§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [14th February.]—[See page 332.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Debate resumed.
§ (4.22.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling)
There are two distinct matters in respect of which the Amend- 585 ment before the House impugns the policy of Her Majesty's Government in Ireland. These are, on the one hand, the manner in which they have exercised the powers of the law: and, on the other, the attitude they have adopted towards Irish tenants striving to obtain relief from what they feel to be excessive rents. With regard to the administration of the law, not only of the Crimes Act, but of those other Acts which are used as ancillary to it, such as the old and fusty statute of Edward III., and a new friend, introduced to us the other day by the Attorney General, the Towns Improvement Act, I wish to point out to the Chief Secretary and to his colleagues that after all he does not advance his case, except from the merest partisan point of view, by triumphantly asserting that things which happened now happened equally under the Liberal Administration of former years. If it is said that men are now prosecuted and punished for winking, or smiling, or for printing a paragraph of news in a paper, we are immediately reminded that under the Crimes Act of 1882 a man might be taken up and put in prison for being out of doors after sunset. If a resident magistrate gives a decision which is irreconcilable with common sense and justice, then we are told that the magistrate was appointed by Lord Spencer, or, at all events, that he escaped removal from the Bench when Lord Spencer purged the roll. Even if that argument was well grounded, it is only a rhetorical argument which appeals to Party passion, and is no justification for an entire policy of Irish government, and it is an entire policy of Irish government that we condemn. But I traverse that argument on more than one ground. In the first place, we do not claim infallibility for Lord Spencer in his judgment of the character and ability of the resident magistrates; and in the second place Lord Spencer never anticipated, when these gentlemen were appointed, that they would be intrusted with powers of summary jurisdiction in respect of some of the most delicate questions of the law. Again, the powers under the Act of 1882 were in the main applied to crime and not agrarian or political movements, which is the sole object for which the Government now employ them. In 586 the third place these Powers, such as they were, were, in my opinion, used with a care and circumspection under Lord Spencer which are not discernible under the present Administration. Lord Spencer kept an exceedingly firm and tight hand over the action of the Law Officers of the Crown. There is no evidence of such care nowadays; but, on the contrary, we see action of the most eccentric character, and often characterised apparently by the greatest indifference. For instance, one offence committed by a man is often split up so as to constitute half a dozen offences; he is tried and punished for each of them, and he may consider himself lucky if, in addition, he is not called upon to find bail for good behaviour and to go to prison in default. We see an offence committed by several men: yet one only is prosecuted, while the rest are left alone. We have seen prosecutions vigorously begun and suddenly dropped; speeches made or paragraphs published in a newspaper, and no action taken week after week and month after month but at length, when the matter has become quite stale, the person who made the speech or published the paragraph is proceeded against just at a time when he is engaged in some action of which the Government do not approve, or when his associates and the organisation to which he belongs are engaged in some such action. There was a remarkable instance of this in connection with the estate of Lord Clanricarde. Here there was a chain of such occurrences, culminating in the prosecution of the hon. Member for Kerry for an offence committed months before, and his consequent punishment by imprisonment which happened to occur at the very moment he was engaged in collecting rebutting evidence in that county to be submitted to the Commission at the time sitting in London. These are things which it is difficult for us to understand. I am not a lawyer, and I only take an outside view of these matters; but I believe that the course which is followed in Ireland could not possibly be followed in England or Scotland. It is my belief that if a crime is committed in England the police immediately endeavour to discover the culprit, and an inquiry is commenced without any time being lost, while if several persons, have 587 been engaged in the offence they are all dealt with alike. That is the usual practice, I understand. There may have been exceptions, indeed we have heard rumours recently of such an exception, but we know that here the authorities are not in the habit of acting capriciously in these matters. But I observe that in cases in Ireland, where the course of the administration of justice has been unusually oppressive or eccentric, it has been urged on behalf of the Chief Secretary, either by himself or by one of his acolytes, that the matter is one which is in the hands of the Law Officers, that the law takes its course, and that he has nothing to do with it. I will take this opportunity, when I refer to those who assist the Chief Secretary, of expressing the pleasure with which we all listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Dover, and I am glad to welcome him to this House as one who gives promise of future distinction. At the same time, we are glad on another ground to see the hon. Member appear personally in the House, because his appearance dissipates the suspicion which was beginning to arise that the George Wyndham, who was so perpetually signing letters in the newspapers, was a sort of Mrs. Harris of the Irish Office, a mere nominis umbra under which the Chief Secretary himself could discharge some of the cynical sarcasm, which hardly befitted official communication. But reverting to the argument that responsibility in some cases lay with the Irish Law Officers, and not with the Chief Secretary, I think that nothing could be more unfortunate than that the Irish Government should adopt such a view. Although I have the highest respect for the Law Officers with whom I am acquainted, and admire the ability and zeal they display, yet I must point out that they have been nurtured in, and are saturated with, the ideas and traditions of the old system of legal administration in Ireland, which in the past has been unscrupulous and mischievous, and the cause of the greater part of the difficulties in that country. I will give a small instance which shows the sort of spirit which pervades the administration of justice in Ireland, and peoples ideas with regard to it. What could be more absurd than that when a decision or charge of a Judge is quoted 588 by the Government as being adverse to our views it is read from the Ministerial Bench with a look of triumph directed at us, and we are informed that the Judge was appointed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, thus disclosing the fact that, in the eyes of the people of Ireland, it is expected that the views of a Judge on the Bench will be more or less coloured by his party feelings. I do not think that such a question would come up with regard to any English Judge. I think this very fact makes it all the more important that there should be efficient control over the zeal and misdirected energy of the Irish Law Officers. For the performance of this duty we look to the political Governor of Ireland. It ought to be one of his chief duties in the agitated condition of the country. But even if that were not so, the Government could not contend that they are not responsible. In the case of the present Government, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who is the principal Law Officer of the Crown, is a Member of the Cabinet, so that the contention cannot be maintained that the Law Officers alone are responsible. The Chief Secretary and his colleagues are not only high officers of State, but also Members of the Cabinet: they are responsible for the acts of their colleagues in the Cabinet—for every step taken and every prosecution instituted, for everything done in carrying out the law in Ireland; and this fact seems to me to import into the action of the Law Officers a direct political significance, because it has the sanction of a Cabinet Minister, who is responsible for these duties. When this comparison is made between the past and the present we must not omit to notice the points of difference in the situation and in the condition of Ireland, and in the object for which exceptional legislation has been granted. But what is the value of such a comparison? The whole case lies in this—that on this side of the House we have avowedly learned by experience that our old policy was wrong, and we maintain that there can be no real pacification of Ireland while the scandal exists of the alienation of the whole sympathy of the people from the administration of justice, and that scandal, by such proceedings as we have seen during the last two years, the Govern- 589 ment are doing their best to continue. I am not one who would deny the necessity in some cases for exceptional legislation; in some cases it may be necessary even to govern a country by martial law, suspending all civil rights. But what we on this side of the House maintain is that in Ireland at present no such necessity for any exceptional powers exist, and the Government only allege that it is necessary for one purpose. Plainly stated, that purpose is to prevent combination by tenants for the purpose of bettering their condition. If we survey Ireland at the present moment we shall find it divided into two parts, the one happily very much larger than the other. In the greater part comparative contentment and satisfaction prevails in the agricultural community, while in certain districts there is a determined war, carried on by eviction on the one hand and combination, and in many cases by boycotting on the other. There are districts where the people are contented and satisfied, in which this state of things has been produced by the combination of the tenants, because by the Plan of Campaign, or by showing their power they have secured a settlement of their claims from the landlord. Why in the smaller part of the country has there been war and strife? It is not on account of the Plan of Campaign. In many cases where it has been in force, where it has passed with what we are told is its withering and blighting influence, it has left no evil traces behind, and is already forgotten and forgiven. Where the Plan has been successful two things can be generally stated. In all cases where a settlement has been come to the tenants have been from the first willing to submit their claims to arbitration; and, secondly, the settlement which they have achieved is quite as favourable to them—if not more so—than that which they had offered to the landlord. Why is it, then, that this war is maintained on estates like the Ponsonby and Olphert estates? It is on account of the vindictive spirit in which certain landlords view the Plan of Campaign. I am ready to concede what you please about the Plan of Campaign: you may say that it is immoral, that it is illegal. Supposing all that, what are the facts? The tenants have combined in those places to strengthen themselves; 590 being weak men against powerful men they have adopted the Plan of Campaign, which involves paying into a trust fund the money which they think reasonably payable to the landlord. The money so paid may be used, in case of necessity, to defend the rights of the tenants. That is what is pronounced to be illegal and immoral. But when it comes to be admitted that on the real merits of the dispute the tenants are right, is it to be argued that a settlement should be refused and the state of disturbance and strife prolonged because the tenants in their desperation have introduced into their proceedings that illegal element? Two things cannot be denied—first, the claim of the tenants in almost all those cases is a perfectly just claim, and accordingly the tenants are perfectly entitled to combine in order to enforce it. The hon. Member for South Hunts last night gave us a long account of his action in connection with the Ponsonby estate. Let me recite the facts. The tenants complained that their rents were too high, and combined in order to get a reduction. The whole question was on the eve of settlement, after protracted negotiations, when the Member for South Hunts and his friends stepped in and stopped them. The hon. Member contends that he and his brother landlords have a right to combine, because it affected their interests to have the Plan of Campaign successful in their neighbourhood. I admit the right to combine in those circumstances. I admit the doctrine of proximus ardit—that when your neighbour's house is on fire you may take steps to save your own. But the action of the hon. Member for South Hunts was naturally resented by the tenants, not only on the Ponsonby estate, but elsewhere throughout Ireland, and amongst other places on the hon. Member's own estate in Tipperary. A deputation of those tenants waited on the hon. Member in London and requested him to withdraw from the landlords' combination, The hon. Member refused that request. It is stated he said he would see them hanged first. Whether he used that expression or more courteous language I know not; but the fact remains that he based his refusal, as he told us last night, upon the plea that it was no earthly business of theirs. His doctrine, therefore, amounts to this—that landlords 591 are entitled to combine to help their neighbours who are in distress; but the tenants in similar circumstances are told it is no earthly business of theirs. The result is that the town of Tipperary is almost deserted, and flourishing shopkeepers and others have been content to suffer loss, having been evicted by the hon. Member for South Hunts, all because they said that if the Ponsonby syndicate were successful there would be injury done to the whole farming class in Ireland. The state of things in Tipperary at this moment is altogether unparalleled. It may be said this is in consequence of boycotting, but I cannot see that that is so in the case of Tipperary, because it is quite impossible such a state of things could be brought about unless it was supported not by the dictatorial will of one or two persons, or any body of men, but by the united feeling and sense of the whole community. It is perfectly obvious that public feeling in Tipperary is unanimous to an extent which has not been openly shown in any other part of Ireland. In London during the late dock strike, when intimidation was extensively practised, and some men actually suffered personal violence, there was an appeal made to the Home Secretary by the dock owners for assistance from the forces of the Crown, but the Home Office refused that assistance. [Mr. MATTHEWS: No.] If not the Home Office the police. [Mr. MATTHEWS: No.] At any rate, the assistance was withheld or not given. Why? Because the general sense of the community supported the strikers.
§ (4.56.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
This is a matter really so important that it ought not to pass without correction. It is absolutely incorrect to say that either the Home Office or the police refused to check anything resembling violence or intimidation. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that there is an enactment qualifying the Law of Conspiracy in the case of combinations "in furtherance of a trade dispute"; but that statute stands a lone, and it does not extend to agrarian disputes. I only state the words of the Statute of 1875, which takes out of the Common Law of England certain combinations in furtherance of trade disputes. That Statute 592 applies to Ireland, and would be construed in Ireland in the same way as in England. But, on the other hand, the, assistance of the police was never, throughout the dock strike, either withheld, not given, or refused in any case of, violence.
§ (4.58.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am exceedingly obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for correcting my mistake in supposing some particular action had been taken by the Home Office or the police. I am, however, bound to say I was introducing their action by way of commending it. What the right hon. Gentleman has said establishes the very contrast I was wishing to point out—namely, that what is right and proper when done in England or Ireland in a trade dispute is wrong and punishable under the methods of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—which are not tender methods—in an agrarian dispute. I think I have reason to be satisfied with the turn which has been given to that part of my argument. Going back to the Ponsonby dispute, what it comes to is that there has been no settlement, because the tenants must be punished for having joined the Plan o£ Campaign. The hon. Member for South Hunts says that in the dispute on the Ponsonby estate an offer of a settlement has been made to the tenants. Yes; but the terms of that offer were such as no honest or fair-minded man could think of accepting. According to the terms of that offer, the unfortunate tenants who were dealt with first and evicted from their holdings are not to share the benefits of the arrangement, but are to be left to bear the consequences of their action. Why, any set of tenants, whether Irishmen or not, would be unworthy of sympathy if they had not sufficient loyalty to stand together to see that when payment was secured those who had suffered from the very first in the effort to secure it should receive their full share. Such was the spirit in which the landlords were conducting their so-called campaign, whilst the Government were annoying the tenants and their friends by prosecuting them on niggling charges. The Chief Secretary has not the courage to attack the Plan of Campaign openly, still less has he the courage to meet his difficulties in a nobler and wiser way. He lets things 593 drift. He stands aside whilst Lord Clanricarde, supported by the forces of the Crown, evicts tenants wholesale. Last Session, when an appeal was made to the right hon. Gentleman by the right hon. Member for Bradford, on behalf of the Clanricarde tenantry, the Chief Secretary said—It is not my business to defend Lord Clanricarde or any other creditor in this country. I do not believe he is worse than many a creditor in this country. Supposing he has acted as hundreds and thousands of creditors in London act every day of the week, is that a reason for refusing to him the protection that is given every day in London?That is the whole case and the whole point in dispute between us. I deny in toto that Lord Clanricarde as a landlord is a mere creditor in the ordinary sense of the term. The whole of our land legislation for the past 20 years has been based on the theory that a landlord's rent is not like an ordinary creditor's debt. The Chief Secretary for Ireland and his colleagues may dislike that theory, but they cannot logically denounce it now, because they have practically adopted it when legislating on the Land Question in 1887. They might have opposed it before 1887; but in that year they passed a measure in which even the Prime Minister said were anti-social principles subversive of the first rights of property. But whatever they thought of the measure they passed it; therefore, it is not for them to repudiate the whole theory of recent land legislation, which has proceeded on the principle that property in land is not like other property, and that debt in respect of land is not like other debt—the Government being entitled to step in in one case though not in the other. No one ever thought of proposing that we should fix the price of articles in which an ordinary creditor deals, and in this lies the fundamental fault and fallacy that we exposed at the time in the proposal which was made in 1887 for settling the arrears question by means of bankruptcy. We were told that the Government were willing to settle the arrears question on condition that landlords' arrears were to be put in the same category as other debts. That was rejected by this side of the House, because we recognise an essential difference between the two cases. I, therefore, protest that 594 the language of the Chief Secretary with reference to the Clanricarde estate does not relieve him from responsibility. In the interests of Ireland, and of England and Scotland also, there should be a termination of the scandalous state of things existing on that estate. Why does not the Chief Secretary refuse to cooperate in carrying out those evictions, if it is open to him to do it, as it seemed open to his predecessor? If he holds that it is not open to him, there has been ample time during these months, and even years, to obtain powers from Parliament to exempt him from the miserable necessity of helping to devastate this large district. But I fear we cannot expect to shake or convince the right hon. Gentleman by our appeals or arguments. All we can do is to protest, by such an Amendment as that before the House, against the whole spirit and object of his policy. It is not to debates or votes in this House, but to other circumstances beyond our doors, that we look for the acceleration and accomplishment of that entire change in the mode of government in Ireland, for which, with so much hope and patience, the Irish people wait.
§ (5·7.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Many singular accusations are levelled against me from time to time, in connection with, my speeches in this House, by hon. Members opposite; but I think the most singular is that which was first made by the hon. Member for North East Cork yesterday, and was repeated by some right hon. Gentlemen on the front Opposition bench, to the effect that I had no right to "hang back" in the: debate, or to "lie in ambush," to use the words of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, but that my duty was to speak at the earliest possible moment, so that I might hear my speech misrepresented and dissected for the next three days. Now, I have no objection to a speech of mine being dissected; but hon. Members will perhaps recollect that this is a Vote of Censure upon Her Majesty's Government, that the Member of the Government chiefly incriminated is myself, and that the least you can do for an incriminated person is to allow him to hear the accusation against him before you oblige him to reply. In 595 obedience to that elementary principle of justice, I have waited through the whole course of Friday's debate, through Monday's, and through the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, in order that I might hear what is the justification for this Vote of Censure, and I am obliged to confess that I still wait. The hon. Member who began the debate appeared himself to take very little interest in the speech which he delivered to the House. The hon. Member covered but a small portion of the ground of his own Amendment; and as to the speech of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, it appeared to me to display even more violence than usual and to contain even less matter. What am I to say of the speeches delivered from the Front Opposition Bench? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, imitating the tactics which have been habitual in this debate, made the largest accusations against the Government, but supported them by the slenderest proofs. It is now becoming the custom of hon. Members opposite to use a formula in which they couch their charges. They first make some very broad statement, and then they say, "I will give an instance," or "a very small instance" (to quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman), "to prove my proposition." Well, they give that instance, and it is a very small instance, and it does not prove their proposition. Two other right hon. Gentlemen have spoken from the Front Bench opposite, the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). I certainly thought that from their speeches, at all events, I should discover what were the malversations and malpractices justifying the charges brought against the Government. But those two Gentlemen were so occupied in narrating their own autumn manœuvres that they had very little time to give to the more important matters in debate. These rival managers of two strolling companies seemed chiefly absorbed in jealousy of each other. Each claimed to be the best representative of that class of itinerant politician that has played so large a part in Irish polities. The right hon. Member for Halifax was specially proud of the magnitude of the meetings which he 596 addressed, and of the excellent receptions which they gave him. The right hon. Member for Bradford, on the other hand, was specially proud of the fact that he had been thought worthy of police surveillance during the whole time of his visit to Ireland. I am myself unable to decide between the merits of these rival aspirants to our favour. I do not know to which I shall throw the apple of beauty. I must, however, refer with more detail to one special accusation brought by the right hon. Member for Bradford. He was very angry indeed that he had not been arrested. He seemed to think that I had slighted his efforts to stir up disorder in Ireland. But why was the right hon. Gentleman not arrested? He was not arrested and not tried because, as far as I know, he committed no offence against the law calculated to produce the slightest evil, disturbance, or difficulty in any part of Ireland which he visited. He did go to one part of Ireland where a dispute of the most acute kind rages, but he was very careful in that place to deliver such a speech as, I think, would damp even the most inflammable material. He went to another place, tha Massereene estate, and he attempted to rival the performances of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and who for advocating the Plan of Campaign on that estate was prosecuted some time ago. Yes; but the Plan of Campaign is over on the Massereene estate. [Cries of "No."] I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman whether that is not the fact. The tenants have paid their rent, the conspiracy is at an end, and even the fiery rhetoric of the right hon. Member for Bradford is incapable of again reviving it. The right hon. Gentleman asks too much in expecting me to arrest him. He complains that the Crimes Act is a brutal Act, brutally administered. He says my rule is of an irritating and of an unjust character. The right hon. Gentleman is at liberty to use what epithets he likes towards my rule and my government of Ireland; but I would not willingly give him the chance of saying that by arresting him I had rendered the administration of the Crimes Act ridiculous.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I beg to say that I never made any complaint against the right hon. Gentleman for not arresting me. On the contrary, I have claimed 597 that what I said at Drogheda was legal within the law, and justifiable. That is what I have always said in this House and on platforms, and my contention is that I have said what was legal and proper. What I have complained of is that other Members of Parliament have been arrested and sent to prison for saying exactly the same things that I did.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The substance of the right hon. Gentleman's complaint was this—that I had not meted out to him the same measure that had been meted out to others. But I bear in mind a most sensible remark that fell from the hon. Member for the City of Cork in the course of his speech. He said truly that, "You have not merely to consider the character of the act, but the condition of the district in which the act is done. "And the right hon. Gentleman has been wisely and rightly careful never to deliver any speech in any place where it was calculated to do the slightest injury to the cause of law and order. Now, Sir, I have had, since I was Chief Secretary for Ireland, to reply to about 12 Votes of Censure as nearly as I can calculate, and I suppose the Votes of Censure—including important Motions for the adjournment of the House—have been about on that average since the year 1880 or 1881. The sameness in the attacks throughout all these years is, perhaps, the most remarkable feature of them. Here I must refer to what fell from the hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs. He was very much afraid that I should take occasion to point out to the House that everything that is now said against us was said against Lord Spencer's Government, and he took the trouble to answer by anticipation an argument that he thought I was going to use. The fact is undoubted, but I have never used it as an argument in order to drive home to right hon. Gentlemen their inconsistency. Nobody defends their consistency. It is not worth trying to defend. But I will tell you how the character of the controversy that raged in Lord Spencer's time may be, and ought to be, used. It may, and it ought to be, used to show the absolute wrorthlessness, if not the insincerity, of the arguments of those who bring these accusations against us. The hon. Member says that the charges 598 brought against us are the same. The charges brought against Lord Spencer were incomparably stronger. As repeated attacks of disease go on they become milder and milder, and in the same way the attacks made upon me, however similar, are insignificant, compared with those that were made against Lord Spencer. They are couched in far more temperate language—though perhaps the words "temperate language" is scarcely applicable to the speech of the hon. Member for North-East Cork; but they are mildness itself compared with the savage, brutal attacks which the hon. Member has made time after time, in this House and in his newspaper, upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton (Sir G. Trevelyan) and upon Lord Spencer.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN (Cork, N.E.)
I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask you, Sir, whether the right hon. Gentleman is in order in imputing to mo that I made brutal and savage attacks in this House?
§ MR. SPEAKER
My attention was attracted by the word "brutal," which is, undoubtedly, a very strong expression. I hope that that expression will not be used in this House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I withdraw the epithet "brutal." But, perhaps, in order that I might be partly justified in your eyes, Sir, and in the eyes of the House, I will read one of the attacks to which I alluded, which is by no means one of the severest that I could select—Lord Spencer is a fourth-rate English man"—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I said in this House and in his paper the hon. Member wrote—Lord Spencer is a fourth-rate Englishman, a dullard in Parliament, a sour failure in society, who came over here to Ireland when the country was sinking to rest after its high fever. He has been engaged ever since in gratifying his own vindictive temper, and in maddening Irish feeling by turning the law into an instrument of murder and outrage, and bidding nameless infamy flourish behind its shield.I could, of course, if it were worth while, multiply quotations of this sort to any extent. But what I wish to point out is not the language which the hon. Member is in the habit of using, but the 599 fact that with the exception of the suggestion contained in the last sentence—a suggestion which I do not qualify—the lines of attack against Lord Spencer are precisely the same as those used against myself, the only difference being that the accusations against Lord Spencer are more vehement and more bitter. The use I make of that fact—and I say that it is a legitimate use to make of it—is to point out that if the hon. Members below the Gangway could reconcile it with their conscience to make accusations of that kind against a man whom everybody on that as well as on this side of the House will acknowledge not merely to be a high-minded gentleman, but a very able and impartial administrator, why should we attach the slightest value to such accusations when made against us? The hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), with characteristic exaggeration, has compared the action of the Irish Government to the most tyrannical actions which have ever been attributed to the Russian Government. But when we ask for the examples on which accusations of that kind are framed, we are reduced to such cases as that of the prosecution for 10s. under the Towns Improvement Act, cited by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), or the still more absurd and illusory case which first did duty in the speech of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian at Chester (Mr. Gladstone), and which was immediately blown into fragments in the Press. The fragments having1 been laboriously collected by the hon. Member for Durham (Sir J. Pease), and have been actually produced in this House as the show example of Irish tyranny. I allude to the case in which two tramps were brought up at Petty Sessions in a distant part of Ireland, and were condemned, not by a Resident Magistrate, but by two ordinary magistrates, one of whom was a local solicitor, and the other a local tradesman, to a sentence which the critics of these magistrates regard as being too severe. [An hon. MEMBER: They were sentenced to three months' imprisonment.] That sentence may have been excessive or not; but it had no more to do with the responsible Government of Dublin Castle than it had to do with the Government of Timbuctoo. I have alluded briefly to some of the positive 600 statements made by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) in his speech in which he introduced this Amendment. But I think everybody who-heard that speech must have been much more struck by what it did not contain than by what it did contain. At least half the Amendment was never alluded to by its Mover. But it was alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs. He says that we used our Act to interfere, with conspiracies, and not to suppress crime. [An hon. MEMBER: Combinations.] Well, combinations. A conspiracy I understand to be an illegal combination. And the right hon. Gentleman admitted that the Plan of Campaign is illegal. The Plan of Campaign, therefore, is a conspiracy. I do not in the least deny, minimise, or palliate the fact that the Government do desire, to the best of their ability, to put down and suppress, as far as they can, every illegal conspiracy in Ireland; and they regard the work as of the more importance because they believe that these illegal conspiracies are the fruitful parents of every species of crime, and that if you can destroy those conspiracies you will, at the same time, destroy the crime by which alone these conspiracies are supported. Now, Sir, it is a mistake to suppose that we were the first to recognise this connection between these agrarian conspiracies and the prevalence of crime. Why, Sir, dealing with agrarian conspiracy was the very essence of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. That policy was exhibited in the Preamble of the Act of 1882, and in the very speech in which the right hon. Gentleman threw upon the Conservative Government of 1885 the responsibility of not renewing the Crimes. Act he made it plain that his chief objection to the non-renewal of that Act was the existence of an anti-rent conspiracy. I think I can give the right hon. Gentleman the exact reference. It was in 1885 he called it "the great anti-rent conspiracy." And, Sir, I may perhaps also allude to the extraordinary doctrine which has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He wishes us to believe that the Plan of Campaign is on all fours with the industrial combinations in England. It is not on all fours with 601 those combinations in any single particular. It is not on all fours with those combinations, because it aims at a different object; it is not on all fours with them because it proceeds by different methods. As regards those methods, is it not enough to remind right hon. Gentlemen that the essence of the Plan of Campaign is to use the landlord's money in order to get up a conspiracy against the landlord himself? Is there anything analogous between such a state of things as that and anything which may exist in England under Lord Cross's Act of 1874? I heard the hon. Member for Cork talk of my hon. Friend the Member for South Hunts as using the money of the tenants of Tipperary for oppressing the tenants of Mr. Ponsonby. Was there ever anything—if I may use the expression without offence—more Irish than such a statement? The money which my hon. Friend gets from his Tipperary tenants is not their money, but his money. The tenants of Tipperary, by keeping back the money, are committing nothing short of a gross fraud upon the landlord: and the only difference between the Plan of Campaign, which is the agrarian conspiracy with which we are concerned, and the no-rent conspiracy with which the right hon. Gentleman was concerned, is that the Plan of Campaign is a far more ingenious, refined, and effective weapon than any they have hitherto discovered for dealing with Irish landlords. There is another distinction between the action of the working men in England and the action under the Plan of Campaign. In England the working men aim at benefitting themselves. In Ireland the authors of the Plan of Campaign aim at injuring others. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that the Plan of Campaign was started spontaneously by an oppressed tenantry. It was nothing of the kind. The object, like that of those who advised the "No-rent" manifesto, was not to benefit the tenants, but to ruin the landlords; and to ruin the landlords they used intimidation, by boycotting and otherwise, which led to crime, and which they knew led to crime. Now that again differentiates, and I hope will for ever differentiate, the illegal conspiracy with which we and our predecessors had to deal in Ireland from any combination which exists 602 among working men in this country. The hon. Member for Cork City advanced a most astounding assertion with regard to modern boycotting. He appeared to me to distinguish between boycotting or exclusive dealing not accompanied by intimidation, and boycotting or exclusive dealing accompanied by intimidation, and he said he endeavoured to keep that distinction in his mind ever since it was first made in 1881 by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian; and he added—I think those who were responsible for the agrarian movement are entitled to claim that they kept the movement free from crime, and that they purged the practice of boycotting from the evils attending the older system.I say that an excuse for boycotting more inconsistent with every known fact and reality of Irish life never was made across the Table of this House—boycotting without intimidation! Why, what would be the use of it? The essence of boycotting is that it intimidates. The reason why it is employed by the hon. Member for Cork and his friends is that it may intimidate. That is the very object with which they concentrate upon one unfortunate man who has done nothing else than what he has a right to do all the power of the locality to injure him, refusing him the necessaries of life, refusing him what is necessary to maintain his business, making life intolerable, poverty inevitable, and death possible. That is boycotting. That is the difference between exclusive dealing and the boycotting with which we have to deal. Of course, I admit that where the law is vigilantly administered the crime which accompanies boycotting may be kept in check, and is largely kept in check. But the suffering which boycotting inflicts is inherent in the very system, of boycotting, and is not dependent upon the fact that boycotting in too many cases is accompanied by other forms of crime. I say that everything which makes life intolerable is itself a form of crime of the deepest and gravest character, and if it be allowed to prevail in any society, that society cannot long stand. Now, Sir, that is true of boycotting not followed by crime. But is it a fact that this wondrous change has come over 603 boycotting since 1881, when the hon. Member for Cork heard the distinction first propounded by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian? It is not the case. Boycotting is the same, and the results are the same. Take the case of Horan, who was boycotted in 1886 and shot in 1887. Take the case of Hannah Connell, who was boycotted in 1887 and nearly starved to death. Take the case of Tomkins, in Wexford, whose whole property, including a large number of cattle and horses, was entirely destroyed by fire in 1888. Take the case of M'Loughlin, who in 1888 was cruelly beaten on his way to market and the pigs he was taking there mutilated, so that they became unsaleable. Take the case of Michael Coffee, of Gurteen. He was boycotted in the most cruel manner, those who visited him were beaten, his sheep injured, and his stock destroyed. Take the case, in 1887, of Michael Cushin, who was shot in the legs. Take the case of a farmer in 1889, who had four or five cattle put to the most terrible and brutal death in consequence of a boycotting resolution issued against him. These are instances of the results of boycotting. They could be paralleled during the whole history of the boycotting since it was first begun in 1880, at the instance of the hon. Member for the City of Cork; and however much the alertness of the police and the energy of the Government may diminish the chance of those crimes following the system of boycotting, nevertheless boycotting remains a system, not merely contrary to law, but opposed to religion and common morality, and absolutely destructive of the elements of freedom in any society in which it may be permitted to grow up. I take, then, as a vain, frivolous, and empty defence the suggestion of the hon. Member for Cork that the system by which he and his friends endeavoured to destroy the landlords by means which they knew led to crime between 1880 and 1886 has in any way been mitigated except by the operation—the energetic operation—of the Coercion Act; and I claim, therefore, whatever the cause of the improvement which even hon. Gentlemen opposite are forced to admit in the state of Ireland, that that cause is not to be found, at all events, in any conduct which may be attributed to Gentlemen who sit below 604 the Gangway, or, for the matter of that, to Gentlemen who sit above the Gangway. The truth is that of all the eccentric hypotheses which have ever been devised by the human mind none is more eccentric and none less capable of being maintained than that which attributes the improvement in the state of Ireland to the so-called "union of hearts." Facts are conclusive against the hypothesis. I suppose the ill-omened union between the two sections opposite may be said to have been arranged on the 26th January, 1886, when the Conservative Government were turned out of office, and to have been consummated on the 8th of April, when the right hon. Gentleman brought in his Home Rule Bill. The year 1886 should therefore figure among all the years which followed the various stages of the Crimes Act as that in which crime least prevailed in Ireland. But what is the fact? If you look down the list of agrarian crime from 1881 to 1889 or 1890 you will find invariably that where there has been a Coercion Act put vigorously in force crime has diminished; that where the Coercion Act has been repealed or relaxed crime has increased; and that there has been no other incident whatever to account for such diminution and such increase. I therefore take it that according to every principle of scientific inference known to mankind we are justified in assuming that there is some logical connexion between the repression of crime and the Act intended to repress crime. I would remind the House that the Special Commission found that the augmentation of crime after 1884 grew with the growth and strengthened with the strength of the National League. As the Land League grew in strength crime increased in amount; as the National League grew in strength crime increased in amount; and as the power of those two organisations has been impaired by the administration of the law so proportionately has crime diminished in every part of Ireland. There is only one conclusion that I can draw from this. If crime has grown with the growth of these organisations, strengthened with their strength and decayed with their decay, we are surely justified in assuming that there is something more than a chance connection between them. But, however much I may be in con- 605 flict with hon. Gentlemen opposite on the subjects with which I have so far dealt in my speech, at all events there is perfect agreement between the two sides of the House as to the fact of the actual improvement in Ireland. I rejoice, and I have no doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite will rejoice, to know that no new Plan of Campaign has been started in Ireland during the year 1889, and that those plague spots in Ireland which are responsible for incomparably more than their fair share of crime have not increased during the past year. A cry of "Oh" is raised when I say that the Plan of Campaign is responsible for crime. Well, I have made a calculation, and I find that whereas the area over which the Plan of Campaign is in operation is about the 167th part of the whole country, this area is responsible for one-seventh of the crime. That fact, I apprehend, bears out the statement I have made, that the Plan of Campaign is largely responsible for the crime and illegal conspiracy of Ireland. Crime has diminished by nearly one-half since 1886—since the yean? of "the union of hearts." The prosecutions under the Crimes Act have diminished by one-half in 1889 as compared with 1888. Painful as it has been to me and to Her Majesty's Government to be responsible for an Act and its administration under which 1,614 persons have been imprisoned since it was passed, I rejoice to think that this punishment has not been in vain, for of this number of 1,614 persons 71 only have been imprisoned twice, only eight thrice, and only one has been imprisoned four times. I rejoice, therefore, to think that if it has been necessary to inflict punishment, that punishment has fulfilled the primary object of all punishment and has had a deterrent effect. At this moment the number of persons imprisoned under the Crimes Act is, I believe, only about 40.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The effect of the administration of the law has been still more remarkable in regard to boycotting. When the Act came into operation the number of persons subject to boycotting was 4,900. The number has now been reduced to 150. This great improvement in the condition of Ireland has been accompanied, as I think it 606 ought to be, by a diminution of the area in which we have found it necessary to put in force the more stringent provisions of the Act. The complaint which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has made against that Act turns principally upon the earlier sub-sections of the second clause—those sub-sections which give jurisdiction to the magistrates in cases of criminal conspiracies. Those sub-sections, I am glad to say, are at the present moment in force in only one-fifth of the area, of the country. Whether that condition of things can be maintained, as I hope it may, I cannot tell. I shall certainly not hesitate, as far as I am concerned, to re-proclaim, should it prove necessary. But I trust that the enormous improvement of the last two years will be a permanent improvement, and that never again will it be necessary to extend this particular part of the Act to the great mass of the Irish population. I have been accused by the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) of going about the country boasting of the improvement in Ireland. Like other people, I have had to go about the country. But it is not my practice to boast. I cannot say the same of the hon. Member for North-East Cork himself. The great bulk of the vigorous speech which he delivered yesterday appeared to me to be intended not for consumption in this House, but to sustain, by confident prophecy, the flagging spirits of the campaigners in Ireland. Though I confine myself to stating facts which can be proved by statistics in regard to the condition of Ireland, I hope the House will allow me to add two things. In the first place, I think I may claim that the Crimes Act has in its effects surpassed our most sanguine expectations. No one could be more conscious than were myself and the other Members of Her Majesty's Government when they undertook the task of governing Ireland, with the whole force of hon. Gentlemen opposite encouraging boycotting and intimidation and disorder, that they undertook no small or light task, and I rejoice that, in spite of all adverse conditions, we have met with so large a measure of success. The other remark I wish to make is this. What ever the future course of events in Ireland may be, all that has been done 607 has been a positive gain. The amount of needless human suffering which the administration of the law has saved in Ireland is something of which we may still be proud, even if we were turned out of office to-morrow. I am one of those who believe that these effects will not be transitory. Even if transitory, however, we can still feel that all the exertions of this House and Her Majesty's Government in order to pass and maintain the law have been exertions not thrown away in the interests of humanity. But I have every hope that the improvement which we all rejoice to see in Ireland is a permanent improvement. I believe it is a permanent improvement. I believe that two or three more years of the same steady and just administration of the law will do much to re-establish those elementary principles of society which it is the special object of hon. Gentlemen opposite to upset, and it is in the hope that the dawn which has now arisen in Ireland will brighten into a perfect day that I ask the House to continue its support to a Government which has done, as I believe, so much for the benefit of Ireland.
§ (6.0.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of two or three years more being necessary in order to consummate the policy of the Government. There is a strange coincidence between the length of time which the right hon. Gentleman requires and the period which at most can elapse between this House and a general election. But anyone reading between the lines will see that the right hon. Gentleman expects a much shorter interval. I have heard the right hon. Gentleman speak very often. I admire his speaking; he has a good deal of the dialectic of an Oxford schoolboy; but the only effect of the dull and depressing speech we have just listened to was to send to sleep the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston). The right hon. Gentleman is a beaten man, and knows it and looks like it. The right hon. Gentleman said that this is the 12th vote of censure he has had to face. The right hon. Gentleman is right, and 12 is exactly the number of bye-elections which his policy has won for the Liberal Party. I do not know whether I should allude to the merely personal observations 608 with which the right hon. Gentleman began his speech. I did not think those observations were in the best taste, or hardly up to the level of the situation. He referred to the jealousy between the Members for Bradford and Halifax in respect of their visits to Ireland. If there is anyone who ought to be jealous it is the right hon. Gentleman himself, for the presence of those right hon. Gentlemen in Ireland, and of other Englishmen, is the greatest obstacle to the Chief Secretary's campaign of mystification, and in addition their presence is disagreeable because it contrasts with the right hon. Gentleman's absence. We have all heard of the Chief Secretary's exploits in golf at Felixstowe and North Berwick, but in Ireland he has only had the courage to open a ball with a waltz in the Viceregal Hall. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of his success as having been greater than he expected. In so saying he is indeed thankful for small mercies. Let him descend from his generalities, and give the House a single instance in which his policy has been successful. He said that the Government were determined to put down all criminal conspiracies, and he added that criminal conspiracies led to crime. He defined the Plan of Campaign as a criminal conspiracy, and said the Government were determined to crush every criminal conspiracy—that is, every Plan of Campaign. Has he crushed the Plan of Campaign on a single estate? What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by crime? There is nothing which justifies the indignation of Irishmen more than the constant abuse of the word "crime," applied to a country which is one of the most crimeless in the world. If the right hon. Gentleman means combination let him say so; if he means boycotting let him say so. But if he means murder or attempt to murder, the statement is most inaccurate and unfounded, for the Plan of Campaign has not been stained with one serious crime. If the right hon. Gentleman or any one of his acolytes is able to adduce one grave crime connected with the Plan let him do so. The Plan of Campaign estates have been absolutely free from crime; and it is most unfair and uncandid to represent them as covered with crime. The light hon. Gentleman has made a parting thrust founded on the Report of 609 the Special Commission. If the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied with that Report, so are the Irish Members, and we will take an early opportunity of giving our reasons for that satisfaction, but the right hon. Gentleman has quoted from the Report as to our having been guilty of a criminal conspiracy and making speeches which resulted in crime, and which we knew must result in crime. That is a serious charge—I do not think it is true—and it is a serious thing that even a political tribunal selected from our political opponents has pronounced that judgment. But that charge affects more than even the Irish Members or the Front Opposition Bench. It affects the right hon. Gentleman himself. The right hon. Gentleman has been kind enough to say that the union between the Liberal Party and the Irish Members began on January 26, 1886, and was consummated on April 8 of the same year. But my knowledge of history began a little further back. I have watched, to use the right hon. Gentleman's phrase, the Parliamentary career of the Chief Secretary with sympathetic interest. I remember the right hon. Gentleman occupying the place now occupied by the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner). The right hon. Gentleman sat as an ornamental and casual member of the historic Fourth Party—that was in March 1880—and the right hon. Gentleman and his Leader and his two colleagues, one now the Under Secretary for India and the other a diplomatic Representative, hunted in couples with the Irish Members—aye, and embarrassed and obstructed the Liberal Government, even when they were passing a Coercion Bill. I remember, not wholly without gratitude, that on the third reading of that Bill the leader of the small Fourth Party, the leader of the right hon. Gentleman himself, came down to the House and made a speech which may be summed up in his own words as a parting kick to coercion. This combination, or, if the right hon. Gentleman prefers the phrase, the criminal conspiracy between the Tory Party and the Irish Members began in March or April, 1880, and it received its consummation on June 8, 1885, when the Liberal Ministry was expelled, and the Tory Ministry, including the right hon. 610 Gentleman, was installed in its place. I do not wish to lift the veil on the somewhat obscure and not altogether recorded transactions of that period. But the right hon. Gentleman will bear me out that there was an understanding, if not before, immediately after, the Tory Party came into office that as the price of Irish votes the Tory Government were to drop the policy of coercion. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he was not then so important a Member of the Government as he is now, and probably a good many things took place of which he heard not. I have said that the consummation was on June 8, 1885; I am wrong; it did not receive its final seal until the Viceroy of Ireland held a secret meeting with the leader of the Irish Party to see on what conditions the Irish vote could be purchased by the concession of Home Rule by the Tory Government. The term criminal conspiracy is a much-abused one, and if I were to apply it rashly I might be inclined to ask whether it might not be used of the combination of the saintliness of the Attorney General and the forgeries of Pigott. Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that the conclusion of the Judges with regard to our knowledge of crime and our association with crime referred only to speeches made before 1885? All the articles and speeches referred to by the three Judges were written and made in the years 1880–82, when the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Fourth Party, and when (I do not use the term in a disparaging sense of either side) that Party and the Irish Members were as thick as thieves. The right hon. Gentleman is very eloquent it is a favourite topic with him—and he dwelt upon it on a certain historic occasion at Manchester when, according to a Tory paper, his features were illumined by the electric light and exposed to 10,000 Tories there, and when, by singular maladroitness, he was present at the fall of the Bastile. I see some hon. Members on this side do not understand the allusion. The proceedings in a popular resort at Manchester wound up with a firework display. There was a representation in fireworks of the Bastile, and, in the end, the building crumbled away and the prisoners escaped looking almost as bad by the 611 appliance of art and the electric light as the right hon. Gentleman's prisoners when they leave Irish gaols. The Bastile crumbled away amidst the cheers of thousands of Tories. I was about to say that a favourite assertion of the right hon. Gentleman is that the present Government is in a much worse position than other Ministries, in this fact—that, whereas the Opposition in past times have helped the Ministry in maintaining the law and in preserving order, the unscrupulous Opposition of to-day employs all its time in embarrassing the Government and in interfering with the administration of law. I have a very lively recollection of some of the debates with regard to the policy of Lord Spencer. In the debate upon the convictions and executions for the Maamtrasna murders speeches against the course adopted by the Government were made by the legal luminary of the Fourth Party, the present Under Secretary for India (Sir J. Gorst) and by the present Solicitor General, while the right hon. Member for West Birmingham described the conspiracy between the Irish Party and the Tories as the "Maamtrasna alliance." Now, I think I have given some food for reflection to the right hon. Gentleman when he comes to debate the Report of the Judges next week. The right hon. Gentleman has a most extraordinary method of dealing with affairs in Ireland. Take his statistics with regard to prosecutions. He gave the number of persons sent to gaol as 1,614. Yes, but that includes some who went to gaol more than once, so we must add considerably to that list. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to make a point against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) in regard to one of the cases he brought forward by saying it was tried under the ordinary law and not under the Coercion Act. If I recollect rightly the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian did not say it was tried under the Coercion Act. But after all, there is not much in the point of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, because our contention is that the spirit of the administration of both ordinary and the extraordinary law is different in Ireland from what it is in England, and this is exemplified by the conviction of the two ballad singers 612 for singing a song which is chiefly remarkable for the absence of any rhythmic continuity, and which, in fact, is worse than Walt Whitman—and it cannot be said that many things are worse than that. ["Oh, oh!" from Mr. W. O'BRIEN]. I am sorry if I have offended the literary susceptibilities of my hon. Friend below me. The differences in the modes of administration have become worse under the government of the right hon. Gentleman. I say further, Sir, that the right hon. Gentleman has deliberately chosen, in order to manufacture hugger-mugger statistics, to proceed under the ordinary law in respect of crimes which ought really to be classed as coercion crimes. He is able to use the ordinary law for purely coercive-purposes, and so to keep down the-returns of coercion offences. Under the musty Act of Edward III. a man can be tried in Ireland for anything. Suppose a man is brought up on a charge of boycotting, which is one of the so-called crimes the Coercion Act was passed to deal with, he is charged with intimidation, which is also a Coercion Act offence. He is further charged with conspiracy, also a Coercion Act offence. The magistrate says:—"Well, there is no doubt you are an ill-conducted kind of fellow, and that you have been disturbing the peace. We will not inflict a heavy sentence on you, because the evidence is not very strong or the offence very great. We will acquit you if you like, but we will attach a little condition, which is not of the smallest importance. It is that you, whose case is that you have not broken the peace, should acknowledge that you have broken it; that you, whose case is that you are an honest man, should acknowledge that you are a bad character; that you, who enjoy the esteem of your neighbours, and have perhaps, been elected to a public office by their votes, should acknowledge yourself to be a person of ill-fame, and on this small and trifling condition of abrogating your own honour and sacrificing your good reputation you may go free. If you agree to this condition we will bind you over for six months; if not, we must send you to prison for six months." This was done the day before yesterday in the case of Mr. John Slattery, President of the South of Ireland Cattle 613 Association. As every honest and honourable man in Ireland would do, he refused to give bail under conditions so degrading, and he is in gaol at this moment; and in gaol without appeal. According to a recent decision of the Courts, the binding over of a man on bail is not a formality, but a conviction which bars appeal. I do not wish to recall to the memory of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) his record with regard to appeals. I am afraid I should not have sufficient self-control to keep myself within the limits of Parliamentary decorum if I were to characterise in accordance with my feelings the record of the right hon. Gentleman on that point. But I take his own statement, the accuracy of which I deny, that he never promised anything but an appeal in cases of one month's imprisonment. Well, here are men sent to gaol for one, two, or six months without having any right of appeal. I am told that the policy of trying what are really Coercion Act offences under other Statutes has been adopted since the twelve votes of censures by the constituencies. I do not care when it was adopted. It is dishonourable and degrading, and it misleads the country and the House. It is unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman to take refuge in such expedients as these for the purpose of concealing the working of the Coercion Act. Now observe the Chief Secretary spoke of the flagging spirits of the Plan of Campaign. Well, I do not know why they should flag. Of course, if on one of the estates the Plan had been conquered, there would be grave cause for despondency. But the only estates upon which the Plan of Campaign has been in operation, and has ceased to exist, are those estates upon which it has achieved full and complete victory. I deny in the strongest and most emphatic language that the Plan has broken down on the Massereene estate. I will tell you the full extent to which it can be said to have broken down there. The landlord has got, I believe, four of the farms let to those wretched loafers who pass for industrious tenants and drunken creatures, whom a leading teetotal advocate employs, and to these solvent tenants £5,000 were given to put into one pocket and take out of the other like 614 the pea under the thimbles. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman again, and pin him to facts and particulars. Let him give one instance where the Plan of Campaign has broken down, or one in which its action has been stained by one act of violence. The right hon. Gentleman has said a good deal about boycotting. It is not a weapon of which I am per sonally fond, and there is not a man on these Benches who does not long for the day when the very name, and much more the thing, "boycotting," shall be swept away. I say to the hon. Member for North Armagh, that when the people have entire control of their destinies in Ireland—
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will tell me the date of the General Election, I can then give him the approximate period. I say, when the people have under their control the destinies of Ireland, I do not believe there is a man on these Benches, be he Protestant or Catholic, who would not rise in revolt against an extension to Protestant Tories in Ireland of such a system of boycotting as the Primrose dames pursue in England. Boycotting is a, delicate subject for a member of the Primrose League to touch. I am in the habit of going up and down the country a good deal more than I like, and I have visited many parts, both town and country, and I say my blood has boiled at the suffering I have been told of inflicted on labourers who have been persecuted, beggared, and starved so far as Primrose dames and knights could accomplish it, because they voted for Liberal candidates. I say to my hon. Friends above the Gangway there is no more necessary work to do than to abolish this system of tyranny in England, aye, and in Scotland too. The other day in Partick we abstained from putting a vote to a body of working men electors because we did not wish to subject them to the chance of expulsion from the works where they were employed, with the loss of their daily bread, because they had held up their hands for our candidate. There is no more necessary work than to protect these people from the persecution and starvation sometimes of which they stand in peril. Yet another word or two on boycotting. It exists in every profession 615 in the country—I do not say whether rightly or wrongly, though, for my part, I had rather that it existed nowhere. I believe it is a rule at the Bar that no barrister shall go to a circuit outside his own except on receipt of special fees. There was a gentleman named Kennedy. I did not know him personally, and I believe he is now dead, a gentleman of the highest ability, who sought to break through this unwritten law of the Bar, and he practised on a circuit to winch he did not belong. What was the consequence? It is a rule of the Bar, obeyed alike by Tory and Liberal barristers, that no barrister shall take a brief with another barrister who has attempted to exercise his legal right and to practise on a circuit outside that to which he belongs. Mr. Kennedy, in spite of his brilliant abilities, was—I do not know whether he was rained—but he went to his grave a victim to boycotting in the legal profession. I observe there are some smiles on the faces of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The two hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite are not members of the Bar, though they are eminent members of another profession, which will not, I hope, ever call on them for the valorous exploits they sometimes talk about. I cannot take their authority on the etiquette of the legal profession, but I ask any legal Member in the House, can he deny that Mr. Kennedy was starved out of the practice of his profession for a breach of the unwritten law of the Bar? Take another case of a like character. A doctor came up to the Law Courts and asked for relief because he had been—I do not like to say boycotted, because it may seem trifling with the question—because he had been excluded from his profession by the College of Physicians for unprofessional conduct. The decree of the Court was that the College of Physicians was supreme in all matters relating to the profession, and declined to interfere. In the face of these things, it is rather too much to hear all this virtuous indignation poured upon the Irish people, who, while in the agony of a national struggle, resort to methods that are employed in the piping times of peace in rural districts in England and in the legal profession. Boycotting is not confined to one side. I have extracts here which throw a little light on this subject. The other day in Ireland a Railway Com- 616 pany increased its fares. In this, I believe, they exercised a perfectly legal right, though I believe, also, there is a legal right to ompel them to reduce their fares. Upon this the Dublin Express, the organ of all that is lawful and orderly in Ireland, published an article in which it said—No merely declared resolution adopted at a meeting will have any effect on the Board. It will he necessary to put the sentiments of this meeting into a form in which the company must be made to see and feel in a reduction instead of an increase of their receipts. This result there is every reason to expect; and, if it he realised, the Board of Directors will find that, instead of paying a small though increased dividend of 1½ per cent, they will draw a blank next half-year.And now I will give you a specimen of boycotting on the part of the Chief Secretary. Mr. Conlan has a newspaper which circulates popularly throughout the middle of Ireland, and he has a rival organ in the interests of the Coercion Party. Though the "loyal minority" lays claim to number two millions, I do not know that they supply a large number of newspaper readers except, perhaps, that some of its leaders give study to our past speeches and articles. Well, Mr. Conlan, the editor of this Nationalist journal, was prosecuted for a coercion offence, but under the Statute of Edward III., and suffered a term of imprisonment. Subsequently, he applied for those Government advertisements which had been diverted from his paper, which had a large circulation, to his miserable Coercionist rival. Here is the reply he received from the Office of Irish Fisheries, Dublin Castle—You are under a misapprehension in supposing that the advocacy of any particular political opinions is any reason for giving or withdrawing Government advertisements. If such have been withdrawn from your journal it is solely because that paper has continued to violate the law.So that you have this virtuous denunciation of an attempt to starve men into submission by the refusal of the necessaries of life; and, at the same time, by exclusive dealing, the same principle is applied by the Government to public advertisements which are not theirs to give, and which, in the public interest, should be bestowed on papers of the largest circulation. Now, the hon. Member for South Hunts justified the action of himself and his friends in entering 617 into a combination—criminal conspiracy, as it may be called—with Mr. Ponsonby to refuse arbitration in the dispute with the latter gentleman's tenants on the ground that arbitration had failed in the case of the Vandeleur estate. He gave as a reason, I think, that the tenants there had paid none of their instalments.
§ MR. SMITH-BARRY (Hunts. S.)
What I said in effect was that a good many of the tenants had not paid their instalments.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I did not catch exactly the terms of the hon. Gentleman's explanation. I understand him to imply that a large number of tenants on the Vandeleur estate had refused to pay, or I think he said a very few had paid, instalments due under the award of the hon. Member for Hackney.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Now I say, if that statement were true, it would be a most painful statement to hear. We on these Benches would be grieved and ashamed to find it true; but the statement is absolutely without foundation. In the first place, if I rightly understand, for I speak on the information of others, the first instalments have been paid—I do not know whether I am justified in saying that of every case, but in the vast—the overwhelming—majority of cases. [An hon. MEMBER: Every case.] An hon. Friend near me tells me the statement applies to every case. He is intimately acquainted with the facts, and he say the first instalment has been paid in every single case, and I must say the hon. Gentleman opposite would display a little more of that love of his native country to which he lays claim if he were not so eager to calumniate the character of Irish tenants.
§ MR. SMITH-BARRY
I do not know whether I may be allowed to say that my information up to a fortnight ago is of a diametrical'y opposite character.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
This, on a, question of fact, is a direct conflict of assertion which time must be left to decide. As to the second instalment now due, I can speak on the authority of the hon. Member for Hackney. A statement was sent to the hon. Member for Hackney by the hon. Member for 618 Canterbury, who has taken a most creditable part in this matter, whose, conduct contrasts very favourably with that of his Colleagues on the Tory Benches. He received a complaint that all the tenants had refused to pay the second instalment. Now, the hon. Member for Hackney has had considerable training lately in dissecting very confident assertions, and accordingly he requested the hon. Member for Canterbury to descend to that statement for particulars, from which the Times newspaper shrunk so long as it could, and then he found that 118 tenants were stated not to have paid. Well, there are 400 tenants on the estate, and if these 118 had refused they would not be a majority of the tenants refusing. Further, I hear, this number of 118 have already been reduced to 59, and I daresay successive posts will reduce this 59 to as vanishing a quantity as the forged letters and other charges of the Times. I hope I have made it clear to the House that my reference is to the second instalment. Now, let me tell the House another thing. The other day, in Partick, the hon. Gentleman who stood for the Tory Party declared that Irish tenants, by-their regularity in paying instalments under the Ashbourne Act, had proved themselves thoroughly honest men. Well, I was legitimately proud to have this testimony to the solvency of my own people. This character for honesty comes from a Scotchman, the calumniation of his countryman comes from an Irishman. The history of the Vandeleur tenants is a confirmation of this eulogy; for I am informed that some of those tenants described as dishonest defaulters by the hon. Member for South Hunts are actually waiting for remittances from America, sent by their poor hard-working relatives, in order to honourably maintain the award that was given. The information supplied me by my friends enables me to make this complete exposure of the charges of the hon. Gentleman. Now, I come to the charges of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. Russell). He says that a number of shop-keepers in Youghal were boycotted because they did not put up their shutters, joining with their townsmen in condemnation of the treatment of my hon. Friend 619 (Mr. O'Brien), and he insinuates that this boycotting was due to differences of religion. Now, it has been my fortune to follow the hon. Member through many parts of the country, and there is no man I better like to follow except, perhaps, either of the two hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite, because I am assured by active Liberal canvassers that a speech from, either of these hon. and gallant Gentlemen is worth at least 200 or 300 votes to the Liberal side. I understand the smiles of those hon. and gallant Gentlemen perfectly well. They tried to make the issue of an election turn upon my individual view and policy, such was the beggarly condition to which the Tory Party was driven. But to return to the hon. Member for South Tyrone. He goes about the country making charges of sectarianism. He complains of our inquisition; but he has become Grand Inquisitor himself, not of us alone, but actually of hon. Gentlemen on the other side may be, has become Torquemada of the whole British Empire. From this position he informs the people that my hon. Friend the Member for Cork is a non-Catholic in the same sense as the Junior Member for Northampton. Well, that is an inquisition into the religious opinions of a politician that is not justified. Such attacks as these on the conscientious and religious convictions that are buried in a man's bosom will go far to test the charges of bigotry and intolerance this hon. Member and others so freely make. It is suggested that I should contradict the statement that has been made in reference to my hon. Friend the Member for Cork, but I am not concerned to do so. I do not care what the religious opinions of a man may be. These are matters for his own con science, and I see no advantage to Christianity in making' such things matter of attack and defence in the arena of party politics. In regard to this incident at Youghal, it is perfectly true that a number of shop-keepers refused to close their shops when my hon. Friend was so barbarously treated in Clonmel Gaol. Well, I must say I do not think any Irishman, Protestant or Catholic, ought to have felt other than a sense of humiliation in regard to this treatment of my hon. Friend. Well, these shop-keepers in Youghal refused 620 to join in the general manifestation of feeling. Now, we have occasionally in this City of London manifestations of public feeling on Royal anniversaries, or in celebration of political occurrences, and I do not think a dissentient from the popular opinion thinks his windows are quite safe if in a marked manner he refuses to join in illumination with his neighbours. In fact, I remember an historical occasion when the front windows of a house in Harley Street suffered in consequence of the views held by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone.) This is a specimen of what may happen in a time of popular excitement, and if a few windows were broken in Youghal it was not because the occupiers of the houses were Protestants. [Several hon. MEMBERS: No windows were broken.] No windows were broken. I am wrong. I share with hon. Gentlemen opposite the pleasure the find in the fact that no windows were broken on the occasion. But a charge of boycotting is attached to this incident. Now, there were Protestant shopkeepers who did put up their shutters, and among them was a harness maker, Mr. Fowkes. In reference to this gentleman, I have a letter which is about as grammatical as the correspondence of a duchess, in which a Mrs. Bring explains that her son did not like to go to the shop in consequence of the shutters being up, and that she had determined not to take the harness which had been ordered. I grieve to say that this poor man was boycotted by all the Tories of the district. Now, what becomes of the Protestant charge of boycotting? Nothing is more honourable to Ireland than the absence of religious intolerance in political and municipal contests. We follow the lead of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork, and we intend to do so until he has brought about the final emancipation of our country. He is a Protestant; he is the son of Protestants, and the grandson of Protestants. Around me sit many Members who are Protestants. Nobody ever asks what is their religion, but yet you cast upon Youghal the unjust stigma that its Catholic inhabitants are intolerant. What are the facts? The Chairman of the Town Commissioners is a Protestant; five of the members of the Town Board are Protestants, and I deny that there is any foundation 621 for this allegation of intolerance on the part of the Roman Catholics. I feel that I am making a large claim on the indulgence of the House. Last night the hon. Member for South Hunts took part in the debate, and I am now anxious that the public should know the real facts with regard to the Ponsonby dispute. I confess that if the hon. Gentleman were able to prove the truth of the assertions which he made, he would have a strong case for interference, although I do not think that even those facts would wholly justify that interference. But if our statements are correct, his interference is both unjust and iniquitous. Now, first, is Mr. Ponsonby a model landlord, as the hon. Member represented? In reply to that I wish to give the House a few facts. One of his tenants was a man named Scully. In 1885, this man, who was suffering from the terrible depression then existing in Ireland, and especially in that district, was processed. The process was decided against him, and he sold his only cow in order to pay the rent. When he got to the rent office the agent told him there was a guinea to pay for law costs; and the poor man's wife, who was approaching her confinement, had to take the quilt off her bed and pawn it in order to raise part of the guinea. She took the guinea, with the pawn ticket, to the rent office, and appealed to the agent, because the quilt which she had had to pawn had been made for her by her mother and given to her on her wedding day. The agent of this model landlord, notwithstanding this, took the guinea and flung the pawn ticket back into the woman's face. I will take another case, which shows the real nature of this model landlord. I see in this pamphlet, the authorship of which I believe I am not wrong in attributing to the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone—
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I am sorry to hear it, because it does credit to the kind of literary skill in which the hon. Gentleman is so proficient. It was, however, stated by the hon. Member for South Tyrone—I have not the exact words with me—
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to know what I said, I have 622 no objection to telling him. The pith and substance of what I said was that this rent was the amount of rent paid from before the time of the famine, and, therefore, it could not be called rack-rent. I never said no individual's rent had been paid.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
We have also been told that the rent had not been increased within the memory of man. Now I will deal with the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who we are glad to find is able to deal more courteously with us in his address than sometimes appears in his communications; and if he would add a little candour to both forms of expression, perhaps the discussion would, be more intelligent and more real. One statement is, that the rents have not been increased within the memory of man. Another statement is that they had been slightly increased, but that the increase practically amounted to nothing, whilst the third statement—that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover—was that the increase had only amounted to £100 a year. But the owner of the estate, who is perhaps as good an authority as anybody, stated in a letter to his brother-in-law, that the net increase was £500 a year. Which of these assertions am I to deal with? I venture to state that each one of them, except the last, is inaccurate. I can give a few instances in which the rent was increased. The Widow Mahoney had her rent raised £12 a year. Her husband had made improvements on the holding at a cost of £168, and towards this the generous landlord contributed £20. But there is another foul page in this history of which the hon. Gentleman never spoke. I remember with great distinctness that in 1881, when the Land Bill of the Government was under discussion, there was something almost approaching a crisis in regard to a clause which we wished to have inserted, admitting the leaseholders to the benefit of the Act. The consultations extended over two or three days. I believe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was himself anxious to make the concession if he could, but having consulted his Colleagues, he came down and said—We cannot release all freeholders, but we will put in a clause the effect of which will he that if the tenants are able to prove to the 623 Court that the lease was forced upon them under the threat of eviction, that lease may be broken.I suppose the right hon. Gentleman has followed the course of events, and he knows that, although the clause was well intended, it has proved practically a dead letter. I am not lawyer enough to explain the means by which it has been chicaned away; at any rite, it was a dead letter to all intents and purposes until the right hon. Gentleman brought in a Bill admitting the majority of the Irish leaseholders to the benefits of the Act. We have the fact that of 1,000 applications which were made to enforce the clause, not one succeeded. In 1871, after the Land Act was passed, Mr. Ponsonby, or his agent, went to several of the tenants. Under the Land Act of 1870, a 31 years' lease gave the holder a right to the benefits of the Act, whilst a lease for 32 years precluded him from them. Mr. Ponsonby and his agent forced upon these tenants a 32 years' lease, thus filching the benefits from them which were intended to be conferred on them by legislation; and this is the considerate, kind landlord whose brilliant record shines amid the darkness of Irish history. I challenge a contradiction of these facts. These leases were sometimes forced upon the tenants under circumstances almost tragic in their character. In one case a man refused time after time to accept the lease, his child died, and when he returned from the funeral, sad and sorrowful, he found upon his table a notice which compelled him to accept a 32 years' lease. Is not the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh ashamed that conduct such as this should happen? How can he stand up in this House and defend men guilty of these acts? I know he will be ashamed to hear this; but I know also that he will stand up and represent this landlord as a paragon of virtue. In another case the rent was increased from £70 to £80. In a third case the landlord, Mr. Ponsonby, had beautified his estate by the creation of some glens, and in order to do that he took nine acres from the holding of a man named Michael Murphy. Did he compensate Murphy? No; he sent his valuer to the holding and actually increased the rent by £4 a year, although the size of the farm had been diminished In still 624 another case four acres were taken off a farm and an increased rent put on Surely these facts—these startling facts—shatter the legend that Mr. Ponsonby was a peculiarly considerate landlord. I could go through case after case of a like nature. I now come to the question off terms which were offered to the tenants. We know that at the end of 1887, 200 of the tenants signed originating notices to the landlord showing their desire to go into the Land Courts, and surely that was a sufficient indication of a bonâ fide desire to take this step. The landlord at that time was anxious that the tenant should have the opportunity of going into Court, and he was kind enough to extend the term during which the originating notices might be sent in. But a few days before the Court sat, the landlord, under some malign influence, actually served notices on some of the tenants which barred them from going into the Court. Such a notice was served on 30 of the principal tenants. I acknowledge the landlord was within his legal right, but was he within his moral right? These tenants, he knew, had elected to stand or fall together, and I, for one, would be ashamed of the Ponsonby tenants if, in a struggle like this, the more fortunate ones were to desert the less fortunate ones. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary illumined the debate just now with a most important contribution, and it was fortunate that he did not see the long faces and eloquent grimaces of the two Col eagues who sit immediately behind him. How the Chief Secretary refrained from pulling him by the coat-tai's, as he demolished the whole fabric of the principle of equality of law in England and in Ireland, escapes my comprehension I wish now to call the attention of the House to the fact that the Tories, when they are seeking the suffrage of popular constituencies, actually boast of the services of their party towards the protection of combination. Reference has already been made to the Liverpool case. I will point to another instance: The Tory candidate for Croydon in 1885, standing against my hon. Friend the present Member for Burnley, claimed credit for the Tory Party because, among other things, it had permitted freedom of combination amongst working men, by an Act legalising the employment of 625 peaceful picketing in cases of strikes. And this testimony of the democratic attitude of the Tory Party towards peaceful picketing is the more valuable because the signature at the foot of the election address I refer to was that of Mr. Grantham, Q.C., the very Judge who tried the Liverpool case. And now I come to the second offer made on the part of Mr. Brunker, the former agent of Mr. Ponsonby, and in connection with that I have here three letters, extracts of which I will read to the House. The first letter declares that he, Mr. Brunker, has full powers from the landlord, and is his authorised agent. The second declares that he and Canon Keller, on behalf of the tenants, had almost come to an agreement, and only a modification of terms was required. The third letter, dated some months later, declares that he, Mr. Brunker, still thinks if he and Canon Keller had been left alone (this was four months after the negotiations had come to an end), they would have have been able to come to an agreement. I think it is flying in the face of the credulity of this House to say that these letters could have been written by a man between whom and his fellow negotiator there was a difference of £20,000. In regard to the third offer, the statements which have been made as to that seem to form a most powerful specimen of the suppressio veri and suggestio falsi. It-is said that by this offer 32 per cent redaction was tendered, and that it was only 3 per cent below that demanded by the tenants. If that is so, how can it be said that the demands of the Plan of Campaign were downright robbery? But, as a matter of fact, what the tenants were to pay amounted to 17 years' purchase, and this land is certainly not worth that. On the estate of Lord Egmont, close by, where the land is better, the sales have been on the basis of from 11 to 16 years' purchase. On the estate of the Uniaks, again bstter land, the average price was 16 years. Let us have the truth about this matter, and let the public outside judge. Seventeen years' purchase was not all that was demanded. The tenants were also to be called upon to pay the law costs. And this brings me to the most astounding statement made the other night by the hon. Member for South Hunts, to the effect that the costs 626 only amounted to £3 or £4 in each case.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
These figures are entirely inaccurate. Some of the processes were brought at the Wicklow Assizes, and the solicitor for the landlord has since sent in a certified bill shewing that the costs of the proceeding's against 90 tenants amounted to £4,000. Yet this is only one of many stages in the proceedings.
§ MR. SMITH-BARRY
I think the hon. Member is under a misapprehension as to what I said. I suggested that 3 per cent interest upon the capitalised sum of the costs would amount to-only a few pounds in each case, and the landlord was willing to accept payment in that form.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Yes, but the tenant would still be liable for the capital sum. The 3 per cent would be without a, Sinking Fund, and would leave a heavy load of indebtedness upon the tenant's shoulders. I am told that the law costs of this estate now amount to nearly £15,000, and to add this£15,000 to the lump sum to be paid for the estate would greatly increase the burden. This, I suppose, will be done if the landlord succeeds, which is very hypothetical; and even that does not exhaust the extent of the landlords' demands The tenants will have to undertake the repair of the buildings, and I am not exaggerating when I say that the total claim made against them will amount to between eighteen and nineteen years' purchase, for land not worth fifteen or sixteen years' purchase. That is the generous offer of which we-have heard such eloquent descriptions during the last three or four days from hon. Members opposite. Nothing, I think, has been more remarkable in the struggle than the attitude of the tenants. They have been willing to refer the-matter to arbitration; they even offered to refer it to the Tory Recorder of the City of Cork. But the answer of the hon. Gentleman to the demand for arbitration was an utterly unfounded calumny as to the solvency of the tenants as a body. There is a dispute about the repairing of houses. An hon. Member has said that the dilapidations of tenants houses are due to the action of the tenants themselves. I suppose what 627 he was thinking of was the preparations made for resistance when evictions were about to commence, and the damage that was done by the Sheriff's officers when making forcible entry. But what did the tenants do in regard to this matter? They said we are willing to separate the two classes of dilapidations. [An hon. MEMBER: Oh, oh!] The hon. Member seems surprised at this, and to me it is a singular thing that he could have gone into this terrible crusade without having mastered the fundamental details connected with it. Fancy the hon. Member taking upon himself the responsibility of devastating a town in Ireland without being acquainted with the facts. The tenants, as I have said, agreed to divide the dilapidations into two classes, namely, those made by themselves and those made by the Sheriffs in executing the evictions, as distinct from the dilapidations following the evictions when the house from which the tenants had been ejected were left in the merciful hands of the emergency men. There are two questions which arise on this; first, who caused one set of dilapidations, and who caused the other? The tenants offered to submit this question to two arbitrators, one to be appointed by the landlord and the other by themselves. They offered on their part to pay the full value of the dilapidations which were their own work; while, on the other hand, the landlords were to pay for the dilapidations effected by the Sheriff's men, and the House will probably consider that the tenants had a right to demand that dilapidations created in cruel wantonness should thus be paid for. Thus, all through the County of Cork, we have the tenants offering to arbitrate every single point of dispute, and we have also landlords who are willing to arbitrate if they are only left alone. But unfortunately we have, beyond this the malevolent influence of the hon. Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry) intervening for the purpose of preventing arbitration. I think I have said enough? to show that the tenants on the Ponsonby estate have been justified in their action, and that the Tipperary tenants well?deservethe high eulogy of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. O'Brien),:and I come now to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. 628 Has the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in suppressing the branches of the National League? No, they are all alive. Has he succeeded in suppressing the newspaper reports? No, they are still published. Has he succeeded in diminishing the strength of the League? No, it is now stronger than ever. Has he succeeded in exhausting the funds of the League? Certainly not, it is richer than ever it was. And now I will put before him an alternative policy. In the 5th sub-section of the 6th section of the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act it is said—In the proceedings in such application the Crofter Commissioners shall take an account of the amount of arrears of rent due or to become due before the application is finally determined, or may take evidence of all the circumstances which have led to such arrears, and shall decide whether, in view of such circumstances, the whole or what part of such arrears ought to be paid, and whether in one payment or by instalments, and at what dates the same shall be paid; and the amount of debt so fixed, shall be deemed to be the total amount of such arrears due by the crofter, and the times at which the same becomes payable.A similar sub-section to this inserted in the Land Act of 1887 would have put an end to the Plan of Campaign, would have settled all these disputes, and have done away entirely with the necessity for coercion. It would, beyond this, have saved Ireland 4,000 prosecutions, and would also have saved the lives of 16 men and boys who have died by violence within the three years of the right hon. Gentleman's rule. But the right hon. Gentleman chooses the bad way when a little good sense, a little less of hysterical tendency to impotent violence, would have suggested to him the entrance upon a right and just solution of the difficulty. Well, what is the result? We cannot recall the dead, we cannot efface from Irish memory and Irish hearts the sorrows and sufferings of the last three years. We can only wait until the time arrives when the country shall be called upon to give its verdict, and I, for one, shall be greatly surprised if that verdict is not that there never was a Minister who had a policy which was so foolishly carried out by methods so brutal or by instruments of such a character.
§ (7.37.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
The hon. Member who has just spoken has dealt with three estates, namely, the Massereene estate, the Vandeleur 629 estate, and the Ponsonby estate. With the Massereene estate I am well acquainted, und I should say that every fact the hon. Member has mentioned with regard to the Plan of Campaign on that estate is absolutely inaccurate. The Plan of Campaign was beaten last year on that estate. I was present when the Sheriff proceeded to evict 21 tenants, and 12 of those tenants, as soon as the Sheriff entered, produced their rents saying, that if they had known what the Plan of Campaign really was they would never have joined that organisation. On that occasion I met a man who had been evicted on the previous day, and he begged that he might be received back again on the estate. He owed four years' rent, a sum exceeding £20, and was only able to pay 30s. down. He was accepted on the spot upon his assurance that as soon as possible he would pay another 30s. I asked him why he had joined the Plan of Campaign, and he refused to tell me. I then asked him to explain what he had done with the rent. He said it was in the war chest, and he never expected to receive a farthing back. It had gone where many a pound had gone before. I venture to say that on the Massereene estate, the Vandeleur estate, and the Ponsonby estate the men who joined that organisation were generally men who were well-to-do, and that the men who were first evicted were men possessing ample resources. In 1887 occurred the celebrated eviction of Patrick Devine. Some hon. Members opposite were present on that occasion and applauded the resistance offered to the law by that modern example of the Irish hero. Only six months ago I passed the very house from which that man was evicted, and I found that the individual who was made so great a hero of by hon. Members below the Gangway for resisting unfair rent was back again in the occupation of the farm from which he had been evicted, having paid every single farthing of the arrears which two years ago he alleged he was unable to pay. As to the Ponsonby estate, the hon. Member for the Scotland division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has based the attack made by him upon the hon. Member for South Hunts on the statement that Mr. Brunker, the agent, had full powers. The fact is that Mr. Brunker never had full powers, and the 630 mere fact that he himself may have said so does not make it so. Mr. Ponsonby could not have given him full powers because Mr. Ponsonby did not possess full powers to deal with the estate himself. It is obvious to anybody who reads the letter which the hon. Member has brought under the notice of the House that the further modification alluded to by Mr. Brunker was not to be made by him but by Canon Keller. Mr. Brunker never had any authority to recede from the position that the £16,000 were to be included in the sum payable by the tenants. The hon. Member has stated that on the Massereene estate there are only four tenants now in occupation of land from which other tenants had been evicted; and he also asserted that they are not bonâ fide tenants. The hon. Gentleman has been entirely misled on that point, and I feel assured that he knows nothing about the character of the tenants on the Massereene estate except what he has been told. I have been on the estate myself and have seen every one of the 13 tenants—bonâ fide tenants— who had left holdings in other counties to come there, and whose farms were well stocked. Those tenants came some from my own county, some from Fermanagh, some from Monaghan. The men have bought their farms, and there is not the slightest foundation for the charge by hon. Members opposite. There could not be found in any part of Ireland men who are more capable of working their farms in a proper manner. Now, we have had two long speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. I do not know, really, whether their utterances require attention. One or two Members of their Party have let the country know the precise position which they occupy. According to an article, probably written with authority, by the hon. Member for North-West Durham, these right hon. Gentlemen, and every other right hon. Gentleman who sits on the Bench opposite, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, belong to an order of things which has passed away. They can never be anything in the future; they cannot occupy any prominent position in the destinies of this country. 631 The only conscientious Member among them, according to the leader of the Radical Party, is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. But the writer has gone further in explaining the position occupied by the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Bradford and Halifax. They are "official limpets." I do not know that it is necessary, therefore, to occupy the time of the House in referring to the speeches of these right hon. Gentlemen, who belong to an order of things which has passed away, and who are "official limpets." But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax went over to Ireland to find a Protestant Home Rule Party. He might as well have gone to look for an Irish elk. There is, indeed, the perfect skeleton of an elk in the Royal Museum, but I do not believe he would find even the perfect skeleton of a Protestant Home Rule Party. I was present at the demonstration, held in the county to which I belong, for a purpose diametrically opposite to that which the right hon. Gentleman came over to advocate. I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman was there, or any other Members of his Party. Instead of going to a representative meeting of Protestant tenants they attended a hole-and-corner meeting held in a bye-street of the town of Dungannon, where I was unable to discover more than one Protestant, if there was one there at all. However, the right hon. Gentleman comes back to this country and professes to be greatly delighted, because at a meeting in Dublin he invited the audience to join with him in saying "God bless the Queen of the United Kingdom." I wondered at the time whether there was sincerity on the part of each of the 10,000 persons who responded to that invitation, or whether, with tongue in check, they thought, "Well, we will join in this sentiment just to amuse the right hon. Gentleman." [Mr. W. REDMOND: That is a nice character to give your countrymen.] I ask the hon. Gentleman opposite to allow me to proceed without any further interruption. What are the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman's party on this question? I quote from United Ireland for 8th September, 1884, as expressing more 632 truthfully the sentiments of that party" It was as follows:There are several indications of a necessity to make it once more clear to all men that any attempt to resuscitate the old Buddha worship of English princelings will be sternly resisted by the Irish people. Our attitude towards 'this gentleman,' and ladies and gentlemen of his way of living, is perfectly plain. So long as the English Parliament chooses to continue the Sovereign in her situation, we, though holding our own opinion that hereditary Sovereigns are as laughable shams as hereditary peers, will continue to obey the law with respect to Royalty as we obey the law with respect to vaccination; but personal adoration of the very commonplace persons who fill thrones is no more enjoined by law than kissing the shoe of the policeman or process-server when officially engaged. It is a voluntary abasement, and not a matter of law or loyalty. The Duke of Edinburgh is not even a Sovereign, but one of an innumerable German family, whose chief claim upon the homage of the people, who pay them a million and a half a year in salaries, is that they are not the idiots and debauchees that their grandfathers were.It was exactly in that sense that the audience at Dublin repeated the very mild expression of loyalty in which the right hon. Gentleman asked them to join him. In moving his Amendment the hon. Member for the City of Cork made a charge against the Chief Secretary which he did not attempt to substantiate in any way. It was that the policy of my right hon. Friend has tended to produce crime, and that the result of the Crimes Act has been to force the people of Ireland into disobedience to law and order. The hon. Member for the City of Cork ought to have recollected that long' before the present Chief Secretary came into office the policy of disobedience to and rebellion against law and order had been preached by his lieutenants in America. In the month of August, 1886, at a time when Ireland was free from coercion, and when, according to hon. Members opposite, the hearts of the Irish people were being turned with affection to England, Scotland, and Wales, the hon. Member for Wexford and the hon. Member for North-East Cork laid down lines of policy upon which hon. Members opposite were going to carry out their views in Ireland, namely, that there was to be no truce with the English Government; that they were to make the government of Ireland by England impossible; and that no effort 633 was to be spared by the hon. Member for Cork and his friends in order to force the Government of England to forge fetters of coercion. It was the Member for the City of Cork and his friends who were responsible for making the condition of Ireland such that it was impossible to consider life and property safe unless the Criminal Law was strengthened. Hon. Members opposite cannot deny that statament. Their representatives returned from Chigago, and emissaries were immediately sent through Ireland to formulate the Plan of Campaign. They never ceased agitating and agitating until they forced the yoke of the National League upon the people. With regard to the Ponsonby estate, I am firmly convinced that the more plainly the public understand the facts of the case and the action of the hon. Member for North-East Cork and Tipperary, the more satisfactory will be the support of the Government both inside and outside this House. Now, the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liver pool attempted to get rid of the fact that the Protestant shopkeepers of Youghal had been boycotted. The minister of the Wesleyan Methodists stated that most of his congregation were boycotted, and I prefer to take the statement of one who must know the circumstances to the statement of the hon. Member. There can be no doubt about this, that the only people in Youghal who declined to submit to the dictation of the National League were the Protestants, and that the only parsons boycotted in Youghal were Protestants. Then the hon. Baronet (Sir J. W. Pease) is in the habit of coming to the House annually to make a speech which appears to give him the greatest possible pleasure to deliver. He quotes whole rows of figures as to evictions, and leaves himself and the House in a state of confusion as to the deductions he wishes to draw from the statistics he cites. Every body knows that, roughly, there have been 12,000 ejectment notices under the Act of 1887, though not more than 2,000 have resulted in actual eviction, while 9,000 are now in occupation of their farms either as caretakers or tenants without being disturbed by their landlords. Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but it is a fact. It would be better if they would 634 set themselves to the task of showing that these official figures are not to be relied on, and do not support the contention of Her Majesty's Government. If they will look at the notices and the actual evictions for the last two years they will see that only one in nine of the ejectment notices has resulted in actual eviction, and hon. Members know as well as I do that in a vast number of the cases in which these ejectment notices have been served on the tenants they have been so served because the tenants would not pay rent until the landlords had adopted this quasi-hostile proceeding. The tenants when they received the notices were enabled to comply with the demands of the landlords—a thing they would have done without the notices of it had not been for the pressure of the Plan of Campaign. Before this debate closes I hope some hon. Member opposite will attempt to do what has not been attempted hitherto, namely, prove the allegations contained in the Amendment. Up to the present that has not been done, and we on this side have the pleasure of feeling that hon. Gentleman opposite have to reconcile their attitude with two great facts, that is to say the fact that Ireland is more prosperous than it was three years ago, and that crime in that country has greatly diminished. If it is any satisfaction to hon. Gentlemen opposite to say and to pretend to believe that they have had something to do with the diminution of crime, I am quite willing for them to lay that flattering unction to their souls, but as I believe that it has been the policy of Her Majesty's Government and their firm administration of the law which have laid the foundafion for this prosperity, and have reduced crime, I shall oppose in the Lobby the Amendment before the House.
(8.34.) MR.T. D.SULLIVAN (Dublin, College Green)
The hon. Member who last addressed the House made some remarks with regard to an observation from me that followed his references to the statistics of eviction. That observation was drawn from me by the fact that the hon. Member was treating, in a very delusive and un-candid manner, the figures he was putting before the House. The hon. Member gave certain figures as to eviction notices, but he said that in many 635 cases evictions did not follow upon the issue of those notices, as the tenants continued to be either tenants or caretakers. Well, Sir, I think that statement was a very illusory one indeed, and one calculated, if not intended, to mislead the intelligence of the House. We know what a tenant is, but what is a caretaker? He is a man who has no legal right whatever upon the holding, and he is liable to be turned out at a day's or a week's notice. The hon. Member made some quotations from publications in United Ireland, in 1884. Many things have happened in Ireland and England since 1884, and I think it is notorious throughout the world that certain political incidents that have occurred since 1884 have made a very serious and happy change indeed in the condition of Irish feeling. It is a game that should at this time of day be regarded as played out to attempt to quote against the Irish cause the writings of United Ireland, or any other Irish newspaper published in 1884 or in times still more distant. No one attempts to deny that things were said and done or attempted to be done in other days in Ireland which no man desires to repeat to-day. For the great and beneficent change that has occurred the whole Irish people are grateful to the wise statesman who brought it about. It is a stale trick now to quote the writings of United Ireland and other papers in the year 1884 or in preceding years. The publishers of those papers and the makers of speeches which were to the same effect have confess3d that since that time a very great change indeed has come over their minds and feelings in regard to Irish political matters and to the relations between the peoples of England and Ireland. The hon. Member was pleasedtoassume—and I thought it an extraordinary evidence of his native modesty—that when 10,000 Irishmen in the City of Dublin applauded the sentiments uttered by a public man from a public platform, they were hypocrites and dishonest deceivers. He referred to himself as an Irishman, and spoke of "his people," and he regards it as consistent with his ideas of Irish patriotism to tell this House that 10,000 Irishmen, assembled in a magnificent meeting in the capital of the country, applauded a sentiment in which they did did not believe, and that they 636 were simply trying to humbug the right hon. Gentleman and the people of England. I stigmatise that statement as unwarrantable and as discreditable to the hon. Member who made it. He asked whether the feelings of the proprietor of United Ireland had changed. I took the liberty of interjecting "Yes," and I had the authority of my hon. Friend for saying so. Then the hon. Member asked whether the Irish people had abandoned their national sentiments. I said: "No," Sir, they stand by national sentiments, national principles, and national feelings, and they believe these things can be reconciled, and will be reconciled, with loyalty to the Crown and the Government of the country. It has been said that the speech of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) at the outset of this debate dealt with trivial matters, and that to some extent it was amusing, and did amuse the House. Well, Sir, if there was any liveliness in the opening speech of the debate, I think more serious matter has been abundantly supplied since, and will be abundantly supplied again later on. No doubt some of the circumstances related by the right hon. Member for Cork were calculated to produce laughter. In connection with the administration of the Coercion Act in Ireland there have occurred, and are occurring day by day, a number of most ridiculous, grotesque, and comical incidents. It is impossible to read of such things without a smile. But there is a very serious side to these matters. It is no laughing matter for an industrious and honest man, earning his livelihood by the sweat of his brow and the labour of his hands, to be sent to gaol for two, three, or six months on a ridiculous charge of conspiracy or intimidation. It is no laughing matter for his wife and children to be deprived' of their bread-winner, although the charges themselves may be ridiculous and nonsensical enough. It has been said that the hon. Member for Cork did not deal with the question of evictions. He did not attempt or intend to go over the whole of the Irish case. But what be left untouched has been abundantly dealt with by his colleagues. It is a serious matter enough that over 2,000 men, women, and children have been impri- 637 soned in Ireland under the right hon. Gentleman's administration by one device or another. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) criticises statements of this sort in the smallest and narrowest spirit. The slightest error of circumstance or date is treated by him and his supporters as if it were something that absolutely disproved our case. If we said a girl was sent to prison who was fair-haired and about 12 years of age, the right hon. Gentleman would rise and deny that anything of the sort ever occurred, if the fact was that the girl had black hair and that she was not 12, but 12½, or 13 years old. To fix the right hon. Gentleman, is like trying to hold an eel by the tail, but though eels are very slippery customers they are sometimes landed, and so has the right hon. Gentleman been. Let me give the House an instance of how our people are treated in Ireland. A young girl, named Cullinane, is confined in Limerick gaol undergoing a Coercion Act sentence because she refused to give bail on a charge of intimidation. I suppose she intimidated a party of military men, or that high and mighty, that potent and efficient body, the Royal Irish Constabulary. It astonishes me when I read so much about intimidation to learn what a cowardly set of people the Irish must be. Old women and young girls and little boys are said to intimidate, I know not what number of people, and are sent to gaol for these tremendous offences. But this is not all. For refusing to exercise with the other prisoners this girl has been subjected to the brutal ordeal of spending eight days in a cell of confinement, and the strain she has had thus to undergo has told severely upon her. This young girl refuses to exercise with the off-scourings of the streets. God bless her for doing so. But she gets eight days in confinement for her refusal. That is a specimen of the way in which he seeks to promote respect for what he calls law and order in Ireland. Then we have the case of the funeral. At one funeral the police went through the procession, entered the graveyard, and stood by the grave to take note of the few touching and sympathetic observations that were made by the hon. Member for North-East Cork. People from a distance flocked into the town to pay honour to the 638 memory of the deceased. They went with solemn and serious minds into the Catholic Church to witness the last rites of religion performed over the body, and when they came out they found a posse of the Royal Irish Constabulary armed, and with a proclamation in their hands declaring the assembly illegal. It has been denied that at another funeral, which formed the subject of a question-to-night, the police accompanied the procession or entered the graveyard. It is said they only looked after the men who composed the procession. The presence of death, the solemn ceremonies of the Church, the sad rites paid over the remains of a deceased person are not too sacred for the presence of those interlopers. The wonder is how patiently the Irish people are able to bear with such indignities. How much further will this sort of thing be carried? The three great events of human life are birth, marriage, and death. The Irish constabulary already claim to supervise the arrangemeuts at death. I suppose they will shortly insist upon being present at the marriage of Irish Nationalists, and that the next privilege they will claim will be to be present at the births. Some discussion has taken place in the House with reference to Press offences, and the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. G. Wyudham) has said that Irish editors have been prosecuted for comment upon their reports in more than one instance. Some time ago the Chief Secretary for Ireland at a public meeting said—No man has been attacked in Ireland through my administration for the expression of any opinion whatever in any newspaper whatever from one end of Ireland to the other.I grant that these words were used before the recent prosecutions for alleged comment upon the reports published in, Irish Nationalist newspapers, but if no comments had been published up to the time at which the Chief Secretary used those words there was no merit or credit due to him for not prosecuting any editors for comment. I heard some, if not all, of the speech of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. I am familiar with the speeches of that hon. Member, and know something of the work in which he is pleased to engage. I consider there is not a more mischievous influence at work in Irish affairs than the influence 639 of the hon. Member. It is not merely that he has prolonged and embittered the strife between landlords and tenants an Ireland, it is not merely that he is largely responsible for the getting up of syndicates or combinations to resist the just demands of Irish tenants, but he has done all that lies in his power to infuse into the struggle, already sufficiently sad and serious, the additional element of religious bitterness and religious bigotry. In the speech he delivered last night he did not fail in that evil department of his exertions. The hon. Gentleman endeavoured to make out that the boycotting of the Youghal shopkeepers amounted to religious persecution. Nothing more? unwarranted or more shameful has been said since the commencement of this debate. Religions feeling had nothing to do with the action of the Nationalists in Youghal. It may be that the shopkeepers boycotted were Protestants, but it was not because of their Protestantism that they were boycotted. If Catholics had taken the same course they would have had just the same treatment—dealt out to them possibly in a more severe form. In one of his speeches the hon. Gentleman said—The pivot on which Protestantism turns is the right of private judgment. The Protestants of Youghal exercised their discretion whether they would close their shops or not.Have the Youghal Catholics no right of private judgment? The Protestant shopkeepers had a psrfectly legal right to act as they did, but if they had shown a little more feeling, if they had displayed a little more sympathy with the feelings of their fellow townsmen, they would not have been treated as they were. But they chose to act as they did, and why should not the people of Youghal exercise their private judgment and deal with whom they please? But why found a charge of bigotry against the Youghal Catholics on those facts? Remember these very suggestions are in themselves evidence that no bigotry existed, because they show that the Catholics have in the past been in the habit of dealing with Protestants; that they have helped them to earn a livelihood and to make fortunes. Undoubtedly religious bigotry had nothing whatever to do with these proceedings. But if I wanted a striking 640 illustration of the practice of boycotting people for conscience I might look to the other side of the House. On the Massereene estate, after the clearing off of the Catholic tenants whose forefathers had been on the land for generations, advertisements were inserted in the public papers that for the vacant farms only Protestants need apply. Is not that boycotting; is not that persecution for conscience sake? Surely it was a daring and shameless experiment on the patience of the tenantry of this district? What would happen in the North of Ireland if a Catholic proprietor, having cleared off a number of Protestant tenants, published advertisements that only Catholics need apply? I have a very shrewd notion of what would happen to the Catholic tenants who might go into such farms. The advertisement ran in these words:—Important to Protestants and their sons.— There are several vacant farms to let in the counties of Louth and Meath(these are very largely Catholic counties),close to the important town of Drogheda. None but Protestants need apply.["Hear, hear!"] This is the genuine article. Well, it befits hon. Members opposite that taunt us with bigotry and persecution. I have, however, a worse case even than that. An ex-Member of this House and a gentleman of title made a speech some time since, in which he said:—It is not that I object to a Roman Catholics as a neighbour or a friend, but it is to the Roman Catholics as a body, because when a body of men deliver themselves over into the hands of one man, the priest, and show themselves to be so mean-spirited or weak, in my opinion they ought not to have power in this or any other country. For this reason, and this reason alone, do I preach this crusade against Roman Catholics, and it is for you to do a great deal to strengthen our hands. I say to you farmers, many of whom I see around me, employ more Protestants, and do not employ Roman Catholics. As Roman Catholics must live, they may go elsewhere to live, and joy be with them. If you do not feed them, they will have to be fed in some other country. They will have to leave the County of Fermanagh, and that is all we wish.[Mr. W. JOHNSTON: Name.] Oh, yes; I will give you the name, date, and place. This speech was delivered at Florence-court on January 14, 1886, by Viscount Cole, ex-M.P. for Fermanagh. I quote it from the Irish Times. In thus 641 preaching a clearing of the Roman Catholics out of the county Fermanagh, Viscount Cole was, however, only acting in accordance with the doings of his political ancestors. Catholics have been hunted out of Fermanagh and out of other places in the North of Ireland for no offence whatever except that of being Catholics. Proof of that may be obtained in the Library of this House. I remember that in one case a poor old man thus treated actually died in the snow on the road-side. Yet Viscount Cole and his friends are always talking of law and order, and are strong in their condemnation of anything that has the semblance of boycotting or of bigotry. This spirit of religious intolerance has its grotesque as well as its serious aspects. A short time ago an advertisement appeared in a North of Ireland paper, at the instance of a rev. gentleman, for a boy to do general work, and also for a resident labourer, and, after stating the wages, added, "Grazing for a goat or two. Both Protestants." Even the goats apparently must be of the Protestant faith as well as the tenant. Reference has been made more than once to-night to the attack made by our Grand Inquisitor, the Member for South Tyrone, on the Protestantism of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. I desire to carry the matter a little further. The hon. Member for South Tyrone speaking at Cookstown on January 19 last, said Mr. Parnell spoke as an Irish Protestant, but he (Mr. Russell) would like to know of what church he is a member, and for what religious organisation he had done a hand's turn during the last 10 years. He also added that Mr. Bradlaugh could set up just as good a claim to speak for Protestantism. Now, these remarks have been rightly stigmatised as an unworthy and shameful invasion of the private affairs of another man. But the Great Inquisitor has already received a most effective answer from an authoritative source, for Mr. Manning, the secretary of the select vestry of the parish of Rathdrum, in the county Wicklow, wrote to the Irish Tunes, stating—That ever since the Distablishment of the Irish Church Mr. Parnell has been one of the largest contributors to the sustenation fund of the parish of Rathdrum, in which his residence, 642 Avondale, is situated. He is also a liberal subscriber to the funds of our parochial school, of which the rector of the parish is the patron, and has always evinced his readiness to aid any object brought under his notice for the benefit of the parish.Can the hon Member for South Tyrone show as good a record? I do not care whether he does or not; I have nothing to say as to his religious opinions, but I ask this House is not this a shameful and scandalous work in which the hon. Member has indulged? He has repeated these disgraceful insinuations more than once, but I have yet to learn that he has had the decency to make any apology for his allegations, neither has he withdrawn them. Now, I pass to a speech recently delivered by the hon. Member for South Belfast as an instance of the inconsistency of the hon. Gentleman and his friends. The hon. Member recently paid a high tribute to the discretion and conduct of the Irish Constabulary, and expressed his horror of any one who could be so wicked as to condemn them. He denied that it could be proved that any member of that body had taken deliberate aim at any one with intent to kill. Yet it was not so long ago that the hon. Member's own political friends and associates in Belfast were calling the Irish Constabulary "Morley's murderers," and one of his colleagues in the representation of Belfast dubbed them as "liveried assassins." Is he aware that the Orange and Tory newspapers denounced the Royal Irish Constabulary as having deliberately potted and shot down men, women, and children in the streets of Belfast If he has forgotten that many others have not. When an hon. Member for Belfast was charged in this House with having called the Irish Constabulary liveried assassins, and was invited to apologise for, and to withdraw the expression, he refused to do either thing. In Belfast, then, these men were described as liveried assassins and as cowards, and as everything base and bad, but as aoon as they took to breaking the heads of Plan of Campaigners, and rubbish of that sort, they became a loyal, brave, glorious and distinguished force, meriting the approbation and gratitude of the British nation. Now, having made these remarks, I wish to charge the members of the Royal Irish. Constabulary not only with acting wantonly 643 and cruelly during these troublous times, but also with being guilty of deliberate provocation and with endeavouring to get up and make crime for the purpose of prosecution. And here again I say I shall be able to substantiate my statement, and to give proofs whenever they may be demanded. Take, for instance, the account of what occurred at the Miltown Malbay trials. Important trials were taking- place in that town, and the people were likely to be in a state of excitement. Large crowds were expected, and there were apprehensions of scenes of turbulence and disorder. The priest of the town took the wise, and, as I think, prudent coarse of advising shopkeepers to close their establishments during the day so that it might be a day of quiet; that business being stopped the streets might be deserted. I think under the circumstances this was advice to be commended. But what did the authorities do? They brought in a large force of police and got a number of the men to go about to all the public-houses asking for whiskey. With this object they visited 26 public-houses, and I leave it to the House to imagine what would have been the condition of these men had their wishes been gratified. Twenty-six glasses of whiskey per man is rather too large a supply even for the stalwart members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. It is a fact that the publicans were prosecuted for refusal to supply the drink. I have the details in hand, but the House is, doubtless, familiar with them, and I will mot press them. I will only say that the way in which the Royal Irish Constabulary are employed in Ireland, the way in which they are encouraged to take plenty of whiskey, and exercise their strength freely on the heads of unoffending people guilty of no turbulence, disorder, or illegality, these things have created among the men an amount of demoralisation, I am sorry to see. Take one instance of the demoralisation of this physically fine body of men. At eviction scenes in the North of Ireland, after being engaged in the levelling of homesteads, such as many of them must have been brought up in, the police, marching about the country from one house to another, beguiled the way by singing songs. It struck me as an 644 evidence of the change that has been wrought in the character of the men; that after witnessing these scenes in which they were called upon to take such an ignoble part, they had the heart directly afterwards to join in merry choruses. Provocations to crime do not stop here. I have heard of emergency men being sent to attend mass in chapels for the purpose of provoking the rest of the congregation to rise and leave the place of worship, and we know that men have been sent to prison for leaving a chapel on the entrance of a person obnoxious to the people of the district. Time was when it was as much as a man's life was worth to be seen attending-mass, but now, under our present administration, it is a crime to leave a chapel before the celebration of mass is over. What is the view of the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) on this state of things? I should think he would rather approve of the worshippers leaving the building, and the sooner the better. I am sorry that another illustrious representative of the loyal minority is not now in his place, he who complained of the triviality and comicality of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) endeavours to amuse the House, and rarely fails to excite a good deal of boisterous merriment. He seems to have an ambition to be regarded as the "Lion Comique" of the Tory benches. But, though his speeches excite merriment, and sometimes indignation in other parts of the House, they never seem to carry much weight in the House of Commons, or in the country. Therefore I pass from this gentleman to say a word or two in reference to the manner in which the people in this country have behaved during the somewhat trying time, a very trying time for us and to some extent for the people of England also, of the past four or five years. During that time the Irish Members and the Irish cause were industriously calumniated and most shamefully defamed, and if the people of England had given ear to one tenth of the allegations made against us they would have had very little sympathy with the Irish people or the Irish 645 cause, and would have given very little welcome in their towns to representatives from Ireland. But to their honour be it spoken, and I desire to testify so much from the floor of the House of Commons, the conduct of the masses of the English people redounds to their eternal honour and to their everlasting credit. They have shown a free and open mind; they have shown more than that, an inclination to sympathise with the people they believe to be oppressed and the cause they believe to be traduced, defamed, and calumniated. As one Irish Member I have had experience of the sympathy, fairness, love of justice, and fair play on the part of the English people, and I tender my hearty thanks for it, and I believe I may say the same for the great mass of my fellow-countrymen, not only in their own old land but for the large majority of their race all over the world.
§ (9.40.) MR. W. MORRISON (York, West Riding, Skipton)
Time is pressing, and I only just rise to meet some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool in reference to the Ponsonby estate, a subject which has been so much dealt with in this debate. That hon. Member stated frankly that he was speaking from information supplied to him, he having no personal knowledge, and that is my position too. He asked for a statement as to whether there had been any increase in rents or not. Perhaps the House will allow me to give a very few figures from which the hon. Member will see how the matter stands. In 1872, Mr. Ponsonby had his estate re-valued by a competent valuer, who advised him to raise the rents to the extents of £517. That was the figure taken by the hon. Member as the amount of the raising of the rent. The whole of the amount put upon 59 farms was only £172; that is the actual amount of the increase. Then, on the other hand, Mr. Ponsonby undertook to pay half the county cess, which he was under no legal obligation to do. In that year this amounted to £134 and in subsequent years to a great deal more; absolutely wiping out the whole of the advances made in rent. So that in point of fact there has been no actual increase of the rent of the estate. Now the hon. Member endeavoured to make a point of 646 Mr. Ponsonby having forced 32 years leases instead of 31 years leases on his tenantry. I have refreshed my memory by looking up the Acts of 1870 and 1881, and I find there is no distinction between 31 years leases and 32 years leases in either of these Acts. All through his speech the hon. Member omitted to point out that Mr. Ponsonby had spent out of his own resources, or by borrowing from the Public Works Loans Commissioners, many thousands of pounds upon the estate. Therefore all the hon. Member's arguments about the unfairness of the rents, and what it would have been fair to ask the tenants to give, have been vitiated by the leaving out of this very material circumstance. The hon. Member quoted a number of cases, of which I shall take one, that of the widow Maloney. He said that Mr. Ponsonby forced a lease upon this lady. So far is that from being the case that Mr. Ponsonby always objected to granting leases, and he has informed me himself that he only granted a lease in deference to strong pressure, and in favour of tenants who applied to him for it. Now, Mrs. Maloney's rent was £58 14s. 2d. There is a letter from Mr. O'Farrell, who was then agent for Mr. Ponsonby, dated September 17, 1876, in which he says—I have had more than one interview with Mrs. Tom Maloney. She is willing to pay £65 for a lease, but refuses the payment of an advance in the rent without a lease.So it appears that she was willing to pay an increased rental for the advantage of having a lease. At the same time as Mr. Ponsonby was paying the county cess there was practically no increase at all. The hon. Member asked why Mr. Ponsonby did not accept the arbitration of the Tory Recorder of Cork? I think it would have been fairer to the House of Commons if they had been told that all through this unfortunate dispute between Mr. Ponsonby and his tenants, Mr. Ponsonby always urged the tenants to have the matter settled by the Tory Recorder of Cork, because that gentleman-happens to be a County Court Judge, and as such is the official proposed by Parliament to fix fair rents. It is very evident that it is not expedient that a person appointed to judge cases such as this should act as arbitrator, because as 647 arbitrator he would have no power to compel the attendance of witnesses or to take evidence on oath. The hon. Member made a point also about the large amount of costs incurred; he mentioned, I think, the costs in 90 cases. But whose fault was that? I imagine he was alluding to the cases tried at the Wexford Assizes. In these cases, first of all it was maintained in defence that Mr. Ponsonby was not the owner of the estate, when it was a notorious fact that he was; secondly, it was urged that these tenants did not owe any rent at all, while it was notorious that they were three or four years in arrear. This was the defence set up by every one of the defendants, and that could have been only with the object of increasing the solicitors' bill at the expenss of Mr. Ponsonby. I will not deal with any other point raised by the hon. Member except to mention an abstract of certain correspondence with Canon Keller to which he made a reference, reading from a certain pamphlet. It is a singular fact that the hon. Member did not turn over to the following page, where he would have found a complete answer to his statement. On page 15 he will find a letter, the original of which I am informed can be produced, in which Mr. Brunker stated that Canon Keller had raised the question of Government charges, and that he did not give way on the point. This is confirmed by a letter written to Canon Keller by Mr. Brunker, on 6th July, 1889, in which, referring to the interview on the 18th January, the date mentioned by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division, he says that Canon Keller raised the question of charges, but he replied that he looked upon these as intended to remain an incident of holdings until he was otherwise instructed. This confirms the statement made more than once by the hon. Member for South Hunts that the difference between Mr. Brunker and Canon Keller was not £5,000, but considerably over £20,000. I do not wish to detain the House beyond making this statement.
§ (9.50.) MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., North)
I do not think it will be necessary for me to trouble the House at much length upon questions relating to the Ponsonby estate, but I am not 648 surprised when a gentleman who has invested some thousands of pounds in the attempt to exterminate the Ponsonby tenants, feels called upon to defend his action in some way or other. After the speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) it is unnecessary for me to make more than a remark or two. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has repeated the statements which have before been made in this House, and I will not weary the House by repeating the lengthened reply. He said the tenants owed three or four years rent. Nothing of the kind. They no doubt would have owed that amount if they had been tenants all the time, but they had been out of their holdings for at least two or three years. They were under process of eviction. The hon. Member has talked about the expenditure upon the estate; but after his study of the question it would be surprising if he did not know that this expenditure was incurred upon Mr. Ponsonby's own house and grounds. Further than that, on the £5,000 expended, after being obtained from the Board of Works, the tenants had to pay interest. The hon Member by his speech endeavoured to impose upon the House, as he imposed upon the gullibility of the electors of the Skipton Division, who returned him despite his broken pledges. He attempted to contradict my hon. Friend with his few figures, but it is a mere pretence; he has not done so in fact. Two points stated by my hon Friend the Member for North-Fast Cork have never been answered. First that the agent of Mr. Ponsonby has declared in a private letter, never intended to be made public, that these rents were grossly unjust. Mr. H. H. Townsend, in a letter to Mr. Giles, the secretary to the Land Corporation, said from what he had seen of the estate it was his belief that the Land Courts would reduce the rents very heavily. He expressed his belief that the reductions would be 30 per cent. The existing rents, he said, might have been very well 15 or 20 years ago, but were far above present value. A good deal of the land, he said, rented at 20 shillings, would, before the Land Court, be reduced to 12 or 13 shillings. This, the agent said, was the opinion of Mr. Barter, the bailiff. Mr. Townsend went on to 649 advise that Mr. Smith-Barry and the Syndicate should make it public as soon as possible that they were only fighting the way in which the tenants were trying to get the rents cut down and not to dispute the justice of the claim for reduction. In the face of this testimony what are all the small points about the expenditure of Mr. Ponsonby and this or that reduction made in this or that year? Here we have the plain statement of the agent that the rents are grossly unjust, and he is supported by the opinion of Mr. Barter, who knows more about the value of the land than an other man in the country, and I certainly should take his opinion in preference to that of the hon. Member for South Hunts on this matter. The next fact is this, that the tenants are willing and have been from the beginning to submit the whole matter to arbitration. What answer is there to that? What is this arbitration? The landlord appoints one man, the tenants another, and these two agree upon a third. There can be no fairer tribunal, and I say the man who refuses under any pretext to submit his claim to such a tribunal stamps his claim with dishonesty. The hon. Member for South Hunts stated last night that the reason why Mr. Ponsonby declined arbitration was because the offer of the tenants was coupled with conditions which no landlord could accept without humiliation. I assert that that statement is untrue in fact, because it has been declared by Canon Keller, who was the authorised exponent of the tenants' views, that the offer of arbitration was made without any conditions at all, and the refusal of Mr. Ponsonby to accept that offer stamps the case of the hon. Member for South Hunts with the infamy that belongs to it. Last night that hon. Member made an attack upon the Catholic clergy of Ireland, and alluded to the Christian morality they were preaching. The Catholic clergy do not need a testimonial from me, and their character and reputation remove them far above reproach from the hon. Member. From whom did the attack come? It came from the champion of the landlords of Ireland. Who is the gentleman who dares to cast aspersions on the high character of the Irish Catholic clergy? 650 Is it a man who is himself above reproach? The hon. Member has been frequently described, I am sorry to say, as a good landlord. But I deny his claim to that title, and I assert that the management of his estate has been marked by almost as much infamy as that of any other estate in Ireland. I will read to the House some narratives which I think will cast a new light on the character of Mr. Smith-Barry as an Irish landlord. He had at one time a tenant named John England, and we are told in the pamphlet I hold in my hand that—The late John England bought the interest of a house and about three acres of land adjoining the workhouse, about the year 1853 or 1854, for £67 from dames Kinnane. He rented it at £12 or £13 a year. Mr. England expended £300 in building new houses and repairing the old one; he also put a great quantity of the host manure on the land yearly, thus doubling in a short time the value of the land. He was put out by Mr. Cust without any reason whatever, except that he presumed to ask the English agent of Mr. Smith-Barry (Mr. Cust) for a 21 years' lease. The 'voracious' agent allowed him no compensation except £30, which was little more than he (Mr. England) gave to the tenant Kinnane for his goodwill of the place, so that when the agent got it up he was enabled to charge £5 per acre for the land. There are splendid stone built houses, for which he (Mr. Smith-Barry) now receives £18 per year because of the outlay of Mr. England's money and improvements thereby. John England was put out against his will.This agent is said at one time to have worn a coat of mail and to have been under police protection. Again—Miss Tobin's father bought the interest in a building ground in Nelson Street, Tipperary, and built a house thereon. He got a lease of lives, which lease he never perfected regarding the naming of lives. Mr. Cust, taking advantage of the flaw, or rather of Mr. Tobin's implicit confidence in his landlord, gave Miss Tobin notice to quit. She got a lease of 10 years, so as to bring it to fail due about the time of Mr. Smith-Barry's coming of age. On the expiration of said lease, she again received notice to quit and had to do so, Mr. Cust saying that he had positive instructions to have no middleman on the estate. She offered any amount he wished to charge, she being an orphan, and the house being the only property she had. He heartlessly refused, and put out Miss Tobin, she having no father or relative to protect her. This is a most cruel case. He established Smith, of Nelson Street, and Mr. Moloney, of Church Street, middlemen.Here is another case:—Widow Elegot had a small farm of land. She had two daughters, and entered into 651 negotiations to get one of them married, and I was giving £150 fortune, so as to give up her farm to her son-in-law, she to live with him for the remainder of her life. The £150 was to portion off the other daughter. Mr. Oust would not allow her to get her daughter married, as it was against the rules. She had to give up her farm and emigrate in her old age, having: no other alternative, with her two daughters.This is the model landlord! But I will give another cas3, the case of John Fahy—A relative of John Fahy's offered to lodge six years' rent—£100—in Bank to Mr. Gust's credit, and give him authority to draw each year's rent at any time he wished if he would allow Fahy to remain on the farm; also if any arrears were due he would pay them— there were none due. He was evicted and again turned out of the house he held on the Green, Tipperary, and died of a broken heart.This again is the work of the model landlord, who, after evicting this man, levelled his house to the ground just as is now being done on the estate of Mr. Ponsonby. Here is another case—Darby Ryan, of Ballinilard, was served with notice to quit (same as Mrs Elegot) for getting his daughter married It was not put in force because the Ballycohey affair happened the same time. There were some policemen and a landlord shot on the occasion of the Ballycohey affair, which was some 10 years before the Land League was formed. This no doubt had the effect of preventing Darby Ryan, and probably many other tenants, from being thrown out on the roadside for similarly grave offences. John Peter held 21 acres of the lands of Cluen. During 40 years he paid the middleman a fine for his interest to get under the head landlord. He held it during the bad years, and paid £50 and £3 per acre when it was worth very little. When he did come under the head landlord, Mr. Smith-Barry, instead of a reduction of the rent he got an eviction, and was told by Oust that no matter what price he paid he would not he allowed to keep the land. Himself and 10 children were evicted; also his uncle and seven children. They had all to emigrate.I should not be at all surprised if it were shown that all the members of that family had become members of the Clan-na-Gael Association, and also subscribers to the funds of the Land League in memory of the deeds done in the name of Mr. Smith-Barry, the model landlord—a gentleman who thinks he is entitled to interfere in other people's disputes with their tenantry, and to attempt the extermination of the people of a whole country side. During all this exposure 652 I observe that the hon. Member has not made a single attempt to controvert either of the statements I have read. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Down (Colonel Waring) is anxious to interrupt. I would recommend the hon. Member to resarve himself for his own defence. It is true he has not got much landed property nor many tenants, but we are inquiring into the management of his estate, and he may require all his eloquence in his own behalf when the time comes to investigate his case, which may not be a very long way off. I was-saying that this hon. Member (Mr. Smith-Barry) who is entitled "a Model Landlord," is one who thinks he has a right to exterminate his tenantry. It did not at all surprise me to find5 Mr. Smith-Barry in alliance with Mr. Ponsonby, or to see Mr. Smith-Barry and the Cork landlords uniting together, on the principle that birds of a feather flock together. Those gentlemen, however, made a tremendous and fatal mistake. They thought they could rely on Mr. Bullock, who, in a letter to the Times stated that all that was wanted for the conquest of Ireland was £40,000. They also relied on the assurance of the Chief-Secretary that coercion would prove the death knell of the National League in Ireland. They may likewise have-given credence to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who said the mission of Mr. John Dillon to Australia would not produce the amount of his hotel bills. But I would inform hon. Members that that mission has already produced £35,000 in addition-to the £40,000 we have collected under the guns of the Chief Secretary during the last six months. The House may also he interested in knowing that the Cork Defence Union is bankrupt at the-present moment. They at one time-boasted that they were paying 40 percent, dividend, and a journalist in Yorkshire, who sympathises with us, wrote to me and asked if this were true. I could only reply that I had not seen the books or accounts, which had not been produced, and I asked him to wait. I now find that Mr. Patrick Beattie, Secretary of the Cork Defence Union, has written a letter reminding Mr. Smith-Barry and his colleagues that they are not a self- 653 supporting institution, and that subscriptions are wanted all round. Since then they have not fared very well. I thought it possible they might have derived something from the visit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I had no doubt they hoped they would get some of his surplus, but the right hon. Gentleman has kept a tight hold on the surplus, at least as far as the Irish landlords are concerned. I do not know whether he intends to continue that hold or not. The House will pardon the digression, if I record one incident of the visit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Ireland, when he was the guest of Mr. Villiers Stuart, in the neighbourhood of Lismore. It is an illustration of the right of public meeting as it exists in Ireland at the present moment. On the very night of the right hon. Gentleman's arrival, someone acting on his behalf in Dublin, sent a policeman to break up a public meeting-held in the town of Lismore, not for the purpose of advancing the National league, but for the purpose of thanking the electors of Elgin and Nairn, and Bucks and Peterboro' for the vote they had given for Ireland. The hon. Member for South Tyrone, in his speech last night, contrasted the Nationalist principles of Ireland to-day with the Nationalist principles proposed by John Mitchell. The past is always praised by these gentlemen. But Mitchell must be first dead and buried before you praise him. You can now speak of John Mitchell's chivalry, but, when he was alive, you put him in a felon's cell; you sent him to 10 years' penal servitude; you never pardoned him; he died a felon. He was returned for the County of Tipperary by 3,500 against 500; you rejected his, claim to sit in this House, and you seated a Member of the Loyal Minority, who had 500 votes, on the ground that John Mitchell was a felon. Then, Sir, the hon. Member for South Tyrone quoted a passage from a patriotic writer, but I am afraid the hon. Member has not read all the author's works, but for his benefit I will quote a few lines he wrote, though I think they will hardly be to the taste of the hon. Member. The words embody a good deal of the philosophy of the Irish question— 654O God of Heaven, I cried, send Thy Spirit down on those lords, so cruel and proud, and soften their hearts and relax their frown, or else, O God, I cried, vouchsafe Thy strength to the peasants to drive them for ever from out the land.The hon. Member for South Tyrone made a good deal of the fact that out of 10,000 notices of eviction there had only been 2,000 actual evictions. But when a man gets an eviction notice he ceases to be a tenant; he has not a penny of property in the holding; he cannot serve a notice for the fixing of a fair rent; and if he sows a crop he can be prosecuted by the right hon. Gentleman, as many have been during the last three or four years. The reason why these 10,000 notices have not been carried into effect is because the Plan of Campaign has struck terror into the hearts of the exterminating landlords and: their allies on the Treasury Bench. It is quite enough at present to have evictions on the Ponsonby and Clanricarde estates and other Plan of Campaign estates; but we should soon have an exterminating campaign all over Ireland if these tenants on the Clanricarde and Ponsonby estates could be evicted; and the 10,000 eviction notices, but for the Plan of Campaign, would ere long be transformed into a physical fact. I wonder that the right hon. Member for South Tyrone did not see that he was falsifying every single statement in the Queen's Speech regarding the contentment and the tranquillity of Ireland. He described the condition of Tipperary as that of a town "through which had passed an avenging enemy." He said we had "assassinated freedom of speech." He said that boycotting at the present moment was worse than the boycotting of old, and worse than the crime and murder of old. He stated what must have been gall and wormwood to the Chief Secretary, that the National League, instead of being a thing of the past, was an organisation of vast resources. The fact is we have only, as it seems to me, to rest our cas3 on the speech of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, without having to say another word. Now, Sir, I have heard, not only from the other-side, but, with astonishment, from Members of the Front Opposition Bench, that there is a vast improvement in the state of Ireland. Sir, I challenge the 655 statement that there is any improvement whatever. There has been a little commercial prosperity, and Ireland has shared in it. We are not isolated; we are in the highway of civilisation; we are attached to Great Britain. [Cheers from Ministerial Benches.] You Seem to object to a phrase which means an alliance between the two countries. I always observe that yon cheer the sentiment, but seem to hate the idea of union. You not only do not want it, but you do not like it. Those who call you Separatists speak the truth. But, Sir, I deny altogether that there is any improvement in the state of Ireland. I wonder soma Members of the Front Opposition Bench, with all their ability, have not discovered before now that the figures produced with regard to the crime of boycotting are simply fraudulent and humbugging from top to bottom. I base my contention upon the words of a no less infallible personage than the present Chief Secretary. On the 9th May, 1889, when he wanted to make an argument for Coercion, the right hon. Gentleman commented on the misleading? character of these Returns and showed how impossible it was to come at the truth in regard to agrarian crime. The right hon. Gentleman gave as instanees the Curtin case, the two girls attacked in their father's house, and the girls shot in the Kanturk district, which were not returned as agrarian crimes. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman said that for several years the meshes through which crimes had to pass before they were admitted into the agrarian list had been constantly narrowing. I say that the process which was gone through for six years preceding 1887 in reference to the returns of crime, is going on at the present moment. There were four murder cases at the last assizes in Connaught, and three at the Tullamore Assizes, and not a single one of them figures in the agrarian returns. The figures that are given in support of the contention that crime has decreased are simply fraudulent from top to bottom, and are made to order for the purpose of deceiving the House of Commons and the constituencies. But the figures regarding boycotting are more fraudulent still. It was said 656 in 1887 that 4,000 persons were boycotted, bnt not a name was given. The reason given for withholding the names was the most ridiculous one in the world, namely, that if the names were given everybody would know who they were. As if a person could be hoycotted without everybody knowing. The truth is that boycotting was not so rampant then as it was represented to be. It is said that there are only 150 boycotted persons in all Ireland at this moment. Why, there are 150 in the County of Cork alone, and there are 250 in Tipperary. It is stated in the Returns that in 1888 there were three boycotted persons in Ireland, and that last year there were only two. How have the three been reduced to two? There was a person named Maguire, who was postmaster of Awards. He committed an offence against the law for which he was fined £50 or sentenced to two months' imprisonment. He went away to Australia so as to escape both the fine and imprisonment. In 1887, after the Coercion Act had passed, he thought he saw his deliverer in the person of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. He returned from Australia, and the first thing he did was to grab a farm. I am glad to say he was boycotted. I helped to boycott him myself, and I would do the same again to-morrow. Well, Sir, he has been boycotted out of the country, and therefore you have two persons boycotted out of three in the county of Dublin at the present moment. This case explains a great deal of the diminution of boycotting, if there be any diminution, which I greatly doubt. This man was protected by seven policemen. There was a warrant issued for his arrest. The police would not execute it. They exercised what is called a dispensing power, and it was not until I had asked two or three questions in the House that the police at last executed the law and put the man into gaol. In face of facts like this, I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir H James) who will probably follow me, what he has to say as to people being bound to respect the law. When one Party is; favoured by the Crown and the executive s authority in defiance of the Law and Constitution, it is enough to throw 657 contempt on all your proceedings. A good deal of the boycotting that has taken place has been condemned. Whenever it is accompanied with violence I condemn it. Whenever it is confined to exclusive dealing, however, I say it is thoroughly justifiable. The case of the man Phillips, in Tipperary, who is boycotted because he will not join his brother tenants on the estate of the hon. Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry) has been referred to. Well, he has a perfect right to refuse to join them, but his neighbours have a perfect right to their opinion also. They have a right to say, "That man is an enemy to the common weal and we will boycott him." As long as they merely leave that man severely alone they are within the lines of law and within the lines of morality. With regard to the proclamations, they have been withdrawn and re-imposed to such an extent that nobody in Ireland knows at this moment which county is proclaimed and which is not. It appears that the 2nd clause of the Crimes Act has been withdrawn as far as the proclamation of the County of Kildare is concerned. But the very same day witnessed a proclamation imposing the 1st clause on Kildare. The meaning is this. The 2nd clause has failed in Kildare. The authorities were met at the very beginning with the difficulty of finding informers, and the next thing they do is to import the Star Chamber into Kildare in order to manufacture informers if they possibly can. I shall be surprised if they succeed any more under the 1st clause than they have done under the second, as there is not a man in Ireland who will give evidence now before the Star Chamber. There has been complete silence this Session with regard to the question of derelict farms. A gentleman recently visited the Coolgreany estate and he relates that in the case of a number of evicted farms which had been re-occupied, between £4,000 and £5,000 had been advanced to the solvent tenants at 3 per cent, interest. The tenants of the farms in Captain Hamilton's list you pretend to be real tenants, but they are bogus ones and will remain so to the end of the chapter. There is only one other matter to which I would call attention, and that seems to me con- 658 clusive on this question. A short time ago the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland gave some evidence on the question which cannot be questioned. Speaking in Durham he made a most significant statement—though I have not heard it commented on by any Member of the Government or any Member of their Party. After his three years' experience in Ireland he stated that "they could never govern Ireland except by a Coercion Act." That is tantamount to saying that you may have tranquillity in Ireland by shooting the people down, you may have tranquillity by brutal coercion, but you will never have real and permanent tranquillity in Ireland under any system but that of Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman has by his police murdered 14 persons during the last three years; he has evicted 12,000 persons during the last two years, and ha has injured in collisions with the police hundreds of persons. He has put 5,000 people in prison: and all this policy has, I maintain, earned for his administration not fame but infamy.
§ (10.40.) SIR H. JAMES (Bury)
Whatever difference of opinion may exist upon the terms of this particular Amendment, I think the House will feel that there are some matters connected with the commencement of this debate which afford to us a promise we have long desired to see fulfilled. I gathered much hope from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, delivered on Wednesday last. If in that speech my right hon. Friend did not display all the highest qualities of debate—if he did not draw on his vast store of genius high or lore profound, he certainly charmed the House with a wit that loved to play, not wound. I judge also from the tone of his speech that my right hon. Friend is likely to encourage his supporters to devote themselves to the practical work of legislation during the coming Session. Sir, I hope it is not presumption in me to say that I think every Member of this House heard with unmixed pleasure the speech to which I have referred. It is 659 to be hoped that the right hon. Gentleman's power will prove so great that it will induce those whom my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fife calls the relics of the Party to allow legislation to proceed. But there is another subject for congratulation, and that is to be found in the terms of the Amendment against which some of us are now about to vote. It marks an era in the history of political contests in connection with Ireland, when in an Amendment we find the authorised leader of the Irish Party announcing that tranquillity has long continued in Ireland. There is one speech which has been made in the course of the debate which I listened to with hope, but which, I admit, caused me disappointment when it was concluded. That was the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Sir G. Trevelyan). I am not about to enter into any dispute with him as to his change of opinion. It is not my mode and manner to do so, but my right hon. Friend has something to answer for, though he has made uo reply to the call made upon him. He has occupied a conspicuous position in public affairs of late years, and perhaps he does not know fully the extent to which he has fashioned men's thoughts, and the extent to which he has prompted their action, There were some words uttered by him—they were not uttered lightly, or when he, who had been responsible for the Government of Ireland, was in a period of fluctuation, but when matters had settled down pretty much into the position they now occupy. It was in the early spring of 1887 when, with all the knowledge he had obtained in Ireland, he condemned the Government for having allowed the power of the mob to be supreme over that of the Government, and announced that the game of law and order was up. There were many who then asked, "What does this mean?" To many it seemed that if it were true that the game of law and order was up, the game of this country was up too. What an admission it would have been for a Government to have made or to have acquiesced in! What an example it would have been to the representatives of the Queen, who, in distant lands, far from central support, are endeavour- 660 ing to maintain law and order! To have told the people, here in the centre of the Queen's authority, backed and supported as we are by all the resources of the Empire, that the Government were willing to admit the truth of this assertion of my right hon. Friend, and to allow the power of law and order to pass into the hands of the mob. It would have been an act of infamous shame and disgrace to have made that admission. It would have been nothing short of a disaster to this country, worse than if we had been defeated by an enemy abroad, or if rebels in the open field at home had been victorious. It would have been a willing acquiescence in shame; that is why it would have been worse. I ask the House to mark that there is dissent from one quarter. There are Members who would wish her Majesty's Government to admit that the game of law and order is up, and make no endeavours to maintain it. Some of us, however, believed that some course should be taken to repel the statement of my right hon. Friend, when, in 1887, we gave our support to the Government, in order to afford them the opportunity of showing that they did not acquiesce in the statement that the game of law and order was up, and that they had not abandoned every attempt to fulfil their duty. We see now our vindication in words of no uncertain sound, and not in statements that can be contradicted. We accept the words of the hon. Member for Cork, and call him now as a certain witness to the fact that the tranquillity of which there was no trace to be found by the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division in the spring of 1887 is at last restored. We find also the happy admission that the game of law and order is not up. What I miss from the speech of my right hon. Friend is the statement which he had to make in respect to that admission. Does he not himself triumph in the fact that the state of things he deplored and for the existence of which he condemned the Government on the 7th of March, 1887, has passed away? My right hon. Friend is about to vote for the Amendment asserting that tranquillity has been long continued in Ireland. Let him now admit that something 661 has happened which has taken away that shame from the country—something which we can trace to legislation, and not to other causes, as alleged by hon. Members below the Gangway. Those hon. Members attribute the tranquillity to other causes, but, unfortunately, inexorable facts are against them. They say the cause of the now existing tranquillity is what is called the "union of hearts." But that union was effected in January, 1886. Then, when that union was in the warmth of its first embrace, crime ought, according to this theory, have commenced to decrease. But it did not decrease; it increased. Then 1887 came, and agrarian crime still went on increasing until the month of July, when the Crimes Act came into operation. Let hon. Members find an explanation why it was that for 18 months crime increased under the "union of hearts," and as soon as the Crimes Act was passed it decreased and steadily decreased. [Laughter.] Such is the fact, and let those who interrupt me endeavour to find an explanation for it. It may be said that it was an accidental circumstance that crime has, since 1887, steadily decreased, but it is a strange coincidence that exactly the same thing occurred in 1882. The policy of my right hon. Friend had then exactly the same effect. We had an increase of agrarian crime from the date of the establishment of the Land League in 1879 until June, 1882, when, directly the Peace Preservation Act of the right hon. Gentleman was passed, crime dropped to one-fourth of the previous Return. Such is our justification for the Crimes Act of 1887 and for the support which we have given to the Government. Intimidation has, to a great extent, passed away, and is now, according to the statement of the hon. Member for Cork, simply on a level with what is called exclusive dealing. That may be paraphrased by the term "Boycotting." Will my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian forgive me if I do that which it is still my pleasure to do, find authority in his words? My right hon. Friend has said that in his opinion this intimidation which we call boycotting is nothing more than exclusive dealing. Well, I, with great respect to his opinion, dissent, and 662 dissent as strongly as I can, from that proposition. My first reason for doing so is that it was from his lips I learned that boycotting, which has been increasing in intensity, had nothing to do with exclusive dealing but was an entirely different operation. May I recall to my right hon. Friend's recollection a debate which took place in this House on the 24th of May, 1882? If he is, as he says-he is, familiar with it I am sure what was in his mind is worthy of communication to the House. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) interrupted the right hon. Gentleman in his speech, and said:—I have quoted the words of the right hon. Gentleman himself to the people of Ireland that 'Boycotting' was not illegal; it was on-that ground I went.My right hon. Friend replied,I am not aware how I ever could, and, as a matter of fact, I never did, make such a declaration—never.Mr. Dillon then said—Yes; and in this House.The right hon. Gentleman proceeded—I have stated that there might be exclusive dealing between men. But that is a totally different thing; and unless I am much mistaken, that declaration was made before 'Boycotting' was heard of. (Cries of 'No!') At any rate, before that which is known as 'Boycotting' was established in the way that has made it illegal. I may have said, and I say now, that I have a perfect right to deal with one man rather than another, and even to tell people that T am doing so: but that has nothing to do with combined intimidation, exercised for the purpose of inflicting ruin and driving men to do what they do not want to do and preventing them from doing what they have a right to do. That is illegal, and that is. the illegality recommended by the hon. Gentleman; and it is plain that those who recommend and sanction such illegality are responsible for other illegalities, even though they do not directly sanction them.
§ SIR H. JAMES
I gather from that cheer that my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby acquiesces in that statement Let me go a step further. That was the 663 statement in 1882. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork then said that there had been a great abuse of boycotting; he now says that all that abuse has passed away. I sometimes think that even the hon. Member for Cork does not always know what is taking place in Ireland, but if the Member for Mid Lothian or the Member for Cork thinks that boycotting since 1882 has altered for the better he is labouring under a misconception. I say, and if time afforded I would prove every word I use, since that time boycotting has intensified. Boycotting, in later times, became the chief weapon of the League, for the reason referred to by a. conspicuous Member of the Irish Party, who said—I look forward to a time when we shall want no speeches; when we shall be able to effect our purpose not by speeches but by our organisation.That time came: 1882 passed away: the Crimes Act of my right hon. Friend effected good work in Ireland. The National League came into existence. There was a lull during 1883 and 1884, during the time of the operation of the Crimes Act. 1885 came, and then 1,700 branches of the National League came into existence, all in correspondence with one another. There are members from Ireland who, I think, in their hearts will not contradict me when I say that the boycotting of 1879–82 was a brutal weapon, but the weapon of 1885–6–7–8 was a very different one. Yon might as well compare some flint arrow head existing in pre-historic times with a weapon fashioned by all that modern science can do. As to comparing the boycotting of 1882 with the boycotting of late years I do not exaggerate language—[Cheers and counter cheers]—I exaggerate no language when I say that one would almost believe that the boycotting of later years must have been the boycotting of fiends instead of men. Talk of exclusive dealing! Let me ask for one moment the attention of any right hon. Friend. Would exclusive dealing be represented by these facts:— A man has offended the National League. His wife is lying ill near to her death. A branch of the National League passes a resolution during her lifetime that she is not to be buried, and that resolution passed 664 by one branch of the League is sent on to another branch. The resolution was timed so that it should come into operation on the death of the lady. The lady dies, and the resolution is carried into effect. No man would furnish the wood for the coffin, and no man would bury her; and from afar off the help of Christian men had to be brought. That was the case of Mrs. Fleming. I could proceed with case after case. Is it exclusive dealing that when a man has been murdered and his child goes to a school, that school shall be boycotted because the child of the murdered man is simply taken into it? Is that exclusive dealing, or does it approach to exclusive dealing? One word more in this connection. The hon. Member for Cork said what is punished in Ireland is allowed to be done in England, and he mentioned the occurrence of the late strike. He said, "Yon have now intimidation at the docks and you do not punish it." I deny the truth of the comparison. The Trades Union Act of 1875 declares, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby and I know very well, that any one who in timidatesanother is liable to punishment, and therefore it declares that combination to intimidation is punishable. If the docker goes to another and uses moral suasion he is not liable, and you also have the right to use moral suasion in Ireland. But if the dockers followed another to a shop and said to the person there, "Do not supply that man with the necessaries of life," who will say that that would not be an offence in England? I declare I sometimes wonder at the statements of those who ought to know better when they say that this boycotting is exclusive dealing, and when they state that it is lawful to do certain things in England which are punished in Ireland. I pass from these matters now to notice again the suggestion made that all this tranquillity proceeds from the good feeling which my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian has endeavoured to create between the people of the two countries. Sir, we have two witnesses to that view. One is my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). One word of protest before I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the position which he occupies. He stated that it was an act 665 of illegality on the part of the Parliament of England to pass the Act of 1887. That is a strong statement to make, coming from one who is one of the counsellors of the Queen. It is a statement that when both Houses of Parliament in their wisdom passed a measure, and the Queen approved of it, it was an illegal act. If my right hon. Friend's courage of statement causes him to say so much in this House, how likely it is that he may make some further statements of exaggeration outside. I should have thought that my right hon. Friend's experience would have reminded him of the inadvisibility of saying that Acts of Parliament ought not to be obeyed on account of circumstances under which they were passed. But my right hon. Friend did not even on this occasion refer to the circumstances under which the Act of 1887 was passed. His statement was that, because be disapproved of the measure, it was an illegal act for Parliament to pass it. Under these circumstances my right hon. Friend says, "I am certain that peace proceeds from the good-feeling that now exists in Ireland," and we had a statement of his travels to prove that. I must confess that my right hon. Friend gave a very peculiar account of the position in which he was placed. It was, as far as I can judge, a position of disappointment; he said, "I was regarded as a peculiarly harmless person." What was most peculiar in his account was that the moment he began to speak every policeman ran away, and the moment he had done "the mighty meeting at Mallow" joined in singing "God save the Queen." This is no exaggeration. That is the position, and we are to be told now seriously that there is the most perfect loyalty existing in Ireland; every Harp without a Crown is repaired; and now there is perfect devotion, under my right hon. Friend's influence, to the Crown and this country. That is the statement made, and which we get from gentlemen of small experience, who, with carpet bags in their hands, go to Ireland. They go under particular protection; they work in one groove; they see one phase of Irish life, and they come back with joy in their minds. That recalls an incident in my early life, which occurred when I was fishing on the Upper 666 Shannon. I formed the acquaintance of an old fisherman, a very respected man. [Cries of" Oh, oh!"] Well, he had been out in the rebellion of 1798, and so he was very much respected. He was very communicative in his anecdotes, and at last I heard him tell a young friend of mine something which I knew must be an enormous exaggeration. I said to him, "Oh, Considine, how can you tell such a tale?" "Ah, sure," he said, "Sure he is only a spalpeen from London; faith it is the like of him I am humbugging every day." I do not recognise my right hon. Friend under that title, still less my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre). He at least is not, or ought not to be, a disappointed man. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax complains of being called harmless, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford can complain when he is treated as a dangerous man. I must confess that my right hon. Friend's speeches never have upon me the effect of inciting me to commit acts of violence. Upon the whole, I think his speeches have rather a different and contrary effect. But the hon. Member for Cork says that some spots in Ireland are in a very dangerous condition, and I suppose in such districts even statistics delivered with vehemence under certain circumstances may have a certain degree of exciting influence, and certainly upon one occasion my right hon. Friend's language was so incisive that as it fell to the ground armed men sprang up around him with rifles and bayonets, and he delivered his speech surrounded by an array of physical force. Thirty armed policemen, 30 loaded rifles, 30 bayonets, pointed at my right hon. Friend as a central figure. What a proud moment for him. When I heard my right hon. Friend denouncing' one Member of this House because he had taken part in a dispute between landlord and tenant, and saying that he had no business to do so, I wondered where was the justification from that point of view for my right hon. Friend's paying visits to different estates and interfering in disputes between landlord and tenant in which he had not the slightest interest. The Irish people ask to be left alone, to be left severely 667 alone, and I would suggest to my hon. Friend that there will be found a better solution of the difficulties that exist in Ireland and a greater likelihood of settling the differences between landlord and tenant than if he always on every occasion takes up the case of the tenants and always endeavours to persuade them to resist what is taking place around them on behalf of the landlord. I cannot part from this subject without saying that, whilst we think there are those in this House who ought to have great cause for congratulation that the tranquillity which exists in Ireland has been maintained by the Act of 1887 and by the acts of Government, we are not content to look only upon that tranquillity. There are those in this House who regard with pleasure the promise that is contained in the gracious Speech from the Throne. We look with gratification to the announcement that the time has come when legislation that is not only for the purpose of supporting law and the authority of the Queen is now about to commence. We accept the words of the hon. Member for Cork that tranquillity prevails in Ireland, notwithstanding the views of the hon. Member for Dublin, and, accepting that as a fact, we feel the time—
§ SIR H. JAMES
The hon. Member stated that there was more crime than the Government allowed, but if this be so, still it is the' crime that comes within the area of tranquillity continued for a long time.
§ MR. CLANCY
What I said was that the criminal statistics upon which a decrease of crime was supposed to be based were fraudulent from top to bottom.
§ SIR H. JAMES
That means that there is more crime than is known to the Government to exist; and, if that be so, still it is to such an extent only that 'justifies the hon. Member in saying that the tranquillity is long continued, and justifies him in voting that that is the fact. Therefore, I say that under those conditions law and order has not been thrown to the winds; and there are men 668 in this House—I hope the vast majority —who will welcome legislation that will give to the people of Ireland no greater powers of government. There are men in this House who have always hoped that a time would come when the people of Ireland could with safety have conferred on them equal powers of self-government with the people of England and Scotland. Now, when the statement comes that tranquillity has been obtained, the Government may rest assured that they will receive a full and complete support for their promised measure, which I hope, within proper and safe limits, will conduce to maintain the law and order that exists in Ireland.
(11.23.) MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle)
Mr. Speaker, my right hon. Friend, in this respect following the Chief Secretary, drew a picture of those whom the Chief Secretary called strolling and intinerant politicians, and he ridiculed the visitors to Ireland who went there with carpet bag, and moved in one groove only. But the itinerant politicians are not all on one side. I chanced to be in Ireland when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) was there. The movements of so important a Minister were naturally followed with eager curiosity by the people; but, so far as I could gather, the groove in which he moved, and the sphere in which he carried his carpet bag, was confined entirely and exclusively to landlords, resident magistrates, and police. After what fell from the Chief Secretary it may not be in bad taste to mention the fact that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer stayed for a considerable time with the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry); and though he passed through Youghal, where he had an opportunity of hearing the views, for example, of Canon Keller, to the best of my belief he took no opportunity whatever of ascertaining those views. So much for the itinerant politicians. My 669 right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) seemed to me to show some inconsistency in two positions which he took up. He first of all loans on the reference in the Amendment to the long-continued tranquillity in Ireland. He rejoices in the figures which seemed to show a decline in boycotting; but, on the other hand, he showed us, with great emphasis and earnestness, that boycotting is more fiendish just now than ever it was before.
MR. J. MORLEY
At all events, the impression, I think, conveyed to the House was that though the figures of boycotting may have diminished, its enormity and inconvenience to life and property is greater now than it was before. If my right hon. Friend did not say so, the hon. Member for South Tyrone, in a strong passage, declared that though murder had ceased, a far more cruel tyranny even than murder now prevailed. If that is so, what is the use and meaning of these congratulations? For my own part, I should be glad if I could congratulate myself upon a decline in the passionate agitation which has been going on in Ireland; but what strikes me in the attitude of the Chief Secretary and of my right hon. Friend is their insistence that the alleged improvement in the state of Ireland is not, and cannot be, due to anything but coercion and fear. My right hon. Friend referred to that legislation to which we are all looking, but with different emotions. If you are going' to introduce remedial legislation, is it a source of satisfaction to you—ought it not to be a source of the deepest misgiving to you—that there is to be no hope, no trust, and that their reconciliation with us is pretence and hypocrisy? If I were the Governor of Ireland, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is, I could conceive nothing on which I would less congratulate myself than upon the fact that nothing but coercion and fear induces 670 the people of Ireland to remain tolerably peaceable and tranquil. My right hon. Friend referred to the difference of the law between Ireland and England in the matter of combination; and undoubtedly, I suppose, the whole House will agree with me that one of the most interesting episodes of this debate was the felicitous interruption of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. Whether the Chief Secretary for Ireland remains unperturbed under the attacks of my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork or not, I thought I saw signs of profound perturbation when he was "wounded in the house of his friend." The Chief Secretary, when speaking to-night, told us that it was his duty to go about the country a great deal, and to make many speeches; and, among others, he made one in Edinburgh on December 5. In view of the remarkable deliverance of the Home Secretary this evening I will venture to reproduce a part of that speech to the House. This is what the right hon. Gentleman said at Edinburgh:—It apparently has been thought to be the most successful electoral cry—he was referring to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) at Manchester—to try and persuade the working classes of this Country that the population of Ireland are, by the Crimes Act, debarred from those combinations which would be necessary and praiseworthy in this island. So anxious were we that the rights of Ireland to combine legally should not be interfered with, that we introduced into our Bill a provision by which anything that was legal under the Trade Unions Act should remain legal in respect of the Crimes Act. I have shown you that the Trade Unions rights were absolutely reserved, and that no lawyer in Ireland has ventured to say that anybody has been prosecuted in Ireland for things under the Trade Unions Act which could have been done in England. Well, is it not disgraceful and doubly disgraceful, that a man in Mr. Gladstone's position should go into the country and attempt to rouse the working classes of England and Scotland by telling them that rights which they enjoy on this side of St. George's Channel are denied to their brethren on the other side?But what did the Home Secretary say tonight in his reply to my right hon. Friend 671 the Member for the Stirling Burghs? He said that the Government could not do this or that in connection with the dockers' strike. And why? Because statutory enactments guard trade combinations, which do not protect and guard agrarian combinations. Why, that is the very thing that we have been saying, and it is for saying that very thing that the Chief Secretary taxes my right hon. Friend with disgraceful, and doubly disgraceful, conduct. I know why the right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. He means to say by his gesture and by his dissent that Trade Union offences, if committed in the relation of employer and employed, would be punished in Ireland just as in England. Yes; but when the right hon. Gentleman is talking to large audiences in Edinburgh and elsewhere, is that the impression that he either conveys or means to convey? The impression that he conveys and means to convey is that combination among agrarian tenants is as free in Ireland as Trade Union combination is in England. [Cries of"No, no!"] Well, as for those Gentlemen who cry No, there is an election coming off soon, and I challenge one of them to go down to North St. Pancras and say what they mean to say now by that denial, and to tell the voters that there is one law for agrarian tenants in Ireland and another law for Trade Unionists in England. What we did—as I have pointed out before —when the Crimes Act was before this House, was to put down an Amendment on the Paper—I really forget in whoso name it stood—expressly designed to do what the right hon. Gentleman conveyed to his Edinburgh audience had been done—an Amendment to concede to agrarian tenants the protection of the Trade Unions Acts of England. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bury, and the Chief Secretary too, said a great deal about boycotting. They have both painted strongly-coloured pictures of what boycotting means, and the Chief Secretary was particularly vehement and sombre—I do not say too vehement andtoosombre—in his denunciation. But while he was speaking I could not help remembering a speech that was made by the noble Lord, a relative of his and at the head of the Government—I refer to the famous Newport speech of the year 1885. Lord Salisbury, in 1885, spoke of 672 boycotting. Boycotting was a thing you could not deal with by Act of Parliament. It was like excommunication in the Middle Ages. According to Lord Salisbury, in 1885, so far from being the terrible and atrocious thing which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury and the Chief Secretary have depicted it to be, it was a sort of religious rite. It was analogous to a sacred ceremonial. Ah, but then in 1885, when Lord Salisbury was minimising boycotting, and when he was declaring how open a mind he had on federal schemes—an election was approaching. And yet it is you who taunt us with demoralizing English public life! The Chief Secretary gave us certain cases of boycotting. Some of those cases I seem to recognise as oldish friends; but there were others which I confess were not familiar to me. I hope I may ask that he will be good enough as soon as convenient to lay Papers on the Table containing details of the cases to which he referred, so that we may analyse and examine the circumstances. I was very sorry to hear the Chief Secretary in the course of his speech — and I daresay that hon. Gentlemen opposite will exult when I say it, though it is not a wise exultation—go out of his way to reproduce vicious passages in United Ireland. I ask him whether anything is gained by going back upon it? I say there is nothing in United Ireland in its most exasperated moments comparable in enormity with the charge brought by your own ally and confederate against colleagues of your own. [Cries of "No, no!"] Are they not colleagues of your own? Then turn them out of the House. Nothing, I repeat, so vile as what was done by your ally and confederate in the Press when it charged your colleagues with meeting at the railway station, and there, a month before the Phoenix Park murders, deliberately making themselves participants in the plot that ended in that murder. You have nothing to gain by going back on the past. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, after prefacing his remarks by saying that he never boasted, went on to say that he believed—I think it was more than a hope—he believed that the improvement he had effected in Ireland would be permanent. I confess I do not 673 see signs of this permanent improvement. I will refer to a case to which I am surprised reference has not been made before. I mean the jury-packing at Maryboro'. The House is familiar with the circumstances and the details of that transaction. So little confidence have the Government, or had they a few months ago, in having public opinion in Ireland on their side, that they could not trust the trial of the Gweedore prisoners, not only not to men of the County Donegal, but they could not trust them to a jury of County Wicklow—they could not trust them even to a fairly chosen panel of special jurors—but they packed that jury. The right hon. Gentleman does not deny it?
MR. J. MORLEY
What, the right hen. Gentleman denies it! Speaking in Edinburgh he maintained then, as now, that the jury had not been packed, but he appealed to certain testimony. He said:—I appeal to the testimony of one gentleman who was there—an English Queen's Counsel, I believe a Separatist, a man of large experience for he has witnessed some thousands of criminal trials in England. He gives most unqualified testimony both as to the manner in which the Judge performed his duty"—that is quite true— "and as to the way in which the jury falsely alleged to have been packed executed their onerous duty.But will you believe that, of course, by inadvertence, the right hon. Gentleman represented that gentleman as saying exactly the opposite of what he did say. The right hon. Gentleman's speech was made on December 5, and I have a letter which was sent round to the Press on November 21. This gentleman, Mr. Crompton, a Queen's Counsel of eminence, who was in 1886 a Member of this House, was present at the trial. He says:—The trial was fairly conducted by Mr. Justice Gibson. I said nothing in favour of the way in which the prosecution was conducted on the part of the Crown; on the contrary, I denounced the way in which the jury was packed. The result of what I saw" (he says) 674 "was that trial by a jury so selected cannot be called trial by jury at all; it is rather a trial by 12 men selected by the Crown and presided over by a Judge of the Superior Court.I do not wish to detain the House, but I should like further to illustrate my point as to the extraordinary disregard which the Chief Secretary and the Irish Government ostentatiously show for Irish public opinion by referring to the appointment of the Law Officer who was responsible for what the English Queen's Counsel called deliberately packing a jury, to the chief seat of judgment. That appointment we shall no doubt have the opportunity of discussing at some later period; but I may say that the step is in distinct violation of what was practically a pledge given to the House. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: No.] I will give the House the date. It was given to the House on January 28, 1887, by the present President of the Board of Trade, the then Chief Secretary. He said distinctly that considerations both of economy and efficiency required that there should be a merger of the Court of Exchequer with the High Court. I have not the time to go into that now; but I say that the Government could not possibly if they had tried have taken a step to show more ostentatiously how they defy the public opinion of the people they have to govern. Another step the Government has recently taken illustrates the same thing—I do not now pronounce any opinion upon it, as an administrative step—I mean the suppression of the Cork Board of Guardians. My right hon. Friend says that we welcome in the Queen's Speech the promise of the extension of local government in Ireland. What a farce this is! What a farce it is to enter upon your great land policy which, whatever form it may take, must consist of a great number of delicate bargains into which it is most important to have the Irish people and their leaders on your side—what a farce it is to preface a policy of this kind by a policy of coercion which is a policy of exasperation ! Unless you have the co-operation of the Irish Members, unless you show that you are willing, in some degree at all events, to conciliate Irish sympathy, to conciliate even Irish prejudice, depend upon it you are merely offering them what they 675 will regard as a poisoned cup. Depend upon it when your policy is carried out to its furthest ends, it will prove only to have landed the English Government in Ireland in a worse condition than it is in at this moment; and as for reconciliation, as for a real re-construction of Irish Government, as for a regeneration of Irish character, I cannot conceive steps, I cannot conceive a policy, more fatal, more disastrous than that against which we are going to vote to-night.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided;—Ayes 240; Noes 307.—(Div. List, No. 3.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Debate arising.
§ It being after midnight the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.