§ *MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
, Member for North-West Durham, rose in his place, and asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House, for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., the conduct of the Police at Falcarragh, and the circumstances attending the arrest of Mr. Harrison, and the prosecution of Mr. Conybeare.
But the pleasure of the House not having been signified,
§ *MR. SPEAKER
called on those Members who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and not less than 40 Members having accordingly risen,
§ *MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
I am sorry to have to trouble the House on this question, but I think it necessary to seek some explanation from the Government in respect of what I conceive to be one of the grossest violations of the elementary principles of justice ever known. I am sensible how undesirable it is that matters under judicial investigation should be discussed in this House, and yet no hon. Member will deny that the prerogative of this House does extend even to such matters. Having regard to a most wholesome doctrine, I will avoid discussing the evidence before the tribunal, and will abstain from expressing any opinion on the manner in which the justices performed their duty. I shall exclusively confine myself to information obtained from the pure and undefiled columns of the Times. On the 19th of April there appeared in that newspaper a statement to the effect that the police made another raid upon the houses of evicted tenants upon the Olphert estate who had re-taken possession, and made about a dozen arrests; that an old man, aged 90, was also placed under arrest; that at the house of the widow Coyne, a cripple over 80 years of age, who was in bed, four armed policemen were in the room and two emergency men, and as she refused to go out she was put on a chair and placed. by the roadside. The hon. Member who poses as the agent-general of the landlords of Ireland, the hon. Member for Tyrone, has admitted in his letters to 1253 the Times that the tenantry on the Falcarragh estate are in a most miserable and destitute condition. It was under these circumstances that a young man, an undergraduate of Baliol College, Oxford, moved by pity for these unfortunate people, found his way to Falcarragh, and introduced into their houses some loaves of bread and packages of tea. For that, caught in flagrante delicto, he was arrested by the police. Now what I want to ask the House is, what offence Mr. Harrison committed in handing in these loaves of bread, and secondly, what is of more importance, assuming that he had committed an offence, which might be the subject of some civil remedy, what justified the police in arresting him? In amplification of this question, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman what are the functions of the Royal Irish Constabulary in respect of evictions. I have followed with great care and interest the information we have at various times received in regard to the conduct of the Irish Constabulary at evictions, but, as an English lawyer, and speaking, as I know I do, the confirmed opinion of every member of my own profession, I say without hesitation, that the duties of the police at evictions are confined within these limits: they are entitled to protect the bailiffs in the event of an assault being committed upon them, and in that case to enter a house and arrest any persons who may have committed the assault. That is the sum total of their functions, and I challenge contradiction. I know that my mere statement is no authority, but I have examined the text books in the library, and I hold in my hands a very useful little book, called "The Irish Constabulary Code," issued by Mr. Reid, Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary. In looking through the book I find that Mr. Reid points out what are the duties of the Constabulary at evictions, and he says at page 302—The Constabulary at evictions are not to assist in making a seizure or to do any act connected with handing over to the bailiff the possession of land, and are only to protect in case of violence, and if necessary to enforce entrance for the purpose of arresting those who have committed violence.Then, again, I refer to a judgment of Chief Baron Pallas reported in volume 21, page 18 of the Irish Law Times. That learned judge, a fair and high-minded 1254 man, although he has no sympathy with the Plan of Campaign, lays down in the most clear and distinct language that the Constabulary have no right whatever to lend any assistance to bailiffs for the purpose of supporting any civil process except to protect the bailiffs from assault, and if necessary to arrest those who commit an assault. Now, I wish to ask the law advisers of the Crown and those who are otherwise legally responsible, what was Mr. Harrison doing that he was arrested by four or five constables, including the head constable? It is idle to tell me that Mr. Harrison has been acquitted. It was the duty of the law advisers of the Chief Secretary, who undoubtedly had cognizance of this procedure, as soon as they discovered that Mr. Harrison had been arrested on such a charge, to order his immediate release. A more gross violation of the elementary duties of the Constabulary than the arrest of Mr. Harrison it is impossible to conceive. But I do not stop there. I find that four armed policemen were in the house of an old woman. What right had they in that house? If they were there to arrest the old woman for an assault I can understand it, or if they were of opinion that the old woman was endangering the lives of the emergency men who were engaged in carrying out the evictions. But according to the Times perfect quiet reigned in Falcarragh, and here again I maintain that the police were guilty of a gross violation of duty. Mr. Conybeare—I presume I am entitled to mention the hon. Member for the Camborne Division by name—has been convicted of having called out "Three cheers for the Plan of Campaign." The report in the Times states that the learned magistrates—if they are learned—acted to the best of their lights, and they stated that they conceived the calling out of "Three cheers for the Plan of Campaign," constituted an overt act connecting Mr. Conybeare with conspiracy. That is a somewhat startling assertion.
§ *MR. WHARTON (Yorkshire, W. R., Ripon)
I rise to order. I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Member, but I wish to ask you, Sir, whether it is in accordance with the practice of the House for an hon. Member to refer to the circumstances of a case pending legal jurisdiction. The fact is that all 1255 the circumstances to which the hon. Member is alluding, will come before the Court of Appeal, and will probably form the charge against the hon. Member opposite before that Court. I wish therefore to know if it is in accordance with the practice of this House, that the circumstances of the case can be referred to on this occasion?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
When the hon. Member on a previous night gave his Notice, I thought it my duty to take upon myself the responsibility of saying that I thought, under the then circumstances, it would be indecorous in the highest degree to bring the circumstances under the notice of the House. But to-night the hon. Member has varied the Notice on moving the Adjournment of the House, namely, "For the purpose of calling attention to the conduct of the police at Falcarragh." He now appears to be dealing with another subject, namely, the prosecution of the hon. and learned Member for the Camborne Division (Mr. Conybeare), and I hope I may say I do not think I am travelling out of my responsibility and my proper functions when I say that I do not think the House will sanction any remarks which are likely to prejudice the trial which, though it is over in the first instance, is now the subject of appeal. The hon. and learned Gentleman has asked me whether it is the practice of the House. I am not aware that there has been any definite and distinct expression of opinion on the part of the House that pending trials should not be alluded to. Nor am I aware of any distinct and definite ruling from the Chair, though I am aware of frequent expressions of opinion both from Ministers in this House and other Members with regard to the impropriety of alluding to pending trials in such a way as to prejudice a fair trial of the case. With these remarks I shall leave the subject in the hands of the House.
§ *MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
I have no intention of discussing the mode in which the trial was conducted. I say that the charge which was formulated against Mr. Conybeare was that he called out "Three cheers for the Plan of Campaign." It may be that it was an imprudent thing to call out "Three cheers for the Plan of Campaign." That is another matter; but I will put a hypothetical case. Assuming that there was 1256 a conspiracy in existence in which certain persons were known to have assisted. As an illustration let me take the case of what is known as "the long firm." Suppose that some individual were to call out "Three cheers for the long firm," would that be held to be taking part in the conspiracy of the long firm? Would it be an overt act?
§ *THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
Whether there is any Rule of the House or not, I venture to appeal to the hon. and learned Member whether he desires to set up a precedent for discussing the conditions under which a conviction has been given by a Court of first instance—a conviction that has been made the subject of an appeal to a Higher Court. I venture to say, following the remarks that have fallen from you Sir, that such a course has never been taken and is not in accordance with the view of the House. I think that the practice is one that may have serious consequences and that it is, contrary to the course which has been generally followed by the House. [Cries of "Order."]
§ *MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
I listened with the greatest respect to what has fallen from the Leader of the House, but at the same time I am bound to say that I do not think the trial of any Irish Nationalist in Ireland is likely to be prejudiced by anything that can take place in this House. Certainly the case of the Crown is not likely to be prejudiced. I have sufficient respect for the judicial tribunals of my own country and Ireland to avoid saying anything that will be derogatory to them. Passing from that I wish to show, as indicating the spirit and temper of the prosecution, what the kind of evidence was which was given against Mr Conybeare—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is now entering into a matter which is clearly irregular, and I cannot say that it is one which constitutes a definite matter of urgent public importance. The hon. Member is mixing up two distinct matters. He moved the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of calling attention to the conduct of the police, and now he is going into the question of the prosecution of a Member of this House. These are two matters that should be kept 1257 perfectly distinct, and they are not both covered by the notice given to the House.
§ *MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
If you, Sir, had borne with me a little longer you would have seen that I was alluding to the conduct of the police. The police stated that Mr. Conybeare had cried, "To hell with Mr. Balfour." I do not believe that my hon. Friend did use such an expression. Those who knew Mr. Conybeare well knows that he is incapable of using such an expression.
§ *MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
Then I will abstain from commenting upon any of the evidence which was brought before the Magistrates on that occasion. There is, however, another matter to which I wish to call attention, and which is of great importance when we consider the mode in which justice is administered in Ireland. It is reported that Mr. Conybeare during his visit to Falcarragh was subjected to an odious system of police espionage. Members of the constabulary followed my hon. Friend about, with note books in their hands, and wrote down every word he uttered in private conversation. They acted as eavesdroppers when he visited private houses, and I want to know by what legal authority or statute they are entitled to follow the humblest of Her Majesty's subjects from house to house and take notes of what he says? Under the controlled and restricted conditions with which I have been able to bring forward the Motion, I think I have a right to demand some satisfactory explanation from the Chief Secretary and the law advisers of the Crown of the action of the police. It is not a question of the administration of the law for the purpose of preventing acts of violence. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to enforce all the machinery of the law in order to preserve law and order in Ireland, but in this instance the action of the police has been far more calculated to lead to disorder. Possibly we shall hear the right hon. Gentleman denounce the disorder which exists in Ireland, and arraign the conduct of the people in resisting the entrance of bailiffs and emergency men into their houses. But that is not the 1258 point. The point he is called upon to address himself to is whether it is within the legitimate functions of the police to establish a reign of terror in Ireland. I say, with a perfect conviction that I am speaking the truth, that it is a perilous thing for any English Member of Parliament who is in sympathy with the Home Rule Party to visit any place in Ireland where evictions are pending and, speaking personally, having regard to my professional duties, I am free to confess that I should hesitate for a long time before I followed the example of my hon. Friend. All the authorities have to do is to prove that there has been a conspiracy in existence, and then haul any hon. Member before a magistrate and accuse him of being a party to it. You may call that firm government of Ireland, but to my mind it is infirm government, equalled only by that which has been found to exist in countries which do not enjoy the blessings of Constitutional Government. It is not the law of the realm, but of irresponsible police officers, and an equally irresponsible magistracy. I desire to see the law of the country properly vindicated, but I appeal to independent Members on both sides of the House to say whether the course which is being pursued by the Government in Ireland is not one which has analogy only in the acts of Turkish Pashas and Bashi Bazouks.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Atherley-Jones.)
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) University of Dublin
If an illustration were wanting of the inconvenience of discussing matters which are pending before the Courts of Law of this country I think that such has been furnished by the speech which has just been addressed to the House. Although the hon. Gentleman did not discuss the events in detail, yet he did state to the House the nature of the charge as it presents itself to his mind, on which the hon. Member for Camborne is arraigned—a statement with which I cannot concur. But I shall not discuss that point, nor enter into it at all. The hon. Member asks by what authority and by what law the hon. Member for Camborne was shadowed by the police 1259 during his visit to Falcarragh. It has been a common practice not only in Ireland, but in this country for the police to obtain evidence in this manner. The Court in the first instance has decided that during his presence in Ireland the hon. Member for Camborne broke the law. If there is any reasonable ground for believing on the part of the authorities that any person is engaged in an undertaking which involves a breach of the law, it is not only within the right and lawful for the police, but it is their duty to obtain all necessary information by all lawful means—[An hon. MEMBER: "Yes, lawful means."]—which may be necessary for the purpose of ascertaining certain facts. Will any hon. Member get up and state that the means used by the police have been unlawful? ["Certainly."] Then let the illegality of what is called shadowing a person and watching his movements be tested; but I maintain that the practice is lawful. I submit that if the authorities in any district have reason to suppose that any person is present for the purpose of offending against the law of the land, they are bound to adopt all reasonable means of obtaining information as to his proceedings. The hon Member is in error as to the presence of the police in a house which I should call the landlord's and not the tenant's.
§ *Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
The house to which I referred was the house of Widow Coyne, an old cripple over 80 years of age.
§ *MR. MADDEN
If that to which the hon. and learned Member referred is not the house in respect of which Mr. Harrison was arrested, I fail to see the pertinence of his remarks in regard to the Motion. But still, if the hon. Member thinks anything tends on this point, let him put a question down on the Paper and I will cause inquiries to be made.
§ *MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
I obtained my information from a report in the Times of the 18th or 19th of last April.
§ *MR. MADDEN
I surely cannot be expected to carry in mind full details as to all occurrences that have been reported from time to time in the public Press. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to ascertain the facts, let him put a question down on the Paper, 1260 and then I will get any information in my power. Now, Sir, I will pass to the portion of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman which dealt with the case of Mr. Harrison. I presume that the House is aware that that gentleman was acquitted by the magistrates of the charge of committing, the acts which he did commit in pursuance of an illegal conspiracy. I will, venture shortly to recapitulate the facts with regard to Mr. Harrison's arrest. Certain evicted tenants on the Olphert estate had re-taken possession, forcibly or otherwise, and were in unlawful possession of the houses from which they had been evicted. It was alleged and. proved before the magistrates that there existed on that estate an illegal conspiracy to defeat and frustrate the action of Her Majesty's Courts, and that in two ways—first by violent opposition to the execution of the process of eviction, and secondly by unlawfully returning after execution of the writs to the houses from which they had been evicted. Both these facts actually occurred. Fierce resistance was made to the execution of the writs, violent assaults were made on the police, an Inspector was seriously injured, and. rendered insensible. After the execution of the eviction, the resistance to the law took the form of re-taking possession of the premises. It might be a question whether the possession thus taken was not violent and forcible, and therefore a criminal offence. But at any rate, it cannot be disputed that the evicted tenants were in unlawful possession. Now it came to the knowledge of the police that a visit had been paid by several gentlemen to the houses which had been re-taken possession of by the evicted tenants, and on that occasion Mr. Harrison did what has been euphemistically described as administering relief to a starving people; in other words, he selected out of all the people of the districts as the objects of his bounty the inmates of houses who had returned and were in unlawful possession of those buildings. When the House remembers that it was proved before the magistrates that there was a conspiracy among these people to defeat the execution of due process of law, and that the people unlawfully returned into possession of their houses in pursuance of this conspiracy, the case wears a very different 1261 aspect, and is totally different from the suggestion that Mr. Harrison was a young gentleman who had only gone over there to relieve distress. Mr. Harrison was guilty of what I will only characterize as a thoughtless act. He did not realize the consequences of what he was doing; he did not realize that instead of relieving distress he was accumulating distress and misery. That is why I venture to characterize his action as thoughtless. Evil is wrought by want of thought. Still, Mr. Harrison was acquitted by the Court of the charge of having acted in pursuance of the conspiracy which I have described. He was not arrested by the police for what is described as the distribution of charity. He certainly was arrested and was put in prison. But why? Because, Sir, when the police pointed out to him that the persons he proposed to relieve were resisting the law, and asked him for his name and address, he did not comply with their request.
§ *MR. MADDEN
It was sworn to at the trial of Mr. Harrison. At all events, whether ho gave his address, or whether he is under the impression that he did, it did not reach the police, and that is the material point, and therefore the fact that he was arrested, and not summoned, is due to the fact that the police could not get his name and address, the police had no alternative than to arrest him. What occurred afterwards? When Mr. Harrison was arrested and taken before the magistrates for what the police believed to be an illegal offence, the magistrates offered to release him on bail, but he deliberately, in open Court, refused to give bail. That may be right or wrong, but the offer of bail having been made to Mr. Harrison, he cannot complain of being imprisoned when he declined to give bail, and deliberately preferred to go to prison.
§ SIR HORACE DAVEY (Stockton)
I think the House is indebted to my hon. and learned Friend for having brought this subject forward, because we cannot too often impress on the House and the country the extent to which Ireland at the present time is police-ridden. So 1262 far as my knowledge and information goes, there is no better example, no more flagrant instance of what I do not hesitate to call the illegal action of the police than their conduct with respect to the Falcarragh evictions. Now, Sir, we have been told, and I intend absolutely to accept your ruling, that we must not refer to a case which is sub judice; but, Sir, the Crown having thought fit to try Mr. Harrison and the hon. Member for Camborne together on a charge for conspiracy, I am nut to be precluded from discussing the case of Mr. Harrison because part of the evidence given against him was also given against the hon. Member. There is one point I desire there shall be no mistake about, and that is that the prosecution of Mr. Harrison was undertaken by the express directions of the authorities at Dublin, as was stated by the learned Gentleman who conducted the prosecution on behalf of the Crown. It seems to me, Sir, that the Government has been overriding and trampling on the most ordinary liberties of the Irish people. At any rate, in this case they have succeeded in making themselves ridiculous, because anything more absurd than to prosecute Mr. Harrison on a charge of entering into a conspiracy with a number of persons whose very names he had never heard of, and for acts which were done while he was still pursuing his studies at Oxford, could hardly be conceived. With regard to the act for which Mr. Harrison was arrested, what happened, as appeared from the reading of the evidence, is perfectly plain. Mr. Harrison called on the tenant inside the house to open the door; the door was put ajar, and he threw in a loaf of bread, and for that the heavy machinery of the law of conspiracy is called down, and Mr. Harrison is arrested for alleged forcible entry. He was also charged with aiding and abetting in the frustration of the law, which is a new criminal offence to me. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite has made a most unsatisfactory answer to every one of the questions asked by the hon. and learned Member for Durham. Since when I ask him again was it a crime by statute or common law to give a loaf of bread or a packet of tea or of cakes to a starving man who is committing a civil offence? Suppose the people in re-taking possession were, 1263 committing a trespass, what statute, English or Irish, makes it a crime to give them a loaf of bread or a packet of tea? By what law, or by what right, are the police entitled to lay siege to a house of which possession has been retaken by the tenant and to try to starve him out by blockade? It appears to me that in this case they formed a cordon round the house, more or less perfect, and prevented people from approaching it. Both in the south.west of Ireland, and more particularly in Donegal, the police seem to be under the impression that they may do whatever they please. I have read the evidence of a policeman that he gave passes to the people to enable them to get through the cordon of the police. That was wholly illegal and unjustifiable. It was perfectly preposterous for the Crown to institute an action for conspiracy against Mr. Harrison and to try to connect him with acts done three or four years before, when he was a boy at school or at college. But that is what was done, and it naturally followed from committing the administration of so delicate a law as that of conspiracy to Resident Magistrates. The thing from which more mischief has come than from any other is the withdrawal of such actions from the decision of a jury. If the law of conspiracy is to be administered by magistrates, we shall have to alter the law. The only thing which makes it tolerable in this country is that it is administered by a jury. Now, Sir, one more point, and I will sit down. The hon. and learned Gentleman gravely said and challenged the House to contradict the statement that it was lawful for the police to shadow a man, note-book in hand, if they believed he was about to do an unlawful act. I do not believe because the police thought the hon. Member for Camborne was going to cheer for the Plan of Campaign that they were entitled to follow him about like a shadow. When Mr. Harrison was arrested he was cheered by the crowd, and according to the report in the Times the crowd were charged by the police for so cheering, and the Inspector of Constabulary said it was a scandal to cheer a prisoner. But if the police arrested persons like Mr. Harrison I fear I shall be guilty of the scandalous conduct of giving those persons a cheer.
*MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
It may appear very presumptuous for a layman to join issue with an ex-Solicitor General on a point of law. But, Sir, I am emboldened in this instance to make that attempt because I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman's eminence at the Bar has not been attained by personal attention to such trivial matters as Police Court prosecutions, otherwise I think he would have known that what he has laid down as indisputable law is without a shadow of foundation; in fact the hon. and learned Gentleman has lent the weight of his great authority to the astounding doctrine that the police are not justified in keeping out trespassers from houses of which illegal possession has been taken.
§ SIR H. DAVEY
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. That is not what I said. I said I was not aware of any law which enables the police to besiege a house and form a cordon about it to starve those in possession.
*MR. J. LOWTHER
The hon. and learned Gentleman went a good deal further; he asked what right had the police to prevent people from entering those houses? That position taken up by the hon. and learned Gentleman, I am glad to think, after fuller consideration, he deliberately repudiates. Then he went another step further still, and said the police had no right to follow about, note-book in hand, as he put it, persons whom they choose to think are objects of suspicion. I venture to say, Sir, that no person who has had a share, however humble, in carrying out the law can deny that the police are justified, if they believe any person is engaged in acts likely to bring him into conflict with the law, to see when and how any breach of the law occurs I do not consider that I or anyone else would be justified in detaining the House by referring to the action of a Court of Law; there has been too much discussion of that kind already of late, which has largely brought discredit upon those who have indulged in it. I will, therefore, merely content myself with saying that the police in the matter referred to have discharged their duty, and in the like circumstances I hope they will do precisely the same again.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I do not think I should be justified in wasting the time of the House by replying to any of the comments which we have just heard from the right hon. Gentleman, and which seem to me to prove only this—that a right hon. Gentleman may occupy one of the highest positions in connection with the Government of Ireland without his legal knowledge being such that even the Lord Lieutenant could satisfy himself of it, I presume no one will contradict me when I say I am probably the only Member of the House who can place in the possession of the House the actual facts which are at present under discussion. [A laugh.] Hon. Members opposite laugh as they usually do when matters are being discussed of which they are strangely ignorant. I happened to be present with my friend Mr. Harrison during the whole course of the proceedings for which he was arrested and imprisoned, and after my friend Mr. Harrison was arrested I carried on his work with my friend Mr. Benson. I am not going now to touch upon the actual charges of which I stand condemned, as I do not for one moment presume to anticipate the appeal that will be heard later on in my own case; but I trust I shall not trespass upon forbidden ground if I place before the House the facts as stated in Mr. Harrison's case. Stripped of their legal verbiage, the charges against us amounted to this—that we had, by giving bread to Mr. Olphert's starved and besieged tenants on the night of the 16th of April, aided and abetted them in connection with the Plan of Campaign and also in the holding of forcible possession. The first charge applied equally to Mr. Harrison and myself, and if he was acquitted upon that charge so of course must I have been. The other charge, with respect to the holding of forcible possession, broke down, I imagine for two reasons—in the first place, because the very persons who were accused of having held forcible possession were not even proceeded against by the Crown when their cases came on, and secondly, because, as I conclusively proved to the magistrate by the citation of English authority, to prove the holding of forcible possession it is necessary to show that there was actual violence, as to which not a shred 1266 or little of evidence was advanced. I mention these matters in order to bring out as strongly as possible the point that so far as the Plan of Campaign, as an illegal criminal conspiracy, exists on the estate, and I am not going to deny that it does exist—so far as it exists, and so far as we were in any way whatever either by giving bread or otherwise assisting, cheering, and comforting the starved and downtrodden tenants of Mr. Olphert, we were guilty of a charge of which Mr. Harrison has been acquitted, and of which I to-day stand condemned. The only other evidence on which the Crown was able to make out a case against me at all was that I, for the distinct purpose of—
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I want to distinguish between the exact charge against myself and the charge against Mr. Harrison, of which that gentleman was acquitted. I do not propose to discuss now the question of the cheering of the Plan of Campaign. That was the charge againt me as contradistinguished from the charge preferred against both Mr. Harrison and myself, and on which one was acquitted, while the other was found guilty. I only want the House to distinctly understand that so far as we were charged either jointly or severally with promoting and aiding and abetting the Plan of Campaign the evidence of the bread giving upon which we were prosecuted was the strongest that could be brought forward. Now so far as I am concerned the House, knows that I had nothing to do with originating the Plan of Campaign on the Olphert estate. It was originated at a time when I was travelling in South Africa, when Mr. Harrison was living in England, and when Mr. Benson was travelling in the United States. On Friday the 12th of April I was performing my duties in this House, and I left on that evening for Ireland. I had never at that time either met or heard of either Mr. Harrison or Mr. Benson. I reached Falcarragh on the 14th of April, and it was on the evening of that day that the only act took place on the part of the tenants which could be construed to be anything in connection with the Plan of Campaign. The tenants on that evening went back to the houses from which they 1267 had been evicted during the previous week.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I am reluctant to call the hon. Gentleman to order, but he is not now discussing the conduct of the police. The hon. Gentleman is clearly defending himself against charges which may be said to be pending against him.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I have not the least intention of defending myself. I defended myself before the Magistrate, and I suppose I shall have to defend myself before the County Court Judge. I am content to await that time. Now, as to the control of the police, the first thing I desire to allude to is the system of espionage which is adopted in Ireland. Now the Solicitor General for Ireland stated that it was a common fact that I was breaking the law.
§ *MR. MADDEN
said that he had said that the Court of First Instance had held the hon. Member guilty of breaking the law.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
You first assume a man is guilty of something, then, for the purpose of making him guilty, you set spies to shadow him and track him everywhere, and take down every word he may say, and then, when that course of action is called in question, you say that the police were perfectly right because he was found by the Magistrate to have been guilty of something. The hon. and learned Gentleman assumes that I was only followed by the police after they had some idea I was taking part in an illegal conspiracy. That is not the explanation given by the police authorities on the spot. It is not their practice to wait to know whether a man is doing that which is illegal before they shadow him and track him out. Several English ladies and gentlemen complained of the inconvenience to which they were subjected, and Mr. Divisional Commissioner Cameron said to them, "You must understand that this country is in such a condition that strangers must be watched to ascertain if they are respectable, and not Members of Parliament or others coming to incite the people to crime." These are the words of this Pasha who had autocratic control of the whole of the managements of the police and military in Falcarragh at that time. I have here the notes of the evidence of Sergeant Kenny of Falcarragh. This officer in 1268 cross examination said it was his duty to know who stopped in the hotel and in every house in the district, including Mr. Olphert's house itself. He added, "I saw Captain Butler and Mr. Russell were there. I heard that Mr. Russell was an Irish Member of Parliament. I did not see he was respectable." The hon. Member for South Tyrone must be glad to receive a certificate of respectability from Sergeant Kenny. The officer went on, "I set my men to watch whether they are respectable or not. There are many persons coming into the district whom I did not set my detectives to follow." The fact is that at this moment such is the police intimidation in Falcarragh, such are the daily irregularities and illegalities practised by the authorities there, that it is not at all surprising that they should go beyond what we, as English gentlemen, have a right to claim as their duty in setting spies to track out everybody who may come into the district. But there is further evidence on this point. Two ladies—Miss Chapman and another lady—came to Falcarragh during the last few days I was there. They were tracked and insulted by the police; and, therefore, it is idle for the Solicitor General for Ireland to get up and say it was in the fulfilment of their duty that they followed me, because they recognized in me a dangerous person and conspirator. The irregularities of the police have infected the emergency men, for Armstrong, an emergency man, stated that his instructions were to interfere with English ladies and gentlemen and representatives of the Press whom he saw walking about. He added, "They were in a lane when I ordered them away and took their names." It is monstrous that ladies and gentlemen from England should not be able to talk to these poor wretches, who are being turned out of their homes by Mr. Olphert, in order to ascertain the facts, and to refute the libels and false statements which are being spread by the family of Mr. Olphert and the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). That is what we complain of, and I very much mistake the feelings of the people in this country if they will not resent, in the highest degree, an interference with liberty, even in Donegal, without the slightest provocation. At this moment there is 1269 no crime in Donegal except that which the police, and the emergency men, the riflemen, and the landlords' men generally, choose to commit. Falcarragh is not in a disturbed condition, save for the riotings of the riflemen and police who roll about the streets in a drunken condition at all hours of the night and day, making a most disgraceful exhibition of themselves, and actually insulting and assaulting English gentlemen, as they did in the case of Mr. Harrison, without the slightest reason. But it is not merely a question of the action of the police in the particular matter which has been most prominently brought under the notice of the House. We complain of the illegal action of the police in other respects. We complain of the police authorities, deliberately, by a petty dodge, getting hold of the houses from which these poor people have been evicted. They have done this on the pretence of hiring them from the landlord's agent. It was unearthed in the course of the recent trial that one day, after the people had been turned out of their homes, the emergency men, and the landlord's agent, and Mr. Cameron, and other police officers went round. The police authorities asked the agent if this house and that house were to let, and, on being assured by the agent that they were, Mr. Cameron said, "I will have this house and that house at 1s. a week as a police barrack," and at once installed some half dozen constables in them. So fearful, however, were they of the consequences of the exposure, that a few days later the police were hurriedly turned out of the houses. Then I will take another point. The police in this country are supposed to be employed for the purpose of defending the property and lives of poor and rich alike, but in Falcarragh, as no doubt in other parts of Ireland, the police regard their duty as strictly limited to the persecution of poor people. What do they do if a petty larceny takes place? They positively decline to institute any inquiry. I affirm without hesitation that if the police in Falcarragh would only apply themselves to their proper duty of protecting the poor people, as well as protecting Mr. Olphert, against intrigue and crime, there would be less disturbance, and less call for any of the coercive practices in which the Chief 1270 Secretary delights so much. I should like to give one or two illustrations of what I consider illegal action on the part of the police. Inspector Herd swore in this case that he arrested persons before he had got warrants. I want to know by what right police arrest persons, break into their homes, break in the doors with hatchets at five o'clock in the morning, and turn out women and children without warrants. Has it come to this, that there is no protection whatever for the poor people against these illegal malpractices of the police? I think these facts need to be blazoned abroad throughout the land to show to what an odious extent the Government have travelled in their illegal coercive progress throughout Ireland. These police are not content with doing what I have described, they are deliberately aiding and abetting the emergency men in wholesale destruction of the tenants' property. It is all very well to say the house belongs to the landlord; it is not so with the fittings and furniture. We might argue that the walls of the houses in some cases were built by and are the property of the tenants. But the furniniture of these poor people was thrown out and wantonly smashed—cooking pots, tables, spinning wheels of the women—every article of furniture was pitched out and maliciously destroyed. Day after day, evening after evening did I hear complaints from the tenants, days after the evictions, of how the emergency men, protected and assisted by the police, had been going into these poor people's houses, tearing down the roof and rafters, tearing up the flooring, taking away every particle of timber they could find to the police station for firewood. Two or three nights ago one of the tenants described to me how his house was gutted in this fashion, and how the police and emergency mere hurled a great rock against a partition dividing two rooms, shattered it, and the timber was carried away by one of the Olphert carts to the police barracks. I went to the barracks afterwards and saw the remnants of the partition thus wantonly destroyed. It is bad enough if the emergency men do these things, but we do not expect the police to aid and abet the landlords' agents in such proceedings. I have full particulars of the assault on Madge McGally, felled to the ground by a policeman's baton. 1271 I saw the wound on her head from which she suffered for many days. Again, there was the case of Neil Doogan of Ballinish, not the man of the same name who has just been imprisoned, whose wife was assulted by an emergency man, and yet Mr. Cameron would take no notice, although Mr. Harrison swore an information against the emergency man whom he saw strike her. Mr. O'Brien also, the member for Monaghan, swore he saw an emergency man strike her on the breast with his closed fist, and a serjeant of police saw it too, but beyond pulling the emergency man away would do nothing. Such assaults as these are countenanced by the police, and it is right they should be brought clearly before the people of this country. I do not want to unduly prolong this discussion, but a great deal might be said in connection with the terrible scenes of suffering we have witnessed at Falcarragh during our stay there. I think at any rate these specimens of the illegal actions of the police we have adduced demand some explanation from the Government, and amply justify my hon. Friend in making his Motion. I am sorry that the fact of my appeal has prevented him from taking a wider and larger view of the question, for I think it is time the whole of these transactions should be clearly and vividly brought before the country, and the sooner the better. At any rate, I have endeavoured to place these few facts before the House, not because they are the only facts by any means, but because they are some of the more sober facts, and indicate the state of police terrorism that exists from one end of Donegal to the other. It is idle for the police to attempt to frighten Englishmen from going there. They may bring charges of conspiracy against me and others, but I hope that the English people will not be intimidated from going to Ireland to see for themselves the facts of these cases. That is the intention of the Government and the Police, for Mr. Mackay, the Crown Prosecutor in the case against myself and Mr. Harrison, wound up his remarks by an insolent threat against visitors appealing to the Magistrates from such a sentence as would not only deter us from continuing the duties we considered were enforced upon us, but which would also frighten other 1272 English people from visiting that part of Ireland. It may suit the Government to try and frighten away English people; the Chief Secretary may think his black deeds are best done in darkness without witnesses, but, at any rate, some of the truth shall be known throughout the length and breadth of this country. It is because discussions of this kind are, perhaps, the most efficient means of bringing the facts to the notice of the people of England through the Press that I rejoice the hon. Member has brought these proceedings at Falcarragh before the notice of the House.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I cannot help thinking the Government must feel that they, and they alone, are responsible for the discussion which has taken place this evening. What is the case, about which there is no doubt? The police, thinking they were following the instructions received from the right hon. Gentleman and those whom he trusts, and evidently not wrong in so thinking, from the statement made to the House by the Law Officer of the Crown, took on themselves to prosecute a gentleman named Harrison, under charges worded in the gravest language, of which the only overt act, the only act attempted to be proved, was, that Mr. Harrison had offered food to the people whom it is alleged had re-taken possession of the holdings which had been theirs. That is a matter upon which the House can judge. It stands to the country, that in Ireland it has become an offence, an offence which warrants the police in summarily arresting an individual, that he should have given bread or food to a man whom the Government consider criminal. How long has this been a criminal act in England or in Wales? If this man had been a felon, and his felony undoubted, since when under the common law, or under the statute law, has it been an offence warranting arrest, to give him food? I submit it is a monstrous proposition. There must be a perversion of all ideas of justice in the land, a distortion of all legal principles, or no policemen would be such idiots as to take action in such a fashion, and no law officer would be mad enough to endorse what they had done. The learned Solicitor General speaking with reference to the watching by the police, 1273 said, if it be alleged to be an illegal action, it could be tested; but how can it be tested? By what process? If I have spies set upon me, unless I can prove conspiracy against them, by what process known to the law can I take action against them? If the spying that is pursued is such that I can allege that it is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, it is possible I can make some summary application, but short of that what action can I bring, what indictment would lie? How can it be tested? The way in which it is tested is that there is a series of provocations which sometimes end in resistance, and then the police use force with great brutality on one hand, and send the unfortunates to gaol on the other hand. There can be nothing more shocking than the state of feeling existing among the police at Falcarragh as shown by the conduct of these prosecutions. The Solicitor General says the act of Mr. Harrison was a thoughtless act, but thoughtlessness is hardly criminality. The law officers in Ireland, who had the same opportunity of judging the nature of the act as the magistrates, instead of treating it as a thoughtless act, for which Mr. Harrison might have been subjected to a warning, treated it as a criminal act for which the man was prosecuted on a grave charge of conspiracy for which he might have been sent to gaol for six months. If this was a thoughtless act then it should have been so recognized by the hon. and learned Gentleman's colleague in Dublin, and the proceedings should have stopped short at the unfortunate action of the police, and the prosecution by the law officers should not have been added. It is unfortunate that we should occupy our time in this House discussing proceedings which have taken place in Courts of Justice, but it must not be forgotten that these Courts of Justice are special Courts of Justice created for the express purpose of dealing with special kinds of offences never known before, and manufactured solely, both the Courts and the offences, by a Statute drawn by the right hon. and learned Gentlemen who now have the enforcement of it; and these Courts of Justice have been so constituted as to lay them open to the gravest suspicion, the magistrates and police acting together; and magistrates chased out of 1274 one country for conduct unworthy of honourable men have been considered worthy to sit and sentence men to gaol on charges of having broken the law. I have no wish to occupy time, but I desire the country should understand why I vote for this Motion for Adjournment, if it should be carried to a Division; that it is a new thing that the giving of bread to a man, however wrong that man might be, however criminal that man might be, is to be made an offence for which the giver might be sent to gaol, and still more do I vote for the Motion when the man to whom the bread was given is admitted to have been a wretched starving tenant, who had crept back to his own homestead, from which hard times and hard conditions of life had driven him.
§ *THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I should have preferred to have given way to the right hon. Gentleman, because my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General having spoken, nobody else on this Bench has the necessary knowledge of details in reference to matters that have occurred in Donegal to enable him to reply. But as the right hon. Gentleman prefers, and I think wisely, to speak after me rather than before me, I will not interfere with his wishes. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down appears to have entirely mistaken the ground on which the Government object to discussions of proceedings pending in Courts of Law. It is not that the Government fear publicity and discussion. What we object to is the sort of maimed discussion which necessarily occurs if hon. Gentlemen are allowed to raise topics in the House in regard to pending proceedings, and which we are not allowed to reply to because the matters are still sub judice. You, Sir, have had occasion three or four times to call hon. Members to order for trespassing on matters not relevant to the Motion, and which had close connection with matters still under consideration by Courts of Law, but though stopped from going into details, that did not prevent them from making insinuations against the Government with regard to such matters as the cheering of the Plan of Campaign—insinuations which are freely made use of in controversy outside the House, and which hon. Mem- 1275 bers no doubt think will find their way into the Press if repeated in the House —but to which I am precluded from replying by the ruling of the Chair. That is the reason, and the only reason, why I object to this discussion. Personally, I like discussions on Irish matters. It is not when Parliament is sitting, but when it is not sitting, that I am afraid of the speeches and criticisms of hon. Members. They may say what they like when I am able to reply to them; but it is the reckless and irresponsible utterances on platforms where there is no one acquainted with facts to answer them that I objected to; not to utterances in this House. So far as the Irish Government are concerned, I can assure the hon. Gentlemen we have no objection either to the number or the character of the debates they may raise in the House, provided always they are debates into which we can enter freely and not with our hands tied by the circumstance that they concern matters still to be determined by a Court of Law. Two very eminent legal authorities appear to me to have made strange blunders in their law in the course of proceedings this evening. The ex-Solicitor General uttered a good many sentiments on the criminal law which I think, though I speak most humbly, showed that he is not so intimately acquainted with that branch of legal procedure as he, by universal acknowledgment is with other and more difficult branches of the law. The hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to think that it was a peculiarity of Irish law, administered by the present Government, that a man cheering a prisoner should in any circumstances be regarded as guilty of an offence. I recommend the hon. and learned Gentleman, when a suitable occasion offers, to go at the head of an excited crowd and cheer by name some prisoner coming out of Bow Street. I think I can promise the hon. and learned Gentleman that under the English Law he might find himself brought very summarily before the magistrates, and if it could be shown that his conduct was likely to lead to a breach of the peace, or to bring the law into contempt, I may also promise him that the magistrates will not take a very lenient view of his offence. So much for the hon. and learned Gentleman. I go now to 1276 another eminent legal authority. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), though not technically learned, has a large experience in these matters, and he appeared to regard it as being contrary to law to interfere with any man who supplies bread to a person guilty of an offence. The hon. Member asked under what law in England or Ireland could it be illegal to supply bread or the necessaries of life to a man, even if he be guilty of a criminal offence. Giving bread by itself, of course, is not an illegal offence in Ireland or anywhere else, but giving bread for the purpose of assisting a man in committing an offence is, I apprehend, an offence against the law both in England and in Ireland. Is that proposition denied?
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
My point is that no case is known to the English Law in which the giving of bread to a criminal, either before or after committing a crime, is held to be an offence.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I distinctly traverse the statement just made. I repeat that I do not believe there is a lawyer who will contradict me when I say that to give bread or anything else to a man for the purpose of enabling him to break the law, is an offence against the law in every civilized country in the world. This brings me to the conduct of the police in arresting Mr. Harrison. Mr. Harrison was acquitted. The magistrates took a lenient view of the circumstances and acquitted him.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
The magistrates said the Crown had not made out their case. [Cries of "Order, order!"] I rise to order.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has no right to interrupt, and should not continue his remarks when I am standing and calling him to order. Mr. Conybeare on a point of order.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I only wished to correct a wrong explanation of circumstances within my knowlege. The magistrates distinctly stated in their judgment, not that they were taking a lenient view of the case, but that the Crown had failed to prove their case. That was on the charge of having given bread to those poor people, enabling them to break the law which, the right hon. Gentleman says, is both in this country and in Ireland an illegal offence.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know what the hon. Member considers the interruption in order; he makes a fresh speech when I was not referring to him, directly or indirectly. I take it that it is admitted, or not denied, that the law of the hon. Member for Northampton is bad law. (No, no). Well, I will leave to those of a contrary opinion the opportunity to maintain it, and come to what I may call the ethics of the case. Was the constable justified or not in arresting Mr. Harrison? We must assume that Mr. Harrison was innocent, because he has been acquitted. But was there a primâ facie case for the arrest? The whole body of tenants who had been evicted on the Olphert estate in January, by one consent, when the hon. Member for Camborne appeared on the scene, retook forcible possession. [No, no]. Well, illegal possession of their houses. In so doing there could not be any doubt that they were acting apparently in concert for the purpose of setting at naught the decrees of a competent court. No one denies that. Mr. Harrison appeared on the scene and proposed to give bread to one of the tenants who had acted in this illegal manner, and he, in the opinion of the police, did so for the purpose of enabling the tenant successfully to carry out that illegal operation. Has that fact been denied by Mr. Harrison? The allegation is that Mr. Harrison acted purely from charitable motives. I do not doubt that Mr. Harrison is probably a young man of charitable instincts and wishes, but his charity in this case was of a very selective character. Did Mr. Harrison give bread to any person who was not engaged in the illegal proceedings? Was this part of a general charitable scheme to relieve poor tenants in that part of Donegal? Is there anything in the behaviour of Mr. Harrison or his friends and associates which would lead the policemen to believe that Mr. Harrison was actuated by purely charitable motives. The policeman warned Mr. Harrison that his action was illegal.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am not traversing the action of the Court; I am only saying that the policeman hada primâ facie case, and that is all that is required to justify him. The police-an told Mr. Harrison he was acting 1278 illegally, and asked him for his name. Mr. Harrison refused to give his name.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
He did refuse to give it, and it was only on his refusal to give his name that he was arrested and taken before the magistrate. The magistrate suggested that Mr. Harrison should be let out on bail, but Mr. Harrison having taken for his guide, philosopher, and friend the Member for Camborne, the Member for Camborne advised him not to give bail. That was nobody's affair but Mr. Harrison's, and neither the police, nor the magistrates, nor Her Majesty's Government are to be held responsible for the advice which the hon. Member for Camborne chose to give his friend. The only imprisonment, therefore, which Mr. Harrison suffered was because he was fool enough to take the advice of the hon. Member for Camborne. I have every hope, however, that as Mr. Harrison grows older he will grow wiser, and if he chooses his associates with care his course through life may be an honourable and a useful one, and we can only sympathize with him in this case because his openly expressed wish for martyrdom was not gratified. The hon. Member for Camborne is deeply indignant because of the espionage, as he calls it, which the police are alleged to exercise over strangers travelling in disturbed parts of the country. That formed the main part of his speech to-night. He stated that one police officer deposed on oath that it was the practice of the police to observe the behaviour and physiognomy of any person who came into the country, and if he did not look respectable they followed him, and the Member for Camborne was naturally indignant that after that definition of the duties of the police, he should have been followed himself. Is the hon. Member really of opinion that where there is an illegal conspiracy of a serious kind going on in a country, which has led to wide-spread disaster, to the injury of the police themselves, as well as of the tenants and landlords, and where the police are of opinion that persons of influence coming in the country—because in Donegal the mere fact that a man is a Member of Parliament is still supposed to give him character and influence—that such persons have either for their object, or as 1279 a necessary consequence of their action, the furthering of an illegal conspiracy. I will put it to the hon. Member himself whether the police would not have failed in their duty if they had not made it their business to watch the proceedings of such persons. If the hon. Member, or any Member of this House, thinks I am going to suggest that the police went beyond their duty in this case, I can give them no such satisfaction. The police did their duty, and they would have been wanting in their duty if they had done anything less than what they have done. In speaking of the attacks made upon the police, may I remind the House that these men are carrying on most difficult and critical work in a country practically in a state of revolution. I observe no less than three right hon. Gentlemen opposite eagerly taking notes of that observation, with the obvious intention of using it for their own purposes. I am grieved to interfere with their benevolent purposes, but if they bad given me half a moment to explain, I should have saved them the trouble of making the notes. What I said I adhere to. I say that the part of Donegal we are dealing with is in a state of revolution. [Cries of "No; that is not what you said."] Who has made it so? An hon. MEMBER: You have made it so.] The Plan of Campaign has made it so. ["No; the battering ram."] The allies of the Members who introduced the Plan of Campaign have made it so. But I do not think right hon. Gentlemen opposite need be agitated about the result. Even in this particular Falcarragh district the worst times are over. The disorder, an unfortunate disorder, which has reached during the last few months almost the point of revolution, is in process of being brought to an end, although if anything could promote the continuation of that state of things, it is the openly-expressed sympathy which Members of this House give to an illegal conspiracy, by moving adjournments of this kind we have heard, and by supporting them by their speeches. Hon. Members may perhaps think that they are merely criticizing the action of the magistrates or of the policeman.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I tell you that you are in fact throwing the whole weight of your political reputation and of your great name upon the side of disorder and upon the side of conspiracy. You are fostering it, and if you are not fostering it knowingly your ignorance, at all events, is culpable. I have often defended the police before, from what I deemed to be unjust attacks, but I say without hesitation on the present occasion, that while I do not believe the police of Ireland have ever been more unjustly accused, so they have never had a more difficult task to perform than has fallen to their lot during the last three months in this corner of Donegal. They have performed their task, I believe, with the greatest regard for law, with the greatest temper, and the greatest discretion. They have performed it under extreme difficulties, and I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member who opened the debate for this, if for no other cause—that he has given me an opportunity of publicly stating in this House my high opinion of their conduct.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have been very much surprised that I should desire to want to hear what he had to say in defence of the Irish Government on this subject. I must admit that I never heard a speech from the Minister who was to pacify Ireland, except with admiration of the spirit which he brings to bear upon the task of pacification, and when the Minister who every month has pacified Ireland gets up and states in the House of Commons that it is in a condition of revolution—
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I noticed the note which the right hon. Gentleman was making of my statement, and I took occasion to correct it at the time. Perhaps he will allow me to correct it again. I did not say that.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Well, Sir, I will recite in the presence of the House what took place. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the country was in a condition of revolution, and when he saw that a note was being taken, he tried to get out of it and said it was in a corner of Donegal.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As the right hon. Gentleman has represented me as saying one thing with a particular meaning and immediately afterwards 1281 perverting that meaning, perhaps he will allow me to point out that, from the context of my observations, of which he took a note, that must have been my meaning. I was discussing and defending the conduct of the police in a particular barony of Donegal, and it was that barony alone to which I referred.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I shall be very happy to settle with the right hon. Gentleman whether I am to speak before him or to follow him, but I hope that we shall not pursue the inconvenient practice of both speaking together. I prefer now to refer to what the right hon. Gentleman said, and not to what he meant. The House has heard what the Chief Secretary said, but he has now got down to a revolution in a barony. Let us then proceed to consider who is the author of that revolution in a barony, and how far the barony is justified in the course it is taking. This is the line which it now appears the right hon. Gentleman is desirous of taking upon this subject. There was another reason why I waited, I did not expect the person who was going to answer my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockton (Sir H. Davey), would be the Chief Secretary for Ireland. There was another Gentleman sitting by him, the Solicitor General for England, who I thought would have been called upon to answer the legal portion of my hon. and learned friend's remarks. But the right hon. Gentleman, bold as brass, prompted by the Solicitor General, ventured, with that courtesy with which he usually treats the House, to speak of the blunders in law of the hon. and learned Member for Stockton. Now, Sir, we have had curious law laid down by the Solicitor General for England before now, and we have not found that his first-hand law is very good, but I venture to say, that his second-hand law, frittered through the Secretary for Ireland, is the most arrant nonsense. That is my reply to the statement of the Secretary for Ireland as to the blunders in law of my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Stockton. If the Solicitor General for England is prepared to maintain the ridiculous proposition of law that we have heard from the mouth of the Secretary for Ireland, let him have the courage to get up himself and make the statement in the presence 1282 of many hon. Members of the House who are in a position to refute it, and not prompt the Secretary for Ireland to make the extraordinary statements we have from him. Well, Sir, putting aside all this bluster of the right hon. Gentleman, and considering that the charge made against the hon. Member for the Camborne Division is one of illegality and outrage, the only answer the right hon. Gentleman has attempted has been couched in the language of insult and insolence. That is my opinion. An answer more insolent I have never heard. But we had a curious interlocutory address from the Leader of the House, who, although a little out of order as I thought, informed us that it has been the universal practice of the House never to refer to legal proceedings that were pending. The right hon. Gentleman's memory has failed him on this occasion. One of the most memorable debates which ever took place in the House of Commons—a debate in which its greatest members took part—was on a question of legal proceedings which were pending. In the great debate which occurred in 1844 Mr. Macaulay, Serjeant Wilde, (afterwards Lord Truro), and Lord J. Russell took part, and condemned the conduct of a Court of law in the O'Connell case while an appeal was pending in the House of Lords. We are now approaching a period when such rules of debate as may be necessary for the protection of the liberties of the people are growing narrower and narrower. I shall say nothing myself in regard to the legal proceedings pending in this case. I will only point out that what the right hon. Gentleman supposes to have been the practice in former days was exactly the opposite. What was the charge which the Secretary for Ireland was called on to meet, and how has he met it? It is said that the conduct of the police was oppressive, irregular, and illegal in this barony of Donegal. How has the right hon. Gentleman met that charge? What is it the police are said to have done? First of all an objection has been taken to the watching by the police of people upon insufficient grounds. What is the peculiar and ingenious defence offered by the Solicitor General for Ireland? He is a very careful man, and he laid down the law correctly. He said "If 1283 you think it is likely that a man is going to committ an illegal act, why then you may watch him." That was the doctrine still more particularly laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. J. Lowther). If you think a man is likely under some circumstances to cheer for the Plan of Campaign, the police, according to my right hon. Friend, are justified in watching him and going into a house after him. Will the Solicitor General, will the Home Secretary say that these are the instructions to the police in England? There is going to be a public meeting about this day month somewhere near Epsom Heath and my right hon. Friend may be present. Other persons will be there who may reasonably be suspected of being likely to make illegal bets or to enter upon some gambling games prohibited by the law. Is it the doctrine of my right hon. Friend or of the Solicitor General that the police should begin to watch those men at once and to enter houses wherever they go? And yet that is the doctrine which is to cover the action of the police in Donegal. The doctrine is perfectly monstrous. Everybody knows that if the police were allowed to do such things in England the whole country would be in a state of revolution. That is the first allegation, and I venture to say that the answer which has been given to it is absurd. What was the case of Mr. Harrison? Mr. Harrison was arrested for giving food to certain people. The Secretary for Ireland, prompted by his adviser, says that these people were guilty of illegal acts. But the Solicitor-General for Ireland did not say that. These men had been evicted; they returned to their houses at night. They were in the position of a person taking illegal possession perhaps upon a claim of title. The men may have committed a trespass, but they were guilty of no criminal act at all. Why, then, should the supplying of them with food be treated as an act for which a man is to be arrested? Suppose that a man returns to an empty house from which he has been evicted, and that a publican sends him a mutton chop and a pot of beer, is the publican to be arrested for doing so? Such a proposition would be perfectly ridiculous when it came to be examined by the light of the facts. 1284 Would the Solicitor General for Ireland maintain for a moment that a publican who sent in meat and drink under such circumstances was guilty of an offence? Then, if there be no ground for the assumption that an offence had been committed, what becomes of the case? It is the fact, no doubt, that at this moment there exists in Donegal a reign of terror deliberately created by the Government. The method the Government have followed has been to tell the police to do what they like, and the Secretary for Ireland will defend them in this House—per fas aut nefas. That is enough to make a revolution in a. corner of Donegal or anywhere else. That is a course which the English police would not be allowed to take for a day. What is the object with which this policy is pursued? There is a way in which peace may be made in Donegal as elsewhere, namely, the way in which it has been made already by the hon. and learned Member for Hackney. But is that the object of the Government? No, Sir, the object of the Government appears to be that which is described in the letters which we have read, and which I must say I read with indignation and disgust—from the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), who is calling on the landlords to root out these tenants, and is calling on the Government and rich men in England to subsidize the landlords in Ireland in order that that may be accomplished. That is their policy. It is sought by these illegal and brutal acts on the part of the police to trample down the combinations by which the tenants seek to defend themselves, instead of looking to a policy of conciliation and to arbitration—which might have been had and which would be had if the Government desired it. On the contrary, they have determined, as between landlords and tenants, to encourage that war to the knife which the hon. Member for South Tyrone is always preaching between the two classes, and it is on that account that I say that in my opinion, by encouraging the police in Donegal, they have brought about in this barony that which the Secretary for Ireland has described as a revolution.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I am not a lawyer, but there is one point which I think has been over- 1285 looked in this House in regard to the case that has been raised. The charge against the tenants was a charge of retaking forcible possession, and that, I apprehend, is a criminal proceeding, and therefore the police very properly held that Mr. Harrison was aiding and abetting a criminal action. No doubt Mr. Harrison was acquitted and these people were only declared to be in illegal possession, but that much, I think, may be said regarding the action of the police in the matter. I am not going to enter into the law, but I do know something of the common sense and the facts of the case. The Member for Derby has read my letters with indignation and disgust. Well, I am quite content that it should be so. I can inform the right hon. Member for Derby that a good many people read his speeches with indignation and disgust. Now, Sir, there is no use in hon. Members accusing me of going to Donegal as the agent of the landlords. It would be more becoming of them to refute my statements in the letters which have been referred to. What I venture to submit is that there is not a single paragraph in my letters to which a successful answer has been made in this House or in the Press. My case is simply this. The hon. Member for the Camborne Division talks about the police watching English visitors in Falcarragh. During the week I was there I met English tourists driving in every direction and speaking to tenants without any police interference whatever. On Sunday, April 14, the houses were taken possession of, and hon. Members should mark that the retaking of possession is part of the Plan of Campaign. Possession was not retaken by the tenants evicted in January, but on the 14th April the hon. Member for Camborne division and Mr. Harrison arrived, and the houses including those from which the tenants had been evicted in January were re-occupied. The hon. Member for Camborne and Mr. Harrison complained that they were viewed with suspicion. Well, did not their action constitute fair ground for suspicion on the part of the police that they were encouraging the Plan of Campaign? If they were going about the district cheering for the Plan of Campaign can they complain that the police regarded them with suspicion as associated 1286 with the Plan? Did any one of the Gentlemen concerned, except the Member for Camborne, ever cross the landlord's threshold? Not one of them, except the hon. Member, made any attempt to get the facts from the landlord, to investigate what the rents were, what the valuation was, or any of the circumstances of the dispute. They were content to take the facts as they got them from the authors of the Plan of Campaign. If I was not followed I, at any rate, made no overtures to the police. They were at perfect liberty to follow me if they chose. I did nothing that I should object to have written on all the walls of every town in England. If the police did not follow me I suppose they came to the conclusion that they might be more usefully employed. It is also said that the emergency men insulted English visitors. When I attempted to go upon certain lands—those of Bernard M'Nulty—an emergency man stopped me, as he had a perfect right to do. I went off the land when I was ordered off, and an English tourist has no better right than myself to be on such lands. This district of Donegal has been for months in a state of agitation. I have done my best to get at the facts. I have gone to the landlord, to the tenant, to the authorities, and tried to find out where the equities lay. I should have been glad if the Motion for the Adjournment had been made, not upon the arrest of Mr. Harrison or the hon. Member for Camborne, but with the object of getting the whole of the facts out upon the floor of this House, and if that were done it could be proved conclusively that the equities are entirely with the landlord, and I could have shown that the tenants have in many instances been compelled to go into the Plan, that the rents are not only fair, but in some instances excessively low.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The remark I have made to other hon. Members would apply to the observations the hon. Member is making as to the Plan of Campaign on a particular estate.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I have just finished, Sir. I should have welcomed, I say, such an inquiry on the floor of this House instead of that which is now being made.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Mid Lothian)
I do not perceive that 1287 Her Majesty's Government have any intention to favour the House with their views of the law as affecting the questions that have been raised, but I confess I consider the subject so important that I have thought it absolutely necessary to take an accurate note of the circumstances of the case. I generally regard such Motions as this of the hon. Member for Durham with prejudice, but having listened to the speech of the hon. Member and to the debate which has followed, I thank him for having made the Motion, and I thank your, Sir, for having confined the discussion within its proper limits, so that we know the points we are discussing, and are not led to deal with far wider questions which undoubtedly it would have been within the prerogative and power of of this House to deal with. The case stands thus: The Secretary for Ireland has described not the whole of Ireland, but a particular portion of the country, as being practically in a state of revolution. I did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to apply these words to the whole of Ireland, but I did understand that the words were applied to something more than a particular barony—a contraction of limits which by degrees he ultimately achieved. But I beg to observe that the right hon. Gentleman did not take sufficient note of my industry in marking down expressions that I thought material—an industry which I have exerted on former occasions rather to the disssatisfaction of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, and which I exerted this evening when the right hon. Gentleman said the Plan of Campaign had devastated not a particular barony, but the entire country side.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
That view is interesting when it is brought into comparison and contrast with the vaunting speeches made by organs of the Government, on all occasions when it appears convenient, with respect to the manner in which they have put down disorder in Ireland and re-established peace and comfort among its people. But now I go to what I deem a more important declaration of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the police on this occasion did no more than their duty. But this is exactly what was said in the case of 1288 Mitchelstown when the action of the police was illegal, and when nobody committed any illegality but the agents of the Government, and when that illegality of the Government resulted in the loss of three Irish lives. I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that there has begun to be perceptible in the action of the police on certain occasions in Ireland and in certain districts a tendency to excess and aggression and illegality which is deeply to be lamented, but can not be wondered at, because the police take their tone from the speeches of Members of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman has laid down the law for us all, he has expounded what is an offence and what is not an offence, has found fault with one, at least, of the most eminent lawyers in the House for gross blunders of law, and has given the House a still higher idea of the extravagant conception which the right hon. gentleman has formed of his own knowledge and ability in the department of law. Then the right hon. Gentleman was compassionate upon the youth of Mr. Harrison, and said that when Mr. Harrison grew older he would grow wiser, and indicated the point of age at which it might be expected that Mr. Harrison would exhibit the same kind of wisdom and the same kind of modesty which the right hon. Gentleman himself exhibits every time he speaks in the House. I will not taunt the right hon. gentleman as to the possibility—for it is a supposition so extravagant that I hardly dare venture to state it—the possibility that he, too, may grow a little wiser with age. It would be almost an insult to a man of his superhuman endowments to express such a hope, and I will pass on to the general case and to the doctrines which the right hon. gentleman has laid down. We have a right to look to the Executive Government as the guardians of our lives and liberties. In the first instance the Judicature of the country is the power to which we have recourse and in which we have confidence, but we have a right to look also to the Executive as the guardians of private personal right and liberty. I do not think that any impartial man can have listened to the debate to night without arriving sorrowfully at the conclusion that liberty in Ireland, as affected by the Government 1289 and its immediate agents, does not enjoy the guarantees that belong to it in England. To talk of equality of rights is a mockery. To talk of the impartial administration of the law as between man and man is going in contravention of the plainest facts of the case, and the doctrines which are laid down by the Government as applicable to Ireland are doctrines which they dare not for one moment preach or attempt to enforce in England, in Scotland, or in Wales. With respect to Mr. Harrison, the hon. Member who last spoke ingeniously added a point to the defence made by the learned Solicitor-General for Ireland. Mr. Harrison did no act of force, and none is alleged against him. He did not enter the house of which the evicted tenant had retaken possession. The door of the house was opened to him, and he placed a loaf inside. For so doing, and after refusing to give his name, Mr. Harrison was arrested, and that arrest was justfied by the Chief Secretary. Now I want to know whether this is the measure of British liberties or not. The Chief Secretary and the Government have been challenged to say under what law that arrest is justified. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, said, and the Member for South Tyrone undoubtedly said, that a criminal act had been committed by the tenants in retaking possession. The forcible retaking of possession would, under the Crimes Act of 1887, be a criminal act. The Member for Tyrone said that was the charge. But that was not the charge. The Solicitor General made no such charge, but said that possession was illegally retaken. The learned Gentleman did not say that possession was forcibly retaken. In that case the offence was a civil offence, and the giving of the loaf in aid of a civil offence was nothing more than a civil wrong. Thus, upon the issue of the Government themselves, this gentleman was arrested and treated as a prisoner because he had aided in the commission of a civil wrong, or done an act subsidiary to aiding and abetting a civil wrong. Would any man doing precisely the same thing in England be arrested? And, again, I ask under what statute or on what principal of law it is that a person doing an act which taken at the worst is but the aiding and abetting of a civil wrong is liable to be 1290 laid hold of by the police and carried off in confinement before a magistrate. Sir, this is the doctrine of Her Majesty's Government as it stands before us. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman opposite has embraced the whole question and found no difficulty. He is always ready to lay down the law, whatever case may arise. From the stores of his legal learning the right hon. Gentleman can always produce declarations of principle which will cover everything. Then the hon. Member for Tyrone has taken the emergency men under his protection and made a complete answer to the charge against them, of which the Government took no notice. But the hon. Member has misstated the charge made against the emergency men. The charge was contained in the declaration of the emergency man himself that he turned visitors out of the lane and off the common footpath. That was deemed unworthy of consideration by Her Majesty's Government. Of course, they are not responsible for the conduct of emergency men; but these men are acting under the protection of the Government, and I should like to know the opinion of the Government on the conduct described by the emergency man himself. Then there is another case of which the right hon. Gentleman has not taken the smallest notice. It has been asked, what right had the four policemen to be in the cottage of the old woman? She had three emergency men to confront. Were they so desperately afraid of that old woman? She was the only force they had to face. The Government have given no answer to that question. The House is entitled to know whether the police were or were not justified in finding their way into that cottage when there was no probability of their meeting resistance. These events involve the revival of a controversy which was settled 50 years ago, in the time of Mr. Drummond. It had been the practice of the Irish police to execute civil process, and it was a constant occurrence unhappily—most common and habitual in Irish history—that the agents of the law in the course of their employment continually committed breaches of the law. In the time of Mr. Drummond it was determined that the police should take no part in evictions, except in the case of violence actual or immediately apprehended. This is a 1291 recurrence to the old doctrine. An old woman, and nobody else, was found in the house, and if it is a recurrence to the old doctrine that it is the business of the police to be made the agents of evictions, then I can only say that we have gone back fifty years under the present Government in the application of administrative principles to the Government of Ireland. Now, one word with regard to watching, or "espionage" it was called, it appears to me most properly and most accurately. Those who defend the espionage by the police upon the hon. Member for Camborne have said—"Surely under such and such circumstances it was their duty to do watch." It is not a question of mere watching; it is a question of following up, of invading his privacy, of listening to his conversation, of taking down his words of conversation, of permitting no communication with any person except in the view of the police, who record all his words. Why was the term "espionage" invented if it was not to describe such a process as that? For that process the Government have no words except the words of praise. And all this is to be done, not under the authority of a responsible officer or Minister, but of a common policeman, who thinks, not that a crime has been committed, even in the sense of crime under the Crimes Act, but that a certain person is in the view of this policeman likely to commit a crime. Upon that presumption in the mind of the man this offensive process is established. with regard to which I can only say that such pranks could not be played by the police (except in Ireland) upon any Englishman of spirit, without considerable breaches of the law, and without summary punishment of such gross impertinence and such monstrous iniquity. I am taking these matters entirely as they occurred in debate; I do not pretend to pronounce a final judgment upon them. Inspector Herd—I rather think he was acting on his own authority—breaks open the house at five o'clock in the morning, and arrests the inhabitants of the house, or a portion of those inhabitants, without any warning. The right hon. Gentleman heard that statement, and he did not think it worthy of the smallest notice. It is covered by his declaration that the police have done no more than their 1292 duty—that the police did no more than their duty in breaking open the house at five o'clock in the morning without a warrant, and arresting the parties inhabiting the house. Sir, I say it is time that the people of England began to look to their own liberties if doctrines such as these are to be practised. This we can say, that such doctrines will not be unnoticed, but shall be proclaimed before the world both in this House and out of this House. I have endeavoured to describe the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman in regard to these points. I say we have a right to expect of the Government that in putting down illegality they shall use legal means. And I say this, that the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen, and the conduct of the Irish Government through its police, are marked by a sad indifference to private rights and to the liberties of the subject. They proclaim themselves the promoters of law and order, but they are themselves amongst the most dangerousfoes to the tranquillity of the country as well as to the loyalty of the people.
§ *THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir E. CLARKE,) Plymouth
Mr. Speaker, the charge which the right hon. Gentleman brought against the Government in his closing sentences, is, and is meant to be, a grave and serious charge. He has charged the Government, in dealing with these affairs in Ireland, with not stopping at the use of illegal measures, and says that in disregard of public law and private right, it carries out the work which it has set before it. It is a grave charge, for which there is not the smallest shadow of foundation, and the defence which my right hon. Friend has made for himself and for the Government of Ireland this evening is a defence that rests upon the law, and is justified by the law. He did not go one single inch beyond the law of this country, as well as of Ireland, in the defence which he made of the action of the police in Ireland. The tight hon. Gentleman has complained that no English lawyer from this Bench has spoken early in the debate, in reply to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who represents Stockton. Well, Sir, I was responsible for the speech for the moment being left without answer. I confess that I did not think it worth while. I do not 1293 think it worth while. The hon. and learned Member is not very familiar with the criminal law, although no doubt he is one of the greatest lawyers in this country in certain departments of jurisprudence. The honorable and learned Member for Stockton made a speech which was not directly referable in many of its parts to the Irish question. With regard to the details of what has taken place in Donegal, I am not of course familiar, and I thought it was not desirable, so far as I was concerned, to speak at once in a debate which I hoped would come back into a more legitimate channel of discussion—the discussion of that which actually took place at Donegal. I noted that one part of the honorable and learned Member's speech was directed to the question of the law of conspiracy, and he proceeded to say that it was an outrageous thing that Mr. Harrison should be arrested and charged with conspiracy, and that there should be given in evidence against him the speeches of men whose names he did not know, and acts which were committed when he was not in the country. The conspiracy, far reaching in its mischief, has existed in Donegal for a long time. A man comes into it who has never known any of the actors in it before, who has heard nothing of its details, but if he has a knowledge of that conspiracy, and of the aims and objects to which it is directed, and of the history of its progress, and knowing the purposes of those who were the movers of the conspiracy, joins them in endeavouring to carry those purposes into effect, he is as much guilty as if he had been associated with the original foundation of the conspiracy. And the hon. and learned Member for Stockton knows that, I dare say. The only question that has to be dealt with is this. Did the person know the nature of the organization to which he was giving his co-operation, and knowing that was he taking part in that organization, and working towards its purpose? The other two points of the hon. and learned Member's speech referred, one to the giving of a loaf of bread, and the other to the police following about. Now, as to the giving the loaf of bread, it has been said in this House, that the giving of a loaf of bread is a criminal offence by the law of Ireland? My answer is that it is. The giving of 1294 a loaf of bread as an act of charity to a person simply for the purpose of relieving that person's hunger is an act which nowhere would be a criminal offence; but a loaf of bread given to a man in order to enable him to carry out an illegal and a criminal purpose is in itself an illegality, and a crime according to the law of England; and according, so far as I am aware, the law of every civilized country—[Sir H. DAVEY: Would a jury convict?] Would a jury convict? Is that the way in which the hon. and learned Member for Stockton proposes to discuss legal questions in this House? To pretend to discuss it at first as if he were a lawyer dealing with a question of law, and then to turn round and say, "Well, if he were a criminal you could not get a conviction." It is elementary in criminal law that it is an offence to give food to a felon for the purpose of enabling him to escape from justice, after he has committed felony, and if you know that the felony has been committed. Here is a book, handed me by my hon. Friend—"Blackstone's Commentaries," in which it lays down that a man is accessory who gives food, shelter, or victuals for the relief of a felon; or gives the felon assistance, or furnishes a horse or the means of escape, or uses violence to assist his escape, makes him accessory [Sir H. DAVEY: A misdemeanour.]. There are no accessories in misdemeanours as is pretty well known. Everybody who takes part in a misdemeanour is himself a principle misdemeanant. And if it were an offence on the part of these people—[What people?] Hon. Gentlemen do not understand the form of my answer. If it were an offence on the part of these people to occupy these premises, then it was an offence on the part of any person to supply food to them for the purpose of enabling them to carry out that object. It would have been a misdemeanour, and it would have been aiding and abetting in that misdemeanour. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) is very anxious to attract my attention. I will pay attention to him at once. He has chosen to make an observation in this House, and he repeats it in almost every speech he makes outside, with regard to the "Solicitor General's law." He is always mentioning the word "licens- 1295 ing;" he is so proud upon the question of licensing, and he thinks the Solicitor General so wrong. I cannot go on to say that he thinks himself so right, because he did not venture to express any opinion. I have a very accurate recollection of an amusing incident on the occasion of the debate on the licensing laws. I hope I may be forgiven for mentioning it, but a case was pending with regard to licensing. ["Order."] Very well, I will keep that, and I am sure that some day I will have the opportunity of answering the hon. and learned Member. Now, the other matter was with regard to the following about. It has been said, is it conceivable that it is the atrocious principle of our law that any police-constable, because he imagines that a person may at some time or other commit some sort of an offence, may follow him about here, there, and everywhere. If there is a man whom those who are in charge of the public's peace and order believe to be upon a criminal errand, then it is not only their right but their duty to protect public interests against the crime which they have reason to apprehend. It is in every case a matter of degree. It is not because a man is going to commit some trifling misdemeanour that the police will follow him about everywhere. But if a man comes into a district such as we are dealing with in Donegal, whomsoever he may be, if the police have serious reasons for believing that his presence would light up the dying flame of mischief or disorder in that place, it is their right, and it would be their duty to watch where he went and what he did, and to make themselves acquainted with such exhortations as he gives to the people upon whom his influence may be exercised. One other point has reference to the cheering of of prisoners. I commend to his attention the suggestion of the Chief Secretary that he should try the experiment, when prisoners are being transferred from Bow Street Police Station to the police van, and when a crowd of the prisoners' friends and associates are about, of raising a cry in favour of one of those prisoners, and he would find that he would undoubtedly be seized by the nearest policeman and taken into custody and charged either with attempting a rescue, or with using language tend- 1296 ing to provoke a breach of the peace Now, there are other matters mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman with which I cannot pretend to deal. They are matters connected with the details of these affairs in Donegal. He wants an explanation with regard to Inspector Hurd; he wants an explanation of the statement as to emergency men having threatened people and turned them into the public road. He wants an explanation as to the four policemen being in the old woman's cottage. With regard to these statements I believe there is no information in the possession of my hon. Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland or of my right hon. Friend. I believe we have no information with regard to them, at all. The hon. and learned Gentleman will see that I am speaking with regard to two matters of criminal offence—one the forcible retaking possession of this property, and the other was the conspiracy to defeat the action of the law and the jurisdiction of the Court by concerting action for the retaking of this property. That was the charge made, and whatever else may be said, there can be no doubt of this, that when. Mr. Harrison was arrested for refusing to give his name and address, he was taking part, so far as anybody can see, in an action which was then believed, and alleged to be, a criminal action. Mr. Speaker, I have dealt as briefly as possible with these different points. The reason for my rising was that I did not desire at all to leave the matter without giving my best support to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary with regard to this subject. These questions of law that I have dealt with are the subject of doctrines, of rules and canons among us, which amply justify my right hon. Friend in the contention he has made to night. I repudiate the charge that the Government in Ireland or elsewhere has resorted to illegitimate means, or has in any respect strained the law, in order to carry out its purposes; but I do claim that it has used the law for the purpose of protecting the liberties and the interests, the true interests, of the people; and I think this House will agree that when it has courageously taken that course it is only doing right in defending here, as my right hon. Friend defended, the men who have loyally and faithfully served it.
1297 The House divided:—Ayes 153; Noes 250.—(Division List No. 96).