible for their treatment? The Chief Secretary says that the Prisons Board bear precisely the same relation to the Lord Lieutenant, and the Chief Secretary who advises him, as the Prisons Board in England bear to the Home Secretary. He says that the management of the prisoners was not in the Department of the Chief Secretary. Well, then, in whose Department is it? When Mr. Timothy Harrington was in prison for a speech in 1883, representations were made in the House to the Chief Secretary, and through him to the Lord Lieutenant; and the Lord Lieutenant mitigated and humanized the treatment of Mr. Harrington, and not only of Mr. Harrington, but of all other Irishmen who had been placed in prison for speeches and writings. Why did not hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who hold this theory that the Chief Secretary is not responsible for prisoners make that objection when the case was dealt with by the then Chief Secretary. Parliament has never, admitted and will never admit that there is not full Ministerial responsibility for the treatment of prisoners. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that three reasons have been given why these prisoners should not be dealt with as ordinary prisoners. The first, he says, is that those hon. Members were eloquent. It is true that I have praised Mr. O'Brien's eloquence in the country. Anyone who has listened to Mr. O'Brien's speeches on Ireland in this House, and especially anyone who listened to or read the remarkable speech before the Special Commission, in which that hon. Member produced such an effect on the Court that he entirely altered the views which had up to that time been adopted, will agree with me as to that hon. Member's eloquence; and I now say that any one who heard or read that speech and has acquainted himself with the accounts of Mr. O'Brien's treatment in prison would be deeply shocked. I said that in the country, and I say it now. The right hon. Gentleman was not ashamed to raise a cheer from his supporters by saying that Mr. O'Brien had attacked me in former days. It is a very old story. 462 Wherever I went to speak in the country I always found the statement placarded over the walls, and I always received the same story in an anonymous letter of welcome. I will tell you who started it. It was the work of the Loyal and Patriotic Association, and it was worthy of the inspiration of their secretary. But the idea that because of anything which a political opponent said or wrote of me in old days, I should rejoice to see him insulted in prison, and the still more preposterous idea that on account of that I should alter my views on the question of the treatment of political prisoners, or the still greater issues between Ireland and Great Britain, shows what sort of men they are who entertain such ideas. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on with the next argument that a man who has been delicately brought up suffers more than other prisoners, and, finally, he went on with our principal argument that these offences were political and not strictly criminal offences. The right hon. Gentleman ran through the scale of what he called political crime, and asked whether we can stop short of the midnight assassin and the dynamiter. That was a pretty exercise of the intellect; but if the practical conclusion at which the right hon. Gentleman arrived was that a man who had published the proceedings of a proclaimed branch of the National League was as black a criminal as the man who cut a throat, all I can say is that that might be a clever mode of chopping logic, but it is quite unworthy of a man who undertakes to govern, and govern justly, kindly, and considerately, a great nation. It is not because they are eloquent or because they are delicate that we resent and regret the treatment of Irish Members of Parliament, but because the Government has broken through the great and cardinal principle of treating political prisoners differently from other prisoners, and therefore they are obliged to punish as common criminals eminent public men, and to inflict on men who have been delicately brought up punishment altogether out of proportion to their offences. The real fact is that we have no feeling about the rich and the poor, or Members of Parliament and non-official people. What we object to is to punish men 463 who commit political crime as ordinary criminals, whether they are rich or poor. On the 3rd of May, 1867, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Birmingham presented a petition to this House in regard to the treatment of Irish prisoners. He was very much interrupted by hon. Members who sat opposite, but he got the essence of his statement out. The petition which he read asked that prisoners suffering as Fenians or for a political offence should not be confined in common with prisoners suffering for offences against the ordinary law, and it also prayed that in the punishments awarded to them there might be none of a degrading nature, as such punishments were inapplicable to men whose offence was free from dishonour. Mr. Bright said that in the general spirit of that petition he entirely agreed. Now, what is the crime which has been most heavily punished recently under the Crimes Act? Mr. E. Harrington is in prison on hard labour for six months. That is double the amount of punishment inflicted in many cases by London magistrates on persons in a confidential position who have stolen considerable sums of money. Mr. E. Harrington received that severe sentence because he published in a newspaper a speech which the Court pronounced to be innocent—that is to say, a speech in which the law has no concern. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary says that is a grossly inaccurate statement. Now, what are the facts? Three charges were preferred against Mr. Harrington—namely, publishing a report of a meeting of the Tralee National League, attending the same meeting of the League, and inciting to the adoption of the Plan of Campaign. The prosecuting counsel said he proposed to proceed with each charge separately and to tender evidence on each. He eventtually withdrew the charge of taking part in the meeting, and then went on to the third charge—that of inciting persons to take part in the Plan of Campaign. Evidence was taken, and Mr. Roche in giving the decision said that, with reference to the last charge, they were of opinion that, though Mr. Harrington had used very strong language, the evidence that had been given was not sufficient to prove the offence, and therefore they dis- 464 missed the charge; but with regard to the charge of publishing the report of the meeting, that was a very serious matter indeed, and they gave him six months' hard labour. That was the sort of offence for which Mr. Harrington received the punishment awarded to the vilest criminals. It is said that our sympathy is only given to Members of Parliament. I will take one case to prove that is not so. At Milltown Malbay, Father White, the parish priest, having observed that very serious evils occurred from the public houses being open at times of political excitement, advised and requested the publicans to close their houses during a certain trial. Whether that advice was legal or not it was very wise, and I wish that the Legislature had the same good sense as Father White in closing public houses during a contested election. The police, however, got wind of it, and long before, for they were able to supply themselves with plenty of liquor in their barracks; but when the day came they went round to 26 public houses and asked for liquor at each for the express purpose of punishing and oppressing the people. Twenty-one publicans were summoned, for refusing to sell liquor. There was no talk of conspiracy. At the very utmost it was their obedience to their pastor, who deserved their obedience. Those 21 men were convicted of conspiracy, and sentenced to hard labour for a month. They were told that if they would promise never to do it again the sentence would be remitted; but 11 refused, as Irishmen under the circumstances always will refuse, to give such a pledge, and they were sent to prison. They were not tenderly nurtured people, but were political prisoners as much as any Member of Parliament. Now I come to another class of case—that of men who are punished for recommending tenants to take part in the Plan of Campaign, or for in some way or other giving advice with regard to the rent. I will take one of the most marked of those cases, that of Mr. Patrick O'Brien, who, I am glad to see, has returned to the House of Commons. Mr. O'Brien was tried on the 27th January, and was sentenced to four months' imprisonment for interfering in the question of rent between the landlord and tenant. Anyone would have thought that that punishment was 465 enough, but the Government did not think so. Since that Mr. O'Brien had not only made speeches about the payment of rent, but he had made a speech upon a very much more serious question; he had said to the tenants on a certain estate who were giving 17 years' purchase for their farms that they were giving more than it was their interest to give. The advice was given in moderate language, and it is very likely it was good advice. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) has told us—he knows best with what accuracy—that in many cases the landlord's fee simple was worth a great deal less than the tenant's interest. Say it is five or six years less, these tenants were actually giving 40 years' purchase for their farms. The Government indicted Mr. P. O'Brien on two counts; they charged him with taking part in a conspiracy to compel tenants not to fulfil their legal obligation to pay rent to Mr. John Smithwick; and they likewise charged him with advising the tenants not to deal with Lord Monck in purchasing the land. The Government were exceedingly anxious to get convictions. A speech of very great power and ability was made at the trial by Mr. Leamy, now a Member of the House, on the extraordinary injustice of allowing an agent to use his influence to put pressure on tenants to induce them to purchase, and of punishing a Member of Parliament for simply advising them not to pay more than the farms were worth. But this was not the opinion of the Government, and they did their very best to press the charge. I do not know what the Resident Magistrates thought about it, because they preferred to punish Patrick O'Brien on the ground that he had advised tenants not to pay rent, the evidence being that he had drunk off a glass of water and had said "Down with Smithwick." They gave him three months on this charge, making in all seven months, or one month more than it was evidently the intention of Parliament that anyone should receive for any one class of fault. The fact is that Mr. Patrick O'Brien received a sentence of three months on account of a speech in which there was nothing new except this advice to the tenants not to buy land at 17 years' purchase; 466 and he got this sentence on the top of a sentence of four months. It appears that I thought he had received the sentence for giving this advice about Lord Mock, and that I believe is the outside of any inaccuracy which in the very large number of speeches I have made on the Irish Question during the last year, and if the right hon. Gentleman, the author of the famous letter to Mr. Armitage, regards this as a serious inaccuracy, it only shows that we see our neighbours' faults through different glasses than those with which we look at our own. The right hon. Gentleman said it was the Irish Members below the Gangway who will not have conciliation in Ireland, and he especially charges the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) with being responsible for the present agitation in Ireland. The hon. Member did not deserve any such charge. It is the House that is responsible for the Plan of Campaign. What was the course taken by the hon. Member for North-East Cork? In 1886 he urged with great force that times were bad, that a bad winter was approaching, and that the only way to preserve tenants from ruin, and to remove temptations to disorder, would be to revise rents. The Government rejected his advice, a bad winter came, and all the foretold consequences followed. Next year the Government acknowledged their fault and brought in a Bill for revising rents. But it was too late, and arrears of unjust rents had been incurred. Then it was that the hon. Member gave the Government a fresh piece of good advice, for he urged them to introduce an Arrears Bill. On a poor and paltry excuse it was set aside. Irish Members, who are the representatives not only of the farmers, but also of the shopkeepers of Ireland, would not have the just debts to the shopkeepers dealt with in the same manner as the unjust debts to the landlords. Therefore the hon. Member for North-East Cork was entirely free from the charge brought against him of having opposed conciliation in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has been very free with his epithets with regard to hon. Members below the Gangway. I care very little about the epithets which the right hon. Gentleman applies to us on this bench; but if anything can do harm, it is that the Minister who is 467 responsible for the Government of Ireland should three times in one speech tell hon. Members below the Gangway that they are pursuing the methods and are identified with the motives of the rebels of '98, '48, and '68.
§ * SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
I do not know when, or whether, they described themselves so, or how it was who so described them; but I know that the description is true no longer. The right hon. Gentleman contrived to get through his speech without giving the idea that Ireland had any grievances whatever. He did not allude to the two great and standing grievances of Ireland, those grievances embodied in the last sentence of the Amendment. The first of those grievances is, that no Irishman who holds the opinions of the great majority of Irishmen can occupy a post of honourable employment or responsibility in his own country any more than if he had been an Italian in the old days holding anti-Austrian opinions in Northern Italy. Nor did the right hon. Gentleman refer to the fact that legislation on purely Irish matters is not influenced by Irishmen. Every Land Bill affecting that purely agrarian country has to pass through a co-equal House of the Legislature in which there sit many landlords and peers in sympathy with Irish landlords, but in which there is not a single representative of the Irish tenants. These are the two great and crying grievances which the right hon. Gentleman should have spoken about, and for which he should have produced his remedy. Whether he calls them rebels, or they call themselves rebels, or not, I say that these gentlemen, so far from deserving the name, have now determined to remove these grievances by Constitutional and Parliamentary methods. They have interested themselves in the polities and the affairs and the reforms, and the deeper 468 and higher interests of England, Scotland, and Wales, and we in return interest ourselves deeply in their claims and aspirations. And in order to show that they shall not look in vain to Parliamentary methods for redress for these two great grievances, which I defy the Minister who follows me to prove are not great and crying grievances, let us all, everyone, who wish well to England, land, Ireland and Scotland, vote for the Amendment of my right hon. Friend.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE)
Mr. Speaker, I can well understand the disappointment of the right hon. Gentleman at the comparatively small attendance in different quarters of the House, as there is no section of the House with which on this subject at one time or the other he has not agreed. The right hon. Gentleman says that the principles laid down in 1867 ought not, after the lapse of 22 years, to be departed from. I think I may fairly ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the same rule is to apply to the principles laid down two or two and a half years ago, when "Lord Spencer and I," as the right hon. Gentleman is very fond of saying governed Ireland? I remember very well that in the course of administering that Coercion Act which was described by the Nationalist Party as the embodiment of all the worst faults of all the ninety-four Coercion Acts the right hon. Gentleman was attacked with a violence and with a bitter spirit far exceeding anything which is applied to the present Government, and when "Lord Spencer and I" were governing Ireland I remember very well that the Administration was attacked in a way which we who then sat opposite were certainly not prepared to endorse. The administration of "Lord Spencer and I," although much attacked, was, in our opinion, to a very considerable extent, successful, and it 469 had the inestimable advantage over the present Administration, that it enjoyed the support of the Opposition who desired to see law and order maintained in Ireland. When "Lord Spencer and I" were governing Ireland the boycotting of land-grabbers was emphatically condemned. Incitements to crime caused by speeches made in disturbed districts of Ireland were put before the country as an offence which deserved punishment, and which it was the duty of the Government to endeavour to punish. Now that "Lord Spencer and I" sit upon the opposite benches, these offences, then so emphatically condemned, are the subjects for excuse, if not for praise. I cannot help thinking that the front Opposition Bench throughout the debate of the last two or three days had not presented a very edifying spectacle, because whenever a speaker has excelled himself in condemning the principles that they have hitherto, and up to a very recent period, thought to be the principles which ought to govern the Administration of Ireland, there have been cheers from the front Opposition Bench, led by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Harcourt), who was formerly the Home Secretary of this country. No one can possibly doubt that if the dream of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite should ever be realized, if Home Rule as they interpret it should be given to Ireland at any future period, those laws which even in that Utopian possibility would be essential for the protection of the weak against the strong, and to insure that liberty should not degenerate into licence, and that justice should not be prostituted and degraded in the manner it sometimes is, will, I confess, become almost hopelessly impossible to enforce. Now, we are glad to be really face to face with the real charge brought against us. We heard a great deal during the Recess about the unconstitutional methods of the Government; we 470 heard of barbarities in Ireland such as never existed in Italian prisons in the time of King Bomba; we heard of the attempts made by the Chief Secretary, and therefore, of course, by the Government, to murder prisoners; and, last of all, we heard it deliberately insinuated that the wish of my right hon. Friend was to inflict personal suffering upon his political opponents. I did not, however, hear much about these charges in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, and why? The right hon. Gentleman did make one of those charges in the country, but after listening carefully to his speech I came to the deliberate conclusion that he had not brought it in the House because the evidence will not support it.
MR. J. MORLEY
May I explain? I did charge the Government with resorting to an unconstitutional method of the grossest kind in reference to the appointment of the Special Commission; but it was impossible for me, in the present state of matters, to discuss the subject.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
That is entirely foreign to the point, but let me deal with it. A proposal was brought in by the Government for the establishment of a Special Commission to inquire into certain charges and allegations against certain Irish Members. Did the right hon. Gentleman vote against the proposal? No, Sir. Neither the right hon. Gentleman nor any of his Friends on that side of the House had the courage to come forward in opposition to the Commission, or to go into the Lobby against it. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, need not talk about unconstitutional method. We heard nothing of such an argument at the time, and it is not reasonable to bring it forward now. But what other unconstitutional methods does he charge against the Government? I heard a good deal in the country 471 about our barbarous method of treating prisoners. Where did the right hon. Gentleman in his speech bring forward any instance of that? I heard no attempt on his part to justify any one of those propositions which have been put before ignorant audiences in the country. But the charges against the Government have been repeated in a most violent way, and sometimes in offensive language by the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) to-night: and although, of course, I am somewhat imperfectly acquainted with all the details of the cases brought forward, I think I am entitled to select a certain number of cases, and if I can show that they are inaccurate they will serve as samples of the general inaccuracy of the charges. I cannot help thinking that if the microscopical examination of the conduct of the Government during the past three or four months has only produced the old, well-worn, and oft-refuted charges, the Government may congratulate themselves that they have been able to carry out what has been a most difficult policy without infringing the Constitution of the country. I will not dwell upon what the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has said with regard to the mode in which some of the prisoners have been arrested, except to remark that the obvious reason why they have been arrested in particular places was because they have fled from justice. Warrants were out against the prisoners, and if they were executed under circumstances which gave some inconvenience, it was almost entirely due to the action of those hon. Members who desired to evade the execution of the warrants. Then, Sir, I will put aside the case of Father M'Fadden, to which I am sorry reference has been made, because it is under trial. I am quite aware that the first reference was not made on the opposite side of the House; but I am sure the House generally will be sorry that any such charge has been made as was made from the benches below the Gangway 472 opposite—namely, the charge of murder, or judicial murder, against the Government. I would rather come to a case that has excited a good deal of interest in the country—I mean the case of Mr. O'Brien. Now, the charge against the Government is that they have treated him with barbarity in prison. There are grave charges brought against my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. First of all, he was charged with attempting to murder Mr. O'Brien; secondly, he is charged with allowing brutal and disgusting assaults to be made upon him, in order that he might afterwards have the pleasure of sneering at him; and, in the third place, he is charged with taking advantage of him by attacking him while he was in prison. With regard to the first charge, I think that when the facts are inquired into it will be found that the statement of the hon. Momber for Mayo is altogether without foundation. What are the facts of the case? When Mr. O'Brien was in prison he was asked to take off his clothes in order that he might put on prison clothes, according to prison rules. He refused to do so, and was warned by the Governor of the consequences of his refusal. When he still refused to remove his clothes the Governor ordered a warder to remove them, at the same time telling him not to use more violence than was necessary to accomplish that object. And accordingly the clothes were removed, and then, according to the statement made by the hon. Member for Mayo, Mr. O'Brien was dragged from the place where he was to a place at some distance in order that he might be weighed. According to information in my possession, the machine was brought close to the door of Mr. O'Brien's cell, and when Mr. O'Brien said that he should object to being weighed, that course was not persisted in. It had been said that Mr. O'Brien's spectacles were taken away. They were, in order that they might not be broken, and they were afterwards returned.
§ * MR. STANHOPE
When the hon. Member for Mayo makes his statement or account of Mr. O'Brien, I reply with the statement of Dr. O'Farrell, the 473 Prisons Board Inspector, a more independent authority than the prison doctor. He says in most emphatic terms—
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
But I rise to a point of order, and to ask you a question, Sir. If the right hon. Gentleman reads from a document which is not in our possession, will he not be bound to lay it on the Table?
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
continued: Dr. O'Farrell has stated that Mr. O'Brien had no complaint of any kind to make regarding his prison treatment; that he had every confidence in the skill and kindness of the prison doctor; and that if the rule depriving him of his clothing had to be insisted on he would say that no excessive violence had been used. Dr. O'Farrell also stated that Mr. O'Brien was in a boarded cell, heated to a temperature of 60 degrees, and that he was well and cheerful. So much I need say as to the treatment of Mr. O'Brien. Then I gather other complaints made. The hon. Member for East Mayo complains that the Chief Secretary attended a Liberal Unionist banquet in Dublin, and there spoke of Mr. O'Brien's refusal to be examined by the prison doctor. Well, I confess, though I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend had no desire to turn this matter into ridicule, it is hardly possible to talk of the grotesque manner in which Mr. O'Brien has on every possible occasion endeavoured to parade himself before the public—["No, no!"]—for the special benefit of the people of 474 this country, impossible to make any statement in regard to it without exciting some ridicule. What my right hon. Friend did was to read at the banquet from the Freeman's Journal, and that has been severely commented upon to-night. The account in the Freeman's Journal said the prison doctor wished Mr. O'Brien to go out into an open corridor to be examined, and that this request was naturally refused. On the authority of this statement the Chief Secretary felt entitled to say that Mr. O'Brien had refused to be examined; and when he found that the facts did not justify that statement—that Mr. O'Brien had not carried his objections so far—he took the earliest opportunity, in a letter to the newspapers, of expressing his desire to qualify his previous statement. Then objections have been taken to the letter written by the Chief Secretary to Mr. Armitage. It has been described as a deliberate attack upon a man in prison. But that letter was only written because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had been in various parts of the country attacking the Chief Secretary on that very point. Quotations were made from the speech of Mr. O'Brien on which he had been committed, altogether omitting the main point of the speech for which he was committed. Is it to be maintained that my right hon. Friend was not right in taking the earliest opportunity of stating to the country the real truth with regard to the charge made against him? Then with respect to the treatment of Mr. Edward Harrington. It has been referred to this evening in terms which are wholly and absolutely without foundation. Mr. Harrington has been put upon the lightest and easiest labour. There is a Report from the Governor of the gaol on the subject, which states in the most distinct terms that the prisoner's fingers were not skinned or raw, as stated by the hon. Member for East Mayo; that he was dressed in a full suit of prison clothes; and that he had flannel shirt and drawers, and also an overcoat and a blue rug. So that the statements made by the hon. Member for Mayo are absolutely without foundation.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I am afraid I cannot answer that question. As I have said, I am not familiar with details.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Now I come to the general charges. When hon. Members complain, as they have every right to, of prison treatment, what they really mean, disguise it how they may, is that certain classes should be treated differently from other classes. Primâ facie I should have thought that the unwilling instrument, the hired agent, the paid dupe, ought to be more lightly punished than the person who winked at his offence—that he was less guilty than the man urging that the crime should be committed. It would be hard that the person who had been subjected to intimidation, or who had received payment, should be treated with the full rigour of the law, and that the tempter, the inciter, the prime mover, should escape scot-free. I notice last night that it was stated that one ought to regulate the punishment administered in prison by public opinion. But the public opinion of the country holds that the punishment of persons sent to prison ought to be administered with impartiality, and, I am certain, would not approve of a distinction drawn in favour of the rich or the tempter. The hon. Member for Mayo said that the Government had made special exception in the case of persons punished for certain frauds committed in Belfast, and that they had received special comforts. That statement is unfounded; these persons have been treated like ordinary prisoners, and have not, with respect to their cells or otherwise, been treated differently.
§ MR. DILLON
Allow me to rise to a point of order, and explain that I read from a newspaper a statement by Alderman Bell, who visited the prisoners.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
That statement is altogether without foundation. The argument that there should be a different treatment for men of refinement will not hold water. No doubt men of refinement suffer more from prison treatment than others. But is it not perfectly well known that the Judge or Magistrate take that into consideration in apportioning the sentence according to the circumstances of the case? I altogether deny that it would be a proper course for the Executive Government, not familiar with the circumstances, to take upon itself the proportioning punishments in prison, by making exceptional conditions for particular persons. Seeing that the hour is late I pass over some matters, and proceed to call attention to what has been admitted in the course of the debate—the undoubted improvement in the state of Ireland. Hon. Members below the Gangway all admit that there has been an improvement, and I want to know, if that is so, why the Government are not entitled to say so in Her Majesty's Speech? If hon. Members will be kind enough to look at the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, I would ask why is it necessary to move an Amendment to the paragraph which says—We assure your Majesty that we learn with satisfaction that the Statutes which we have recently passed for the restoration of order and confidence in Ireland have already been attended with satisfactory results.["No, no."] Do hon. Gentlemen desire to assure Her Majesty that they have not been attended with salutary results? The hon. Member for Mayo declared tonight that the main cause of the improvement in Ireland was the Plan of Campaign. A more unwarranted 477 assertion was never made in this House. It has been proved beyond the possibility of doubt that crime was greater where the Plan of Campaign existed, and, if necessary and had time permitted, I could prove it.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
The language of the hon. Member for Mayo is not that usually employed in this House.
§ MR. DILLON
With all due respect to the right hon. Gentleman and the House, I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to the proof. He says he can prove it.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
The second proposition I would lay down in answer to the hon. Member is, that in those places hon. Members and those whom they have sent down have done their best to produce boycotting. That is the great crime the Government have to deal with in those places where the Plan of Campaign exists, and it has been proved that the greatest effect produced by the Crimes Act has been produced in the diminution of that crime. Has boycotting diminished or not? I can give facts which would prove that it has. Comparing boycotting 18 months ago with what it is now, it appears that the number of cases of total boycotting was then 152, and now it is nine, while the number of cases of partial boycotting was then 610 and is now 121. There cannot be a shadow of a doubt that this improvement is due to the Crimes Act. In the county of Clare the number of cases of complete boycotting 18 months ago was 56; it is now none; the number of cases of partial boycotting was then 414; it is now 46. In Limerick the number of cases of total boycotting was 18 months ago 113; it is now none; while the number of 478 partial boycotting, which was then 225, is now five. There are also other signs of improvement. Agrarian crime is less than it has been in any period for ten years past; more farms from which persons have been evicted have been let to tenants; intimidation, I am sorry to say, still exists; but if right hon. Gentlemen opposite will use their exertions in discouraging boycotting, before long farms from which persons have been evicted will be let in still greater numbers. It is also much more difficult than before to create agitation in Ireland. I know that it can still be created by sensational speeches and articles in newspapers; but it is much more difficult to create it than it was a short time ago. The relations between landlord and tenant are improving, and between the police and the people, save in some districts where, owing to the action of hon. Gentlemen, the Plan of Campaign prevails. All these things, I say, point conclusively to the fact that there is a greatly improved condition of affairs in Ireland. As the result of Her Majesty's Government's policy, and of the administration of my right hon. Friend, we see those hopeful signs, and we look forward to a still further improved condition of affairs in Ireland. We know our work is not done. We entered upon this long and arduous contest with full knowledge of the difficulties to be encountered before we could completely succeed in restoring peace, in putting down an unlawful conspiracy to prevent the natural fruits of beneficent legislation, and in developing the resources of Ireland. Still, we have full confidence in our policy, carried out as it is by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, and supported by all his Colleagues in the Ministry, as the only means of securing peace and prosperity to that unhappy country.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." (Mr. Channing.)
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
Since we have had this unfortunate 479 tatement, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will take the House fully into his confidence, and let us have it in its entirety. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman where he got it, and I am instructed that Mr. O'Brien can contradict it practically on every point. I appeal to you, Sir, and respectfully submit that it would be in accordance with precedent, a Minister having quoted from it, that this Official Report should be laid before the House.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Everybody can have ready access to it. It has already been published in the Press.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
But I venture to submit that is not an answer to my question. There is a well defined practice in regard to documents quoted by a Minister, and it would be in accordance with that to give us the whole of the document from which a part was quoted.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Such documents are, as a general rule, laid before the House, that Members generally may have ready access to such. The right hon. Gentleman, however, says the document has been already published, and no doubt he will state the date and say where.
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
Every word I quoted appeared in the newspapers of February 11th, in the present year.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Still, that is not an answer. I never saw the publication; never heard of it. My point is this, that the right hon. Gentleman should lay a copy of the whole of the document on the Table.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
Are we to understand the right hon. Gentleman was quoting from a newspaper or from the Report itself?
§ * MR. E. STANHOPE
I quoted from a paper of February 11th part of a letter written by the Chief Secretary.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I think my hon. and learned Friend is entitled to a more specific reply. The point raised has not been dealt with at all. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted an official document, the Report of a prison official. He says a certain portion appeared in the Press, but is not my hon. and learned Friend right in claiming that the House is entitled to have the full document?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The whole of the document in question referring to the point in question ought to be laid before the House.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.