§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,729,203, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1890, viz.:—
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens||12,000|
|Houses of Parliament||6,000|
|Admiralty, Extension of Buildings||500|
|Furniture of Public Offices||3,000|
|Revenue Department Buildings||35,000|
|County Court Buildings||5,000|
|Metroplitan Police Courts||3,000|
|Sheriff Court Houses, Scotland||3,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||40,000|
|Science and Art Department Buildings||3,000|
|British Museum Buildings||2,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||3,000|
|Harbours, &c., under Board of Trade||2,000|
|Rates on Government Property (Great and Ireland)||80,000|
|Metropolitan Fire Brigade||2,500|
|Public Works and Buildings||35,000|
|Science and Art Buildings, Dublin||7,000|
|House of Lords, Offices||6,000|
|House of Commons, Offices||6,000|
|Treasury, including Parliamentary Counsel||10,000|
|Home Office and Subordinate Departments||15,000|
|Privy Council Office and Subordinate Departments||6,000|
|Board of Trade and Subordinate Departments||20,000|
|Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade||3|
|Charity Commission (including Endowed Schools Department)||6,000|
|Civil Service Commission||7,000|
|Exchequer and Audit Department||9,000|
|Friendly Societies, Registry||1,500|
|Land Commission for England||2,000|
|Local Government Board||27,000|
|Mint (including Coinage)||20,000|
|National Debt Office||2,500|
|Paymaster General's Office||4,000|
|Public Works Loan Commission||1,500|
|Registrar General's Office||8,000|
|Stationery Office and Printing||70,000|
|Woods, Forests, &c. Office of||6,000|
|Works and Public Buildings, Office of||8,000|
|Mercantile Marine Fund, Grant in Aid||15,000|
SIR. G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)
I rise for the purpose of moving the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £500, being part of the salary of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
The junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) has given notice of an Amendment to reduce the salary of the Home Secretary, which will come before that of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell).
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I have an Amendment to propose which will come before that of my hon. Friend and Colleague.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
My Amendment is to reduce the Vote for Royal Palaces by £1,000. It is really too bad that these sums should be voted and the main question put off until the end of the Session, when we are afforded no opportunity of discussing the Estimates. The first Vote in Class 1 is £34,238 for the Royal Palaces, and we are now asked to vote £5,000 on account. We have a considerable number of Royal Palaces in the occupation of Her Majesty; other palaces partly in the occupation of Her Majesty, and also a large number of palaces which do not appear to be in any way occupied by Her Majesty. They are called palaces, but are really houses, such as Hawthorn Lodge, Hawthorn Cottage, Waglands, and others. I understand that they are granted by Her Majesty to friends. I do not complain of the way in which they are granted; but my objection is that every year we should be called upon to vote a considerable sum for keeping up these different houses. For my part, I should be glad to see them all sold and the money paid into the Consolidated Fund. That, however, is a large proposal which I cannot raise upon these Estimates. Nevertheless, I have a right to raise this point, that when these houses are granted, those to whom they are given should be called upon to keep them up and pay for the necessary repairs. When a man takes a house he frequently does so on a repairing lease, and it would be very little to ask that that principle should be pursued in this case. I always have protested against this Vote, and I always intend to protest against it. There is another item in the Vote which I have also protested against—the item for Hampton Court Stud House. Here we have £405 for maintenance, repairs and furniture in connection with Hampton Court Stud House. Last year we spent £415. The keeping up of this Stud House appears to be a most expensive thing, and I have never yet discovered, although I have asked year after year, what becomes of our foals. The foals are sold; somebody gets the money; but I have never yet seen in any sort of way that the country which keeps up the Stud House is credited with the price realized by the produce of the mares 261 that are kept there. Under these circumstances I beg to move that the Vote for Royal Palaces be reduced by the sum of £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Item of £5,000, for Royal Palaces, be reduced by £1,000."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 71.—(Division List, No. 34.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
The reduction which I wish to move is a specific reduction of the sum of £200, being two months' salary of the Chief Inspector of Factories, and also of a further sum of £280.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but I am afraid that we should not be able to discuss the remaining Votes in Class 1 if we proceed now to discuss the Votes in Class 2.
The hon. Member must be aware that if any action is taken in regard to Class 2, the Committee cannot go back again upon Class 1.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
As the Secretary to the Treasury is in his place, I wish to learn from him whether there is any precedent for a Vote of this size being taken at this period of the Session?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
The total amount now asked for follows the precedent of previous years, and represents an expenditure of about two months. When I say that it represents the expenditure of about two months, I do not mean to say that it represents one-sixth of the whole expenditure. Hon. Members will see that that is not so, because there are certain payments which come in quarterly, and, therefore, the payments for the first quarter are larger than they are at some other periods of the year. The main cause of the total of the Vote exceeding one-sixth of the total Estimates is due to the fact that the education payments are much larger in April than they are at some other periods of the year. It will be seen that the amount taken for education represents about one-fourth of the whole, while the amount for the Science and Art Department represents less than one-sixth, on account of the 262 payments not coming in so early. But some of the other Votes represent considerably more than one-sixth—such as that for Criminal Prosecutions—nearly the whole of which is required to be paid early in the year. The same thing applies to the rates on Government property and the Mint, and to some other items, although to a less extent—such as the Consular Services, where the salaries are paid quarterly, and the superannuation retiring allowances, which, to a great extent, are also paid quarterly. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that former precedents have been strictly followed.
§ MR. JACKSON
I cannot give precedents for the amount, but only for the period. It was formerly the custom to take a three or four months' Supply. That was objected to, and the period has been since reduced to a two months' Supply. No objection has ever been raised to the taking of a two months' Supply on the first Vote on Account.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I assume that it will be necessary to come to the House for another Vote on Account within two months of the present date?
§ *MR. J. E. ELLIS) (Nottingham, Rushcliffe
I should like to ask a question as to what is going on in Westminster Hall, which I imagine comes under the head of Houses of Parliament. I feel bound to protest against the unsightly steps which are being placed on one side of Westminster Hall. I think the First Commissioner of Works will himself allow that they will entirely destroy the effect of that great hall, and therefore I wish to ask him under what circumstances their construction has been sanctioned?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
There is another question I should like the right hon. Gentleman to answer. He and I were upon the Committee which sat the year before last upon the new buildings for the Admiralty and War Office. The old plan was set aside and a new plan adopted. One of the great inducements was that it was extremely important the offices of the Admiralty should be reconstructed within a short period, and one of the requirements was that the new Admiralty should be finished within three years. It does not appear to me 263 that anything has been done on that subject, and I should be glad to learn what the prospects are of the work being completed within the three years.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith, &c.)
There is a matter connected with the Royal Palaces which I wish to bring under the notice of the First Commissioner of Works. The area inclosing the Royal Gardens at Buckingham Palace is one for which no parallel can be found in any other country in Europe. Neither in Berlin, nor Vienna, nor in any other capital with which I am acquainted, is there anything of this nature. There are something like 50 acres of land in the centre of the greatest capital of the world which are practically unutilized and seldom used by the Sovereign. It is never seen by Her Majesty's subjects, and I think, without detracting from its advantages as a Crown residence in London, that a large portion of this area might be thrown open to the people of this country. I believe that that is a feeling which is very widely entertained. I have no desire to say one word which could be deemed disrespectful in regard to Her Majesty, nor have I any wish to see Buckingham Palace rendered a less desirable residence, but I think that a portion of this large area might be rendered available for the people generally.
§ *MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
I should be glad to learn from my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works what the approximate cost would be of completing the statuary at the north entrance to Westminster Hall. That of the south entrance has been completed, and it is a pity that the rest should remain unfinished. I also wish to know how it is proposed to complete the angle of the road opposite Henry VII.'s Chapel? Is it proposed to carry the railing up to the St. Stephen's entrance to this House, or what is to be done? I will also ask whether it will not be possible next year to put down in the Estimates a sufficient sum to complete the Mosaics in the great Central Lobby? When we have spent four millions of money over these splendid Houses of Parliament I think it is a very great mistake to leave them unfinished. Then, again, is it not possible to put down a sufficient sum of money to fill the northern window of Westminster Hall 264 with stained glass? To leave this noblest of civic halls unfinished for the sake of a few thousand pounds is certainly discreditable to this country. I do not suppose that I have the power of converting the Radical Party opposite, whose special prerogative it is to pose as economists, but it does seem to me that there can be no adequate reason why these necessary completions of improvements, already carried out, should not be perfected.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I have no wish to embarrass the right hon. Gentleman; but I should like to know the intentions of the Government with regard to the ugly shed in Palace Yard under which Members' horses are allowed to take exercise? If the Government have any desire to sell it cheap, it seems to me that it would be much more in place in some of the Cheshire salt-works.
§ *THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET,) University of Dublin
I may tell my hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire (Mr. de Lisle) and other hon. Members that it is not possible at once to carry out all the improvements which we may think desirable in this House, or in any of the other public buildings under our charge; and I cannot undertake to put into the Estimates for the coming year the sum named by my hon. Friend. With regard to the statuary, I will have a calculation made, and will give my hon. Friend the information for which he asks. As to Buckingham Palace Gardens, this is the first time I have ever heard it suggested that they should be dealt with except as private gardens connected with the Palace. At the present time they form a great breathing and open-air space in a very important part of the Metropolis. I am not prepared to recommend that these private gardens should be dealt with in the way suggested by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Munro Ferguson). With reference to the Admiralty buildings, some delay was caused in the autumn on account of the suggestions which came from the Admiralty as to the additional requirements which they thought were necessary. Then, again, greater difficulties arose with respect to the foundations than we were prepared for; but those difficulties would also have applied equally to the alternative plan. The 265 operations are still going on, and are, as far as the foundations are concerned, nearly completed. We hope, before long, to be able to press the matter further. With regard to the steps in Westminster Hall, I have to say that what we have done has been done entirely in pursuance of the decision which was come to by the Committee of this House. The hon. Member will find all the information he wants in the Report of the Committee.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS
With all deference to the authority the right hon. Gentleman quotes, I cannot but regard this as an excrescence. I cannot believe that steps such as these ever existed in this noble hall, and I cannot but express my great regret that any Committee was ever found to approve a plan for such a disfigurement. As I passed through the Hall and saw these steps they seemed to me more like a temporary structure for election purposes than anything applicable to this noble interior. I think we ought to mark our sense of this disfigurement by taking a Division on a reduction of the Vote. I will not move it now, however, for I believe my hon. Friend near me has a reduction to propose.
MR. R. C. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith)
In connection with this Vote I wish to call attention to the grounds of Buckingham Palace and to the large space that is surrounded by a very high wall and chevaux-de-frise on the top. A large open space is thus withheld from the sight of the people of London. One hears a good deal of the large spaces that are jealously inclosed in different parts of the country, so inclosed that people cannot enjoy the beauty of the land, but I know of no case where it is more desirable to have the full benefit of an open space than in regard to this garden. Besides the size and character of this inclosure, be it remembered, the road down Constitution Hill is not open for traffic, and this is a great inconvenience to those who, having to proceed from one part of London to another, have to make a wide detour round this park and garden. To call attention to this subject I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £500 in regard to Buckingham Palace.
§ *MR. D. R. PLUNKET
From many statements that are made on this subject, it might be supposed by persons unacquainted with London and the circumstances that this palace and garden comprised land that had been inclosed by a monstrous invasion of public rights. It has, however, been explained already that this space has always been recognized as the private garden of the Sovereign. I may also point out that the garden is placed close to one of the largest parks in the Metropolis, so it cannot be said that this part of London suffers from any want of open space.
MR. R. C. MUNRO FERGUSON
I intended to make a comparison between this and such country seats as are scattered all over the country inclosed in such a private manner that it is impossible for inhabitants of the neighbourhood to derive any advantage from them. I might refer the right hon. Gentleman to many Royal Gardens in Continental capitals where no such seclusion is maintained, and where inclosure is so arranged that the inhabitants can enjoy a view of the garden. In the case of Buckingham Palace Garden you see nothing but a high blank wall, and it is impossible to derive the least enjoyment from the garden. In fact, this space is practically lost to the people of London.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Many hon. Members will remember, or at any rate they will see from old prints and plans, that in times gone by a high wall ran all round St. James's Park. This was a usual feature in olden times until, under more enlightened ideas, the walls were levelled to the ground. There is not the least intention in any sort of way to intrude on the privacy of Her Majesty; and, besides, it is very seldom that Her Majesty occupies Buckingham Palace. Now, in Paris, even during the Empire, the greater part of the gardens of the Tuilleries was open to the public, a small portion being cut off and reserved for the use of the Imperial Family. So, it seems to me, a small portion of Buckingham Palace Gardens might be reserved, and during the residence of Her 267 Majesty in the Palace the public might be excluded from the whole of the gardens. Considering how infrequent and brief Her Majesty's visits there are, there surely is no need for this high surrounding wall. My hon. Friend has referred to another point, that if you cut off a large space by this garden, there is all the more reason why Constitution Hill should be thrown open to the public. It cannot be said that exclusion here is maintained to secure the privacy of the garden, because carriages do absolutely pass before Buckingham Palace; and yet, by some old, obsolete rule, they are prevented from passing along Constitution Hill. Last year, it may be remembered, I raised this point, and asked for a list of the persons privileged to drive here. I sometimes walk along the road, and I meet somebody driving in a carriage whom I presume is some grandee; but, as one of those who help to pay for the maintenance of the road, I ask why this grandee should be allowed to drive along it, while I am not allowed to do so in a cab or other humble vehicle that inferior people use. I hope my hon. Friend is going to divide, because it is not only the question of Buckingham Palace Garden—on which I can understand there may be much difference of opinion—but it includes the question of the exclusion of the public from Constitution Hill.
§ *MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, West)
Last year, on the same occasion as that referred to by the hon. Member for Northampton, I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman as to the exclusion of the public from Constitution Hill during Her Majesty's absence from town. I got no answer, but perhaps I may be more successful now. Why should not Constitution Hill be thrown open during the absence of Her Majesty from town? If there is any real objection, what is it?
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I hope this reduction will meet with the strongest support—it is a protest against these grounds being reserved merely for a number of officials. It is simply this, and no question of intruding on the privacy of Her Majesty. Her Majesty does not make use of the garden; it is simply kept up for the use of the people employed at the Palace, and would, I think, be put to better use if dedicated to the use of the public.
DR. FARQHARSON) (Aberdeenshire, W.
May I ask what are the special qualifications to get on the list of those who are allowed to drive down Constitution Hill? I think that Members of this House might ex officio have a claim. I remember on one occasion I was proceeding in a private carriage to attend a levée of our gracious Sovereign when I was stopped at the gate and told in a very autocratic way that I could not pass because I was not on the list. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me what are the qualifications required, and perchance I may make application?
§ *MR. D. R. PLUNKET
Before these interrogations proceed further, may I be allowed to say that I must decline to be led now into arguing the question of Constitution Hill? That would occupy too much time. It will be time enough to take up the subject on the regular Estimates. Of course, I am anxious to answer questions, and as a matter of fact, since this question was raised last year, the list of those who have the right to make use of Constitution Hill has been revised. I cannot carry the names in my head, but I will take care that this revised list is made accessible.
§ *MR. CAUSTON
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question—Why should not Constitution Hill be open during the absence of Her Majesty from town? I must press for an answer, and from time to time, until I get one, I shall have to worry the right hon. Gentleman on the subject.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say if Members of Parliament may ex officio be placed on the list?
§ *MR. R. D. PLUNKET
What I have undertaken to do is to provide the information who are on the list.
§ MR. A. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)
Before we go to a Division, I should like to say that while I deprecate the view taken by the hon. Member for Leith respecting the gardens, I do not conceive there would be any intrusion on the privacy of Her Majesty's use of the gardens if the public had the right to use Constitution Hill. Instead of enlarging the list of privileged persons, I think it would be better to throw the Hill open entirely.
§ *MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
I shall give my vote in favour of the reduction, because I think we should follow the example which is set, I believe, in all other European capitals, and have these gardens open to the enjoyment of the public during the time the Sovereign is not in residence. There would then be no intrusion on the enjoyment of the gardens by Her Majesty. The gardens are, in fact, now kept up for the advantage of a few officials. I also object to Constitution Hill, maintained by the public money, being reserved for the use of a few Lords, Germans, and other "swells."
I must point out to the Committee the item proposed to be reduced is for Royal Palaces, and Buckingham Palace comes within that Vote; Constitution Hill comes under the head of Royal Parks.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 135.—(Div. List, No. 35.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
I wish to appeal to hon. Gentlemen with reference to the discussion of this Vote. There was a distinct understanding that right hon. Gentlemen opposite desired to make serious charges against the Government; and we were most anxious to meet those charges now on the Vote on Account. An hour and ten minutes has now been occupied in discussing items in Class 1, which in ordinary course will be considered in Committee of Supply within the next two or three weeks. The course that has been adopted is absolutely without precedent; and the only result must be seriously to delay public business and to deny us an opportunity of meeting those charges which I understand right hon. Gentlemen wish to make. I protest as clearly and distinctly as I can against the sacrifice of public time. Precedents are being created by the House of Commons which are absolutely destructive of its power and authority, which tend greatly to diminish its influence, and which, unfortunately, create a condition of things tending to the destruction of its authority with the country, and to a curtailment of the privileges of Members.
MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle)
I do not wish to enter into controversy with the right hon. Gentleman as to who it is who is doing most to set precedents; but so far as my memory goes there was nothing like an understanding come to yesterday afternoon that no subjects should be discussed on the Vote on Account excepting Votes relating to the government of Ireland and to transactions connected with the Special Commission. On the contrary, I believe that the course taken by my right hon. Friend yesterday was that we wanted more time than the Government were willing to give us in order that the discussion on the Vote on Account might cover the whole ground, as discussions on Votes on Account are wont to do. So far as my experience goes, discussions on Votes on Account have never been limited to one particular branch of Supply. Therefore, I cannot accept the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Gentleman or his account of the understanding arrived at yesterday. At the same time, I fully agree with him that we desire to waste no time; and I do not think the last hour has been misspent, as every subject raised was one for legitimate discussion. However, we shall do what we can to expedite discussion; and I am prepared at the earliest moment to enter upon a discussion of the important Votes in Class 2; but there are, I believe, one or two important points to be elucidated before we arrive at that stage. When we obtain the information, which we may do in a few minutes, I am prepared to go on.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I have some questions to raise on Class II, but, notwithstanding the imputations of the right hon. Gentleman, there are some points on Class I. that may be raised, and I do not think that an hour is too large an expenditure of time upon such a large sum of money. I never heard of the Vote being passed in so short a time, and the attempt to fix a charge of obstruction upon us has no foundation. I have some questions to ask the Home Secretary.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I have an Amendment on Class II, but I do not know whether it comes first in order. It has relation to Factory Inspectors.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
My observations would come first as relevant to the salary of the Secretary of State.
In point of procedure there is no distinction within the item for the Home Office between the salary of the Secretary of State and other details, this being a Vote on Account. The hon. Member for Northampton has given notice of an Amendment, and he is entitled to come first if he chooses.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
May I ask, if the hon. Member for Northampton moves a reduction, will that not shut out discussion on previous items?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I understand that we can discuss any of the sub-heads of the Vote relating to the Home Office and subordinate Departments.
In this, a Vote on Account, there is no precedence among the sub-heads of any item, and the Home Office is taken as a whole. At the same time, the Notice on the Paper has precedence if the hon. Member claims it.
§ SIR. W. HARCOURT
Now there are some important circumstances which have arisen—I hope the Chief Secretary is not going, for some of the questions I have to raise affect him—there are some important questions to be raised with reference to the relations of the Secretary of State to the administration of prisons and the administration of the police. By the Prisons Act of 1877 the Home Secretary is the prison authority, and the Commissioners of Prisons are his assistants, not only with regard to the ordinary prisons, but still more with regard to convict prisons. Therefore the person immediately and directly responsible for the administration of prisons in this country is the Home Secretary. We were told that it was not in Ireland in the Department of the Chief Secretary, but I think that was a mistake. I think that in Ireland as in England the control that here is under the Home Secretary is there in the hands of the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will recognize the fact that the prisons are under his direct control 272 and orders, the Commissioners being appointed "to assist him in the discharge of his duty." Some remarkable circumstances have occurred upon which I think we should have some further information. There is probably no department of prison administration which has more important, and I might say more delicate, functions to perform than the medical department. The medical officers, like the chaplain, ought to be more or less the friends of the prisoners. They are the people who are there to mitigate any harshness in a case where the physical conditions of a prisoner require such mitigation. There is no subject which demands more constant attention on the part of the Secretary of State than that of the medical department, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that none has engaged more constantly the attention of those who have held his office. Personal vestigation has been given in every case where any undue harshness has been alleged, and the Prisons Department is full of Minutes by Secretaries of State themselves with regard to their investigation of all such details. It is, therefore, the duty of the Secretary of State to consider the matter when a medical officer takes a step which is certainly a breach of the rules of the Home Department. I will not raise now—although it may have to be raised on the Vote for the salary of Dr. Barr—the question of the character of that document. It has been stated by the Secretary of State that there was some justification for this proceeding, in that attacks had been made elsewhere upon Dr. Barr, but I do not remember that the Secretary of State used that argument in connection with the censure passed upon Sir C. Warren, which led to that officer resigning the post of Chief Commissioner of Police. No doubt Sir C. Warren had been the subject of attacks—perhaps many of them unjust—but the Secretary of State in his reprimand took no consideration of the fact that Sir C. Warren had himself been attacked, and, for my own part, I think that it would be a most unfortunate circumstance if the fact that an attack had been made upon an individual in the Civil Service should be regarded as dispensing him from a wholesome rule of the Public Service and allowing him to enter into controversial matters. With reference to the 273 Secretary of State, here is the case of a subordinate official breaking a rule of the Department. The Secretary of State, it seems to me, took the proper course, and as soon as he was acquainted with the conduct of Dr. Barr rebuked him. I would ask the Secretary of State whether he can give the date on which he passed his reprimand? The letter appeared on a Saturday, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman upon what day his reprimand was sent to Dr. Barr, and I would also ask him a question which is of importance in relation to the system of administration in the Government Departments of this country. When the right hon. Gentleman reprimanded Dr. Barr, was he aware that that letter had been published not only with the assent, but by the very act, of a Cabinet colleague of his own? Merely writing the letter is not an offence; it is the publication which is an offence, and when the Secretary of State rebuked and reprimanded Dr. Barr, did he know that that letter had been sent to the Times by the Chief Secretary for Ireland? [An hon. MEMBER.: Why not?] This is a most important matter, if a Cabinet Minister in one Department is to become not only the encourager, but the instrument of a breach of regulation that goes to the whole root of administration in this country. I should have thought that the rule was well known to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and that at the time when he sent that letter he knew that he was aiding and abetting a subordinate of the Home Office in defying the authority of the Secretary of State. Another question which I would like to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland is why he sat still in the House and heard Dr. Barr rebuked, and why it was not until a week afterwards that he avowed that he was the man who had committed the offence for which Dr. Barr had been reprimanded? Why, hearing the conduct of Dr. Barr questioned in this House, and speaking on the subject himself in debate, did the right hon. Gentleman not get up and tell what had been his part in the transaction, and that he himself was the man who had led a subordinate of the Home Office to incur reprimand and displeasure from his chief? I would also ask the Home Secretary for the date at which the Chief Secretary for 274 Ireland informed him that he was the person who had sent the letter to the Times. Those two dates are very important. So much for the part of the matter which affects prison discipline—one of the most important matters in the administration of justice in this country, and one which lies at the very root of its administration. It lies at the root of that administration of justice, which in our opinion is so outraged in Ireland, where it appears that personal influences are brought to bear in an extraordinary manner on administration, and the administration in this country, too, is not unaffected by it. It is very proper that a subordinate should be reprimanded for breaking the rules of his Department, but it is very improper that his chief should apologize for him in the House. I do not think the Home Secretary knew that he was really apologizing for the Chief Secretary to Ireland; but nothing can be more demoralizing to the public service of the country. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh—the Chief Secretary for Ireland laughs—the right hon. Gentleman thinks it a joke that one Cabinet Minister, behind the back of another, should encourage that other's subordinate to break the rules of his Department. This amuses the Constitutional Party. Well, I will now come to another laughing matter which is also a question of prison administration. We have heard that Pigott and also the solicitor to the Times obtained access to Her Majesty's convict prisons. Under whose authority was this given? Were there general orders given to the governors of convict and other prisons to admit anybody whom the Times wished? If not, by what right did this man get in? Did he go in under the direction of the Attorney General? The Attorney General said the other day that Mr. Soames had gone to all the official witnesses under his instructions. Was it, then, with the cognizance and under the instructions of the Attorney General that, in December, Pigott and Mr. Soames went to see the convicts Daly and Dr. Gallagher?
§ *THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R. E. WEBSTER,) Isle of Wight
I did not state that Mr. Soames had communicated with the whole of the official witnesses under my instructions. In answer to a specific question I stated 275 that I had requested Mr. Soames to obtain certain information, which Mr. Soames had obtained. This was in answer to a question whether I had any communication, direct or indirect, with any official. I am informed that Mr. Soames had not the slightest knowledge of Pigott's visit to Dale until after it had taken place.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
But did not the Home Secretary state that Mr. Soames had obtained permission for Pigott's visit?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
How did Daly obtain Pigott's address? The right hon. Gentleman stated that it was through Mr. Soames that Pigott obtained permission. If that is not so, it is most desirable that the exact facts of this case should be stated before we proceed further. It was because we desired to have these matters explained that we abstained from going into the matter earlier.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I will repeat what I said. I told the House that it was Pigott who applied to the directors of the prison for permission to visit Daly on private business. Daly being informed expressed a wish to be allowed to see him. Daly never knew Pigott's address, and the communication between Pigott and Daly took place in consequence of Daly's expressed wish. The permission was sent to Pigott direct by the Governor.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
On that I wish to know whether, when Pigott made his application to the directors of the convict prison, he had letters of credit from anybody to introduce him? As I understand prison rules, a man out of the street could not go to a convict prison and see a criminal like Daly. Such a man would certainly be refused admission, and I want to know what representations were made to the directors of the prison to induce them to admit Pigott? There must be records of this. In December, when Pigott went into the prison, he was known to everybody connected with the Times to be a man of infamous character. It was after the letter of the 11th of November to Mr. Soames by which it was known that they were sending in a man of infamous character. The House is entitled to 276 have a full explanation of all the circumstances. It is not enough to say that Pigott went to see Daly. He would not have been admitted until some explanation of the purpose of his visit had been given. We have no need to seek an explanation what he went for. We know—and everybody knows—that Pigott went in to get Daly to swear away the character of the hon. Member for Cork. I want to know who sent him there and who allowed him to go on such an errand? This infamous perjurer and forger went in to get evidence against the hon. Member for Cork. These are circumstances upon which we demand an explanation. They are points relating to the prison administration of this country to which I know no parallel. It may be they are specimens of Irish administration introduced into English affairs. There is another question of the administration of the police. Mr. Anderson occupies the confidential position once filled by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield with eminent distinction. If there is anything essential, I will not say to the honour, but to the efficiency of that position, it is that a man should strictly observe the obligation of confidential documents. A Commissioner of Police who betrays confidential documents is a man—I will say nothing of his character—utterly useless in the office which he holds. Who can trust a man who hands about official documents? We have had great reason to deplore the breakdown in some cases of the Criminal Investigation Department of the police, and I have always done my best to defend the Metropolitan Police, but if transactions of this kind are to take place, I shall be compelled to come to the conclusion that the Metropolitan Police can no longer be entrusted to the Home Office. For the Secretary of State to say that it was a proper proceeding for a man in Mr. Anderson's position to betray official documents is wholly unprecedented. If such a proceeding had occurred during the time of any of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors, a man in Mr. Anderson's position would not have remained 24 hours in Scotland Yard. Then the Secretary of State has stated that these documents were the property of Le Caron. But who paid for them? Who was Le Caron? He was an informer 277 to the Government—no doubt a valuable instrument; I say no more than that; but having got this valuable instrument, having expended upon him large sums of public money, you hand him over to the Times newspaper, and make him absolutely useless for the public service. You hand over your informer to the Times, and your head of the Criminal Investigation Department hands over confidential documents which—whatever the Secretary of State may say to the contrary—were, in my opinion, the property of the Secretary of State, and Mr. M'Cullum and Mr. Houston, without the leave of the Secretary of State, make use of them in the interest of the Times—that is to say, such of them as serve their purpose they use, and others, which do not serve their purpose, they withhold. When that is the manner in which confidential documents, the property of the Government, are dealt with, am I not right in saying that such scandals have never been known before? If such matters are to be justified by the responsible Minister, if they are to be justified by the man who, as Home Secretary, is bound to condemn them, it is intolerable that the police of the country should be left in such hands. Why have we hitherto trusted the Executive Government? Why have we trusted the Secretary of State—and I have maintained that doctrine as strongly as anybody. Why, because we believed that the Secretary of State was the man who would have the courage and the determination to condemn, to restrain, and to punish transactions of this kind. When the Assistant Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, allows himself to be made a tout for the Times newspaper, when he allows himself to betray the secrets of the Department, and to hand over his informers to the Times without the consent of the Secretary of State, to hope to maintain the system of police in such an event is impossible and intolerable. I think these are matters which deserve the attention of the country. Hon. Members must know whether these principles of Irish administration are to be introduced from Ireland into England behind the back of the Home Secretary. We ought to know by what authority these cadging solicitors of the Times, and their trust- 278 worthy principal witnesses, like Richard Pigott, are allowed to rove about at their pleasure in Her Majesty's gaols. We should like to know by whose authority that was done—who allowed these witnesses to go, and what they did when they went? It is a rule that visits of that kind should be made in the presence of a warder, and I am pretty sure—the Home Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—that, unless in the case of confidential disclosures to the prisoner's solicitor, the visits must be made in the hearing of the warder or deputy-governor. These are the things which we want to know about Her Majesty's prisons. And then, about the Metropolitan Police, we want to be informed whether that mild apologetic tone which the Secretary of State has taken about the conduct of Mr. Anderson is to be a lesson and example to the police from the highest to the lowest—whether, if induced by the Times or anybody else, they are to hand over the secrets of the Government and to act as the private detectives of the Times? These are things which seem to me to go to the very bottom of the Administration in this country, and I hope the Secretary of State will give us some explanation with regard to them.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, East
The right hon. Gentleman has exhibited somewhat less than his usual fairness in dealing with public functionaries and officers in positions of trust who are not present to defend themselves. I shall proceed, in answer to the groundless statements and indefinite charges of the right hon. Gentleman, to offer a plain statement of matters of fact which, I trust, will entirely dispose of those charges. The first point of the right hon. Gentleman was the relation of the Secretary of State to the Prisons Department, and to a particular officer of that department. I do not quarrel much with the language in which he described the position of the Secretary of State, but I think he omitted some particulars which ought to be stated. The Prison Commissioners are subject, no doubt, to the instructions of the Secretary of State. They are said, by the Statute of 1877, to be his assistants in the administration of the Prisons Department. I have always looked upon it as a subordinate 279 department, attached to the Home Office, though, perhaps, not strictly a part of it, but, speaking broadly, the Prisons Department is subject to the authority of the Secretary of State, and I myself accept fully the responsibility for all that is done in that department. As to the case of Dr. Barr, the publication of Dr. Barr's letter was certainly made in peculiar and special circumstances. Dr. Barr was the medical officer, not the resident medical officer—I do not wish to lay too much stress on that—attached to an English prison. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, in the course of last year, desired to have the assistance of an experienced English prison doctor for certain changes he proposed to make with regard to prison treatment in Ireland. I had not the honour of a personal acquaintance with Dr. Barr; the selection was not made by me, but by the Prison Commissioners, who were the best authority, and it was made without any knowledge on my part. Dr. Barr was chosen, and he was asked whether he would put himself at the service of the Chief Secretary for Ireland to make whatever inquiries he should be directed to make? Dr. Barr consented, and proceeded upon that mission. I am not going to enter into details; they are fresh in the memory of most hon. Members of the House. Dr. Barr made the inquiries directed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and he made his report. The consequence was that Dr. Barr was exposed to attacks which reflected upon his personal character and honour, and which called for some answer, and which, if any concession is to be made to human infirmity, might well give ground for a certain amount of temper. I desire to put the matter in as temperate a way as I can. Dr. Barr returned to England. [Cries of "When?"] On March 9 the letter appeared to which allusion has been made.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
This letter appeared in the Times, and the right hon. Gentleman drew attention to it. I do not complain of that. I am not concerned to defend either the spirit or the 280 temper of some of the observations of that letter. I do not think it is incumbent on me to pass any criticisms of that sort. But I had to look at that letter upon the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman in the strict light of the prison discipline and prison rules, and the prison rule on the subject I will read with the permission of the House. It was circulated by the Prisons Department some years ago. It is a rule prohibiting the publication of books relating to the department. It was issued on July 22nd, 1879, and is to the effect that the attention of the Secretary of State has been called to the question of allowing the publication by officials of books relating to the department, and he desires that no officer shall publish any work relating to the department unless the sanction of the Secretary of State has been previously obtained. I may add that the rule was a consequence of a Treasury regulation of some years before which was directed against publications of this kind. The Treasury issued an order in which they stated that their attention had been called to the fact that official information had been communicated to the public Press by officials, and the rule was made to prevent the publication of official secrets from official sources of information. I think that rule was very properly enforced by the head of the department for this purpose also, to prevent discussions in the public Press of matters connected with the department by officials of the department, a matter which I think is equally to be deprecated with the disclosure of official secrets. Although originally aimed at disclosure of official secrets, I think the rule ought ought to be applied to the public discussion of matters on which controversy takes place within the department. I hope that nothing I may say will be taken as minimizing the rule in the slightest degree. I conceived that Dr. Barr's letter was a violation of the rule, for although the main subject of that letter was the treatment of Irish prisoners in Irish prisons, and although every statement of fact contained in that letter had been, I believe, publicly given in evidence by Dr. Barr and Captain Stopford, when called as witnesses, yet incidentally and indirectly in that letter he did comment upon the prison discipline of England. It was only done by way of illustration of what 281 went on in the Irish prisons; still, it did involve a discussion and a statement of the manner in which the affairs of the English Prison Department, of which he was an officer, were conducted, and therefore not technically merely, but directly and truly, it fell within the rule. The right hon. Gentleman has asked for dates. I knew upon March 11 that Dr. Barr had transmitted a letter that he intended to publish in the Times to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The question of the right hon. Gentleman calling on me to take some course in the matter was announced on March 12.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
What was the date of the first letter to Dr. Barr? When did the Home Office write to him?
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
The Home Office wrote on March 12. The right hon. Gentleman has been a little ambiguous in his language respecting that letter. At first he suggested that I had addressed a reprimand to Sir C. Warren, but had not addressed a reprimand to Dr. Barr.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
That is not what I said. I said the right hon. Gentleman had addressed a reprimand to both, but that he had apologized to one and not to the other.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I do not conceive that the letter I addressed to either could be properly described as a reprimand, because in each case I should not have thought the circumstances that led to or called for the publication of the particular document—the article by Sir C. Warren and the letter by Dr. Barr—were such as to call for a reprimand on my part. I think the circumstances explain and justify—
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
Yes, justify the action of those officers, and I had special reason to think in Dr. Barr's case that he had no intention to violate any of the official rules on the subject. Accordingly I addressed precisely the same letter to each of those officers. In each case I drew the attention of the officer concerned to the rule, and requested him to observe it in future. I have already stated to the House that, in answer to that intimation, Dr. Barr expressed to me, through the Prison Commissioners, his regret that he should have departed in any way from the instructions laid down by the Home Office. When I wrote my letter to Dr. Barr, and when I gave my answer in 282 this House, I knew what had occurred between Dr. Barr and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. I had learnt that on March 11, and on the following day I answered the right hon. Gentleman's question, and directed a letter to Dr. Barr. That is precisely how the matter stands with regard to Dr. Barr. The right hon. Gentleman's comment upon that is, that one Cabinet Minister encourages a subordinate of another Cabinet Minister to break the rules of the department. I should have thought that nobody knew better than the right hon. Gentleman that that suggestion was absolutely unfounded. It was by no means the business of the Chief Secretary for Ireland to inquire whether Dr. Barr had made a communication to me before he had sent this letter to the Times. ["Oh, oh!"] Certainly not. It was no business of my right hon. Friend who sees this letter of Dr. Barr, who submits it to him on its road to publication, to inquire whether Dr. Barr had previously shown that letter to me or not. I was entitled, as his official superior, to complain that he had not applied for my sanction before publishing his letter. That, therefore, concludes the case of Dr. Barr. Dr. Barr did violate the official rule in the letter; but his publication revealed nothing that was not known to all the world before he wrote his letter. It was a republication of what he had already said in sworn testimony, so that all the mischiefs aimed at by the rule were absent from his case. It was not on account of the tone or temper of Dr. Barr's letter—which were not, perhaps, in the best taste, and, perhaps, not in accordance with prudence or discretion—that any breach of the official duty of Dr. Barr was aggravated or increased in any sense. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the letter of Dr. Barr would disqualify him for service as a medical officer in an Irish prison, and if Dr. Barr's official duties obliged him to attend Irish prisoners in an Irish prison, I agree that that letter would be a disqualification; but I do not see that it is a disqualification for his duties in the ordinary prison at Liverpool, which he has hitherto discharged with satisfaction to others and signal credit to himself. The next matter to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded in his cross-examina- 283 tion of me was the question of the visits of Mr. Soames and Pigott to Gallagher and Daly at Chatham. I can only regret that the right hon. Gentleman was not in the House when I replied to this question. I told the House that the visit by Pigott to Daly took place in compliance with the ordinary prison rules as a visit by an ordinary friend or visitor, and that it took place by the wish of Daly himself.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
No. I stated to the House this morning that application was made by Pigott to the Prison Commissioners to be allowed to see Daly on private business. Inquiry was made of Daly whether he wished to see Pigott.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
The hon. Member is a little exacting. I think some of the ordinary courtesies of debate might be shown.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
Pigott made application to the Directors of Convict Prisons for permission to see Daly on private business. A visit was due to Daly at the time under the prison rules, and Daly was asked by the Governor in the ordinary way whether he wished to see Pigott. Some little delay occurred, as there was another person whom Daly wished to see. That person was unable to come, and accordingly Daly expressed his wish to see Pigott, and upon November 12 permission to visit Daly was sent to Pigott, and that visit was paid on December 3, 1888. It took place in the presence of the Deputy Governor of Chatham, according to the ordinary rule. It was not, therefore, in pursuance either of any general or special order applicable to Pigott that that visit took place. Then the right hon. Gentleman asked whether this was done by the direction of the Attorney General. For that suggestion there is not the slightest foundation, and I have received a letter from Mr. Soames since I have been in the House to-day, which informs me that—In view of the question which you will be asked in the House to-day, I think it right to inform you that Mr. Richard Pigott did not visit the convict Daly at my request or on my 284 behalf, nor have I ever been informed of what took place between them at that interview.As far as I am aware, therefore, the suggestion that the Attorney General or anyone connected with the Times had anything whatever to do with that visit is absolutely unfounded. The permission that was given to Pigott was given in the ordinary course of the prison rules—given in accordance with the ordinary practice—and in no way differed from any other visit the prisoner was entitled to receive.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
If the right hon. Gentleman believes that, will he tell us the circumstances of Soames's visit?
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I have already given that information to the House this morning. I will repeat it if it will satisfy the hon. Gentleman. [Cries of "No, no!"]
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I informed the hon. Member for Longford this morning that Mr. Soames applied on October 15 for permission to see Daly for the purposes of the Special Commission; that he obtained that permission from the Directors of Convict Prisons; and that the visit took place on October 27, 1888, in the presence of the Deputy Governor. With regard to Gallagher, he saw him on the same day, and, so far as I am aware, under the same circumstances. Now, the right hon. Gentleman appears to suggest that Mr. Soames should not have been allowed to see Daly.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I have stated why he saw him. He saw him for the purpose of the Special Commission; and I should like to challenge the right hon. Gentleman to say whether, this Special Commission being sitting at the time—and it is an inquiry of some importance, involving matters of considerable public interest, involving the question, among others, of the conduct of what I may call the Queen's enemies in America—
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I say I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to say whether, under these circumstances, he would consider his duty as the Secre- 285 tary of State to deny to the solicitor who represented one of the parties to that inquiry the opportunity of seeing a person who, at any rate, was not unlikely to furnish valuable information. That is not the view that I take of my duty. On the contrary, I take the view—and I assert it plainly and distinctly—that it was my duty to give facilities to any person properly qualified to give evidence material for the discovery of the truth before that Commission. I believe I should have neglected my duty to the Special Commission and to the interests of justice if I had denied an opportunity to see Daly or any other person likely to throw light on the matters to be inquired into, or hindered the procuring of evidence. The visit of Pigott to Daly came under the ordinary prison rules, which required no intervention at all. The next subject to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was Mr. Anderson's conduct. I assume that the right hon. Gentleman has made himself acquainted with the facts before he brought his charges. The facts are these. Mr. Anderson had for many years been in correspondence with Le Caron.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
These letters were written not only confidentially, but under the most positive and solemn pledge that they should be shown to nobody. For my part, I did not know Le Caron's name until he appeared in the witness-box. I was totally unacquainted with the fact that the right hon. Gentleman during his government and previous Secretaries of State has paid any moneys that had reached Le Caron. I knew absolutely nothing about it.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
He had continued for a great number of years, over 20, in correspondence with Mr. Anderson, and I gathered that many of these letters were private letters to a private acquaintance. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, that has been sworn in evidence. ["No."] Certainly. The right hon. Gentleman makes an accusation against public servants without taking the trouble to make himself acquainted with the facts. These are the facts. A great many of these letters were private letters relating to no public matter at all. As I am informed, those letters never were at the Home Office 286 and never were in the custody of anyone but Mr. Anderson himself. Nevertheless, and in spite of this circumstance, I am disposed to agree with the right hon. Gentleman that these communications should not be regarded as wholly private communications. Still, they must not be talked about as official documents in the ordinary possession of the Home Office. They were nothing of the sort. They were documents in private personal custody, and Mr. Anderson himself never parted with or showed them. They certainly were of a mixed character, by no means corresponding to the description of the right hon. Gentleman. Le Caron comes to this country on a private errand, as the right hon. Gentleman, I presume, is aware—[A laugh]—then the right hon. Gentleman has not taken the trouble to acquaint himself with the circumstances of the case. Le Caron comes over, as I say, and he resolves to offer himself as a witness before the Special Commission.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
Yes; that was his evidence, and the hon. Member knows that perfectly well. Mr. Anderson did all in his power to dissuade him from becoming a witness. Mr. Le Caron's information was full of interesting and very sensational matter—[Opposition laughter.]—I should think no one will deny that—with regard to what I have described as the Queen's enemies in America.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
What authority had Mr. Anderson to prevent Le Caron from tendering himself as a witness?
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
; Well, it was in his option to tender himself as a witness, and Mr. Anderson's persuasions having failed, it was clear that his evidence would be produced. I think that it is evident that Mr. Le Caron had serious information, and I am unable to say that Le Caron was not a perfectly proper witness to appear before the Commission and entitled to say all that he had to say, much as I should be disposed to agree with the right hon. Gentleman's view that it is a pity that Le Caron will no longer be available as a source of information on any subject of this kind. I think the 287 right hon. Gentleman's view on this point is probably based on the result of his own experience. Yet, I feel unable to say that Le Caron was not a perfectly proper witness, and that the Commission were not perfectly entitled to hear all that he had to say. If that be so, will the right hon Gentleman say that Mr. Le Caron was not entitled to the use of the documents emanating from himself for the purpose of refreshing his memory and fortifying his memory? I say that he was so entitled, and I say that if Mr. Anderson had consulted me in the matter, I should have felt that it was impossible to deny Le Caron's right to produce the documents. He was the only person entitled to publish these documents to the world, and, however much Mr. Anderson might regret his determination, I conceive the duty we owe to the Special Commission would have forbidden him placing any obstacle in the way of his giving evidence. That is the view I take of the duty of the Home Office in this matter. If I had known beforehand what Mr. Anderson was doing, I could not have refused permission. The right hon. Gentleman has scattered his usual flowers of rhetoric on this subject. He spoke of cadging solicitors. He says that the only person who had access to the documents was Le Caron.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
Le Caron has stated how that happened. [Opposition Cheers.] Does the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Harcourt) endorse those cheers? [SIR W. HARCOURT assented.] Does his sense of fairness make Mr. Anderson responsible for the use Le Caron made of the documents after he had possession of them? I should like to know if he is prepared to maintain that proposition. I say that Mr. Anderson was justified in handing the documents that emanated from Le Caron to Le Caron. These documents were to be used for the purpose of giving evidence. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that Major Le Caron, who was going to publish them, was doing anything irregular or wrong in communicating them to the solicitor on whose behalf he was about to appear before the Special Commission? Does he assert that Major Le Caron was not entitled to show those letters to Mr. Soames, to Mr. Houston, or to anybody else whom he 288 thought fit? Major Le Caron was under no obligation of secrecy that I know of; he was perfectly free to reveal them to the Special Commission with any other knowledge he had obtained while resident in the United States. The Secretary of State would have been wrong in preventing Le Caron's evidence from being given fully before the Commission, and consequently, when Major Le Caron had the documents restored to him, it was perfectly open to him—and he alone was responsible for what followed—to put those documents before the Court in the form he thought most advisable. But to make Mr. Anderson responsible for that, as the right hon. Gentleman seeks to do, is a course which is entirely unwarranted. I do not know upon what the right hon. Gentleman bases his insinuations, but I submit that they ought not to be made in this House without proof. That is most unfair to a public servant who is not here to give his own account of the transaction. If Mr. Anderson appears before the Special Commission as a witness—and there is the strongest probability that he will—any question as to the motive or reason of his conduct or his communication with Major Le Caron can be put to him, and then the cross-examination in which the right hon. Gentleman is such an adept can be applied to the proper person, instead of, as frequently occurs in this House, to a person who necessarily can have no knowledge whatever on the matter. The right hon. Gentleman has used the phrase that the Government—[Cheers from the Irish Members]—hon. Gentlemen cheer before they know what I am going to say. The right hon. Gentleman did not shrink from saying that the Government handed over Major Le Caron's confidential documents to the Times. That, I say, is absolutely unfounded. Mr. Anderson handed the documents not to the Times, but to Le Caron, and I repeat that Le Caron was entitled to have them; and in my judgment the Secretary of State would have neglected his duty if he had prevented documents which were essential to presenting the whole truth before the Special Commission from being laid before the Commission, if Le Caron was minded to give evidence there. Another phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman was that Mr. Anderson had acted as a "tout" for the Times. Again I 289 say he flings these expressions across the floor of this House without stating upon what he bases his assertion. My information on the subject is entirely based upon the evidence taken before the Commission, and I say that, so far from acting as a "tout" for the Times, Mr. Anderson did his best to prevent the disclosure of those documents by Le Caron. It was after remonstrances more than once from him that Le Caron appeared as a witness, and tendered himself to Mr. Soames. On what does the right hon. Gentleman base his assertion that Mr. Anderson acted to aid the Times or at the request of the Times? There is not a word of truth in that assertion, and I regret that without the least foundation charges of this sort should be made against a public servant. The right hon. Gentleman says that the principles on which I have proceeded are Irish. Well, I know no principle which is more English than that the servants of the State are bound to furnish the lawful Courts of Justice with full information in a lawful inquiry; and if the right hon. Gentleman means to suggest that it is the duty of the departments of the Government to keep back from this Special Commission information which is legitimate in itself and proper and material to the inquiry which they have to make, and to lock up in the private receptacles of their departments any documents which may throw light on the inquiry, then I must say that I entirely differ from him. In my opinion it is a perfectly English principle that great officers of State are the servants of truth and justice, and that it is their absolute duty to furnish information to a tribunal of this sort appointed specially to make an inquiry of great public importance on matters which are within the knowledge of those officers.
§ SIR. W. HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman has said that I address my questions not to persons who know about them, but to persons who do not know about them. Well, I am afraid that that charge is true, so far as the questions I addressed to the Home Secretary are concerned. On this last matter about Mr. Anderson and the Times, just let us see what the state of the Home Secretary's knowledge really is. He chooses to say that all the charges and statements that I made are absolutely unfounded. [Ministerial Cheers.] Hon. 290 Gentlemen had better not cheer too soon. We shall see whose charges and statements are absolutely unfounded. The Home Secretary endeavoured to present Le Caron to us as a private friend of Mr. Anderson—as a private friend of the Commissioner of Police; and he says that this private friend having come over on private business, sees Mr. Anderson; and he says that Mr. Anderson, knowing that Le Caron was going to give evidence before the Commission, felt himself unwillingly obliged to give him these documents. Now, everybody in this House and everybody in England, except the Home Secretary, knows that Le Caron was introduced to Mr. Houston by Mr. Anderson. Who is it, I ask, then, who makes unfounded statements? Who comes forward in an official position and attacks Gentlemen on this side of the House, saying that they make totally unfounded statements? Why, Le Caron never knew Mr. Houston except through Mr. Anderson; and yet the Secretary of State gets up and gives the House this account of the officers of his own Department! This private friend of Mr. Anderson comes over to this country on private business, and Mr. Anderson introduces him to another friend who happens to be the Secretary of the Loyal and Patriotic Union, and apparently also the private friend of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale. I think we must have a catalogue of these private friends. It began with "old friendship." Well, the friend of Mr. Anderson goes to that other friend, Mr. Houston, they have private documents which they examine together, and then they carry them to the Attorney General. And this in a great State inquiry; and then a man in the position of the Home Secretary gets up and tells his cock-and-bull story to the House of Commons. ["Oh!"] Well, not to be too vernacular, I will use his own words, and say he makes a totally unfounded statement.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
He says that Mr. Anderson gave these things unwillingly to Le Caron; that he was obliged to do it only on account of his public duty. The right hon. Gentleman asked me why I called Mr. Anderson a "tout" for the Times. I say that it is 291 touting for the Times if he takes Le Caron and introduces him to Mr. Houston. What has Mr. Anderson to do with Mr. Houston? Who is Mr. Houston? I have another question that comes to my hand. They come day by day, and we get a little bit of the truth by degrees. I should like to ask whether Pigott's order to visit Daly was obtained by Mr. Houston? Perhaps the Home Secretary has never heard of Houston. I can inform him who he is. [Mr. MATTHEWS here made a gesture.] Oh, then you know. There is one fact with which the Home Secretary is acquainted. Well, now, I have answered the Home Secretary. I now come to the question of Dr. Barr. The right hon. Gentleman says that Dr. Ban's published letter went through the Irish Secretary's hands on its road. On its road to Dublin? To the Times? It went by the underground passage between the Irish Office and Printing House Square. The Home Secretary says that this letter from Dr. Barr may have been characterized by bad taste, imprudence, and indiscretion. This is the letter which was sent to the Irish Secretary to look at, and which he sends on to the Times—this letter which the Home Secretary says is characterized by bad taste, imprudence, and indiscretion. See how these Cabinet Ministers love one another! One critic, the Home Secretary, thinks that the letter is characterized by bad taste, while the other critic, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, sends it on to the Times, with his imprimatur. But the Home Secretary has said a much more important thing about this letter. He has said that if the letter had been written by an Irish prison doctor it would have disqualified him for his position. Now, what was Dr. Barr sent to Ireland for? He was sent to advise the Irish Government and Irish doctors upon the treatment of Irish prisoners. He was sent as an impartial man of experience whose advice could be relied upon, and yet this man is declared by the Home Secretary to be a man whose action would have disqualified him from retaining his position had he been an Irish doctor. That is the sort of advice on which the Irish Government rely in connection with the treatment of Mr. O'Brien and other Members of Parliament. They fortify themselves with the opinion and advice of a man who the Home Secretary says would be 292 disqualified for holding office in an Irish prison. But an Irish Nationalist might very well be imprisoned in Liverpool or some other English town, and surely if Dr. Barr is disqualified from taking care of a Nationalist in Ireland, he is also disqualified from taking care of a Nationalist in Liverpool. When the proper time comes for discussing the question of Dr. Barr's salary, I shall ask how any Nationalist prisoner can possibly be placed under the control of the man who wrote that letter. Now, I have asked the Home Secretary whether Pigott's admission to the prison in which Daly was confined was obtained by Houston, and we ought to know whether it was or not.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I have already stated to-day that Pigott's admission was obtained by himself on his own personal application.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Well, that is an answer to my question. Now let us consider the visit of Mr. Soames. It is very important to observe the ground upon which the Home Secretary has defended the visit of Mr. Soames to Daly. I accept his explanation, and I believe it to be the true explanation of the whole matter, and I wish to have it on record, because it must be the foundation of our whole inquiry. This, then, was no proceeding between private parties, for the Home Secretary has stated that it was a State inquiry into the conduct of the Queen's enemies. That statement will relieve us of some difficulty when we come to discuss the position of the Attorney General, because in a State inquiry against the Queen's enemies the Attorney General was, of course, the proper person to conduct that inquiry. This, then, was a State prosecution from the first. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] It has been so avowed by the Home Secretary, and we now know where we are. If you did not like what your Home Secretary said you should have stopped him. In order to defend the mission of Mr. Soames to the convict Daly, the Home Secretary said this was a State inquiry, involving the conduct of the Queen's enemies, and, as this was a proceeding against the Irish Members, 293 I presume that the representatives of Ireland are, in the opinion of the Home Secretary and the Government, the Queen's enemies. Well, this, which has never been avowed openly by the Government before, was what everybody thought, but now we have it on the authority of the principal Secretary of State, and I think that it will form a very solid basis and foundation for our future treatment of the subject.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
The right hon. Gentleman has mistaken my words. The words I used were "the Queen's enemies in America."
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
; Yes; but their accomplices are supposed by you to be here. However, we shall deal with this matter presently. At this moment I content myself with pointing out that this inquiry into the conduct of the Queen's enemies is the inquiry which we understood was arranged by the First Lord of the Treasury out of kindly interest for the hon. Member for the City of Cork. The candour and simplicity of the Home Secretary have now afforded us all the assistance we could desire in preparing for a full discussion of the question when the proper time arrives. Now as to Mr. Anderson's conduct in the matter. We are told that the Home Secretary knew nothing about Le Caron. Well, he was not likely to know anything about him, any more than I was. When a man in the position of Mr. Anderson has secret information he never tells anyone who are his informers. Mr. Anderson's duty in the Criminal Investigation Department is to get all the information he can and to keep it to himself, only disclosing just so much as it may be absolutely necessary to disclose when action has to be taken. The right hon Gentleman says that these letters from Le Caron were not, in the proper sense of the term, official letters. Of course they were not. Letters of this kind are not produced in the Home Office; there are a number of secret communications in Scotland Yard which never come to the Home Office. They are documents in the hands of the police for the detection of secret crime. That is the character of the documents in question. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that all the informers against thieves and pickpockets in London are the private friends of the Commissioner of Police, 294 and that their communications are in the nature of private correspondence which they may take from the pigeon holes in Scotland Yard and hand over on the Commissioner's recommendation to the Secretary of the Loyal and Patriotic Union or anybody else? I will say no more at present except this—that if the Home Secretary is satisfied with the answers which he has given me, I have no reason to be dissatisfied with them.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR) (East Manchester
I was a good deal puzzled yesterday when the right hon. Gentleman refused with some indignation the offer made by the Leader of the House to afford him facilities next week for bringing forward a Vote of Censure against the Government and formulating his charges against them. But I now understand the motive that actuated the right hon. Gentleman. When a Vote of Censure is moved, a speech lasting two hours and a half is about the full allowance to any individual orator, but such a limit of time would not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman when speaking on this question. We have now been engaged in this discussion for about two hours and a half. [Cries of dissent, and "Your usual accuracy."] Well, for about two hours; and of that time the right hon. Gentleman has occupied at least two thirds with his two very long speeches. At that rate of progress, if anybody else is to be admitted to take part in this debate, it certainly will be difficult for my right hon. Friend near me to bring it to a conclusion in time to satisfy the requirements of the law. I do not propose to travel over the whole ground traversed by the right hon. Gentleman, because I shall have an opportunity later of speaking on the whole question and dealing with these ridiculous allegations made by the right hon. Gentleman, for the purpose, obviously, of creating Party capital which refer to the action of the Government and the now pending Commission. But as the right hon. Gentleman has challenged me, I must say a word with respect to the case of Dr. Barr. It is very difficult to get a fact into the head of the right hon. Gentleman. I have already striven with such powers of lucid exposition as are at my command to tell the House and the right hon. Gentleman 295 that I never gave anything that can be described as an imprimatur to the letter of Dr. Barr. He sent it to me; he desired it to be forwarded, and I did forward it. Of course, if I had seen any grave objection to Dr. Barr's proposal, I should have advised him not to send the letter, but I saw no grave objection to the course which he proposed, and I therefore carried out his request and did forward the letter to the Times; but that is not a justification for saying, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, that I ever gave the letter my imprimatur, or that I am responsible for the contents of the letter or the taste of the writer. I hear the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and his attacks upon our Party cheered by hon. Members opposite; but am I, therefore, to do those Gentlemen the injustice of saying that they approve the taste of the right hon. Gentleman? Never shall I utter such a calumny against Gentlemen opposite. I recognize that every man has a right to defend himself within limits in the manner best suited to his taste and genius—the taste and genius of the right hon. Gentleman lead him into very strange paths—and I maintain that I am not to be held responsible for the manner in which Dr. Barr has repelled attacks upon himself of the most scandalous description. Let the Committee take note of this fact; this attack on Dr. Barr has been made under the guise of an earnest regard for official discipline and official etiquette. Is there a man in this House who is taken in by that shallow pretence? We all know why Dr. Barr is attacked. We all know that he made enemies of Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite because he exposed all the rubbish that has been talked about the treatment of so-called political prisoners in Ireland, and we also know that as soon as hon. Members below the Gangway opposite have marked out their victim the right hon. Gentleman comes forth as executioner. That is all that I have to say with reference to Dr. Barr. I have defended him often before in this House, and I shall be prepared to defend him again. I rose on this occasion simply to point out the absurd and shallow pretence under which political animosity against a single individual has been cloaked under cover of a simulated regard for the discipline of the public service.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY) (N. Longford
I trust, Sir, I may have the presence of at least some Member of Her Majesty's Government, because it would be difficult for me to continue the debate on this subject in the absence not only of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, but also of every other Member of this Administration. My observations will be mainly addressed to the Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary, and the right hon. Gentlemen are not in their places, a circumstance calculated to embarrass me in what I desire to say. We are in this position; that not only do we find the greatest difficulty in obtaining information from the Government at question time, but when we are anxious to debate a particular subject the Treasury Bench is quite empty. The Chief Secretary stated, in the first instance, that Dr. Barr had disposed of what the right hon. Gentleman called the rubbish which had been used by the Irish Members in regard to Mr. Mandeville and Mr. William O'Brien. I was curious to see on what that statement of the Chief Secretary was founded, and I turned to the verdict of the Coroner's Jury at Fermoy in reference to the death of Mr. Mandeville.
An hon. MEMBER
called the attention of the Chairman to the fact that there were not 40 Members present.
§ The House was counted and a quorum found to be present.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I turned to the verdict of the jury at Fermoy, which had the advantage of Dr. Barr's presence—a jury composed of non-Nationalists; at any rate, out of 13 persons on the jury only two were Nationalists—there being the following Conservatives upon the jury, all of whom had had the advantage of listening to Dr. Barr—namely, Mr. Philip Routledge—
I would remind the hon. and learned Member that the point now under discussion is connected with the Home Office Department, and that Dr. Barr and the action of the Home Secretary in reference to Dr. Barr's conduct cannot come under discussion here, but must be discussed on a Vote that will follow hereafter.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Quite right. I do not desire to press the subject further than this—namely, that when the Chief Secretary says that we have indulged in rubbish, and that Dr. Barr has disposed 297 of that rubbish, it was as well to show what a jury of Conservatives or non-Nationalists thought of Dr. Barr when they said in their verdict, "We condemn the reckless and unfounded charges made by Dr. Barr against the medical men and poor Mr. Mandeville." That, I think, sufficiently disposes of the allegation that we have invented rubbish about Dr. Barr. But coming more immediately to the argument, I would refer to the vigour and determination the right hon. Gentleman displays in this House in defending Dr. Barr, it being a remarkable fact that the only thing that will induce the right hon. Gentleman to arouse himself from his lethargic langour is the defence of persons who make themselves obnoxious to the Irish people. Any subject concerning the welfare of Ireland he treats in his finest and airiest and most dilettante style; but if any thing is said against a person who makes himself obnoxious to nine-tenths of the Irish people and five-sixths of their Representatives, he flings himself, like an athlete, into the arena, and with all the vigour he can command rushes forward to the breach. I admire the manner in which he defended Dr. Barr, but there are some slight matters it would have been well to have developed in the course of that defence. He says it is stated that the Home Secretary has offended against our canons of good taste; but at any rate he did not comply with the canons of good taste at Dungarvan, nor with the canons of good taste or good feeling in the abstract.
I again call on the hon. and learned Member to notice that the subject under discussion is the Home Office, which has no relation to Dr. Barr, whose conduct should be discussed on the Prisons Vote.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I bow, Sir, to your ruling, but I am at a loss to understand how the Chief Secretary was able to hedge in his reply, while I am not allowed to answer his observations. I will not, however, pursue the subject further, but will put some questions to the Chief Secretary. I should like to know whether when the Chief Secretary forwarded Dr. Barr's letter to the Times he sent a letter of his own with it?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then, I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman wrote his name on the envelope, not necessarily for 298 publication, but as a guarantee of good faith. With regard to the challenge that we should bring forward a Vote of Censure, I should be very slow to recommend anyone to bring forth such a Motion until we have obtained the whole truth as to the action of the Chief Secretary and the Home Office in these matters. It would be a great convenience, now that the Times' case has finished, if the Government would lay on the Table the evidence printed up to date, so that hon. Members may be able to detect the figures and statements made by the Government before we ask the country to form a conclusion upon the whole range of the evidence. I further wish to know whether Pigott's letter to the prison authorities is in existence, and, if it is, whether we can have it. I also desire to know the names of the prison authorities who granted permission to Pigott to see Daly; whether these gentlemen have a friend called Houston; and whether Houston saw the prison authorities and obtained an assurance that Pigott's application would be granted. It may be interesting to the Attorney General to know that we hope to capture Pigott's diary, if we have not done so already, and that it contains matter which is interesting and curious with reference to Pigott's private friends. As I am informed, it was Houston who secured for Pigott an interview with the dynamitard, and I ask the Home Secretary to say whether there is any correspondence on the subject of those visits. I wish, in addition, to repeat the question which I have put to the right hon. Gentleman without success. I am amazed in a matter of this kind at the blank ignorance of the Government. It is so convenient, so virtuously convenient, to know nothing. We are, in fact, ignorant of the operations of the Queen's enemies, and when I asked a question about Pigott, the Home Secretary could not answer without notice—he had never before heard of Pigott since the days of Dungarvan. The Home Secretary has stated that he believed—speaking from memory—a person called Richard Pigott in the month of December visited Daly. I might compare the Home Secretary to certain inhabitants of Laputa who required a flapper behind them to strike them as occasion required in order to wake them up to the necessities of the 299 occasion. If I might suggest a flapper for the right hon. Gentleman I would name the Attorney-General, who would jog his memory upon these inconvenient points. I merely confine myself to inviting inquiry on the subject; I make no charges or allegations; I leave that to "our old friend Walter." And now I come to another branch of the subject, the interviews between Mr. Soames and Dr. Gallagher and Daly, and the subsequent interview between Pigott and Daly. We are not told whether Pigott saw anybody else, but I suppose he got the run of the prison—and certainly it was a place with which he ought to have had an intimate acquaintance long before; I quite recognize the fitness of things in that. My question is whether Pigott's interview and Mr. Soames' interview with these détenus were noted by the Governor of the jail. I understand from an answer given to-day that this official did not take notes of the interviews. Now, we know, of course, that Her Majesty's Government are most anxious that every information in the possession of Mr. Soames should be laid also before the representatives of the defendants before the Commission. We know the anxiety of the Government on the subject. The learned Attorney General, who was accustomed in Court to refuse even the names of witnesses he was going to call, or would not give us an hour's notice, will share the anxiety of his colleagues that all information obtained by Mr. Soames should, with the utmost freedom and generosity, be laid before us. So just are the Government, that I am prepared to be told at once that the Report of the governor of the gaol as to what took place in the interview between Pigott and Daly, and between Mr. Soames and Daly, and Mr. Soames and Gallagher, will at once—and that it was from mere absence of recollection that it was not done long since—be laid before Mr. George Lewis and the other persons connected with the defence. This has not yet been done, and I ask now, have these notes of the interviews been supplied to the Home Office, and shall we now have access to them as well as Mr. Soames? Those are my inquiries on these two points. But there is another matter I should like to refer to also. It is stated that Pigott got this 300 visit to Daly in the ordinary course as a private friend. This is not denied. But there was also a convict named Nally brought over in the interest of the Times to Millbank Prison. Now, I want to show the difference between how the visits of Pigott were facilitated and the way the visits of prisoners' friends and the friends of the defendants before the Commission are facilitated. Pigott gets permission to see Daly as a personal friend, and Daly is a convict suffering punishment for one of the gravest offences against the law. Nally has five or six years to serve for an offence much less grave than the dynamitard. Nally, being forcibly brought over from Ireland, said, at the railway station, "I wish the people to understand that we are being brought over against our will; we are not going of our own accord." Now a visit was due to Nally—I believe he had not had a visitor for six months, but will it be believed this impartial Government stopped Nally's visit for misconduct? He made this statement at the railway station that I have alluded to, and the defendant's solicitor was refused admission to see him. But Pigott, by means perhaps of false keys, or having a pass key, enters Her Majesty's prisons with as much freedom as an official there. And hon. Conservative Gentlemen—they are "all honourable men"—go down to their constituents and say we have been treated with what Lord Dufferin calls "the august impartiality of British law." I call it all humbug—humbug, Sir. What is more, I think the fact I have stated is a disgrace to every person concerned. You refused Nally a visit to which he was entitled. Nally, I understand, was a good-conduct prisoner; there were never any complaints against him. What he said at the railway station was the natural cry of a man who was being kidnapped, as he supposed, carried off against his will, not knowing where or why. He knew that Andrews, the gaoler of Downpatrick, had attempted to tamper with him, the man who was afterwards promoted to the honour of being William O'Brien's gaoler at Clonmel. Well, a visit to Nally is denied us, while Pigott is allowed the run of Chatham Prison, and is allowed to see the dynamitard or whoever he likes on the premises. I leave this incident in 301 the history of Parnellism and Crime just there, and proceed to make another remark on Mr. Soames' action. A Commission has been created to inquire into "Parnellism and Crime;" but I think it is not improbable that, among other Commissions that may be appointed, it may be after a charge of Administration—and such a Commission is badly wanted—a Commission may be necessary to get at the bottom of "Walterism and Crime." I grieve to say such a thing of an "old friend" of Her Majesty's Government. I wish to say that rigorously, it may be slowly, but with a determined persistency, we will get at the bottom of this foul conspiracy. We have the virtuous Attorney General at the head of it as buttress and gargoyle, and, I presume, all the department of legal attainments; and then we have at the other end Richard Pigott, Mr. Soames, Mr. Anderson, and others who represent the gutters, the agents to do the dirty work, men whom the learned and virtuous Attorney General would not touch with tongs. Step by step with fatal accuracy we trace their progress through the mire. These visits were paid to men in convict gaols, men under the most terrible sentence—a life sentence—men absolutely hopeless, destitute of all prospect of freedom, condemned as enemies of the human race, condemned under the most terrible circumstances and with the most terrible facts against them; and, I ask—apart altogether from obtaining the evidence of such men against hon. Members of this House—I ask, was it a fair thing to the men themselves? I presume John Daly has friends—I presume he has a mother, sister, relatives living. We know from the Press that Dr. Gallagher has friends who are interested on his behalf; and, I say, was it a fair thing for the agent of the Times, be he Soames, Pigott, Anderson, or Inspector Little-child, whosoever he may be, to put these men before the public in the position of persons who have been corrupted by the Times? I say nothing of what the characters of these men are, except that never yet have they been considered infamous until the Times attempted to affix that stigma. Apart from the attempt to suborn perjury as against us, it was a gross, a grievous wrong—a hardship added to their 302 life sentence—that they should be subjected to the temptation of Soames and Pigott. But in regard to the attempt to secure for the Attorney General evidence against us I say nothing. It is quite what I should have expected from him. It is exactly what we have had from the time when you put poison in the wine of your Irish enemies in Ireland; it is exactly what the leaders of the Irish race have always been subjected to. We should think ourselves unworthy of our position if all these engines had not been used against us. I am proud that they have been used; they are the accepted weapons of your political warfare, and they are as creditable as dynamite and assassination. Daly and Gallagher and Joe Brady are respectable citizens compared with men who tried to suborn their testimony to try and blast the character of innocent people. I think John Daly and Dr. Gallagher will sleep more soundly in their prison cells than men of great respectability who enjoy seats on the cushioned Bench of the Treasury. So much for that branch of the case; and now I resume my observations by way of interrogatory. I ask the Home Secretary whether there is, at Scotland Yard, an officer named Andrews? Of course, the memory of the right hon. Gentleman cannot be expected to hold all these matters; but, no doubt, the Attorney General will be better acquainted with Andrews. Is there, at Scotland Yard, a detective, an inspector, or officer of that name? "We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us." If I ask the Chief Secretary, Is there a constable named So-and-so, he will say "No," because the man happens to be a sergeant. I ask, Did Andrews of Scotland Yard pay a visit to America within the last six or eight months? We know that the Government cannot reveal the purpose of Littlechild's visit to Chatham to interview a dynamitard, for that was for police purposes, but was it for police purposes that Andrews visited America? To that I should like an answer. Then, in the words of the nursery rhyme, I would ask, "What did he there?" Also, I should like to ask whether Andrews saw Le Caron in America? And, also, whether it was Andrews who got Le Caron to repair to Westminster for his private affairs? These are specific 303 questions, and I presume they can all be answered with engaging candour by the Home Secretary. I say the statements in regard to Le Caron that he came here on private affairs uninfluenced by the Times, and that Anderson did his best to prevent him coming forward—his best seems to have been the present of a volume of documents—will not deceive the most rudimentary intelligence. We shall require some further proof on this point. We have not had an answer to the question as to Anderson's introduction of Le Caron to Houston. It may or may not be his business to introduce unawares spies from America, but Houston has been examined, and Le Caron has been examined, and although we have not been able to get access to the files of evidence we have the Times in the library, and in the future I shall regard it as a precious heritage. I find that Mr. Anderson wrote a letter introducing Le Caron to Mr. Houston. If that be so, what becomes of the statement of the Home Secretary? What business has an official, a secret official of the Home Office, whose very functions are undefined, to introduce Le Caron to Mr. Houston? And I ask how is it that this expression occurs in the letter: "Mr. Houston is a gentleman on whom you can thoroughly rely"? Now, how under Heaven did the innocent Mr. Anderson know that the stranger Mr. Houston was a gentleman on whom the friendly Le Caron could rely? Mr. Anderson has kept himself aloof, kept his vesture unspotted from the Times, kept himself free from the stains and bespatterments disclosed throughout this unhappy inquiry; but by some means, perhaps by hypnotism, Le Caron seems to have got a letter from Mr. Anderson telling him Mr. Houston was a gentleman on whom he could thoroughly rely. Of course, I do not like to put conundrums to the Home Secretary, but I should like him to give some official explanation that will hold water, for really we have been treated to such a variety of phantasies in the statements of the right hon. Gentleman, as, for instance, that Mr. Anderson acted purely as an official, that an explanation becomes the more necessary. I think that it is a remarkable thing that a packet of letters should have been handed over to Le Caron; but first let us deal with the 304 Home Secretary's law. His law on the point is this—and we all know the right hon. Gentleman is a great lawyer—all the occupants of the Treasury Bench are great or brave, something or other. Let us examine the law laid down by the right hon. Gentleman as Home Secretary and Q.C. It is impossible to distinguish the two capacities of the right hon. Gentleman—his law is that the property in a letter is not in the recipient but in the sender. So Le Caron, having as a private friend written various letters from America to Anderson, goes up to him and says, "I demand from you my private property." But is this the law? Why, more absurd law was never laid down from the Treasury Bench. I should have thought, after decisions in notorious cases, everybody would know what the law is. The decision in Lady Lytton's case, in that of the Marquess of Clanricarde, and in Curl's case was that the property in a letter is in the recipient, subject to the right of the sender to prevent publication, unless the sender is an agent of the receiver. I challenge the whole Treasury Bench, Law Officers and all, to contradict that proposition. I observe they are mute as statues. What becomes of the statements of the Home Secretary rolled trippingly off the tongue at question time, and with carefully-prepared impromptus ready? If such are your answers on law, what are we to think of your answers on fact? Law is, to some extent, an ascertainable science, for we may find out the law on the subject of letters, whether forged or otherwise, by reference to books and decisions in leading cases. We have asked for information, and we expect it. Are we to be stopped from Votes of Censure and criticisms on facts by knowledge being withheld from the House? We desire to arraign the conduct of the Government. If the subject were Samoa, we should have Blue Books galore; but 86 Members of Parliament obtain less consideration. It is not long since the Statute Law Revision Act swept away an Act that I should like to refer to, and I sometimes doubt when I see old Statutes swept away wholesale whether we are altogether safe in relying on the Statute Law Revision Act. It is not long since that in the revision of the Statute Law there was swept away an old Statute which showed that our forefathers had 305 reason to suspect the action of the King's Government with regard to prisoners, and which made it highly penal for any one to hold out a temptation or bribe to a prisoner to give evidence. That Act is now a thing of the past; it has been swept away; but so far as the moral censure of mankind will carry any weight with a Tory Government, so far as the condemnation of Members on these Benches, and privately of your own, if not from your "old," friends—so far as these things go, and so far as your sensibilities are not blunted by the knowledge that you have £7,000 a-year paid quarterly, you feel that every honest man who has considered your dealings in these matters has nothing for you but censure and condemnation. You profess to grant an inquiry to us upon the ground that you wish us to clear our character. How anxious you were for that result! There was one Member of the Party opposite very honest on the subject. I took note of the words of the hon. Member for the Loughborough Division (Mr. De Lisle). The hon. Member said, "I hope they will not succeed in clearing their character, I hope it is all true; I believe it to be all true, and my hope and expectation is that it will be proved to be true." There spoke the Tory party. You are not sorry for doing this; you are only sorry for being found out. You are not sorry for having had Richard Pigott as a pal and a chum; you are only sorry that we have got to know about him. If you thought there was no stain or stigma attaching to the matter affecting Pigott, why did you not tell us about it a little sooner; why have we had to corkscrew the information from the Home Secretary? Why, if you are not ashamed of all this, don't you give us the entire facts; why are not the documents in the Home Office laid before the House? Why are not the letters from Houston to Pigott, and the substance of the interviews between Gallagher and Daly and Soames, laid before the House? If you are not ashamed of the transaction, produce this information. I will tell the Government this, that if the Irish Members do not get it sooner they will get it later. The Government in tracing the course of the Irish Members from 1879 to 1889 have stooped to every device and have shrunk from nothing, disdaining not the help 306 and aid of the forger and the swindler; but if ever our time comes, we on this side of the House will probe to the bottom the Government's connection with this business. We will trace Houston's visits to the House by the entrance to the Ladies' Gallery, his interviews with the First Lord, with the Home Secretary, and with the Attorney General, and the means by which these letters and documents have been obtained, because, unhappily for the Government, there happen to be such things as pigeon-holes, in which the details of all these transactions may be found. I say again, there will be an investigation afterwards which will, in my opinion, raise up before the Tory party a ghost that will haunt it as far as this generation is concerned, and will continue to haunt it for generations to come, as being the cause of one of the most despicable businesses in which a great political party has ever been engaged.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I beg to move the reduction of the item on Vote 4, Class II., by £200, two month's salary of the Chief Inspector of Factories. [Opposition cries of "No, no."] I do not understand that any motion has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt), or any of the speakers who have succeeded him, or I should certainly not have intervened at this stage. If it is not the intention to raise the question by distinct Motion, I will do so.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I beg to move the reduction of the salary of the Home Secretary by £100. The Chief Secretary has interfered as usual, and sought to pour oil upon the troubled waters by telling us that we have raised this point to make party capital out of it. It must be admitted by every one that there never was a more important question raised by an Opposition. We have been asked why we did not propose a Vote of want of confidence instead of making insinuations. There is no insinuation in this matter; the attack is direct and specific against the Home Secretary. Then the Chief Secretary diverged into the boast that he has defended Dr. Barr, and will defend him again and again. We are not here to accuse Dr. Barr; we are accusing the Home Secretary himself for his action in connection with this matter. I 307 think that the worst feature was the mode in which the Home Secretary, having been advised of the fact that the Chief Secretary had approved of the letter and sent it to the Times, did not mention it, but threw the blame upon Dr. Barr, who is innocent in comparison with the Chief Secretary. The Home Secretary has said that the letter of Dr. Barr was imprudent and wanting in discretion; but this imprudent letter had been sent to the Times by a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has rebuked Dr. Barr; but has he rebuked his colleague sitting by him? If he has not, why not? It is his colleague who is responsible. I would like to ask the Chief Secretary whether he received any letter with this letter from Dr. Barr, and whether he sent an answer to Dr. Barr. If so, will the right hon. Gentleman oblige us by reading the two letters? We want to get to the bottom of this, but there is a perpetual system of shirk, shirk, shirk. Now with regard to Pigott and Daly, I noted one remark which fell from the Home Secretary—I am always glad when the right hon. Gentleman interferes in a Debate, because he always put his foot into it. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the Commission as "a great State inquiry." After that let us have no more about its being a private action between the Times and the Irish Members. Now, we have Mr. Soames first visiting Daly; we then have the Government telling Pigott that he can visit Daly. Daly had a visitor coming; we are told his name was Jones—I thought it would be either Smith, Jones, or Robinson. I do not believe it. Anyhow, Daly was told by the Governor that instead of a mythical Jones he might see Pigott. Had he known Pigott before, or had the Governor explained what was the private business upon which Pigott wanted to see him? Then we have the letter from Mr. Soames. We have heard a great deal of Mr. Soames in the course of the inquiry, but I would not believe that gentleman on his oath. Mr. Soames had an agent, Houston, who admitted in the witness-box that he was acting as a sort of general agent in the matter for the Times. Is it not clear that Houston sent Pigott to Daly? Was 308 not Pigott paid for visiting the man? Was it not done specifically for the Times? I want to sweep away all this evasion, and to get at who is responsible in this matter. With regard to Mr. Anderson, we have been told that he was a private acquaintance of Major Le Caron, who, by-the-bye, is not a major, and whose name is not Le Caron. But does the Home Secretary know in any way that Le Caron is a private acquaintance of Mr. Anderson? We are told that some of those documents were private letters, written by a private friend; but I am not aware whether Mr. Anderson has ever met Major Le Caron. Mr. Anderson sent him to Houston with a letter; he did not know Houston, and was somewhat surprised when Mr. Anderson gave him the letter to Houston. What were the relations between Houston and Anderson before? Did Anderson give any private information to Houston? All these things require explanation. Who has the documents at the present time—Houston or Le Caron? We want to know this, because it is proper that the solicitors for the defence should have the opportunity of seeing not only the papers given to Le Caron, but the whole papers. Houston was allowed to make a selection of the papers which were useful to him, and the defence ought to be allowed to do the same. In the case of papers at an Embassy, no Minister would dream of handing them over to anybody, but would leave them at the Chancery of the Embassy for his successor. Had Mr. Anderson any right to give these papers to whom he liked? No, he was bound to keep them, and to reveal the name of his spies to none but his successor in the office. The Home Office has been prostituted by the Government, and we protest against the right hon. Gentleman allowing Mr. Soames or Pigott to roam about the public prisons at their will. The Government have not displayed equal justice. The right hon. Gentleman has been carried away by the idea that this is a great State trial, and that the gentlemen charged are enemies of the Queen. If that is the view of the right hon. Gentleman, he cannot give documents to the defence, though he says he is ready to do so. Is he going to give them to the enemies of the Queen? The right hon. Gentleman 309 has not given the same facilities to the defence as to the Times, and I and my friends will not rest satisfied until we get to the bottom of the transactions between the Home Secretary and his subordinates and between those subordinates and the Times. Until we do that we will not move a Vote of want of confidence. To do so would be as absurd as to join a company of burglars and then move a vote of want of confidence in their proceedings. The verdict we want is that of the British public. Let right hon. Gentlemen opposite cease to boast of their majority in the House, but ascertain whether they have a majority of the constituencies. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the item of £15,000 for the Home Office and subordinate Departments be reduced by £100, part of the salary of the Secretary of State.—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland Div.)
I was in Court during the whole of the time—except one day—that Beach, otherwise Le Caron, was under examination and cross-examination. The Home Secretary has described Le Caron's evidence as interesting. That is not the epithet I should have thought appropriate, because the evidence was a good deal more than interesting. I can, however, quite understand the selection of the epithet by the Home Secretary, because the evidence revealed to him the future of the adventurer by whose support he was once returned for Dungarvan. The right hon. Gentleman is misinformed with regard to the relations between Mr. Anderson and Houston. Does he not remember that Beach swore that he never heard of Houston until the name was suggested by Mr. Anderson? It is perfectly clear that the relations between Houston and Beach, otherwise Le Caron, were brought about by Mr. Anderson, and by no one else. Let me point to the responsibility of Mr. Anderson in this matter. I think no one will accept the Home Secretary's statement that Le Caron's letters should be given back to him as his private property. Le Caron distinctly swore that he was in receipt of—I think—£50 per month from the 310 Home Authorities for giving information. Was not that information conveyed in the form of letters? Were not the letters paid for out of public taxation? These letters were official or semi-official documents, and to speak of them as Le Caron's property is a mere quibble; and the fact that the Home Secretary has to descend to a quibble so small and petty is the strongest testimony of the plight in which the Government find themselves. Le Caron was asked by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Sir C. Russell) what was the character of the letters, and for the first time during his cross-examination Le Caron then showed signs of temper; he turned sharply upon the counsel for the defence and said, "Would you expose the lives of men in America?" The reply was one the justice of which every one must acknowledge. Every one must know that this spy in his communications with the Government must have mentioned the names of men who were probably helping him with information, and that the publication of their names would expose them to the fate of informers. [Mr. JOHNSTON: Assassination.] Yes, assassination. That is my point. Why was Houston put in possession of information which would expose men in America to assassination? Why were these documents exposed to the risk of revelation by Houston? Who is Houston? He is a private individual so far as the Government are concerned. The Home Secretary seems to think Houston is a solicitor. I believe the solicitors' branch of the legal profession is not yet dishonoured by having him in its ranks. Houston went to the unfortunate and wretched Pigott and held out to him the temptation of unlimited money for the simple trouble of forging documents to destroy the character of political opponents of the Government. Is Houston a man whom the Home Secretary would trust? Is he ready to pin his faith to Houston? I should like to see Houston and the Government bracketed together—they are bracketed together by public opinion already. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to get up and say Houston is a man of honour in whose good faith he trusts. If he has not faith in the man, then I ask, in the name of common 311 sense and decency and the public welfare, why was Houston entrusted with public documents, every one of which brought danger of assassination to paid informers? The Home Secretary says these were private documents, the property of Le Caron. Did the Home Secretary bring the existence of these documents to the knowledge of the defence? No; it is well known that Le Caron was sprung on the defence, and that the counsel for the defence had never before heard of him. Mr. George Lewis is quite as trustworthy a person as the procurer of the Pigott forgeries. Why, then, was not Mr. Lewis allowed to go to the archives of the Home Office and make his selection in the same way as Houston? What was the position of Le Caron? He was the most valuable spy in America in the hands of the Government. Why did they destroy that valuable instrument? The Home Secretary said that Le Caron insisted upon giving evidence, but Mr. Anderson could have prevented him if he pleased. Why did not Mr. Anderson say—You are a valuable agent of the Government. You have given us information which enabled us to defeat the machinations of the enemies of the Queen. We have given you large sums of money, and you must remain faithful to your bond. We will not allow you to appear.That I think would have been a more reasonable position for the Government to have taken up if they were more anxious to defeat the enemies of the Queen than to put down their political opponents. The Attorney General need not have called Le Caron; he had not called Anderson and others. But the Attorney General of his own free will called Le Caron, and destroyed his value to this country. But there is another thing more important, which casts the gravest reflection upon the Government. [A laugh.] The hon. and learned Member for North Antrim (Sir C. Lewis) laughs. Everybody except the hon. and learned Gentleman—who did not go into the box in Derry when his own honour was concerned, but preferred to surrender his seat and pay the costs—will agree with me that the conduct of the Home Secretary and the Government with regard to the prisons casts the gravest censure upon them. 312 It is supposed that no key is strong enough to open the prison cells except the clemency of the Crown. That is the greatest security for justice and equal treatment to all classes. Any man on the Opposition benches may apply for an interview with one of these unhappy men in gaol: the brother, the wife, the child of a prisoner may apply, and they will be refused unless the application falls within narrowly prescribed limits. But what is refused to a relative or friend is granted to an agent of the Times. That agent may be high or low. It may be Soames one day, Preston or Pigott another. What is the object of allowing an interview between Pigott and the condemned convict Daly? There is no prospect of liberty for that unhappy man. Twenty years will probably be the shortest term which a man sentenced to penal servitude for life for a dynamite outrage can hope for. Daly has, therefore, seventeen years at least to look forward to of daily misery, slavery, horror, and the solitude of penal servitude. It is a position so awful, that many men would prefer death by hanging. A man in that position is approached by an agent of the Times, who has any amount of money to offer for perjury or forgery, and who represents the omnipotence of the Government, who, can release him in a day. Release, liberty, plenty of money—these are the temptations which are placed voluntarily by the Home Secretary in the hand of an agent of the Government approaching a man in a living tomb. A great deal of scorn has been heaped on the head of the unfortunate Pigott. He deserves it all. But when we consider the misery, the poverty, and the despair of Pigott on the one hand, and the bribes offered to him by sleek scoundrels on the other, we may well consider that a portion of the condemnation should be awarded to those who tempted him. Surely, if Daly had been wicked enough to seek for his release by giving false evidence against his countrymen, his crime would be less than that of the Government. The Irish party have had to fight their cause with loaded dice, bribes, perjury, and forgery against them, and this is the way in which the Government stand equally and impartially between their 313 political opponents in the House of Commons and their accusers. The country will, I am sure, take a just view of the conduct of the Government.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I am very unwilling to intrude again upon the attention of the Committee, and I would not do so but for the fact that the delicate language of the hon. and learned Member for Longford has never been more conspicuous than it is to-day. He accuses the Government, he accuses me, of trying to suborn the testimony of Daly. [Mr. BIGGAR: "Hear, hear."] I am glad I am not misunderstood. The hon. Gentleman also accuses me of misrepresenting to the House the facts with regard to Le Caron and his visit to this country. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: And the law.] That is a minor matter. After these accusations the hon. and learned Gentleman actually appears to think that I ought to answer his questions. But if the hon. and learned Member believes me guilty of speaking untruly he ought to have abstained from asking me any questions. If in these circumstances I reply to the hon. Member, I do not do so because of any right in him to ask the questions. Pigott's application for a visit to Daly was made on the ground of private business. I will read the application made to the Governor of Chatham Prison. It is this—"I am advised to obtain another interview with John Daly." [Cries of "Another."] I beg pardon; that is not the letter. [Cries of "Read it."]. The letter to which the hon. Member referred is dated October 22,1888. It is addressed to the Chairman of Prisons at the Home Office, and is as follows:—Sir,—May I beg the favour of an order to visit Convict John Daly, who was convicted some years ago for the offence of having dynamite bombs in his possession, and who I believe is now in Chatham Convict Prison, on private business? I am your obedient servant, RICHARD PIGOTT.That letter was the only application received. [Cries of "Read the second letter."]
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
There is no 314 direct answer. Upon that application Daly was informed of the desire of Pigott to see him, and upon Daly expressing a wish to see the applicant,—namely, R. Pigott—the ordinary printed form was sent to Pigott permitting him to see, for a stated date and time, the prisoner John Daly at Chatham.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
In the second letter application was made for a second interview, which was not acceded to.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Will the right hon. Gentleman read that second letter, and give the reasons why it was not acceded to?
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
I dare say there were reasons, but I am not in possession of the facts. No question has arisen upon it in the course of the debate, or in previous applications made to me. [Cries of "Read the letter."] I am not going to read the letter; it has absolutely nothing to do—["Read, read"]—with the subject matter before the Committee. Now, the hon. and learned Member for Longford did me the honour to comment with considerable virulence on a statement I made, not carefully prepared beforehand, as to the ordinary law which regulates ownership in letters. I believe I stated that the ordinary law is that the property in a letter and its contents, the right to control the publication, belongs to the writer. I believe that, as a general proposition, is strictly accurate and true. With regard to the particular letter which Le Caron afterwards published, hon. Members complained of the communication of that letter being made to the representatives of the Times, overlooking the fact that the great purpose of the communication, whether to Houston, or Soames, or anybody else, was that these letters were to be published to the whole world by being given in evidence by Le Caron to the Court. Le Caron's purpose and determination were to make all he knew with respect to the transactions in America public to the whole world. Whether the contents of those documents reached Houston or Soames a few hours or days before the knowledge was published to the whole world is perfectly immaterial. Observations 315 have been made by hon. Members below the Gangway with regard to Daly, and I have been asked whether other people were allowed to see Daly as well as agents of the Times. To my knowledge, since Daly has been in custody, hon. Members below the Gangway have been allowed to visit Daly by my orders. I cannot say whether those visits were on special or on ordinary occasions, but I am a little struck with the change of tone that has taken place in speaking of Daly on the part of hon. Members. No language seems to be too severe and harsh now. He is called a dynamitard, a person of the most dangerous character, who is to be avoided apparently as a pestiferous person.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I did nothing of the kind, but at the same time I think Daly is a most honourable man.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
In the course of this debate, I have heard Daly described as a dynamitard. That is a new form of expression which I am glad to note. All I can say is that it was by the desire of Daly himself that the interview with Pigott took place, and when the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) catechizes me about Pigott, I am strongly inclined to retort the questions upon him. So far as I know the hon. Member for Northampton is the only Member of the House who has been in confidential communication with Pigott. [Cries of "Hear, hear!" and Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: "You have.] It was an absolutely unfounded statement to say that I had ever been in communication with Pigott. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: Dungarvan] I have never had any communication with Pigott in Dungarvan, nor to my knowledge was that person ever there when I was. That is another of those perfectly groundless statements that hon. Members below the Gangway make. I was, however, referring to the relations of the hon. Member for Northampton with Pigott, and I think any questions in this House ought to be addressed to him with regard to Pigott's motives, whether of hope or fear. Then the question was asked whether the same rule will apply in the case of Mr. Lewis as was applied 316 by Mr. Anderson to Le Caron. So far as I was able to control the matter, precisely, the same rule was applied, and if Mr. Lewis applies either to Mr. Anderson or to myself for the opportunity of taking the evidence of a witness whom he proposes to call, and desires to have access to documents emanating from that witness, which will be material and proper for refreshing his memory, no obstacle on my part will be offered. The statement which has been made to the effect that, while Soames and Pigott have been allowed to have interviews with Daly, the convict's wife and personal friends have been refused is totally inaccurate. Daly has been allowed to receive any person whom he chose to select out of those who applied to see him. If he had preferred to see anybody rather than Pigott, he had the option to do so. I think I have now dealt with all the questions put to me [Cries of "Read the second letter."]
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
There is one other point which I should be glad if the Home Secretary will clear up. If it was intended to make a fair use of Le Caron's papers, they ought to have been placed bodily in the hands of the Court. It is stated that the object was to lay the whole truth before the Court; but this contention cannot be maintained for a moment, because it was only such parts of the truth as suited the purposes of Houston that were brought forward. It is a method of most unfair dealing with the defendants in this case. The Court ought to have seen all the papers; the papers ought not to have been selected by Houston, although he has been called "a safe man." Does the Attorney General believe him to be a safe man now? What has happened to the persons who have relied on this safe man, whether they be the Home Secretary, the Attorney General, or Anderson? Yet it is to this man that the documents were committed in order that he might select what he thought the world ought to know and what the Court ought to know. Here is Government evidence which was not laid fully and fairly before the Court. I will not say that it was doctored, but it was culled by Houston before being placed in the hands of the Attorney General and Le Caron, and every measure was taken to 317 prevent the whole truth from being laid before the Court. Now, why is the House not to have this second letter written by Pigott? The Home Secretary says that it is unimportant. Then why does he object to read it? The letter began, "I am advised." I should like to know what he was advised of and by whom. It is a remarkable beginning to a letter. This letter is important, because Pigott was admitted on one occasion as an ordinary visitor, but on the second occasion he was refused. Why was this? Let us have the facts, even if they are unimportant.
§ *SIR R. WEBSTER
I do not rise to take part in this general debate, because as I am informed that some attack is to be made upon me personally, I prefer to await that attack. I invite it, and I shall be prepared to meet it whenever it is levelled against me. I rise, however, to give the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) accurate information on a subject with regard to which the right hon. Gentleman has made, I am sure unintentionally, a very serious mistake as to facts As I understand the evidence, the selection of documents was made entirely by Le Caron himself. I am willing to place a copy of the shorthand writer's notes at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman; certainly, as far as I remember, Le Caron was responsible for the selection. As far as I know there is no foundation for the statement that there has been destruction of original documents. It has never been suggested by cross-examination, and no statements have been made as to any destruction of Le Caron's original documents. If there has been any destruction I am perfectly certain it has been by Le Caron himself, but as far as I know that has never been suggested. As to putting all the documents before the Court, what happened was this: they were offered to the Court; the Court said it was a very heavy burden to put upon them, and 318 thereupon, after Le Caron's evidence was completed, at the request of the Court, and with the concurrence of the hon. and learned Member for Hackney (Sir C. Russell), the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir H. James) said he would undertake to look through them, and that he would communicate with the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith), one of the most distinguished and honourable members of my profession, to ascertain whether the counsel on behalf of the persons charged desired more of the documents put in. After full consultation, the documents having been gone through, the counsel in Court said that they did not desire more documents. I took no part in the matter, and, therefore, I am able to speak without any personal feeling. I cannot help regretting that loose statements should be made as to the destruction of documents, the concoction of documents, the unfair selection of documents; and remembering that the honour of the members of his own profession is impugned, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby will, I have no doubt, be sorry that he has been led to make such charges.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
If I have conveyed to the Attorney General or to any one else that the hon. and learned Gentleman withheld documents which were within his knowledge from the knowledge of the Court, I apologize most completely to the hon. and learned Gentleman. What I said was this—that men like Le Caron and Houston ought never to have been trusted with the documents, so that they might deal with, or withhold if they chose, documents long before they reached the Court. I said that these men might have destroyed the documents. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, and if I am asked my opinion I should say that very likely they did; from what I have read I should say they were quite capable of doing so. Houston did destroy documents. The whole of the corres- 319 pondence between Houston and Pigott, the most material thing in the whole case, was destroyed in order to suppress the truth. I am not speaking of the Attorney General, but of those miserable wretches with whom it has been his misfortune to have to deal. I am speaking of Le Caron and Houston, and I say that they were both capable of destroying any documents. Houston admitted in the box that he had destroyed one of the most material documents. The Home Office, or any one connected with it, ought not to have placed those documents in the hands of Le Caron and Houston, and to leave them to decide which documents should see the light. The proper course was to have sent those documents straight to the Court, so that it should have the custody of them, and in order that it might see what the documents were. I made no reflection on the Attorney General, but if he thinks it necessary or desirable to protect Le Caron or Houston from reflections, then I think he has got a more difficult task before him than he imagines.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
If the Home Secretary subjects me to the suggested catechism regarding Pigott I am afraid I can give him very little information. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to know really what were Pigott's motives or how much money he got for doing his dirty work, then he had better apply somewhere nearer home. I moved a nominal reduction of this Vote because I thought it was absolutely necessary that the Committee should concentrate its attention on this subject a little longer. I do not, however, see the necessity of putting the House to the trouble of a Division, and, therefore, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. (Ministerial cries of "No, no.")
§ MR. T. HEALY
Before the Amendment is withdrawn, I should like to point out that the Attorney General has made a statement of a somewhat remarkable character, and one in which I 320 am sure has, most unfortunately, misled the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the right hon. Member for Bury and the hon. and learned Member for East Fife were afforded access to those documents and made a selection.
§ *SIR R. WEBSTER
No; I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I said nothing of the kind. I said that after Le Caron had given evidence, and when the documents had been put in, Le Caron offered that the Court should see the whole, and after giving his evidence it was arranged that the right hon. and learned Member for Bury should go through them and communicate with the hon. and learned Member for Fife.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The hon. Gentleman will have us understand that any documents not before Le Caron while on the witness table the right hon. Member for Bury and the hon. Member for Fife were allowed to go through. I understand, however, from the information in my possession, that this conveys a complete misappreciation of the facts. As I am informed, Le Caron was never given by Anderson at the Home Office the entire documents he desired, and the documents which the right hon. Member for Bury and the hon. Member for East Fife went through were not the whole of the documents, but only documents entrusted to Le Caron by Anderson. That is not the impression conveyed by the Attorney General. On the contrary, the impression conveyed by him is that all the documents forwarded by Le Caron to Anderson were allowed to be seen. The defendants were not allowed to have access to documents. The only documents which they were allowed to have access to were documents that had been edited by Mr. Anderson. And that, forsooth, is acting fairly and squarely! The Attorney General has made a statement in the House which, if not corrected, would have left the House and the country under an entire 321 misapprehension. I repeat that there were documents supplied by Le Caron to Mr. Anderson which Mr. Anderson never allowed the Court to get, and which counsel for the defence never had access to.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The counsel for the other side was the Attorney General, who had a friend at the Home Office.
§ *SIR R. WEBSTER
I rise, Sir, to ask whether, when I have said that I had no access to those documents, direct or indirect, it is in order for the hon. and learned Member to say that I had access to them through a friend at the Home Office?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Is it right for the hon. and learned Gentleman to put an interpretation on my words which my words do not warrant? What I desire to convey is this, and the distinction was most philosophically taken by Mr. Soames. He was asked whether he had seen his counsel—meaning the Attorney General. "No," he replied, "I did not; but I saw Sir Richard Webster several times." That is Mr. Soames's distinction, and it is a neat one. I do not say for a moment that counsel engaged in the case had any access to that residuum of the correspondence between Le Caron and the Government.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
If I have overstepped the bounds of order, Sir, I beg to express my regret. I will now come to the object which I had in rising, which was to ask the Home Secretary why he did not answer the few simple questions that were put to him. I was not so far wrong in asking the right hon. Gentleman for information, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman has blundered unintentionally into letting us know that there was a second letter of Pigott's which he is ashamed to read to the House.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman allow me to interrupt him? I do not think it is worth while keeping up the controversy about the letter. The letter is perfectly irrelevant to the subject of the discussion; but I will read the whole of it to the House. It is dated Anderton's Hotel, December 5th, 1888, and is to this effect—I am advised that in order to obtain an order for another interview with John Daly—(you are aware of what passed on the occasion of the interview)—it has become necessary that I should apply to you direct, and I have therefore to ask that you will be good enough to obtain the necessary authorization for a further visit at your convenience, and to forward it to this address.—Yours faithfully, R. PIGOTT.Pigott addressed the letter to the Governor of Chatham Convict Prison. The Minute made by one of the Directors of Prisons, I do not know his name, is—The convict had a visit since the commencement of the month; he is not entitled to another visit. You may inform the writer that the convict is not entitled to a visit, and you have no authority.I thought that the letter was so irrelevant and insignificant that I did not read it before.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I think the Tory Party must now be grateful for my interposition. I congratulate myself on extracting this information from the right hon. Gentleman. The letter just read refers to what had passed at a previous interview. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what it was that had then passed; and will the Minute on the subject of the interview between Pigott and Daly be laid before the House? Again, the right hon. Gentleman has not explained how, if Mr. Anderson had nothing to do with Houston, Mr. Anderson wrote to Le Caron saying that Le Caron would be quite safe in trusting to Houston as a person who could be relied upon.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original question again proposed.
§ Motion made and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. T. P. O'Connor,)—put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.