§ (5.33.) MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I have seen it stated in certain quarters that the Motion which I have the honour to introduce is a Motion which events have put practically out of date. I have been 11 years in the House, and during that time I have not been accustomed to bring forward Motions against coercion, though I have been in the habit of making protests against coercion in one form or another. But I can recall no occasion when my protest against coercion was more entirely in season than it is to-day. My Motion can hardly be considered out of date when it is remembered that only three or four nights ago there passed within a few yards of this House on their way to an Irish prison two Members of this House, who certainly do not stand lowest either in influence or esteem either in or out of the House. I have, however, no intention to-night of going into the question of the administration of the law generally in Ireland; I rather propose to confine myself almost entirely to certain affairs and proceedings in connection with the prosecutions in Tipperary which ended in the imprisonment of two hon. Members of this House 693 and several other persons. I am afraid that I shall not be able to compress my remarks into so reasonable a compass as I could desire. We were all amused this morning by the circulation of a Bill relating to the length of speeches in this House, containing clauses of a very drastic character, and, among other things, providing that when the speech of a Privy Councillor reaches half an hour, the Clerk at the Table shall sound a bell, just as is done at a Diocesan Conference. Fortunately for me, but, perhaps, less fortunately for the House, this clause has not yet become the law of the land, but I shall try to compress what I have to say into the smallest possible compass. I shall assume on the part of Members of this House a very considerable amount of common knowledge with reference to the affairs in Tipperary. On the 17th of September last year warrants were signed and proceedings taken against four Members of this House and eight other persons for conspiracy and intimidation in connection with the property of the hon. Member for South Hunts. The hearing of that case began on the 25th of September. On that day I chanced to be in Ireland, and I, with two other hon. Members of this House—English Members—made it our business—it was not by accident—to be present at the hearing of the case, and I do not expect that the Chief Secretary or any one else can complain that a Member of this Parliament, which passed a perpetual Coercion Law for Ireland, should feel it within his right and duty to watch the working of that tremendous engine placed in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the conduct of the police, before I state what I saw may I be allowed to say that my attitude to the Irish police since 1886, down to September last year, has never been an attitude of hostile criticism? The right hon. Gentleman himself has done me the justice to say that I have been careful not to make attacks on the Royal Irish Constabulary for what they may have done in the performance of their duty. I am not in that respect like the hon. Member who moves the Amendment, and who, when I was attacked in 1886 for supporting the police, made an attempt to discredit and disparage them. I have never 694 done that. I have always made full allowances for the difficult position in which the Royal Irish Constabulary are placed. But that is no reason why I should not describe what I saw when I consider that a great abuse has taken place in my own presence. I am not on that account open to a charge of inconsistency because hitherto I have always stood up for the Irish Constabulary. I would not on this occasion say a word against them had I not been absolutely forced to do' so. What I saw in Tipperary opened my eyes to the pitch of demoralisation, incompetency, brutality, and lawlessness to which the subordinate agents of the right hon. Gentleman have been brought by his system of standing up for everything they do, whether right or wrong, of crediting every statement they make and discrediting every statement in contradiction, and of refusing any inquiry into their conduct, no matter how strong the case for inquiry may be. I had not been ten minutes in Tipperary before experience showed me that, in spite of what the Chief Secretary has a thousand times said, cheering and booing are regarded as offences by his agents in Ireland and are made the pretext for dispersing a crowd. I had not been ten minutes in Tipperary before a perfectly harmless and not very numerous crowd was charged and dispersed without any cause whatever. They had assembled to see certain prisoners pass in charge of an escort. The escort had passed, and it was after that that Colonel Caddell, who was the officer in charge, ordered the crowd to be dispersed. They began to cheer some of us and to groan at some other persons. There was not anything else. Colonel Caddell got into a paroxysm of agitation and apparent alarm. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford will bear me out in what I say. Colonel Caddell began to cry out that it was a most disorderly and dangerous crowd, and ordered the street to be cleared, though the street was not blocked. Colonel Caddell, in his Report, has changed his mind upon that fact. In one letter which he sent to the papers—the first letter—he stated that the street was nearly blocked; in the second he said it was entirely blocked. But the "entire block" was an afterthought. The police charged the crowd, and I was 695 myself hustled by a constable in a state of uncontrollable fury. I am told that I do not know the dangerous nature of a Tipperary crowd. Well, you have from Colonel Caddell's own mouth a perfectly easy way of estimating the exact danger to be apprehended from this crowd, because he says that the crowd was dispersed in two minutes by five constables. Whether five or 15, they used a violence which in England any Watch Committee would have visited by cashiering Colonel Caddell and every man of them. But that is less material than the second Act in this drama. The second act or scene took place at the entrance to the Courthouse, where the trial was about to begin. But that act is of much less importance than the defence set up by the Chief Secretary. There certainly were a number of persons assembled, curious, I suppose, to see the proceedings against two of the most popular of their heroes. There was a crowd, but only about as large as I saw this afternoon near this House when driving into its precincts—such a crowd as you may see any time when there is some slack interest manifested in our proceedings. One would think it was a dense, vast, savage crowd, armed with blackthorns and with pockets full of explosives. It was a crowd which I should number at 50, but which Colonel Caddell does not put down at more than 100. It was as quiet, as harmless a crowd as I ever saw; and you had to keep them in order a large armed force both of constabulary and redcoats, which did not number less than two to one, and probably much more. The gates admitting to the Court-house were closed, but not to me. I was admitted, but they were closed to persons who had just as much legal right of admittance to the Court-house as I had or the police themselves. I say two things. I say, first, that it cannot be denied that whatever disturbance occurred was due to the closing of the gates contrary to the law; and I say, secondly, that no Englishman who was present will deny—and I do not except from this even the English officers who commanded the red coats—that the assertion by the persons at the gates—this handful of persons—of their lawful right to go into the Court-house was resisted by the constabulary under the order of their officer with a brutal, 696 ferocious, unnecessary, and absolutely unprovoked violence, of which I should expect any disciplined force in the world would be thoroughly ashamed, and which I am bound to say that some of the constabulary seemed to be ashamed of and disgusted at. I am not going to inflict on the House the details of this brutality. It has been said that I have exaggerated the brutality; that I was unnerved by the sight of broken heads. Well, I was brought up in a surgery, and the sight of broken heads has no alarms for me. I have said in public what I have to say on this point. I have been prepared ever since the incident happened to attest everything I have said in the most solemn manner in which the English law allows me to do so. The right hon. Gentleman cannot deny that. ["Hear, hear!" from Mr. BALFOUR.] It is no fault of mine. [" Hear, hear!" from Mr. BALFOUR.] Does the right hon. Gentleman mean by that interruption that I did not go to Ireland in December—does he mean that I have shirked for a moment going into a Court of Justice and giving my evidence in a proper kind of way?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
No, Sir; what I meant was this—that the trial to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, and upon which he did go to Ireland to give evidence, was postponed, not at the instance of the Crown, but at the instance of the right hon. Gentleman's friends. The trial is to come on in March, and I am amazed that the right hon. Gentleman should refer to the question.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The right hon. Gentleman forgets that the Judge who was presiding in the Court, at all events, thought the reason for postponement was an adequate one, otherwise he would not have allowed a postponement. Then what is the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's gesture and interruption? I have from the beginning been willing to take any opportunity which the law allows to make good every assertion in detail which I have made. Now the right hon. Gentleman at Newcastle stated the issue in a way which I regard as perfectly fair. He said that the justification of the police does not turn on the degree of injuries inflicted, but on the character of the duties they had to perform, and 697 on the circumstances in which they had to perform them. That is what the right hon. Gentleman described as the issue, and I accept it. Let us test the conduct of the officer in charge of the constabulary by the test which the right hon. Gentleman himself has laid down. In the first place, what is the law as incorporated in the right hon. Gentleman's own Coercion Act? In that Act the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851, is incorporated, and one of the clauses of that Act is this—I call the attention of the House to this, because it is vital:—In all cases of summary proceedings the place in which any Justice or Justices shall sit to hear and determine any complaint shall be deemed to be an open court, to which the public generally may have access so far as the same shall conveniently contain them.What are the pleas brought forward by Colonel Caddell at various times and in divers places to excuse the closing of the gates of the Court-house and the exclusion of the persons who had a legal primâ facie title to go in? The first plea is that he had to keep room for witnesses. I went into the Court-house twice, with an interval between my two visits to the interior of the Court-house; and I say here what I said to Colonel Caddell on the spot—that on those occasions the space appropriated to the public was absolutely empty. No witnesses or other persons were there; the space was absolutely empty. The second plea is that stones were thrown. This was an afterthought. I can only say that I saw no stones thrown, that Colonel Caddell himself never mentioned that circumstance to me as a reason for excluding the people until he had changed his mind and admitted them, and then by way of apology he told me that a stone had been thrown. But that was an afterthought. The third plea was this: "How," says Colonel Caddell, "could I admit miscellaneous members of a mob, capable of throwing explosives, into the Court-house of Tipperary?" As far as these Tipperary explosives go, I have only one remark of a general kind to make, and that is, though we have heard a great deal about them, and though there is a museum of those explosives shown at Tipperary, as a matter of fact there is no proof at any time during those, deplorable transactions of any injury done to life or limb or of 698 injury to property which could not be met with the payment of a sovereign or two. What is to be thought of the argument that this Tipperary crowd was kept out of the Court-house because they might have explosives with them, when the effect, of course, of their throwing explosives would have been to destroy Mr. Dillon, Mr. O'Brien, and their own friends? What more irrational argument could be brought forward than that? But the Chief Secretary met this point in a very remarkable way indeed. Replying to me, he said, "Oh, well, about the explosives injuring the friends of those who were about to throw them, that was not the point. The point is that a crowd that will throw explosives is a crowd that may be trusted to do things not so bad as throwing explosives, but things which are bad enough to upset the dignity and procedure of a Court of Law, and to admit persons capable of actions like that would be a culpable breach of duty on the part of any police officer either in Ireland or England." The right hon. Gentleman does not know his own Coercion Act, because there again the Petty Sessions Act is incorporated. I should like to call attention to the 2nd sub-section, from which I have already quoted—If any person shall wilfully insult any Justice or Justices so silting, or shall commit any other contempt, it shall be lawful—not for the constables of their own accord to keep them out of Court—for such Justices by verbal order to have the persons so offending removed, or to visit them with imprisonment or fine.Let the House mark what is the attitude of this great partisan of law and order on this point. Though the statute says that if an insult is offered to the dignity and procedure of a Court of Law the Court itself shall punish it, the right hon. Gentleman says the point is this—that, in spite of the law, not the Magistrate is to punish acts which upset the dignity or interfere with the procedure, but the policeman outside is to determine before he admits any one whether he thinks the person claiming admission is likely to upset the dignity or procedure of the Court; and if he chooses, then of his own will and pleasure he may, deprive that citizen of a right which is conferred by statute. First pass a Coercion Act; then your constabulary 699 may play fast and loose with the provisions of it, and then the Chief Secretary says it would have been a breach of duty if they had not infringed the provisions of his own Act. There is one remark of the Chief Secretary which goes to prove the utter worthlessness of this plea about explosives and the exclusion of the crowd, and that is, that the whole of the crowd were actually admitted in spite of the stone-throwing, in spite of the suspicion of explosives, within four or five minutes of the cessation of the charging and batoning by the police—the whole of this dangerous and formidable crowd was admitted. It may be said that the constabulary made a blunder. It may be truly said also that the Chief Secretary made a maladroit defence, and it may be said that this excess of force and maladroit defence by Ministers may happen in any country. That is quite true, but when an excess of force has been exposed anywhere, except in Ireland, there is censure and there is redress. What was the redress in Ireland? Some persons who were injured by the charge of the police took proceedings against them, and this charge was heard before a Court of Petty Sessions. How was the Court composed? In the ordinary way that charge would have been heard by the ordinary Justices of the Peace, but on this occasion, contrary to practice, contrary to usage, no fewer than five Resident Magistrates swooped down on the Bench from Galway, Cork, and Mayo, and in effect packed that Bench. One of those Resident Magistrates took the chair, I understand—I am not sure about this—irregularly. At all events, there you have a packed Bench, a deliberately packed Banch—that is to say, a charge against the constabulary and against a Resident Magistrate was to be tried before a Bench mainly composed of gentlemen who had themselves been in charge of constabulary, and who were liable to be in charge of them again; it was heard by Resident Magistrates, to whose body belonged the person accused. There is not a lawyer in the House who will not say that the ruling of the Chairman, which was so extravagant as to justify my hon. Friend the Member for Longford in shaking the dust of the Court from his feet—that that ruling, excluding the evidence of certain photographs which 700 had been taken, though he allowed that they might themselves be put in evidence, was entirely contrary to good law and to good procedure. I believe that cannot be denied. I said that if an excess of force were proved to have been used in England, there would be redress and censure. Has there been any censure? The Police Authorities took out counter summonses, against the persons whose heads they had broken, for riot and assault. They did not take summonses out in the ordinary way, before ordinary Justices, under the ordinary law. They were charges under the Coercion Act by the police, with Colonel Caddell at their head, to be tried by two Resident Magistrates, who were their brother officers in the same service. I hope that the House will realize that that in itself is a very remarkable thing. It has always been our boast in this, country that we could not endure that abomination of centralised Governments—the bureau administratif—that is to say, a law by which an official of the State is always made responsible to the administrators of the State. But what is the difference between the bureau administrative in France and a case of this kind? There is no difference at all. But there was an extraordinary circumstance which prevented the hearing of these cases before a Coercion Court. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary went to the City of Newcastle, where he devoted a long speech to this subject. Of that long speech I do not complain, and I hope he will often make such speeches in Newcastle. If he had advised the people to whom he was speaking to suspend their judgment, if he had warned them not to take my story for gospel, and that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, I should have had no kind of complaint to make against him. But he did not content himself with that. The right hon. Gentleman, though he was not an eyewitness, though he could only form his judgment upon the unsifted and the untested reports of his own agents and officers, though the case was pending before two Resident Magistrates dependent upon him, yet thought it worthy of himself to tell the public, and to convey to the two Resident Magistrates in his speech, that Colonel Caddell was the person who was to the believed, 701 and that I and my friends were untrustworthy, partial and passionate, and not witnesses of good credence. It is true that he prefaced all this with a conventional remark to the effect that he believed we were incapable of deliberately misleading; but after this conventional compliment he proceeded to charge me—and this is the only personal point which I wish to intrude upon the House—with garbling, with deliberately suppressing passages of fact vital to the argument, with grossly misrepresenting what I had seen, with calumny, with unscrupulousness, and with misrepresentation and misquotation. I garbled nothing; I misrepresented nothing; I suppressed nothing; there was no calumny; there was no misquotation. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman here to-day to make good one single of these injurious charges, and if he cannot make them good, I respectfully invite him—for his own sake, not for mine—publicly to withdraw them. Two or three days afterwards the right hon. Gentleman, either himself awakened, or was perhaps awakened by the acute Gentleman who sits behind him—the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. G. Wyndham)—to the fact that he had perpetrated a most disastrous indiscretion, to give it a mild name. He was aroused to a sense of the scandal of leaving the case which he had so publicly and ostentatiously prejudged in the hands of two Resident Magistrates; and he was stricken with some sort of compunction, or remorse, or shame. After four or five days he altered the mode of procedure. He withdrew the charges against the police from the Coercion Court, and it was determined to send the case for trial, although even here it is worth noticing that the whole Bench consisted of five Resident Magistrates. I need not say more about what happened on that occasion. I have a good deal more to say on the conspiracy prosecution, but on the matter of the police I have no more to say on the present occasion. But there is one extraneous fact which occurred when I was in Ireland, which I have brought publicly before the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, and which also illustrates the illegal spirit with which the police seem to be animated, but to which the right hon. Gentleman has as yet attempted to 702 make no answer. On the Sunday preceding the event which I have referred to, Mr. Dillon addressed his constituents at Swinford, in the County Mayo. The platform was surrounded by a force of troops and constabulary, and the fact that a Member of Parliament in Ireland should not be trusted to address his constituents without this great force is not a very satisfactory evidence of the efficacy of coercion in securing perfect tranquillity in Ireland. What happened? I have Mr. Dillon's own authority for this, which he told me two or three days afterwards in Ireland. Mr. Byrne, I think, the provisional Commissioner, went to Mr. Dillon, before or at the beginning of the meeting, and said to him, "If you say in your speech anything illegal, I shall use force to disperse the meeting." Will the House realise what that comes to? It amounts to this: A police officer is at liberty to go on to a platform and tell an Irish Member of Parliament that if he says anything which he, the police officer, chooses then and there to think illegal, he will disperse a perfectly innocent crowd with batons and, if necessary, with bullets. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to tell us whether he justifies and defends what the provisional Commissioner did, or whether he will pursue the easy, short, and usual way with us and say that there is not a word of truth in it. I will pass on to the great State trial—for it was really no less—which these prosecutions at Tipperary constituted. This was no ordinary case. It took the Crown three days to open the case, they had just upon 90 witnesses to prove it; the whole hearing—mostly occupied, I believe, by the Crown—took up 33 days; and the words and acts of a great number of persons extending, I think, over a year and a half, were brought into question and into evidence. I remember very well, and I have no doubt that hon. Members also remember, the proceedings in "The Queen v. Parnell and others" in 1880. It exceeded those proceedings, I do not hesitate to say, both in scope and in magnitude. What happened then? If my memory serves me aright, that case was tried at the Bar of the Queen's Bench, which means that it was heard before a full Court of Jndges. In order to secure fair play the jury were struck under the old system by special 703 ballot. Most important of all, Chief Justice May refused to preside at the trial merely because he had used words on some previous occasion which might lead the public to suppose that he had a bias and was partial. Contrast that with the action of the right hon. Gentleman in putting Mr. Shannon on the Bench What I say now is that the case of the prosecutions at Tipperary in September, covering such ground, involving such issues, and involving so many nice, delicate and difficult points of law and evidence, was handed over, not to the Queen's Bench, or to a full Court, but to a couple of Resident Magistrates, one of them an ex-police officer—[an IRISH MEMBER: "Both"]—and the other a man who had qualified himself as an expert in the law sufficient to satisfy the Lord Lieutenant by eating dinners and being nominally called to the Bar. I will say this to the House—and I am speaking in the presence of those who passed the Coercion Act. When you passed that Act, even Gentlemen opposite, and even those on this side who helped them, never contemplated the withdrawal of a case of this immense importance and scope from the jury. The Coercion Act itself contains presumptive evidence that really important cases were to go to a jury; because provision is made for changing the venue, and for the composition of special juries. I say it was not the intention of Parliament that these important cases should be intrusted to a couple of Resident Magistrates, who should unite in themselves the functions of Judge and jury. I will do Gentlemen opposite the justice to say that when they realise all these things, they will admit, if party spirit will allow them to do it, that the sending of these cases to a Court of Resident Magistrates, without a jury, was contrary to the spirit even of that bad Act, and contrary to the intention even of this not very perfect House of Commons. I am not to-day going into any general criticism of the doctrine of the law of conspiracy. We have heard something of that in this Session already; and we shall hear a great deal more. I am not going into the question whether common action, even though it be inspired by common motives, is a criminal conspiracy. I will not question whether because yon condemn boycotting ethically and politically, you ought to punish 704 it even when the case charged is itself legally in the right. To-day it is enough for my purpose to found my case on the sound, principle that the only protection against the doctrine of conspiracy becoming en instrument of intolerable tyranny is the intervention of a jury. Conspiracy is one of' those matters where the mode of trial goes to the root of the offence, where the finding of a jury is the essence of proof whether the offences charged were criminal in their character and deserve punishment. Conspiracy only becomes a punishable offence when a jury finds that, under the circumstances of a given case, the acts proved were criminal and constituted a conspiracy. Because this is a sound and unchallenged doctrine in England, and because this has been set aside in Ireland, hon. Gentlemen opposite will find that there are tens of thousands of electors in England and Scotland, themselves law-abiding and law-respecting, who will laugh when they are asked to regard Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien as criminals, and who will follow them to their gaols with undiminished esteem and undiminished respect. I dare say that the mover of the Amendment will refer me or make reference to some observations of the Chief Baron the other day in connection with an application for habeas corpus in the case of one of the persons convicted under these proceedings, and refer also to a Return moved for by myself. I am sure that an attempt will be made on the strength of those remarks of the Chief Baron to show that in his opinion substantial justice was done, though in an unconstitutional manner. I for one distrust and hate that expression "substantial justice;" it is a most slippery and hazardous phrase; it was always in the mouth of the Grand Inquisitor, I feel sure. No despot, no tribunal of public safety, was ever at a loss to cover over its violent and lawless acts by talking about "substantial justice." The law of England is substantial justice enough for me, and I say that it is an absurd contention, and strikes at the very foundation of our whole criminal procedure, that, because it is said by a Chief Baron that a jury might have come to the same conclusion and found the same verdict as the Resident Magistrates therefore, forsooth, that is a good 705 reason for depriving the person charged of the protection of a jury. But I want to make one other remark on that. I beg the House to remember this in the course of this Debate, that the Chief Baron in his remarks expressly declared that he would say nothing about Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien, who were absent, and whose case it might possibly be necessary to pronounce an opinion upon at some future time. But supposing that it is contended, as it has been so often in Ireland, that you cannot trust a jury, then I submit this—and many hon. Members opposite must agree with me—when you were framing your coercion system, and imposing that system upon Ireland for all time, not merely to meet an emergency, but as a permanent instrument of Government, it was your duty, when you took powers to suspend jury trials at the good will and pleasure of the Executive Government, to supply some tolerable substitute. In Ireland, it is well-known, the Judges are not overworked. There are no public officers and no Judges in any country so little over-worked. Upon your own theory you were at least bound to provide some decently competent person to carry out these functions. I would beg, secondly, to remark that you ought not only to have put these functions in the hands of Judges, but also to have arranged the performance of the duties of those Judges by some system. There ought to have been some rote. What is the case now? I do not believe that a more dangerous invasion of constitutional right is possible than what was done by the Chief Secretary himself in this very case. What is this invasion of right? In Ireland it appears that the Executive Government is allowed to choose the person who shall in a particular case exercise judicial function, and that the right hon. Gentleman does exercise that right, and did it in this case. The right hon. Gentleman does not deny that he exercised that right himself on his own responsibility in appointing the two Resident Magistrates, because in his speech at Newcastle the right hon. Gentleman says he had been attacked because he had specially selected Mr. Irwin and Mr. Shannon to try this case. Sir, I think that selection is one of the most monstrous acts that even the right hon. Gentleman has been guilty of. 706 Remember that it has not been denied that Mr. Shannon was mixed up with affairs that were pertinent to the prosecution; it is not denied that he was in charge of the police on the 25th of May last year at Tipperary, and that there was a sharp, angry conflict between him and Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien and others; nor is it denied that he was in charge of the police again on the 27th of May at Cashel, when, I think, there was a personal collision, and that he presided at the trial in July, last year, in connection with the Tipperary business. On the 19th of June last Mr. Dillon moved the adjournment of the House, challenged in a direct way the conduct of Mr. Shannon in these matters, and invited the House to record its censure upon Mr. Shannon for what he had done at Cashel and at Tipperary. Now, let the House realise the facts. The right hon. Gentleman had the whole Bench of Resident Magistrates, some 70 or 80 in number, to choose from. There are in that body at least three or four gentlemen who do know something about law. But what does he do? The right hon. Gentleman chooses the one man in all Ireland who, I do not scruple to say—and if the voice of Party spirit were silenced in this House many hon. Members opposite would say the same—was the man who ought on no account to have adjudicated in this matter. I know that they will set up the trumpery plea that these matters of conflict were not produced in evidence. Yes, you might keep these matters out of the evidence, but how can you banish from the mind of Mr. Shannon the prepossession which these matters has introduced into his mind? How can you make him capable of a preternatural separation of the Mr. Shannon on the Bench and the Mr. Shannon in the field? Are you to pay no attention to the impression that is made upon the population by these things? I have never said a word against Mr. Shannon. Very likely it is true that Mr. Shannon did the best he could to do justice to the parties. But let us suppose my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Sannderson), and the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) were Resident Magistrates, what would be thought of the Chief Secretary appointing these two Gentlemen to try, say the hon. Member 707 for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), though I am sure that the Members would do their best to decide fairly any judicial matter in which the hon. Member for North Longford was concerned? I say deliberately that the selection of Mr. Shannon was nothing better than the prostitution of a tribunal. Then the right hon. Gentleman will resort—if I may judge from the line he has taken elsewhere—to his favourite implement the tu quoque. I am a tolerably old controversialist, and I have never myself thought that a tu quoque was illegitimate if you had no better argument. The right hon. Gentleman has never hitherto been able to transfix me with this particular missile. He thought that on this occasion he had done so, and displayed an amount of exultation, which I thought rather exuberant, but, considering the novelty and the surprise, I did not grudge it to him. What is the charge against the Chief Secretary? The charge is that he, on his own responsibility, deliberately selected a particular officer, having the whole Bench to choose from, to try individuals who had been involved in direct personal conflict with that officer in the discharge of his executive duty, who had carried on irritating altercations with him, and who had made themselves individually and personally obnoxious to him by inviting this House to censure his conduct. Is that on all fours with anything I did at Belfast? The Resident Magistrates at Belfast during the time of the riot did, no doubt, sit on the Bench, with the ordinary Justices of the Peace when persons were brought up before them who had been disturbers, and on some occasions when these two Resident Magistrates themselves had taken part in suppressing the disturbances. But did I tell these Resident Magistrates to try these rioters? No. The Resident Magistrates who were quartered in Belfast in the ordinary way sat on the Bench along with the ordinary Justices who administer the ordinary law, not because I told them, but in conformity with a fixed and invariable practice—a bad practice I admit—but in conformity, at all events, with a fixed and invariable practice, and in conformity with the jurisdiction and authority which are expressly conferred upon them by statute. There is another point of difference, a 708 very remarkable one, that these two Resident Magistrates who sat along with the ordinary Justices, performing the duty of Petty Sessions Magistrates at Belfast, did not give the men six months' imprisonment in every case. Every serious case, if my memory is right—if my information is good—was sent for trial before the Assizes and a jury at Petty Sessions. Is there anybody in the House who can pretend not to see the difference in respect to impartiality of mind between a Magistrate towards a promiscuous batch of rioters with whom he might have been brought into collision, and the feeling towards particular and well known individuals against whom a Magistrate has a private grievance and a feeling of personal resentment? The worst that can be said in this matter is, that I did not go out of my way to interfere with the ordinary law for carrying on the proceedings at Petty Sessions. That being so, the right hon. Gentleman's tu quoque is misapplied and falls to the ground. The Mover of the Amendment asks the House to declare that—The action of the Executive has been rendered imperative by the existence and activity of an illegal conspiracy directed against the civil rights of a large section of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland, who have been subjected to cruel persecution and great loss in following their lawful callings.''No doubt the hon. Gentleman will tell us one of his usually long and anecdotal—but I admit interesting—stories; the same tale, no doubt, which he has told with brilliant success at Eccles, at Hartlepool, and for all I know, at Northampton. Well, not at Northampton. I invite the House to consider first what sort of evidence there is of the success of the policy of the Government. The Coercion Act has been in full, free, and active operation for over three years, yet the Government have still to cope with what the hon. Gentleman will describe and what the Government will contend is a conspiracy of unexampled audacity and intolerable wrong. But what is the use of hon. Gentlemen opposite trotting out figures as to the decline of boycotting, and as to the diminution in the Returns of outrages, in face of such an alleged fact as this? The more the mind of the House is affected by the sensational narrative with which the hon. Gentleman will regale us, the more you magnify the extent, the power, 709 and the deadly effect of this conspiracy, the more clearly you set the stamp of failure on your policy. But amore remarkable question people will ask you is this: Why were these prosecutions, if they were to be instituted at all, so unaccountably long deferred? I invite the particular attention of the House to this. The conspiracy is alleged to have begun in May, 1889. The Crown Counsel, in opening the case, said the fire was lighted in June, 1889, by the arrival of Mr. O'Brien. Speeches, described by the Government as in the highest degree incendiary and inflammatory, were made all through the summer of 1889. The foundation, according to their own case, of alleged conspiracy was laid and strengthened all through the summer of 1889. All the evils and mischiefs of which the hon. Gentleman will presently tell us—boycotting, threatening notices, alleged shooting, alleged resort to explosives—all these things were in full swing in November and December, 1889, and if, as he says, it became at last, in September, the "imperative" duty of the Crown to protect Her Majesty's subjects against "the cruel persecution and great loss in following their lawful callings," why was it not their imperative duty before? Why did they regard it as their duty in September, 1890, if they neglected it all through 1889 and the first part of 1890? In December, 1889, Mr. O'Brien made a public boast of the peaceableness and legality of the movement. If the movement was not legal why did not the right hon. Gentleman at once proceed against Mr. O'Brien? Why was no attempt made all these six months to prosecute him—to prosecute all those engaged in these matters for conspiracy? Why was there no inquiry made under the Star Chamber clause? Why was there no prosecution for boycotting? I hope the House in listening to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman will be careful to mark his dates. The only excuse I have ever heard made or suggested for the action of the right hon. Gentleman after closing his eyes to all that was going on which he thought so audacious and atrocious—the only excuse for opening his eyes in September, 1890, was that he then found out that Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien were going to set out for America on a campaign which would probably be very inconvenient for 710 himself. If any hon. Member, or if the Government have any other explanation to offer, I shall be only too glad to hear it. In Ireland this was the only explanation that was suggested to my untutored mind. Another circumstance that may have influenced the Government was that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. W. Russell) went round Tipperary, more or less under the auspices of Mr. Shannon, and by his communications to the Times newspaper he spurred on the Government to action. If that is not so perhaps he will give us some explanation. This I suppose is probably the last occasion on which it will be my fortune to make a Motion against the coercive system of government in Ireland in the present Parliament. The noiseless foot of time is rapidly bringing the day near when Members of this Parliament will be called to a national account. In spite of pledges, freely and abundantly given, you pass a perpetual Coercion Act, and you passed most of its clauses without Debate, and I think even without Amendments being discussed in this House. Perhaps you hoped that the inherent badness of the Act would be partially, at any rate, redeemed by common sense, by prudence, by moderation, perhaps by some humanity, perhaps by scrupulous regard to justice and equity in its administration. That illusion, I think, must have vanished. Not the least astounding exhibition of the right hon. Gentleman's spirit we had the last time he addressed the House, when he menaced with his indignation and scorn any landlord who should make peace with his mutinous tenants.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The right hon. Gentleman did not say that in the words I have used, but he said something which was more violent. He said that he would rather beg his bread——
§ MR. J. MORLEY
—than give in to the Plan of Campaign. ["Hear, hear!" from Mr. BALFOUR, and cheers.] Yes, you cheer that; you defend the attitude of the Chief Secretary; but the words I used in no respect differ—[Cries of "Oh!"] What is refusal to give way to the Plan of Campaign but a refusal to make peace with the tenants? ["Oh, oh!"] The right hon. Gentleman 711 will, perhaps, explain the difference to the House when he speaks. But even though you cheer that defiant statement of the right hon. Gentleman, you well know that he was giving you a most unwelcome test of the wisdom, of the statesmanship, and of the conciliatoriness with which he has worked the tremendous engine that you have placed in his hands. I say I have shown you that this Act, which was passed, as I have said before, by a fraud on the constituencies, is being administered in a spirit which is a fraud upon Parliament. You may vote to-night—you will vote to-night—that you "rejoice," as the hon. Member will ask you to do, "in the successful vindication of the law," but your rejoicing will be brought in good time to a stern and prompt end when you have to explain to the constituencies of this country, who have the old love of freedom, yes, freedom according to law, freedom with juries—to explain to those constituencies that by vindication of the law you mean proceedings which would not be endured for a day nor an hour in England or in Scotland, and which are a hundred times more foolish and more intolerable in a country like Ireland, where the paramount object of policy by universal consentmdash;I do not care whether you are for Home Rule or against Home Rule—where the paramount object of policy is by a rigorous impartiality gradually to efface that inveterate distrust of law and of the administration of the law which the corrupt and cruel partiality of ascendency government for all these long ages has burnt deep, and rightly burnt deep, into the soul of the Irish people.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, the action of the Irish Executive in connection with the recent prosecutions at Tipperary, and other proceedings, is calculated to bring the administration of the Law into contempt, and violates the civil and constitutional rights of Irish citizens."—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ (5.47.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, South)
The right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech by announcing that, in order to save the time of the House, he would assume that a great deal was known about Tipperary. That was a very convenient assumption for the right hon. Gentleman, because it enabled him to commence in 712 the month in which he arrived in Tipperary, as if the proceedings actually commenced with his arrival. Every hon. Member must, however, be aware that the proceedings did not commence with the right hon. Gentleman's arrival, and I will lay before the House a plain record of what was the cause of the prosecution at which the right hon. Gentleman assisted on the first day. Two years ago the town of Tipperary, with its 6,000 or 7,000 inhabitants, was one of the most prosperous towns in Ireland. It is the centre of a large and prosperous agricultural district; it is the centre for a great butter trade; the shops in the town are exceptionally good; the farms in the neighbourhood exceptionally large for Ireland. That was the state of the town when Mr. W. O'Brien invaded the place, and if anyone visits the town of Tipperary to-day he will come away with the impression that an avenging army has marched across it, leaving nothing but desolation behind. To use Mr. O'Brien's own words, in September, 1890, this combination has made of that prosperous town and district "a Sahara desert;" and in the Holborn Restaurant, on August 6, 1890, Mr. O'Brien declared that the estates in Tipperary were as "a wilderness sown with salt." Now I have told the House the condition in which Mr. W. O'Brien found the town, and I have given in his own words the condition to which he and his combination reduced the town, but I absolutely decline to waste the time of the House in discussing the cause of the quarrel. I will tell the House why. There is no person in Tipperary who has publicly declared that he has a grievance against Mr. Smith-Barry, his landlord. Mr. Smith-Barry has passed through the troublous years from 1879 to 1889 without having had a single dispute with his tenantry, and to appreciate this, look at what those troublous times were. If I wanted testimony to this I find it in the statement of Mr. Jeremiah O'Leary, the Chairman of the Town Commissioners of Clonakilty, one of Mr. Smith-Barry's tenants, and a member of the deputation which waited upon him here in London. Mr. O'Leary said that the "tenants considered Mr. Smith-Barry one of the kindest of landlords." There could be little complaint against Mr. Smith-Barry in the town, for the reason as hon. 713 Members below the Gangway know, that much of the town of Tipperary is let to middlemen at mere ground rents, and if the rents are high it is the middlemen who exact them, and not Mr. Smith-Barry. I say no man in Tipperary before this quarrel commenced ever declared he had a grievance against his landlord. But called upon by Mr. W. O'Brien to do so, the tenants on the estate proposed to help the Ponson by tenants by a money subscription. They proposed to give the Ponsonby tenants a subscription, and to keep it out of Mr. Smith-Barry's rents. That was no benefit to Mr. Smith-Barry's tenants, and if their rents were high that plan of battle did not reduce them. The very modus operandi showed that these people had no grievance, and their charity was of the easy and vicarious character which I have described. Now, I refuse to discuss the reasons why the town has been ruined. Mr. Smith-Barry had an absolute legal and moral right to come to the assistance of Mr. Ponsonby, his friend in Cork. How did Mr. W. O'Brien and the other gentlemen proceed to carry out their conspiracy and to enforce their behests, reducing this smiling and prosperous place, as it was in 1889, to the condition of a Sahara desert? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Morley) has said the House will hear from me harrowing details of boycotting; but I am not going to give these details, though boycotting cannot be entirely left out of the case, because the Chief Baron alluded to it in his judgment. The House will bear in mind that these men—except Messrs. O'Brien and Dillon—were convicted of conspiracy to induce, not of incitement, to intimidation. The Chief Baron said there was clear evidence that boycotting was in fact resorted to by the parties to the conspiracy to prevent the payment of rents, and to punish those who had paid their rents—resorted to on the express directions of the parties to this conspiracy. The right hon. Gentleman says he was entitled to go to Tipperary to see the carrying out of the work of the engine which this House placed in the hands of the Chief Secretary. But the right hon. Gentleman had also the right to inquire into the work of this conspiracy. I do not deny the right hon. Gentleman's right to go to Tip- 714 perary and to demean himself by taking part in a faction fight. But when the right hon. Gentleman exercised that right he ought to have inquired into the work of this conspiracy, which was about to be placed on its trial. The right hon. Gentleman stood outside the doors of boycotted shops, on which the ban had been placed, and the owners of which were nearly ruined, and this Privy Councillor of the Queen, this man who has been Chief Secretary for Ireland, this great officer of State, never once crossed the threshold of a house to inquire what the effect of this foul conspiracy had been. The Chief Baron, in his judgment, tells us that this boycotting was carried out upon shopkeepers and farmers. These persons were surrounded by a cordon of pickets, were not allowed intercourse with others, and would-be customers were assailed. I take the case of Miss Hume, the daughter of the Presbyterian minister. That young lady came down from the Presbyterian Manse and ventured to cross the threshold of Mr. Rutherford, a member of her father's congregation. On coming out she was assailed. I put a question on the subject to the Chief Secretary, who said it was true. That young lady was assaulted on her way home, and that Presbyterian Manse has been under police protection ever since. Mr. Hume, a man who has gone in and out amongst his people in the town and neighbourhood for 25 years, walks the roads as I have seen him with a six-chambered revolver in his pocket. [A laugh.] Yes, hon. Members laugh at that, and I suppose the Nonconformist conscience will even tolerate it. I maintain that this was a conspiracy to induce people not to pay the rents they were entitled to pay and, taking the Chief Baron as my first witness, that this conspiracy was enforced by boycotting of the most cowardly character. The Chief Baron goes further. He declares in the second place that this conspiracy was carried out not alone by boycotting, but by violence, and I shall again read the Chief Baron's words. He said—It is proved that violence was resorted to towards persons who had rendered themselves obnoxious, either by paying rent or by working for Mr. Smith-Barry.Then two pages of the Judgment are 715 occupied with distinct cases that were proved, cases of assaults upon Mr. James Godfrey, Mr. J. Ryan, and Mr. O'Neil—two pages of the judgment of the Chief Baron, and he is not a Removable Magistrate. The Chief Baron is your favourite Judge whose judgments, when he decides in your favour, you hurl at the Treasury Bench. If the right hon. Gentleman asks me why these prosecutions were not undertaken earlier, I ask the same question. The only objection I have to the whole proceedings is that they were delayed so long. But I will give him a sample of the violence, and will give judicial authority for it. The right hon. Gentleman talks about these explosives in a way Mr. Dillon and Mr. W. O'Brien are in the habit of talking about them; but in November last a man named Thomas Kirwan was tried before Mr. Justice O'Brien and a Tipperary jury, and convicted of having thrown an explosive substance at the house of Mr. J. F. Duggan, in Tipperary. Mr. Justice O'Brien, after alluding to the offence of which the prisoner, had been found guilty, said that—A meeting had been held in the town a short time before, and the proximity of the two occurrences left no doubt on his mind as to their connection. That meeting was the cause of the prisoner's crime, but still more remarkable were its consequences. It appeared from the informations that immediately after the crime Mr. Duggan, the person against whose house the explosive was directed, served a notice to give up his land, for which, according to his own statement, in his information, he paid no less a sum than £1,500—a most extraordinary and eloquent example of the effect of crime upon public property. In no other part of the civilised world but that in which they were now living—a person would ask whether the man who pursued that course was a madman, or whether he possessed the ordinary courage and spirit of a madman—could a man be intimidated or persuaded to sacrifice his own interests and throw away his own property and that of his family for such a reason. Mr. Duggan, it appeared, had been subjected on various occasions to intimidation, and yet it appeared to him incredible that a person could, under the influence of any kind of terror, make such an extraordinary sacrifice of his own interest … and what was the extraordinary state of things that had resulted from that? A town destroyed—a town that was a model of prosperity and success. That prosperity and success were arrested as if smitten by the hand of God. The people passed that town as if it were a place of plague,and the right hon. Gentleman tried to pass it to-night— 716people passed that town as if it were a place of plague, in order not to expose themselves to the violence and misconduct of men like the prisoner. All the prosperity of that town was destroyed, and the inhabitants leaving their homes as if after a siege. People were now transplanted from their lands as if by the power of a Cromwellian settlement, and all this state of strife and confusion was followed, as usual, by crime in its train. Crime brought up the train of public confusion and mischief, and behind crime were arranged the grim form of the law, the prison bars, and the dock in which the prisoner stood, where he was left naked and defenceless to meet the sword of justice.And yet I am told there was no boycotting and no violence. I think the House of Commons will accept the testimony of Chief Baron Palles and Mr. Justice O'Brien on these questions rather than the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman who spent his three hours in Tipperary and then bolted by the first train. Now, I come to the question of the prosecutions. I know perfectly well there were politicians on both sides who thought these Tipperary prosecutions a mistake. That may be all very well from the standpoint of the Parliamentary game, but the Irish Executive have nothing to do, and ought to have nothing to do, with the Parliamentary game. The Irish Executive have no right to allow these people to be boycotted and ruined; they have no right to see this property destroyed; and they have no right to allow the offenders to go unpunished. My only fault with the prosecutions is that they were undertaken a little too late. I come to the riot, and I have been really astonished at what the right hon. Gentleman has left out with regard to the riot. When he delivered his vigorous speeches in the country, we heard a great deal about one Member of this House. I hope the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary (Mr. Harrison) is present. Speaking at Swindon, the right hon. Gentleman waxed eloquent in regard to the injury done the hon. Member. We have not heard a word about it to-night. We have heard nothing here about the gentleman described at Swindon as a "stripling." The right hon. Gentleman said at Swindon—The third reason for this resort to batoning is that a certain Mr. Harrison, who is a young Oxford man just returned to Parliament for an Irish constituency, and whom, if he will not take offence at it, I should call a stripling, that this Harrison was, so says Colonel Caddell, with his single arm defying three strong Irish 717 constables to mortal combat. Truly the most wonderful thing in its way since David and Goliath.We have an advantage which the right hon. Gentleman's Swindon audience had not; we can have the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary under view. The hon. Member had been to Tipperary before, and I want the House to listen to a very brief extract from a speech he delivered at a banquet on the 26th of May, 1890, in Tipperary. He said—He came to that demonstration in Tipperary not exactly for ornamental purposes, and he had hoped that if there was a tussle he would have a place in the scrimmage.A nice peaceful disposition, Mr. Speaker.However, for some wise purpose," he continued, "that pleasure had been denied him.I will tell him why it had been denied him. There was not a Privy Councillor present, or a fight would have been got up in his honour. Mr. Harrison went on to say that heHoped other opportunities would arise when he would not have to play the inglorious part he had played that day as a decoy duck.The right hon. Gentleman has described what he saw in the Court-yard of Tipperary. Far be it from me to question one word of the right hon. Gentleman's description. I have not had much experience of rows, but I have seen several good rows at public meetings, and I have noticed that it is very hard for any single individual to carry away any fair idea of the whole transaction. One's mind gets intent upon a particular part of the battlefield at a particular moment, and no single man is in a position to give an accurate account of any row that ever took place. Whilst what the right hon. Gentleman said may be true, and no doubt is true from his standpoint, other witnesses are diametrically opposed to him. I will not summon the reporter of the Scotsman newspaper for example. The Scotsman is one of the greatest organs of public opinion in the world, and I am perfectly certain that the Scotsman sent one of its ablest men to Tipperary, and I am quite sure that the instructions he got were these: "Give us the facts; we can reason upon them for ourselves in Scotland." I will not quote the evidence of the Scotsman, but I will quote that of the Cork Examiner. I do not know on which side that paper is 718 now. I do not know which Party it supports, or whether it supports any. [An hon. MEMBER: It does not support you.] That I am sure of; but at the time these events occurred in Tipperary it was one of the most influential organs of the hon. Member for Cork. Describing the fight in the Court-yard, about which the right hon. Gentleman was miraculously silent, so far as the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary was concerned, and, after all, he was the only man who was seriously injured—the Cork Examiner said—Mr. Gill now went outside the gate, and was cuffed by a whole squad of policemen. They surrounded him, and were almost tearing the clothes off him, when Mr. Harrison came to his assistance. The hon. Gentleman was to his friend's aid in a second, and succeeded in warding off a blow by turning the policeman's wrist. Another who went for the young Member was made to feel the force of Mr. Harrison's left on his jaw. The policeman retired for a moment, and when the hon. Member was engaged with other policemen, the constable who had first attacked him struck him from behind and knocked him to the ground.With all this the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly convinced of the innocence of the hon. Member for Tipperary. But in addition to being at Tipperary, the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary has been at Kilkenny, and at the famous meeting at Rathdowney the hon. Member for Cork introduced this innocent stripling, who was as David going out to meet Goliath, in these words:—Now, my friends, let me introduce to you the Member for Mid Tipperary, Mr. Harrison, the only man who is able to fight the police, the only man who fought the police single-handed at New Tipperary, and choked three of them.Mr. Speaker, I begin to understand now why Hamlet was left out of the play. I begin to understand—and the House will understand—why, when the right hon. Gentleman was giving his succinct narrative of the row in the Court-yard, the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Harrison) and his doings were left discreetly out of sight. I now come to the proceedings themselves. The right hon. Gentleman has made a great case of the fact that these prisoners who were tried were deprived of a jury. That is a good charge against Parliament. It is not a good charge against the Irish Executive. If the Irish Executive find an Act of Parliament passed by this 719 House capable of dealing with this conspiracy, they have no right to wait until Parliament assents to a jury. It is their business to put the law into operation as it stands. All the right hon. Gentleman said about a jury would have been relevant if he had been assailing the action of this House, but not a word of it was relevant to a Resolution assailing the action of the Executive. As to the crowd outside, the right hon. Gentleman said there might have been 50 or 100 persons, but it was a small crowd. But that gets the right hon. Gentleman and his friends into a somewhat awkward position. Here was a great hero landing in Tipperary, and was this all the hubbub that could be got up? Does the right hon. Gentleman ask the House to believe that? It may be true; but, if so, it is the most wonderful thing that ever occurred in the history of Tipperary. From what the right hon. Gentleman said you would imagine that when the crowd arrived the Court had not been opened; but the fact is, that it was absolutely sitting in Petty Sessions hearing other cases, and I say that Court has as much right to protect itself as the Court of Queen's Bench has. Surely it is not against the law for the Magistrates and the Executive officer to take steps for the proper conduct of the Court-house? I maintain that it would be impossible to pack 200 people into the Court-house. You have 10 or 12 defendants, about 90 witnesses, the constables who maintain order, the two galleries, one filled by ladies and the other by the Press——
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Colonel Caddell was responsible for order, and, in my opinion, had a perfect right to take into account the capabilities of the Court-house. He was the Executive officer in charge, and had a right to see that those who had business in the Court got in first of all. It was not fair of the right hon. Gentleman, with his great position, the master of these policemen in days gone 720 by, who said to Resident Magistrates "Go," and they went, and "Do this," and they did it; it was not fair of the right hon. Gentleman to go down to this place and fling the influence of his great position into the scale in favour, as I hold, of disorder and uproar. I now come to the case of the Magistrates themselves. Who are they and what are they? You sneer at the law of these men and call them ex-police officers. Since the Crimes Act was passed Mr. Irwin has had a large share in its administration, and not one of his decisions has been reversed. That is a character for him in itself. As to Mr. Shannon, from all that is said of him, one would imagine he had been picked off the streets and sent to this work. The fact is, that he is the son of a most respectable citizen of Dublin. He had a brilliant University career, after which he entered the police, and greatly distinguished himself in that service in the most trying work. He is a man who has forgotten more law than many men below the Gangway who are posing as trained lawyers have ever learnt. It is said that he had previously come into conflict with Messrs. O'Brien and Dillon. But what Magistrate has not come in conflict with them? If that test is to be set up those two gentlemen cannot be tried at all. Mr. Shannon was judicial officer in Tipperary at the time, and the Government must have deliberately passed him over if they had appointed another man. Nothing in Mr. Shannon's past record would have entitled the Government to take any such step. The right hon. Gentleman hinted that another reason why Mr. Shannon should not have heard the case was that he had kept company with myself in Tipperary. Gentlemen below the Gangway were not ashamed to put that statement into an affidavit, sworn before Mr. Justice Holmes, scarcely a word of which was true. My connection with Mr. Shannon was of the simplest character. I went down to Tipperary on the 28th August on a tour with my family. I spent the whole day in Tipperary without speaking to a single human being connected with the administration of the law. I went there for the purpose of finding out the facts for myself. I went through your market and your new town, and I spoke to the boycotting 721 people and those who were boycotted by them, but I never went near a single officer of the law. I stopped at the Limerick Junction Hotel, where Mr. Shannon also happened to be staying. Mr. Shannon arrived at 10 o'clock. At a quarter past 10 I and Mr. Shannon parted, although in the affidavit that was subsequently made it was sworn that we were closeted together for hours. It is true that I arranged with Mr. Shannon to introduce me to Colonel Caddell, and that accordingly the next day Mr. Shannon met me and took me to Colonel Caddell. I did not want to go away without getting at the official statement of facts. Colonel Caddell—not Mr. Shannon—it was who introduced me to the boycotted persons. The whole of my connection with Mr. Shannon consisted of a quarter of an hour's conversation at the hotel and being introduced by him to Colonel Caddell the next morning; yet out of this small matter an affidavit half a yard in length has been drawn up as to my relations with Mr. Shannon. Then as to the attack on the Magistrates who heard this case, never did two men display more patience, and, as Chief Baron Palles pointed out, they absolutely, in their extreme anxiety to be just, shut out evidence against the prisoners which they ought to have received. These are the men now charged with being one-sided and incapable of doing their duty. They gave the prisoners the benefit of the doubt, as they were bound to do, and yet they had been assailed as no "corner-boy" ought to be. What, according to the Judgment of Chief Baron Palles, is proved? First, that there was a conspiracy to ruin Mr. Smith-Barry (that was not denied by the right hon. Gentleman); secondly, that there were attempts to coerce, intimidate, and ruin, and otherwise injure those who refused to join in that conspiracy. On what ground does the right hon. Gentleman attempt to defend such proceedings? I am going to quote the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian; the quotation is an old one, and I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will disavow it. In 1866, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was supporting the Government, not in sending men before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, but in suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in 722 Ireland—I quote from Hansard, volume 184 (Third Series), p. 1941—he said—The maintenance of the peace and order of a country, the taking of due security for the tranquillity of those who desire only to obey the laws and to pursue their avocations in peace, is the first duty of the Government.What Her Majesty's Government are now doing is nothing more nor less than securingthe tranquillity of those who desire only to obey the laws and to pursue their avocations in peace.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle has sat at the feet of the great master, John Stuart Mill, whose words he would scarcely repudiate, and what did Mill say?—The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will is to prevent them doing harm to others.Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with his master? That is what Her Majesty's Government are doing—endeavouring to prevent harm to others who would not join this illegal conspiracy. Her Majesty's Government said to the Irish tenants—"You have a right to combine, but you must combine within the law; you can refuse to pay rent, but you must not persecute other people who do so." Now, what is the result of this action on the part of the Irish Government? During the year 1888 there were 1,558 prosecutions under the Crimes Act. In 1890 that number had fallen to 530—a reduction of two-thirds. But that is not the extraordinary part of this Return. There are eight counties which have a population of 1,600,000, or something like one-third of the whole population of Ireland, which have an absolutely clean bill—they are Dublin, Kilkenny, King's, Westmeath, Wicklow, Antrim, Armagh, and Down. In this great population there was not a single prosecution during the year 1890. There are two other counties which have only one prosecution each, namely, Kildare and Meath. Five others have only five prosecutions each, namely, Louth, Queen's, Tyrone, Londonderry, and Sligo; but, unhappily, there are five other counties with a very different record. Tipperary, where this conspiracy is rife, has 80 prosecutions out of the 530; Cork, where the Plan of Campaign is in operation, in one corner of the 723 county, there are 108; in Clare, which is in the hands of a Secret Society, there are 26; in Wexford, with the Plan of Campaign in operation, there are 20; and in Galway, with Lord Clanricarde's estate, there are 56. Those five counties contribute more than half of the total number of cases tried under the Coercion Act in Ireland in 1890. Now, let us take January, to which month the Return has been brought down. In that month in Leinster only one county is affected, the County of Longford. Munster is clean; Ulster would be clean but for Donegal, and Connaught has an entirely clean bill of health for that month. If the House wants to see the progress that has been made, let us take the year 1888. In the East Riding of Cork in that year there were 33 Crimes Courts held. In 1890 there were 29. In the West Riding there were 34 in 1888 and 9 in 1890; in Clare in 1888 there were 46 Crimes Courts, in 1890 only 8. In Kerry there were 41 of the Courts in 1888 and only 2 in 1890. In Limerick there were 27 Crimes Courts in 1888, and in 1890 only 5. I say that these figures are more eloquent as to the action of the Irish Executive than all the vituperation of the right hon. Gentleman against them. If I were to give another fact it would be as to what occurred at the last Winter Assizes. The House will hardly realise it, but it is nevertheless a fact that although agrarian cases and cases of murder were among those brought to justice, there was not during the whole of last Winter's Assize a single miscarriage of justice—not a single case in which the juries refused to do their duty; and why is this? It is because the jurors are rejoicing in something like freedom. It is because the tyranny of the village ruffian has been taken by the throat and strangled. It is because honest men now have a chance of doing their business in safety, and because juries are now enabled to do what they take an oath to do on behalf of the State. What, now, is the state of Tipperary? and I put this to hon. Members below the Gangway who have supported the crusade which has gone on in that county. The victims were formerly marked down for ruin; but they have not been left to their fate, and they are not ruined. A glorious sight was witnessed in that town yesterday fortnight—but I should say, first, that 724 the first meeting of this conspiracy was held under the presidency of Father Power, Mr. O'Brien being present. Now, yesterday fortnight a Father Power—I suppose the same Father Power—officiated at Mass in one of the Tipperary chapels, and what did he say? He delivered a lecture to his people upon the Divine Law of love to one's neighbour as being the Supreme Law. He denounced boycotting in all its moods and tenses, and in these words, which I beg to quote, he closed his address to his people—If the fight cannot he kept on unless by the wicked means of boycotting, punishment, and persecution of their neighbour, he asked them not to co-operate any longer in the work of the destruction of their town. Let them cease from causing pain and misery to their fellow-townsmen and townswomen by boycotting all those who meant to carry out their own opinions and feelings in this fight. If they continued to destroy their town, or rather what still remained of it to be destroyed, they would yet find leisure to repent their conduct; let them even now save the salvage from further wreck.Boycotting has brought down that prosper ous town, and the man who introduced it first, who has hounded on the people for months, now urges them to secure the salvage of the town. I find no fault with the words. I am sorry they are so late. Canon Cahill has used much the same language, and yet he and Father Power are, perhaps, more responsible for what has occurred in Tipperary than any other two men. When did these rev. gentlemen find out that it was the first Christian duty to love one's neighbour? Canon Cahill all through the troubles has behaved less like a minister of the Gospel of peace than like an ecclesiastical corner-boy. These rev. gentlemen now plead for peace and for "salvage." They have sought to ruin the hon. Member for South Hunts, but they have not ruined him; they have ruined their town and its merchants. They have made their religion a byeword and scoff throughout the country. Ministers of religion who for 18 months hounded on the people to boycott and to engage in a conspiracy now turn round and ask them to give it up.
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL
By their conduct they had exposed their religion to 725 scorn and obloquy. I believe that I have proved that the action of the Irish Executive is imperatively demanded to protect innocent people in the exercise of their rights as subjects of the Queen, and that the action of the Executive has been exercised in the interests of, and not against, real freedom. Why have I put my Amendment on the Paper? It would have been open to the House to negative the Resolution of the right hon. Member for Newcastle as it has negatived many of his Resolutions already; but I thought that the time had come for a different course of action, and that the House ought to make an actual affirmation in support of the Irish Executive. I am not here to deny the legitimate right of combination. The Irish farmers have as good a right to combine to secure a reduction of their rents as English labourers have to combine to secure an increase of wages. The Irish farmers, as a matter of fact, enjoy an infinitely better position, because practically they are partners in a going concern; but, whatever their rights are, they are rights within the law, not outside it. What is the issue to-night? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle attacked the Irish Executive, but for what? For sending men to stand their trial, before a justly-constituted tribunal, for the offence of boycotting and conspiracy to promote the Plan of Campaign. What does the Resolution ask the House to do? To paralyse the arm of the law in its conflict with these evils, and to tie the hands of the Chief Secretary in this deadly encounter with the forces of disorder. Members of the Liberal Party may forget the history of that Party and its victories in the cause of freedom and of minorities. They may vote to-night against liberty because the liberty at stake is only that of a handful of boycotted citizens, but to them I do not appeal; I appeal to the House, and I ask the House not to forget the traditions of the English Parliament, and not to refuse for the first time to help those engaged in the struggle between law and lawlessness, between order and disorder
To leave out all the words after the word "proceedings," in line 3, in order to insert the words "has been rendered imperative by the existence and activity of an illegal conspiracy directed against the civil rights of a large
section of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland who have been subjected to cruel persecution and great loss in following their lawful callings, and this House rejoices in the successful vindication of the Law at Tipperary and elsewhere, which has gone far to restore freedom to the individual in every part of Ireland,"—(Mr. T. V. Russell,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ (6.54.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Mr. Speaker, as no Member of the Government has risen to address the House, I am anxious not to lose a moment after the speech of the hon. Member behind me in calling the attention of the House to the peculiar position in which it has been placed. It is a peculiar, and, as far as I know, an unexampled position. A Motion has been made of the gravest character. My right hon. Friend, who himself has held Cabinet Office in connection with the Government of Ireland, brings forward against Her Majesty's Government, and of course against the Secretary for Ireland in particular, a series of charges of at once the most formidable and the most definite character. The hon. Member behind me, acting either at the suggestion of the Government or with its evident approval, endeavours by an Amendment of which he gives notice entirely to prevent the discussion of the Motion of my right hon. Friend. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL indicated dissent.] The hon. Member shakes his head, but I do not appeal to him for assent, but to the language of his Amendment, and I will support that appeal to the language of his Amendment by reference to the character of his speech. It is true, is it not, that the head and front of the speech of my right hon. Friend was the advancing of certain charges against Her Majesty's Government in regard to a particular set of proceedings in Ireland? It is true also that the Amendment which has been proposed sets aside entirely the whole subject of those charges, and it is true that the hon. Gentleman in the lengthened speech which he has delivered has not said one single word in relation to the accusations of my right hon. Friend. What I contend is this: that we are entitled to a discussion of those charges. Am I giving an untrue description of 727 the speech of the hon. Member? What did it consist of? With his usual ability and his usual decision he made attacks upon the Nationalist Members from Ireland and upon certain Roman Catholic priests; he contended that the Plan of Campaign in general, and in particular as it had been exhibited at Tipperary, was illegal and was pernicious. [Ministerial cheers.] Just so; pray observe that this is entirely in support of my allegation. He contended that my right hon. Friend near me ought to have made inquiry into the origin of the difficulties of Tipperary instead of doing what he has done to-night. He said that he would find fault with the speech of my right hon. Friend for its omissions, and then he proceeded to descant upon certain portions of the proceedings in Tipperary which have not been touched by my right hon. Friend. And why were they not touched by him? I should be surprised if the same motive which governed my right hon. Friend did not occur to the acute mind of the hon. Member. My right hon. Friend refrained from touching upon these subjects because they are subjects which are still liable to become matters of judicial consideration.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
But the question is not whether my right hon. Friend was right in the matters which he omitted; the question is, was he right in the matters which he adduced? This is the first time in my recollection that when, by a gentleman occupying a position like that of my right hon. Friend, grave charges are brought against the Government, countenance is given by them to an Amendment which completely shifts the issue and evades a contest in which apparently they do not wish to engage. With respect to the Plan of Campaign, it is a most fit subject for discussion in the House. With respect to other matters the hon. Member has mentioned, he may be perfectly justified in bringing them forward; but he is not justified in bringing them forward for the purposes of giving the go-by to the Motion of my right hon. Friend, and preventing the discussion of a legitimate and constitutional Motion. What were the charges brought by my right hon. 728 Friend? They bear upon most important questions connected with the rights of the subject in Ireland. It is necessary I should refer to them, after the deliberate attempt that has been made to shut them out from the view of the House. The first of these charges was that the act of cheering and booing was treated by the officers of the Executive Government, when it occurred alone, without any illegal or violent act, as justifying the use of violence and force against the people who indulged in it. Is that so, or is it not? The issue is not whether the matters introduced by the hon. Member in the Amendment are right or not; the issue is whether my right hon. Friend's Motion, which has been brought legitimately and in due form before the House, and the arguments by which it was supported are just? That they are has often been denied with indignation; and now we shall hear what is to be said on the other side when it pleases Her Majesty's Government to condescend to put up one of its Members to enter into these grave matters. The next of these charges is one of a still more grave character. It is that the people were shut out from the statutory right of entering a Court of Justice by the arbitrary action of Colonel Caddell. Is that a serious matter, or is it not? Do not tell me that he was acting under the orders of the Chief Secretary; that may be perfectly true; but his conduct has been adopted and justified by Her Majesty's Government; they have identified themselves with his proceedings The hon. Member has referred to something in the nature of a disturbance which took place in Tipperary; but that was not at the time to which my right hon. Friend referred. The movement of the limited number of people whom he called a crowd—of course, you may apply that term to 50 or 100, and I believe 100 was the estimate of Colonel Caddell—towards the door of the Courthouse was an orderly movement—a movement of pressure, of course—but a movement the character of which the hon. Gentleman has avoided the discussion of by referring to what took place among other people at a totally different time and in connection with totally different circumstances. Is that question—the access of the people 729 of this country to the proceedings in a Court of Justice—a serious matter, or is it not? What amount of violence on the part of the people could justify their being excluded? The hon. Gentleman said that Colonel Caddell was bound to have regard to the capacity of the Court and the number of the people. Yes, Sir; but that was no argument for excluding them all. But when Colonel Caddell, apparently changing his mind, admitted them all, we have it on the evidence of my right hon. Friend, I think, delivered on a former occasion, that the number was not sufficient to fill the Court. Then we have the story of the explosives. The hon. Member justifies the exclusion of an orderly crowd, behaving legally, from an open Court of Justice by referring to the case in which a man was tried for throwing an explosive upon a former occasion, and, being tried, was found guilty.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I beg pardon; I was going to give the hon. Gentleman some credit. I was going to say it was the only reference of a tangible and intelligible kind. My right hon. Friend had pointed out that Colonel Caddell justified this arbitrary exclusion of the people from the Court-house by the allegation that they were the sort of people who might make use of explosives. When the hon. Gentleman used the word "explosives," why did he introduce it except in direct connection with the previous speech of my right hon. Friend? Are we to be told that because in a crowd somebody or other may use explosives, that crowd exhibiting at the time legal and peaceful behaviour, therefore it is in the power of an Executive officer, protected by Her Majesty's Government and by a majority of this House—is it to be in the power of a majority of this House to defeat the exercise of the statutory right of the people to have free access to a Court of Justice? What was the second charge of my right hon. Friend? I now refer to another proceeding, which, if it had occurred elsewhere, would shock the public mind and conscience. When charges were made against the police the Bench was packed with Resident Magistrates. Five Resident Magistrates, contrary to custom and to 730 propriety—and, in the absence of precedent, I should be disposed to say contrary to decency—were brought together in a manner quite unusual to form a majority, as we are told, of the tribunal that was to try the charges against the police, these Resident Magistrates themselves being officers of the police and members of the body whose conduct was impugned. Is that a proceeding which will be approved by a majority of this House? It may be so; but whether it is to be affirmed or not, we have the right to demand that it be discussed when it is properly introduced into this House, and for that discussion I now plead and press. My right hon. Friend further said that the counter charges of riot were brought under the Coercion Act. By being brought under that Act they could be summarily dealt with, while under the ordinary law they would have gone before a jury. What we complain of is that it appears to be the practice of the Government to bring everything that can possibly be drawn into it into the net of the Coercion Act? Why were not these charges to go before a jury? It was not because juries are not trustworthy, because the hon. Gentleman has told us, with creditable exultation, that during the late Winter Assizes in Ireland there was not a single jury in the country that failed to do its duty. Therefore, this is a charge against the Executive Government in Ireland which deserves to be met and discussed—that they by preference try under the Coercion Act accusations which, under the ordinary law, are tried in a different form; and the natural inference is that their action is animated by hatred of juries in Ireland, and, therefore, they resort to the summary jurisdiction of persons depending upon themselves. The charge is one that can be dealt with properly only by the Chief Secretary. He is in the habit of meeting the allegations of Irish Representatives by accepting wholesale the statements he receives from officials in Ireland. I admit it is his duty to set out with a disposition to accept what they tell him; but it is a very serious matter indeed to apply that principle, without sifting and inquiry, to allegations made by Members of this House and by an ex-Minister of the Crown, eye-witnesses of the facts, and such conduct is not likely to commend itself to the people of England and 731 Scotland. My right hon. Friend stakes his honour, his capacity, his precision upon what he says in his place in the House of Commons; and it is a novelty in our administration that because Colonel Caddell, or some other police officer, has given a different account, that is to be accepted as being true, and my right hon. Friend's declarations are to be treated as null and void. The hon. Member for South Tyrone did make one other reference to the speech of my right hon. Friend; he said he had made some definite statements, and there were other witnesses who had made other statements in newspapers quite incompatible with his; but the hon. Member went on to say he would not quote the evidence. I never heard a more futile remark than that the evidence of other witnesses was in conflict with the statement of my right hon. Friend, because he did not adduce a single rag or shred of evidence contradicting my right hon. Friend. It is strictly true; no contradiction whatever has been given to my right hon. Friend; and it was exceedingly indecorous of the Chief Secretary to charge my right hon. Friend, as it appears he did, with deliberate suppression, with garbling, with casuistry, and with misrepresentation. The right hon. Gentleman should be called upon to defend these statements in this House. With regard to the treatment of the subjects of the Queen in regard to access to the Court-house, and in relation to the right of public meeting, it is very important to remember that this is not the first time that Her Majesty's Government have been charged with invading and practically endeavouring to nullify and destroy the rights of public meeting. In a manner the most temperate and careful, the Member for East Mayo, during the last Session of Parliament, referred to three points, with respect to which he was a personal witness, in the treatment of public meetings in Ireland, and he put three distinct and definite questions to the Government with regard to them. One of those questions was, whether it was right or wrong that public meetings should be dispersed by charges of the constabulary without any previous notice or the commission of violence by those attending the meetings? The second was, whether it was right or 732 wrong that in a place where there was a public meeting a group of gentlemen totally distinct from that public meeting should be made the subject of an order to the police to charge them and break up the group by violence? And the third was whether, after a meeting had been violently and illegally charged by the police acting under the orders of the Government, the persons constituting the meeting, while dispersing themselves in every direction, should be pursued by the police and punished with blows, after having committed no act of violence whatever, and while they were fugitives. These questions, when put formally by the Member for East Mayo, I endeavoured to press home; and I contend that in not one of them were we able to extract an answer from the Government, and therefore we must believe that these three forms of action are regarded by them as lawful and proper, and such as they intend to employ in carrying on the government of Ireland. Whether the hon. Member for South Tyrone is right or wrong in defending the proceedings in Tipperary—upon which I give no opinion—the rights of the people with regard to the proceedings in the Courts of Justice and public meetings are proper matter for discussion in this House, and it is our business to do our best to maintain and defend them. These matters, it appears to me, are serious enough, but that is not all. Here, again, we raise very fairly the question of trial by jury. My right hon. Friend contended that the proceedings taken by the right hon. Gentleman against the Member for East Mayo and several other parties were analogous in their legal character and scope to the proceedings taken by the Government with which I was associated in 1880 against the Member for Cork and others. We never dreamt at that time of bringing the Member for Cork within the sweep of summary jurisdiction; and it appears to me a matter of the gravest public mischief that questions of such difficulty should be habitually referred by the present Executive of Ireland to the lowest class of judicial officers without any extended legal knowledge, and generally wholly dependent on the right hon. Gentleman for the tenure of their offices, for pro- 733 motion and for the selection of duties. My right hon. Friend's charge against the Government is that here, again, we find a disposition to shut out, wherever it can, the action of the jury, which we know to be invaluable for the protection of the subject. And now I come to the last of the charges of my right hon. Friend, which, by the way, was not noticed, or hardly noticed, by the hon. Gentleman behind me. It was partially noticed by the hon. Gentleman, but he passed by the gravamen of the charge; he kept out of view the point to which my right hon. Friend addressed his censure. The broad statement is that the Chief Secretary for Ireland selected Mr. Irwin and Mr. Shannon for the trial of the case of the Member for East Mayo and others. The hon. Member entered into a defence of Mr. Irwin, and said that no judgment of Mr. Irwin under the Coercion Act had ever been reversed. I am very glad of that. I am not going to say a word against Mr. Irwin, and not a syllable was said against him by my right hon. Friend. Then the hon. Gentleman set forth in a moving manner the merits of Mr. Shannon. But the charge of my right hon. Friend was not against Mr. Shannon but against the Government for choosing him. I believe I heard the hon. Gentleman say that Mr. Shannon was unwilling to accept the office. I should be glad if that were so, but I confess it is very difficult to conceive how a man who holds a judicial as well as an executive office could enter into the trial of a case such as that against the Member for East Mayo. The charge distinctly lies against Her Majesty's Government that they selected out of the usual course for this particular purpose a gentleman with whom the Member for East Mayo had been a short time before engaged in sharp personal altercation. The gravamen of the charge is that there was absolutely no indisposition on the part of the Government to appoint a person whose appointment could not be viewed favourably with regard to the general administration of justice in Ireland. It would not be too much to say that it was an act essentially unfair in regard to the administration of juetice to appoint such a person. In the course of time, notwithstanding the well-meant endeavour of the hon. Member to shut out these questions, I hope 734 we shall hear what Her Majesty's Government have to say upon each and all of them. The hon. Member based the strength of his case upon the success of Her Majesty's Government. I do not think I should be doing justice to my right hon. Friend and the important allegations he has made against the Government were I to enter at large upon that question. The hon. Gentleman thinks it is a matter for immense congratulation that there were only 500 and odd proceedings under the Coercion Act.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
He thinks he mends the matter by showing that those who were content with this 500 and odd, two or three years ago, instituted 1,500 proceedings. What a great proof of success! One thing I must note—there has been a success; there has been a compulsory exclusion from this House of two of the ablest and most honourable of the Irish Members at a period when undoubtedly it will be felt that their country stood in special need of their services. That, I suppose, is held to be a great, a noble, and a superlative stroke—the closing of the prison-doors upon the Member for East Mayo and the Member for North-East Cork, and if the hon. Member had limited his Amendment to commending the ingenuity with which that had been arranged there might have been something to say for the argument. With respect to the general purposes of the right hon. Gentleman—and I refer to him not individually, but as a Member of the Government—for the Government are of course responsible for these proceedings, the whole of the Government are identified with the proceedings of the right hon. Gentleman—with regard to the right hon. Gentleman's general purposes, for my part I do not see the signs of the success that is alleged. The purpose of the Coercion Act, as we were told, was to put an end to agrarian combinations. The success of those agrarian combinations depends entirely upon whether the farms from which the tenants have been evicted are occupied by responsible tenants or not. It is quite evident that for four years it has been in the power of the Government, if there were this success, to prove it to us by the production of Returns which they could pro- 735 duce with far greater ease, certainty, and credit than those elastic Returns with regard to the number of boycotted persons, into the composition of which individual preferences might largely enter. All particulars have been carefully avoided by the Government on the subject, and the only conclusion at which we can arrive is that these farms are either entirely derelict, with possibly an exception here and there, or else simply used for pasturage. Her Majesty's Government will, no doubt, be remembered in Ireland; but they will be remembered, in my opinion, for causes that are not desirable. They have done their best to aggravate the sentiments of jealousy, mistrust, and even hatred, which in former times have existed in Ireland, and which it has been our desire for many years past to mitigate and subdue. They nave placed Resident Magistrates and the Constabulary in an attitude, as towards the Irish people, more unfortunate with respect to the permanent strength and administration of justice than they have ever occupied before. In the year 1835, when Lieutenant Drummond became Permanent Under Secretary for Ireland, the Resident Magistrates and the Constabulary were institutions which had the confidence of the people, and were regarded as affording the people security for justice which they had never before enjoyed. I do not think the most sanguine man on the opposite side of the House or on the Treasury Bench will allege that any such thing can now be said of the Resident Magistrates. And what I fear is this: that whereas I do not doubt that the vast majority of the Magistrates have been labouring, perhaps under difficult circumstances, to thoroughly discharge their duty, the proceedings of a few so outrageous, so remarkable, and so at variance with all the principles both of law and of justice, cast, unfortunately, discredit upon the whole, and the efficiency of that form of Magistracy has been most gravely compromised. And so with regard to the Constabulary. The Constabulary are themselves drawn, in the strictest sense, from the people of Ireland. They are a Force that have done great service for Ireland; their duties have often been painful; but if in the discharge of those duties they find that a reckless, an. Unscrupulous 736 approval is given not only to rashness, but to positive illegality, against the people, it is absolutely impossible but that the spirit which flourishes at headquarters should distil itself also into some members of that Force, and that the proceedings of the Force itself should be more or less compromised in consequence of the anti-popular, and, I may say, anti-legal spirit which governs the instructions proceeding from the Government. No, Sir; in my opinion these are most unfortunate results. And there is another result which has been produced by the action of the Government, which I do not think the hon. Gentlemen behind me will quote as a proof of their success. The last three or four years has been the first time within my recollect tion when not Irish only, but British opinion, has regarded with comparative favour infractions of the law in Ireland—infractions, that is to say, of the Coercion Act. For the first time by your policy you have forced—I will not say the whole British people, but a great portion of the British people—into what we feel to be a false position with regard to resistance to the law. It is a deplorable fact when any resistance or infraction of the law is looked upon with toleration and applause; but if you chose to pass laws which are in violation of reason and decency, you cannot help feeling this: that whatever doubt or discredit may attach to the infractions of those laws, far greater blame attaches to the makers of them, and to those who, administering them in Ireland, endeavour to aggravate their spirit and to make their operation still more severe than of necessity it would be to the people of the country. That is what Her Majesty's Government has brought about. It is easy to exalt it in this House. There is a phalanx diminishing—and pretty steadily diminishing—but still numerically superior, who, no doubt, will rally to the call of the hon. Member to-night; and this Parliament will distinguish itself by passing a Vote of Confidence in itself, by inscribing on its Journals a glowing eulogy on the legislation it has adopted, upon the truly congenial spirit in which that legislation has been carried out in Ireland. Within these walls that may be a very easy, a very comfortable, a very satisfactory proceeding. But, 737 Sir, it is not so beyond these walls. You must, yourselves, have become conscious that these commendations on your conduct in Ireland are gradually more and more estranging from you the support of the people. Election after election testifies to that. You have before you a term rapidly expiring, rapidly drawing to its close. Of that term you may make use. You may please yourselves with the cheers that reward every effusion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone against the Nationalists of Ireland. That may be, so far as it goes, agreeable and satisfactory, but it cannot avert the coming doom. It cannot avert the ever-growing evidence of the fact that the people of this country are not only inclined but determined that their fellow-subjects in Ireland shall in every respect and particular enjoy the same precious, imperishable, invaluable liberties as they themselves enjoy.
§ (7.40.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH, Strand, Westminster)
I should not have risen but for the observations which fell from the right hon. Gentleman at the opening of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the position in which the House is placed, and commented on the fact that the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, which involves a Vote of Censure on the Government, has been met by an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Tyrone. The right hon. Gentleman, who has had great experience of the business of this House, must surely be aware that this is not the first time in the history of this House that a Resolution of Want of Confidence has been met by an Amendment moved by a private Member. Both the Resolution and the Amendment are now before the House, and the right hon. Member for Newcastle, in supporting his Resolution, has made singular charges, not only against Her Majesty's Government, but also against those who are entrusted with the administration of the law in Ireland and the police, who, in the exercise of their ordinary duty, carried it out. He has spoken of the proceedings of these persons as outrageous and unscrupulous. I must say that no language has ever been used in this House which is more reckless, or more unscrupulous, 738 or more dangerous to the system of government than that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. The right hon. Gentleman goes on to charge Her Majesty's Government with an approval of illegality. Well, we are prepared to stand our trial upon that charge before this House and before the country, and I can only say that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary will not fail to grapple with the charges that have been brought against him—he is not the man to fail to do so. Complaint has been made that my right hon. Friend did not rise at once to reply to the right hon. Member for Newcastle, but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman opposite is not the one who would make such a complaint as that. My right hon. Friend is the person against whom these charges have been principally brought, although undoubtedly Her Majesty's Government is equally responsible with my right hon. Friend for the policy he has pursued, and it is only fair and right that he should wait until a somewhat advanced period of the Debate, in order that he may ascertain what are the whole of the charges that are to be brought against him before he replies to them. The right hon. Member has referred to the unfortunate exclusion of two hon. Members from this House. I cannot help reminding the House that if those two hon. Members had thought fit to remain in Ireland, instead of going elsewhere, a large portion of the sentence which they are now undergoing would have been passed. The right hon. Gentleman, in an eloquent peroration, expressed the confident hope that the time will come when the people of Ireland will enjoy the same rights and the same liberty as the people of this country now enjoy. There is not a man sitting on this side of the House, there is not a Member of Her Majesty's Government who does not entertain that same hope that the time will soon come when freedom will be restored to every individual in Ireland, when the powers of the boycotter, the intimidator, and the agitator will cease to be exercised, and when every man will go his own way, and when the same absolute personal security will prevail there as in England and Scotland. Utter destruction will attend any Political Party which neglects to secure for 739 every individual in the Empire that perfect freedom and that perfect liberty which we claim on behalf of the boycotted tenants of Tipperary.
§ (7.49.) MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Let me remind the First Lord of the Treasury that when a popular Government rises up, a Government having the interest of the Irish people at heart and responsible to the people, the hardest part of the Government's task will be to bring the people into harmony with the law and teach them that the law is their protector and not their enemy and oppressor, as it has been under the present Administration. We shall endeavour to counteract the evil work of this Government, whereby law has been made a simple machine for the exaction of rent. There are only two questions I shall bring before the attention of the House; the first relates to the method of selecting the Resident Magistrates, and the second to the objects and motives by which the Government are animated. There are 72 Resident Magistrates to select from. If it had been the object of the Government to select Magistrates who were notorious for their dependence on the Executive, the right hon. Gentleman would have had a very wide choice indeed. He could have selected such persons as Colonel Forbes, who is up to the very eyes in debt, or as Mr. M'Sheehy, whose name appears time after time in the "black list" as a defaulter and debtor. He did not select these men because, however well qualified they might have been to try their political opponents, they wanted one qualification which the men Irwin and Shannon undoubtedly had. The necessary qualification in a case in which the great bulk of the Crown's evidence was the evidence of policemen was that the two Magistrates should both of them be ex-police officers. Let us see how matters stand in a constitutional and legal aspect. My right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland knows very well that the most precious privilege a prisoner can have is the right of challenging his jury. We must remember that in this case Messrs. Shannon and Irwin were both jurors and judges. Now, what were the feelings of the three defendants, who were Members of this House, in reference to the impartiality of the 740 tribunal by which they were tried? This is what Mr. Dillon said in Court on the 25th of December:—I am here, and I want to say I have a strong personal objection to being tried by one of the Magistrates now sitting on the Bench. Mr. Shannon, when I last met him, was a police officer in charge of a large force of police—within the last six months, within the period covered by charges which I am to be tried for. On the occasion to which I refer I had an altercation with him in the streets of Cashel, in which I was grossly insulted by him as I consider, and I daresay he thinks I probably said some hard things to him. At all events, it is nothing short of indecent for a man who has acted as a police officer in the course of the period during which these charges are going to be made, and has mouthed me personally—or, at all events, has had an encounter with me in the streets of Cashel—that he should now sit in judgment on the Bench. I protest against it.Mr. William O'Brien said—The last time I saw Mr. Shannon he was at the head of a mob of policemen, who were striking and beating the people on an occasion in reference to which I presume evidence will be offered on this prosecution. With reference to the other member of the Court also, I have to point out that this is the third time in different and distant parts of the country that Mr. Irwin has been selected as my Judge; and I would submit to himself whether there is not a certain amount of inconvenience, not to say indecency, in his turning up as my Judge, north, south, east, and west, as if there was no other Judge.Mr. Patrick O'Brien said—I appear here on my own behalf, and I object to being tried by Mr. Shannon, who when I last saw him was acting as a policeman in Cashel. I suppose the incidents that occurred in Cashel that day will be put in evidence against me. Mr. Shannon says he acted as an Executive officer on that day; but I want to know where the policeman ends and the justice begins? My own experience is that the policeman we have always with us—he never disappears in the justice.Then Mr. O'Brien again said—My experience is that the Magistrate never appears. When Mr. William O'Brien and myself were escorted by the Hussars into Cashel that day Mr. Shannon shouted out, 'Well done, Bruen! We have knocked the devil out of them here to-day!'The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) forgot to mention, when he was referring to Mr. Shannon, that that gentleman's brother is Shannon, the notorious agent of the Times, who went into a prison and suborned false evidence. If the trial at Tipperary had been an ordinary case at Common Law not only would my hon. Friends have 741 challenged both Mr. Shannon and Mr. Irwin peremptorily, but they would have challenged them for cause shown. Any prisoner can challenge a juror for cause when he is in the pay or under the power of another person. Both these Magistrates were in the pay and under the power of the right hon. Gentleman; both of them had been up to the Castle and been entertained by the right hon. Gentleman, and both had been conciliated, as every Resident Magistrate is, especially on the eve of any political case of importance. It is a good cause of challenge if a juror has expressed love or hatred of either party in a case. These proceedings aroused at the time a great deal of attention in England, and a young English gentleman wrote to the papers in reference to what was going on. He says—Hitherto I have been a strong Conservative; but I protest against the monstrous state of things in vogue in this unhappy isle.I cannot go through the whole of the letter; but I will take one part, will read one extract, which makes a specific charge against one of these Magistrates, Mr. Shannon or Mr. Irwin, and there has been ample opportunity of rebutting the charge. The writer says—We travelled from Mallow to Killarney with one of them (the Removables), and I must say I never in my life spent an hour with a greater or more intolerant bigot. I will give you a specimen of what he said. We were talking about Mr. Parnell, Mr. Dillon, and Mr. O'Brien, and my father ventured the remark that since he had been in Ireland he had considerably modified his opinion of these men, and he now thought them to be honest patriots. 'Honest patriots!' roared this man. 'Dishonest, damned rogues they are, sir, and I don't care what you say, but if I had my way I'd hang up the whole lot of them.' This, sir, is one of the men that, according to the papers, is to try John Dillon and William O'Brien. I should not, therefore, like to give my opinion of the kind of trial these men will get next Thursday at Tipperary.Now, I imagine, inasmuch as it was Mr. Shannon who used the expression at Cashel, "Welldone, Bruen! we've knocked hell out of them here to-day," the language quoted from the letter appears characteristic of that gentleman. May I again mention, in this connection, a circumstance to which I have before referred in this House—that the police drafted from Waterford and placed under Mr. Shannon's orders had numbers on their uniforms when they left Waterford, but those numbers were deliberately removed, 742 so that the men might have a free hand in carrying out Mr. Shannon's violent orders against the people? Confining myself still to the constitution of this tribunal, I will give the opinion of a gentleman whose views probably differ from mine upon this question of packing the Bench. Let us look how the Magistrates in England regard the conduct of Magistrates in Ireland. Here is how a gentleman writing on October 2nd from Elsworthy Terrace, London, and who signs himself M. Kearney, expresses himself—I am a Magistrate of the County of Durham of 30 years' standing, for 27 of which I was Chairman of a large Petty Sessional Division. I was High Sheriff of that county in 1881. I do not put forward my antecedents from vanity, but to give some weight to my experience as to the delicacy which the Magistrates of England exercise in their administration of justice. During that long period I never knew an instance where a Magistrate who had expressed an opinion regarding the complainant or defendant, or was directly or indirectly interested in the case, sat upon the Bench either at Petty or Quarter Sessions. It seems to me, therefore, positively indecent and ungentlemanly that so prominent a partisan as Mr. Shannon should act as Magistrate and Judge in the trial of Messrs. O'Brien and Dillon in Tipperary.But here we find that in Ireland of the whole Bench these two men are selected for packing purposes! We have heard the right hon. Gentleman make a boast that if he were an Irish landlord he would rather beg his bread than yield to the Plan of Campaign. From a gentleman of his sensitive feelings I should have thought he would have made the prouder boast that he would rather reduce himself to that necessitous condition than pack a tribunal against his colleagues in this House. He takes, however, a different view on these matters. Now, turn we for a moment to the opinion of Liberal Unionists. I appeal to the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Courtney). He is a man who I am sure will give a conscientious vote. He was in Ireland last autumn, and I met him there casually, and though his tour had no connection with these matters he had the conscientious desire to do his best towards the alleviation of distress, and naturally when he went among his constituents he was invited to give the impression made upon his mind by his visit to Ireland. Speaking at Torpoint, on October 29, he declared himself dead against Home Rule, and honestly I have 743 no doubt. Then he said a little upon the land question, and then he referred to the Tipperary trials.All parties," he said, "should co-operate for the purpose of making the Government Bill a thorough measure. One great obstacle had been raised by the unwise step taken by the Government in prosecuting Messrs. O'Brien and Dillon. There might have been ample warrant for instituting proceedings, but it was, in his opinion, most inexpedient, and he strongly advised the Government to stop the case.Now, what have organs of Liberal Unionist opinion said? Here is what the Echo said on October 1st—All the circumstances of the trial are unfortunate, but especially so the selection of the Resident Magistrates who are trying the case.Therefore, you see your Liberal Unionist friends are against you. More than that, even the Tory Party in Ireland were against the prosecutions. The Dublin Daily Express is recognised as the ably conducted organ of the Party, and its London Correspondent is particularly well informed. This is what that London Correspondent wrote on November 1st—Everywhere I hear it said that it was a lamentable mistake to place on the Bench the Magistrates, or one at all events, who was open even to the shadow of a suspicion that he had had previous conflicts with the accused The English regard that as an outrage, and when I say English I mean not one party but several among them. There is nothing like truth, and I confess I am impressed by what I hear day after day, week after week, upon this point. What really arrests attention is the judicial performance in Tipperary Court-house, and after much patience the feeling here seems to be that the sooner it is ended the better. If, indeed, full expression were given to Conservative and Unionist feeling much stronger language might be used.
Mr. MAC NEILL
I do not mean the views of the hon. Gentleman. The date is November 1st. Now, it is useful sometimes to hear the views of foreign critics. A French newspaper, the Siecle, commenting upon the "odious and ridiculous spectacle" of a Judge following the culprit about, says—Mr. Irwin may now emblazon on his visiting cards 'Judge attached to the person of Mr. William O'Brien,'744 and the article declares the whole thingAn outrage upon common sense and common law.The Russian officials declare that the Chief Secretary has beaten them. Bad as the Russian system is, the Irish system, especially the Tipperary prosecution, is worse. The fame of the Chief Secretary has reached Odessa. A Russian official there said—England is a country of free institutions and equal liberty. We have always looked upon it as such heretofore, but your present method of ruling Irishmen is a dis-illusion to a large section of liberal and patriotic Russians who have watched, admired, and envied your ever-expanding freedom and independence.If the Chief Secretary wishes to imitate Lord Strafford, so far he has succeeded. But what does the Cabinet think of his performances? Can right hon. Gentlemen say that the actions of Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien are those of ordinary criminals engaged in an ordinary criminal conspiracy? Can the Govern-say that, when they know that it would have been useless to make any attempt to extradite those gentlemen? No, there is no independent Government in either hemisphere which would regard my hon. Friends as having committed anything but a political offence. Only one point more. What was the motive of the prosecutors? It was to stop by these judicial proceedings the visit of Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien to America, where they hoped to collect funds for the assistance of evicted Irish tenants. The Times called attention to this, then there was a long letter from the hon. Member for South Tyrone on September 15th, and two days afterwards my hon. Friends were arrested and prosecutions were instituted. The well-informed London correspondent of the Irish Times pointed to the connection between the arrests and the contemplated American tour, and said that in Unionist circles the arrests were regarded as a clever stroke of strategy. This is a fair specimen of English administration in Ireland, a fair specimen of the manner in which the name of justice is regarded, with an absence of proper feeling or of humanity. The administration of the law in Ireland has been brought into contempt. I end as I began by saying that, anticipating that in the near future the Government of 745 Ireland will be carried on in accordance with, national aspirations, I know no more difficult task than that of having to wean the people from the distrust of the law enjendered by long misrule, and to make them under an enlightened régime regard the law as alike for the probation of all classes and sections. (8.15.)
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ (8.50.) MR. A. CAMERON CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
As I went to Tipperary immediately after the visit of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle and heard the action brought by the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary and his friends against the constabulary, I had a good opportunity of judging as to the merits of the case. As there have been many conflicting statements between Colonel Caddell and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, I wish merely to say that those who have come personally into contact with Colonel Caddell and have discussed the subject with him must feel that he is no mean authority on matters of fact. It would be impossible to meet any one who could give you a stronger impression of an impartial and fair mind and of reluctance to use force than Colonel Caddell. When complaints are made against the Magistrates it will guide you in coming to a conclusion if you ask yourselves whether or not the individuals making complaints were eager to have the cases fully investigated, and whether the Magistrates or the mob have the most interest in securing the maintenance of order. Before the case came on at Tipperary I knew that the prosecutors had no case, and my chief object in listening at the trial was to see by what adroit and dexterous means the prosecutors would prevent the case from being fully heard and investigated. The Member for Mid Tipperary and his friends put in their appearance in the Court 20 minutes after the time fixed for the hearing of their own case. They next tried to break down the case by every form of insult to the presiding Magistrate, who responded to all their attacks and defended himself with a patient courtesy which would not be shown under similar 746 circumstances by any Bench in Scotland or England. The prosecutors next attempted to break down the case by endeavouring to limit the cross-examination of the witnesses by the counsel for the constabulary within impossible limits; and then, finally, the hon. Member, who was counsel for the prosecutors, threw up his brief because he was not allowed to enter into a long examination with regard to certain photographs, the Magistrate alleging that the photographs had been taken so long before that they were not relevant to the case. It may be that the Magistrate made a slip in offering to allow the photographs themselves to be put in; but when a great deal is made of photographs and you are sceptical as to whether they have ever been taken at all it is perhaps not unnatural to challenge those who say they have been taken to hand them in. The right hon. Member for Newcastle made a great deal of the fact that he had twice visited the Court-house, and that on both occasions, while the people were being kept out, the portion of the building reserved for the public was almost empty. The right hon. Gentleman omitted, however, to allude to Colonel Caddell's explanation that the reason why the Court-house was empty was because the people had gone out in order to see the row, and perhaps some of them to take part in it. Having reviewed the efforts made to evade investigation of their charges, I come to the question as to whose interest it was that disturbances should take place in Tipperary. Let us examine the position of the Magistrates. I had an opportunity of conversing with Magistrates in many parts of Ireland, and I found that every one of them regarded the peace and order and quiet in his district as the seal of his success. Each Magistrate regarded disturbances in his district with the greatest regret, and always spoke of them as mitigating the satisfaction he felt in the discharge of his Magisterial duties. You might just as well expect a business man to be proud of the failure of his commercial enterprises as to find a Resident Magistrate in Ireland, who does not regard the maintenance of peace and order as the seal of his success. Again, there is no reason to expect that the Constabulary would enjoy any conflict with the people. 747 The Constabulary come from the peasant class, and are so chosen as to represent the different proportions of religious opinions in Ireland. Moreover, they often belong to families the members of which hold the strongest views in favour of Home Rule. These men do not form a hostile army introduced into Ireland. They are, as I say, Irish peasants chiefly of the religious opinion prevailing in Ireland, men who have every reason to sympathise with the people and every interest in avoiding entering into conflict with them. Let us turn to the other side and see why there was that interest in promoting discord among those whose sentiments were represented at that Court. We have heard a quotation from the hon. Member who figured so strongly in the riots, disclosing his love for a scrimmage. One of the hon. Members brought to the prison that day ten days afterwards made a speech which was no less suggestive of that view. He said that the battlefield was the same as that of '98, and that it was well fixed among the matchless men of Tipperary. It seems to me that those who have deliberately fixed such a battlefield in Tipperary are responsible for any disturbance that may arise, and for the ruin brought about. As between the Magistrates on the one hand and those who have declared that they will make Government in Ireland impossible, I cannot conceive how anyone can think it probable that the conflict has been brought about by the former. To believe that any Magistrate would desire disorder, you must suppose him to be not only a wicked man, but a self-sacrificingly wicked man. As to the great conspiracy trial, there was exactly the same design on the part of Irish Nationalists to avoid judicial investigation. In that great trial, there were 28 charges Sworn as to having occurred on 18 separate days. One of those bombs which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle referred to so lightly, was of such a character as to smash a lamp 30 yards away. The long list of outrages included the throwing of many bombs, firing at unpopular persons, and every form of outrage against person and property. Yet not a single man among the defendants brought one witness to rebut these charges. We are driven to one of two conclusions— 748 either that they knew no one of these charges could be rebutted, or else they feared that the witnesses under cross-examination would make such admissions as to shed the clearest light upon what was going on in Tipperary, and so let the British public see what terrible things were being done. In Tipperary we have had one of the most tremendous examples of the character of the Irish Nationalists—that is, their want of respect for, their want of toleration for, difference of opinion. Not only have you had these outrages, directed against opponents of the Nationalists, but against Nationalists themselves. If a Nationalist shows that he thinks the other Nationalists are going too far, he at once is subjected to the assaults made in the name of the Nationalists' cause. In Tipperary one of these bombs was thrown against the premises of a well-known Nationalist merely because he held rather moderate views compared with those of other Nationalists. Therefore, the front of his shop was wrecked on the very night that the right hon. Gentleman visited the City of Tipperary. The same characteristic of intolerance was shown at Kilkenny, unanimity being there sought by resort to physical violence. There was no attempt to reason about the Nationalist views. The only uniformity they seek is that which is brought about by the reign of terror. Hon. Members have spoken about the desirability of substituting trial by jury for trial by Resident Magistrates—as if that would enlarge the liberty of the Irish people. It is true that the Resident Magistrates in Ireland have been attacked, but the Parnell Commission showed the people of this country that the most eminent and respected of English judges could not escape the objections levelled against the Irish Magistrates. Even the most impartial of English Judges did not satisfy Irishmen in a case in which they were interested. As to trial by jury, I ask you to consider the nature of the boycotting cases, and you will come to the conclusion that trial by jury is out of the question in such cases. Persons in Ireland have been boycotted for years because they had done that which in England or Scotland would not have brought them a shadow of unpopularity. In one instance a man took the farm of 749 an absentee tenant who had been evicted. The previous tenant and his family had lived away from the farm and found occupation in a town some distance off. They ceased to pay rent, and the landlord took possession. The man who took possession of a farm which had been so left vacant would not in England or Scotland fall under the shadow of a shade of unpopularity. But what has been the case in Ireland? That man who took the farm has been rigidly boycotted; no one under the powers of the League will sell to him or buy from him; he is not allowed even to visit his widowed sister, who, if he should visit her, has been threatened with the boycott and all its severe penalties. Could anyone who listens to the tale of this man and all he has suffered offer him only the protection which is to be got from a local jury? I care not for my present purpose whether the man has been boycotted spontaneously by the people or under compulsion. If they have done so spontaneously, and so hate him that they treat him as a leper, then they are not fit to sit in judgment upon anyone who commits an outrage against him. If, on the other hand—which is far more probable—the great bulk of the neighbours of that man have no ill-will against him, but are coerced into boycotting him—["Name!"]—Michael Ryan—then, I say, they would be open to similar coercion if they were empannelled on a jury. To offer a man as protection a jury which would be bound to acquit anyone who committed an outrage against him is really to declare that such a man is an outlaw, and no longer entitled to the protection of the law, which is the first right of every citizen of a civilised country. Michael Ryan, and men like him, are keeping the lamp of liberty burning in Ireland, and for the cause of political freedom and individual liberty we can do no greater service than by supporting the Amendment of my hon. Friend behind me. I, for one, shall have the greatest pleasure in recording my vote along with him, believing that the cause of political freedom and of individual liberty is the noblest cause to which a politician can devote himself.
§ (9.15.) SIR T. G. ESMONDE (Dublin Co., S.)
I have followed this Debate with some attention, 750 and the only defence of the Government's policy I have heard has proceeded from Members of the Liberal Unionist Party. Seeing that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is not such as to command the approval of the majority in England, these Gentlemen are doing the best they can to give this bad case a gloss in favour of Her Majesty's Government. The hon. Member (Mr. C. Corbett) was very earnest in his defence of Colonel Caddell, a Gentleman with whom I have not the honour of being acquainted. I will not follow him into that defence. But the hon. Member then went on to charge the Irish Party with being responsible for the disturbances which occurred in Tipperary. That is precisely the point on which I join issue with them. We say that the disturbances at the Court-house in Tipperary on that day, were directly due to the action of the police. The police made an attack upon an inoffensive and defenceless crowd, who were endeavouring to gain entrance to the Court-house. The hon. Member for South Tyrone said that the Court-house could not hold any more. But we have the evidence of the people that it was almost empty. So far as I can gather from the statements made, and from the newspapers, and I believe it is the fact, on that occasion the police attacked the people without any orders from their superior officers. There were numbers of sympathisers with the hon. Members for Cork and East Mayo anxious to gain admission to the Court. Suddenly the police, without warning, attacked the people. They attacked them as they always do in Ireland, with the utmost savagery. They batoned these people with very great savagery, and they refused to return to their ranks when ordered by their officers, who seemed to have lost control over their men. When we are told that the attack by the police was harmless, I am reminded of one case, that of Keefe, a reporter, whose teeth were knocked down his throat by a baton blow. But suddenly the police discovered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle was amongst the crowd, and the change in their demeanour was simply magical. They got back to their ranks, and they tried to appear as if that had been their desire all the time. This fact of their altered 751 demeanour because an Englishman was present ought to be laid to heart by Irishmen, because it shows the different treatment which Englishmen and Irishmen receive at the hands of Her Majesty's Government. An Irishman need expect no proper treatment, no constitutional liberty or privileges; he is simply born to be batoned, shot, imprisoned, or hanged at the goodwill of those responsible for the maintenance of law and order in Ireland. On the whole, as an Irishman, I am not all sorry that this should he the case. I rather rejoice at these object lessons in the benefits we receive from English rule. I am reminded of what occurred to an English tourist in Ireland, who attended a public meeting that was dispersed by the police. This English tourist was batoned mercilessly. He went to his hotel, and next morning an officer of police waited upon him and made all sorts of apologies, imploring him to say nothing about the occurrence, and adding that he had been mistaken for an Irish Member, the result of which mistake was that the tourist's skull was almost cracked. These are object lessons in English rule. Then, mention has been made of bombs, or whatever the explosives were, of which use was made in the town of Tipperary. I was in the town of Tipperary on the very night when an explosive was fired against the house of a Nationalist. Being anxious to ascertain the amount of damage that had been done, I visited the place. I found that the plate glass window of Dr. O'Brien's house had been broken, but that the coloured bottles, such as are usually displayed by chemists, and which were immediately behind the broken window were uninjured. That fact indicates the measure of the force of the explosive that was used. Dr. O'Brien himself wrote that the damage only amounted to 4s. Coming to the case of my hon. Friends the Members for Cork and East Mayo, I am here to say that the crime for which they have gone to prison—if it be a crime at all—would be no crime in England or Scotland. If Her Majesty's Government attempted any proceedings of the sort in connection with the Cardiff strike, or some movement of the kind in London—if they tried here, as in Ireland, to strike at the right of combination, they would not remain very long on the Treasury Benches. 752 This Debate shows the value we are to place on the assurances of the Government as to their anxiety to maintain peace and order in Ireland, and to induce the Irish people to pay proper respect to the law. If the law was broken in New Tipperary it was broken by the agents of the Government, and yet not one of them has been brought to book for his misdemeanours. We have not, however seen that the Government is anxious to vindicate the law when the offender is an Irish official, although steps are taken to that end when the offender is a Nationalist. We are told that the Irish people are disloyal, and have a rooted antipathy to obeying or respecting the law, but how can anyone obey or respect the law when it is administered as the law is administered in Ireland? If a man be a Nationalist, there is no law for him, but if he is on the side of the Government, in whatever he does the law will bear him harmless. No doubt it is hard on the Irish police to keep within the law in face of the incitements daily offered by those to whom they look as their leaders and commanders. They would be more than human were they to disregard those incitements to persecute the people and to defy the law. No Irish policeman gets promotion or gets marks unless he makes himself particularly obnoxious to those among whom he lives. It is those who make themselves most obnoxious who win the favour of the Government representatives. But if to some extent we absolve the police from responsibility for the disorder they create, we cannot absolve those who are really responsible to the Irish people and to this House for the maintenance of law and order in Ireland. If the Government really want peace and order they must begin by teaching their own officials to respect the law, but all they want to do is to maintain the pretence of disturbance and disorder so that they may have an excuse for endeavouring by coercive means to put down those who are endeavouring to obtain Home Rule for Ireland. They are endeavouring to make capital out of what has occurred in Tipperary. All we can do is to endeavour to expose their proceedings, and to bring home to the English people some knowledge of the sort of mis-government which is carried on in 753 the Sister Island, in the hope that the day is not far distant when those things will be altered, and we shall have as good Government in Ireland as now exists in England and Scotland. We can only advise our people in the face of the provocations offered by their rulers to keep their temper, but at the same time to assert their right to live as a free people in their own country, in the hope that in spite of all attempts at coercion or to upset the movement in favour of National Government, they will yet be able to obtain the control of their own Government and the administration of the affairs of their own country.
§ (9.37.) MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
I have listened to the able speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down with a considerable degree of disappointment. We have been accustomed to much larger utterances from the Members below the Gangway. I had anticipated that the hon. Member would not only have covered the whole of the ground included in the Motion before the House, but that he would have travelled far beyond it, and brought under our notice every act of the last three years on which it is possible to found an indictment against Her Majesty's Government. But if we exclude the pious aspiration with which he concluded, namely, that Ireland may soon enjoy the Government on which his Party have set their hearts, we find that he has closely followed the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle in confining his attention to the action of the police in one small town during a period of three days only. If we compare this Debate upon a Vote of Censure with previous Debates of a like character in this House, and if we have regard to the larger scope of the former discussions, we must perceive that in attacking the Government our opponents have set themselves the task of firing at a constantly diminishing target. I allude, of course, not to numbers, but to actions for which the Government are responsible, and in which hon. Members opposite may consider the Government to have erred. And I am bound to say that the success which has attended their efforts in the past affords no explanation of these progressive steps in political marksmanship 754 which they have set themselves to accomplish. No one has proceeded further in this direction than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who was not content with narrowing the issue in his own speech to the action of the police, but who found fault with the hon. Member for Tyrone for taking into consideration matters of graver import which were most certainly included in the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. He accused the hon. Member for Tyrone of shifting the issue from the natural sense of that Resolution, and he did so on grounds which filled us on this side of the House with amazement. The right hon. Gentleman said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle excluded from his purview the trial for conspiracy because it was sub judice, and that he referred to the action of the police because it was not under review of the Courts of law. The House will learn with amazement that the very reverse is the case; the cases which have formed the sole topic of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, and almost the sole topic of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian are all sub judice, whereas the matters which have constituted almost the whole speech of the hon. Member for South Tyrone have all been concluded before Courts of Law in a sense which proves that the action of the Government has been right all through. But, apart from the impropriety of the time chosen for this attack, it is noteworthy that the attack on the Government has been made in respect of matters for which they are only indirectly responsible. The Government are responsible directly for the prosecutions, but only indirectly for the conduct of the Magistrates and police. They are, I admit, technically responsible also for that, and they do not shrink from the responsibility. My point is, that while the matter of their policy has passed unchallenged, they have been attacked for the manner in which their subordinates have carried out that policy in Tipperary. The chief accusations are that a certain Resident Magistrate, Colonel Caddell, handled the police in an unwise way at Tipperary, and that the police acted violently towards the 755 people. The Government are also charged, and for this they are more directly responsible, with having selected Mr. Shannon to adjudicate in the trial at Tipperary. That is the sum total of the offences charged against the Government, and I think such a narrow field would not have been chosen by the Opposition if they had thought that there was a better chance of victory in attacking the Irish policy of the Government in its substance instead of the manner in which it has been carried out. With regard to the accusation that the Government have confused executive and judicial functions in the selection of Mr. Shannon, what are the facts? Mr. Shannon was sent for in May, and acted executively upon two days, the 25th and the 27th of May. He had never been at Tipperary before, and left after those two days, and did not return until the 10th of July, long before this prosecution was instituted. Why did Mr. Shannon return? He was sent for in order to effect the very purpose which the Government is now blamed for neglecting—in order to discriminate between judicial and executive functions. Mr. Shannon is a Magistrate well qualified to exercise judicial functions, and was selected for that purpose in order that Colonel Caddell, and other Resident Magistrates who have the management of the police, should not sit on the Bench in a case of this kind. Was that selection absurd? Who is Mr. Shannon? He is a barrister, and has had a distinguished University career; he won a classical scholarship at Dublin, took a double-first, was a Vice-Chancellor's prizeman, and secured the gold medal for rhetoric. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, in saying that Mr. Shannon had only eaten certain dinners, apparently forgot that he defended the police when the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for them in connection with the Belfast riots. The occurrences at Belfast afforded a striking contrast to the occurrences at Tipperary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle said he was not responsible for the executive and judicial confusion at Belfast; that two Resident Magistrates merely continued to sit in the ordinary way with the Local Justices. But in the course of the Belfast riots no less than 756 29 Resident Magistrates were drafted into Belfast, and sat with 60 Local Magistrates to adjudicate on the matters brought before them. They sat in rotation, and no attempt was made to prevent them from judging men whom they had arrested in the streets. I have endeavoured to defend the Government upon the merits of this selection, but really there is no need for the Government to be defended in this House for selecting Mr. Shannon to adjudicate at these trials. The matter has already been decided by a much more competent tribunal. All these charges brought against the Government were threshed out in a Court of Law before Mr. Justice Holmes, who stated that, having gone through all the facts, he had come to the conclusion that there was nothing to show that Mr. Shannon was disqualified to sit. Again, those who were tried by Mr. Shannon had an appeal, and if they disliked the tribunal by which they were convicted, why did they not seek another? It certainly seems a little hard that the Government should be censured for selecting a tribunal of which the defendants, if they are to be judged by their action, evidently approved. The two other accusations brought against the Government, namely, that the police were badly handled and that they acted with unnecessary violence and cruelty on the 25th and 26th of May, are, as I have already pointed out, still sub judice and ought not to have been discussed here to-night; but perhaps I may justifiably refer to the testimony of an hon. Member, which has already been quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone, as to the conduct of the only person we have yet heard of as having been seriously injured in these riots. We are told that the police handled the people, and especially the people's Representatives, roughly. The hon. Member for Cork has described the action of the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary in having fought the police single-handed, nearly choking three of them. That is the account of one hon. Gentleman's conduct given by another; the other day we had an account of another hon. Gentleman's conduct given by himself. The Member for East Donegal told the House what means he took to identify the police in the North 757 of Ireland on another occasion—so that what with one hon. Gentleman chalking the police in the North and another choking them in the South of Ireland, we can hardly be surprised if this unusually familiar contact between the Representatives of the people and the police leads to rather more strained relations between these two sets of public servants than we are accustomed to on this side of the water. The hon. Member for Mid Tipperary is in the House, and I am certain that he, as an expert in these matters, will be able to estimate the insignificance of this affair by the number of killed and wounded in the Tipperary engagement. It was said at first that he alone had suffered, but afterwards we were informed that another individual was also injured; these make up the total of killed and wounded at Tipperary. At Cashel the killed and wounded numbered three; three constables who were more or less seriously injured, a list of five in all—which must appear truly despicable in the eyes of that political Pollux the Member for Mid Tipperary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle finally said that whatever the defence of the Government was, and whatever the capital they tried to make by contrasting the occurrences at Tipperary with those at Belfast, he, at any rate, had granted an inquiry, whereas the Government in this case have refused an inquiry. But for a parallel to Tipperary I should look rather to the Wexford riots in 1883. There the same kind of conflict took place between the police and the people. There an Irish Member of Parliament was also a witness. The then Chief Secretary heard what he had to say, and refused an inquiry, stating that the only tribunals that could try such charges were the tribunals of the country, and although the hon. Member might have his suspicion of those tribunals, it was absolutely impossible to substitute any other tribunals for them. But the late Chief Secretary for Ireland may decline to be bound by the precedent of his right hon. Friend now sitting next to him (Sir G. Trevelyan). He may say that at any rate he granted an inquiry. Nobody can be surprised at that. What comparison can there be between Tipperary, where five persons in all were 758 more or less injured, and Belfast, where in the single night of the 9th June, the police at Shanks-hill fired 201 rounds, killing seven persons, three of whom were women, and one a woman not even in the street but standing at the window of her own house? And what was the inquiry granted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle in the case of the Belfast riots, and of which he is so proud? It was an inquiry before three gentlemen who had no power to take evidence upon oath, and it was not until the right hon. Gentleman the present President of the Board of Trade came into office that such a power was conferred upon them. When I consider that the two right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken have confined their attacks to the manner in which the policy of the Government has been carried out by their subordinates, I cannot but think that these self-appointed critics are rather fastidious. We may congratulate them on the amount of delicate sensibility they have acquired since they were responsible for the Magistrates who came hot from the streets to sentence men they had arrested, and for police who fired at the people in platoons till they nearly exhausted their ammunition. The real question the House ought to decide, even according to the terms of the right hon. Gentleman's own Motion, is: Ought these prosecutions to have been undertaken, or ought they not? If the Government are right in proceeding against those whom they believe to have been guilty of a criminal conspiracy, then all the rest is but matter of detail. The question in which the country takes an interest is whether these gentlemen have been rightly or wrongly imprisoned. At any rate, this is a matter which is of more serious importance, and affects the credit of the Government more directly than any other question brought before the House to-night. The House has heard a good deal of the charge of the Chief Baron read, and there is no doubt, if the Chief Baron's law is worth anything, that these gentlemen entered into a combination to commit a private wrong. There is also no doubt that to enter into a combination to commit a private wrong is to enter into an illegal conspiracy. For those who support the Government that is enough. We who are not so 759 ostentatiously enamoured of equal rights as some hon. Gentlemen opposite, believe that the Member for Huntingdon has a right equal to that of any man in the street to appeal for the law's protection when he is wronged. But I know hon. Gentlemen opposite do not attach much importance to criminal conspiracies, even when told by the learned Judge that they are against the law of the land. All these conspiracies are said by them to be voluntary combinations against harsh landlords. But in Tipperary was the landlord harsh, or the combination voluntary? If you read the judgment of the learned Chief Baron you will find that it was not so in either case. For seven years there were only two evictions on his estate, but immediately after this conspiracy was started the number of evictions was 122. The learned Judge attributed the conspiracy not to the exaction of excessive rents, but to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen. I suppose that those who entered the conspiracy at first may have done so of their own free will; but who can say that the rest were not forced to join it by the direst compulsion? And even those who entered into it at first were misled. They were drawn into the quarrel by being told that my hon. Friend the Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith Barry) had gone to the assistance of a man who was exacting grossly unjust rents, whereas Mr. Ponsonby had received no rents for four years. They were told that in consequence of the interference of my hon. Friend no terms were offered to the tenants, whereas, as a matter of fact, not only were terms offered to them, but terms that were almost indistinguishable from the extreme demands of the Plan of Campaign. Whereas the Plan of Campaign, in the case of non-judicial tenants, that is, of all the tenants but 27, demanded a reduction of 35 per cent., Mr. Ponsonby offered a reduction of 32 per cent. It came to this, that in the case of a tenant with an annual rent of £20, whereas the Plan of Campaign asked him to pay £13 for ever, Mr. Ponsonby asked for £13 12s., not for ever, but for 49 years, when the tenants would get the reversion of the fee simple. Does anyone believe any person would enter into a voluntary 760 combination against his landlord in such a fool's quarrel as that? We know perfectly well he would not. We have it on the judgment of the Chief Baron that the action of the tenants was brought about by violence, by assaults, and by boycotting. We know they themselves assert that they were entitled to use the weapons of boycotting and the Plan of Campaign not as against a harsh landlord, but as a move in the political war—a war which is conducted on the original plan of reserving their fire exclusively for those of their own side who run away. I think you can judge conclusively of the spirit in which these weapons were used by the language of a gentleman who, on the 16th September, before the Tipperary Board of Guardians, proposed a resolution approving of such weapons. Mr. Grogan, who moved the resolution, is a lover of the "good old times." He said they were poor weapons to those employed in Tipperary in old days, when they met the tyrants face to face at places which he named, and at which atrocious crimes were committed involving the deaths of four men and serious injury to three others. But we have the evidence not only of such words, but of outrages actually committed. It is the fashion to scoff at these outrages in this House, and to ask how many have been proved recently. Of course, none have been proved except those absolutely germane to the issue before the tribunals, but 16 of such cases have been proved, involving three or four of bombs and infernal machines. [Opposition cries.] I know perfectly well that hon. Gentlemen opposite prefer to call them squibs. I quarrel with no man, here or elsewhere, on a matter of definition. I have held one of them in my hands. It was an iron cylinder 10 inches long, 5 in diameter, filled with gunpowder and iron nails; and as I was unable to discover any difference in regard to the materials used and the mode of construction between it and the shrapnel shell, I call them bombs. But it is not only that bombs have been used. Men have been beaten, the windows of tradesmen have been smashed and their goods burned. Do hon. Gentlemen approve of these acts? If not, why do they not condemn them? Why do they imply by their laughter that they have never been committed? The tone that prevails in Tipperary is 761 such that the priests there actually praise the men who would not assist the police in bringing the perpetrator of an atrocious crime to justice. But the criminal was brought to justice, and the learned Judge who tried the case I refer to laid stress on the fact that the boycotted man had surrendered wealth equal to £1,500, and said a man was mad not to resist such oppression. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) to talk of the old love of liberty that is inherent in the breasts of Englishmen. This system of intimidation has worse consequences than the depriving men of their property. Men have all the manliness ground out of them by this tyranny to such a degree that to find a parallel it is necessary to go back to the ignominious oppression our Saxon forefathers underwent at the hands of their Norman conquerors. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) at the end of his speech did indeed pass for a moment from this narrow issue to attack the Crimes Act and its administration in general terms. He spoke of the conduct of some of the Resident Magistrates as atrocious, and of the Crimes Act as against all the dictates of reason and decency. If hon. Members will turn from his eloquent denunciations to a dull matter, namely, the 84th page of the Judicial and Criminal Statistics in Ireland, they will find that in the administration this law, which we are told is against all the principles of reason and justice, and aimed against combinations which would be legal in England, during the last four years the vast majority of cases have been under Sub-section 3 of Section 2 of the Act, that is to say for riot, unlawful assembly and assault, which, whatever else they may be, can under no circumstances be regarded as coming within the category of criminal combinations. But we can proceed much further in disproof of this unfounded allegation. I went through the proceedings of last year, and out of the 530 proceedings I took the first 50 at random and found many cases which not only were not combinations of tenants, but which did not spring from combinations of tenants. Take the case of the 30 men who were proceeded against in Tyrone for religious 762 faction fighting. Take the case of the 16 members of the O'Neil family who obtained notoriety for fighting inter se because they were unable to discover to which members of the family the furniture they had warehoused belonged. Then there is the case of a man named Allen, for concerting with whom certain people had their houses broken into. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will assume that Allen was one who betrayed the people behind their backs, that he truckled to a brutal landlord. On the contrary, Mr. Allen was the late secretary of the National League, but had become unpopular because he had closed on the accounts, and because through his instrumentality the instruments of the local band had been stolen.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I have gone very carefully into the matter. If the hon. Gentleman means that Allen does not now hold the money and the instruments he is quite right. Allen returned the money through Father Kennedy, and the band through the kind offices of the parish priest. I admit that amongst the cases proceeded against last year there were some which, though not cases of combination against landlords, sprang from such combination. I have in mind a case in which a man was prosecuted for firing shots at another man at a distance of 100 yards. That is only accounted as intimidation, but there are crimes closely allied to that that are far more serious. Last year 22 persons in Ireland were killed, wounded, or fired at with intent to kill, all because they belonged to the class who are held up to public execration in public speeches in Ireland. Everyone of those crimes is directly due to the teaching that a man has some other title to land than that which is recognised by the law. Not one would have occurred but for the doctrine that those who resist such claims are to be treated as lepers, and left to the mercy of the criminal classes. We are sometimes challenged to show a direct connection between violent speeches and crimes that are committed. The relation between the speeches that are delivered and the violent crimes that follow, is analogous to that between insanitary surroundings and the disease 763 germs that thrive and propagate in them. The case of Michael Ryan has already been mentioned. He has been persecuted for years by speeches directed against him, by the Press, and by having his movements shadowed at fairs in order to prevent him making a livelihood. In 1888 persons were prosecuted for speaking against him, and the Judge said the language used by one gentleman would support an indictment for incitement for assassination. But even in such cases as that of Ryan there is some comfort. Deeply as we deplore these reiterated attacks, the very fact that they are repeated, that they have to be repeated, that in the absence of speeches and resolutions and the active interference of League agents, the persecution would die down, proves that this illegal intimidation is not a natural growth of Irish life, but the forced product of political agitation. We see that the rack will not work unless there is constant straining upon the levers Since this is so, the last excuse for not supporting the Government is swept away. For it is clear that by striking at intimidation and striking at the conspiracies that invariably bring intimidation in their train, the Government can restore, and has restored, safety and liberty to the class from whose ranks the victims of agrarian outrage are drawn. With such a high inducement to persevere, I cannot conceive that any Government would hesitate, even before the Vote of Censure moved annually by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. It is, of course, a serious matter for us who sit behind the Government to be told with much emphasis once in every 12 months that we are supporting them in prosecuting men whose motives and intentions are pure and patriotic, and in every way incomparably superior to our own. But we are not here to judge of the intentions of any man. Happily we have no consciences to keep but our own, and in the discharge of that humble task we shall have no difficulty in deciding to-night between an Opposition whose doctrines have endangered life, and a Government whose action has saved it.
§ (10.17.) MR. HARRISON (Tipperary, Mid)
In the speech in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle opened this Debate, he made 764 reference to certain transactions in the town of Tipperary of which I was an eye witness, and in which I was to a certain extent a participant. Under such circumstances I crave the indulgence of the House while I refer to the transactions for a few moments. As I understand it, the Motion of the right hon. Member for Newcastle impeaches the administration of justice in Ireland, and the main allegation of those who support it is that the law is being strained and tampered with, and that justice is being prostituted for partisan ends. The only rebutting allegation on the other side appears to be that in a considerable number of cases the law has been broken by certain individuals engaged in alleged wrongful combinations. Surely the House will not fail to see that there is no connection between the defence put forward by the supporters of the Government and the offences alleged against the administrators of the law? I cannot see how the commission of certain offences, about which in many cases there may be differences of opinion, can be taken as any justification whatever for the Government going beyond the powers given them by law and straining the law in order to place their forces at the disposal of the strong and rich as opposed to the weak and poor combined in their own defence. Two or three quotations have been made from the Press to show that I approached affairs in Tipperary in a peculiar temper, a temper which might lead one to place himself unduly in hostility towards the forces of Her Majesty. Another quotation has been adduced to show that it is practically avowed on this side that I behaved in the fashion attributed to me; a third quotation, about which I feel less disposed to defend myself, has been made from the picturesque description of these transactions in Tipperary as reported by the reporter of the Cork Examiner. I believe I am reported to have said at a banquet in Tipperary that I did not go there exactly for ornamental purposes, and I hoped that if on any future occasion there was a scrimmage I should have a chief place in the fray. I delivered a speech of some length, but I am not of sufficient importance for the reporters to give me minute attention or to report me verbally. They completely misconceived my 765 meaning and misconstructed my words, and the report neither in word nor substance represents what I said. That was the first occasion on which I had met the people of Tipperary subsequent to my election for one of the divisions of the county, and what I said was that on that occasion I had been employed in attempting, and had partially succeeded, to lead the police away in order that my hon. Friends the Members for East Mayo and North-East Cork might address the people of Tipperary. I said my part on that occasion had been somewhat inglorious, but whenever there were any difficulties as between the people and the Crown—whenever there were prosecutions to be faced, or, if necessary, whenever there was police violence to be faced, they would not find me shirking my duty as a Member for the county. If political prosecutions were to be faced, if batoning was to be faced, I hoped the Executive Government would single me out as a representative of the people, and therefore as one of the people first to be attacked. That is entirely different in substance to the report which has been alleged against me. The report in the Cork Examiner represents that I was eager to put myself forward to fight the police; but my version of the story is that if there was any inconvenience forthcoming from the Executive towards the people of Tipperary, I hoped I might be one of the people to suffer. Another quotation made purported to be one from a speech delivered by the hon. Member for Cork in introducing me to some people in Rathdowney, in Kilkenny. He is reported to have said that I must be a good man and true because I had choked three policemen. I am authorised by the hon. Member for Cork to state, and my own impression coincides with his version of the story, that what he said was this—that I must be a good man and true, because it was alleged by the Crown and by their adherents that I had choked three policemen. The House will therefore observe that the hon. Member for Cork was merely quoting the dicta of our opponents in justification of himself, and in no way casting his great authority over the statement which he then made. I am sorry to have to trouble the House with these personalities, but as they have 766 been introduced I intend with indulgence of the House to deal with them, The hon. Member for South Tyrone talked about boycotting and intimidation, and I believe dragged in the Decalogue, which I notice is used by opponents to ruin others rather than for the better ordering of their own conduct. It is needless to quarrel with the hon. Member for South Tyrone, because it is known he holds a brief for the Ministerialists as a peripatetic special pleader to go about defending everything that is most abhorrent to the moral sense of the Irish people; he mearly retains the names of Irishman and Liberal in order the better to give assistance to those who are least Irish and least Liberal. A few vague personalities, gleaned from papers and gossip, are all the hon. Member can allege against my Tipperary colleagues. With my own personal experiences I would not have troubled the House if it were not that hon. Members are not cognizant of the evidence I gave on oath, evidence which was not shaken by cross-examination nor rebutted by any other evidence. I happened to be in Tipperary when the trial was about to come on. We approached the Court-house intending to be present and found the way leading to it heavily occupied by military and police. We made our way through the cordon of police; and here I would remark that if there was any disorderly crowd at the gates it was the fault of Colonel Caddell, who allowed the crowd to pass his lines and congregate there. Some were admitted, some were refused; but according to the law of Ireland and constitutional usage, this vast and excited multitude as it has been called had as good a right to be admitted as the right hon. Member for Newcastle or anybody else not immediately concerned in the proceedings. Some of us, however, were admitted and others refused admission. On what basis the selection was ordered I do not know, but it is now in evidence on the depositions that the Executive officers said that they would admit only those who had business as witnesses, defendants, or counsel for the defence. But we do not so much challenge the action of the Executive in excluding the people, though that is a grave charge, as in attacking a small crowd hemmed in on two sides by stone walls, and on two other 767 sides by an armed force which attacked them, when there was no possibility of escape, with violence and unnecessary brutality. The crowd has been variously estimated as numbering from 30 to 100, but it is certain the crowd was vastly outnumbered by the armed force Colonel Caddell had on the spot. Of course, there are from the other side the customary allegations of violence against different members of the crowd. My own story has been given in evidence, and I only wish now to put the main facts. I made my way outside the Court-yard at the time when this ferocious rush of a vast and excited multitude was supposed to be taking place, and I took my stand by the hon. Member for North-East Cork in order that he might not suffer violence. I in no way assaulted the police, except in so far as I lifted up my hand to ward off a blow. I saved one blow from falling on the head of a man who was standing with his hands in his pockets. A minute or two afterwards a policeman endeavoured to strike me with the butt-end of his rifle, while several others caught me by the throat and shoulders, and at the same time a policeman struck me from behind on the head. Then, and not until then, did I strike any blow; and I consider, according to the theory of self-defence enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in the case of Hargan the other day, that I was perfectly justified. The man was endeavouring to hit me with his rifle, and I hit out. Slightly stunned as I was by the blow on the head I had received, I did not see the effect of my blow, but I have reason to believe that the precautionary measures which I adopted were such as to induce the policemen to refrain from any further attack. I was then escorted inside and seen by a doctor, and in a few minutes after I found that the gates had been thrown open and that the crowd had entered, and that there was ample room for me to get into the hall. I pass on to subsequent proceedings. We knew, or we were able to gather from the ordinary procedure of the Crown in such cases that, having been baptised in our blood, we should be subsequently confirmed by the laying on of the policemen's hands in the form of arrest. It was as expected. The Chief Secretary complained of the 768 postponement of the legal proceedings, but I will explain the cause why they are still sub judice. Immediately on prosecuting the policeman who assaulted me, the Bench was packed by Removable Magistrates, and the action of the Crown was peculiarly illustrative of their tactics, which to any fair-minded man would show the absence of bona fides on the part of the Executive. When I prosecuted the police for assault it was open to the police to proceed against me by cross-summons, and then the whole case would have been threshed out and the merits of the case discussed. They took no such course. But the Bench was packed in such a way as to leave me no alternative but to abandon the case. Then I was served with a summons under the Coercion Act, but subsequently proceedings under this Act were dropped and we were told we were to have the full benefit of a jury. Then on the first occasion of its coming on the Crown had the case postponed for a week, and subsequently for three weeks; they postponed it so often, that at last I refused to go over except on a warrant; but though I refused, the Government have never yet had the warrant executed. In connection with this case I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what course he intends to pursue, how much of the remainder of this year will be left at my disposal for holidays, and when the matter will be brought to an issue? If the case is brought before a jury, not packed, and any capable Judge I will undertake that it will be riddled in one or two days, and that these proceedings will collapse like so many other proceedings of the Government. Some reference has been made to the amount of injury inflicted upon the crowd on the occasion, though for my part I do not think the exact amount of injury makes much difference in a constitutional matter such as this. I can only say that immediately after the police attacked the crowd a man was brought into the Courthouse in a very painful condition, he having three or four wounds on his head in which a finger could be laid, and which went down to the bone, whilst the rest of his head was bruised as if it had been battered against the wall. I maintain that an unnecessary amount of inconvenience and suffering 769 was inflicted by the police upon the persons in the crowd on the occasion referred to, and not being either a Tory or that abnormal lusus naturæ a budding Tory statesman, it is not open to me to estimate the amount of that inconvenience and suffering by the number of square inches of sticking-plaster which had been required. The charge we make against Her Majesty's Government is that they have introduced an unconstitutional and a reactionary law into Ireland, and that that law they have administered in an unconstitutional spirit, and in a spirit of vindictive hostility towards the popular Party and the anti-landlord Party in that country, and that they have allowed that law to be so administered by men whose political views have alienated them away from all sympathy with the people.
§ (10.44.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
I apprehend that the House will have listened with consider able interest to two speeches which have been delivered by two comparatively young Members of this House, which give proof of the great ability which they possess. The speech of the hon. Member behind me was delivered in a thinner House than there is at present, but if the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had listened to it, it would have satisfied even him that there are hon. Members who are ready to take up in detail and to meet on every point the accusations which the right hon. Member for Newcastle has levelled against the Irish policy of Her Majesty's Government. The speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down was imbued with all that fire of youth which seems to distinguish all his actions. I am far from quarrelling with the hon. Gentleman, for as I understand his state of mind, he seems to regard the Irish question as something after the fashion of a town and gown row on an Imperial scale, into which he flung himself with all the ardour, the fire, and the courage becoming his years and sinews. It is a matter of interest to some hon. Members to know why this Motion was brought forward at all. For my own part, when I first heard of it—I was not in England at the time—I began to think that it had been placed upon the Paper rather through an un-770 fortunate habit than in consequence of any well-considered policy, and because right hon. Gentlemen opposite thought that no Parliamentary Session would be complete without they moved a Vote of Censure against the Government for the way in which they had administered the law in Ireland. Therefore anything, however frivolous, however trifling, is made to do duty for the purpose. But since I have listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I have somewhat altered my view. I conceived that this was a Vote of Censure on the Government for their administration in Ireland, but I find that it appears to be a continuance on the part of the right hon. Member for Newcastle of a personal controversy between him and myself which began in September or October last, the details of which I had thoroughly forgotten, but which appear to have rankled in his mind, and to have come out this evening in a most inappropriate way. After all, for a Vote of Censure, can you conceive anything so trivial as the case put before the House by the right hon. Gentleman? The hon. Member who has just sat down had his head broken—not badly broken, because, after going to the doctor, he immediately came back and began to doctor somebody else. The incidents to which the hon. Member referred are most objectionable ones, but they are the incidents which attend any riot, however trivial. Practically, the House is asked to go through all the elaborate forms of a Vote of Censure, and men have been whipped up from the furthest ends of the earth, to decide whether Her Majesty's Government are or are not to be allowed to retain their position because three or four gentlemen in Tipperary, when a Privy Councillor and an ex-Member of the Cabinet happened to be present, had their heads broken. I call it ridiculous. It is worse than ridiculous; under the circumstances in which we stand it is indecorous in the highest degree, and I will tell you why. This is a matter the trial of which has been begun and has not been concluded, and when it comes before a Judge and a jury in March next, it will be found that the statements of two of the witnesses have been given in this House as ground for a Vote of Censure. When I first heard of this Resolution, I naturally thought that it was intended to deal with the 771 circumstances which led up to the trial of the recent conspiracy cases, and which, having been concluded, might have formed fair matters for criticism. But the right hon. Gentleman, instead of taking that course, comes down here and, in defiance of the commonest Parliamentary practice, insists upon discussing matters which ought only to be argued out in a Court of Law. I wonder that the right hon. Gentleman should have started on that course. I wonder still more that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, who was so anxious that I should reply to him, but who is not anxious enough to come down here and listen to that reply, and who always poses as the guardian of the purity of Parliamentary traditions, should have consented to be dragged by his colleague into a course which I think is so opposed to the true interests of Parliamentary Debate. I do not propose to follow these bad examples. There are certain topics in the speech of the right hon. Member for Newcastle, and in the speech of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian which, I apprehend, will not form part of the proceedings in the Court of Law in March, and which I will touch upon. I will not touch upon the questions of fact on which the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member who has just sat down, and other English and Irish gentlemen not less worthy of credit and not less capable of using their eyes as they are, take such diametrically opposite views. The right hon. Member for Newcastle has approached this question as if it were the subject-matter of personal controversy between himself and me. Look at it from the personal point of view, and let us consider what the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman was in this matter. Twelve persons, three of them Members of this House, were brought before a Court in Tipperary to be tried for conspiracy. The result of that trial everybody knows; but before the result of that trial was known everybody who knew anything about Ireland was perfectly well aware that all the principal persons concerned in it were guilty of the offence of which they were charged for they never made any secret of it themselves. The proudest boast of those gentlemen, the crown of honour which they would be furious if any one were to deprive them of it, is that they did com- 772 bine to injure my hon. Friend the Member for South Hunts, and they did so by means which turned Tipperary into a Sahara, and which caused it to be treated as if it were one of the Cities of the Plain. That was their own boast and confession. That was made when the right hon. Gentleman went down to Tipperary. He knew it, and knew it perfectly well; and whether those men were right or wrong, the result of this criminal conspiracy was to bring untold suffering on the population of Tipperary, suffering which it may or may not have been right in the interest of the Irish people to bring upon them, but which was inflicted upon them in consequence of an illegal conspiracy. Those were the notorious facts, and the facts which the men accused would be the last to deny. The right hon. Gentleman has been responsible for the government of Ireland. Either as Irish Secretary or in some other capacity I presume he expects to share in the government of the future. I know he does. He told us that he was coming into office at the next election, and he goes down with men whom he knows to be guilty.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I wish to remind the right hon. Gentleman that three of the defendants were acquitted by the Court.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, Sir; but, in the first place, not the defendants of whom I am speaking—the Members of this House.
§ MR. CONDON (Tipperary, E.)
I am a Member of this House, and I was one of the defendants, and I was acquitted.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And, in the second place, the right hon. Gentleman at this moment must know that some of those persons who were acquitted were acquitted on obviously and admittedly technical grounds, and that, if there be moral guilt attaching to this crime, that moral guilt attaches to them. The right hon. Gentleman denies that?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Does he deny that Father Humphreys, who was acquitted, but of whom the Judge who re-tried the case and re-surveyed the evidence practically said that he was as 773 guilty as the others—does he say that he was innocent?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I always thought that morality had been abandoned by the Liberal Party, but I never expected to hear them confess it. The right hon. Gentleman goes down and accompanies those gentlemen whom he must have known, if he had exercised the intelligence with which he has been so largely endowed by nature, were morally guilty of this offence. He accompanies a crowd which assembles to cheer for the prisoners, and to boo at the police escorting them. A more indecorous position to place himself in cannot be conceived. He says that he went down to see how the Chief Secretary was working the tremendous instrument which Parliament had placed in his hands. He was doing nothing of the kind. He was going down by his own confession to hammer, or help to hammer another nail in the coffin of the Government. He goes down on the constitutional ground to see the liberty of the subject respected! He went down as a politician for a political purpose. He went down as a Party man for a Party purpose; he went down as a wire-puller for a wire-pulling purpose. To carry out that object he was not ashamed to pursue a course which I venture to say no Privy Councillor, no Cabinet Minister, no man who ever expected or hoped to enter office again, ever pursued before. The right hon. Gentleman's first accusation was that he obtained ocular proof that the charge which has been so constantly made against the police in Ireland, that men were attacked and batoned, and I think he said brought to justice for booing and cheering, was true. As far as I can make out, nobody was batoned at that stage of the proceedings. Did he see anybody batoned? Did he see anyone brought to justice? No, he did not, though he tells us that he had ocular proof that booing the police was regarded as a criminal offence. This was the charge, so far as I can make out, which he made in his speeches at Swindon and St. Helen's. There is booing, no doubt. A crowd is assembled to boo the escort 774 or cheer the prisoner. The police who escort the prisoner are booed. I apprehend that that crowd, from the fact of doing these things, would be an illegal assembly. [Opposition laughter and ironical cheers.] I do not quarrel over that, because nothing was done to them. It is a mere legal dictum on which I say nothing, but I want to know this: How was it that every time that the right hon. Gentleman referred to this subject he omitted to state the fact that there was a large crowd and a relatively small escort, that the crowd booed the police and cheered the prisoners, and all this in a town which had for months been the scene of rioting and disorder, and where on legal evidence we have it that the police had to fire and had killed a man? [Loud cries of "No."]
§ MR. J. REDMOND
rose in his place Mr. A. J. BALFOUR refused to give way, and Mr. SPEAKER called on the Chief Secretary to proceed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member, I think, is mistaken; but, at any rate, the whole matter can be brought out before the House in question and answer.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have stated the fact, I believe. Before we come to the scene at the Court-house I wish to say a word or two on another subject. I shall not say a word about the evidence, because if I did so I should myself be guilty of the crime—the Parliamentary indecorum—of which I have complained in the case of two or three hon. Members who have spoken. But there is one question which does not affect the evidence in the case to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, and on which I think he ought to be corrected. He stated in his speech that under the Crimes Act itself it must be left entirely for the Magistrates inside the Court to see that the Court is not overcrowded, and that decorum is preserved in it; and he based upon that statement or theory 775 the astounding conclusion that Colonel Caddell was not justified in stopping the men coming in, even if he believed they would be riotous when there. That is not law or common sense in Ireland, and it is not law or common sense in England. The idea that a Magistrate must be precluded from stopping a disorderly, or noisy, or, for the sake of argument, I will say, a drunken crowd ["Oh, oh!"]—I do not say this crowd was drunken; I do not think it was—a disorderly or drunken crowd from going into a Court, is surely an outrage on the common sense of the House. Well, I leave that part of the question with only one other observation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was deeply indignant that in the conflict of testimony I pinned my faith on the evidence of others and rejected that of Privy Councillors and Members of Parliament. Privy Councillors and Members of Parliament may be better than other men, but they have not got better eyes; and if two men of equal probity give me different versions of the same matter, it is not an insult to one side to say that I prefer to believe the story of the other. But I need not pursue this. The matter will be threshed out in a few weeks, when the right hon. Gentleman will have that opportunity, of which he says he is so anxious to avail himself, of giving his evidence upon oath and under cross-examination. We shall then have all the facts before us, and I trust we shall then be able to form a final judgment on the evidence which has been accumulated in this matter. But let me again say the right hon. Gentleman had to make two speeches immediately after his visit to Tipperary, and there was nothing else to talk about in Ireland than this relatively trumpery riot, which never would have been heard of but for him, and which would have occupied the precise place in Irish history that its proportions seem to demand. Now, the right hon. Gentleman was very angry with me because, going back upon old speeches of mine, I accused him of garbling. I did do so. The expression may have been a strong one. As I do not love strong expressions—[Laughter.] Well, if I had carefully examined all my expressions I might possibly have 776 selected a milder, though not a less expressive one. But who is the right hon. Gentleman that he should complain of strong expressions?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, if it comes to that, I have to say the expression is the right one. The right hon. Gentleman was dealing with a Magistrate in Ireland who had very limited opportunities for defending his own case, and who had written an account of that case to the Times newspaper. The right hon. Gentleman knew of that letter. The letter was written to the Editor of the Times. I believe the right hon. Gentleman perfectly accurately quoted the letter he saw, but the letter he saw was not that in the Times; and I say that a person in the position of the right hon. Gentleman attacking a man in Colonel Caddell's position should, at all events, do him the justice to look at the newspaper to the editor of which his letter was directed before he founds upon a misquotation an accusation.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The right hon. Gentleman is misinformed. Colonel Caddell's letter was seen by me the day before it appeared in the Times, or was sent to the Times. It was published in three Dublin papers and in two London papers, and not in the Times till the following day. I read it on the first day it appeared.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The facts admitted by the right hon. Gentleman are these—that Colonel Caddell wrote a letter to the Editor of the Times. ["No."] Yes. That he did write a letter to the Editor of the Times is an admitted fact. The authentic copy of that letter appears, of course, in the paper to the editor of which it is written. It appeared in that paper the day before the right hon. Gentleman made his speech.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
On the same day, but before he made his speech. He made his speech, basing one of his main accusations against Colonel Caddell on the form in which the letter appeared 777 in the newspapers to the editors of which it was not directed, but not in the form in which it appeared in the paper to the editor of which it was directed.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I am sorry to be obliged to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman again. I assert this—that the letter was sent to these four or five other papers on the first occasion with the word "nearly," and that the word "entirely," which appeared in the Times, was a second and revised version.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The letter never purported to be anything but a letter to the Times. Is that admitted? [A VOICE: "No."] It appeared in that paper before the right hon. Gentleman made his speech. The right hon. Gentleman did not take the trouble to look at the form in which it appeared in the paper to the editor of which it was addressed, but used the form in which it appeared in some other paper. So far I accuse him of nothing but carelessness—a carelessness which, mark you, is serious when a person in the right hon. Gentleman's position is dealing with a person in Colonel Caddell's position. But I contend that when the error was pointed out he did not utter, and has never to this day, as far as I know, uttered, the slightest word of apology.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And that I call garbling. I could wish that the right hon. Gentleman, who is so sensitive on his own account, would, at all events, recollect that it matters little what epithets he uses to those who can reply to him face to face; but when he is dealing with persons who do not stand on an equality with himself, who cannot reply to him as I can reply to him, who are not Members of this House, but who are Magistrates, doing a difficult and laborious and, through the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, very often an unpopular duty in Ireland—he should recollect that epithets bandied between Members of Parliament matter very little; but when he describes a man like Colonel Caddell as incompetent, brutal, and lawless, I say it becomes very unnecessary for a politician henceforth to consider what shall be the language in which he shall describe the actions of the right hon. Gentleman. 778 The right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech made a rapid transition from Tipperary—to which he afterwards adverted—to the action of the Government in the case of the hon. Member for East Mayo, who spoke at Swinford, I think, on September 21 last. Now, the point is this. The Government did say—and I accept the whole responsibility of their action, which I myself directed—that if the hon. Member for East Mayo chose to make an illegal speech at Swinford, and that illegal speech, by the endorsement and co-operation of the crowd, constituted an unlawful assembly, that unlawful assembly should be dispersed. The real question we have to determine is this: Had the Government any ground for supposing that if the hon. Member for East Mayo went to Swinford he would, or would not, make an illegal speech? I say we had ample grounds for believing he would. Recollect that what was done was to warn the hon. Gentleman as politely as possible that this course would be pursued, and that the meeting might be proclaimed for this reason. It was, however, not proclaimed. Every desire was shown that the hon. Member should express his views provided they were views consistent with the law. If the House will consider not merely the action which the hon. Member has taken in past times in that district, where he started the Plan of Campaign, and where he has agitated more than once against rents, and still more, if they will consider the speeches which he made as he was going down to Swinford—speeches at which no police reporter was present, and which I take from a friendly newspaper, the Freeman's Journal, they will see that the object of the hon. Member for East Mayo in going down there was to turn the impending distress into a lever for political agitation. They were very remarkable speeches. The hon. Member for East Mayo distinctly looked back with regret to the action taken in the criminal times of 1880 and 1881. He says—There, now again you have distress—now again is the chance for you not to pay your rents,and he showed the clearest desire—and I do not think this will be denied by any of his friends—to turn the difficulties in 779 which the small farmers were likely to be put in the winter through the failure of the potato to account, not for the purpose of relieving that distress, but for the purpose of again reviving in its ancient bitterness the land war that existed in this district in 1880, 1881, and 1882. I shall not dwell further on that point, because the hon. Member for East Mayo is not present. But if any one will take the trouble to read the speeches to which I have referred he will see that I have not exaggerated by a hair's breadth the import of those speeches, and that I have done no injustice to the hon. Member of which he can complain. Having dealt with Swinford, the right hon. Gentleman reverted to Tipperary, and dealt with the question of the selection of the Magistrates who tried the case. There were two Magistrates, of course. The Chairman of the Court, Mr. Irwin, is a gentleman who, by the test which, after all, is the best possible test you can apply—the test of experience—has shown himself competent to deal with the most difficult cases under the Crimes Act. He had before dealt with such cases frequently; his decisions have constantly been reviewed by higher tribunals, and have never been reversed. But it is not against Mr. Irwin that the gravamen of the attack has been directed. The chief victim of hostile criticism has been Mr. Shannon, and, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle very justly and properly observed, the criticism, at any rate in his hands, has not been directed against Mr. Shannon, who is not responsible, but against the Government, who are responsible. Now, what justification had we for our action? Mr. Shannon, since the middle of July, had been placed in Tipperary to carry out judicial functions alone. To bring in from the outside some other Magistrate than Mr. Shannon could only have been justified if he had shown himself incompetent, or if there had been any strong reason why he should not sit on the Bench. Was there any justification for such a course? No more competent Resident Magistrate than Mr. Shannon sits in Ireland to decide questions. No more competent lawyer exists in Ireland, I believe, in the whole range of the Magistracy, from 780 the North of Ireland to the South, and I believe no man has a more distinguished past career than Mr. Shannon. It is obvious, therefore, that unless there were strong reasons for superseding him he should have been employed. He had a controversy, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle says, with the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who attacked him seriously in this House. Well, you cannot possibly exclude from these judicial proceedings everybody whom the Members for East Mayo and North East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) have attacked. It is absolutely out of the question. I have had the records of United Ireland examined for eight years, and I find they attack everybody. With regard to the Magistrates declared by the Lord Lieutenant to be legally competent to try these cases, I find that only three out of the whole number have escaped the animadversion of that intelligent journal. What are you to do under these circumstances? If people are gifted with this wealth of vituperation, how is it possible to find Judges to try them? They have only to abuse enough and they remain untriable. The right hon. Gentleman opposite took as an illustration the case of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Johnston) trying the learned Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy). He said how monstrous it would be for those two Members to try the Member for Longford. But if you wanted to try the Member for Longford, whom would you get? In what quarter of the House would you find the people whom he had never attacked? Would it be gentlemen below the Gangway on this side of the House? Would it be gentlemen opposite? Would it be gentlemen below the Gangway on the opposite side? If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had to carry out his imaginary case, and to find a jury in this House to try the Member for Longford, he positively could not do it on his own principles and by gentlemen whom the Member for Longford has never in the last ten years honoured by his abuse. The right hon. Gentleman anticipated, and anticipated truly, that I should use against him the tu quoque 781 argument. I pointed out in one of those unfortunate speeches of mine, or in a letter which I wrote to the papers on the same subject, that the right hon. Gentleman, when Chief Secretary, had himself in Belfast on a far greater scale done ten thousand worse things of the same kind than he accused me of doing in the present case. This part of the question was fully dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) early this evening. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that he left the Resident Magistracy in Ireland exactly as it was before the riots, and that the whole of the management of the riots was intrusted to the ordinary local Magistrates. That is not the case.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that not one, not two or three, but a dozen or 20 or more Resident Magistrates were drafted in from other parts of Ireland to deal with the Belfast riots. I think these riots were a very big thing. It was not the case of an hon. Gentleman having his head broken, but the case of men being day after day shot down in the streets, and of women day after day shot down at their work, of policemen firing hundreds of rounds from their barracks as they supposed, rightly or wrongly, in self-defence—of incidents compared with which Mitchelstown sinks into absolute insignificance. I do not suppose that in the history of Ireland—and it is a history of bitter faction—feeling between factions ever rose to such a point as it did in the case of the Belfast riots. Did the right hon. Gentleman then distinguish, as he now professes to do, between the Executive and the judicial functions? He did nothing of the kind. He did not, in the case of Belfast, do what I attempted to do, namely, to get a Magistrate who should not be concerned in Executive functions. No; the Magistrates were engaged in the evening in ordering about the police employed in this affair, and during the daytime they shared with the local Magistrates the work of trying the men who had taken part in the riots the evening before. I think the plan not a very good one. But the difficulty was 782 great; the circumstances were new; and Heaven forbid that I should rake up this matter for controversial purposes! But when the right hon. Gentleman attacks me for doing on a small, I may say on an insignificant and petty, scale what he himself did on a grand and almost a sublime scale, I think it is more than human patience can well bear. At all events, I trust the right hon. Gentleman, whatever else he says of me in future, will say this—that, bad as I am, he was in his day and in his degree ten thousand times worse. After all, we have been attacked for the method in which we framed the Court. But experience is the true test. Have we any means of testing the Court which we thus framed, or of coming to any conclusion as to its fairness, and as to the bias which it had for or against the prisoners? We have an excellent test, because, by the kindness of the counsel for the defendant, the case was brought before Chief Baron Palles, who delivered a Judgment upon it which every Member of the House ought to read. It appears merely as a Return of the Court of Exchequer; and no one, probably, would guess it to be a complete, an able, and a convincing survey of the whole legal aspects of the Tipperary controversy. If they read this they will see, not merely that Court upheld in every single thing they did against the prisoners, but that the Chief Baron was of opinion that if the Court erred at all—if these gentlemen, who are "the creatures of the Crown," who are "removables," who are my "paid hirelings," as an hon. Member said—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Perhaps the hon. Member invented the phrase. If these "corrupt Judges" erred at all, they erred against the Crown and in favour of the prisoner. And I say you cannot have a more conclusive test that, whatever the steps may have been by which this Court was arrived at, it was a fair, able, and judicious Court, and a Court, at all events, from which no Irish Member need have shrunk from being tried. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who has not yet returned to the House—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I beg pardon. I was going to criticise some observations in his speech, but I will choose some other occasion. But both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle deplore what they called the discredit before the English people into which the police and the Magistrates have fallen in Ireland. If by that they mean that on a great many English platforms attacks on Resident Magistrates and the police are greeted with jeers, I admit the fact, and I deplore it. But I want to know who is responsible for it. It used not to be so; indeed, that is the great gravamen of the charge. It was not so before 1885, and yet the Magistrates were the same as now, the police were the same, and they did the same things, and they were accused of doing the same things in the same language by the same newspapers, and by the same Members of Parliament. But in those days they were not objects of reprobation in any part of the United Kingdom. But who are right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they should deplore the change? They are the causes of the change. They have never hesitated for a Party object to make the most unfounded and unscrupulous attacks—I borrow the words from a speaker earlier in the Debate—upon these public servants. Of course, attacks made by men in their position addressed to persons who know little about Ireland, except from such orators, produce their effect. Whom does that condemn? Does it condemn the victims of the attack, or the persons who make the attack? I say it is the people who make the attack. And if the time comes when those persons have to use these officers whom, for their own Party purposes, they have so recklessly traduced, they will find then the evil consequences of the course which they have pursued. Both the right hon. Gentlemen who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench—the right hon. Member for Newcastle and the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian—made themselves very merry over their own prophecies about the next General Election. Right hon. Gentlemen always console themselves about the next General Election. They have a great gift of self-satisfied 784 prophecy in that direction. They are assured that everything is going their own way. I am always ready to treat and argue my opponents' case on my opponents' own terms. Therefore, let us suppose what they have prophesied does come about; let us take their view; are we, then, going to have a Utopia on the other side of the Channel? You will turn out, no doubt, a brutal Government, a Government which employs Police and Magistrates, which puts down boycotting, which tries to check intimidation, which does its best, and I think not unsuccessfully, to preserve the elementary rights of individuals, a Government also which I think has struggled not unsuccessfully, if we are to compare their efforts with those of their predecessors, to ameliorate the condition of the poor and distressed all over Ireland. The principles on which we have acted are known. What are the principles of our successors going to be? Are they unknown? I do not think so. I think we all know them. We hear them spoken aloud from those Benches (below the Opposition Gangway) and sotto voce from those (the Front Opposition Benches). We know the Government is denounced for coercing those who intimidate landgrabbers, therefore I presume intimidation of landgrabbers will be the ordinary procedure in Ireland after the next General Election. We know that the Government is denounced for opposing the Plan of Campaign; I presume, therefore, the Plan of Campaign will rule Ireland after the next General Election. We know we are denounced for checking boycotting; I presume boycotting will be rampant after the next General Election. Is the next General Election so exhilarating a prospect to right hon. Gentlemen opposite under these circumstances? Do they look forward with equanimity to this new system of Irish Government—the Government of Ireland according to Nationalist ideas? I believe if you were to probe to the bottom the views of the right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that Bench you would find that there is nothing which causes them so much anxiety as that prospect. It is not this or that by-election, nor even this or that General Election. They know perfectly well that one of two 785 things must happen—either our successors, after we are turned out, will have to follow our methods, adopt our policy, and use our instruments, in which case every speech you will have made will be branded before the face of mankind as odious hypocrisy, or else, in the other alternative, you will give up Ireland to men who have shown what they can do already and whose handiwork and signature are to be found in certain parts of Ireland. Those men who have been singled out for special eulogy this evening are those whose handiwork is to be seen in Tipperary. We know what they boasted they would do and what they did at Tipperary—they have reduced it to a desert. There is their handiwork; there is the result of their principles; and if those principles are to be carried out, then I say Ireland, after the next General Election, will become a place where civilisation will be absolutely impossible; where the very last vestige and element of individual freedom will have vanished; where every man from the North to the South will be given up to the dictation of an organisation in Dublin; and their only chance, the only hope that any one of them will have, will be that that organisation may find itself divided by internal controversies. I cannot believe the right hon. Gentleman desires that Utopia, because he knows perfectly well that the object we have striven to attain must be striven for by every civilised Government, and I believe he also knows that our methods are the only methods which are practicable or possible. And if he thinks that, holding those convictions, we are frightened by any threats of what this or that by-election may do, or that we take it to heart with any misgivings, he is under a mistake. I have known gentlemen opposite whose morals appeared to be the creatures of a General Election. I have known gentlemen whose whole view of the Ten Commandments appeared to be altered by a Parliamentary majority. Sir, I believe not only that it is wrong, but that it is stupid. There has never been a greater mistake made by any Party in this country than the mistake that was made and is being made this day by hon. Gentlemen opposite when they identify the triumph of their cause with the triumph of immo- 786 rality —I mean political immorality—and it is because, at all events, I am optimistic enough to believe that morality must win in the long run that also I believe the verdict this House will pass to-night will be endorsed in the future by the constituencies of this country.
§ (11.46.) SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
I have often listened to the right hon. Gentleman and admired his ability, but I confess to-night that I have listened to him with rather different feelings. They have been those of sympathy for a man who is compelled to speak when he knew that he had no case, and that he was not even in a position to attempt to reply to the charges brought against the Government. Now, let us see what happened in this Debate. My right hon. Friend, with all the authority that belongs to his position, to his character, and to his personal knowledge of what occurred, has come forward, and addressed to the Government five or six distinct challenges and charges of unconstitutional and illegal conduct. How did the Government attempt to meet that? They met it by one of the platform harangues with which we are so familiar, and for which we are so grateful. They mainly contribute to our success at by-elections. I have always regarded the presence of the hon. Member for South Tyrone as worth some four or five hundred votes against the cause which he represents. Does the professional defender of the Government deny the particular charges which have been made? Not at all. He says, "These were very bad men, they deserved to be punished, and it does not signify how you punish them." That is the issue on which the House is to vote to-night. It is as if we charged the Government with having hanged a man without trial, and we were told, "Oh! he is such a bad man, what does it signify whether he was tried or not." That is the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, which is adopted by Her Majesty's Government, who are not prepared to say a single word in answer to these definite charges of unconstitutional conduct. Those are the charges which are about to be tried at the next election. The charges against the Government are that, in their determination to crush 787 their foes, they have not scrupled in the administration of Ireland over and over again, week by week, month by month, to violate every principle on which English liberty is founded. The Chief Secretary, not being able, and consequently not being willing, to meet those charges, thinks it better to denounce my right hon. Friend for conduct which he says was unworthy of a Privy Councillor. Why do you not take the course a former Tory Government took, when they struck Mr. Fox off the list of Privy Councillors? Why do you not take that course, and have the courage of your opinions? Why do you not do what George III. did when he struck the Duke of Devonshire off the roll of Privy Councillors for daring to defend the liberties of the people? That was in the days of the ancestors of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale. But what is the use of coming down to this House, and saying that my right hon. Friend is not right and is not performing his duty when he goes to Ireland to see how you are administering the law, and comes before the House to testify against you, to challenge the opinion of this House and of the country, and to charge you with being guilty of this conduct? What are the charges, and how have you met them? First of all, reference was made to my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo, about whom you have been so anxious and whom you are so proud to imprison—it is highly convenient to you just when the discussion on the Land Bill is coming on—and much good may it do you. I have my own opinion as to why that prosecution was delayed for 12 months, and brought 12 months after the offences were committed. But what is the charge made? That you instructed your police officer to go to a man who was addressing his own constituents, and tell him that if he said anything that in the judgment of that constable was illegal, he would disperse the assembly. I should like you to send a police constable down to the town I represent, or to the town which the Chief Secretary represents—the town of Manchester—to say, "I am the judge of the language your Representative shall address to you, and if in my opinion that language is illegal, then I will disperse your assembly." 788 Now, I know very well what the General Election will say to such a doctrine as that. That is one of the points, and that is the manner in which Ireland is treated and in which you deal with the Representatives of the constituencies of Ireland. You do not wait till you have heard what they say. What was the defence of the Chief Secretary? He said, "Had we not good reason to believe that Mr. Dillon would say something illegal?" These are the principles of English liberty! Is a Chief Secretary to tell a police constable to form his own opinion of what a Member of Parliament is likely to say to his own constituents and order the constable to prevent his saying what he chooses to them? These are the doctrines of the Tories. The Secretary for Ireland says these are doctrines as to which we will take the opinion of the people of England at the next election. That is the first charge, that is the spirit in which the government of Ireland is conducted. Well, then, the right hon. Gentleman says this is a most trivial thing to bring forward. He says there were only a few heads broken. It does not depend upon the amount of heads broken. It depends upon the amount of law broken. It depends upon the legality of the transaction. An assault in law may consist in a simple touch, and an assault upon liberty does not depend upon the number of heads broken, but upon the spirit of the Government that makes it. If the tax demanded from Hampden had been only 6d., would it have been a trivial question whether the Government should be allowed to commit an illegal act? That is the spirit of the defence offered by the Government. Now, what have you been charged with? The right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, I cannot discuss the conduct of the police because it is sub judice." He discussed it on the platform before his supporters. He instructed the Removable Magistrates as to what judgment they were to come to, but when he is charged with the same thing in the House of Commons, he shelters himself under the plea that the matter is sub judice, and will not answer the charge. I do not call that a frank or a courageous way for the Government to meet a charge like this. What is the 789 charge against the police? That they, being as numerous, or more numerous, than the crowd, as it is called, dispersed that crowd without any legal right to do so. I say that is a monstrous and unconstitutional proceeding. It is one that ought to be condemned, and we will condemn it to-night. What pretext has been offered? Every sort of excuse has been made. It is said that the crowd was interfering with the escort. There is no foundation for that. There is not a particle of proof of it, or any ground for accepting it as an excuse. Every excuse the Chief Secretary has put forward has been proved to be untrue—I do not mean to his knowledge, but to the knowledge of those who inform him. Then there was another charge, a definite charge—that of refusing admittance to the Court. What excuse is offered for that? The Chief Secretary and his constables claim the right to divine what is in the minds of the people who claim a right to go into a Court of Justice. That is not the law of England or the law of Ireland. Any man, unless you have some good ground for believing and knowing that he is about to misconduct himself, or has misconducted himself, has a right to go into an open Court of Justice, if there is room for him. The police pretended, first of all, that there was no room in the Court. There is not a particle of foundation for the allegation on which it has been attempted to defend these proceedings. The allegation has been proved to be absolutely untrue, and the attack made by the police was absolutely without any excuse or justification. The right hon. Gentleman says this is a trivial matter. If it had been an incidental matter—a case of mere misjudgment on the part of the police—I would at once admit that it would not be a ground for a Vote of Censure. But this is not the case. Our complaint is that every transaction of this kind is encouraged and sanctioned by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It is because the right hon. Gentleman has, as my right hon. Friend has said, demoralised the police, and encouraged them in illegal acts by never cautioning them to abstain from illegal acts, that this has become so grave a matter—because he has led Magistrates and police to believe that no matter what they do they are sure 790 to meet with his approval. This is why we have thought it our duty to protest against it in the House of Commons. I venture to say that in respect of these three charges the right hon. Gentleman has not only made no answer, but he has not even attempted to make any. What is the next charge? That he departs from the regular course in the administration of justice, and selects men to sit on the Bench, just as he packs a jury in order to secure a conviction. Then there comes the case of Mr. Shannon. The right hon. Gentleman has entirely evaded the gist of the charge. We had a very able speech, which I listened to with very great pleasure from a young Member of this House, the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham)—a speech of great ability and promise. The hon. Member told us that Mr. Shannon had won all sorts of University distinctions. What has that to do with the case? The charge is that you selected a particular individual whom you knew, and must have known, to be on terms of personal enmity with the person he had to try. A more indecent, improper, and unjustifiable proceeding no Government was ever guilty of. Now, as to the tribunal, as distinguished from the individuals upon it. You might have sent these cases—grave cases, as you show by the manner in which you treat them, complicated cases for the Law of Conspiracy was involved—you might have sent them before the highest Judges of the land to be tried by juries who, the hon. Member for South Tyrone says, have not failed recently to do their duty; but instead of taking that course, you trust this trial upon the Plan of Campaign to two Magistrates selected by yourselves, men who were personally affected against the prisoners. That is the charge which we have brought against you, and to which you have made no answer at all. It is not the question whether the Plan of Campaign was right or wrong. I will admit, for the purpose of argument, that these men were the greatest offenders in the world, that the crimes which they had committed were the most heinous; but I say, whatever their crimes were, they were entitled by the law of this country to a fair trial. One of the charges 791 against you, then, is that you packed your tribunal in order to secure a conviction against these men, whom you assert to have been guilty of heinous crimes. But if you believe that they were guilty of heinous crimes, why did not you bring them before a fitting tribunal—the Judges of the land? Why did not you give them trial by jury, to which they were entitled? I desire to bring clearly before the House the issue upon which we are going to divide. The hon. Member for South Tyrone, acting in the interests of the Government, has endeavoured to obscure that issue, but he will not obscure it in the eyes of the country. We have said that the exceptional law which you have obtained is administered in a harsh and illegal manner; we have said that you have perpetually encouraged your police and Magistrates to violate the law. That is the charge, and it has nothing whatever to do with your general policy or with the merits or demerits of the Plan of Campaign. The character of the law depends upon its administration and the spirit in which it is administered. Even a bad law well administered may operate less injuriously than a good law administered unscrupulously. You say that you have delivered Ireland by your policy. Well, Ireland must be a very ungrateful country, for I know no part of that country and no Party in that country that is willing to welcome its deliverers. We have heard of divisions amongst the Irish Party, and we had an election the other day at which there were two candidates; but why did not the Chief Secretary for Ireland offer himself as a third candidate, in order that the people whom he had emancipated might have an opportunity of voting for the man who had restored them to freedom? Even the First Lord of the Treasury, who for 24 hours was Secretary for Ireland, and who to-night gallantly came forward to explain a case about which he had no information—his courage would not fail him. Why did not he go and present himself as a candidate for Tipperary? If he would do so now I have no doubt that a vacancy would be made for him, and he might go and present himself to a grateful people as one of the men who had restored to them that freedom for 792 which they were longing. Do you suppose this feeling exists in Ireland only? England also laughs at your pretences, at this freedom of yours of which you are so proud, which you carry out by the illegal violence of the police and by packed Benches of Magistrates. You may depend upon it that freedom of that kind is as alien to the sentiments of the English as to those of the Irish people. I can assure right hon. Gentlemen opposite that we shall be very willing at the General Election to submit to the electors the charges which the Government have not dared, and which you have not been able, to meet to-night.
§ (12.19.) MR. J. M'CARTHY (Londonderry)
I shall not stand long between the House and the Division. In the first instance, I will endorse the suggestion just made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, and I will undertake with great satisfaction to find a place for a contest in Ireland if any gentleman on the Treasury Bench proud of having delivered Ireland from the toils of the Nationalists will go over to Ireland to meet his reward. The hon. Member for Dover, in a speech which I listened to with interest and even admiration, has vindicated the appointment of Mr. Shannon on the ground that he obtained a gold medal for rhetoric—a curious qualification for a Police Magistrate, and a stranger reason why he should act as such against a personal opponent. If the Chief Secretary has not obtained a gold medal for rhetoric his speech of this evening entitles him to a bronze medal, because more than any preceding speech of the right hon. Gentleman the speech consisted of rhetoric which had nothing to do with the question. There was not a single word in that long speech of denunciation and prophecy which touched the plain, bare facts brought forward by the right hon. Member for Newcastle. The Chief Secretary could only give us that form of rhetoric known as the tu quoque argument—a form of argument which, often as it has been used before, has never been used so ineffectively as when adopted to justify the contention "What a bad man the prisoner was! It does not matter how the Court be constituted or whether the Judge be unjust, we knew before- 793 hand that the accused man was a dangerous person." The Chief Secretary has gone into all kinds of suppositions. He said it was the duty of the police to clear away from the Courthouse a drunken mob; and then he added that he did not say the mob was drunk, but admitted it was sober. Well, then, what is the use of speaking of a drunken mob? In the same way, when the right hon. Gentleman fancies that men may be inclined to make some violent speeches, he thinks it is only right to meet them half way. But what surprised me most of all was to hear the right hon. Gentleman find fault with anyone who would deal with cases still awaiting trial. The House has heard the right hon. Gentleman time after time, when cases in which the police are concerned have been coming under judicial investigation, defend everything that the police has done, sustaining it with all the force of his authority and influence. I do not think that a speech of the kind the right hon. Gentleman has made to-night will carry much weight, even with the present House of Commons. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last that it is rather a pity that we have not had some expression of absolutely independent opinion, as it is called, on this question. I would like to have heard an expression of opinion on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman from Members who once belonged to the Liberal Party, and who raged and chafed against coercion at one time. I would like to have heard what one of them thinks of the defence by the right hon. Gentleman of the Removable Magistrates to-night. Even the hon. Member below me, the Member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham, would be better than nothing. But we have heard not a word from them; they prefer to record their votes for the Government in silence. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary spoke of a certain class of people whose conscience was the creature of a General Election. I am inclined to join with him in the reprobation he cast upon them. I remember certain persons opposite whose conscience in the cause of Ireland was distinctly the creation of a General Election. At that time they shuddered at the idea of coercion; their 794 consciences pricked them until certain eminent Members of their body found themselves goaded so far as to make them willing to go on the Home Rule question all the length desired by certain members of my Party and myself. Now, the right hon. Gentleman indulged largely in prophecy. I do not propose to follow his example. I shall only be prophetic to this extent: that if the time should come when another General Election gives them a small majority—I do not think it will be even so favourable to them—their consciences will once more induce them to put themselves forward as the true and devoted friends of the Irish people.
§ (12.22.) MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N. W.)
I quite understand the wish of hon. Members opposite not to be detained long at this hour of the night, but I am anxious to bring their minds back to the exact question upon which we are going to divide. I am driven to do this by the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. Nothing could have given me greater satisfaction than that this Debate should have occurred, but I must say that it reminds me of the sword and buckler fights that used to occur in Alsatia in Queen Elizabeth's reign, when the combatants took care to strike each other's shields and helmets rather than each other's bodies. I could not help reflecting that, as Latin used to be got into the heads of boys by the blood of their backs, so an ex-Cabinet Minister, by coming aux prises with the police, has suddenly become imbued with zeal for the liberty of the public. All this energy, all this passion and fury, all this good argument the House has listened to from the various right hon. Gentlemen has been a little discounted in my opinion—and I know that the House will acquit me of being censorious when I think of so many grand opportunities in this country which have been omitted by those same right hon. Gentlemen of bringing forward similar Motions, when on similar occasions popular leaders, conductors of Trade Unions and others have been treated in this country, in which there is no Coercion Act, in an even worse fashion than those Irish Members and their followers. I fancy that the 795 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby had an air of protesting too much in this matter. There came to my mind a similiar occasion when precisely similar circumstances arose here in London, when a Member of Parliament was submitted to precisely the same treatment. Hon. Members will acquit me of whining against that treatment—I knew what I had to expect, and I got it. But an hon. Member of this House was subjected to precisely the same treatment when, in my opinion, the police acted in as illegal, and perhaps more illegal fashion, and when the right hon. Member for Newcastle, that tribune of the Irish people, sat glued to his seat, when no persuasion, no hecklings, no sneers in the newspapers or lack of confidence by the public had the effect of drawing him out to say one word, because there was a great middleclass shopkeeper vote running the chance of being lost or imperilled here in London. Perhaps I do the right hon. Gentleman an injustice. He was perusing, or peradventure sleeping, or engaged in compiling duodecimo editions of the lives of those great men which have instructed us so much. Within the period of the last 18 months, in Liverpool, in Glasgow, in Cardiff, and various other places, labour leaders have been assailed by the police, meetings have been charged and broken up by them, and not one word of protest, as far as I am aware—I hope that I do the right hon. Gentleman an injustice—has been raised by right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, because I suppose they were running to the tape to learn the latest news of the Tipperary or Kilkenny elections. I assure the Irish Members that in speaking thus I do not speak in a manner hostile to either of their causes. I am assured by an hon. Member near me that he does not want my assurance. It is by the votes of the English working classes that Home Rule will be won, and I certainly speak for a section of that class. I believe the Opposition have brought this question forward merely as a stalking horse, which they hope will shield them from those social questions which are arising in England, and which they try to ignore by amusing themselves with Tipperary and Kilkenny.
§ (12.32.) The House divided:—Ayes 245; Noes 320.—(Div. List, No. 59.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ (12.52.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
The Government majority are so much pleased with their success in regard to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman that they will be most happy to devote some more time to debate with the object of affirming the congratulatory Motion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). It seems to me most important and essential that further time should be allowed for its discussion. As far as I can remember, the only gentlemen connected with Ireland who have spoken in this Debate have been two or three. I do not think an hour has been occupied in presenting the Irish view of this question, and the Government really cannot expect us to allow the Resolution, which is one of first-class importance, to be affirmed without further Debate. They cannot expect us, who regard this matter as more than a mere formula to sit still with muzzled mouths as if we had been subjected to the rule of the Closure, when a Motion affirming that we are delighted with your proceedings is before the House. We are not delighted with them, and if you want to mark up in chalk numbers satisfaction with your proceedings you must pay for it in coin consisting of the time of this House. The Motion of the hon. Member for Newcastle was a distinct Motion limited to a particular subject. You chose to enlarge the ambit of the Debate, to put embroidery on it, and to do that, not by the medium of one of your own Members, but by one of the sling-behind-your-back. Three of these gentlemen are always behind your back. You get one of these back-a-behind gentlemen to move a Motion which not one of the Tory Party had the courage to move for himself. We have not even had the Liberal Unionist view of the question. I did not think the hon. Member for South Tyrone could do anything without his wires being pulled by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale, but the noble Lord has been silent. Where, too, is the right hon. Gentleman 797 the Member for West Birmingham? Are we to understand the Member for South Tyrone can act, can dance without his strings being pulled by the Member for West Birminghan? As yet not a word has been said upon the principle of the Motion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone except what he has said himself. I am sure that not only will the House not feel surprised, but will be satisfied and delighted at the Motion which I have now the honour to make, which I see the First Lord anticipates with a smile, and under which the Chief Secretary looks absolutely happy. I think that, under all the circumstances of the case, the proper way to meet the Motion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone is to move that the Debate be now adjourned, and I have the honour to make that Motion.
§ (12.59.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I rise to second the Motion. In my opinion, it is not only a most reasonable, but a most necessary, Motion. If the Government, having been challenged upon a Vote of Censure, had had the courage to meet it face to face frankly they would have negatived the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle; but, instead of that, they have gone and skulked under the gabardine of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. What is the Amendment we are asked to vote without discussion? This Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. It says: "True; it may be that all you have said is perfectly well founded, but because we admire the Government, and for other reasons, therefore we will not censure them." But, if so, let us discuss this claim to admiration for the Government, which is raised as a perfectly new issue by the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. There has been no Debate on the Amendment which is not germane to the Resolution. Both Irish and English Members have a right to debate that Resolution before it is put on the Journals of the House. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite may, if they choose, try the Closure on a question of confidence. If they do, they will achieve a position which no responsible Government has ever occupied in this House. If my hon. Friend goes to a Division I shall support him.
§ (1.2.) MR. W. H. SMITH
The position taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby is a little surprising. His leader complained that we were discussing the Amendment, and his charge against the Government was that they supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone in order to draw a red herring across the scent of the discussion upon the Motion of Censure of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle gave notice; but then comes the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby and says that Amendment has not been discussed at all, and that it would be a monstrous thing for the House to pass a Vote of Confidence in the Government when the only question discussed has been one on which the House, by a majority of 75, declined to pass a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the Amendment had been on the Paper for a week, and every Member who spoke knew what it was he was speaking upon, as did the right hon. Gentleman himself.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The right hon. Gentleman addressed himself to the Debate as it had gone forward, and early in the Debate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian referred specially to the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. What was the understanding? That we should come to a decision to-night on the Vote of Censure proposed by the right hon. Member for Newcastle, which was to be met by the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. That was a distinct understanding. It is a new thing for hon. Gentlemen who have been met by a majority such as has been displayed to refuse to make further progress in the ratification of the judgment of the House, and say they must have more time. The hon. Member for Longford has invited me to walk into his parlour, but I am sure the hon. Member would not be surprised if I decline to follow him. I must ask the House to ratify the judgment it has just expressed, and to add the words to the fragment of the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member far New- 799 castle which now remains on the Journals of the House.
§ (1.5.) SIR CHARLES RUSSELL (Hackney, S.)
The Leader of the House is quite justified in saying that the House has refused, by a majority of 75, to pass a Vote of Censure on the Government, but the House has not said it is prepared to offer a universal benediction to all the proceedings of the Government. I think the Leader of the House is in error in the suggestion he made as to the view of the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian. It is true my right hon. Friend did refer to the Amendment, but only for the express purpose of pointing out that it was no answer to the original Motion.
§ (1.6.) MR. J. REDMOND
I join in pressing upon the Government the advisability of permitting a continuance of this Debate. I have heard from the Leader of the House a statement about an understanding, but I may say that for my part I know of no understanding entered into which would preclude Irish Members from debating the matter fully. The Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle raised a clear, definite and limited issue, and he did not by the terms of his Resolution raise any issue as to the merits of the transactions out of which the Tipperary prosecutions sprang. As I understood the Motion, it simply raised the question of certain proceedings of the Executive in connection with those prosecutions. But the hon. Member for South Tyrone has dragged in by his Amendment the extra matter out of which these prosecutions sprang; he has given his version of the facts and it would be a monstrous thing if we, who have a better knowledge of the facts, should be compelled to assent to this Amendment without further Debate. This Amendment opens far wider issues than the original Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle. I sincerely trust the Motion for adjournment will be pressed and I think the Leader of the House would be consulting the general convenience and would be only acting fairly towards those who are best acquainted with the proceedings referred to in the Amendment and desire to take part in the Debate, to agree to the adjournment 800 of the discussion upon a Motion for which the Government are really responsible.
§ (1.9.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
As reference has been made to an understanding arrived at, it is well that it should be made clear that none of the Members in this part of the House are responsible for any arrangement as to the time to be occupied in this Debate. I need only remind the House of what took place at question time to-day, when the Leader of the House was pressed to say if he would yield to a substantial desire that the Debate should not close to-night but be allowed to go over to Thursday. I think it must be admitted there is just cogency, in the argument that the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone raises a much broader issue than that of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, and it would be most unfair to ask the House to accept it without further discussion. It will be observed that the Amendment departs entirely from the terms of the original Motion, and though the right hon. Gentleman has amiably declined to accept the invitation to walk into the parlour of my hon. Friend, a little reflection will show that the invitation is of such a pressing nature he can scarcely refuse it. It will be observed that as the result of the last Division the House has decided to leave out certain words, and before us now is the question whether certain words proposed by the hon. Member for South Tyrone shall be added. It will be apparent that it is open to us to move to amend the proposed words by insertions in any part, or additions at the end; and though I do not wish now to introduce such matters of controversy, it will be seen that the words proposed by the hon. Member are happily adapted to various and extensive Amendments. Under the circumstances, I think the right hon. Gentleman, unless he is prepared to apply the Closure on the first night of a Debate upon a Vote of Censure, will accede to the reasonable demand made by my hon. Friend.
§ (1.14.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I suppose if the Government are anxious to make an all-night sitting of it the only objections will arise from among their own supporters. Such is likely to be the result 801 if the right hon. Gentleman persists in his refusal to accept the reasonable proposition made, and it is for him to consider whether such a proceeding will best conduce to expediting public business. I wish to endorse what has been said by my hon. Friend behind me as to there being an undertaking that Debate should close to-night. I protest against this undertaking being cast in our teeth. We recognise no such time bargains below the Gangway, and I distinctly decline to be bound by any engagement entered into by the Whips on the two Front Benches. The right hon. Gentleman must be prepared to meet Amendment after Amendment to the Motion in its new form. There is no reason why the question should be disposed of in a hurry, and the original intention was that the Debate should not close until Thursday. It was only to meet some supposed exigencies of Members on this side that there was any idea of closing the Debate to-night, and as those exigencies have passed away, there is no longer a sufficient motive for closing the Debate to-night. We cannot be justly charged with any disinclination to forward public business, for we stand in an almost unprecedented position as regards public business, and the Government have deliberately wasted time, partly by allowing the House to be counted out and partly by placing before us trivial and unimportant matters. It is ridiculous to pretend there is any pressing urgency for this Debate to close to-night. Whatever may be the result of this Motion for adjournment, I hope hon. Members on this side will make up their minds to the enjoyment of an all-night sitting in resistance to the attempt to thrust this Amendment upon the House. Few Members on this side have taken part in the Debate, most of the time having been occupied in lengthy speeches from the hon. Member for South Tyrone, the Chief Secretary and others; and considering that only three Irish Members have spoken and no English Radical Member from below the Gangway, it is obvious that there is ample material for further Debate.
§ (1.20.) MR. J. MORLEY
On this occasion, an on many others, there are three, courses that may be taken. The Debate may be adjourned or it may be continued, or it may be 802 closured. To continue the Debate at this hour would be extremely inconvenient. To closure it would be almost impossible. The Resolution before the House is practically a new Motion. It is a new question submitted to the House, and that question ought clearly to be susceptible of Amendment. If hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway should think fit to move an Amendment, rightly or wrongly, it is surely their right to do so. It seems clear, therefore, that to resort to the Closure would be without precedent and could not reasonably be defended. The only remaining course then is to adjourn the Debate.
§ (1.21.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Motion now before the House relates more particularly to myself than to other Members of the Government. May I, then, remind the House of that which appears to be systematically ignored, that the arrangement that we should divide to-night upon the whole matter was arrived at by those well recognised means of communication between parties in this House? I do not know how far the ordinary channels of communication with the Irish Members have been dislocated: there may have been some mistake as far as the Irish Members are concerned; but undoubtedly there was a distinct understanding with the Front Opposition Bench. I cannot see how the Parliamentary Business of the future is to be conducted if understandings of this kind are to be abandoned upon any flimsy pretext. If the House will be at all guided by me, I would say that the matter is not worth wrangling about. The Vote of Censure having been negatived by an overwhelming majority, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me whether the House passes an Amendment eulogising the conduct of the Government. The point is not worth wrangling about, and the sooner we go home to bed the better; but I would earnestly suggest to those who are responsible for the conduct of the business of the House outside the Government Benches that this kind of procedure—I will not call it sharp practice—this departure from honourable understanding, is a bad precedent, and will certainly lead to inconvenience in the future.
§ (1.24.) MR. ARNOLD MORLEY (Nottingham, E.)
I must apologise for intervening in this discussion, because Members of the House occupying the position I do are not usually called upon to address the House upon these topics; and I only depart from the usual custom out of respect to hon. Members, to state what happened on this occasion. For five years I have been accustomed to meet the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury, and make arrangements with him; and I do not believe that he will suggest there has ever been any breach of good faith between us. The original intention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle was to raise a Debate of a far more extended character than that indicated by his Motion, and hon. Members will remember that at that time two days were allotted to the Debate; but when the Motion was limited in its scope, I did inform the hon. Gentleman the Patronage Secretary that the right hon. Member for Newcastle intended to confine himself to the Tipperary incidents, and, so far as the Front Opposition Bench was concerned, it was believed one night would be sufficient for the Debate. But I stated that, of course, events might happen in the course of the Debate which would render an extension of time necessary, although, as far as the Motion itself was concerned, one night would be sufficient. As the House is well aware, upon that Motion an Amendment has been moved. The arrangement was that a Division on the Motion of my right hon. Friend should be taken at the end of the first night's Debate, and it has been taken a few minutes ago.
§ (1.26.) MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
I was not in the House when my hon. Friend rose, and I did not hear his opening remarks, but I certainly understood that the arrangement was to be applied to the whole of the Debate, both on the Motion and on the Amendment which was then on the Paper. I certainly should have demurred to any understanding which would have divided the two. I certainly understood my hon. Friend to mean that the whole question was to be decided to-night, and that is borne out by the fact that the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone was on the 804 Paper at the time the arrangement was made.
§ (1.27.) MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
I suppose we are now to understand from the remarks of the Chief Secretary that the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, having served its purpose, is to be thrown overboard? But for the tortuous policy pursued this difficulty would not have arisen. But I suppose we may be now satisfied as well as the hon. Member for South Tyrone.
§ (1.28.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I can only speak with the leave of the House, but may I say that I thought the Motion for Adjournment was agreed to by the Government. I am ready to withdraw my Motion if I understand the hon. Member for South Tyrone withdraws his Amendment.
§ (1.28.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I can only say my Amendment is before the House; the House can do what it likes with it, but I shall certainly not withdraw it.
§ (1.30.) Question put, and agreed to.