§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [21st February]—[See page 41.]
And which Amendment was,
In paragraph 8, line 4, to leave out all the words after the word "Country," to the end of the paragraph, in order to insert the words,—"But we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the present system of administration in Ireland is harsh, oppressive, and unjust, that it violates the rights and alienates the affections of Your Majesty's Irish Subjects, and is viewed with reprobation and aversion by the people of Great Britain:
And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that such measures of conciliation should be adopted as may bring about the contentment of the Irish people, and establish a real union between Great Britain and Ireland,"—(Mr. John Morley)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, C.)
Mr. Speaker, I had not quite concluded 604 my remarks when the House adjourned yesterday, and therefore I ask permission to make a few more observations. Yesterday, I endeavoured to show that the Chief Secretary for Ireland is responsible for the conduct of the Resident Magistrates in the sentences they pass on conviction under the Crimes Act, and that the right hon. Gentleman does not exercise the discretion which he possesses of directing that the prisoners should be treated as first-class misdemeanants. I quoted the language of the Chief Secretary, but the right hon. Gentleman was not satisfied with my quotation. I said I would look at the speech again, and having done so, I find I was justified in everything I said on the subject. The Chief Secretary has spoken several times on the treatment of political prisoners, and in every case has justified their treatment as common criminals. In a speech on the 6th of August last the right hon. Gentleman said that nothing would induce him, as long as he was Chief Secretary, to draw a distinction between one class of offenders against the law and another. In a speech he made in December last, he said that it was impossible, in his opinion, to draw a distinction between political offences and other crimes. Again, on Friday last, in one of the most ungenerous speeches ever addressed to the House, in which he accused these prisoners of malingering, of imaginary sufferings, foolish mania, obtaining relaxation of rules, and so on, the right hon. Gentleman said—He would not, so long as he was Irish Secretary, admit that any man had earned special privileges in an Irish prison because he had been engaged in the shocking crimes for which Members of that House had been imprisoned under the Crimes Act.Therefore I am entitled to say that the right hon. Gentleman has given a cue to the Resident Magistrates, and they have followed it. In a debate which, took place in December, Mr. Edward Harrington gave his experience in prison in a speech of great dignity and moderation; he described the indignities to which he had been subjected, how his clothes had been torn off, how he had been ordered to take exercise with criminals, and on refusing to do so was put upon bread and water; and, worst of all, when he had to give 605 evidence in a Court of Justice, he was brought among his own constituents in prison dress. I myself saw Mr. Blunt in Court in prison garb.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I was not aware of that. At all events I saw Mr. Sheehy in Loughrea in prison garb, and he had not refused; neither had Mr. E. Harrington refused, for he made a complaint on the subject to the House. The right hon. Gentleman has directed the prosecution of no fewer than 11 Members of this House, some of whom got three months', four months', and five months' imprisonment for speeches, all of which had been forgotten. These 11 men have been prosecuted during the Recess, and they have all, or nearly all, been sentenced to imprisonment as common prisoners, and for the first time two of them, Mr. E. Harrington and Mr. Condon, were subjected to hard labour. The gaolers also have taken the cue and increased their severity to the prisoners, whom they have submitted to the indignity of having their hair out. There never was a greater outrage committed in the name of law than that in Mr. E. Harrington's case. As the House has heard from the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden), he was tried for one offence and sentenced on another. No evidence was given in support of the charge, which related to the speech which he had made, but he was sentenced to six months' hard labour for publishing reports of meetings of suppressed branches of the National League. For 16 months no person has been proceeded against for a similar offence. The Solicitor General said that if Mr. Harrington had undertaken not to repeat the offence he would have been let off. No one in Ireland would give such an undertaking; indeed, I read in the Freeman's Journal that a poor widow and her daughter were sent to gaol for two or three months for refusing to give such an undertaking. Mr. E. Harrington preferred to apply to the Superior Court for a habeas corpus rather than to appeal. He did not succeed, and therefore an appeal was not open to him. Then there is the case of Mr. Carew, one of the most respected Members of the House, and a thorough 606 gentleman in every respect. He was convicted of conspiracy to induce persons not to take evicted farms. For that offence he was sentenced to four months' imprisonment. Mr. Carew declined to appeal, because the County Court Judge—Judge Darling—had expressed his determination never to interfere in the exercise of the Magistrates' discretion unless he was satisfied the Magistrates had made some mistake in law. I will not deal with the case of Mr. O'Brien further than to say that it is necessary that someone as well known and popular as Mr. O'Brien should bring vividly to the public mind the iniquity of the present system. Mr. Sheehy has made a similar resistance to these prison indignities, especially to the enforced exercise with common criminals. There is no civilized country in Europe where such indignities are inflicted on political prisoners. In France the question is not so much one of law as of administration. It is impossible by law to define what is a political prisoner; the matter is therefore left to the administration of the Minister of the Interior. In 1883 M. Thiers issued a circular in which he directed that political prisoners should be treated with special indulgence. Under this category came offenders under the Press Laws, and those who had been convicted in connection with public meetings. All doubtful cases were to be referred to the Minister of the Interior. The rules were liberally administered, and even members of the International, who advocated something like public plunder, were held to come within them, while those who had joined in the excesses of the Commune—pétroleuses and the like, were treated under the ordinary law. That disposes of the Chief Secretary's argument with respect to dynamiters. In former times in our own country a like leniency was extended to political crime. In 1809 William Cobbett, who was convicted of inciting soldiers to mutiny, was treated with extraordinary indulgence, even allowed when in prison to have his children with him and to continue the publication of the Weekly Register, containing as it did bitter attacks on the Government. Leigh Hunt composed in prison some of his best poems. Some of the best things in English literature have been written by political prisoners in 607 goal. I might, perhaps, recommend to right hon. Gentlemen opposite a little book called "Prison Lyrics," which was committed to memory by Mr. Wilfred Blunt, while he was in prison recently. The same policy was followed in the imprisonment of Mr. O'Connell. He, convicted of conspiring to intimidate and create terror among the people, was treated in prison with extraordinary indulgence. On many days his dinner party consisted of as many as 30 people. It is stated also that Sir Charles Gavan Duffy received lessons in elocution during the time he was in gaol. I quote these instances for the purpose of showing what was the practice in the past, and I say the Chief Secretary has practically inaugurated a new policy by treating Irish Members and others in the manner he has treated them—a policy, I venture to say, discreditable to this country, and opposed to the good fame of England. It appears to me to have been the deliberate policy of the right hon. Gentleman to affix to Irish Members the status of criminals. He always speaks of offences under the Crimes Act as crimes and the perpetrators as criminals, and in a speech from which I quoted a short time ago he spoke of the offence committed by Irish Members, and afterwards alluded to those who committed such offences as "shocking criminals." It appears to be part of that same policy that has been exposed before the Royal Commission—the policy of branding the Irish Leader and his principal Colleagues with connivance, with outrage and crime. In Ireland the policy has been to treat those Members who have committed offences under the Crimes Act as criminals in every sense of the term. One part of this policy has altogether failed. It is exploded. The accused have become the accusers, and I will venture to say the policy of the Chief Secretary, in reference to the Crimes Act, will be equally unsuccessful. It was on the very day for the Second Reading of the Crimes Act that the forged letters were published, with the object of influencing public opinion and enabling the Government to carry their Act through; and I say, therefore, that forged letters, Coercion Act, and Government might appropriately disappear from the scene together. I would not even make an exception in favour of my right hon. 608 Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In conclusion, let me say a word on the effect of the policy. The treatment of Irish prisoners and others in this matter has been foolish and wanton, and has not had the desired effect. It does not deter people from committing offences of this kind; on the contrary, it rather stimulates and induces people to do the same thing. There are numbers of people in Ireland who have been induced, by the very manner in which these prisoners have been treated, to commit similar offences. In yesterday's Freeman's Journal it appears that the evictions upon the Clanricarde estate have been renewed. I was under the impression that the Chief Secretary had refused to lend the forces of the Crown for carrying out evictions on this estate. I thought that Dr. Healy, the coad-juting Bishop of the diocese, had persuaded the right hon. Gentleman that it was not wise to do so, and I am surprised that a force is assisting the landlord on that estate. The account in the Freeman's Journal says six families were evicted on the previous day, and turned out upon the roadside. The weather was intensely cold, and snow covered the ground. It was pitiful, the correspondent said, to see old men, women, and young children shivering in the cold, while their household goods were being scattered about the yard. Twenty Emergency men, a hundred police, and a detachment of soldiers assisted at the evictions. It appears that the force assembled on the previous night. For my own part, I can only say that, having taken up the case of these unfortunate people, I will not be backward in supporting them in future, in the absence of their legitimate advisers, their Representatives, and the Leaders of the Irish Party—Mr. O'Brien and the hon. Member for Mayo, who, I am sorry to hear, is compelled to leave England for the benefit of his health. The Representatives of the country are about to go to prison, and I say that if I can render any assistance, if they desire it, by going there and holding a meeting to protest against these cruel evictions, I shall feel it my duty to do so, and I will give whatever advice to the tenants may seem pertinent to the occasion. In conclusion, I will refer to words used by my hon. Friend the Chairman of Committees. He concluded 609 his short speech by saying that, in Ireland—A great system was working for equity and freedom, and an ever-increasing attempt to give the same guarantees for independence as England possessed.I am sorry to think my right hon. Friend is living in a fool's paradise; for that appears to me exactly the converse of what is taking place. For my part, after some inquiry in Ireland during several visits, and having paid more attention to the facts of the cases that have occurred there under the Coercion Act than most Members during the last two years, I have certainly come to the conclusion that the administration of Ireland under the present Chief Secretary is being carried out by an organized system of police espionage, supported by and supporting a system of Coercion, carried out in total contempt of Irish opinion—in total disregard of all those Constitutional principles which the English people most value and uphold.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, West)
I must confess that I am somewhat disappointed by the speech to which we have just listened. When my right hon. Friend rose yesterday afternoon I hoped that he would at least introduce some novelty into the debate, and rise to the height of this great argument. My right hon. Friend has devoted special attention to Ireland and to Irish policy, and he has devoted to that question all the resources of a most painstaking intellect; and certainly I hoped that on the present occasion be would have given to the House some general principles of policy upon which we might have continued the discussion, and that he would not have confined himself, as he has done, strictly to the lines of previous speakers, and to a disquisition on all the petty details of administration in Ireland. I wish to recall to the House the fact that the Amendment we are considering consists of two branches. In the first place, this Amendment condemns in unhesitating and unqualified terms the present system of administration in Ireland; and, in the second place, it goes on to suggest an alternative policy and the adoption of such measures of conciliation as would bring about the contentment of the Irish people and establish a real union between Great Britain and Ireland. 610 Surely the second part of the Amendment is much more important than the first, and yet, from first to last, although we have had three days' debate, no single speaker has uttered one single word upon the second branch. The line of argument hitherto has, in my opinion, not been broad enough to sustain a Vote of Censure. What is it that we are asked to do? We are asked to censure the Government, knowing that the result of that would be a change of Government; and, what is more important, an entire change in the relations between this country and Ireland. Surely, if we are to take so important a step as that, we ought to know something of the policy of the Government which is to succeed the one we are asked to condemn. It may be a good thing to make such a change; it may be that the time has come for it; but, if so, why do you argue, why do not you give us and the country an opportunity of considering what are the circumstances which should now lead us to reverse the policy at which we arrived only two years ago? In 1886 the policy of Home Rule, the policy of a separate Parliament in Dublin, was rejected in this House; and it was rejected still more conclusively in the country. It may be that our fears which led us to join in that rejection may have been groundless. It may be that in course of the two years which have elapsed you have found new arguments which will enable you to recommend more successfully the policy which was then rejected. Why do not you produce the arguments to the House? Why do you ask us to give a verdict on false pretences? Why do you ask us to accept Home Rule not by any arguments in favour of Homo Rule, but by petty attacks on the Administration? I say that the course we are asked to take is too important to be decided by a side wind. The fate of the Empire, the peace of Ireland, by your own assertion, depend upon the course which you are recommending. The fate of the Empire and the peace of Ireland ought not to be allowed to depend upon the question whether one particular Member of Parliament has had his hair cut and another Member of Parliament has refused to be weighed. What are the grounds, hitherto submitted to this House, upon which we are asked to 611 reverse the decision at which we arrived in 1886? We are to accept a Home Rule Administration—because that is the question—because it appears that under the Coercion Act, out of some 5,000,000 subjects of Her Majesty in Ireland, there are at the present time 111 persons, all told, who have been confined for short periods of imprisonment in the Irish gaols. It is not denied by anybody that these persons have committed the offences with which they are charged. They boast of it; it is made part of the case on their behalf that they have committed these offences deliberately, of course with the best intentions and motives. It is not denied, I believe, that offences of this kind must be repressed. Either you must do away with the state of things under which these offences are committed or you must repress the offenders. But it is said in a few cases—as far as I know not in more than half-a-dozen of them—the sentences which have been inflicted are harsh and excessive; and it is said that in another small number of cases, probably a score, or it may be a little more than a score, the treatment of those offenders, after they have been convicted, has been unnecessarily harsh. These allegations are all of them made on ex parte statements. They are made either on the authority of the persons themselves or on the authority of newspaper editors, and I should have thought hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were not inclined to place implicit reliance upon newspaper statements. Yet it is upon this evidence with which the House is called upon to deal, and with which, even if it were better evidence, the House is incapable of dealing—it is upon this evidence, which is not good enough to hang a dog upon, that you are asked to turn out a Government and to replace them with what I may call a Home Rule Administration. Even if these allegations were proved up to the hilt: that there has been harsh administration of the law in Ireland; that, to accept the language of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, there has been a prostitution of the law in Ireland; that there are unjust Judges in Ireland; that there are gaolers devoid of human sympathy, who actually take a personal delight in torturing their prisoners—even if all that were true, although it might be ground for an inquiry 612 by this House, and for the condemnation of the persons concerned, and for an appeal to the Crown to remove these unjust Judges, and to the Government to remove these unjust gaolers, yet it would not of itself be a ground for removing the Government. Certainly not; and it is no ground at all for altering the policy upon which the Government have taken their stand. It is perfectly evident that the promoters of this debate feel that they are weak. They feel that it is not enough to prove up to the hilt charges against officials in Ireland, but that it is necessary to connect the Government with their malpractices, and, accordingly, they have not hesitated to impute the basest, the meanest, and the wickedest motives to the Members of the Government, and, above all, to the Chief Secretary. It has been insinuated from these Benches, and directly alleged from the Benches below the Gangway, that the Chief Secretary has consented to, and has, in fact, stimulated, the torture of political opponents who have worsted him in debate.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
We have a precedent for action of this kind. I remember that in a previous Administration there were some abominable crimes, not alleged, but proved, against officials and persons of position in Ireland—some persons connected with Dublin Castle. The accused were brought to trial, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment, and then the Party below the Gangway charged the Government of the day—charged Lord Spencer and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow—with conniving at those outrageous offences. They even went further, and charged them with personal sympathy with those outrages. Now this precedent is followed, and the same Party, cheered, I am sorry to say, from above the Gangway, are charging the Government, not, indeed, with connivance with crime, for crime is not alleged, but, at all events, with motives which I should deem to be criminal. I say that the charge is preposterous. I say more. There is not a man in this House, wherever he sits and whatever he may think it fit to do in these bitter Party recriminatory discussions—there is not a 613 man in this House who believes a word of it. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary can afford very well to disregard these charges. He knows that if he would come down here tomorrow—if he would say, like some of his predecessors, that he had "found salvation" in four-and-twenty hours—if he would say that he was a convert to Home Rule, he would be covered with the profuse adulation of the hon. Members who now abuse him, although, perhaps, in the one case as in the other, their personal admiration would not be accompanied by much personal respect. Well, Sir, supposing for the sake of argument I go further and admit, not the motives charged against the Chief Secretary—that would be absurd—but supposing I admit that he has made a mistake, and by an error of judgment done something which he ought not to have done, or refrained from something which he ought to have done, I say that again would be a reason for a representation from this House, but it would not be a sufficient reason for replacing the Chief Secretary and the Government of which he is a Member by a new Chief Secretary and a Government pledged to a policy which by hypothesis we are all bound to oppose. I complain that in this debate hitherto we have not reached the real kernel of the argument. I wish to come to the second branch of the Amendment which has been proposed. I quite admit that if there be such a policy as is here indicated, if there be a policy of conciliation which will secure contentment in Ireland, and if that policy is refused by the Government, then undoubtedly you have a sufficient reason for turning them out, and I think the sooner you do so the better. But if you have such a policy as that, why do you not put it before us? Why do you not tell us what it is? Why do you not allow us to judge of it? No; I know that that would not answer your purpose. You want us to swallow your policy with our eyes shut. We respectfully decline to do so. Now in 1886 my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian contended that there were only two alternatives before the House and the country. One was a system of Coercion more stringent than any which had previously existed, and the other was his own policy of conciliation, which was represented by his 614 two Bills. At that time we protested against this. We said there was a third alternative, and that it was possible to continue on the ancient lines of Liberalism, and, while steadily maintaining the Union in all its fulness and completeness, at the same time to seek out and remedy any proved grievances on the part of the Irish people. But we said at the same time that it would be within your power to make that alternative impossible. We said it was within the power of hon. Members, and, above all, hon. Members from Ireland, to create such an agitation in Ireland as would make repressive measures absolutely necessary, and we all know that since that time it has been the deliberate and avowed policy of the Irish Members to make the Government of Ireland impossible, and to force Coercion on the Government of the country. But, at least, I say this. If we were to have Coercion, so far from its being the most stringent Coercion ever known, it is the mildest in the history of the country. ["No, no!"] Well, let us contrast it with some Coercions which preceded it. Under this Act, which is represented as so arbitrary and as so tyrannical, under which the whole country of Ireland is alleged to be groaning, you have just 111 men, and no more, in prison, and for short periods of imprisonment. In the time of the late Mr. Forster over 1,000 men were in prison at one time, and at that time there was very much less success attended the imprisonment of those 1,000 persons than has now attended the imprisonment of 111 gentlemen who are now, unfortunately, confined for the pacification of Ireland; because as to the result of this Coercion Act there can be no two opinions. You may say, if you like, that other things have contributed to this result; but the result itself is indubitable and undeniable. You may test the condition of Ireland by any of the usual tests, and you will find that in all respects it has been enormously improved. Since the Act was passed the number of outrages has diminished, boycotting has been immensely reduced, the number of persons claiming protection is very much less, and, more important than all, people begin to recognize that they can do what they have a legal 615 right to do, and are beginning to take vacant farms all over the country. Under these circumstances I say there is no case where so much good in the way of pacifying the country has been effected with so little real repression and interference with individual liberty. But then it may be said that although the law can be justified, yet the administration of the law has been conducted with excessive harshness. Now, just let us look into the alleged abuses of the law, and let me point out that this kind of allegation is made against every law in every country and at all times. I am bound to say that there is not a bench of magistrates in the United Kingdom against which similar charges have not been made—charges, that is to say, of administering law in such a way as to inflict unjust or unequal sentences. These charges are very often made without sufficient proof; but, even if they were proved, you never heard anybody coming to the House of Commons and proposing a Vote of Censure on the Government because some magistrate committed a man for six months when he should only have given him two. Now we have had a number of individual cases brought before the House. Every one of these has been replied to categorically, either by the Chief Secretary for Ireland or the Solicitor General for Ireland; and with one exception, to which I will refer, the answers appear to me to be satisfactory. At all events, they are sufficient to show conclusively that there are two sides to the case, and that the House of Commons would be very improperly advised if it accepted a purely ex parte statement. Take one case as a type of the rest and as significant of the light way in which these accusations, apparently without any investigation, are brought forward. Here is a case brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, and made part of his solemn indictment of the Government, for it was not like a speech in debate—it was a deliberately prepared indictment against the Government; and he quoted it as one reason why, as I have said, we should turn out the Government and adopt a Home Rule policy.There is one case," said my right hon. Friend, "in which I hope the Chief Secretary will give us further information, for the circumstances, as stated, are so extraordinary that I 616 cannot believe them. But he, perhaps, can tell us whether they are true or not. Two young men were charged with obstructing a constable at Ennis on February 10th. The obstruction consisted in the defendants, while engaged in conversation, laughing at the constable. The defendants denied that they were laughing. The magistrates sentenced them to three months' imprisonment, in default of finding bail for good behaviour. I say this may not be true, but it requires investigation.Yes, Sir; certainly it requires investigation. I cannot conceive a fairer case for putting a question to the Solicitor General and getting a reply; but is it upon an allegation of this kind, as to which my right hon. Friend does not venture to offer an opinion, even though it is a true accusation, that we are to found a great Constitutional argument and to attack the Government of the country? Now, what was the answer of the Solicitor General? In the first place, it was not a prosecution under the Crimes Act at all. It was under the ordinary law. These young men were proved to have deliberately insulted the constable. They said to him, "You are a scoundrel. You are the meanest man in Ennis, and we shall soon kick you out of Ennis." The men were ordered to give bail. One man gave bail; the other refused to do so, and he was imprisoned in default. Well, now this is the proof of the iniquity of the Government, of the arbitrary character of the Crimes Act, and, of course, of the tyrannical cruelty and injustice which is proceeding in Ireland. Why, it is the most ordinary case in the world of a couple of rude roughs brought before a magistrate and ordered to find bail for good behaviour and sent to gaol in default. The only other case to which I wish to refer is that of Mr. E. Harrington, and which, as I have said, is the exception to the satisfactory reply of the Government to the charges against them. Mr. Edward Harrington, at all events, is a man of courage. He has gone to gaol, and he has taken his punishment bravely. He has not complained about putting on the prison clothes, and he has suffered all the penalties inflicted upon him, although we are told—and I daresay it is true—they involve some physical suffering. Well, Mr. Harrington committed an offence which I do not want to depreciate, and, being brought before the magistrates, he was sentenced to what I believe is the 617 utmost punishment allowed by law—namely, six months with hard labour. I think that a tremendous punishment, especially for a man of education. But that is not all. It is admitted that the Court offered Mr. Harrington to let him off altogether if he would give an assurance not to repeat the offence. I think two things follow from that. It shows that the Court was not vindictively inclined, but it shows that the Court was of opinion that the offence committed was of a kind which it was necessary to deter others from committing, but not of a kind which required penal infliction. There is all the difference in the world between punishment for the sake of punishment and for the sake of prevention. I confess it appears to me that this was a case in which the only punishment that was necessary was for the sake of prevention; and I do venture to urge the Government, in view of all the circumstances of the case, to especially consider the case of Mr. Harrington, and see whether it be not one to which the clemency of the Crown might be extended. I now pass to the other classes of complaint with regard to the prison treatment of prisoners under the Crimes Act. There is the case of Mr. O'Brien. I do not want to say much about Mr. O'Brien's case, especially in his absence, but I think it is fair to say this—that everyone who has seen him in this House must know, not only that he is a delicate man, bnt also a person of a rather excitable temperament; and it is quite possible, under the circumstances—the irritating circumstances in which he was placed the other day—that he may not have recollected all that passed. At all events we have to consider the statement, which, we are told, comes directly from him, and which was given to us by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). Well, but since then a paper has been laid on the Table of the House, to which we are entitled to pay some attention, and as to which all I am going to say is, that it conflicts very materially with the statement given to us the other day. This is a paper called for by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. T. Healy), and laid on the Table accordingly. It is a statement by the prison doctor (Dr. O'Farrell), and I will read the only passages which I think are in conflict with Mr. 618 O'Brien's statement, and simply leave the matter to the judgment of the House. Dr. O'Farrell says—Mr. O'Brien was lying in bed on two mattresses, with a plentiful supply of good and new bed covering. Receiving me courteously, and affording me every facility for examining him, he expressed himself as feeling well, and seemed in very good spirits. In reply to my questions, he said he had every confidence in the skill and kindness of the prison medical officer.That is the gentleman against whom the hon. Member for East Mayo brought the most extraordinary and violent accusations the other day. He said, I think, that in his opinion the conduct of this gentleman was infamous. Dr. O'Farrell continues—And that the friction which occurred with him last Thursday was owing to a misunderstanding on his own part. He stated that he had no complaint of any kind to make regarding his prison treatment; and that if the rule depriving him of his clothing had to be insisted on, he would say no excessive violence had been used in forcing it. On my remarking that it was not easy to measure the exact degree of force necessary once a struggle was provoked, as official, like other human temper, is, unfortunately, an imponderable quantity, Mr. O'Brien at once candidly said that the officials had displayed no temper on the occasion in question.I shall say no more on that particular case, but I would submit that on the general question it is a fair subject for discussion whether the gentlemen convicted under the Crimes Act, or the majority of these gentlemen, should or should not be treated as first-class misdemeanants; and if a Bill or Resolution were brought before the House dealing with the subject I confess I should be inclined to support it. But it is perfectly beside the main issue to put forward as a reason for turning out the Government, that they have carried out the law as it exists at present. I think these charges are an attempt to avoid the main issue. They are an attempt to get a verdict from the country on a side issue, not by argument addressed to the understanding, but by an appeal to sensation and sentimental declamation. I do not agree for a moment with the statement in the Amendment of my right hon. Friend that the policy administered in Ireland is viewed with reprobation and aversion by the people of Great Britain. ["Oh!"] I may be blind, but I do not see the point. It is true the right hon. Gentleman 619 the Member for Newcastle said the other day there was an irresistible voice—that the hour had struck, and that the irresistible voice would sweep the Government from power. Well, I confess I do not hear the irresistible voice. I suppose the irresistible voice is to be found in what the Gladstonian papers dignify by the name of the "National Protest." I should like to ask my right hon. Friend whether he really is satisfied with the result of the latest atrocity agitation? I have been in a great number of agitations. I have witnessed them from near at hand. I am bound to say there is no agitation, in my opinion, in recent times which has been so little effective as this one. My right hon. Friend is more behind the scenes than I am, but it appears to me as if this irresistible voice was the voice of Mr. Schnadhorst, speaking through the Sub-Committees, the General Committees, the Executive Committees, and the Management Committees, whose operations he so ably controls. So far as I can see, the great heart of the people is beating with perfect tranquillity, in spite of all the agitation. But then, perhaps, my right hon. Friend relies upon recent elections. All I ask him on that point is to enter upon the study of comparative meteorology, and, if he does, he will find there is no case of any Government's being in power for the time this Government has been in power and losing so little. ["Oh! Oh!"] Well, lam quite certain that the Government of which I know most lost a good deal. We never took that view of by-elections when my right hon. Friend was in power. I do not think that they are any conclusive key to the current of public opinion; and I have really more faith in the good sense and intelligence of my fellow-countrymen than to believe that they will allow their opinions upon a subject which involves the highest interests to be changed by such miserable side-issues as these by which it is now sought to influence their decision. Now, Sir, I have dealt as far as I intend to deal with the first part of this Amendment. It is the only part—or else I should not have spent my time on it—with which the promoters of the Amendment have dealt up to the present time. I say with regard to it that the allegations are not proved, and if they were proved, they would not constitute 620 in themselves a sufficient case for turning out the Government. If you want to do that, the only way is to produce an alternative and a better policy than their policy. And, again, I ask my right hon. Friends on this bench, when they speak at the concluding portion of this debate, to tell us what their policy is. [Ironical laughter.] Hon. Members below the Gangway think that this is a most laughable request to make. They are afraid, perhaps, that my right hon. Friend behind me would fall into a trap if he told the country what he would do with regard to the relations of the Government to Ireland if he were sitting opposite. I do not think that it is an unreasonable demand to make, and I will support it by a historical precedent. In 1868 there was a Conservative Government in power. There was coercion in Ireland and discontent in Ireland. My right hon. Friend was then the Leader of the Opposition. What did he do? He put before the country and the House a remedial policy for Ireland in all its details. That was the date when he told us of the up as tree with its three branches.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, he put before country the main principles of his policy. He spoke of the up as tree. He proposed remedial legislation in three branches—for education, for the land, and the Irish Church; and he promised that as the result of that legislation there should be content and union of hearts in Ireland. But my right hon. Friend did more than that. He put before the House a series of Resolutions upon the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church. That is all we ask him to do now. Let him put upon the Table of the House and let us discuss Resolutions embodying the main principles of his Irish policy. We are perfectly ready to grapple with and discuss them, and possibly we may be able to agree. I say possibly. I admit that I am not so sanguine as I once was. In 1886 we knew perfectly well what my right hon. Friend's policy was. It was put before us in two Bills, and, of course, with great detail and elaboration. But we cannot discuss with you upon those Bills, because they are dead. 621 That is no longer the policy of my right hon. Friend. [Mr. GLADSTONE expressed dissent.] My right hon. Friend corrects me. Do I understand him to differ? Then what is the policy of my right hon. Friend? That is what I have been trying to get at ever since the Bills were defeated in 1886, and I have never got it to this moment. Now we know that these Bills, one of which we were told was abandoned, the other of which was to be altered in material particulars, and both of which were dead—that these Bills are now resuscitated and alive, and that they stand as the policy of my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend thinks that the opinion of the country or of the House is changed with regard to these Bills. Let him bring them forward again as Bills or as Resolutions, and we are prepared to discuss them again. Then it will be fair to ask the House to turn out the Government if it agrees with my right hon. Friend. But I confess that although we know now that these Bills contain the policy of my hon. Friend, we know also—because he has told us so himself—that there are to be important alterations in them. I assume that if he should challenge the House again upon this policy he will be prepared to tell us—and I do not see why he should not tell us in the present debate—what those alterations are. That is not asking for details, for the alterations affect the greatest principle—the principle which he has himself put into the forefront—the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I think we have a right to ask for some information with regard to this question. I know it is no use to appeal to hon. Gentlemen; but I should like to appeal, through them, to the country, to consider what is the result of this policy of silence—of this abstinence from all information of which we can catch hold. I want them to see what a situation they are forging for themselves. Suppose that upon this Amendment they were successful. That is not very likely, but they must be successful sooner or later. [Opposition cheers.] You receive that as if it were a Heaven-sent communication. I wonder whether hon. Gentlemen were so absolutely hopeless of ever getting back into power that they are grateful for an intimation from me that at some time or other they must be successful. I suppose no 622 Government can always remain in office, and when this Government, in the ordinary course of events, gives place to the Government led by my right hon. Friend, when that time comes which is so ardently desired by Members below the Gangway, then, at all events, my right hon. Friend will have to state his policy, and not merely the main principles of it, but the full details. I will suppose that he is successful in persuading the then House of Commons to adopt it. I will also suppose that he is successful in persuading the country to adopt it on the occasion of the second general election which must take place before a great constitutional change is made, and which it is perfectly certain would take place. Assuming that my right hon. Friend is perfectly successful on both occasions, even then I would ask him to consider what chance there is of a final settlement if it is to be, as it will be on this hypothesis, forced upon an unwilling but a powerful and energetic minority in Ireland, and if it is to be carefully watched, strenuously criticized, and persistently opposed by a powerful minority in this House and in this country? I do not believe, after all, if it were possible to look on this matter apart from Party interests, that any reasonable man would deny my proposition—namely, that there is no chance of any Party making a final settlement of this question without some sort of general assent. The only chance of a final settlement is where all the moderate men of all Parties agree. It is all very well in the heat of Party discussion to forget that; but although it is unsafe to prophesy, I prophesy with the most absolute certainty of fulfilment, that if you carry the old scheme, or any new Home Rule scheme, it will break down within six months under such opposition as I have indicated. If that is so, is it not worth while once more to see whether there be not some points on which we are all agreed? I am not speaking of myself—I am speaking of the moderate men of all Parties. Are there any points at all upon which the moderate men of all Parties are agreed, and the consideration of which offers a chance of further agreement? From time to time it is worthy the attention of the House of Commons to consider whether this is the case.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
I say that there are points of agreement upon which moderate men do agree even at the present time. Here is the first one. I believe that moderate men of all Parties agree in this—the primary importance of a settlement of the land question. Just note one thing in passing. Here we are discussing the administration of the Crimes Act, and a number of cases are brought forward. I notice that every one of those cases is an agrarian case, and has nothing whatever to do directly with the Home Rule question. I do not press that point too far. I am perfectly ready to admit that when you have settled the land question there may remain a very strong feeling in favour of Home Rule of some kind or other. I admit that, but I say if you could do away with the agrarian difficulty you would do away with the system of coercion and the necessity of such a debate as this, and all these cases of grievances which have been brought before the House. And, therefore, if my right hon. Friend has a land policy to propose which will secure these results, that would be a very proper thing to challenge the opinion of the House upon, and, if the Government did not adopt it, to turn them out. We are agreed as to the primary importance of such a question. I want to call attention to the language used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley). This is an extract which I know expresses his present view, but it is an extract which appeared in the Nineteenth Century of November, 1882. He then wrote—If there were no other check, the land question would stand in the way if we are to undertake Home Rule in such a sense as would satisfy Mr. Davitt and Mr. Dillon. Are we to make terms with the landlords beforehand? If so, what is the security that those terms will be observed?I just note, in passing, that this is precisely one of our difficulties about any proposal for the extension of local government in Ireland. We want to know what is the security that any terms we make will be observed. My right hon. Friend says now, "Oh, you have armies and navies, and by them you can control the Irish Parliament." 624 But at any rate in 1882 he did not think so, because he put this question. He goes on to say—If not, are we prepared to see the landlords sent flying for their lives with bag and baggage? The land is the question that interests the Irish more than all other questions put together. What value would they set upon an arrangement which excluded this from the sphere of their own control? If it is not excluded, can we expect them to handle the interests of those whom they regard as their hereditary tyrants and most cruel oppressors with respect for property and interests that is exacted by public opinion in this country, where the dispossessed class happen to be powerfully represented? If this be a well-grounded apprehension, then some form of equitable expropriation must precede any effectual form of Home Rule.Now, Sir, I say I agree with every word of that, and I believe it will be concurred in by every reasonable man. Is there what my right hon. Friend calls a reasonable form of expropriation which can be found and which will not involve excessive risk to the British taxpayer, because that is the only reason, so far as I know, which led any of us to oppose the Land Bill of my right hon. Friend; at all events, it was the primary reason. Well, is there such a plan? Can such a plan be proposed? I think there can be. Some hon. Members have just invited me to consider the subject of the Round Table. I observe that my right hon. Friend (Sir W. Harcourt), speaking last night at Derby, alluded to that celebrated Conference, and gave his own account of what took place there. Now, the proceeding of my right hon. Friend is very characteristic—characteristic of the proceedings of his Party in this debate. When I heard that my right hon. Friend was contemplating a statement as to the proceedings of the Round Table, I wrote to him to suggest that we should confer on the facts only—not upon anything else—in order that there might be an agreement, at least, upon the facts. It was open to each of us to make our own comments upon the facts; but I thought we might compare our respective notes of what took place at the time, and that that would avoid subsequent controversy. My right hon. Friend declined.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. Friend says, Why? Because he preferred, as my right hon. Friend's colleagues appear also to prefer, to rely upon an ex parte statement.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The reason why I declined the proposal of my right hon. Friend was because, before he went to Scotland and demanded the publication of a secret proceeding, he never said a word to his colleagues about his intention to divulge, or to demand the divulging, of that secret, and I told him that, as he had chosen to take his own course without consulting us, we—I and my colleagues—took our course without consulting him.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
The statement which my right hon. Friend has just made necessitates a further allusion to the matter, which I had intended to reserve for discussion in the public Press. It is quite true that my right hon. Friends accused me of challenging them and forcing their hands, and compelling them to divulge something which I suppose they did not want to divulge. But I have pointed out to my right hon. Friend, in correspondence, that the cause of the remarks of which he complains is to be found in a previous speech delivered some considerable time before by my right hon. Friend the Member for New-castle-on-Tyne (Mr. Morley). Speaking at Ipswich in October, my right hon. Friend, in answer to some such request as that which I have made to-day to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian that he would disclose his policy, said,—"My right hon. Friend Mr. Chamberlain knows what our policy is. He knew it at the Round Table;" and then he went on to condemn in the strongest possible terms what he called the Birmingham plan of Irish land settlement. Now, Sir, as it is my opinion, and as I think I shall be able to show, that the only plans which were discussed at the Round Table were the Birmingham plans, I think I was justified under those circumstances in protesting against the inferences which would be drawn from my right hon. Friend's statement, and in offering them my permission, at all events, to publish anything which took place at that Conference. Now, Sir, that is only a digression. I come back to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby. He has taken, as he has said, his own course. Well, that will necessitate my taking my own course. I cannot admit that the right hon. Gentleman's statement of our proceedings is adequate or accurate, and I shall take the earliest possible opportunity of 626 correcting him in those particulars that I think to be material. But all I want to do now is to refer to this Conference for the sake of my present argument. I was dealing with the Land Question. I was dealing with the possibility of finding some scheme which might settle the Land Question, which might carry through an equitable expropriation without involving British credit. Well, now, one thing, at all events, is absolutely beyond dispute in connection with the Round Table. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne said, the other day, if we were not in entire agreement we were at least in sight of one another. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, speaking last night, confirmed that statement. He even went beyond it, and said we were in substantial agreement. Well, what were we in agreement upon? What were the plans that were discussed at the Round Table? Were they the Bills of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian? Certainly not. Those Bills were laid on the shelf; they were never referred to. [Sir W. HARCOURT: Oh!] There was no reference whatever, and the discussion proceeded from first to last—["Oh, oh!"]—this is my statement—the discussion proceeded from first to last as regards the land question upon a plan which I submitted, which my right hon. Friend possesses at this moment in writing, and which, if anybody doubts me, I challenge him to produce; and, as regards Home Rule, it proceeded upon a consideration of the inter-provincial system of Canada, which is totally distinct from the plan of my right hon. Friend, and which I offered to accept as a basis of discussion in the debates upon the Home Rule Bill. Well, I say under those circumstances I am justified in asserting that, at all events, the plans which were discussed there were not the plans of my right hon. Friend. But, as regards Local Government, just consider for a moment what that means. Consider what the inter-provincial system of Canada is. The discussion turned upon a system under which, in the first place, there would have been a separate treatment of Ulster. It turned upon a system under which there would have been a representation of Irish Members at Westminster, and the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament would have 627 been maintained. It turned on a system under which the administration of the law—the appointment, that is to say, of the Judges and the magistrates—was to be in the hands of the Imperial authority, and not of the local authority; it turned on a system under which there were to be statutory provisions for protecting the private rights of every man, for preventing undue preference, either of classes or individuals, and for preventing the taking of any man's property without adequate compensation. And it provided, besides all this, for the continuance of an Imperial authority—not the Army; not the Navy—in order to see that those statutory provisions were observed by the local and subordinate authorities. I say that may be a bad system or a good system—I am not discussing that now. All I want to know is this—we were at that time within sight of one another upon that system—are we still within sight of one another upon that system? [Cries of "No" from the Irish Members.] Oh, you have changed your minds. [A Voice: "You have changed yours."] Well, who are the real Leaders of the Party? That may be the difficulty. I have my own opinion why the Round Table Conference came to an end, and it is not the opinion which was expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby. I think there was a power behind the Throne which got uneasy at the negotiations, and accordingly they were brought to a premature conclusion. But I say again, if my right hon. Friends are still within sight of me upon these points, why don't they put their propositions in the form of Resolutions before the House and let us discuss them? I think it is very likely that we might find other persons to agree with us—perhaps persons on both sides of the House. Let us go a step further with regard to the land question. I have already called attention to the fact in another place that my right hon. Friend at a dinner party at which he spoke in London about the time of the Round Table Conference stated that, although he adhered to his original intention—that is, his land scheme of perfect security—yet that he admitted the strength of the objections to the use of British credit, and that he had come to the conclusion on reconsideration that 628 plans might be found for carrying out the object without having recourse to British credit.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Very well; my right hon. Friend is, no doubt, still of the same opinion. I do not say—I am not alleging that the plan which my right hon. Friend had in view was the plan which I submitted to the Round Table Conference, and which my right hon. Friend considers to be too ingenious and too impracticable; but, at all events, my right hon. Friend, if he does not accept my plan, has a plan of his own. He sees his way to the general lines of a plan which would affect this object, an object—and I want to bring the House back to this—which is essential to the success of your policy. You cannot have Home Rule without an effective and satisfactory Land Bill. With an effective and satisfactory Land Bill Home Rule would be robbed of half its terrors. Well, I say that if my right hon. Friend has a plan of this kind, and if he would produce it in this House for discussion, or if he would follow the course pursued on the Irish Church Question and put forward resolutions on the main lines of such a plan—
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. Friend says he did not give any main lines in his resolution about the Irish Church?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, I accept his statement. As regards what I am now speaking about, I wish—whether there be a precedent for it or not—he could see his way to give an indication to the House of the main lines upon which at least a land scheme might be carried, and I believe that by so doing he would render greater service to the House and to the country than any services that he has rendered during the long course of his political existence. If this land question were out of the way the greatest obstacle to further progress would be removed. Why? Does any one doubt for a moment that if the Land War were out of the way there would be any objection in any part of the 629 House at once to proceed with Local Government in Ireland, at least on the lines of the English and Scotch Local Government Bill. Surely hon. Members below the Gangway would agree that in a proposal for the settlement of the Irish Question a proposal for conferring Local County Government on Ireland must form a part? [Mr. Morley here said something to the right hon. Gentleman in an undertone.] Oh, yes; but that does not make any difference in the argument that Local Government for Ireland is necessary, whether it be carried out by an Irish Parliament or by the Imperial Parliament. All I say is, that if we got a land scheme which would end the Land War, then a Local Government System for Ireland presents no difficulties either by a Local or Imperial Parliament, and so far, at all events, you would settle the question. I have never made the slightest concealment of the opinion to which my right hon. Friend referred last night, and which I gave expression to at the Pound Table Conference, and again and again in public speeches, that if you grot as far as this you might go farther. I express my own opinion; but I have always thought that in these circumstances it would be possible, and it might be wise, to relieve this overworked Parliament by a system of delegation of some of its business. I do not believe in that case that there would be any difficulty or difference of opinion as to the subjects which should be submitted to any local assembly which might be created. There are certain subjects which would suggest themselves to the mind of every Member of the House—questions affecting Education, Temperance, Local Government, Public Works, and many other Questions, on which we could agree, which could be, in my opinion, most conveniently dealt with by Local Assemblies in Ireland, in Scotland, and perhaps in Wales. The difficulty does not arise there. I think myself it is worth while even for Home Rule Gentlemen to consider the difficulties which they have to overcome; and the difficulties which I think they have to overcome before they can succeed in persuading the House and the country to carry Home Rule are stupendous. The difficulties are two-fold. In the first place, you have to devise some plan by which the system of the control of the Imperial Parliament 630 may be maintained. My right hon. Friend told us we have got the Army and Navy. It is not enough to tell us that we have got the Army and Navy. We do not want to be out of one difficulty into another. We do not want, six months after the granting of Home Rule, to have to re-conquer Ireland. I am not so certain as my right hon. Friend seems to think that it would be so easy a thing to accomplish; but whether easy or difficult we do not want to have to do it. And before we see our way clearly to granting these local liberties we ought to see our way to a means by which the control of Parliament may be given over to local authorities. The second point with which you have to deal—indeed it is the crux of the whole situation [ironical laughter]—there ought to be no jeering or laughing when this subject is mentioned; it is not the policy of wise men to jeer and laugh at difficulties of this magnitude—the next question with which you have to deal is the question of Ulster. When my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh spoke the other day you laughed at his statement that there would be forcible resistance against the decrees of an Irish Parliament, and you seek to institute a similarity between a threat of resistance to an Irish Parliament and resistance to the Imperial Parliament. I say, at all events, that the two things stand on a totally different footing. I say that there is one thing which the Imperial Parliament has no moral right to do. If it chooses it has a perfect right to repudiate the allegiance of any part of the Empire. It has a right to send them adrift, to force them from us against their will; it has a right to say to Ulster "Go from us; we will not have you any longer among us;" but it has no right to transfer the allegiance of Ulster or any other portion of the United Kingdom against the will and the consent of that portion which is sought to be separated. Therefore, I say the case is quite different; and I say, further, that although hon. Members from Ireland ridicule in public the threats which are made they know in their hearts that those threats are serious. ["No."] Well, they may be going blindly into the ditch; but they know, and I know, that there would be such serious 631 resistance to a proposal to transfer the allegiance of Ulster to a Home Rule Parliament in Dublin that the whole of your work would be undone six months after it was completed. I am afraid that I have trespassed too long on the patience of the House. At all events, I have attempted to deal frankly with the Question before the House. I say that the object of my argument has been to show that the complaints of the administration of the Crimes Act are not proved, and if they were proved they would not justify a complete change of policy. They amount to an attempt to obtain a verdict from the people of this country on false issues; and I appeal to my right hon. Friends who may have to follow me in Debate to, at all events, place the future discussion on a broader, sounder basis, and to tell us, not in detail, but broadly, what is the policy which is to bring about the union of hearts which they ask us to anticipate, and to put that policy before us in a form in which we can meet them in discussion.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
There has been one word constantly recurring in the able speech we have just listened to which I should like, if possible, to interpret—and that is the word "we." The right hon. Gentleman, speaking as if with authority, said what "we" are ready to do—what "we" are prepared to meet. Speaking with some slight experience, at any rate, of England, Scotland, and Wales, I do not quite understand what the right hon. Gentleman means by "we." I know the Party opposite; I know a strong Party in the House, though a diminishing one, which follows the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquis of Hartington); but I know nowhere out of Birmingham the Party for whom the right hon. Gentleman speaks. In 1884–5 the right hon. Gentleman could have used the word "we" with authority, for he then spoke in the name of nearly all the advanced Liberals and the great bulk of the Radicals of this country. I was one of those who looked to the right hon. Gentleman for leadership and guidance in a more advanced policy than even that of the Cabinet with which he was connected, and I was taught so to look at him by his own words—words which, if his leisure will permit him to remain 632 in the House for a short time I shall have to call his attention to. But since 1886 I deny the right hon. Gentleman's right to speak for either the Radicalism or the Liberalism of this country. I am afraid that if any accident happened which separated the right hon Gentleman for a time, however short, from the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, who now sits beside him, he will find that he has not a friend among those whom he once denounced because they neither toil or spin. Nor has he claimed a right to be the Leader of any Party among whom I mix and mingle. The right hon. Gentleman rebuked the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him in the debate for not having risen to the height of the argument with which we have to deal; but the right hon. Gentleman descended himself to the Round Table instead of mounting to any argument that at all applied to the Amendment before the House. The right hon. Gentleman complains that there has been a discussion of petty details, and yet he occupied a considerable portion of his time with petty details personal to himself, and in petty details in reference to the various incidents which he said he intended to pass by. Now, what is the issue as raised by the right hon. Gentleman himself in the speech he has just delivered? The right hon. Gentleman has taken the House back to 1886, and has stated that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian has said that there were only two alternative policies for Ireland—Coercion, or conciliation in the shape of Home Rule. Though the right hon. Gentleman stated that the Land Question was at the bottom of the difficulty, he refrained from making any proposal himself, notwithstanding his position of great authority, a Minister without portfolio, with all the leisure to bring any proposal forward, with all his influence to induce the other side of the House to vote for it. I would venture to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman has been reticent on the subject because he knew, as we all know who sit on this side of the House, and as the bulk of the English people know, that the redemption of Ireland, if it is to be merged in the Land Question, cannot be realized by those with whom he works and whom he supports in office. If the redemption of Ireland is to be 633 realized, it cannot be by the kind of gentleman who tampers with it on the one hand with its Ashbourne Acts, and which intimidates the people on the other with measures coercive in the highest degree. It can only be achieved by one man, to whom the Irish people have given almost their love, certainly their grateful trust. According to the right hon. Gentleman, coercion is very mild in Ireland. Three years and a half ago, the right hon. Gentleman—when he needed to make no provision against the inhabitants, when he would have been protected in the country by the love of the bulk of his townspeople—held these views:—Coercion is for an emergency. It is nonsense to talk of a Constitutional system and of a Constitutional Government if the Constitution is always being suspended. When the emergency is over, then it is the duty of wise Statesmen to seek out the causes of discontent and endeavour to remedy themYes, but the Address says that emergency is over—that you have already had "salutary results" in the restoration of order and confidence in Ireland. But, in 1886, these were the only grounds taken by the right hon. Gentleman in the defence of coercion. He said—Murder, outrage, and assassination are things which no Government can tolerate. If these stalk the land, then it is the duty of the Government, at all risks and hazards to put them down, and from the measures of protection may be asked. I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary introducing the Crimes Bill, and he did not pretend that the number of crimes of violence was larger than it had been. I have the memory of this House and the correction of Hansard behind me. His exceedingly able brother the Member who spoke on the Amendment to the Address, said, crimes of violence, because there was a powerful political organization in Ireland.And this was the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) of the Party sitting opposite to him:—For myself I have very little confidence in the striking qualities of a Conservative Administration. I have had some experience on this point. The Tory Party to a man opposed the concession of equal rights and equal privileges to our Roman Catholic fellow subjects. The Tory Party to a man resisted the removal of duties which pressed upon the food of the food of the people. The Tories to a man resisted the extension of the suffrage. I do not believe in them as directors of the British Constitution or the British connection; and I believe in them the less because I am certain that no policy can conduce to more surely 634 separation than persistence in opposition to opposition to reform, and a stupid reliance upon the brute force of Coercion as the only remedy. The Tory prescription has been tried for centuries, and it has failed conspicuously,And I am going to vote for the Amendment because the right hon. Gentleman wants more doses of Coercion. He says—There are only 111 persons in gaol under the Coercion Act just now.But where are the 1,900, the 2,000 imprisoned since the Act parsed? They probably escaped his recollection, because I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is too fair a speaker to leave out the facts which tell against his case. He did not mention, when he was drawing attention to the thousand men who were imprisoned under Mr. Forster, and I opposed Coercion then as I have opposed it all my life—that they did not have their hair clipped or their beards cut, that they did not wear prison dress. He did not mention, galling and shameful as their imprisonment was, that it was very different to what it is now. There is no comparison between the treatment of prisoners then and now. While we find that Mr. Forster had the grace to let a Member out of prison on his pledged word to return, we have the answer of the hon. and learned Chief Secretary this afternoon in reference to a Member who may be ruined by legal proceedings against him and brought by one of their own agents, and who wished to Bee his legal advisers. They carefully sent him to a gaol away from his counsel and solicitors, and refused to allow him to be brought within easy reach of them. And the Chief Secretary, with that respect for the Representatives of the people which I hope a General Election will teach him to express in a different fashion—said he never heard of a gaol being brought nearer to the counsel and solicitors of the prisoner. But I have never heard tell of 25 Members of Parliament being in gaol, or being pursued by warrants, or about to go to gaol, or just come out of gaol. I have never heard of it under any Coercion Acts which have been acted upon. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) says, we are to vote against this Amendment because the allegations it makes are not true, and because the conciliatory alternative is inefficient. The allegation 635 is that the admistration of this Act is alienating the affections of the people. I have seen a few audiences during the last four or five months, rather more than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Those audiences were of the character which the right hon. Gentleman needs to address; and there are two names which spontaneously provoked expressions of disapprobation and aversion—the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and still more distinctly that of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain), I will tell you why. Those with whom I am associated and whose sympathies I have, rather take the view which the right hon. Gentleman himself took four or five years ago, that from the Tories you can only expect Toryism. Sir, from the man who professed Radicalism, and who stood in the front of the line and before others, they had a right to expect something else than desertion from their ranks. I have no right to put myself against one of his influential position, but in the Bull Ring of Birmingham, in a free meeting, if he would so far condescend as to allow myself and himself to take a verdict upon this Amendment I would undertake to carry it by 99 out of every 100 against him. We are asked, What is our alternative? It is that which the right hon. Gentleman himself taught us four years ago. The right hon. Gentleman spoke then about Coercion being no cure, and against Coercion being no remedy. He said—I believe that one of the greatest Irish problems is still before us, and we must wait for its solution in a new Parliament.—that was what Parliament expected in 1885. Mr. Gladstone has removed two of the greatest grievances of Ireland. He has disestablished an alien Church, and he has reformed the Land Laws; but there remains a question as important, possibly more important than both those two. What was that question? The right hon. Gentleman said:—I have it in Mr. Gladstone's own words—(so he must be got at from this)—that it is the wisest possible self-government for Ireland which is consistent with the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire.And that is our alternative. The second part of the Amendment says:—And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that such measures of conciliation should 636 be adopted as may bring about the contentment of the Irish people, and establish a real union between Great Britain and Ireland.These may not be the words of the right hon. Gentleman, but the main principles are here; and he must have consulted, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian before he so expressed himself. Some nine months before the speech I have referred to, which those who were Members of Parliament in 1885 will never forget, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the alternatives; but now he "wants his money back." "You have changed your minds," he says; but I say he has changed his speech. I don't accuse him of changing his mind; he is much too able and acute to change his mind suddenly on these things. But for years he has condemned Coercion, and has favoured the extension of local self-government to Ireland, not as to mere county rates or parochial matters, because you could not possibly speak of them as likely to be inconsistent with the integrity of the Empire. About the same date the right hon. Gentleman, praising the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) said, in addressing a London audience—Let us take the question of Coercion. Here we know what Lord Randolph Churchill's policy is, and I will say that to my mind it is a wise and statesmanlike policy. Lord Randolph Churchill does not believe, neither do I believe, in the efficacy of perpetual repression.Yet to-night the right hon. Gentleman has not uttered a word of condemnation of that perpetual continuation of the Coercion Act talked about by the hon. Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson.) And the right hon. Gentleman went on to say:—Lord Randolph Churchill does not believe, neither do I, in the policy of perpetual preparation, and he favours, as I favour, the concession of Local Government to Ireland and a system on which Irishmen shall have some effective control over their own affairs.This hardly means Local Boards. The Radicals have a right to complain, and I do complain on behalf of those who in 1886 were the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman, that that right hon. Gentlemans sits with us, and gives his help to those on the opposite side. He speaks of "we Liberals." We Liberals must do liberal things as well as use liberal 637 phrases; and even if disappointed by the failure of some petty plan we must not let that hinder the redemption of the country. Why was there no word in rebuke of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Armagh in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman? The hon. Member for North Armagh spoke of the "Coercion Act," describing it by its right name, and hoped it would permanently remain on the Statute Book. There was a time when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said, "For my part I hate Coercion; I hate the name and I hate the thing;" yet he is going into the same Lobby with the Party who wish to make it perpetual. The right hon. Gentleman endorses the complaint of the Chief Secretary as to the attacks made on the Government. They say they repudiate the horrible charges, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has said the Irish Members made worse charges against the Members of the Liberal Party. The talk about horrible charges hardly comes with a good grace from the right hon. Gentleman, who has been present at meetings and heard, without rebuke, charges of complicity with murder made against the Irish Members—charges since shown by the accessories themselves to have been based on forgery bolstered up by perjury. The right hon. Gentleman appealed through this House to the country. I appeal also to the country to answer him, and to say that the least we expected from him was that he would have made some inquiry on the matter. The right hon. Gentleman, using an unlucky phrase, spoke of the situation which the Irish Members had "forged." I speak of the situation which the allies of the Government have employed others to forge, using the word forge only in the sense of the right hon. Gentleman. They have forged a situation from which they will escape with great difficulty; because those outside are beginning to think, and Members sitting on the Opposition Benches are beginning to be afraid of a situation which has been forged by forgery bolstered up by perjury—I dare not say by subornation of perjury—although £500 and £1,000, and £1,700 and £2,000 have been paid for statements which, if true, ought to have been 638 furnished without any monetary inducement. What would be said of an Irish Member who could be shown to have given a witness large sums to give evidence? I remember, when the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) got up in the House and denied the genuineness of these forgeries, his denial was received with laughter from the Ministerial Benches—and now that this accusation, which is intended to murder the political reputation of the hon. Member for Cork, and through him assassinate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Lothian has failed, we have a half-hearted withdrawal and an expression of regret, that sounded very much like regret that the letters were not genuine, and an utter absence of that fulness and frankness of apology which might naturally have been expected. The country will watch the Division List on this Amendment, as showing those who desired to make themselves parties to such conduct. The Conservative Party was once a great and chivalrous Party, and would not have acted thus. They have now been using as a Party weapon at every election "Parnellism and Crime," and I want to ask a Question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, at least, has Liberal traditions. You have used it as a Party weapon. In every election "Parnellism and Crime" has gone round, and I want to ask the First Lord of the Treasury—or, as he is not here, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, at least, has Liberal traditions—one or two questions. But before I do so I should like to praise some of the conduct of the Government. A man named Molloy was called before the Commission, and the Government thought it their duty to at once prosecute him instead of waiting, as is usual, till the close of the labours of the Commission before doing so. They prosecuted him because they thought he had committed perjury. I am sure it was only desire for truth that instigated the prosecution; there was no intention to suggest that others had induced the man to commit perjury; it was only desired that all witnesses should have the terror of the law before them. But is the balance of justice to be equal? Is the Government going to deal with other perjurers as they have dealt with Molloy? Will they institute prosecutions for the printing of letters bought 639 with the money of persons making charges, bought without inquiry as to where they came from, with a careful shutting of the eyes which, in ordinary cases, would be evidence of conspiracy? Will the Government instruct the Attorney General to lay a criminal information against the Times for a most infamous libel, used for the purpose of distorting the policy of the House and inducing it to believe that some of its Members were bad men who should not be trusted? Will the Government give instructions that proceedings be taken against that interesting gentleman, Mr. Houston, who, it is clear, knew before he got into the witness-box that there was something suspicious about some part of Pigott's case? If Houston concealed this from the Attorney General he deserves indictment. I have too much respect for the Attorney General, from whom I have received some courtesies, to believe for a moment that he had had the faintest suspicion of the truth; the contrary would be so absolutely shocking, so thoroughly terrible, that the disgrace would cling to him for life. I acquit him thoroughly—no English gentleman, with such knowledge, could have put Houston in the box and allowed him to make a statement without putting some question which would give a clue to it. But then Houston ought to be prosecuted by the Government, if only to clear themselves and the Attorney General from complicity; and if this is not done I shall make it a charge against the Government on every platform in the country that they prosecuted Molloy because they thought it would damage the defendants, and refrained from prosecuting those who stood self-convicted, because they had been associated with themselves. Office may be held at too high a price. Past Conservative Leaders would not have hesitated for a moment to have washed their hands of this business. It is not as if it did not already concern the House, for it has been used at every election to influence voters. It is no question of land redemption or of solution of the agrarian problem that has been urged so much. It is that Mr. Parnell wrote the letters; he must have written them, or he would have taken legal proceedings before. Anything, in fact, was said that was likely to secure the support of the weak backed Liberal 640 Unionist; and it had its effect at some of the elections. At this moment, when we are dealing with this question, are we to be told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham that the right hon. Member for Central Bradford did not rise to the grandeur of the debate? Was the right hon. Gentleman present when the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh spoke? Grandeur of debate! The Journals of the House record the fact that 280 years ago payments were made to various officials, including the Serjeant and the "old fool" of the House. It does not appear when the Office ceased, but after hearing the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh I understood why there was no need to keep it up. The right hon. Member has spoken of the feeling of the country. I desire to speak with all respect of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale for his ability and integrity. It is with grief and sorrow that Liberals break from him. But, at the noble Lord's last meeting with his constituents, the vote of confidence he received and returned thanks for was coupled with the unanimous expression of the desire of his supporters for an immediate and wide extension of local government to Ireland. And when two powerful statesmen like the noble Lord, and at some distance the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, keep a Government in power whose traditions are not the traditions of those who elected them, whose desires are not the desires of those who elected them, the responsibility is rather theirs, and the country looks to them. It looks to the noble Lord in the hope that even now the judgment, which in the traditions of this House and of all those who bore his name, has usually been associated with the effectuation of English liberty, might give to Ireland the possibility of it. To the noble Lord's Colleague we do not so look. We know there is no way to agreement, and Radicals desire to see that right hon. Gentleman in the Tory Government to which he belongs. They have no desire and no wish for the return of the right hon. Gentleman; for when the hour comes they do not want that in the midst of a great battle, upon which the happiness of a nation depends, the 641 lieutenant general shall have the chance in the thick of the fight of throwing away his sword and uniform, although he is for the principle, because he does not like the fit of the epaulettes or the fashion of the hilt.
§ MR. M. W. MATTINSON (Liverpool, Walton)
I cannot see how the personal attack made by the hon. Member for Northampton upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham can help us in the consideration of this Question. The hon. Member, too, has made impassioned references to the proceedings before the Special Commission. I am not altogether surprised at it, and as far as I am concerned, speaking only with reference to the only point on which a judgment can now be arrived at, I have no hesitation in admitting that the hon. Member for Cork has been greatly wronged, and, I believe, there is a universal desire on all sides of the House—on the Ministerial side as much as anywhere else—that those who have repeated a particular charge should make ample reparation of a full and large apology. But that does not affect the facts of the situation with which we have to deal. The personal integrity of the hon. Member for Cork has nothing whatever to do with the administration of Ireland; it has nothing whatever to do with the question whether we shall have two Parliaments and two Governments. I am not going to say that during the past two years, there may not have been some miscarriage of justice in Ireland, or that changed conditions may not justify a call for some modification of the policy of the Government; but I shall vote without hesitation against the amendment because, on a balance of considerations, I have no doubt that the present course of events amply justifies the action of the Executive. The broad fact that crime has been largely reduced, and substantial progress made in the re-assertion of the law is the vindication of the Government and outweighs my mistakes which may have been made here and there. The charges against the Government appear to range themselves under three heads; first, arrest in the United Kingdom of Irish politicians; second, conviction in Ireland of Irish Members; and third, their treatment in prison. As to the first, it is clear that no injustice 642 has been done to the individuals affected. The selection of time and place for arrests may have been stupid blunders, but that is a matter between the Chief Secretary and his supporters and not for hon. Gentlemen opposite. I believe that the action of the Government in this respect has been perfectly legal and just; but I question whether it was worth while to cause an Irish Member, against whom a warrant had been issued, and who was a fugitive from justice in this country, to be brought back into the jurisdiction of the proper tribunal in Ireland. Irish Members in this country might perhaps be a nuisance to the Government of the day, but while they are here they are not disturbing the peace of Ireland, and therefore the desired results, so far as the peace of Ireland is concerned, could be obtained by allowing them to remain in England without arresting them. A Member who has a warrant out against him will not cross the Channel, because he knows that by doing so he would have to walk straight into an open prison. It has been said that what it is possible to do in England is illegal in Ireland. My answer to that is, that you can with impunity do that in England which is harmful in Ireland. The policy of the Government should be to keep persons away from places where they do mischief. I refuse to support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, because I hold that while there may be a question as to the absolute necessity of arresting Irish Members on English soil, yet in my judgment there is no question about the legality or the justice of it. The second point is that the convictions in Ireland have been unjust. Now, I say, with regard to the charge that harsh sentences have been inflicted under the Crimes Act, it is difficult to pass a sound opinion in any case unless we have all the facts before us. In the case of Mr. E. Harrington, the penalty strikes me as being very severe. It is the maximum penalty, and it is imposed for an offence which was not one of the most aggravated kind. My difficulty in the matter has not been removed by the suggestion which has been made that, but for a technical point raised, Mr. Harrington would have been convicted of something else. Why did he not appeal? And on this question generally I must 643 say that, so far as I can make out, there never has been any real or substantial ground for the suggestion that the County Court Judges are not perfectly fair. I think that, taken as a whole, the Resident Magistrates do discharge their duties with impartiality and average intelligence. There is one other ground of accusation taken up by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Morley), and that is in regard to the treatment of Irish prisoners. I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will believe me when I say that I personally have felt it to be a most humiliating circumstance that hon. Members of the House of Commons, men of culture, should be subjected, in the ordinary course of the operation of the law, to the treatment of which we have heard so much. But I cannot find anything in that treatment on which to found a charge against the Government. Hon. Members say that political opponents ought to be treated differently from other persons. Perhaps they ought; but, after all, that is a question for consideration of Parliament and not of the Executive Government. I take it that when the Crimes Act was passed Parliament determined that, in certain circumstances, offenders should be subjected to certain treatment. I can quite understand the agitation for a change of the law, but I cannot understand why the present accusation should be brought against the Government. If the Chief Secretary alters the treatment of Mr. O'Brien and the other Members of Parliament now in gaol, he must, in common justice, alter the treatment of every one committed to prison for similar offences. Where would that land us? In the position that the Chief Secretary must make a wholesale dispensation in respect to Crimes Act prisoners. But at present you cannot make it a ground for definite accusation against the Chief Secretary that he will not take upon himself the dispensing with the punishment prescribed by a Statute passed so recently and after full consideration. While I say this, I desire to add that I think prison treatment, not only in Ireland, but in England also, is a matter which may fairly come under review. I cannot doubt that it would be quite possible to deal with political prisoners in a way which might not be unsatisfactory even to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway 644 opposite. There are only a very few words more which I wish to say. Some of the hon. Gentlemen sitting around me have tendered to the Government advice. The hon. Gentleman the Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) has, for instance, suggested that the Crimes Act ought to be strengthened, and another hon. Friend of mine has suggested that the administration of the law in Ireland ought to be more rigorous—that prosecutions ought to be quicker. I should be sorry to administer the Crimes Act with greater stringency than it is administered at present. I have always understood it is a maxim in the administration of the criminal law that in proportion as crime diminishes, so the necessity for stringent punishment diminishes. The case which we make against the amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) is that crime has largely diminished. If that be, as I believe it is, a true representation of the present condition of Ireland, it seems to me the logical outcome is this, that the time may soon come when it may be possible for the Government, consistent with the safeguarding of the interests committed to their care, to abate the rigour of their administration of the Crimes Act.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
I think the hon. Member for Liverpool deserves a word of acknowledgment from this side, because I think he has been the very first—at all events, the hon. Member very frankly and very honourably did express it—to express from that side a feeling of regret, and almost of repulsion, at the treatment hon. Members had had to undergo. I congratulate him upon that, and I live in the hope that he will be followed in his expression of opinion by many of the gentlemen of England before long. He also showed the first faint indications of distrust in the policy of the Government he supports. He could not help saying that he did not like the arrest of Irish Members in England, and he said he would be glad if it could be avoided in future. Well, for my part, I hope you will go on in that way. You cannot better play our game, or bring home more forcibly to the minds of English people what your Coercive Policy means. When an hon. Member like Mr. Carew goes down to an English 645 constituency he wins all hearts by his frankness and fairness, staying in our houses he endears himself to us all. He addresses a crowded meeting, and then he is hurried off by the police. The next thing the people who know him and love him hear about him is that he has been knocked down, stripped, and treated like a common felon. This brings home to the English people and Scotch people appreciation of what Coercion is much better than we can. If we could bring homo to the people what the policy pursued for so many hundred years by Liberal and Conservative Governments alike really is, there would be a very short end made of Coercion. Then the hon. Member for Liverpool could not quite swallow Mr. Harrington's sentence of six months' imprisonment with hard labour, and, as I understood him, considered it too severe for the offence he had committed. Nor did he like the prison treatment. I think gradually you will find, as the time for the General Election draws near, there will be a good deal of discontent of this sort expressed by hon. Members who represent large constituencies and come into touch with the people of the country. The hon. Member for Liverpool said we had no right on this treatment of prisoners to found an indictment against the Government. Well, but in the first place, the Chief Secretary, has entire control of prison discipline in Ireland. We are convinced that he has power of interference, and if we needed a convincing argument in support of that conviction he has himself supplied it, by his intervention in allowing priests to wear their own clothes in prison. You will not get many people to under stand why there should be an intervention of this kind in favour of parsons and not of Members of Parliament. Well, for about the five hundredth time we are again face to face with our old own chief difficulty, the Government of Ireland. Disguise it how you like, the debate may take a particular line on one occasion, and a different line on another, but every year the same question crops up, and I suppose I may say that four-fifths of the House of Commons would agree as to what they are aiming at. We recognize all of us the national danger of a continuance of this state of things, and in different ways desire 646 to bring about a different state of things. Nearly all of us long for the pacification of Ireland, it is only upon the methods of bringing about that desired result that we differ. I say nearly all, for there is a small section of bitter Orangemen whom I would not include among those who wish and desire such a settlement. I am comparatively a young Member of the House, but I have heard Orange Members talk of putting their heel on the necks of their countrymen. I have heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, who, I suppose, I must regard as a serious politician, say that he not only rejoiced in the Crimes Act being in perpetuity, but he would like to see imprisonment under it made perpetual too. With such men, holding such opinions, there can be no truce, no parley. I do not include them in my opinion that there is an earnest desire on both sides of the House to bring this long and bitter quarrel to an end. It does not much matter what you say or do, we are but servants of the people, and our masters have made up their minds. Coercion is doomed, and you know it! You may cling to it a little longer, but there is a great difference in Coercion now to what it used to be. Coercion in the old days was with no democracy, but now you have to satisfy a democracy who are masters, with votes, of the justice, wisdom, and righteousness of your policy; and you have not satisfied them. A straw will show which way the wind blows, and there are several straws to show it now. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has given you a little Radicalism wrapped up in a certain sort of way, and I did not notice that you cheered him much. You do not quite trust that right hon. Gentleman; you cannot quite forget the doctrine of ransom; you remember his reference to those "who toil not, neither do they spin;" yet the right hon. Gentleman knows how to turn his barque to every favouring wind. In Scotland he warned you in pretty plain language that a policy of Coercion was a negative policy, and would not commend itself much longer to the people of this country. The uncontested election at Burnley is another straw that shows the direction of the wind, and you will have other indications 647 before long. The country has made up its mind that Ministers who will not put an end to a policy of Coercion and try something of a different character must clear out and make room for those who will, and the country will express its meaning more clearly as time goes on. It is no question of detail, of this Bill or that, it is begging the question to raise the question of the old Home Rule Bill, whether it is alive, or dead, or in a state of suspended animation. The country cares nothing for points such as these, we are long past such. The supremacy of Parliament was the great thing, and I was one of those who voted—and I would do it again under similar circumstances—who voted against the old Home Rule Bill. The supremacy of Parliament, the absolute supremacy of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, is what I and others insisted upon. I think I can show by an extract from a speech of one of the ablest of the Liberal Uuionists what a hollow sham this contention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is. The speech I refer to was delivered by the hon. and learned Member for Inverness on May 21st, 1886. He said—If this demand for the retention of the Irish Members were conceded"—Now mark this—it would be found by logical sequence to be a measure to which the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale nor any other Member on this side of the House would have any objection.The retention of Irish Members has been given up, and the opposition of the hon. Member for Inverness has not been pacified. Why? The House knows perfectly well that all we asked for in the way of criticism on the Home Rule Bill of 1886, all the reasonable requirements—certainly all the criticisms I made—have long since been given in to by the Leaders of the Liberal Party. But where are the pledges given in the election of 1886? [Cheers.] I am glad to hear that cheer, it enables me the more easily to allude to a personal matter, with which I hardly dared to trouble the House. In my absence the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, speaking of my conduct, said I had been returned pledged to support a Government I had not once 648 voted for, and that I was returned without a contest because I stood as a Liberal Unionist. Well, my answer is two-fold. First of all to stand as a Liberal Unionist means to stand with the support of Tory votes, and if necessary to fight a brother Liberal. I put myself in the hands of the Liberal Three Hundred, and I was asked practically unanimously to fight their battles again. I said I was a foe to coercion of any sort or kind, and that I never would be a party to it. I said that in my election address. I said, while I objected to certain details in the Home Rule Bill, I was earnestly in favour of a large and generous measure of local self-government for Ireland. Ah! we all said that. I have stood on Liberal platforms to help brother-Liberals, and I do not think there was one of them who did not pledge himself to "a large and generous measure of local self-government for Ireland." I can clear myself in another way. One of my chief supporters, the man who preceded me in the representation of the division, the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade, had the honour and courage to state publicly and quite recently that the Conservatives had no right to find fault with me for any breach of faith; for I had said and done merely what I said I would do in my election address. I am sorry to trouble the House with such a trifle as my consistency. The hon. and learned Member for West Ham was inaccurate and misinformed; probably he had been in communication with some of the Times' witnesses. The country is not asking about this Bill, or that. With all critics and doubters, with men who are throwing clouds of doubt in the eyes of the people by saying "What will a Liberal Government do; what do you mean by conciliation?" the country has no concern. The country says, "We are sick and tired, humiliated and disgusted with this perpetual recurrence to a policy of force, and are thoroughly resolved, if you will not devise the means of carrying out a policy of conciliation upon which we have set our hearts, you must make room for those who will." It is a policy of negation, says your ally, and he warns you it will serve your purpose no longer. It is the happy state of good will and comradeship that has sprung up between the 649 two peoples that has beaten you and confounded all your designs. It is this feeling of goodwill and comradeship which has sprung up between the two democracies makes the Union safe to-day; it is this feeling that makes the United Parliament supreme to-day; but not to this but the next Parliament do they look forward. You have not sought their confidence; this Parliament can claim no debt of gratitude. From Irish Members, certainly, you can claim no gratitude; but they look forward with hope, belief, and confidence to the next Parliament, and the electoral battle in which the two democracies will take part. The result of your administration is fatal to all your pretensions to govern Ireland with a strong hand. You have done your best to goad the people to madness; you have imprisoned their Leaders, and treated them with ignominy when you have got them in your power. You have stifled free meetings and free expression of opinion, and having driven them from the Constitutional method of expressing their complaints, what wonder that the complaints of the people find expression in languge not so Constitutional? I do not wonder; it is astounding how little outrage there has been, it is marvellous considering that the people are not educated that they have exercised so much self-control. How have you treated them in Ireland? Your Prime Minister calls them Hottentots, and your Chief Secretary is never tired of talking of them as the descendants of the rebels of '98 and '48, and telegraphs to his police, "Do not hesitate to shoot," and delights in telling the Constabulary, all of whom read his words, "If you tire be sure you kill." This is what you have done in Ireland. This is the Christian administration of the Government of a Christian people! I tell you the Christian people of England and Scotland loathe and abominate what you have done in Ireland. With the aid of the Loyal and Patriotic Union you have flooded town, village, and hamlet with pictures of horror and hateful calumnies of the Irish leaders. You have flooded every town, village, and hamlet in the country with millions of phamplets containing the most hateful calumnies of the Irish people and pictures of horrors. You 650 have sent down paid lecturers to blacken the character of the Irish people and of their leading men. You have resorted to calumny of the basest description, to gross exaggeration, misrepresentation and abuse, and some of those who work with the Government, and are in tone with the Government, have not stopped short of forgery itself. Yes, the Loyal and Patriotic Union has done its level best to stifle the goodwill that was growing up between the two people and giving hope for the future. That has all gone off like water from a duck's back; but in spite of it a feeling of affection is growing up in the hearts of the Irish and English nations. You have blackened the characters of the Irish Members; you have distorted their motives and done your best to favour old bigotries, but it is all of no use. Macaulay, in his essay on Milton, says—We deplore the outrages which accompany revolutions. But the more violent the outrages the more assured we feel that the revolution was necessary. The violence of these outrages will always be proportioned to the ferocity and ignorance of the people, and the ferocity and ignorance of the people will be proportioned to the oppression and degradation under which they have been accustomed to live.[A laugh.] The Tories, the less educated of them, laughed at Macaulay at that time. The better educated of the Tories of this day do not, as a rule, laugh at Lord Macaulay now. Lord Macaulay expresses the feeling of the English people, and that is why you fail to arouse them by your tales of outrage and crime. They are a liberty-loving people, and they believe that liberty is far better than restraint. When you speak of law and order they reply, "Your law was obtained under false pretences; you had no mandate from us to make such a law. You told us that you were opposed to Coercion, and the moment we entrusted you with power to make law, you proposed Coercion." That is one of the answers to the argument of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. At every Unionist platform we were told it was a calumny to say that there were only two alternatives—Home Rule or Coercion. There was a third; but the right hon. Gentleman turning to the Irish Members said, "you have made the third course impossible." They took to Coercion very quickly, like a duck taking to water. That is my first reply to the right hon. 651 Gentleman. The second is that you passed this law in the teeth of the protests of three of the four component parts of the Empire. The Scotch people said they would not have it; the Welsh and Irish also resisted it, and you passed it by the clôture. You passed it, denying to afford a reasonable time to discuss it, and you passed it even then under the falsest of pretences. There is a speech of the Chief Secretary to be found in Hansard in which the right hon. Gentleman said:—They (the Government) always denied that it was intended by the Bill to interfere with the relations of landlord and tenant. This was a Bill to put down crime. It was not conflicts between landlord and tenant in which they desired to interfere; it was not combinations which they desired to crush, but it was crime which would not be tolerated in any other country on earth, and which ought not to be tolerated in Ireland.Having got it under these pretences you have used it to put down combinations, and for no other purpose than to assist the landlord in his quarrels with his tenants. That was your position at the time of the General Election (Ministerial cries of "No"). If it was not, why do you now object to face the people. They tell you, lastly, that respect and reverence for law depends on what the moral weight of the law itself is. The law-breakers of the world have many of them been the heroes of the world. John Brown was hanged legally; Hampden, Pim, Cromwell would have been living if they had not been successful; and the same may be said of Garibaldi, who went sword in hand to Naples; Magguire and Kossuth [An Hon. MEMBER: Kossuth was not successful]. No, he had to take refuge in free England; your fathers cropped the ears of dissenters quite legally; my grandfather was imprisoned for many years in Newgate gaol, quite legally, for preaching a sermon; at present you only clip the hair and moustache of your opponents. You are getting ashamed of the old method, and your children will be ashamed of your method as you are of that of your ancestors. The prisons of the world are now objects of curiosity. If you go to Rome the first thing you go to see is the prison in which Peter and Paul were imprisoned; if you go to Bedford your first visit is paid to the prison in which John Bunyan was confined; so also at Southampton where 652 Isaac Watts was put. I do not defend every act that has been done in Ireland. I have never failed to say that I cannot agree with every doctrine of the Plan of Campaign, but I maintain that the Plan of Campaign was the result of your policy. You drove the Irish people from Constitutional usages into illegal courses, and then followed the old system of repression, punishment, and brutality. But, in spite of all this, there is a brighter prospect just now. It is because the people of the two countries love each other and trust each other; it is because the people have listened to Ireland's sons and believe their story, and believe in their future, that I, for one, shall vote for the amendment of my right hon. Friend.
§ MR. HOWORTH (Salford, S.)
The speech of the Hon. Member who has just addressed the House is chiefly interesting from his references to the action of Members on this side of the House. He says that he has some difficulty in reconciling their opinions as avowed before the constituents with their practices in this House. I myself have been constrained to rise owing to the challenge which was thrown out yesterday by the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Channing) as to a recent incident in Lancashire; but nothing had happened in the history of this movement which had brought more discredit and ridicule upon it in the minds of the working classes than that incident. I am sure that the House will desire to get as far away as possible from the recrimination which formed the staple of the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. The Amendment of the right hon. Member for Newcastle seems to me to raise a false and illogical issue. It is a perfectly arguable point, no doubt, that the Act has operated harshly and severely on certain men; but I contend that it is not an arguable position to maintain in the House of Commons that the duty of the Executive is to interfere with the administration of the Crimes Act or of any other Act in order that certain classes of offenders should be given a different treatment from certain other classes. To give the Executive power to discriminate offenders would be to resort to the practices of the middle ages. How could Parliament prevent the Chief Secretary 653 for Ireland under such, conditions from treating offenders according to his private preferences and political views? To ask the House to consent to such a state of things is to ask it to consent to a very great offence against all legal and political principles. The Executive in Ireland, so far as the decisions of the Irish Courts are concerned, are in precisely the same position as the Executive in England; the treatment of prisoners is governed by Statute and if the Executive chooses to interfere with the decisions of the Courts of law, it unquestionably commits a breach of the law, and must do so at its own peril. I understand that during the late Administration there were two cases in which the Home Secretary did feel it his duty to interfere with the functions of the Prisons Board and the discipline of the prisons in favour of particular persons, but I believe myself that such action was entirely contrary to law, and that the Home Secretary did these acts at his own peril. It is said that the Irish Courts of Law themselves have interpreted the Statute in an unnecessarily cruel manner, and in a way that was never contemplated by Parliament, but I maintain that it is impossible to review the decisions of the Courts, unless you have the witnesses and the evidence before you. How is it possible for this House at any time to constitute itself into a Court of Justice? There is a proper appeal in all cases, and I think it is a great pity that when a Bill was passing through the House, one or two Amendments suggested from the opposite benches were not adopted. I think their adoption would have made a great difference in the sentimental grievance which is now alleged. It would have been a great improvement in the legal administration of justice in Ireland if the Resident Magistrates had been appointed during good behaviour, so as to avert the least suspicion of their being at the mercy of the Executive. Further, there might with advantage have been a rota of these magistrates, so that there would not have been always particular men to try particular cases in particular districts. Again, as to the question whether the victims of the Crimes Act have been treated by the prison officials with unusual and undeserved cruelty, much has been said on this subject, which is more a form of 654 buffoonery than of serious argument. It is said, for instance, that for persons convicted of certain offences to be compelled to travel third class instead of first class is a grievous indignity. I myself always travel third class, and if those who make these complaints themselves travelled third class more frequently they would know the feelings of the British democracy better than they do. Mr. Rider Haggard, in his novel, "King Solomon's Mines," mentions a party who were interrupted by savages whilst one of the party was shaving, and had just half completed that operation. As the savages had never before seen a man with hair on only one side of the face, they deemed him to be a god and began to worship him. The difficulty of the position was that as the man had been recognised as a god by the fact that he had hair on one side of his face, he was obliged to go about amongst them ever after carefully shaved on one side only. It seems to me that this is an extremely opposite comparison to make. However much hon. Gentleman may shout "hear, hear!" the working men of Lancashire, many of whom take the same view of politics that they do, only laugh and ridicule the hero whose heroism depends on a circumstance of that kind. Having said this much, it seems to me that one has gone over the three different divisions, at all events of the difficulty as presented by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle. In the first place, the question of whether the Executive is justified or not in interfering with the course of justice, by apportioning penalties according to its own individual whim and fancy and not according to the rigid law, I think most Members will agree with me that a more dangerous position was never put before an assembly of politicians. In the next place, it is an equally dangerous position to maintain that this House is either a fit or a competent tribunal to revise the decisions of Irish Courts of Justice whether humble or superior. Having provided the proper machinery to prevent injustice I think they ought to abide by it. I qualify that by saying that there are some amendments which I should have liked to have seen incorporated in the Crimes Act, and, as far as I myself am concerned, 655 it would have been a great pleasure to me to have voted for such Amendments if they had been presented to the House, because I feel that they would have been reasonable. In the third place. I cannot help thinking that when we test those cases of cruelty by the facts that we presented they are reduced to such rediculous proportions that it is really monstrous that a great Party in the State should put them forward as grounds of grievance. I am tired and weary of this perpetual application to Ireland of a law which I feel to be necessary if the State and society are to be held together, and I wish and hope that the time may come, very speedily, when we may devote ourselves if possible to something rather more in accordance with our hopes and our ambitions. I should very much like to see, at a time not very far off, Ireland left to decide a great number of local questions such as we see remitted in this country to different localities. It would, I feel, be a great advantage if we could put aside some of those angry recriminations and approach the problem along more rational lines. Whether that comes about now or later on, I feel most certain that one thing we must maintain at all hazards, and that is the law, and whether we maintain it here or it is maintained from a Parliament in Dublin society can not exist, but will really be planted upon a basis of anarchy unless this prime factor is maintained at all hazards. It is because I feel that this is neither an English nor an Irish question, but one upon which all politicians should share the same feeling, that I shall vote with the greatest possible confidence against the Amendment of my right hon. Fiend the Member for Newcastle, which raises issues which are utterly false and utterly misleading.
§ MR. REID (Dumfries, W.)
I feel no doubt that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford has spoken with the very best intentions, and that the policy which has been afflicting Ireland and distressing this country must be distasteful to him. But the hon. Gentleman has certainly been somewhat backward in his action on this matter, because when some of the Amendments which he himself has said he should like to see introduced into the Coercion Act as at 656 present administered were proposed, he did not vote in favour of them.
§ MR. REID
They were cut out in consequence of a system of closure far more drastic than any ever proposed by a Liberal Government, and that closure was supported by the hon. Member himself. I trust the hon. Member now recognises the serious consequences arising from that Act. I am astonished that the Chief Secretary, than whom there is no man endowed with more literary grace and probably literary attainments in the House, should go down to Glasgow and Dublin and speak in the tone and the spirit that he has adopted about brother Members of the House placed in prison. If the right hon. Gentleman did not feel it himself, from his own instinct, when he dwelt upon the severity of the language with which he spoke of Mr. Mandeville after that gentleman's decease, no words of mine can convey the feeling. But I am satisfied that when the passion of this argument and controversy has a little gone by, the right hon. Gentleman himself will regret, and I think he will be ashamed of the tone in which he has spoken. I wish to say a few words in regard to the very remarkable speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I presume that he represents the Liberal Unionist Party, and I think after the peculiar conduct and position of Members of that Party we are entitled to know whether he does represent the opinions of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, or whether we have two leaders of the Liberal Unionist or dissentient Liberal Party—the one who makes speeches of a quasi-Radical kind in this House, and the other who enters into private negotiations with the Government and aids and abets them in the most Tory part of their proceedings. When the charge is made that one integral part of the United Kingdom is administered by unjust laws, unjustly applied, that men by the score are sent to prison without fair trial, and also that when they are in prison they are subjected to treatment unworthy of a civilized nation, the right hon. Gentleman appears to think that that is a matter of no importance. Without 657 discussing whether it is true or not, I think we can gauge the true depth of the Liberalism of the right hon. Gentleman. He says we may be of opinion that the Government is grossly abusing its powers; that the Executive is in dangerous contact with the judicial officers; and that injustice is thereby wrought; and yet that is no ground, if it only applies to Ireland, for turning the Government out of Office; it is only a ground for a Committee to make inquiry into particular cases. The Solicitor General for Ireland has congratulated the House that no one makes charges against the Resident Magistrates now. Well, no one has made charges against any class so much as Resident Magistrates. We say they are persons of no capacity whatever—half-pay officers, briefless barristers, and promoted policemen; that they have duties to discharge which are not in England entrusted even to the Judges of the highest Courts; that their relations to the Executive Government are of a most remarkable character; and that they are executive as well as judicial officers. The Resident Magistrates are incompetent to discharge their duties, but the Chief Secretary speaks of them as if they were men inspired. The right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in getting for £400 a year men of extraordinary ability and judgment to discharge duties which are only intrusted to English Judges of the highest rank. How do those men act? I admit that it is difficult in this House to take case by case. The Resident Magistrates are as wise as serpents. They take care to have a fragment of evidence on one point, but to inflict punishment for offences which have not been proved. It is observed that they are not anxious to give the right of appeal; they will not state a case; they show the worst feature of a Judge in desiring that his decision shall escape review. They administer ferocious punishments, as is shown in the case of Mr. Harrington. Does any hon. Member consider that six months' hard labour is a proper punishment for publishing proceedings of a suppressed branch of the National League? Even the right hon. Member for West Birmingham is unable to defend that proceeding, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Salford will not defend it. How is the sentence defended by the 658 Chief Secretary? The right hon. Gentleman says it is true that Mr. Harrington was guilty of that offence, but that everybody knows perfectly well that he has been guilty of the other offence of delivering a speech, and the Chief Secretary's defence of the Resident Magistrates is, that though the punishment might be too great for the offence which was committed, yet there was another offence not proved to have been committed, and in that view the punishment was not excessive.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid the hon. and learned Gentleman did not do me the honour to listen to my speech. I never made any assertion so extravagant or absurd.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I did not attribute any extravagant or absurd statement to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I merely say that I did not say anything so extravagant or absurd.
§ MR. REID
Then I withdraw my remark. I must have misunderstood the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I promise to read the speech in the Times again, in order to see whether or not I have made a mistake. The people of Ireland believe that the whole of this procedure is a farce; that a trial is a mockery; that conviction is practically certain; and it is because of the general discredit which attaches to the sentences and the judgments of the Resident Magistrates that they impugn the administration of justice in Ireland. Then there is the question of jury-packing. Say there are 72 men on the panel. The prisoner may challenge six and the Crown six. Then the officer proceeds to call juror after juror until 12 men can enter the box. By the exercise of a right founded on an old Statute never used in England, the Crown can order men to "stand by;" and by this means, not of selection, but of exhaustion, they can put 12 men into the jury box for the purpose of trying the prisoner. That is the system of jury-packing, and that system exists in Ireland at present; and I defy the Government to deny it. The system is in force in nearly all the agrarian and political cases, and the result is that if trial before 659 a Resident Magistrate is a farce, trial, before a jury is a still greater farce; it is a gross fraud on the administration of justice. If the Government deny this, then there is a short and sharp method of meeting it. I am prepared to apply for a Committee to investigate my statement, and, if it is found that I am wrong, to express my regret to the House. Is such a system not a scandal and a disgrace, and do hon. Members opposite think that it is a healthy feature in any Government? Does the hon. Member for Salford believe that Lancashire men would respect, or ought to respect, the law, or should be called upon to obey it, if it were administered in such a manner to them? But what is the object of all these things? It is the most mercenary oppression that has ever existed. There has been in the history of Ireland oppression for divers purposes. We know what happened in the rebellion of 1798 and in other rebellions; but I am not aware that there has been any oppression in Ireland so utterly degraded as this oppression, because it is for the purpose of enabling landlords to get by their own combinations money out of the pockets of their tenants which in equity they ought not to have, and to use the Criminal Law in order to deprive the tenants of the only means they have of resisting those combinations. In 1885 the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) came forward with a programme which has been condemned by many as too extreme. No one followed the right hon. Gentleman more heartily than I did at that time. Indeed, I lost my seat in consequence, and no one looked forward more eagerly than I to see the right hon. Gentleman lead the rival Party. But what shall I say now? The right hon. Gentleman has driven away thousands upon thousands of men who were earnest and sincere in following the flag which he unfurled at that time. The right hon. Gentleman has allied himself with the Party and policy of Coercion, which he has helped to carry out with relentless severity. No man in the history of the last three or four years comes worse out of this business than the right hon. Gentleman. But there are other Members of the Liberal Unionist Party to consider. The Chairman of Committees (Mr. Courtney), in answer to a speech made by the hon. 660 Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis), spoke of the imperfections of the agents of the Government in Ireland. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean the Resident Magistrates or the police? Which did he mean? It is not worthy of a man in his position, if he believes there are defects in the Government of Ireland, not to come forward and assist us. It is not worthy of a man of the great position of the right hon. Gentleman in this House, when he believes there are imperfections in the agents of the Government, not to come forward and assist in endeavouring to find out where they have done wrong. If the Liberal Unionists are to maintain the Union, or to do anything else that is good, it is not by allowing themselves to become the servants out of livery of Her Majesty's Government that they will succeed. Coming to the second part of the Amendment, I am resolutely opposed to pledging British credit for the benefit of the Irish landlords, who have been allowed for a long time to plunder the Irish people, and whom I desire to prevent from plundering the English and Scotch people. The Irish landlords have made their bed and they must lie on it. If I had my will, I should wish to see an Irish Parliament dealing with the Land Question themselves; but I would not object to a settlement of the Irish Land Question being made by this House, if desired, provided British credit is not pledged for the purpose. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham demanded the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian for establishing Home Rule. That plan has been given substantially already; its outline and principles are thoroughly well-known. But before the time comes for a Dissolution it is essential that further particulars should be given on some points; but unless a Dissolution is nearer at hand than it is admitted to be by hon. gentlemen opposite, I, for one, will not press the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian or his Colleagues to come forward with a plan against their will, because I do not wish to withdraw any part of the attention now being paid to the gross misgovernment of Ireland. If, however, Her Majesty's Ministers are prepared to grant a Dissolution, I will do my best 661 to urge on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian the propriety of bringing forward a detailed plan. Will the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham concede the propriety of consulting the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends in regard to the framing of any such measure? If he will, there is no difference in the position which the right hon. Gentleman takes up and ours. I hope the Home Secretary, who will probably speak soon, will tell us what the Government think of the policy propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Is there any sincerity in that move? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham made a speech that was intended, of course, to catch votes if he could get them, and to divert the attention of the country from the present system of government in Ireland; and, I ask, are the Government prepared to make any approach to the views of that right hon. Gentleman, or are they to go on in the course of Coercion? Surely they could not go on spending the resources of the Empire in order to allow injustice to be done by the Clanricardes, the Olpherts, and the Vandeleurs in Ireland. That is the meaning of the policy now pursued. I believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite themselves feel that that policy could not be continued indefinitely. They are working the Constitution at high pressure, and there is danger in protracting this heated controversy. I submit it is not a healthy thing that a man like Mr. O'Brien, who was condemned by the law, should go to large meetings in England and Scotland and be received with acclamation and delight. But the law has been brought into popular contempt in Ireland, and the contamination may extend to England. We cannot be sure that we shall always be at peace; and if we continue this policy of exasperation we cannot tell how long we shall have the Members from Ireland, who I believe are now willing to take a moderate and statesmanlike view of this question, in their present frame of mind. Confident as the Liberal Party are of their triumph at the next General Election, it would be more satisfactory to them and the country if this great controversy could be closed by a national settlement. The time is opportune, and the work is pressing. 662 Is there not virtue and wisdom enough in this great Assembly to effect such a settlement?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
The hon. Member for East Mayo said the other night that boycotted farms in Ireland were not being taken. I wish to challenge that assertion. I have been, during the last six weeks, on ten Plan of Campaign estates. Only a fortnight ago I walked over 13 boycotted holdings on one estate which had been taken by independent men from other counties. I counted the head of cattle on each farm; I saw the leases; I investigated the previous tenancies of the men; and I say that, although the hon. Member for Mayo knows a great deal, he does not know everything, and the House had better take with a pinch of salt everything that comes from that quarter as well as from the Freeman's Journal.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
No; an emergency man has not 50 head of cattle. I also found on that estate 12 men who had retained possession of their farms, and who absolutely refused to join the Plan of Campaign. They had a right to do this. Because they dared to be honest men, because they claimed the right to make their own bargains with their landlord, these men found the greatest difficulty in selling their cattle at fairs, in getting provisions, and in maintaining the ordinary decencies of life. When we see how you treat these men, we know how you would treat us. Let those who are going to govern Ireland learn, first of all, to govern their own passions. Talk of tyranny and terrorism!—on one Campaign estate I had put into my hand three stamped legal documents, signed by the tenant, authorizing the landlord to distrain, the rent being paid all the while, and the documents were to protect the landlord from any subsequent action. [A VOICE: Where was this?] On the Lewis estate. I state nothing that I have not investigated to the bottom. In one case a man had actually asked to be evicted after he had paid his rent, and 663 he asked that a good force of "peelers" should be sent, and that he should be allowed to defend himself against them. [Laughter.] Laughter is no answer to facts; he laughs best who laughs last. On that and on other estates he visited there was a system of terrorism which Home Rule Members support, because they condemned the only machinery for dealing with it. Mr. O'Brien in the speech for which he was condemned said that the presence of a land-grabber was equal to an epidemic of yellow fever, and asked the people not to rest until they had stamped out the plague. How have peasants acted on such advice in the past? In Kerry, the other day, I stood on the threshold of a man who wanted to emigrate, who consulted the agent about the sale of his tenant-right, failed to come to terms with his next neighbour, and finally sold to a man named Cornelius Murphy, who was denounced as a land-grabber, and within a few months was shot dead in his own house. This (addressing the Home Rulers) is what you are supporting. You support it because you denounce the only machinery that can cope with it. Take the case of Forhan, who took a boycotted farm and who was on his way from Tralee market with labourers when he was shot dead on the high road, and peasants who were near would not render assistance. A dozen cases could be given to show what peasants understand by the stamping-out process; and the hon. Member (Mr. O'Brien) who, knowing this, recommended it, was guilty of a criminal act, and deserved to be treated as a criminal. [Mr. MORLEY: Why did they wait four months?] That is the business of the Executive Government. [A VOICE: "What were the dates of the murders?"] The first, the 28th of January, 1888; the second, the 20th of February, 1887, and that of Fitzmaurice in 1888, two days after the delivery of a speech denouncing land-grabbers by Mr. Davitt, within 20 miles of the spot. There is no use in comparing these things with Primrose League actions. Primrose Leaguers never used such language about dissenting shopkeepers; if they did, they could be prosecuted under the ordinary law. Lord Spencer was brought to book the other day, when he was challenged to give a single instance, and could not. 664 As foul charges as were now brought against the Government were once brought against Lord Spencer and the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division. They were charged with hanging an innocent man in Miles Joyce. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Trevelyan) was virtuous. He could forget and forgive; smitten on one cheek he turned the other; and hated then, he was despised now. If the charges were wrong in 1882–3, what proof was there that they are right now? If they were not to be believed then, why should they be credited now? This proposed Vote of Censure was largely founded on the reports of the Freeman's Journal, which, to my own knowledge, has reduced lying to a fine art, and which has more actions hanging over it for lying than all the newspapers in the United Kingdom. I am sorry the case of Father M'Fadden has been referred to at all, because it is before the Courts; but if Father M'Fadden, had acted like a good citizen—
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I rise to order. I ask whether the hon. Member is justified in pronouncing an opinion on the conduct of Father M'Fadden, who is at present under trial, and whether former allusions had not reference solely to the manner in which the Government have treated Father M'Fadden.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is not in my province to decide; the matter is one which rests entirely in the discretion of the hon. Member.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The hon. Member for East Mayo has charged the Government with murder. If Father M'Fadden had acted the part of a good citizen, if he had obeyed the summons of the Court, no warrant would have been necessary, and Inspector Martin might have been alive to-day. Therefore Father M'Fadden, whatever he was legally, was morally responsible for the murder. I was present at the Unionist banquet at Dublin, and I was not aware of any objection to the publication of the names of the company. It is said that there were roars of laughter at the story of Mr. O'Brien's sufferings. I affirm there was nothing of the kind. I am not quite sure whether roars of laughter were not inserted by the Freeman's Journal.
§ MR. DILLON
The same report appeared in the Times, the Dublin Daily 665 Express, and all other papers, and it was a report that was furnished officially, no newspaper reporters being present.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The laughter was provoked by the Chief Secretary's account of the manner in which the Lord Mayor of Dublin made a "holy show" of himself by sending his two ambassadors to the Castle at 2 a.m., and crediting the story of the Chief Secretary's coming down in his shirt with a star on his breast.
§ MR. SEXTON
My telegram was despatched at 11 o'clock and his letter at 1 o'clock, and the roars of laughter occurred long before that.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I and my friends claim to laugh even at the Lord Mayor of Dublin. We claim the right to laugh at what we think fit, even though it concerns Mr. O'Brien, and though attempts may be made to intimidate us, as attempts have been made to intimidate and ruin shopkeepers who refused to put up their shutters out of sympathy for Mr. O'Brien. This is an instance of the liberty that hon. Members believe in. Until they show a little more toleration towards those who differ from them, they ought not to claim self-government. As to the treatment of Mr. O'Brien, I would be quite willing to vote for any Bill providing that imprisonment for all political offences, as these are termed—those of the dupes who commit the crimes as well as those who instigate them—should be without hard labour, or as first-class misdemeanants. But if the law is to be altered, let it be altered on some general principle. It is a mistake to suppose that there are only two classes of offences—the purely political and those of the thief and the gaol bird. There is, for instance, the man who violates the secrecy of the ballot; he is liable to six months' hard labour, and you make him consort with criminals, and you dress him as one. If the law is to be altered, let it be done thoroughly, and not merely for Members of Parliament. The hon. Member for East Mayo stated the other night that he hated crime and did his best to put it down. I ask him this question: Who paid for the defence of he murderers of Huddy?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
You talk of your hatred of crime, yet when one of the foulest murders ever perpetrated in 666 Ireland comes to be tried by jury whose verdict you never yet questioned, you pay for the defence of the murderers.
§ MR. SPEAKER
No doubt the language of the hon. Member, and especially the way in which it was addressed-was very irritating; but I cannot allow the word "lie" to pass in this House, and I hope hon. Gentlemen will refrain from these personalties, which are derogatory to the dignity of the House.
§ MR. RUSSELL
I will put it in this way—(Cries of "Withdraw") If hon. Members will listen to me, I will explain I cannot withdraw that which I know to be true.
§ MR. DILLON
Is that fair play, Mr. Speaker? I put it to you, Sir, when he made this charge he pointed to me.
§ MR. DILLON
He said the hon. Member for East Mayo said he hated crime, and then he pointed at me and said, "Yet you pay for the defence of these murderers."
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is the reason that I said I considered the remarks of the hon. Member to be of an irritating character. I think the hon. Member had better pass away from this matter.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I never intended to refer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo personally as having had anything to do with the defence of these men. I say that most unhesitatingly.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I now come to the question of crime on the Kenmare Estate. At the end of October last year, crime had been reduced almost to a vanishing point. In September in fact there was none at all. But then the Plan of Campaign was inaugurated on the Kenmare Estate and simultaneously crime burst out again and moonlighting and intimidation became rife. You may denounce crime but unquestionably it follows wherever the Plan of Campaign is started.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I rise to say that the hon. Member who interrupted from the gallery has come down and seated himself behind the hon. Member speaking, and is interrupting him.
§ [At this point there was considerable disturbance behind the hon. Member for South Tyrone.]
§ MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)
I want this gentleman to apologize. I will just give him a minute to think, and if he does not apologize I will—
§ MR. H. J. WILSON (York W.R., Holmfirth)
I distinctly saw the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South East Durham personally assault the Member for East Cavan.
§ SIR H. HAVELOCK-ALLAN
With the greatest pleasure. I recognized by chance the hon. Member who is now sitting next me as the hon. Member who made that irregular interruption in the Gallery just now. I had not the slightest intention of bringing myself into personal collision with the hon. Gentleman; that is a thing I should most studiously avoid; but I happened by accident when passing him to come into contact with him, and I regret having done so.
§ MR. O'HANLON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman—as I suppose I am bound to call him—comes over and throws himself on me, and then he offers this as an apology. It is not one, and if he does not apologize, I will not give him much time.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will apologize to the hon. Member. I must say I did observe what apparently was the hon. and gallant Gentleman's throwing himself on the hon. Member. It is most improper, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman must apologize.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I did observe what passed. Nothing could be more improper. The best course for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to take is to apologize.
§ SIR H. HAVELOCK-ALLAN
For a long course of years, Sir, it has been my pride to observe your ruling with the utmost respect. I can assure you that it is a matter of extreme regret to me, and nothing was further from my intention than to hurt the feelings of the hon. Gentleman. I should be loth indeed to come into contact with him.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Really, I hope I may appeal to hon. Members on both sides of the House, and I do appeal to them with confidence, to set their faces against these interruptions. They are most unseemly, and give pain to everybody who has at heart the dignity of the House. I call upon the hon. Member to continue his speech.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The real fact is that the area of disturbance in Ireland is exceedingly limited. Everywhere I went I perceived evidences of the improved state of things. Boycotting was diminishing, and all the scenes at the arrest and trial of certain persons were part of a carefully prepared drama. The grievances of Ireland must, indeed, be few when one of the most prominent put forward was that Mr. O'Brien was made to travel second instead of first class. I heard the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and I believed everything that the right hon. Gentleman says about the land question. [A laugh.] It is very easy to laugh, no doubt, and by way of qualifying for an Irish Parliament to turn that House into a Cogers'-hall. The Land Question was at the root of this whole Irish business, and if we once removed it from the troubled arena of Irish politics, we shall remove the one question which prevents every question from being fairly approached and settled. I shall vote against the Amendment, because no attempt has been made to prove the first part of it, and because the second part had not been touched.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
The House will be very glad to see that the health of the hon. Gentleman has been so completely restored by his recent excursion to Ireland, at the expense of the Times.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I must beg that the hon. Gentleman will not turn this House into a Coger's hall. We are all glad that the hon. Member's health has been so much restored as to enable him to deliver himself with so much energy. But the hon. Gentleman labours under great disabilities, for all the cases which he has trotted out to harrow the feelings of the House are the cases which have already been dealt with at the Times Commission; and as the hon. Member trotted them out one by one, I noticed a sickly smile steal over the face of the Attorney General. I am surprised that the hon. Member could not even wait for the Report of the Judges; but as the Report of the Judges must in this case be that it was a case, and the case of fraud be of a certain character, I can understand the natural anxiety of the hon. Member to be a little in advance of the Report. I will now ask the House to judge of the character of the statements made by the hon. Gentleman. It was stated by him that evicted farms on the Coolgreany estates had been taken, that the tenants had cattle, and that he had seen their leases. But the men who were supposed to be tenants were notorious emergency men who killed Kinsella, and who had never received a day's punishment for the murder. These were the men who were installed on the estate, and assisted by the Loyal and Patriotic Union. This is the contemptible kind of stuff which the House is asked to swallow. I am surprised the hon. Gentleman manages to work himself up into such a passion; why, he is not even an Irishman. The hon. Gentleman says that he found the Plan of Campaign everywhere to be a deadly and blighting curse. But why did he write to the Times to suggest that the head rack-renter, Lord Clanricarde, should be compulsorily expropriated? That was the first, as it was the chief, estate on which the Plan of Campaign was started, yet, regardless of that fact, the hon. Member went down to Portumna and Loughrea 670 and passed over the estate with the police agent, and his suggestion is that, because the Marchioness of Clanricarde was not suitably buried, Lord Clanricarde's estate should be expropriated. The hon. Gentleman also visited the Delmege estate. What did he say to the tenants there? Did he not say to the tenants on that estate that they need not be a bit afraid, and that they were terribly rack-rented? [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL indicated that that was so.] And, according to the information which he had from two of the tenants, the hon. Member told them that they need not fear eviction, as he would take care that neither soldiers nor police were granted for such a purpose. I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman, being a Scotchman, should get up steam so rapidly, and work himself into a passion on behalf of a country with which he has nothing to do, except that he owns an hotel in it. He has stated that the Freeman's Journal, which he says is the most libellous paper in existence, interpolated the roars of laughter in its report of the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland which was delivered at the banquet in Dublin; and he remarked that that paper had had more actions against it than any other paper in the kingdom. I thought that the Times enjoyed that forensic distinction. But why are libel actions brought against the Freeman's Journal? Every one of them is brought by a Resident Magistrate, and the venue is always laid in Belfast, although the hon. Gentleman has talked about the purity of the jurors of the City of Dublin; and when the Freeman's Journal applied to have the venue changed, they went out of the frying-pan into Lord Ashbourne, and that distinguished Member of the Cabinet, who sat in the Court of Appeal, promptly disallowed the appeal. These libel actions are brought for reports and public meetings printed in that Journal, and you lay the venue in Belfast in order to get damages. Now, as to the charge that the Freeman's Journal has interpolated "laughter" in the report of the speech of the Chief Secretary at the banquet in Dublin, I have got a copy of the pamphlet issued, and I have also a copy of the Times which contained a report of the speech. It is said that the Government have on their side all the wealth, education, culture, and 671 courage of Ireland, and that their supporters are only anxious to lead thousands of stalwart men against the Nationalists. But what is the case? These men of wealth, and education, and culture, and courage dared not have it known that they were at tha banquet to the Chief Secretary. No; you won't meet us in the open. The Times report is identical with that in every newspaper. I ask this House, which is a fair assembly, to judge between my statement and that of the hon. Gentleman who last spoke. The Chief Secretary said—I desire not to descend into the squalid details of the controversy which are forced on the Irish Secretary only too often by the tactics of those with whom he has to deal [laughter and cheers]. The last thing I desire to do is to add any to the very many words I have had to say with regard to Mr. William O'Brien [laughter]."Laughter" you see at the mere mention of the name of Mr. O'Brien—it was so funny. Why, the guests bubbled up with laughter like champagne bubbles rise in a bottle just opened. Then the right hon. Gentleman said—The last thing I desired to do was to add another word to the many words I have had to say with regard to Mr. O'Brien [laughter] and Mr. O'Brien's prison treatment.and then there was renewed laughter. "I take little interest in these histrionic performances," and then there was more laughter; they would not give him a chance to go on. "I take even less interest in them on the second representation [laughter]." Then he said—I ought, perhaps, to say a word, and I assure you it shall be a great word, on the communication I had the honour of receiving at about a quarter to one last night—[prolonged laughter]—a telegram from the Lord Mayor of Dublin—[renewed laughter]—which I allude to now, because I take it it represents the national case with regard to Mr. O'Brien's treatment in prison, and in this document, the original of which I have got in my hand, I read—I won't read it all—'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.]'What are you to think of a man who will make these utterly reckless and un-sifted statements? The Chief Secretary has also said that my Friend O'Brien 672 objected to travel second class. The only objection Mr. O'Brien took was this—I will insist upon being treated in Ireland as I have been treated in England. I will not allow you to act the hypocrite in England by taking me first class, and then, when you get me to Ireland, trying to huddle me in a second or third-class carriage. I will insist upon equal treatment in the two countries.Now, with regard to the statement that Mr. O'Brien objected to the prison clothes. I wonder Dr. O'Farrell's report, which was published this morning, did not contain Mr. O'Brien's statement to me about prison clothes! Will it surprise the House that Mr. O'Brien does not object in the least to prison clothes? I will read Mr. O'Brien's statement on the point, and thus show that the stories flying about amount to an abominable hypocrisy got up to pretend that this man desires better treatment because he is a Member of Parliament. Mr. O'Brien says:—He (Dr. O'Farrell) asked had I any complaint of the way in which the other officials had carried out their orders? I told him that it was not the officials I complained of, but their orders. I said, 'Of course, they used very considerable force and violence, and caused me very cruel suffering, but I admit that they did not use more force than was necessary, because I resisted with all my strength, and it was undoubtedly necessary for them to use very considerable force if they were to succeed in overpowering me. They did overpower me; but I do not charge that they did so with any wilful brutality or ill-temper.' Dr. O'Farrell then asked me whether I objected to his examining me, and I said, 'Not in the least; neither to you nor to anyone else.' At the same time, I told him distinctly that I was fighting this matter, not as a sick man, but as a political prisoner. I said, 'I will contend for nothing that the poorest or the commonest man convicted under the Summary Jurisdiction Clause of the Coercion Act is not equally entitled to. With me it is not in the least a question of food or even of treatment, but of classification. I told the officials before in Tullamore—and I am quite as willing now, as then, to carry out the proposition—that this whole struggle might be obviated by the simple expedient of making all prisoners convicted under the Summary Jurisdiction Clause of this Act a separate 'class.' Whatever their treatment might be, if this were done, I, for one, would not have the slightest objection to wear whatever prison uniform would be set apart for that 'class,' or to perform any menial offices whatever that would be imposed on my comrades. Those who think us criminals could think so still, and would have the satisfaction of punishing us as much as any ordinary criminals could be punished, while we would have it established that it was under this Act, and under this Act alone, that we were criminals; but the object of our present treatment 673 clearly is to attempt to degrade and confound us with criminals.[An hon. MEMBER: What is the paper you are quoting from?] This statement was made to me by Mr. O'Brien on the day Mr. O'Brien was convicted in Tralee. The statement was made 12 months ago to the prison officials of Tullamore that he was fighting not for food or clothes, but that he should be put into a separate class, and should not be compelled to associate with the burglar, the thief, and the forger. You can print the broad arrow two feet long on his back if you like; Mr. O'Brien will not mind. Now, the Chief Secretary has often been convicted, especially in relation to matters arising under this Act, of misstatement, misrepresentation, and I will say falsification of fact, as clearly as any man has ever been found guilty by a jury. I would convict the right hon. Gentleman now, and here, of as deliberate an attempt to pervert the truth in relation to this matter—[Cries of "Oh!" and "Order!"] I do not wish to put my words offensively, but I will convict him of as great a misstatement as any man was ever guilty of. The Chief Secretary stated in his letter to Mr. Armitage that any Government which allowed Mr. O'Brien's speech to go unpunished might make itself accessory to assasination. Why, then, did the Government allow four months to elapse before prosecuting the speech? Feeling the pressure of that point, the right hon. Gentleman put up the Solicitor General for Ireland yesterday to make a statement—Pigotted him, in fact, and he Pigotted the House. The Solicitor General for Ireland said the reason of that was because the First Lord of the Treasury gave a promise that until the Irish Estimates were disposed of there should be no pursuance of any prosecution of Irish Members. That was the excuse. Will the House believe that this speech was made on the 30th of September? Two months afterwards, on the 23rd of November, the First Lord's promise was made. I call that Pigottry.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I understand that the hon. and learned Gentleman has deliberately accused me of wilful falsehood, because my hon. and learned Friend near me, in discussing this incident, said one of the reasons was that the First Lord of the Treasury had not 674 given the pledge in question till the 23rd of November, and the speech was delivered on the 30th of September. Of course, I should be out of order in dealing with the whole of this question, which I am perfectly prepared to deal with—which I only admitted to deal with—through inadvertence, an inadvertence which the House will excuse when they recollect that I spoke for two hours. What I ask is whether it is in order to accuse me of deliberate falsehood because my hon. and learned Friend near me did not give as full and effective an explanation of the facts as seemed consistent to the hon. and learned Gentleman?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member did make use of an expression which I trust will not become common in this House. It implied the statement I have made.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
In dealing with a matter like this, it is very difficult, on the spur of the moment, to capture the most suitable expression to characterize the Minister's statement. Therefore, I will content myself by the baldest recital of the circumstances. The Chief Secretary writes to Mr. Armitage that the speech delivered on the 30th of September, if unprosecuted, would involve the Government in being accessory to assassination. The point taken thereon is—"Why did you not prosecute for four months?" Reply—"Because the First Lord of the Treasury promised there should be no prosecutions pending the Estimates." Rebuttal—"Turn to the First Lord of the Treasury's statement, and you will find the date of the promise was 23rd November, two months afterwards, and Parliament was not sitting at the time the speech was made."
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN)
I ought to call to the recollection of the House exactly what I did state. I only accounted for the difference of time between the date of the First Lord's pledge and the conclusion of the Session, and I said that if that period of time were deducted, that made the delay very much less than what was mentioned.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I have sent out for a record, the accuracy of which will hardly be disputed by the Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman—namely, the Times. In the meantime, assuming the validity of the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman—who had a very difficult position in having to make up for the blunders of the Chief Secretary for Ireland—the point I have put forward remains. While the First Lord of the Treasury was, I hope, virtuously disporting himself at Cannes or Monaco, this Speech remained unprosecuted by Her Majesty's Government. I have now been furnished with the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman as reported in the Times, and they are as follows:—The right hon. Member for Newcastle asked how it was that Mr. O'Brien was not prosecuted until January for the speech he had made in September. Well, the simple answer was that a pledge had been given by the Leader of the House, that Members of Parliament should not be proceeded against until the Estimates were finally disposed of, which did not happen till Christmas Eve, and then the intervention of Christmas carried the proceedings over till January.What is more, that pledge only applied to Members against whom warrants or summonses were then issued, and my hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton) simply asked, after the Jeremiah Sullivan incident, that there should be no further prosecutions until the Irish Estimates were disposed of. The Government had the entire month of October in which to proceed against the Irish Members. Parliament did not meet until about the middle of November, and during all that time this virtuous Unionist Government was making itself "accessory to assassination." That is not all, for—will the House believe it?—Mr. O'Brien was not prosecuted for the speech in question until two other summonses for different matters in Kerry had been determined upon. I will supply the House with another extraordinary fact—namely, that there was no thought of prosecuting Mr. O'Brien so long as the late Governor of Clonmel—a respectable old Catholic gentleman, who was believed to be more or less in sympathy with the Nationalists—remained alive. He was unhappily drowned about the beginning of the present year, and until the Government brought down from Downpatrick an instrument 676 on whom they could rely for inflicting this torture upon Mr. O'Brien, they never dreamt of commencing proceedings against Mr. O'Brien. I ask the Chief Secretary whether that statement is true?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the hon. Gentleman asks me, I will reply on the spot. It is wholly untrue—it is wholly incorrect. The speech was made on the 30th of September. In due course it came to me early in October, and I stated it was my opinion that the language ought to be prosecuted. The Attorney General thought a prosecution would lie, but desired evidence of a recrudescence of the conspiracy. As soon as he heard of it, he said that such language ought not to go unpunished. I never knew until a week ago that the Governor of Clonmel Gaol had been replaced.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Observe the present statement the right hon. Gentleman makes. I will not imitate the right hon. Gentleman by saying that the statement is wholly untrue. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: I apologize.] The statement now is that in the month of October the opinion of the Chief Secretary that the speech ought to be prosecuted went to the Attorney General for Ireland. The Attorney General, who is not a sleepy man, allowed the matter to lie for four months. Now, what is the evidence of a recrudescence of the conspiracy? The principal witness was one W. T. Hanly, one of the Times' witnesses, who had in my presence sworn that he had not been subpoenaed by the Times, but whom, two days afterwards, the Attorney General had to interrupt Mr. Harrington's evidence to call, because he had been subpoenaed for a long time, and was waiting to give his evidence. William P. Hanly, of Thurles, land agent, deposed, in the presence of Mr. O'Brien—I was acting in 1887 and 1888 as agent for Mr. Cormack, over the lands of Modeshill, County Tipperary. I am the person referred to in Mr. O'Brien's speech given in evidence today. I see the Civil Bill Decree produced. It is Mr. Wall's signature to it, and the handwriting of Mr. Boyd, Clerk of the Peace. The Sub-Sheriff wrote the name of Andrew Carden in my presence. Captain Andrew Carden was High Sheriff, and Mr. Gerald Fitzgerald Sub-Sheriff, that year. That is Mr. Fitzgerald's hand-writing to that decree. I received possession under the Sheriff's warrant on that 677 decree. I have still the lands mentioned in that decree in my hands. I got possession under the four other ejectment decrees handed in. All those are for the lands of Modeshill, and are signed by the County Court Judge and Clerk of the Peace, and the warrants are signed by the Sheriff of the County Tipperary. The decrees are at the suit of Michael D. Cormack v. Michael Power, Michael D. Cormack v. Patrick Funcheon, Michael D. Cormack v. Martin Drennan, Michael D. Cormack v. Patrick Puncheon and Bridget Keeffe.That was the entire evidence given on behalf of the Crown. That is the evidence of the recrudescence of the conspiracy. I beg the House to listen to this man's cross-examination to see how much Mr. O'Brien's speech, made on the 30th September, had to do with the prosecution:—Cross-examined by Mr. Healy—When were the lands evicted? In May, 1888. Did you make any effort to tenant the lands? I have made no effort to get them tenanted since. It was in 1884 there was a feeling against land-grabbing, and it increase in 1889. The Land League was just dying out until the recent agitation about two or three months ago.Re-examined by Mr. Ryan—I attribute the revival of the Land League to the Thurles Convention. Boycotting was revived. The Convention was on the 24th October. No one would take the evicted farm until the tenant settles. A great number of them I could not get tenants for, and that continues up to the present in Tipperary.To the Court—Modeshill is about 14 miles from Carrick-on-Suir. I don't know where Ballyneale is.Such is the evidence upon which you have sentenced Mr. O'Brien to four months' imprisonment, and to be assaulted in the abominable way he has been assaulted. It is said Mr. William O'Brien was put in the charge of officials Were Protestant officials put in place of Catholic officials? Were Catholic warders removed from the prison where Mr. O'Brien was to be taken, and were Protestant warders put in their place? Above all, I have to ask with regard to this man, whom your own doctors, Dr. Barr and Dr. Ridley, said was a delicate man, and as to whose state of health the Chief Secretary says he has lots of evidence, whether he has been put in charge of a doctor who has been recently liberated from a lunatic asylum? Is Dr. Hewetson a liberated lunatic or not? There is no answer from the Treasury Bench. This accounts for your waiting four months. So long as the old Governor of the gaol lived—a quiet, respectable, decent man—no attempt was 678 made against Mr. O'Brien in Clonmel gaol, but then you bring a warder from Downpatrick and make a prison doctor of a liberated lunatic, who boasted he would soon put Mr. O'Brien into prison clothes. Would it not be desirable that, for your own self-protection, you should take some measures of precaution to prevent these terrible accusations being made against you? The hon. Member for South Tyrone says we made desperate charges against Irish officials in Dublin. Yes; and, what is still more melancholy, we proved every one of them. Where are the men we attacked in '83? Where is Cornwall, the Secretary of the General Post Office? A hunted felon! Where is Detective Director French? A hunted felon! Where are all the rest of the gang, some of whom have been playfellows of Lords Lieutenants in the past? Perhaps if Mr. Richard Pigott could be produced we might get some further evidence as to his trade in obscene literature. [An hon. MEMBER: Photographs.] We proved all the charges we made in 1883. Not a single official we attacked in connection with these desperate crimes but has been hunted out of the country like unclean things as they were. The hon. Member for South Tyrone gets up and, tearing a passion to tatters, declares we have been attacking white-robed angels, when you know you did not dare to allow Cornwall or any one of them their pensions. There are men whom we have met before the Commission against whom we have said no word in relation to this very matter; but if we should, you will see whether two years hence a Government will get up and say we made the accusations with absolutely no foundation. I tell the Government this thing is not through yet, and when the hon. Member for South Tyrone talks to us about making false accusations, I think the less said on the subject of false accusations by a paid pamphleteer of the Times the better so long as an unsavoury odour lingers around the employés of that respectable journal. Now, I take up another matter to test the accuracy of the Chief Secretary's statements in his letter to Mr. Armitage, I assert it as a positive fact that he is unable to prove a single statement he made therein. He says that it is not true that five warders attacked Mr. O'Brien, and in 679 the struggle tore his clothes off. Perhaps his contention is that there were only four warders?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No; that was not my point at all. I made the contradiction in all candour, and meant that the statement as a whole was entirely untrue.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Mr. O'Brien's statement is that the chief warder directed him to strip and put on the prison clothes, and on his refusal three other warders, with the chief warder, rushed upon him, the Governor standing by. They threw him down and dragged his clothes away. One of the warders placed his knee on the prisoner's chest, and, perhaps, not intentionally, caused him considerable suffering. He heard someone say, "Don't hurt him," and the knee was removed. Now, whether will the House believe Mr. O'Brien or the Chief Secretary? If these denials are persisted in will a sworn, inquiry into the subject be granted? Or will you allow a sworn inquiry to wait, as it did in the case of Mr. Mandeville, until it takes the form of a coroner's inquest? This is the only sworn inquiry open to these unfortunate prisoners in Ireland. You meet their testimony with denials in this House, the victims die and their friends repeat their testimony; the coroner's jury find it true, and then you get the coroner's decision quashed in the Queen's Bench. Now, I am not making the point that, if a man is to be stripped, force, if it is legal, should not be used to overcome resistance. I am dealing with the Chief Secretary's denial that force was used. Mr. O'Brien says he was flung on the floor; the Chief Secretary denies that. Mr. O'Brien struggled against the execution of the order to cut off his hair and beard; he remembered some dashes at him with scissors, and became unconscious. When he recovered, he found his mouth full of hair. No wonder the Liberal Unionists at the banquet laughed. I remember other Philistines who laughed over a similar triumph at another famous banquet. The Chief Secretary goes on to deny that the prisoner was left naked in his cell for 36 hours—says it is all a dream of Mr. O'Brien's imagination. Meanwhile, before dawn, shortly after seven, Mr. O'Brien was aroused, unless indeed they took furtive glances 680 through the spy-hole. The prisoner drank but could not eat, walking about to keep himself warm and getting what warmth he could from the hot water pipe. At the usual hour a plank bed, mattress, and two blankets were brought, but no pillow. Mr. O'Brien says he could not sleep, cold as he was, and got what comfort he could from resting his head on the water pipe. Noble spectacle for Liberal Unionist laughter! Might I suggest to the Government that instead of some of the frescoes that commemorate the deeds of your forefathers and adorn the corridors communicating between this and the House of Lords—removing, for instance, from entablature, the "Last sleep of Argyle"—they should commission an artist to design, as a substitute, this Bed of O'Brien at Clonmel. This is the man whom twenty millions of the Queen's subjects love as if he were their brother, and who, if they had it in their power, would, rather than a hair of his head were touched, see every Tory Minister and Liberal Unionist at Jericho. All this is matter for jeers and sneers and laughter at a Liberal Unionist banquet! Why, from point of policy, to put it no higher, is it desirable that these things should go on? I tell the Government that if anything had happened to this man they would have had Ireland in a state in which not 50 Coercion Bills would have succeeded in restoring what you call a condition of law and order. It is to this fact we may attribute whatever little concessions were made, not to the brutal cynicism of official gentlemen who sneer and cheer and laugh at a Liberal Unionist banquet. Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary was enjoying himself, paid by the country he deceived at the hustings with promises of no coercion. He was careful to tell the Liberal Unionists he "slept the sleep of the just!" Mr. O'Brien describes the scene, and continues to narrate how he was dragged along, he not knowing the intention was to weigh him. The Secretary for War the other night said the weighing-machine was brought up to the door of the cell, Mr. O'Brien having to walk no distance at all. Now, I should like to see this weighing-machine. I should like to know how far it is a portable machine. Why, in regard to a man towards whom you have used every 681 indignity, and knocked him down, stripped him, put him in prison clothes, cut off his beard and hair, you should be so careful of his feelings as to bring the weighing-machine to the door of his cell, I cannot understand. Mr. O'Brien, with no intimation of the intention to weigh him, found himself being dragged across the main hall of the building; then, finding himself put on the machine, he still resisted, because, he said, after the manner in which he had been treated, he would yield to nothing but force. The attempt to weigh was abandoned, and he was taken back to his cell, where he removed his prison clothes, retaining nothing but his shirt. The door was closed, the warders making no attempt to force him into the clothes again. A prisoner can only compute time by meal-times and the sound of clocks he may hear, and Mr. O'Brien did this. Food was brought, but neither Governor nor Doctor came near the man who had suffered brutal violence, and was left hour after hour naked in his cell, his plank bed and covering taken away, his quilt dragged from him as too great a luxury, and the prisoner resumed his walk up and down his cell in his shirt. So he remained until the doctor was brought to his senses by what the Chief Secretary calls a system of intimidation. All I say is, God bless the means that brought the doctor to his senses. I tell you straight the only protection William O'Brien had from being done to death in his prison was that the doctor found out mighty quickly that if he took William O'Brien's life, his own period of doctorship in Clonmel gaol might not be a very pleasant one. It was not to pity, not to humanity, not, respect for law and order, but what you describe as intimidation, that you yielded and gave this man clothes to cover himself. If intimidation works miracles like this can you wonder it should be practised? If you will not yield to humanity and good sense, then I say long live intimidation. For generations you were deaf to all appeals, then the people of Ireland combined, and to intimidation you yielded what you refused to logical argument. In the same way this prison doctor found there was a feeling swelling up outside that if O'Brien were killed the people of Clonmel and of Ireland would know the reason why. 682 But the Chief Secretary did not state who was the person who committed the assault on the doctor's house. It is a curious incident that he is a Liberal Unionist. His name is Kingston, and his father is employed in the Sub-Sheriff's office. He was caught at once by the police standing opposite the house, and brought before my hon. Friend the Mayor of Clonmel who on the previous day was sentenced to four months' imprisonment and was then out on bail. My hon. Friend made the first use of his liberty in sentencing Kingston to the utmost penalty the law allowed, a fine of forty shillings or a month's imprisonment. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell this story, but I leave the House to judge why. This was the only incident of violence offered to the Doctor—or if there were others why did you not institute a prosecution. Kingston was sentenced by the Mayor, and I am not surprised, for Kingston said he threw the stone as the result of a Liberal Unionist plot. I have not the slightest doubt that Kingston's fine of 40s. will be paid by Mr. Houston of the Loyal and Patriotic League. Yes, I am informed that a member of the Conservative party in Clonmel came forward and paid the fine. The right hon. Gentleman finds all this extremely amusing. Well, I do not know that if I were drawing a salary of £4,400 a-year and coals, that I should find it so extremely amusing to be caught out in several gross perversions of the truth, but then people are differently constituted. The Chief Secretary having been categorically shown to have misstated facts in several instances, finds it subject for laughter only! Now I come to the final statement upon which the whole speech in Dublin was based, that Mr. O'Brien refused to allow himself to be medically examined. Was that true or false? The right hon. Gentleman has himself confessed it was absolutely false, and there is not a shred or shadow of foundation for it. The right hon. Gentleman, in his letter to the Times, says—To say that Mr. O'Brien threw every obstacle in the way of medical examination is excessive, he allowed his pulse to be felt, and the stethoscope to be used, but he declined to be weighed, and declined to answer questions as to the present or previous state of his health. From what happens was this, according to Mr. 683 O'Brien's account. The doctor placed a stethoscope to his heart, felt his pulse, placed another instrument to his breast, and struck him lightly on the stomach. Mr. O'Brien told the doctor he was at perfect liberty to examine him, but he declined to answer questions because of the perversions of his answers on a previous occasion when the Chief Secretary stated the hon. Member had sheltered himself under plea of a weak heart. What are we to think of the statement of an official who says Mr. O'Brien threw every obstacle in the way of medical examination? There is not a shred or tittle of truth in the statement. When caught out in this statement, when gibbetted at the cross roads of public opinion, he comes with his letter to the Times, saying this statement was excessive. I do not think it was excessive, it was Balfouresque. 'It would be more correct to say,' said the Chief Secretary, 'that Mr. O'Brien threw very serious obstacles in the way of medical examination.'This is equally unfounded. He threw no obstacle in the way; he simply declined to answer any question as to his previous history, because the Chief Secretary, when he was imprisoned in Tullamore, made the most atrocious misuse of statements made, declaring that Mr. O'Brien sheltered himself behind the plea of a weak heart. This is the Gentleman who has charge of five millions of Her Majesty's subjects, who has the liberties of every man in Ireland at his disposal. This magnanimous Gentleman, who has the fate of Irish Members in his hands, gets up and makes a statement that is absolutely unfounded, and when it is shattered and riven, withdraws it with about as much grace as the Attorney General withdraws the forged letters from before the Royal Commission.
§ It being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.