Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [9th February]—"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom, of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament:
We take this first opportunity of offering to Your Majesty our sincere condolence in the afflicting dispensation of Providence with which Your Majesty and this Nation have been visited, in the death of His Royal Highness Price Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale:
We assure Your Majesty of our heartfelt participation in the universal feeling of sympathy with Your Majesty and Your Majesty's family under this grievous affliction and in the deep sense entertained by all classes of your Majesty's subjects of the calamity which the country has sustained by the loss of a Prince who had won for himself the general affection and regard of Your Majesty's subjects."—(Mr. Hermon Hodge.)
At the end of the Question, to add the words,—"And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the time has come when the cases of all prisoners convicted under the Treason Felony Act, who are, and have been for many years undergoing punishment for offences arising out of insurrectionary movements connected with Ireland, may be advantageously reconsidered with a view to the speedy release of these prisoners."—(Mr. John Redmond.)
§ Question proposed, "That those word be there added."
§ (3.58.) MR. J. G. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
I desire shortly to state the grounds upon which I support the Amendment of my hon. Friend. There is an almost universal desire on the part of the Irish people that these political prisoners should be now released. So many weighty arguments have been urged by hon. Friends near me, so many unanswerable reasons given why the cases of these prisoners should be legally reconsidered, that I do not intend to labour that part of our position. I will content myself with saying on this part of the subject that any Member who remained in the House, and listened to the arguments on the facts advanced, cannot fail to have been struck with the character of the evidence by which the conviction of these prisoners was secured. I do not think that an assembly of fair-minded, thinking men, can deny that the case does require reconsideration, after hearing the evidence of a responsible officer of the Crown who is still presiding over the peace of one of the most important cities in England, and after hearing of the manner in which Daly was entrapped—strangely enough, entrapped during the time the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby presided at the Home Department. I listened last night to a speech from the hon. Member for Deptford, who complained of the character and quality of the arguments which had been used, from this side of the House, by Irish Representatives in support of the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend. I take issue at once with the hon. and learned Gentleman. I protest against that complaint, and I say that those arguments, so far as they went, were conclusive evidence in favour of the release of these prisoners. But I confess that if the hon. and learned Gentleman, instead of making complaints against the character of these arguments, had contented himself with making a protest which I shall endeavour to make, against the falsity of the source to which those appeals were directed, I should not have found much cause of 326 quarrel with the hon. and learned Gentleman. I listened with great care to those arguments, and with a certain amount of humiliation to the appeals which have been made, notably the fervent, and nobody will deny honest, appeal of the hon. Member for North-East Cork. That appeal was being made in this House to the chief Law Officers of the Crown—the chief Law Officer of the Party to whom the Irish people have been taught, and to whom I have been taught, to look neither for clemency nor mercy on behalf of the Irish people; and I could not help thinking while that appeal was being made that a desperate endeavour was lying beneath it to conceal the real source to which that appeal might have been directed with some degree of success. You have appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary of a Coercion Tory Government for bread for the Irish political prisoners, and the right hon. Gentleman has answered you, not by offering you the proverbial stone, but by presenting you with a bomb, in the form of a love-apple, nine years old. He has answered you by making new charges, after nine years, against these unfortunate prisoners, and when challenged he refuses to lay upon the Table of the House one tittle of evidence in support of these charges. The right hon. Gentleman has gone further. He has practically told you that the reason that these men were convicted, and had these severe and terrible sentences, was that in times gone by, when the right hon. Gentleman himself was young and, perhaps, foolish, they belonged to a certain Organisation to which—I do not believe the Home Secretary, although he will deny it in England, can deny it with any degree of force in Ireland—he owes the honour of a first seat in this House. I do not intend to make any special appeal to him on behalf of the prisoners, and I say that during the whole course of this discussion it must have been apparent that a delicate effort was being made to glide over the thin ice which conceals a conspiracy of silence, which I think ought to be unravelled on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, whom I conceive, and I assert and declare to be, the real 327 gaoler of these prisoners. The right hon. Gentleman, since the commencement of this discussion, instead of getting up in the House and giving us the benefit of his weighty advice upon the subject of moment to these poor prisoners and of importance to the Irish people, has been hovering in and out of the House undecided as to whether he shall not expose the weakness of his friends by remaining silent, or whether he shall expose it by getting up in his place as he did last year and giving another twist to the vice which is tearing the hearts and the souls out of these poor prisoners. I desire to carry the memory of our friends back to the time when these men were arrested and convicted upon this very evidence which was procured from the Irish police, and when these men received those long and terrible sentences. The right hon. Gentleman was then in power, and what did he do? He suspended the Explosives Act of 1883, which only admitted of his giving to these prisoners a penalty of 14 years' penal servitude, while he had them tried under another Act—I think the Treason Felony Act—in order that he might be able to give them 20 years, and in some of the cases, sentences for life. The hon. Member for Mayo, who speaks with profound authority upon all Irish questions, has told us very recently that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had become aware of the wishes and of the aspirations of the Irish people; but that his ability to grant these wishes and these aspirations would entirely depend upon the unanimity of the Irish people and of their Representatives. Will the hon. Member for Mayo deny that we who represent Ireland are unanimous and without a dissentient voice on the subject of the release of the Irish political prisoners? and, if so, I challenge —I invite—the hon. Member for Mayo to get up in his place and make good that promise of future security which he has been making to the Irish people on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. We are not here to barter away the interests of Ireland to any man, no matter how high his position, for flimsy promises. This is a matter of business. We want some earnest of 328 your good intentions; and so long as I have a voice inside or outside this House, I shall advise my countrymen not to enter into any political confidence trick with the right hon. Gentleman or with anybody else, but to transact this political business in a sensible manner, and make the best terms they can, and submit these terms to their own countrymen. I have always looked upon a Tory Minister as an extremely foolish man. I could not help thinking last night that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary might, at least, without pressure from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, if he were wise, have gone one step further, and, at a time when a great sorrow, which has been shared in by the subjects of Her Majesty in this country and in Ireland, has fallen upon her, have advised Her Gracious Majesty, burdened down by her own sorrow, to relieve these poor convicts from what he must know, and does know, is the heaviest sorrow which can be inflicted upon poor suffering human beings. But as the right hon. Gentleman has not seen his way to do so, and as the right hon. Gentleman opposite has not seen his way to press him, I have only to content myself by declaring again that it is my profound conviction that the Irish people and their Representatives, whoever they may be, will never obtain real justice from any Party in this House until they are able to do what my lamented friend the late distinguished Member for Cork would have been able to do if you had allowed him to remain here to-day with his 86 men behind him—not to crave, not to appeal, as the hon. Member for North-East Cork has had to do, but to demand and compel, as we will have to compel any Party when they do it, to give over these political prisoners to the Irish people as a token of their good faith in this "Union of Hearts."
§ (4.20.) SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
The hon. Member who has just sat down seems to be under the impression that I have some disinclination to take part in this Debate. He is mistaken in that view; I have attended the greater part of this Debate with a desire to know whether there were anything new, either in fact or in arguments, to allege, as compared with 329 what had been stated in former Debates upon this subject. I am sure the House must feel that there has never been any fear on my part of taking that responsibility which properly belongs to me. I have been for many years a Member of this House, and I hope that charge does not fairly lie at my door, that I have not been ashamed to shirk in this House the burden of responsibility which has been laid upon me. I have listened carefully to this Debate, and I think I have heard from the hon. and learned Member for Waterford the same able and moderate speech that I heard last year. I have heard from the Home Secretary the same reply to that speech, that I heard last year also, I have not been able to discover in the course of this Debate any new allegations bearing upon the merits of the question. The hon. Member who has just sat down said, probably for want of acquaintance with the proceedings in Courts of Law, that I suspended the operation of the Explosives Act and brought the indictment under the Treason Felony Act. If the hon. Gentleman were acquainted with the executive proceedings of a Court of Law he must know that I had nothing whatever to do with one or the other, and that I had no voice whatever in the proceedings that should be taken against a prisoner. I am sure it is from his want of acquaintance with the facts that he should have produced such a charge as that against me. I have had nothing whatever to do with the character of the indictment which was prepared against these prisoners any more than he had himself. The Motion before the House is a general Motion for amnesty of all dynamite offenders. But only the cases, I think, of two political offenders have been referred to—those of the convicts Egan and Daly. Now, as to the case of Egan, I have this to say: The Home Secretary has expressed his opinion that there are distinguishing circumstances in that case which might make it a proper subject for revision. All I can say is that, if that be so, it is highly proper and highly fair that that case should be taken into reconsideration with reference to political offenders on whom long sentences have been passed. It is the duty of the Secretary 330 of State carefully to inquire into any case in which any particular circumstances, not disclosed at the trial, come before him for consideration. With reference to long sentences passed upon any prisoners, without distinction, it is the practice that these cases are always brought under review after a certain period has elapsed; and during my time at the Home Office, I very greatly shortened the period at which the revision of long sentences should take place. These observations would refer to all criminal cases, quite apart from the case of political offences. As to the case of Daly, what is demanded, as I understand, is inquiry. I know of no inquiry so regular in a case that has been decided by a Judge and jury as the inquiry which is made by the Secretary of State on the allegations of any circumstances which, in the evidence brought forward at the trial, or outside that evidence, should supply the proper materials for the exercise of the prerogative of mercy of the Crown. But that inquiry has been made over and over again. It was made by myself, as it was my duty to make it. It was made by the present Home Secretary as inquiry is made by every Secretary of State in office when he has sufficient material to inquire into. It is quite idle, however, to complain of the materials brought before the Secretary of State not having been laid upon the Table of the House, because if that were done no such inquiry would be possible. The inquiry must necessarily be confidential. The inquiry must apply to every circumstance, however little, which bears either for or against the prisoners which might influence the decision or clemency of the Crown. That is the only inquiry which it is possible to make; and that inquiry, so far as Daly's case is concerned, has been made over and over again. Now, the Home Secretary has stated the result of his inquiry into that matter, and I quite concur, from my experience at the Home Office, in what he has stated. The allegation—no doubt a most serious allegation—that the bombs found upon Daly had been planted upon him by the police, has been inquired into by all the means which there are at the disposal 331 of the Home Office; and I can only assert, in confirmation of what the Home Secretary said, that that charge is entirely unfounded. There is not a shadow of ground for that assertion. Besides that it is contradictory to the conduct and language of Daly himself. He had an opportunity at the trial of proving his own innocence, as every prisoner at his trial has. He never made a suggestion for one moment at the trial of a plot on the part of the police, nor certainly at any time that I have any cognisance of did he make any allegation to any person who visited him in the prison. Upon that point I must also confirm what the Home Secretary has said. I was convinced of his guilt by evidence that appeared to me as amply sufficient, that the bombs had been sent from America, and that they had been sent on the application of Daly himself. Therefore, upon the grounds put forward in this particular case, that there should be a revision of the sentence on account of a mistake, I, at least, must decline to admit the force of that argument. The case of Egan may be an open matter of consideration. The Home Secretary has all the material before him (which I have not) to enable him to form a judgment: He says he thinks there are grounds for dealing with that case in a manner different from other cases. I can only express my opinion that he will do right in giving them full consideration. Now as regards the case of Daly, I have stated fairly, and I hope sufficiently, what is my position. As to the general Motion, I have to ask myself first, separating the matter altogether from its political aspect, what is the character of the crime of these men?—what is his class of offence?— Is it one that in itself, apart from other considerations, commends itself to the leniency of the nation or the clemency of the Crown. That is the first question I ask. Now, what is the offence? In my opinion, it is the most heinous and grievous crime that can possibly be conceived. If I go over the whole category of crime I know none which is graver or more heinous than this. On account of the ease with which it can be committed, the terrible consequences that can ensue, the recklessness of the 332 dangers which are created, the alarm and the suffering that are produced, these, in my opinion, are not equalled, certainly not surpassed, by any offences known in the calendar of crime. I have myself been a witness of the terrible sufferings of the victims of these outrages; innocent persons who will never recover from the consequences. A policeman in Westminster Hall, and the unfortunate travellers on the Metropolitan Railway when the bombs exploded there, were visited by me in the hospital. These are the victims of a crime with respect to which burglary or any other offence would seem to be comparatively venial. Therefore, I cannot look upon this crime as one to which any mitigating circumstances can attach, or which can or ought to be visited with leniency. That being so, at the same time I would ask the House to bear in mind that grievous as these crimes are, and punishable as they were with penal servitude, sentences of penal servitude are reviewed within a limited period. A sentence of 20 years is reviewed at a period that falls far short of the 20 years. They have always been so, although I have myself established a rule on which a revision takes place at a shorter period. The point we have now to consider is whether that review, whether the re-consideration in the case of these particular crimes should take place at a shorter period, and under more favourable circumstances, than in other cases. Now, I cannot, arrive at that conclusion from the character of the crime. Well, if not in the crime itself we are to look at the circumstances. What are the circumstances to be relied upon to take this class of crime, admittedly heinous in itself, out of the general rule which applies to all other prisoners. Because, mark you, in accepting a Resolution of this kind you come to a conclusion which is to say to all persons who are the subjects of the Queen, and who will be naturally influenced by the opinions of this House, that these crimes, for some reason or other, are to be dealt with in a more favourable manner than other crimes. Therefore we have a great responsibility. We must bear in mind that responsibility, and act upon it. If you are to say to the burglar and the garrotter, who have 333 been sentenced to penal servitude, "These are men who were sentenced under special circumstances; and though you have been sentenced to 20 years' penal servitude, or penal servitude for life, you shall undergo your sentence, and these men will not." Why, Sir, the burglar and the garrotter would naturally ask why? and you must, as responsible Representatives of the people, be prepared to say why these men are to be placed under a different category from the ordinary offenders. Because, Sir, if these who are sentenced to these offences are released, while other men sentenced to terms of penal servitude are kept in prison, that would be a gross injustice, unless some sufficient reason can be alleged in favour of a distinction. Therefore, I bring before the House the responsibility involved in making these discriminating distinctions. Well, let me ask what are the distinctions upon which these grave crimes are to be treated, and why they are to be treated in a different manner? The only reason I have heard alleged in this Debate—alleged with great force by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down —alleged with great force and with some vehemence by the hon. Member for North Fermanagh —is, that these crimes were connected with Fenianism.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (North Fermanagh)
I was very far from saying anything of the kind. What I said was this—that these men, instead of being convicted of dynamite offences, were convicted particularly and mainly because they were connected with the Fenian Organisation. The reason I said these cases should be treated exceptionally was that these men were driven, many of them at any rate, to desperate crimes by the tyranny exercised by successive English Governments in Ireland.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
That is exactly what I said and what I understood the hon. Member to say. He said they were men of the Fenian Organisation, and that they were convicted of Fenianism, and not of any dynamite offence. They were undoubtedly indicted for dynamite and not for Fenianism, and the question is whether it was in consequence of the fact that they were guilty of treason- 334 felony that they were indicted for dynamite. That is the only circumstance alleged in the Debate. There has been a great deal said about Fenianism, and I do not think the hon. Member for North Fermanagh will be of opinion that I do him any injustice when I say that he passed a glowing eulogium on Fenianism and the Fenians. I differ from him. I will not denounce his opinions, but he holds contrary opinions to myself on the subject of Fenianism. Sir, what I understand by Fenianism is this—that it is a secret association which professes to accomplish revolutionary objects by violence and outrage. (Cries of "No, no" from the Irish benches.) I am perfectly willing to hear the opinions of others on the subject, but that is my opinion, and I doubt very much whether persons calling themselves Fenians will object to my definition.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but will he allow me to point out that the Fenianism of these trials is that of 20 years ago, and that no man would more strongly repudiate the charge that they relied upon outrage of any kind than the men connected with these recent offences?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
That these outrages were connected with Fenianism is a matter upon which I have no doubt at all. The proof was absolutely complete; but I am willing to take the hon. Member's opinion that Fenianism does not rely upon outrage, but upon force.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I should like to know exactly what the "force" is. As arms of precision improve, so, no doubt, the methods of force may have advanced upon what they were in former times. I rely upon that, because I do not wish to enter upon any elaborate discussion upon the essence of Fenianism. I am really only endeavouring to express my own opinions. I understand I am desired to correct the phrase I employed, and therefore I will adopt the correction, and say that Fenianism is a 335 secret association which professes to bring about revolutionary objects by force.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Sir, I have to ask myself whether the connection of crime with a doctrine of that kind is a mitigating circumstance, and I must confess that, thinking the matter over, I have arrived at the conclusion that it is not. The connection of crime with a doctrine of that kind is, I confess, not a mitigation but an aggravation, because the result is that it becomes not only a crime against an individual, but a crime against society. Therefore I cannot admit that that particular circumstance in itself constitutes any mitigation of the offence. Now, Sir, the hon. Member for North Fermanagh has been good enough to address himself a good deal to me. He passed a glowing eulogium upon what the Fenians had accomplished. He said they were, in fact, the authors of Home Rule, and that they had brought about the condition of things which has enabled me to adopt the principles of Home Rule. I am quite sure the hon. Member for North Fermanagh did not intend to misrepresent me in any way. But he is entirely mistaken. The connection of Fenianism with Home Rule was not that which induced me to accept Home Rule. It has always been my principal difficulty. And I venture to say I share that opinion with the great majority of the people of this country who are prepared to support Home Rule. The only difficulty which the people of Great Britain have had in adopting the principle of Home Rule is from the suspicion and the belief that it was in some way or other connected with Fenianism. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Fermanagh attacked me for saying I was not in favour of Fenian Home Rule; and I am sorry to find myself differing from him. I am not in favour of Fenian Home Rule, and I hope, and I do believe, that the great majority of the people of Ireland and of their Representatives are adverse to Fenianism and to Fenian Home Rule; and I hope I express the opinions of the people of Great Britain when I say that it is because they believe that Home Rule is not connected with Fenianism, 336 but that it is opposed to it, and that it will be an element in putting it down, that they are prepared to support the principle of Home Rule. Therefore, Sir, I desire to correct the impression under which the hon. Member for North Fermanagh seemed to be suffering when he reproached me for being against Fenian Home Rule.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity later. Sir, what we at least who have adopted the principle of Home Rule believe and hope—and we do believe and hope in that respect, that we are acting not only in conformity with the opinion of the great majority of the people of England, but of the great majority of the people of Ireland—is this, that the measure of self-government which we desire is one to be obtained by constitutional means and used in a constitutional way. That is the view that we have, and it must be our object. I hope it is your object in Ireland, as it is our object in Great Britain, to dissociate the notion of Irish self-government altogether from the notion of Fenianism, and the object that Fenians have at heart. I thought it necessary to say that, Sir, in consequence, not of the attack made upon me, but of the appeal which was made to me by the hon. Member for North Fermanagh. Therefore, Sir, in my opinion those who are sincerely favourable to Home Rule will do everything in their power to dissociate the conception of Irish self-government from the ideas and conceptions of the Fenians. For the reasons I have endeavoured frankly to state to the House I find myself unable to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I desire, by way of personal explanation, to say I find no fault with the right hon. Gentleman for declaring against Fenian Home Rule; but what we did find fault with him was for referring to some voters in the City of Cork as representatives of Fenian Home Rule and saying that Fenian Home Rule had received its death blow. These men who 20 years ago held opinions that were not 337 raised in this House should not be subjected to sneers simply because their methods have been supplanted by the still more effectual methods of the late Mr. Parnell.
§ MR. TIMOTHY HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour Division)
Sir, I think we have reason to be thankful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby for the tone he has adopted. I am glad he has not been tempted into allying himself with a refusal to reconsider the case of these men. His tone is more kindly and considerate than has been adopted on former occasions during these Debates. The last portion of his speech had reference to the question of Fenian Home Rule, and on that I would like to say that we have no objection to anything he has said, and that we will readily accept the definition of the plan and scope of Home Rule that he has laid down this evening. But what we do object to is this—that he used the expression "Parnell's Fenian Home Rule," and we take that to mean something which no Irishman would dare to repudiate. That observation applied to a plan specially defined, and to a man who, undoubtedly, by his life in this House, contributed more than any other man in this world to turn Fenianism into constitutional courses, and to turn the feelings of his countrymen, who had left their country with feelings of vengeance in their hearts, into constitutional courses. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement, and I will say that our experience is that he has been distinguished for the careful consideration which he has given to the case of these prisoners. Sir, as regards the case of Egan, no new facts have been, or can be, presented. His case is the same as presented eight years ago. Last year the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said that he was unable to draw any distinction between the cases of Daly and Egan, but I will ask the House to compare that statement with his definite promise last night that he would regard those cases as cases in which there was a material difference. I ask whether any additional facts have come to light since last year, or whether anything has occurred to influence him except the 338 action taken by directing attention to the matter in this House. The right hon. Member for Derby and the Home Secretary, so far from weakening our case for inquiry, have strengthened it by the attitude they have taken up. At the trial, undoubtedly, a clear distinction was made between the two men in question, and the Judge evidently believed that it was the duty of the jury to draw a distinction between the two cases. The only evidence offered against Egan was that Daly lived in his house, and that letters had passed between them, although there was no evidence that they were on the subject of dynamite plots. Against that there was Daly's declaration that he alone was responsible, and the same evidence might have convicted any person keeping a lodging house under the same circumstances. I maintain that were it not that Egan was an Irishman, and had been 10 years before in political sympathy with Daly's opinions, the jury would never have found him guilty. When the jury returned, after a quarter of an hour's absence, with a verdict of "guilty," the Judge said—Those bombs were found in the possession of Daly. What I want to know is whether you find that Egan is a party to those bombs being prepared, and intended that a conspiracy should be carried out by the use of them?The Foreman said, "We are of opinion he was conspiring." His Lordship seemed to be a very obstinate juror, and that conversation shows he thought the jury should not have returned such a verdict. The distinction between the cases of Daly and Egan was distinctly drawn there, and it was drawn further by the Judge in sentencing the two men. The right hon. Member for Derby as well as the Home Secretary have both complained of our endeavouring to give a political complexion to this question; but if anybody is to blame for these men being so regarded, it is those who are responsible for the prosecutions, and who arraigned them as political prisoners, as is shown by the terms of the indictment. The point of our argument is, that if you drag in the political question to make a conviction more easy, and expose these men to that disadvantage on their trial, you have no right now to deprive them of 339 the advantage which follows a conviction for political offences. We deplore that any of our countrymen should have been led into the contemplation of violence, but we ask this House to consider whether the continuation of a policy of this kind would contribute to the better government of the Empire. Almost every agitation in Ireland has arisen upon such a question as we are discussing now. Requests for the amnesty of political prisoners have been allowed to rest by the Government of the day until they gathered force and weight, and so laid the foundation for fresh political agitations. Is it not a remarkable fact that the allegation with regard to Daly has not come from these benches or originated in Ireland, but that the statement that the bombs were planted upon him was made by the Chief Constable of Birmingham, Mr. Farndale, who could have no sympathy with our movement, and who was in charge of the Detective Department which was watching Daly? Daly was found in the possession of bombs, but the whole question is whether there is any truth in the allegation that they were planted upon him by the Irish police. It is clear that the police during seven months never lost sight of Daly, except during the one short period when he received the bombs, and it is a remarkable fact that they were ready at the railway station to receive him, and had an empty bag with them to take the bombs. Even if it had not been for the statement of Mr. Farndale, in that fact alone we have sufficient evidence to compel the conviction that, at all events, an inquiry should be instituted. It was said in the course of this debate by someone on the Treasury Bench that Farndale was not produced at the trial because he knew nothing about the case.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I made an observation about the time, but I did not say Mr. Farndale knew nothing about the case, but that he gave no evidence about the circumstances.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I maintain that he could have given evidence as to the circumstances, and that his evidence would have been of the utmost importance. I find from the report of the trial, that Daly commented upon 340 the fact that Mr. Farndale had been kept out of the witness box. He referred to Mr. Farndale as the gentleman who pulled the wires, and asked why he was not put into the witness box so that they might find out how the wires had been pulled. Without going back upon the arguments which have been used, I wish to call attention to the time at which this trial took place. The prisoners complained of the newspaper comments made while the trial was in progress, and the newspaper I have here heads the report of the trial, day after day, with "Dynamite Plot." I was only a very young Member of this House when the right hon. Member for Derby proposed his Explosives Bill, and I think I am making no observation which will be offensive when I say that if at that time an allegation had been made against me, as an Irishman, of being connected with dynamite plots, I should have been very unwilling to entrust myself to a jury composed of gentlemen of the opinions held by the right hon. Gentleman at that time. I shall never forget the impression made upon me when the right hon. Gentleman proposed his Explosives Bill, and it was carried through its three stages in one night with all the solemnity and all the appearance of gravity, and I would almost say, of terror, as if the largest invading army in Europe had been at hand. I do not want to make a point against the right hon. Gentleman, but I think while those unfortunate explosions were taking place he would not have been a bit surprised to hear that some Irish Member was connected with them. Is it unreasonable that we should ask the House to reconsider the case of men tried at a time when the country was in this state? We believe that when the danger is past and the terror is gone, and when the exceptional means which were taken at the time to protect public buildings and the lives of the people have been effectual, a continuance of the imprisonment of these men becomes vindictive, and only gives cause for further agitation and disturbance in the future.
§ *(5.25.) MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Londonderry)
I do not intend to keep the House very long in making 341 the observations I wish to offer on this question. I listened with much interest and attention to the right hon. Member for Derby, and there was much he said which I thought moderate and fair, and on the whole sympathetic; but there were many passages in that speech with which I could not find myself in agreement. I think he was unfair—not, of course, consciously, but, at all events, historically—in the view he took of the Fenian movement and the general purposes of the Fenians. He said they meant revolution of some kind by outrage, and he seemed to think that there was some connection between the Fenians and dynamite; and I find that such an impression does prevail, and is honestly and sincerely entertained, by many fair-minded men. I want, therefore, to point out to the House that Fenianism and dynamite have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The Fenians were a revolutionary party, but they never had to do with outrage by dynamite or any crime of the kind. I am sorry the right hon. Member for Derby did not on this question consult the Home Secretary, for that right hon. Gentleman would have told him that he had at one time very much higher opinions of the leaders of the Fenian movement than he admits now. But a Member of this House does not need to consult anybody as to what the purposes of the Fenians were, for they made those purposes known in proclamations and in action. They professed themselves to be a body of men who despaired of obtaining a national Government for Ireland by anything but force. I am not praising their policy, or saying it was a wise or possible policy, but it was published to the world. I remember when the Fenian headquarters were opened in Union Square, in New York, that people went in and out as they would do to a public office; that reporters for the Press went in and out also, and that the proceedings were constantly published in all the American newspapers. The Fenians crossed into Canada to endeavour to strike a blow at English power there; they arose in arms in Ireland in several places, and they endeavoured to capture Chester Castle. All these were things which, you will say, were 342 foolish and hopeless; but they had nothing to do with outrage or with crime of any kind beyond the crime, of course, of resisting the existing law. It is unfortunate that since there was an Act of Parliament passed in one night through the House against dynamite outrages, persons supposed to be guilty of such offences were not tried under that particular Act. It was rather doing an injustice to the poor old Treason Felony Act to arraign any dynamiters under its provisions. The Treason Felony Act was passed in 1848 to put down the Young Ireland movement, which was composed of men of undoubted honour, and no one of whom was ever charged by his bitterest opponents with the slightest sympathy with crime and outrage. What was the purpose of that Act? It was never intended to have reference to dynamite, for, at the time it was passed, dynamite outrage of any kind against individuals or communities was never dreamed of as a weapon of political warfare. These men were tried under this Act and convicted. It is now admitted that, in the case of Egan, a certain distinction ought to be made, and the hon. Member who spoke just before me made a good point when he said that nothing whatever new had been brought forward in the case of Egan, and if, therefore, the Government, out of its own moral consciousness, found something to be said for him, why should they not find that there was something to be said for Daly, in the sense of being in favour of further inquiry. It is no doubt a good rule of law that the Government should accept, as a rule, the verdict of a jury, but there are many cases in which the Crown has upset the verdict of a jury. There is the case mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Cork, of the men charged with the murder of a policeman at Manchester. There are some striking facts about this case which the House probably does not remember. There was a panic in the public mind at the time, and an attempt was made to rescue certain Fenian prisoners. In the course of that rescue a policeman was killed, and that was undoubtedly, in the legal sense, murder, as the attempt to rescue was 343 against the law. Five men were brought to trial on the charge of murder, and exactly the same evidence of identification was given in the case of each man. There was no doubt as to the facts, and the only question was who were the men immediately concerned in the act. The same identification was given in each case, and the men were convicted, the learned Judge, I believe, expressing his approval of the conviction. In the case of one of the men, Thomas Maguire, the reporters of all sections of the Press present at the trial came to the conviction that he was not one of the men concerned in the offence, and they sent a memorial to that effect to the Government. An inquiry was made, and it was found that this man was a Marine, innocent of all sympathy with the Fenian movement, of unstained character, and a loyal servant of the Crown. He was immediately set at liberty. Another of the men, named Condon, was unquestionably mixed up with the Fenian movement, but the point was whether he was mixed up with this attempt. In his case the American Government intervened, and addressed some kind of remonstrance to Her Majesty's Government, and though nobody knew what the terms of it were, the impression got abroad that the American Minister was able to show that Condon could not possibly have been concerned in the attempt, or even near the doors of the prison van at the time. That man, too, was at once set at liberty. These cases show that the verdicts of juries are not always conclusive of the guilt of prisoners, especially when men's minds are stirred by political passion and panic. Let us remember at what time Daly and the other men were convicted under the Act. There was a perfect scare and panic all over the country, and I do not wonder at it. Men's minds were kept at a stretch and strain, and one's faith in human nature seemed almost exhausted, and you could not tell at what moment or in what place some yet more hideous development of crime might take place. It was at that time these men were tried. It was one of those periods in our history when that most fatal impulse was abroad, "Somebody must 344 be brought to trial; somebody must be found guilty." Both Judges and juries are full of human nature, and is it not extremely likely that there was a sort of conviction beforehand that anybody tried on a dynamite charge was, at least, likely to be guilty; and did not this lead to longer sentences being passed than would have been inflicted in calmer moments? They were passed, no doubt, with the honest conviction that a harsher punishment was more likely to put down the crime; there was at that time in the minds of Judges and juries the one resolve to crush this conspiracy. Now we have come to calmer moments. That dynamite wave has spent its force. All that time it was found breaking out here, there, and everywhere; now that has passed, and everyone sees the utter folly as well as crime of trying to overthrow great political associations by the murder of a few innocent persons. Is it not now time, since these men have suffered terribly, when the right hon. Gentleman may fairly say that whatever they have been, they have suffered severely, and the interest of the whole community, as well as the common sympathies of human nature, will admit that they should at last be released from their bondage?
§ *(5.45.) MR. MAHONY (Meath, N.)
I do not wish to add anything to what the right hon. Gentleman has just said; but, Sir, I do wish to enter my protest against the attempt which has been made by the Home Secretary, and also by the ex-Home Secretary, and of recalling to the House not the circumstances under which these men were convicted, but the outrages themselves, which attempt was made for the purpose of creating in this House and in the country a fresh feeling against these men, in order that their prison doors may remain locked. I protest against that, and say it is unworthy of men occupying the position which they occupy to appeal to prejudices of that kind. I wish, Sir, to say a few words on the case of Daly. The right hon. Gentleman states that after very careful inquiry he has come to the conclusion that Daly was properly convicted. There are, however, one or two circumstances in the case to which 345 I wish to draw attention. The Head Constable at Birmingham stated to the Watch Committee, to exonerate himself when asked why he did not arrest the man who gave Daly the dynamite, that he believed Daly's conviction was due to a plant on Daly by the emissaries of the Irish police. The right hon. Gentleman says he has satisfied himself that there is no ground for that charge, and he said last Session that he came to that conclusion on documentary evidence. Why cannot he produce that documentary evidence, and let us see for ourselves whether it is satisfactory or not? Is that evidence the letter of which we have now heard for the first time as having been written by Daly to a man in America named Breslin? If it be so the House will, I think, attach very little importance to it. I am reminded by my hon. Friend that Breslin is the very man from whom Pigott stated that he had received letters which were proved to be forgeries. There is a point in the Daly case which really calls for further explanation on the right hon. Gentleman's part. He wishes us to believe that the police arrested Daly by mere accident. They had watched him night and day for seven months, and had never seen anything suspicious in his behaviour. Did they know who he was going to see when he started for Liverpool? They knew he received the telegram, and from whom he received it, and yet we are asked to believe that they lost him the moment he arrived in Liverpool, and for two days could not find him. Yet they never thought of going to the house of the man from whom the telegram came; but it was the owner of the house who gave information to the police as to the station from which he would leave Liverpool, and the time. The right hon. Gentleman says he has inquired fully into this matter. I do not think his information is quite so accurate as it ought to be. He told us for the first time last night that dynamite was sent by a man called Breslin, in America, to a man in Liverpool, and was handed by him to Daly. Someone in the House shouted out "Macdermott," and the right hon. Gentleman at once accepted the name.
§ MR. MAHONY
The right hon. Gentleman did, I think, say that Daly had written to a man in America called Breslin?
§ MR. MAHONY
And that Breslin sent dynamite which reached the possession of a man in Liverpool, and that from that man's possession it came into the possession of Daly?
§ MR. MAHONY
It is admitted that it came into the possession of Daly. Daly went into a certain house in Liverpool well known to the police, and the owner of which told the police where Daly was going from.
§ MR. MAHONY
Does the right hon. Gentleman deny it? The whole case made for Daly is that he was asked by a friend to take a parcel and to put it away. Some of Daly's questions at the trial showed that he began to suspect that his friend had played him a trick, and our case is that Daly was not the man to turn on a friend unless he was sure that friend had treated him in a dastardly and cowardly fashion. He could not make out that case for himself, and so we are making it for him. The right hon. Gentleman denies that the cases of the 16 men were political, and says that they were cases of crimes of ordinary and very horrible character. He says that Daly is a fanatic. If he be, what made him a fanatic? What made O'Donovan Rossa sympathise with dynamite? It was the treatment of Ireland by the British Government, and his treatment in gaol after his conviction which made Rossa a dynamitard. You cannot treat men, even if they be Irishmen, as dogs without rousing spirit of resistance and retaliation. An 347 hon. Member opposite said that treason was the worst of crimes. So it is, if Government be free; but if Government be oppressive, sordid, and corrupt, treason is not a crime, it is a virtue. I am old enough to remember the landing of Garibaldi, and no crowned head ever had such a reception in this country at the hands of the English people. And yet, was he not guilty of treason? Did he not sympathise with assassination? Why, Agesilao Milano was guilty of attempted assassination with his own hand, and yet Garibaldi's first act after he had accomplished the freedom of the two Sicilies was to grant a pension to this man. Yes, and I ask how did you receive Garibaldi who wrote about another man, who not only attempted assassination, but succeeded in assassination, the man who assassinated Rossi in the City of Rome—Rossi the Prime Minister of the Pope? This is how Garibaldi treated that assassination—The old world city being worthy on that day of ancient glory freed itself of a most dangerous satellite of tyranny, and bathed the marble steps of the Capitol in his blood. A Roman youth had found once more the steel of Marcus Brutus.That man, Garibaldi, you received in this country with acclamation, and yet you raise up your hands in pious horror against men who dare to justify political movements, in which those connected with them never advocated, and never attempted, political assassination. (Cheers.) Yes, you are horrified at us for daring to speak in words of praise of men who have been guilty of treason; when it is a Greek, when it is a Bulgarian, when it is an Italian; aye, when it is anything but an Irishman, then these same men are not infamous, but are heroes. We have not justified the use of dynamite. We have deplored it. We have condemned it; but what we do say is this—that you cannot in honesty refuse to regard the motives which influenced these men. We have heard a good deal of the necessity for continuing the punishment of these men in order to prevent a recurrence of these offences. Is there any single Member in this House who believes in his heart that by keeping those men in gaol one single day longer you will do anything towards the prevention of the recurrence of these 348 crimes? There is no danger of their revival. I say no danger; but if there were any danger, it would be caused by such things as the harsh treatment of these men in Portland Gaol, and the feeling started by such treatment as that. Cannot you look, even for once, when it does affect Ireland; cannot you look at the other side of the punishment. Cannot you look at the reclamation of the criminal? Cannot you acknowledge that these men were not guilty of a selfish crime; that they had nothing to gain for themselves by these acts, bad as they were—terrible as they were. They had nothing to gain for themselves. Their only motive was not a selfish motive, for all they sought to accomplish was to direct attention to the grievances of their country. It may be useless to appeal for them. The Gentlemen opposite do not admit that we have grievances of which we have a right to complain, but of which we intend to complain, until they are remedied; but Members sitting upon this side of the House do acknowledge that we have a right to complain; they do acknowledge that we have grievances which must still be remedied; still more do they acknowledge that some years ago these grievances were of a trying character. If you acknowledge that, surely you must acknowledge also your responsibility for those grievances, for it is only lately, only within the last few years, that you have been made to acknowledge that these grievances existed. There is not a Member in the House who can free himself from responsibility in the cause which led these men to commit these crimes. Cannot you let that responsibility actuate you in the direction of extending to these men the mercy of the Crown? That is all we ask. We ask you to say, not that these men have not been guilty of the crimes of the terrible character charged against them, but that the danger of the recurrence of those crimes is past; that these men have suffered sufficiently for their offences against society; that they have suffered terribly; that their motives were not selfish; and that their cases deserve re-consideration. Their motives were such as to prove that somewhere in their hearts there is good. I 349 appeal to this House, I appeal especially to hon. Members upon these Benches, to direct their attention not to future punishment, but by an act of mercy to try to increase the good that is in these men; to give these men some chance, yes, some chance of making some reparation to their fellow-countrymen, some reparation for evils which, in a mistaken moment, by a mistaken judgment, they were led to commit.
§ *(6.10.) MR. HENRY JOHN ROBY (Eccles)
I have listened attentively to the speeches that have been made upon this question, but I cannot pretend to have any acquaintance, more than the merest recollection of the matter, except what I have heard in the course of the Debate. I do not for one moment desire to separate myself from the remarks which have been made by many speakers as to the perfect fairness of the trial which took place, and the perfectly conscientious action of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The hon. Gentleman the Member far Derry has very fully expressed the circumstances under which the trial took place, and I accept his statement of the circumstances as one of the grounds on which I am inclined to vote for this Motion. The admirable speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has, I think, pleased all parts of the House; but there was one portion of his speech which I feel I must separate myself from. He pointedly put the question towards the end of his speech—What is there in the offences that these men have committed that separates them from the ordinary class of prisoners who have been sentenced to long periods of imprisonment? The answer is in the words of the Amendment; it is an answer in very plain language, that it differed upon the ground of the political character of the offence of those—who have been for years undergoing punishment for offences arising out of insurrectionary movements connected with Ireland.I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Deptford and others who consider that treason-felony or treason, in any form, the highest offence in morals. In law no doubt it is. Law and morals have different rules and principles. In law you have to regard the facility with 350 which the offence may be committed, the great danger which may arise from it, the terror which it may inspire; but the motives of the persons actuated may be entirely different. The motive, in a question of morals, bears almost the whole weight of the burden, and I think the motive of persons engaged in insurrection should be weighed in different scales from the motives for common offences of persons who commit private crimes. I do not think that you ought to confine for the same period those persons who have been guilty of acts of brutality, and those persons who, through enthusiasm or political folly, or sometimes from very high motives of self-devotion, have committed crimes and have brought themselves under the laws of their country. The political character of the offence does legitimately and rightly diminish the horror and the severe judgment we should pass upon such crimes. I believe there has been some little miscarriage of justice in the case of Egan, and I cannot free myself from some suspicion in regard to the case of Daly. I cannot believe, at least without knowledge of such other facts as may have been before the Home Secretary, that the head of the police in Birmingham would have made such a definite and distinct statement if there was really nothing in it. I do not, however, put my vote upon these grounds. I say first, in the case of political prisoners, such as Smith O'Brien, and others, the clemency of the Crown has been exercised, and I think there are now grounds for that clemency being extended to some of the prisoners now referred to. I do not mean by voting for the Amendment that I definitely ask for the speedy release of all of them; what I ask is that the Home Secretary shall consider the cases of all those prisoners, having regard to the fact that the movement was an insurrectionary movement, and that they have now endured a very long and severe sentence —nine years' penal servitude—which I think may be regarded, under present circumstances, as sufficient. I do not want to imply that the Home Secretary has not given full consideration, as he thought at the time, to these cases. But time is in 351 some degree, in the case of penal servitude, the very essence of the question. It is now half a year since we refused, last August, to accept this Motion. Half a year is nothing; and if by an act of mercy he can, without destroying respect for justice, do anything which will help to relieve misery in some degree and to soothe national difficulties, I appeal to him to do so.
§ (6.18.) MR. JOHN DILLON (East Mayo)
In dealing with the question before the House I shall confine myself to two points only. But, first of all, I wish to say a few words of a personal character in reference to the prisoner Daly, with whom I was at one time very intimately acquainted. It is many years ago since I knew John Daly. I say at once, and I am not ashamed to admit it, that in those days I was very intimately associated with the Fenian movement, and amongst others with whom I came in contact was Mr. John Daly. I travelled for weeks in his company. I was associated very closely with him in some political campaigns, and I am bound to say that I formed a very high opinion of John Daly. He was a man who, I believe, was an artizan, but he was an extremely exceptional and intelligent artizan, and at the time that I knew him he was certainly a most effective and powerful political advocate in the cause in which we were working. During these times we had talked over Irish matters; we differed in those days as I suppose he has differed from me in the years that have elapsed since then. He was then of the opinion that there was no hope for Irish liberty except in a recourse to arms. I did not share his views, and, of course, I always tried to impress upon my countryman that there was other hope than in an appeal to arms; but in those confidential conversations, and there was not at that time any conceivable reason for his concealing his thoughts from me, he repudiated all form of crime except resistance in open arms. I bear that testimony to the political character of John Daly. At the time that I was associated with him his political opinions were thoroughly well formed, and I think, as I am just reminded, that he was then engaged in agitating, 20 years ago, for the amnesty 352 of the political prisoners. They have long since been released from gaol, and many of them have been engaged in exercising their influence to strengthen the hands of Mr. Parnell, the late hon. Member for Cork, in substituting constitutional movements for the movements for connection with which they were convicted. I have listened to the Debate; and from my knowledge of those days, I should be astonished, and very much pained, if the conviction were brought home to my mind, that John Daly had so changed his political principles as to join in such a conspiracy. The only thing I wish to say in reference to the observations that have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, is that I do not see how it is expected—and I suppose that will be the object of Irish Members who join in this Debate—that we can increase the prospects of opening the prison doors of these men, as we all desire to do, by quarrelling with the Government. There were some observations in his speech to which I must take exception from my own knowledge of the Fenian Organisation. The right hon. Gentleman has, I think, some prejudice against them. The history of that movement was brought to the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman by other channels than those which we possess; but I am perfectly sure, had it been brought to his knowledge by channels other than those he has been obliged to use, he would be the first man to see no injustice in the movement. The fact that John Daly and the other prisoners whose cases are now being considered, were supposed to have been connected with the old Fenian Organisation, and largely engaged in treasonable practices in the past, raised in his mind a presumption that they were likely to be connected with those dynamite outrages.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
No; I argued that the crime was a grave one, but that I did not think, because it was a political offence, that it was a mitigating fact; but at the same time I carefully abstained from saying that it was an aggravation.
§ MR. DILLON
I can understand now what his point was; but considering the state of excitement in which the 353 English public mind was at the time, it is perfectly conceivable how, if it was proved to be a fact that John Daly was a member of the Fenian Organisation, it should be supposed that he was also engaged in treasonable practices, and that that would prejudice the minds of the jury against them. The newspapers were then full of dynamite outrages, and the jury would he more inclined to convict of dynamite outrage if it had been proved that the prisoner had been connected with th Fenian Organisation. To any person who knew Ireland the fact would have been apparent that if he had been an old Fenian he could not have been a dynamiter; for not one or two, but the whole body, without a single exception, set their face, from the beginning, against outrage and crime. So much was that the case that in Dublin it was reported by the police that as the Fenian Organisation spread, agrarian outrage decreased, and that that was one reason why they knew that the Organisation was extending. I bring that forward to show how people might have been influenced on the trial in connection with the Fenian Organisation, whereas the real question upon which they were tried was whether they were connected with the dynamite outrages. I take it that every Member of this House agrees that punishment should be preventative and not vindicative. If it can be proved that the release of these men would be no encouragement to crime of the same character, but that it would have an opposite effect—that it would have a soothing effect—upon the minds of people all over the world, and that it would have no tendency to reproduce those crimes, I think there is not a single Member in the House who would oppose the Motion. What has been the universal experience of those amnesties—the experience not of Ireland, but of all the world over? The experience in all countries, the experience of all mankind, has been that, after a movement which the State is bound to put down for its own protection, has been put down, and effectually crushed, the best means to defend the State against similar movements in the future is to exhibit a generous clemency to the men found guilty. And I venture to say that the 354 past experience of Ireland fully bears this out. This process in which we are now engaged, of moving for the release of political prisoners, is a chronic process, unhappily, so far as Ireland is concerned; and I venture to say this here, that I think that those who have been responsible for the Government in Ireland in the past, and agreed to amnesty, will admit that the result of amnesty for Irish political prisoners has always been satisfactory. Of course, I feel bound to admit that it is the right, even the duty, of the State, although sometimes it may be very mistaken —it is the right and the duty of the Ministers of this country to punish offences of the nature of treason and treason felony, and still more if they are clearly proved offences of the character which are charged against these men. I say that in no country in the world has it been more clearly or fully proved that the proper way to put an end to these offences, and the only way to put an end to these offences, is not by savage and cruel punishments, but by controlling and cutting away the roots from which they spring. And if to-day we find that the crop, the unhappily perennial crop, of political prisoners in Ireland is beginning to fall off—and for a considerable time, thank goodness, we have had no trials for treason, or treason felony, and severe sentences of penal servitude passed in connection with Irish politics—the cause of that is not to be sought in passionate convictions and severe sentences passed on political prisoners in times of panic; it is to be sought in the fact that a new hope has sprung up in the minds of the Irish people; that we have been able to remove these views from the minds and hearts of our people, and induced them to look to this House and to constitutional methods for redress. And for my part I felt to-day that I should not remain silent without making this appeal to hon. Members on all sides of the House to do this crowning act of clemency; and if you grant it I believe that the effect of it all through the ages to come will be to decrease revolutions in Ireland and those political trials which in the past have been a disgrace to this country. And, Mr. Speaker, I do sincerely believe, if the request 355 embodied in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Waterford be granted and conceded, that not a single Member of this House will ever have the slightest reason to regret it.
§ *(6.35.) MR. HENRY JOSEPH WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
I do not intend to trouble the House for any length of time with a review of the arguments which have been brought forward on one side or the other. But under the circumstances I do not wish to give a silent vote on this motion, and I desire to tell the House in one single sentence why I intend to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Waterford. I attended the trial in Ireland of certain men put upon trial for their lives, and I heard much that was interesting and shocking to me as to how such proceedings were conducted. I shall never forget one sentence which was uttered by the distinguished Counsel representing the prisoners, The Mac Dermott, who, in speaking of the grievances of which they had to complain, said—You first drive men mad by your methods of misgovernment, and then you seek to hang them for being mad.Now, it is because I believe that the methods of misgovernment by which Ireland has been oppressed for many a year has driven many Irishmen at least temporarily mad—because I think that these men in these cases under consideration have been sufficiently punished for this temporary madness —that I have not had, during this Debate, the slightest hesitation in making up my mind to vote for the Amendment.
§ (6.37.) DR. JOSEPH E. KENNY (Cork Co., S.)
I am glad the hon. Member for East Mayo has interposed in this Debate, because he has been able to give, for the first time, a description of the character of Mr. Daly, and that the House might be able to judge whether he was a likely subject, from his personal experience of him, to develop into a dynamitard. I think the House—any fair judging man—who has heard the description of him, will come to the conclusion that he was not of the stuff of which dynamitards are made. The hon. Member for East Mayo has applied to me to appeal to Gentlemen who sit on these Benches 356 around me not to say anything irritating to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. Well, Sir, I disclaim at once any desire of saying anything irritating to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. But there are some passages in the right hon. Member for Derby's speech to which I must take exception. In listening to that speech, the impression produced on one's mind would be that there was nothing, at all events in its mode, to which objection could be taken; but I think a little reflection will show that the purpose underneath it was not by any means so mild; and I take it from this fact, because the right hon. Gentleman, on a question like this, which is a question for taking a high and generous view of matters now passed into oblivion, and for endeavouring to put an end finally and for ever to a most disgraceful episode to this country—that in a debate of this kind the right hon. Gentleman should have let fall from him consciously or otherwise observations which, I am bound to say, are more or less graven on the episodes to which they refer. I have also exception to take to his definition of what Fenianism was or was meant to be, and I entirely object to his forming a new dictionary of what is meant by outrage. He has attempted in his speech to make out that it is an act of outrage to do acts of violence whenever these acts may be done in forwarding a revolutionary movement. I take exception to it, and I think he had no right to introduce it, and I take exception to his attempt to fasten on my dead leader, whom I shall always hold in honour, and whose death he and his friends contributed to bring about, that he should attribute to him a sentiment which was expressed in words of his own. He spoke of Fenian Home Rule and he spoke of it in his speech as Mr. Parnell's Home Rule, thereby intending to convey that the Home Rule Mr. Parnell had in his mind was Fenianism, while he knew as well as any man living that Mr. Parnell of all men was the least likely to adopt Fenianism as a shibboleth or cry, and that he above all men had weaned the minds of the Irish people from the paths of Fenianism, and shown them 357 them that there was an alternative by which they could gain all they hoped for, and for which they were prepared to suffer and die. He says it was not Fenianism convinced him of Home Rule, but I wrote to put this query to him—was it not Fenianism that had made possible the acceptance of the alternative Mr. Parnell had pointed out? Did not he take his choic, and did not his colleagues take their choice, and would not this country alternately take its choice between Home Rule, provided it was full and complete, and the other alternative of a constant recrudescence of Fenianism and such movements. From beginning to end of the arguments, I am bound to say that with the form of the Home Secretary's observations I have no fault to find; but I think he bitterly disappointed me that, in the eleventh hour of the existence of the Government, he could not take heart of grace and, for once at all events, seize the opportunity offered him for doing a gracious act. Instead of that, he has endeavoured to prove that the offence out of which the subject of our present Debate has grown was of a non-political character, and that the perpetrators of these outrages were not to be distinguished from ordinary criminals. My hon. Friend the Member for Derry City pointed out in very forcible language the gross abuse that was made of the Treason Felony Act in connection with these prosecutions. The right hon, Gentleman found himself under the necessity of undertaking to prove that there was no political element in this matter. Will he deny that misgovernment is fons et origo of the whole matter? Will he assert that in Ireland there ever would have been dynamite outrage, or anything approaching it, if the government of the country were what it ought to be; and will he deny—I know he cannot— that misgovernment, as he himself in former days fully acknowledged, was at the bottom of Irish Fenianism and similar movements? He cannot divest himself of some of the responsibility of having created to some extent the political crimes with which we are now concerned. The Member for Deptford said these men could have been tried for treason, as they ought to have been, 358 which he held to be the greatest of crimes. If they had been, we never would have had this Debate, for then they would have been executed. The moment he said these men ought to have been tried for high treason he gave away, though he did not intend it, his Leader, whom he was imitating in his speech. If they had been tried for treason, would anyone say that that was not a political offence? For the Treason Felony Act was brought in to produce on men's minds this very impression: that the political movement for the amelioration of the condition of the country was in itself a criminal movement; that is to say, in itself morally culpable, as well as culpable, in the eye of the law. And the Government of the day knew well the difficulty of getting capital convictions on charges of high treason, as the public opinion of all Europe was in favour of altering intolerable political conditions by a revolutionary movement. The Treason Felony Act was introduced for the purpose of getting rid of having political traitors, as they were called, tried and executed. I wish to say one word with regard to Daly. Undoubtedly, anyone who has read the Report, which the right hon. Gentleman considered at least a perfectly satisfactory Report—satisfactory and convincing to his mind, that these prisoners suffered no ill-treatment—cannot read that Report without coming to the conclusion, if they are fair-minded men, that, without breaking a single rule of prison government, these men have been subjected to a series of petty annoyances at the hands of petty officials, which constituted a persecution in itself. There is evidence in the whole Report of that, but I will take one item which I think the right hon. Gentleman, in fairness, ought to take into consideration. It is admitted, and no attempt has been made to deny it, that Daly was poisoned three times. I am not going to insinuate that that poisoning had any more culpability in it than carelessness. Knowing something of the subject, I laugh to scorn all the excuses given that that preparation which poisoned Daly had got undue strength. Anyone who knows anything about 359 Government contracts would laugh at the idea of a drug being of undue strength, whatever it might be to be under strength. But if we take it in this way: Supposing Daly's sentence had expired, and the poisoning had occurred on the day of his discharge, he would have resumed his civil rights on that day. Would it not have been perfectly open to him to bring an action for damages for what he had suffered through this culpable negligence? The right hon. Gentleman knows it would; and I cannot but think that, in fairness to a man who has suffered so grievously as Daly, through this accidental poisoning, he ought to be moved through that element alone, in the consideration of Daly's case, to allow a large and immediate remission of his sentence. I hope the right hon. Gentleman may yet take that into consideration. He made, in my opinion, an exceedingly unfair allusion in a Debate of this kind to the letters addressed by Daly to Breslin. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, in speaking, further added that Daly never developed his theory at any period of the trial, as he could have done, that the bombs were planted on him by an agent of the police. Now, I find that at the very trial there is evidence that Daly had not invented the story. Daly commented in his speech on the fact that Mr. Farndale was not produced, clearly showing that he had in his mind that if Mr. Farndale were produced he would be able to put him such a series of questions as would trace the methods in which the bombs came into his possession. I was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby insinuating that this was an afterthought on the part of Daly. The right hon. Gentleman says he was perfectly satisfied as to the genuineness of the letter Daly addressed to Breslin. I ask him was he not perfectly satisfied of the genuineness of Richard Pigott's famous letter? The Times, his ally, was perfectly satisfied. I venture to say that if this Motion were granted, and an open inquiry were held, another friend of the right hon. Gentleman might be found as being the inventor, the writer, and the sender of the letter. I allude to his friend Mr. MacDermott, who has been of such inestimable service to his 360 Government. Daly most vehemently denies that he ever addressed a letter to Breslin, and that he received any reply whatever from Breslin; and he asserts from the beginning that the bombs were planted on him by a man whom he thought at one time was his friend, but who, it was shown from subsequent events, was a traitor to him and a paid agent of the Irish Police. There was another man indicted and convicted on the same indictment as Daly and Egan—I refer to the man MacDonnell. He was convicted of treason-felony, and not convicted of connection with crime or outrage. Why was not MacDonnell, who was set at liberty, not put in prison? No; the political element was introduced into the case to rouse the passions of the jury and get a conviction; and getting a conviction on the political element the punishment was meted out on the dynamite. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman now to say whether he will not take into consideration these facts and release these men from their confinement, which has been of so cruel a character. he releases those men who were actuated by no sordid, but by high and lofty, motives, he will do an act calculated better far to do credit to his Government and to bring about the pacification of Ireland, and to establish the English name in the eyes of the world, than if he were to introduce a thousand Local Government Bills.
§ (7.3.) MR. R. NEVILLE (Liverpool, Exchange Division)
Sir, I regret I find it impossible to go the length which the Amendment invites me. If the Amendment had merely proposed an investigation into the cases of the men who were found guilty, I should have been quite ready, under the circumstances, to support it, though, as a general rule, I deprecate the re-opening of criminal trials in the House of Commons. If the majority of the Representatives of the Irish people desired an investigation, I should not, in ordinary circumstances, feel disposed to vote against it. But the Amendment goes much further than that, and to vote for the Amendment one must commit oneself to this —that men rightly convicted 361 for dynamite outrages should be released. So far as society is concerned, the crime of which these men were convicted was the most serious that could be committed, and the question of their motives cannot in my view mitigate its gravity. It must be obvious that if society is to maintain its security, it is impossible to allow men to manufacture dynamite bombs without visiting their offence with the utmost severity of the law. There is, so far as the result is concerned, no difference between the men who are misguided and who act from patriotic motives and the men who are actuated by selfish brutality. Society cannot take that into account. Its first duty is to preserve the lives and limbs of its citizens, and nothing short of the severest penalty of the law would be adequate punishment for these dynamiters if they were guilty. Sir, the Amendment seems to me to come at an inopportune time. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down put my difficulty very well when he said that it was a question between Home Rule and a recrudescence of those outrages.
§ MR. NEVILLE
I daresay I took the words down wrongly. What I understood the hon. Gentleman to say was that so long as the existing conditions between this country and Ireland subsisted you will have a recrudescence of these outrages. But supposing that by either Political Party a sufficient measure of self-government is accorded to Ireland —a measure they are disposed to accept—I think it would be expedient, if not necessary, that it should be accompanied by a full amnesty to all who are suffering for political or quasi-political offences, and I would give carte blanche to the Government to say who should be released. Under present conditions, I do not think it would be a safe course to take; but if I have the honour to be a Member of this House when a measure of self-government is passed 362 that will be acceptable to the people of this country and Ireland, I shall be the first to wish to see all political prisoners amnestied.
§ *(7.10.) MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
I must say, as one of those who worked to put in the hon. Gentleman for the Exchange Division of Liverpool, that he does not in this matter represent the feelings of his constituents. The hon. Gentleman was returned by Irish votes.
§ MR. NEVILLE
I should be the first to express my obligations to the Irish Party in the Exchange Division; but I cannot admit what the hon. Gentleman says, that my supporters were exclusively Irish.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
The hon. Member's supporters were mainly Irish, and it was they who worked hardest to return him to Parliament. I myself worked hard for the hon. Gentleman, and I will frankly tell him that as the hon. Gentleman has declined to vote for this Amendment, I shall again work hard in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, but this time it will be to relieve the hon. Gentleman of the responsibility of misrepresenting the Exchange Division. Sir, all we ask is the power of control of Irish affairs in our own country. The hon. Member said he would release these men when a Home Rule Bill was passed; but owing to the tortures to which these men are subjected, death will, I am afraid, have relieved many of them before that time arrives. If the hon. Member could not see his way to vote one way or the other on the Amendment now before the House, he might have had the good taste to have said nothing at all. As it is, I promise him when he goes down to Liverpool I will be there to meet him as I was there before. As to the prisoners, if they had been tried for high treason they would have been released before now. Our plea for special treatment for them arises from this—that they are the victims of a Government plot carried out under the control of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, and paid for out of the Secret Service Fund. Jim MacDermott was brought over from America with British money, and he lived in this country in the best style 363 until he got around him his circle of victims. He is now in the service of the Government, and, like all the other scoundrels of the last 20 years, he was in the service of the Times. Sir, at the very time the police were entrapping others they endeavoured to plant dynamite on me. A member of the Royal Irish Constabulary came to my office in Liverpool and asked if I had got the small box that had been sent to me. From where? I asked. He said, "You know; from New York." I asked how much there was to pay, and he said, "I do not know; go and see." I suspected it was a plot laid, and trap set, for me, and I said that if the box was addressed to me the Steamship Company would have delivered it and demanded payment. These are the kind of tactics to which the officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary are ready to lend themselves. Sir, the conviction in my mind, and in that of my colleagues, is that John Daly was incapable of lending himself to the use of dynamite. The Government seem to think that their Local Government Bill will pacify Ireland. They will find their mistake later on. The whole voice of the Irish Representatives demands the release of these men. It would be a graceful act, and would help to prevent the recurrence of bad feeling, if these unfortunate men were restored to their families. Before sitting down I should like to ask the Home Secretary what has become of a man named McKevitt, who was convicted at Liverpool, and whose name appeared in the previous, but not in the last, Return, presented to this House?
§ (7.30.) MR. SEXTON (West Belfast)
I regret the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the Exchange Division, and I do not think it can have been well considered. He takes up an indefensible position—that of an Opportunist. His question has merits of its own, and ought to be considered by itself, and without relation to any other question. The hon. Gentleman would postpone the granting of an amnesty until the granting of Home Rule. Sir, the main justification for both is the promotion of harmony between the two peoples. Why not begin to promote that harmony now? 364 Why delay it because another measure will be introduced a few years hence? The hon. and learned Gentleman says this is not the proper time. I think it is. These criminal acts were the result of the passions which grew out of the agrarian struggle in Ireland, which was a struggle for life. The general features of that struggle were exaction, eviction, terrible suffering, terrible reprisals, and the emigration or banishment of a great number of people to America, where, no doubt, the passion that induced these acts was fed. Ever since 1885 Governments have been engaged in promoting a condition of things by which they hoped to put an end to the older system that engendered these acts of violence. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Exchange Division, as a constitutional lawyer, and as a student of constitutional history, knows that it is in conformity with the practice of the whole civilised world to apply the principles of amnesty when the crimes which have grown out of a fierce political struggle have ceased. Sir, it is only by a political accident that the present Home Secretary is the Imperial administrator in whose hands lies the power of exercising the clemency of the Crown. He was first sent to this House because of his appeal to revolutionary passion. He was able to retain the seat he first obtained by just those appeals to revolutionary feeling to which the British critics of Irish affairs object; and if he had been able to hold the seat for Dungarvan in 1874, or to win it in 1876 or 1880, it is open to me to assume that the right hon. Gentleman might have been found on our side tonight. That he is not on our side arises not from the merits of the case, but from the chances of his political fortunes. Sir, I think our appeal may be addressed with particular force to an English Parliament. Remember the part you have played. The writings and the speeches of your public men have done much to stimulate political crime. Your sympathy with political struggles has been responsible in a great measure for the propagation of political crime in Europe. When the acts are committed against your own Parliament, the rights and duties of 365 self-defence entitle you to regard it from a different point of view; but I am entitled to argue that you should consider the political passion that gave rise to the criminal acts—at least, in the matter of the amount of punishment. In granting an amnesty you are, of course, bound to consider the state of public feeling, and I do not believe that the state of public feeling in England is adverse. I know that public feeling in Ireland is ardently in favour of an amnesty. Conventions have, with the direct sanction and approval of the Bishops, been held all over Ireland, attended by delegates; and at these great Conventions resolutions have been passed, that in view of the doubt of guilt in some cases, the panic and excitement in all, and the extent to which punishment has proceeded, it would be desirable and wise to extend clemency to these men. I refuse to attach much importance to the letter mentioned in connection with the prisoner Daly, and I say that the whole tenor of his life showed that he was averse to crimes of this description. There are many circumstances which surround his case with an atmosphere of considerable doubt. The right hon. Gentleman has been asked again and again to say who gave the bombs to Daly, and he has never answered the question, but has rather nervously evaded the point. It is quite possible the bombs may have got into Daly's possession without any guilty intention on his part, and the Government are bound to state who was the man who gave them to Daly in order that we may judge whether or not Daly may not have so taken them. The Police Superintendent, Farndale, ought to have been examined at the trial, where it should have been brought out on what grounds he came to the conclusion that the Irish police planted the bombs on Daly; and till we know on what grounds he made that startling statement, the question of the guilt of John Daly will continue to be surrounded by suspicion. With regard to Egan, there is nothing in his case which is not compatible with innocence. You owe Egan something more than justice, for you owe him atonement, and I submit that public opinion will very speedily compel the 366 release of Egan, and will eventually lead to the release of Daly. As to other cases, I say generally that these trials were held at a time of helpless panic. The reason of men was weakened by a political conflict, and it is saying nothing more against Englishmen than might be said against others, that at such a time verdicts of conviction were delivered upon evidence which would at any other time have been received with doubt, and sentences were passed which would have been deemed excessively severe. These Irish prisoners have suffered at least as much as ordinary convicts in the same time, and the nine years of their imprisonment have been equal to eighteen years under the ordinary law, and approaching that period of twenty years which, according to the usage of the English convict establishments, is equivalent to a sentence for life. The majesty and the power of the law have been amply vindicated, and the deterrent effect is complete; and, therefore, the point of punishment has now been reached where this prolongation may defeat your purpose. There are two options before you. By accepting this Amendment the majesty of the law will be vindicated, and you could promote the public interest by granting the the amnesty asked for, and at the same time conciliating the feelings of twenty millions of Irish people who live under the flag of Great Britain or the flag of other countries. But the Government appear to adopt the option of enforcing to the full the sentence of the law, and keeping these fifteen wretched men in the horrors of penal servitude until they drive them into the lunatic asylum or lay their bodies in the grave. Such a policy is unworthy of a great nation, and is open to the imputation most repugnant to the natural feelings of Englishmen—that of vindictive cruelty; and I say that if an Irish Government under similar circumstances held fifteen wretched Englishmen in their power, they would be perfectly ready to adopt the course which I now recommend to you.
§ (7.45.) MR. J. NOLAN (Louth, North)
Last evening it was said by an hon. Member that we on this side of the House knew something about penal servitude. I think that, in the interests 367 of justice, it would not be a bad thing if some of us knew a little more about it, and I certainly believe that at least two of the speeches during this Debate would not have been made if it were a rule of this House that the Home Secretary, before attaining that position, should undergo say eight years or so of penal servitude. With regard to the speeches of the Home Secretary, I desire to direct attention to his remarkable statement that if there was any reason to suppose that a member of the English or Irish police had supplied the bombs to Daly, it would be so infamous an action that Daly should not be kept any longer in prison, and that the most ample apology would be made, while compensation would be given to him; but I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether he has any doubt upon that point, when the Chief Constable of one of the greatest cities in this country has announced his solemn conviction that those bombs had been planted upon Daly by the Irish police. If Mr. Farndale was guilty of bringing this charge improperly against the Irish Police, he should not keep the position he at present holds; and it will be easy to bring a charge of conspiracy against the Irish police officers, and on the primâ facie evidence of Mr. Farndale to arrive at the truth. The right hon. Member for Derby and the Home Secretary say they have made inquiries, but of whom? There is a slang term in use to the effect that if you want to know anything you must "ask a policeman," and they have asked the police, against whom this charge was made, whether they were guilty or not! Of course the police said they were not guilty; and they professed to have a letter written to Daly which was accepted as conclusive evidence by the right hon. Gentleman at the time when Mr. Richard Pigott was in full bloom. In the interests of justice I unite my voice with the voices of those who have already spoken in this Debate, and those of the vast millions of our fellow - countrymen throughout the world, in asking that the cases of our imprisoned countrymen may be reviewed.
§ (7.53.) MR. ABRAHAM (Limerick, West)
I do not intend to stand 368 between the House and the division for more than a few moments, but I wish to say that I had the pleasure of being the friend of Mr. John Daly, and I desire to join with my colleagues in the appeal they have made for his liberation, and for a reconsideration of the cases of those prisoners. It is idle to tell us that these men are not political prisoners, for it is the conviction of every section of the people of Ireland that they are, and we shall continue to bring that view before this House again and again until you are convinced not only of the justice of our demand, but also that in the interests of peace you should liberate these men. I wish to say that in the year 1886 John Daly was afflicted with a grievous disease, and I applied to the Home Secretary for a special inquiry into his case. I am glad to bear testimony to the courtesy received from the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion. As I sat by the bedside of John Daly, and when I believed he would never again stand upon his feet, John Daly, on what I looked upon as his deathbed, said that he had no sympathy with dynamiters, and that he was a victim of the police. That statement convinced me of his innocence, and I feel that I shall be false to my friendship with him if I do not state that in the presence of the Tory Party and of our Liberal friends above the Gangway. I believe in the innocence of that man, and when I see to what a wreck John Daly has been reduced by your prison treatment, I feel that he has been more than punished for the crime alleged against him.
(7.57.) MR. O'KEEFFE (Limerick)
As I am a representative of Limerick, the city in which John Daly was born, in which for years he earned his bread by the exercise of an honourable trade, in which his character was well-known, and in which his sufferings are deeply regretted, I wish to say that the majority in that city are fully convinced of his innocence of the foul crime of which he was accused. He was a man who had held, before this, control over the working classes of the place, and he had been engaged, just before he fell into this terrible predicament, in advancing the constitutional agitation of that time; while he was a prime 369 mover in obtaining the election to this House of that illustrious Irishman, Isaac Butt. I do not desire to go into all the arguments of the case, but we do believe in his innocence, and the Amendment of the hon. Member for Waterford has the support of all the people in that part of Ireland which I have the honour to represent. If my hon. Friend has established his first principle, that the offence of which Daly was found guilty was a political offence, the necessity for the reconsideration of his case, or total amnesty, ought to follow as the immediate corollary. When the Home Secretary read the indictments against these men he merely directed the attention of the House to the dynamite charges, and yet he withdrew the case from the specific statute and extended the charge into one of treason felony. Mark the injustice done to Daly by such legal chicanery. It has never been proved or insinuated that he did an act of violence to anybody or against any property; he was simply in possession of explosives, for which under the specific statute he was only liable to 14 years, but on the charge of treason-felony he was liable to penal servitude for life. The hon. Member for Waterford has proved his case conclusively, and I heartily join in the appeals that have been made for the reconsideration of the case. I do not think a more opportune moment will arise for the exercise of that mercy of which the Crown is the fountain. There is no hope for these men in this world, no rest for them except in the grave, and we ask you to grant our appeal, and the people of Ireland will recognise that their still exists in the hearts of Britons a true feeling of fair play and justice.
The House divided:—Ayes 97; Noes 168.—(Div. List, No. 1.)
§ (8.50.) MR. HENRY LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
During the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle an observation fell from him to the effect that he thought it indecorous that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham should occupy a seat upon the Front Opposition Bench, and 370 from that post of vantage make speeches against the Leader of the Opposition. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman is not here, as I should like to know, but I suppose I shall find out, why he makes an observation like that, and why it elicits cheers from all parts of the House, when, as a matter of fact, an agreement was entered into at the commencement of the present Parliament, as I am credibly informed, between Lord Hartington and the leading Members of the Opposition that three seats should be reserved for the Liberal Unionists. I wish my right hon. Friend, or somebody on that bench, would make it clear to me whether that agreement was not entered into owing to the respect that we all felt for Lord Hartington, and whether, when Lord Hartington is removed to another House, the gentleman who is the Leader of the Liberal Unionist Party in this House and his supporters have a right to these seats. If that is so—if these seats have been conceded to them by some sort of arrangement, they are wise to occupy them. But I would have my right hon. Friend, the Member for Newcastle, seriously consider, after the cheers which his observations drew forth, whether they should not consider that that agreement was at an end, and whether they should not inform the Liberal Unionists that the three particular seats should no longer be reserved for them; that they must take their chance—though, of course, they might exercise their rights as Privy Councillors—and that if there were space available, they may sit down, but if there were not, let them seat themselves elsewhere. The Liberal Unionist Party is a curious Party, and the right hon. Gentleman a curious Party Leader. I understand that this Party entertains certain pious opinions in regard to Liberal Measures on the understanding that they are never to give effect to those pious opinions, because, strange to say, the duty that they owe to Liberalism is to maintain in power a Tory Government. Therefore I think they are a curious Party, and not only that, but that 371 they have a curious Leader. The Liberal Unionist Party is chiefly composed of Whigs, as they used formerly to be called, but are now termed "Moderate Liberals," and it is curious that this section of Moderate Liberals should choose as their Leader a gentleman who passed as one of the strongest Radicals in this House. I read with interest the account of the meeting at which the election of the right hon. Gentleman as Leader of the Liberal Unionist Party took place. I find that the right hon. Gentleman not only does not agree with us, not only does not agree with the pious opinions of Gentlemen opposite, but that when he was elected Leader of this small Party he claimed the right not only to act as Leader, but also to act in his individual capacity when he differed from those whom he led. In that case, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell us, when he gets up to speak, whether he is speaking as a Liberal Unionist, or in antagonism to the views of his own little Party. I observe that the usual course in the Debate on the Address has been entirely reversed. I have had the pleasure of listening to a great many Debates upon Queen's Speeches, and, as a rule, Ministers always complained of the length of the discussion, and that the Debate was not kept within the four corners of the Queen's Speech. But what is done at the present time? We have had the Members of the Government getting up and bitterly complaining that there has not been a sufficient amount of discussion, not only on things in the Speech, but on things out of the Speech. If we were to follow the suggestions of hon. Members opposite I am certain the discussion would last two or three months. The First Lord of the Treasury was the first to suggest this Donnybrook Fair idea when he complained that the Member for Derby did not state his views and the views of his Party upon the question of Egypt. Now I look to the Address, and in the Address there is the mere announcement that one Khedive has died and that he has been succeeded by another; and the usual complimentary phrases are used in regard to succession; but yet the Leader of the House called upon the Member for Derby to state his views, not only 372 upon Egypt, but upon many other matters, and then he turned round and complained bitterly of my right hon. Friend for daring in this House to call attention to a statement made by the Prime Minister upon a public platform in Exeter. The view of the right hon. Gentleman is that Lord Salisbury is a member of the House of Lords, and that if any ground for complaint is to be had he should be brought to account in the House of Lords, and that we have no right to protest. I consider myself there are a great many objections to a Prime Minister being a member of the House of Lords. Ministers are made and unmade in this House; Ministers owe their allegiance to this House, and the opinion is growing in the country that the Prime Minister of this country, the man who is responsible for the policy, and chooses the policy which he thinks the country should pursue, ought to be in this House The objections to the Prime Minister being in the House of Lords would be considerably aggravated if the doctrine of the Leader of the House is to be accepted, that we in this House are, not to venture to call in question any language used by the Prime Minister upon a public platform on public affairs. I do not complain of the First Lord of the Treasury defending Lord Salisbury; every consideration would suggest his doing so, and there is every reason why he should say "ditto" to everything said by the Prime Minister For my part, I think the language complained of by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby was. most ill-advised. I think it was unstatesmanlike, and I think it was indecent, because it tried to perpetuate, all those religious animosities which every statesman should try to put an end to, and which have been the curse of Ireland. When the Prime Minister made those charges against the Catholics of Ireland, I cannot help remembering that if the Catholics were to reply, the Catholics would get the better of him by the mere recital of facts, because the action of Protestant England towards the Catholics of Ireland year after year has been a disgrace to her escutcheon. I am glad my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby dissociated the Liberal Party from all connection with 373 the language used by Lord Salisbury. I cannot say I am sorry that Lord Salisbury used such language. I am never sorry when political opponents make a mistake; and I think this language shows to what contemptible expedients the political Leader of the Government is reduced in order to maintain the ill-feeling which has so long existed between this country and Ireland. Then we had another speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who followed the example of the First Lord of the Treasury. He favoured us with a jingo speech upon Egypt. I am not going to follow the right hon. Gentleman upon his speech, because I think we shall have plenty of opportunities, and better opportunities than a general Debate on the Address, to discuss the position of affairs in Egypt. But, at least, I may say that I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman did at last favour us with his views on that subject. He said we were to remain there as long as danger existed from foreign invasion. We all know that there is always a danger of foreign invasion from the southern frontier, and that danger from foreign invasion will perpetually exist; and if, therefore, we are to remain there until danger of foreign invasion has passed away, practically our occupation is to last for ever. [Mr. J. W. MACLURE (Lancashire): Hear, hear.] I have no doubt that is the view of many hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman opposite for having the honesty of his opinions. It has been asserted that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian was in favour of scuttling out of Egypt at a moment's notice, and some words were cited out of a speech of the right hon. Gentleman's to which that interpretation was given; but I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman meant that we should go out of Egypt without due consideration. I think what the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to convey, and what he meant, was that we should inaugurate some sort of negociation with the Porte and the Khedive with the intention of going out as soon as possible. That is the Liberal Policy, whereas the Policy of the Tories is that we should remain in Egypt as long as we could. 374 The distinction between the Tory Policy and the Liberal Policy in Egypt is this—the Tory Party desire to remain in Egypt as long as possible, the Liberal Party are anxious and willing at all times to remain in Egypt as short a time as possible. After this jingo blast about Egypt, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birminghan goes on to complain that we had not started a Home Rule Debate on these Benches. If he had looked at the notice paper he would have seen that the hon. Member for West Belfast has put down an Amendment which will no doubt raise an interesting Debate with regard to the policy of the Government with reference to Home Rule and Local Government. But really it is astounding that the right hon. Gentleman should have renewed in this House a demand which he has made for the last six years consistently, and that the hon. Gentleman opposite should have read so little of the speeches out of this House, that he should have pleaded it as a new argument now against the Opposition. He said the Members of the Opposition should state what their Bill would be if they came into power. Well, I hope they will come into power on a day not long distant, and if the hon. Gentlemen are here they will hear the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Midlothian, state what it will be, and if they are not here they will have an opportunity of reading it in the newspapers the next morning. To whom do we owe allegiance? We owe allegiance to the Liberal party, and the Liberal party do not wish the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham to impose his will upon us. We do not want the right hon. Gentleman to tell us how we should conduct the business of Opposition. We will leave him to tell the Government how to carry on the business of the Government. We look to our constituencies; we look to the Liberal Party, and we find the other day that in Rossendale, where a vast number of people had been led astray in 1886, they had returned to the fold, and were perfectly satisfied with our way of presenting Home Rule to them, and they gave a very large majority to the gentleman who represented the policy of 375 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. There was one interesting fact which I gathered from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. It was that the right hon. Gentleman had a plan of his own to give a Legislative Assembly to Ireland; but what I heard for the first time was, that as his plan had been scoffed at on all sides, the right hon. Gentleman had come to the conclusion that in order to punish the Irish for his plan being scoffed at they were never to have, with the aid of the right hon. Gentleman, a Legislative Assembly in Ireland. A more modest observation, and an observation which shows more clearly that the right hon. Gentleman has been actuated by principle, and not by personal feeling, I never heard in this House. It has been often laid down that it is not necessary to protest against anything in the Queen's Speech to retain one's opinion with regard to it—that assent to the Queen's Speech binds no one to anything. While I agree, of course, to the first paragraph in the Queen's Speech, which refers to the death of the Duke of Clarence, I should have preferred that all the other paragraphs had been left out. This Parliament is in the sere and yellow leaf; it is suffering from the paralysis of old age; and it also suffers from the fact that not only is it a very old Parliament, but a very discredited Parliament, and there is no reason to doubt that it does not enjoy the confidence of the country. For my part, I only regard ourselves as walking and talking corpses, and I think the only fit place for us is the grave. Instead, therefore, of having a number of Bills mentioned which the Government will never carry, I should have preferred that there had been only one paragraph in the Address, stating that there would be a Vote on Account taken, and then an immediate Dissolution. I read an article in the Times on the first day of this Session, in which it said: "The atmosphere is heavy with the weight of a Dissolution." I should have thought that the only way to have the atmosphere cleared of the weight of a Dissolution was to have a Dissolution. The Times did not say this; but it must have occurred to everyone who agrees with the Times 376 that the best way to clear the atmosphere was to have a Dissolution. The Duke of Devonshire, in 1880, asserted that Members cannot perform their duties with an election hanging over them. He said then that Ministers were bound to dissolve, that Parliament had lasted long enough; and Ministers then agreed with him, because very shortly afterwards Sir Stafford North-cote said they would dissolve, and a Dissolution took place in April. Lord Salisbury said in 1884 that a Minister has no right, even though he has a majority in Parliament, to impose his will on the country, and say, "so long. as I have a majority in the House of Commons I will not dissolve." But when I say that there is a reasonable probability that Ministers have lost the confidence of the country I do not go far enough, because really, practically, the leaders of the Government have admitted themselves that they have lost the confidence of the country. I have, read with interest a good many speeches that have been delivered by Ministers during the Recess, and I observed that the main staple of their speeches was explaining to their friends that even if beaten at the next General Election, yet they would not lose all hope. It seems to be accepted as a certainty that their political death will take place at the election. ("No!") The hon. Gentleman says no, but I prefer to take a reasonable deduction from the observations of the hon. Gentleman's own leaders rather than from the almost inarticulate observations of the hon. Gentleman. They consoled their followers by saying that after the Dissolution there would be some sort of resurrection, and that they might not lose all hopes of winning at some future time. Can the hon. Gentleman conceive the general of an army going into battle telling his soldiers that they were certain to be beaten on that day, but that he hoped on some future day to re-establish matters by another-battle. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle asked what assurance have we that this would be the last Session. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham told us this would be the last Session. The right hon. Gentleman, I observed, during his speech is 377 perpetually speaking of "we," by which, no doubt, he meant Lord Salisbury and himself, a sort of Ego et rex meus; but I should like to know whether he was speaking with authority in this matter. But I go further, and I say that I think we should not wait till the end of the Session. I think Easter would be a very good time for the Dissolution, and I ask the Government to consider it. I think they have already considered it. It seems to me that they do not believe they are likely to pass much of the legislation which they have put in the Queen's Speech. I think their programme is something of an electioneering recital. We are told that a District Councils Bill would be brought in, but that it was by no means certain that they would have time to pass it. We know perfectly well what that means. Why, that Bill has been given up already. Then a Small Holdings Bill is promised. Why, Lord Salisbury has gone out of his way to sneer at his own Bill. Then we are told we are to have a Church Discipline Bill. Do Lord Salisbury and his Friends think that they will pass a Church Discipline Bill without the most strenuous opposition? We on this side of the House don't want to have the State interfering and giving powers to bishops over clergy, or to clergy over bishops. We want an absolute separation of Church and State, and I think that is the view we will adopt when the Bill is brought into the House. But I don't think it will pass, or that it is likely to be discussed. And then we are told that we are to have an Irish Local Government Bill; and in reference to this Irish Local Government Bill I must call attention to the wonderful character of the Tory Party. It will be remembered that we had a sort of Liberal Parliament at Newcastle, where leaders and followers all agreed on the policy that ought to be pursued. The Tory Party followed suit. They had a Tory Parliament in Birmingham. The first thing that happened was that a Gentleman on that side of the House representing the Government got up and moved a resolution in favour of Irish Local Government. What happened? With one voice these delegates of the 378 Tories all over the country declared that they would have nothing whatever to do with the Bill. They protested against it, and a gentleman moved "the previous question." The feeling was so strong that the gentleman who brought the motion forward accepted "the previous question." If these are the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite I do not think the Government can be very serious in their statement of intention to bring in a Local Government Bill. One thing I am perfectly certain of, if they bring in the Bill it will be a most absolute and thorough sham. They tell us that the second reading is not to be moved till after Easter. I suppose they hope by that time to reconcile their recalcitrant followers to the Bill. The only way they can do that is by telling them that the Bill is a mere sop brought in because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham insists upon it, but that the Bill will mean nothing and give nothing in the shape of Local Government. I think I am right in saying that there is nothing in this programme to galvanise this moribund assembly into life. The fact is the country is absolutely sick of the present system of Government—supported by two Parties, but ending in this unilateral legislation. You bring in Bills labelled Liberal Bills. Why do you do that? In order that Liberal Unionists might support them, and then the Liberal features are cut out of them in order that you may get your Tory friends to vote for them. The Prime Minister has said that the measures of the Government may be considered by the Liberal Unionists as Liberal measures and by the Tories as Conservative measures. He might have just as well said that you are to consider a man black or white, as you please. I am perfectly certain that I am not only enunciating the views of hon. Members on this side of the House, but the views of hon. Members on both sides of the House when I say that neither Liberals nor Tories relish this sort of mulatto legislation. Let us do away with sham and humbug by bringing forward Bills which appear Liberal Bills to the Liberals and Tory Bills to the Tories. I, for my part, urge the General Election in the interests of all, 379 and not alone in the interests of those who agree with my political views. No one can possibly say that this Government unquestionably possesses the confidence of the country. So far as we know, where the country has been consulted, the Ministers have certainly not received that amount of confidence which would ensure them the confidence of the country. If the country is with the present Unionist Government then, surely, an election would strengthen them. Just think! When they were opposed on these Benches after the election, then they could say: "You urged our appeal to the country. We have appealed to the country, and we have been sent here with a majority at our back." Why, they would be able to tramp upon us and treat us as microbes or any such pernicious organisms. On the other hand, if they had not a majority of the country, surely it is better in the interest of representative government that the Ministers here should be backed up by the country. Every one admits that the Government here ought to be a reflex of the majority of this House; but it is also true that the majority of this House should be a reflex of the majority outside this House. I do trust that the First Lord of the Treasury will rise above the mere wishes of perhaps some of his colleagues, to retain place and power and salary for a little time; that he will take a large patriotic view of his duties and responsibilities as the Leader of this House, that he will not waste time—a year—on mere electioneering discussions in this House, but will, as speedily as possible, propose a Vote on Account— and I am sure the House would offer no opposition to it—and come down to this House and say: "In view of its being doubtful that we have the confidence of the country, in view of the Resolution carried at the Conference of Birmingham followers against our policy, we will appeal to the country and abide by the issue."
§ (9.25.) MAJOR FREDERICK C. RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I regret that in the addresses of the Mover and Seconder of the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech no mention whatever was made of the Labour Question, and particularly to that part of the Labour 380 Question which refers to the 30,000 or 40,000 able-bodied men who are discharged from the Army every year, and thrown upon the country without any employment whatever. I have referred to this subject before in this House, and received sympathetic support from hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House, below the Gangway. I think the justification of any remarks of this kind is accentuated by the Report, which will be in the hands of hon. Members shortly, and which has been published by the Inspector of Recruiting, by which it appears that during the year just past something like 4,600 had deserted, a larger number than in any year since 1887; and that it has been found still harder this year than last year to fill up the ranks of recruits. I think that a matter like this ought at any rate to temper the post-prandial speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, and I cannot help thinking that this is a phase of the Labour Question, which, considering that it affects thirty or forty thousand men annually, the Government might very well see cause to take up.
§ (9.27). MR. ALPHEUS C. MORTON (Peterborough)
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite who has just sat down that something ought to be done with regard to the Labour Question, not only with regard to that particular part of it he mentioned, but with regard to the Labour Question generally. I do not think I would have attempted to occupy the time of the House if it had not been for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham yesterday. I do not wish to criticise that speech, but I gathered during the first two evenings of the Debate on the Address that it was the general intention that a Vote should be taken as soon as possible, because there would be other opportunities in which all these matters could be discussed. 381 The Members of the Opposition have been challenged to discuss the Queen's Speech by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for West Birmingham. I do not know whether he was put up by the Government with the view of occupying the time of the House, and doing what is known as obstructing, for the purpose of getting the Government more time to bring in their Bills. I have no knowledge of that; but it may have been. It seems that the Government have no desire to bring in the Bills that they have given notice of. I entirely agree with the senior Member for Northampton that it would be wise for the Government to take a Vote on Account, and at once go to the country. I do not think they have courage to do that, but that is what would suit the Radical Party in the country I am certain. Everybody agrees in sympathising with Her Majesty and the Royal Family in the lamented death of the Duke of Clarence. But I think the Government were wrong in advising Her Majesty as they did in the matter of Court mourning. I do not myself, nor can anybody else, place the slightest value upon official mourning. If mourning is to be of any value it must be natural and done by the people without any order or command from the Government. Well, Sir, the consequence of this order for official mourning has been great distress to a large number of the people of this country. It has so disarranged a certain class of trade that a number of people have been driven into the workhouse. These unfortunate events may occur again, and I hope care will be taken that the poorest portion of the industrial classes is not allowed to suffer on account of what is called Court mourning. Now, Sir, as regards Egypt, no one in the Radical Party ever expressed a wish that in the course of 24 hours our troops should be removed from that country. What we have said is this —that the Government should come to terms with France, 382 who have some interest in the matter, and to whom we have made promises. The people of France, in making that Canal, did more for Egypt and the world than any other country, and they may be fairly said to have a large interest there. If it is the intention of any other country permanently to occupy Egypt, France may be pardoned if she feels injured. Subject to a proper arrangement with Egypt itself, the general feeling of this country is that we should get rid of the trouble and expense of governing Egypt, and leave it to govern itself. As regards the Newfoundland Fisheries, the reason the Government are unable to settle this unfortunate question by compensation or otherwise is on account of the Egyptian difficulty. The moment you get rid of that difficulty you will be able to come to terms with France in regard to the fishery dispute. We are told in the Queen's Speech that the Government have come to some understanding with the United States for the settlement of the Behring Sea dispute by arbitration. I am very glad to hear that, and I hope the time will come when our Government may enter into negotiations with other countries for the settlement of all disputes that may hereafter arise by arbitration rather than by war. Sir, we are told that the Estimates have been prepared with a due regard to public economy. I hope the Government in that matter will carry out their promise better than they have hitherto done. In the second place, I hope they will be more prompt in the presentation of the Estimates. Last Session we had forced through this House in one night Estimates amounting to about £17,000,000 sterling. That is a scandal and a disgrace to any deliberative Assembly. The next point is as to the general principles affecting Local Government in Ireland. We have heard that the Conservative Party are opposed to Local Government in Ireland. Personally, I am very glad the Government should ask us to consider this Bill, because it shows that they have altered their policy altogether 383 According to Lord Salisbury, Ireland it was only after that that we were told we might consider whether we should give her Local Government. The Government now admit they were wrong, and they propose to allow the Irish people to manage their own local affairs. If the Bill is an honest Bill, we shall support it. I read the promise of the Government to be this—that they mean to go as far as the English Bill; but if they would go a step further and present a measure drawn upon the lines of the Scotch Bill, I would be glad. As regards the Small Holdings Bill, I am afraid it will be of no use whatever unless there is introduced the principle of compulsion. I am glad to notice that the advantages of assisted education are to be given to Ireland. I never could understand why Ireland was left behind England in that matter except that it is the traditional policy of the Tory Party to keep the people in ignorance. I notice the Solicitor General laughing, but the hon. and learned Gentleman knows as well as I do that the Tory Party is opposed to education; he knows that, if the Tory Party could have stopped them, there would have been no educational grants and no school books. Now, Sir, with regard to the Private Bills Procedure Bill, we have heard something of the same kind before, so far as Scotland is concerned, and Scotland would have nothing to do with the Bill. They said that any body appointed to dispose of Scotch Private Bills should be a representative body, and not a body selected by any Government. Therefore, if the Scotch Bill is on the same lines as that of last year, it will not be satisfactory to the people of Scotland. What the Scotch people want is Home Rule, and I am glad to see the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) has introduced a Bill to give the Scotch people control of their own affairs. That will be better than anything the Government can do, and I therefore hope they will withdraw their Bill and support the measure introduced by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen. Sir, we are told the Government mean to introduce a Bill for the improvement of the Legislative Councils of India; but unless the Bill gave the people of India 384 some popular representation on these Councils, it will be of no use whatever. The moment you get the people with you, you need not fear any interference from Russia or from any other Power. There ought to be no difficulty in giving the people of India a share of the government of their own country. I should like to see the Government taking a more active part about the opium and salt traffic. As regards the opium traffic, which we maintain for moneymaking purposes, it is a scandal and a disgrace to the people and the Government of this country. Professing, as we do, to be a religious people, with a large number of Bishops, and so on, we ought to be ashamed of the misery that we cause by the use of that opium drug simply to make money, and for no other purpose whatever. I confess I do not understand the next clause in the Queen's. Speech, relating to the relief of public elementary schools from the pressure of local rates. That does not affect the Board schools. If I understand it at all, it is an attempt to relieve denominational schools at the expense of others, and will not be viewed with any favour by the Radical Party, unless you are prepared to give us that local control of these schools which we claimed last year, and which will have to be given as soon as the next General Election occurs. Sir, we are told that the Government propose to introduce a Bill for the improvement of the discipline of the Established Church. That is a small matter which the Government might well have left alone I am glad to know, as a member of the Church of England, and a churchwarden, that this Church Discipline Bill is not required, and I ask the Government to drop it, and to take up the question of the amendment of the laws with regard to betting and gambling. It is admitted by everybody, by the ministers and clergy of the Church of England, and ministers of all denominations, to be a most pressing and important question, and I would urge the Government to make an honest and determined attempt to stop betting and gambling in this country; but, above all, we must take care that we do not give the moral sanction of this House to betting, by adjourning for the Derby Day. We 385 have been told something about a proposed arrangement with the Bank of England, which I suppose means £1 notes. So far as I can gather from business people, especially in the City of London, they are all against them. Abroad, every attempt to make cheap money has been a failure, and before they endeavour to introduce a a £1 note in this country, the Government should take care that the bonâ fide business interest of the City of London is with them rather than against them, as it is at the present moment. I was sorry that the subject of the management of the water supply of London was left out of the Queen's Speech. We are told that there is to be a Commission; but I do not understand that, for the County Council and the Corporation of London believe they will have the support of the Government if they introduce a Bill during the present Session. The effect of this announcement, as to the appointment of a Royal Commission, will be to put the matter off for two or three years. We ought now to be able, in the City of London, to have pure water at a fair price, and the time has arrived when we should demand a settlement of this question. As I said before, I should not have spoken in this Debate but for the challenge of the Member for West Birmingham, who should remember that we agreed with him in 1885 in the unauthorised programme which he then put forward. We agree with that programme still; but he has deserted it. I have no doubt he is considered to have made, last evening, an extremely clever speech; but that speech will not affect a vote in this House, nor in the country. It reminded me rather of those speeches I have heard in times gone by at the Cogers' Hall and other assemblies in Fleet Street, where the principal object of the speakers seemed to be to destroy each other rather than anything else. The Member for West Birmingham asks whether we have stood by our Radical principles; but we have done a great deal more than that. We have induced the right hon. Member for Midlothian to join us, and adopt our Radical programme. Therefore, we have decidedly gained by the loss of the Member for West Birmingham; 386 because we have lost what turned out to be a treacherous and bad leader and got the very best in the United Kingdom. We have in the Newcastle programme, or the Radical programme, nearly everything which was mentioned in the unauthorised programme of 1885, and we have got Home Rule besides. The sooner we have a Dissolution the sooner we shall get Home Rule for England, Ireland, and Scotland, and everywhere else, because the Home Rule principle is spreading now, and is demanded in every village and parish in the country, while they are demanding it for London. As the Leader of the House has returned to his place, I would ask him to accept the proposal of the Senior Member for Northampton, to take a Vote on Account, and go to the country. If you will do so speedily, he will have no need to force upon his unwilling Party Local Government for Ireland, or any other Liberal reforms which he would propose in view of a General Election. I must object to the observations of the Prime Minister with regard to our fellow-countrymen, the Irish Catholics; and I notice that he did not use such language in 1885, when he was expecting to get the support of the Irish Catholic Party. The Prime Minister complained that the Irish Catholics were in favour of the American Revolutionary War, 120 years ago. But the City of London was equally opposed to that cruel and criminal war; and if the Prime Minister wishes to make complaint against anyone, he should make it against the citizens of London. I am not at all afraid of what will happen at the next election: and all I say to the Government in conclusion is that they should bring it about as soon as possible, for if the Tory Party have got any opinions they ought to have the courage to go to the country.
§ *(10.25.) SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
I will not attempt to follow the hon. Member through all the questions dealt with in his speech; but with regard to the appointment of a Commission on the water question, as desired by the County Council of London, I must say we are grateful to Her Majesty's Govern- 387 ment for having acceded to our request in that particular. The hon. Gentleman entirely mistakes the object and scope of that Commission. It is not with regard to the Water Companies of London, but to the question of water supply, and the need of obtaining it from a wider area, and we do not think Her Majesty's Government have intended in any way to postpone the settlement of the question. The London County Council and the Corporation will proceed with the Bill before this House, which we trust will receive the support of Her Majesty's Government. We are anxious to carry the Bill, because in that case when the Commissioners make their Report we shall be in a position to act upon its recommendations, whatever they may be. The hon. Member who has just spoken says that Home Rule was in the Newcastle programme. It is perfectly true; but what we want to know is, what is the Home Rule in that programme? and upon that point we find it impossible to obtain any information.
§ MR. MORTON
Allow me to explain distinctly. It is that the Irish people shall have the management of what this House determines to be Irish local affairs.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
That is not at all clear to my mind. What are their local affairs? I want to know why are the people of London not to have equally the control of their own affairs?—and if the hon. Gentleman says that there is to be equal Home Rule throughout the United Kingdom, and that London and other counties in England are to have the same powers for their local affairs, without interference from the people of Scotland or Ireland, then I say that it is not Home Rule at all,but that it is a system of government such as they have in the United States, or Switzerland, which is Federalism, and not Home Rule. We know what are the opinions of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on Home Rule. What we wish to know are the opinions of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway; but when they go to the country they whittle away their Home 388 Rule until it becomes a mere matter of water and gas—especially gas.
§ MR. MADEN (Lancashire, Rossendale)
The right hon. Member for the University of London is making a reference, I believe, to myself at Rossendale. He says that when they, the Opposition Party, go to the country, they whittle down their Home Rule scheme to gas, water, and electricity. I may say——("Order, order!")
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity of replying to the hon. Baronet when he has concluded his speech.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
I did not mention Rossendale; but the cap must have fitted, for the hon. Member has applied to himself that which I was stating generally. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham appealed very strongly to the Member for Newcastle to give us his views, because, with all respect to the hon. Members who have just spoken, what we really want to know are the views of the right hon. Gentlemen who sit upon that Front Bench. Does Home Rule practically mean separation, or is it merely gas? I must say I was very much astonished at the answer given by the hon. Member for Newcastle, who said he was not in a position, "on the spur of the moment, to give a better description of his policy" than a quotation from a former speech which he read. But we do not ask for his views on the spur of the moment. This is a great question which has been under serious consideration for months and years past, and we do not want to have any momentary expression of opinion from him. We want to know what are his deliberate convictions, and upon that point we certainly have not got any satisfactory answer. It is natural we should ask that question, which has been also so ably pressed by the hon. Member for East Fife, who has a burning desire for Home Rule, which is only equalled by his desire 389 to know what Home Rule is. Surely,the right hon. Gentleman below me will give an answer to the hon. Member for Fife and to the country, and when we know what they mean by Home Rule we can give it our serious consideration. I should like also to say a word or two in reference to another great question which certainly ought not to be a matter of party politics, and that is the question of our policy in Egypt. The hon. Member for Newcastle said he had never expressed an opinion in favour of immediate evacuation. That may be true, Sir, if you use the word in reference to a very short time, but the right hon. Gentleman said he hoped that we should be able to carry out that policy before the end of the Session. That is to say, it was a question of a few months. The hon. Member for Midlothian and his colleagues are responsible for our foreign policy in Egypt, and if we were to go out so soon as that, we ought never to have gone there at all. Why did we send troops there and spend millions of English money if we were at once coming away again? No doubt our position in Egypt to a certain extent is one of danger, but I maintain that, looking at its geographical position, anarchy and misgovernment of Egypt is a greater danger than our occupation of it, and therefore we should not be in a hurry to evacuate the country. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby made some rather severe remarks on the gracious Speech from the Throne in reference to the Bank of England, and blamed the Chancellor of the Exchequer because "he produced an essay in some commercial circle where it was little understood." I think the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer before the Chamber of Commerce was very lucid, and well understood by the members. There is no more fitting place to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer could go 390 to lay his views before his fellow-countrymen on so important a subject, and I shall be expressing the views of the mercantile community when I say that we are obliged to him for coming there and explaining his views to us. We do not know exactly what course the Chancellor of the Exchequer has indicated in the Queen's Speech, but I presume that he does not intend to introduce any change in the currency of the country, as that would be a matter of such importance as to re-require a paragraph to itself in the Speech. The arrangements with the Bank of England, are of course, of importance also, but as several hon. Members have referred to measures they would have been pleased to see mentioned in the Speech, there is one subject I should have been glad to see in it myself. We hear a great deal about the hours of labour and an Eight Hours Bill; but there is a class of our fellow-citizens who are working twelve or fourteen hours a day, and I say this on the authority of the unanimous report of a Committee of this House specially appointed to go into the question. It reported that in many places small shopkeepers and shop assistants worked as much as eighty-four hours a week—that is fourteen hours a day. What makes it worse is that thousands and thousands of these persons are not strong men, but are young girls, and to have young girls standing for fourteen hours in a shop is perfectly ruinous to their health. Not long ago I presented a petition to this House, signed by the Presidents of the two great Medical Colleges, and more than half the leading medical men of London, calling attention to the great and sore injury done to the health of our young men and women by these long hours. I am happy to say this is no question of a struggle between class and class; the small shopkeepers are even more anxious than the shop assistants to see the hours shortened. What they ask is that the House shall give them the power to regulate the hours, which power they would have had in ancient times. Now, a minority, however small, can keep all the shops of a dis- 391 trict open. If the Government had inserted in the Speech some reference to this question, they would have been supported by the shop-keeping community, and by the Trades Councils, which, not only in London, but in several of our other large cities, have passed unanimous resolutions, calling the attention of the House to the subject. In the case of the London County Council, though we have many divergences of opinion, a unanimous resolution has been passed praying the House to intervene in the question. This is a matter which is ripe for solution, and any Government which will take it up will be taking up a subject which will be extremely popular in the country, and will have the general support of the shop-keeping community. If they will not deal with the matter themselves, I would earnestly appeal to them to support ,our endeavours to arrive at a solution of the question, and to let our Bill be referred to a Select Committee, where the whole question may be thrashed out. Sir, if we were to pass a Bill of this kind in the last Session of this Parliament we should have done a great and good work, and shall have carried a Bill which would conduce to the health and happiness of thousands and thousands of our fellow countrymen and women.
§ (10.40.) MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
I think, Sir, although the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby referred rather happily to the many measures mentioned in the Speech as a "catalogue of remanets," those of us who have read it carefully will be of opinion that there are amongst them measures which will require very careful consideration. I might enforce my remark by pointing out that no less than ten of the measures passed last Session were measures amending Acts which had been passed by the present Parliament. I noted that the Mover of the Address said that the Small Holdings Bill would raise the whole question of agricultural depression. But there is a reference in the Speech to another Bill which has not yet received any attention—that which says a Bill will be laid before the House for relieving public elementary schools from the present 392 burden of the local rates. That is a Bill which will raise the whole question of the two classes of schools, voluntary and public elementary schools. Clearly in those two Bills we have matter for somewhat prolonged discussion. If any illustration be needed that an ample bill of fare is provided in the Queen's Speech, it will be found in the last item of the twelve in the programme—the Employers' Liability Bill. I shall have the assent of some of the supporters of the Government when I say that the reason why a very satisfactory conclusion was not arrived at in regard to the Bill of 1888 was that we were hurried into Committee without a proper Second Reading Debate. Most of us in the Grand Committee felt that the Home Secretary was not aware of the numerous points which were raised by the Bill. On Wednesday the Home Secretary used the expression, the hon. Member for Nottingham was personally responsible for the defeat of that Bill. The hon. Member needs no defence of his action from me. He feels extremely keenly on this matter; he was Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress, and in every step he took he had full approbation of those whom he represented. But there were others in the Grand Committee who took the same course as he did in respect to the Bill, and I, for one, am willing to assume full responsibility in the matter. If the right hon. Gentlemen is unhappily inclined to bring forward a Bill of the same character it will probably share the same fate. The point really is whether the Bill shall be compulsory or not, and I believe it is a fact that those mainly interested have distinctly made up their minds that it will be practically worthless unless it be compulsory, as an Act of Parliament should be binding upon all. We are told, as usual, in the Speech that the estimates for the Public Services for the ensuing year will be laid before us; they have been prepared with a due regard to financial economy. I am not concerned to deny the statement that economy of time has not always been displayed in Committee. We shall all agree that this discussion of Supply is often 393 of a most unsatisfactory character. A great deal of time is often spent on more or less microscopical points, which might have been saved for the consideration of larger matters. What are the facts as to the manner in which the Estimates are brought forward? I will not weary the House in all the figures which might be given on the point; I will take those of 1891. The House sat 140 days, and I will only refer to the Civil Service Estimates and the Revenue Estimates. They amounted to 28 millions sterling. There were Votes on Account of eight millions taken on the 17th March and the 25th May, leaving 20 millions to be dealt with in Committee of Supply. The first day the House gave to Committee of Supply was the 8th April, the 57th day of the Session; next the 28th and 29th May, the fourth day not being till the 16th June, and the next the 9th July. Of the 20 millions only £1,200,000 was voted in April, May, and June, and in July ten millions was voted for Civil Service and eight millions for the Revenue Estimates. That is to say, that 18 millions were voted in July, after the House had been sitting over a hundred days out of the hundred and forty. Therefore, out of each pound sterling the Committee voted of these Estimates one and threepence in April, May, and June, and eighteen and nine-pence in July. On the last day of July and the early hours of the first day of August ten millions were voted away. I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that is a very satisfactory method of conducting the business of Supply. A Committee sat on the subject in 1888, and made a very interesting Report, which might command the attention of the House. No doubt some of the suggestions are more or less drastic reforms, and they have been objected to from various parts of the House, but I hope we shall have some early opportunity of discussing this matter at length. I hope also that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give us some assurance that Supply will be brought forward early and at regular intervals, so that we may know where we are in this matter. The principal measure mentioned in the Speech is undoubtedly the Bill for the 394 extension of Irish Local Government. The Government stands in a peculiar position in regard to this measure. It is practically six years since the Government promised an Irish Local Government Bill. When we met after the General Election in 1886 we heard the then Chancellor of the Exchequer getting up on behalf of the Government, with their approval, and use this language—I now come to the third question—that of Irish Local Government—on which I can only say that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to devote the Recess, which we hope will be one of due length, to the careful consideration of the question of Local Government.and he goes on to say—And I may remind the House that it is not altogether without guidance as to the mind of the Government on this question, as the Queen's Speech announced their intention to introduce a Bill for extending Local Government in England as well as Ireland.He also said that simultaneity and similarity of treatment were, as far as possible, to be adopted in the development of a general and popular system of Local Self-Government in the four countries which make up the United Kingdom. Simultaneity has gone by the board, and we shall see how much of the similarity there is in these measures of the Government when we hear the explanation on the introduction of the Bill. I must say that, having regard to what I have called the attention of the House to, I was astonished to hear the First Lord of the Treasury use this language on Tuesday last when pressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, acting as Leader of the Opposition, on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. He said—He asks me whether the Irish Local Government Bill would be read a second time before Easter. It is impossible for me to give any absolute pledge upon that subject.And then, having given other reasons, he goes on to say—I should then hope that rapid progress would be made with the Bill of my right hon. Friend dealing with small holdings, which will be introduced as soon as this Debate is over, and that when it is not necessarily completed, 395 but as soon as it is in an advanced condition, I shall propose to give the Irish Local Government measure a Second Reading.Surely a measure referred to in more than one Queen's Speech, and respecting which such pledges were given six years ago, should not take second place to a Small Holdings Bill which was only thought of the other day by the Government. (Cheers.) We are all aware that Irish Local Government is not Home Rule for Ireland (cheers); and I am speaking on behalf of my constituents when I assure hon. Members below the Gangway that nothing that has happened in Ireland within the last 12 months has in any way lessened our desire to do our part in securing for them a satisfactory measure of self-government (Cheers). We believe that it is only in that way that we can offer them some atonement for the wrongs of bygone years, wrongs inflicted upon their country by this country, and we hope and believe that now in a very short time the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian will have the opportunity of inducing the House to sanction a measure which will at length bring happiness and prosperity to Ireland. (Cheers.)
(11.5.) MR. J. G. SWIFT MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
Before referring to the Motion which stands in my name, I wish to make one reference to the speech of Lord Salisbury at Exeter, which has been so frequently alluded to in the course of this Debate. I must say that Mr. Lecky does not bear out the noble Lord in his remarks, and that it is proved by historical records that the Roman Catholics of Ireland took no part in the American War of Independence. Mr. Froude, whom I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will accept as an authoritative historian, deals with the question in the same manner. According to these authorities, it would appear that England, in the great War of Independence, had no fiercer enemies to contend against than the great grandsons of the Presbyterians of Ulster. One cannot help thinking that the near approach of the General Election must have 396 disturbed the historical recollections of the noble Lord, and that it was only these things which led him into the misstatements of matters. that have been decided upon historical records. Having said so much upon a subject that has been referred to constantly in the course of the Debate, I will now proceed, with the permission of the House, to move the Amendment. I have upon the Paper.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Amendment which appears on the Paper contains a number of subjects it would not be proper to move upon an Address to the Queen's Speech. What I wish to point out to the hon. Member is that some portions of his Amendment are not relevant.
MR. MAC NEILL
So you have explained to me, Mr. Speaker; and I have therefore altered the Amendment so as to meet your wishes, and I beg to move, as an addition to the Address, the following paragraph:—And we humbly regret that Your Majesty's Speech from the Throne contains no proposals for redeeming the pledges so frequently given by various Governments that natives of Great Britain and natives of India should be placed on terms of equality in the matter of appointments in the Public Service, and in facilities in competing for such appointments.I may say that I am glad that my Amendment has been pruned, because it would be impossible for me, in the time I have at my disposal—with the permission of the House—to refer to the various subjects that occur upon the Address, and to which I would wish to refer. My object is to call attention to the enormity of the various grievances under which these 280,000,000, under control of the British Government, exist. I should state that in this matter the promises of the last half-century have been deliberately broken; that they have been broken over and over again, and I would remind the House that it has been over and over again stated, both in this House and by those at the head of the Indian Government, that there should be no distinction made in the matter of appointments between natives of India and natives of Great Britain— that all should compete upon equal terms in the matter of 397 those appointments. The Act of Parliament of 1833, in fact, states that no native of the territory of India, nor any natural-born subject, should, by reason only of his religion, &c., be disabled from holding any place in the Government of India. Fifty years after that Lord Salisbury talks about the "black man," and, forgetting the pledges that have been made to India, he practically repudiates all the engagements that have been previously entered into. Indeed, I do not see the use of this political hypocrisy about the people of India knowing that they are being "governed by a superior race," and in this regard I wish to call the attention of the House to a statement made by Lord Northbrook, who was speaking at Birmingham. He said—Let us never forget that it is our duty to govern India, not for our own profit and advantage, but for the benefit of the people of India.This is the test which should apply to the Indian Question, and this simple test I place before the House with confidence, in the belief that it has not been met. How, I ask, has that duty, so specifically laid down in that sentence, been fulfilled by the English Government? How has it been carried out? Mr. Bright upon one occasion, expressing his opinions in language which was always expressive and to the point: Mr. Bright, long before he became a Liberal Unionist, said:—India has now become the pasture-ground for smart young English gentlemen.Every office, every emolument worth having in India is given to Englishmen, and notwithstanding all the promises; and all the Acts of Parliament, the natives are, by various simple processes, boycotted and cheated out of everything in their own land. I have spoken about promises made in regard to India, and I think these promises, and the way they have been fulfilled, show that there is "something rotten in the State of Denmark." There was a promise made on the 1st of January by Lord Lytton. Lord Lytton has gone, and I do not wish to say much about him, for there is always respect in the minds of hon. Members, and of the nation, for those who have passed away; but this I will say, that I believe 398 there is no one who more threw himself into the arms of the official class than he did, and that he did it more than any other Indian Viceroy that we have known. He has assured us of the way in which the people are treated. There are other transactions to which, being of a personal nature, I do not wish to refer, but at all events we have it upon the most indisputable authority that—The natives of India, whatever their race or creed, have a recognised claim to share largely with their English subjects, according to their capacity, to the administration of affairs.That was the public expression of opinion of Lord Lytton; but I should remind the House that the same opinion was expressed in private, as shown by the letter read from Lord Lytton by Mr. Bradlaugh in the Debate of 1888, Lord Lytton being then Ambassador in Paris, and in which he admitted that both the Indian Government and the English Government were unable to answer the charge of having broken the promises made. In fact, we have had to choose between prohibiting them and cheating them in regard to those appointments, and all the circumstances go to show that we have chosen the latter course. We simply pay no regard to the promises that have been made by successive Governments in regard to Indian appointments. In 1853 there was a Commission of Inquiry into the state of India; the question of public competition was brought up, and the present Lord Derby, then Lord Stanley, said it was simply absurd that native gentlemen should come over here and spend so many expensive years in trying to qualify for those appointments; that, in fact, it was as absurd and unfair to ask them to come to London and qualify as it would be to ask us to go to India and learn the language of Hindostan and to compete with them upon their own grounds. In 1860 there was at the India Office a departmental Civil Service inquiry, and in the Report that was issued from that inquiry the words of Lord Lytton are repeated; that we have really kept the promise to the ear and yet broken it to the faith. But that was not the only judgment 399 from high officials. In 1869 the Duke of Argyll was Secretary of State for India, and he also confesses that in the matter of appointments the natives had not been given a fair chance; that the promises which had been made to them had not been kept. I maintain that this is a very scandalous state of things, and that our Government in India savours too much of hypocrisy. Let us, I should say, tell the truth, and let us get rid of this hypocrisy by which we keep the natives of India out of appointments. In 1885 the number of the members of the Civil Service was 900, and only 9 were natives, it being shown that the returning from this country of candidates for appointment would tax any person other than those of independent means.
MR. MAC NEILL
I am quoting from a speech made in September, 1885, in Birmingham, John Bright being in the chair, and the remarks relate to the higher branches of the Civil Service in India. It appears from that that there are 2,357 appointments; and that of all these offices, representing 282,000,000 of the Indian people, natives only held 188. It is, in fact, as difficult for natives to get an appointment in India as it has been for a Roman Catholic to get an appointment in Ireland; they are, in fact, weeded out of the national life and systematically and cruelly ignored. In 1886 it was stated that in the Province of Madras there was only three natives employed, so that we have treated India as we have treated Ireland, and just in the same sense as if it were an exaggerated Ireland. Lord Salisbury has said in 1883 that the Indians knew perfectly well that they were "being governed by a superior race," but I maintain that they are being cheated by that superior race, and that we deprive them of the means of appointment because we think them an inferior race. The India Office has promised to give this matter consideration, and I would ask the House to consider that the result of our interference in India is that we find the poorest people in the world saddled 400 with the most expensive Government. If we govern India upon the principle of benefitting those who have charge of it, then let us say so; but, considering the enormous salaries we pay, and the fact that the Government of India is carried on for our own purposes, then let us make an end of the folly and hypocrisy of saying that we desire to give anything like preference to the appointment of natives. It would not have been necessary for me to move this Amendment if Mr. Bradlaugh had been here; but officials have taken advantage of Mr. Bradlaugh's death, and I must say that since 1888 the Government of India has shown itself cruel and heartless in this matter. I wish to say that, wanting Mr. Bradlaugh, we, the Irish Members, shall bring forward the question; and if we may not be able to remedy the grievances of the people of India, we will at least be able to ventilate their case before the English people. A deputation is coming over from India, and their voice, I can assure hon. Members opposite, will be heard at the approaching General Election.
Amendment proposed,At the end of the Question to add the words: "And we humbly regret that Your Majesty's Speech from the Throne contains no proposals for redeeming the pledges so frequently given by various Governments that natives of Great Britian and natives of India should be placed on terms of equality in the matter of appointments in the public service and in facilities in competing for such appointments."—(Mr. Mac Neill.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
(11.30.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Mr. G. N. CURZON, Lancashire, Southport)
The Amendment now moved by the hon. Member, whose courteous reference to myself I acknowledge, has assumed a very different form from that in which it first appeared on the Paper. In the form in which the notice appears on the Orders of the Day the Amendment commences by humbly representing to Her Majesty the views entertained by the hon. Member upon certain legislative proposals to be submitted to the House, and then goes on to complain of five alleged omissions from the 401 speech from the Throne. The first cause of complaint is the absence of any reference to the status of Civil servants in India, the second has reference to the Opium Question; the third to the Salt Tax; the fourth to the advancement of Education, and the fifth to the development of the material and industrial resources of our Indian Empire. Well, when I read this catalogue of alleged omissions from the Queen's Speech drawn up by the hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill), I confess I somewhat trembled to think what kind of a document a Queen's Speech would be if drawn up by the hon. Member. Bulky it undoubtedly would be, whatever interest might be added to it by the fascinations of the hon. Member's style. However, Sir, under your guidance the hon. Member has curtailed his Amendment, and has accordingly simplified my task, and imposed a less strain upon the time and attention of the House. It now falls to my duty to answer upon the particular point raised by the hon. Member, namely, the position of the Civil Service in India. The hon. Member complains that the Queen's Speech contains no proposals for redeeming the pledges so frequently given by various Governments, that natives of Great Britain and natives of India should be placed on terms of equality in the matter of appointments in the Public Service. The hon. Gentleman commenced his speech by quoting the terms of the well-known Statute of William IV. He quoted those terms correctly, and the inference he drew as to the obligations they impose on the British Government is perfectly correct. But when the hon. Member went on to say that the British Government had deliberately broken faith, and when in speaking of the action of the British Government he used the word "hypocrisy" and other severe epithets, there I am compelled to meet him with an absolute contradiction. I hope I shall be able to show the House that the terms of the Proclamation of William IV. have been endorsed and ratified by successive Governments. When the 402 Queen took over the Government of India in 1858 her Proclamation in so doing contained an emphatic reiteration of the assurance, and ever since the Government of India has consistently and conscientiously made efforts to carry out that assurance. Since 1867 successive Viceroys have considered means for utilising more and more the services of Indian subjects of Her Majesty in the higher appointments, and those efforts culminated during the administration of the late Lord Lytton, and in the creation in 1879 of the statutory Civil Service.
But I am referring to something more than a private letter. I am referring to rules passed by Lord Lytton under a Statute on the Statute Book. I say, in 1879 Lord Lytton was responsible for the creation of the statutory Civil Service, and, under that scheme, one-fifth of the annual appointments to the Civil Service of India was reserved for natives of India, and without the disagreeable penalty of which the hon. Member has so severely complained, namely, the necessity of coming to England for the purpose of examination. It is perfectly true that the Queen's Speech contains no proposals with reference to the status of European and Native Members of the Indian Civil Service; and the reason is this, that the proposals to which the hon. Member alludes have become, or are in course of becoming, accomplished facts. I am loth to accuse the hon. Member of ignorance, yet I am compelled to think that he must be unaware of the progress of recent events in India. The Public Service there is undergoing a process of complete re-organization. But the hon. Member has never so much as alluded to the Public Service Commission which, a few years ago, was appointed in India.
It was composed of representative and influential men, 15 403 in number. It contained five Civil servants, one representative of non-official Europeans, one representative of the Eurasians, one of the Uncovenanted Civil Service, and six representative native gentlemen. If the hon. Member appears to doubt or dispute the representative character of this Commission, let me mention the names of some of these native gentlemen. The name of Sir Romesh Chunder Mitter, a Judge of the High Court, will be familiar to any one conversant with Indian affairs. He was a member of the Commission. The name of Raja Pertab Singh is well known, as is also that of Syad Ahmed Khan, the leader of the Mohammedan movement, and there was also an ex-Prime Minister of Baroda. This Commission appointed in 1886 carried on its investigations in India, and two years later a Blue Book was laid on the Table of this House, showing the steps proposed by the Secretary of State to carry out the policy in furtherance of which this Commission was appointed. And what were its proposals? This is a point the hon. Gentleman has entirely ignored, and if these matters were known to him I hardly think he could have made the speech he has just made. It is proposed to divide the Public Service as before into two branches, but both will be re-organised and rechristened. The first will be the existing Covenanted Civil Service, but under the new proposals this will be called the Imperial Service; it will be recruited by competition in England, and will be open, without distinction of race, to all natural-born subjects of Her Majesty. The second branch is to be called the Provincial Service, and will be recruited solely in India, and in each Province separately; on such terms as will attract local gentlemen possessing the necessary qualifications. Members of this Service will hold the higher appointments of the existing Uncovenanted Service, together with a certain number of appointments now reserved by law or practice to the Covenanted Service, which will be thrown open to the Provincial Service. And what is the character of the ap- 404 pointments alluded to? At this moment, Sessions judgeships and collectorships of districts are reserved to the Covenanted Civil Service, but under the scheme of re-organisation about a third of the Sessions judgeships, and a sixth of the collectorships of districts, as well as other appointments, will be thrown open to the Provincial Service, which will be recruited, as I have explained, in India itself. The whole object of the proposals is to open up to natives of India a larger share of the higher-class appointments than they are now eligible for, and many of which are now reserved to the Covenanted Service. The result will be that not only will many more native gentlemen attain to positions of distinction, but there will be two branches of the Service—one recruited in England, the other in India, both being subject to regulations as to status and pay, which will apply equally to the European and Native members of these Services. But the point upon which the hon. Member laid particular stress was the hardship, as he considered it, of holding examinations for the Indian Civil Service in England. But he did not suggest any alternative scheme.
MR. MAC NEILL
Oh, yes! The hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware of the system of University examinations in various districts for various staff appointments, and similarly might examinations be held in different parts of India. I wish to simplify the hon. Gentleman. (Laughter.) I wish to simplify matters, and I may state that the International College last December passed a resolution in favour of simultaneous examinations being held, and that is the pith and gist of the whole matter.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his desire to contribute towards my simplicity; he has equally contributed to my understanding. I think now I understand his point; he would have a system of simultaneous examinations in India. But is he aware that this point was discussed, analysed, examined, and reported upon by the Commission to which I have referred?
The Public Service Commission, the representative character of which I have explained, and which included native gentlemen of great position, unanimously decided against a system of simultaneous examinations in India. They reported that—An open competition in India for the Covenanted Civil Service would operate with inequality, excluding altogether some important classes of the community while giving undue advantage to others. The question is simply one as to the qualifications required, and the arrangements under which officers possessing such qualifications can best be secured. The object of the Government of India in recruiting in England a limited staff of officers, who, after a training in India, might be entrusted with the more executive and judicial charges, was (inter alia) to secure an administration conducted so far as possible on principles and by methods in harmony with modern civilization.The hon. Member will find this in the Blue Book for 1888. I would also draw attention to the fact that three of the principal native members of the Commission, while they did not altogether share the apprehensions of their colleagues as to the probable results of simultaneous examinations in India and the United Kingdom, yet said that the scheme unanimously recommended by the Commission—was well calculated to secure for India the object they had in view, and was not open to the objections urged against simultaneous examinations in England and India.I may further point out that the objection raised to the limit of age imposed on natives of India coming to England for examination has been removed, that limit having been raised from 19 to 23 years, which undoubtedly provides greater facilities to Natives to come over to compete. But on the general question I have still to meet the hon. Member. From his speech it might be inferred that the natives of India bear a small and wholly disproportionate part in the administration of their country. The hon. Member, with a rhetorical hyperbole derived from his native country, spoke of the natives of India being "boycotted" out of all employment, and then he proceeded to give figures to the House which it will fall to my lot to upset. I 406 doubt if the House has any idea of the number of natives usefully occupying permanent posts in the Public Service of India. Facts and figures outweigh much declamation; and the exact proportion is as follows. I take, first, the Uncovenanted Civil Service, and here the hon. Gentleman was quite unconsciously guilty of an inversion of figures at which the House will be surprised. He told us on the authority of a speech which, I think, he said was an electioneering speech, that the proportion in the Uncovenanted Service of Europeans to the natives of India was, in 1885, Europeans 2,357 to natives 188.
Now, I think the House will be surprised to know that the figures are just the other way about. The Report of the Public Service Commission shows that in the higher ranks of the executive and judicial branches of the Uncovenanted Civil Service—excluding the special departments—there were 2,588 officers, of whom 2,449 were natives of India, and only 35 were Europeans not domiciled in India at the time of appointment. It is also fair to say, in speaking of these officers, that it would be a mistake to suppose that they are engaged only in the humbler and less important official duties. That is not so at all. The work entrusted to them is of great importance; it is with them that the great mass of the people are brought into contact, and a large proportion of the disputes connected with revenue, magisterial, and civil matters, arising out of the ordinary relations of man with man have to be decided by these officers. Nearly the whole of the civil judicial business throughout India, including a great part of that in the Apellate Courts, is transacted by natives. Native Judges have jurisdiction in all civil suits over Europeans and natives alike, without distinction of nationality. The duties of the Executive branch are hardly less responsible and important. I now proceed to deal with the Covenanted Civil Service—if the hon. Member will give me his attention—and here, again, I am compelled to correct the figures which, on the authority of an electioneering speech, 407 he has put before the House. The hon. Member said that in 1885 the proportion of Europeans to natives was 900 to 9. Let me give my figures. In January, 1888, the number of superior officers of the Indian Civil Administration was 964 Europeans to 59 Natives. Since 1874, notwithstanding the continually increasing demands for improved administration, the European members of that Service have been reduced by more than 22 per cent., and under the same system we may expect a reduction of another 12 per cent. Under the rules laid down by Lord Lytton's administration there is one statutory civilian for every five members of the Service. Now, I think the facts I have put before the House will show that when the hon. Gentleman says that natives are "boycotted" and "cheated" out of employment he is not justified in using language which he cannot support by facts. The facts are precisely opposite to his statement. The Government have consistently adhered to the proclamation of William IV., the terms of which the hon. Member read out; and if the hon. Member (whose interest in the subject no one can doubt) instead of making speeches here, were to go to India and acquaint himself with the actual situation, I doubt very much whether we should have any more of those accusations and allegations that we so often hear from him in this House. I might give other illustrations to show the policy of the Government of India in lending every encouragement to the natives of India to bear their share in the service of the country. Thirty years ago, when the Crown took over the Government, there was not a single native member of the Legislative Councils. There are now four in the Governor General's Council, five in Madras, five in Bombay, four in Bengal, and two in the North-West Provinces, 20 in all. In addition to these it will be my privilege before long to introduce a Bill dealing with the reorganisation and extension of the Councils by which the number of native members on them will be very considerably increased. Thirty years ago there was not a single Native Judge of the High Court. There are now three Native Judges in the High Court at 408 Calcutta, one each in Madras, Bombay, and the North-West Provinces, or six in all. Colleges for the encouragement of engineering have been specially established in India, where every effort is made to attract natives into this important branch of the Public Service. I do not know that it is necessary to say much more in defence of our position. I might allude to the many natives of distinction who have filled high and honourable posts in Native States. I might allude to Municipalities and Local Boards where natives are playing a part, and are gaining experience in. Local Government, which will fit them for higher positions. The hon. Gentleman complains of the absence of reference to these questions in the Queen's Speech, but I confess I think that had it been desirable to introduce further reference to Indian affairs, that reference instead of striking the note of promises as yet unredeemed, should rather have taken the line of congratulating Parliament upon the good results already accomplished. I hope these few considerations which I have laid before the House will have shown that the Government has a strong and convincing case, and may lead the hon. Gentleman to think there is no necessity for him to carry his Amendment to a Division.
§ (11.55.) SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
Though I sympathise with everything that can be done for the advancement of the natives of India, I must say there are portions of the speech of the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill) which require a strong answer in the few moments that remain for this debate. The natives of India may be equal to us intellectually, and of course before the Law, and in the Courts they are our equals, and in Christian humility we are not to assume superiority morally over them. But there are certain qualities in which they are not our equals, namely, courage and warlike resource, administrative energy and capacity in the field or in the Cabinet. No legislation, no theories that hon. Gentlemen 409 opposite can advance, will make them equal to us in these respects. When you have to deal with a country like India you must have Englishmen in the front for the administration of affairs. They must have control of transport arrangements in time of war, and they must organise the operations for relief when danger of famine is apprehended. The organisation and administration of the great Departments must be in the hands of Englishmen—("The British")—well, British certainly, and the natives know that as well as we do. It is by the strong arm, the steady nerve, the cool head of British rulers, that our Indian Empire is sustained, and the vast British as well as native interests involved in that country are safeguarded.
(11.59.) MR. MAC NEILL
With the permission of the House I will withdraw my Amendment, only saying that at an early date I shall endeavour to revert to this subject again.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Main Question again proposed.
Debate further adjourned to Monday.