§ [FORTY-SECOND NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 30 (As to police).112
The following is the Amendment referred to:—
Sir HenryMeysey-Thompson—Page 16, line 23, leave out Sub-section (1).
*MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.) Moved the following Amendment:—
Page 16, line 24, to leave out the word "shall," and insert the word "May.
He said, the subject of the clause was of the greatest possible consequence and importance, and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would not find fault with him if he raised a question upon this clause which he thought the Committee generally would admit ought to be discussed. That question was whether the reduction and the ultimate disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan police should be carried out compulsorily, or whether full discretion should be allowed to the Government—whether, in fact, the Act should provide that by a certain date the police of Ireland should be disbanded, or whether the Government should have power to reduce the police from time to time, as circumstances permitted, and with the view to the ultimate disbandment of that Force at some indefinite period, not to the disbandment of the Force within a definite and fixed period? Of course, upon this Amendment he did not raise the question whether it was desirable this Force should be maintained permanently or not. He only raised a question whether a definite period should be fixed for the disbandment of the Force or whether a fuller direction should be given as to the time, mode, and kind of reduction and ultimate disbandment of the Force. With regard to the Force itself, he should like to quote the opinion of the Prime Minister in reference to it. In 1886, when he brought in his Home Rule Bill, the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to this Force—
We think it our first duty to give a definite assurance to the present members of that distinguished and admirable Force that their position will not be put to prejudice by this Act, either in respect of their terms of service or with regard to the authority under which they are employed.
That was said with reference to the Royal Irish Constabulary, and the right hon. Gentleman went on to say—
The case of the Dublin Police is not quite the same, but we propose the same conditions with regard to the Dublin Police, so far, at least, as the terms of service are concerned,
He further said that there would be no breach of continuity in the administration with regard to the police, and later on in the same Speech he said—
I think it will he understood from what I have stated that the Constabulary would remain under the present terms of service, and under the present authority, although I do not say that this is to be so for ever.
In the Bill itself there was no provision for the disbandment of the Force by a definite and fixed time, although he admitted the Bill did contemplate that the Force was to be reduced gradually, and its place was to be taken by a local force, and ultimately that it was to be disbanded altogether. The present proposal, however, was that by a definite and fixed time the Force should be disbanded; that by six years it should be put an end to altogether. With regard to the Constabulary, the right hon. Gentleman, when he introduced the present Bill, said very little on the subject. What he did say was that the principles referring to the Constabulary were their gradual, though not too abrupt, reduction, and their ultimate dissolution or disappearance, and in his Speech the right hon. Gentleman again referred to them as a remarkable and honourable Force. The present Bill proposed to abandon the Force within a statutable period of six years, and the object of the Amendment, and of subsequent consequential Amendments, was to provide that there should be no arbitrary period fixed such as the Bill proposed, and he thought this was a suggestion which ought to be adopted for several reasons. In the first place, he did not think it would be possible, without grave injustice to a very large number of deserving men, to disband them in six years, or without creating so largo a pension list, in order to provide compensation for them, as neither the Irish Government nor the English Government would be willing to permit. The Bill proposed what appeared on the face of it a fairly liberal amount in dealing with those men as a class of public servants, but it would inflict very serious injustice on large numbers of them individually. Take the case of the officers. Those who were in receipt of £255 a year would only get a pension of
£93; those in receipt of £237 a pension of £75; and those in receipt of £191 a pension of £48. When they considered the inconvenience and the absolute cruelty inflicted upon most deserving officers by such a system of pensioning they would see that, however fair it might be on the whole, it would inflict the greatest possible injustice on many of them individually. With regard to the men, it appeared from the Return which the right hon. Gentleman had granted on his (Mr. Bolton's) Motion, as to the conditions of service in the Royal Irish Constabulary, that their wages varied from a little under £1 per week to £2 per week with certain allowances. A man who joined the Force at about 21 years of age, and had served something like 10 years, would appear to be entitled to a pension, under the scale proposed, of about 9s. per week. At 30 years of age he would be turned out into the world with this small pension, and probably with a wife and family dependent upon him, and his service in the Police Force would probably, to some extent, have unfitted him for going to learn another occupation. This seemed a great hardship. The object of his referring to this pension list was not to discuss the fairness or unfairness of it, but to suggest that if a system of compulsory disbandment was carried out great injustice would be inflicted on a very large class of deserving and worthy men unless the pensions were very much increased. He doubted very much whether they could disband something like 15,000 men in this period of six years. If the men were to enter into the local force—which was another suggestion—in any large numbers there were other considerations bearing upon the matter. By merging large numbers of these trained and disciplined men into the local force they would be practically handing over an Army to the Irish Government. That could hardly have been intended; therefore it must be within the contemplation of the Government that a large number of these men would be retired and dispensed with. What necessity was there for it? Why should not the present police remain under the control of the Central Government until it came to an end by resignations, retirements, and deaths? Why should a definite period be fixed? It was admitted to be an honourable
and good Force, which was doing its duty. The greater reason for retaining it. Why could not an arrangement be made by which a Commission, if they liked, should be constituted which should be under the authority of the Imperial Government, but which should have upon it representatives of the Irish Government, so that the Police Force might remain until it gradually died out, instead of being disbanded in this arbitrary and unfair way, which would work great injustice to many men, do no good whatever to the Irish Government, and at the same time be absolutely and practically unnecessary. He knew that the Irish Members made it a great point that they should have control of the police. They considered it a part of the necessities of the position that in order to preserve peace, order, and good government in Ireland they should have control of the police. He would suggest that sufficient control of the police might be given in some modified form, which would be consistent with the preservation of that Force and consistent with a longer period for its disbandment than the definite arbitrary period of six years. The Government must see the difficulty of disbanding the Force in this fixed and definite period. The suggestion he made by his Amendment was consistent with the real requirements of local government in Ireland, and at the same time in accord with the feeling expressed by the PrimeMinister—namely, that they should deal with this Force with the greatest possible consideration. He begged to move the Amendment.
In page 10, line 24, to leave out the word "shall," and insert the word "May."—(Mr. T. H. Bolton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'shall' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Sir, the hon. Member appears to me to have mixed in his Speech, though not in his Amendment, three questions which are totally distinct the one from the other. The first is, whether provision shall be made for the local control of the Constabulary in proportion as provision is made for the local establishment of police in different places. That is the first question. The second is, whether a term ought to be fixed for the general 116 disbandment of the Constabulary Force; and the third question is, whether the scale of pensions proposed for the members of that Force is a liberal and proper provision or not. First of all, although the hon. Member's Speech has been pointed to two other questions, the Amendment now moved has no bearing at all upon the two other questions; and, secondly, the hon. Member himself appears to me to have admitted—whether he intended it or not—that he had no ground whatever for the present Amendment. Why? The present Amendment is bringing in the element of discretion into the clause, and we are asked to substitute "may" for "Shall." But the hon. Gentleman himself has, in reading the second paragraph of the clause, stated to the House that the element of discretion is already introduced in it.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
That is quite another matter. The three questions themselves refer to a part of the clause that has no reference to six years. The principle that where sufficient provision is made on local grounds for a local police there the Constabulary should be reduced and withdrawn is a principle perfectly independent of the question whether a fixed term shall be appointed for the final disbandment of the Force. We must defer our reply to the Speech of the hon. Member, which has nothing to do with the Amendment whatever, until the proper time comes on the clause, and that will be no great hardship to the hon. Member, as he will be in the happy position of already having discharged himself of his Speech. The element of discretion is already given to the Lord Lieutenant, and if he considers it inexpedient, then we shall not deal with the local withdrawals. Still, I submit it is most reasonable to give local control of the police, and then, having imposed on the Irish Authority, independent of the Local Authority, the duty of providing for the peace, order, and good government of the country, they ought to have some control over the Police Authorities by which that peace, order, and good government ought to be maintained. I think, whatever becomes of the general proposition, that this Amendment ought not to be accepted.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and I do not think the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman is probably a convenient occasion to discuss the hardships, as we think, that are inflicted upon the Irish Constabulary by the scale of pensions mentioned in the sixth schedule to the Act. But I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we ought to allow these words to pass and deal with the question of a discretionary termination of the police at a later stage, because it is evident, if we pass the word "Shall," it will not be competent for us at any future stage of the discussion upon this clause to move an Amendment by which it shall be possible to direct the Lord Lieutenant, acting on behalf of Her Majesty, to say whether the Police Force shall continue to be the Royal Irish Constabulary.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman is quite accurate. The Lord Lieutenant's discretion is maintained in these lines for six years; therefore, if hon. Gentlemen wish to discuss the propriety of allowing a permanent discretion with the Lord Lieutenant to continue the Royal Irish Constabulary or part of it after the term of six years, it is quite clear that that question should be raised upon the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, his hon. Friend had one main question which he wanted to raise, and that was whether or not there should be a discretionary power after six years had elapsed with regard to the keeping or disbanding of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The Prime Minister dealt with other matters, such as the hardship of the pension, and so forth. His hon. Friend distinctly stated that he only mentioned the question of the pension without any intention of discussing it or making it part of his argument. His main question was whether, in order to avoid any inconvenience or extra cost, the Government would accept an Amendment which would extend the discretionary power now accorded by the Bill up to the six years beyond that period. That was the question which the Prime Minister had 118 not replied to, and perhaps some other Member of the Government would do so.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
said, that the Amendment was of no effect whatever in this respect, because it would still leave it open to the Lord Lieutenant to effect withdrawals of the Force. When the Committee reached the proper place in the Bill for discussing the six years' term he should be prepared to explain the views of the Government.
* MR. T. H. BOLTON
observed that the clause itself was clear and definite that the Irish Constabulary should be reduced and cease to exist; but the subsequent portion of the enactment was a proviso providing that the Lord Lieutenant should not be required or compelled within six years to cause the Force to cease to exist. But for this Proviso, there was nothing to prevent the Lord Lieutenant being immediately required to proceed as expeditiously as possible to reduce and ultimately extinguish this Force. The Proviso was a limitation of the full scope of the clause.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
said, the hon. Gentleman could move to strike out the six years' provision at the proper time, which was not now. He thought the object of the wording as it stood was perfectly clear.
* MR. T. H. BOLTON
said, he had given notice to move a subsequent Amendment; but it was necessary, as a preliminary, that the word "shall" should be converted into "may."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the Prime Minister evidently laboured under a misapprehension. The discretion was limited by these words as they stood, and he took it that it would be competent—he did not say it would be done or that the Chairman would consider it due to himself to allow it to be put; but it would be competent for any hon. Member to move to strike out—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that was not what he meant. It would be an abuse of the Rules of the House, he took it, to substitute for the word "six" the figures "999." But the hon. Gentleman who had moved the Amendment desired to leave a permanent discretion with the Lord Lieutenant. That was, practically, a discretion for ever. If they 119 followed the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister they would be guilty of an abuse which would not be consistent with the duty of the Chairman.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
was understood to say that any hon. Member could move to strike out any words in the portion of the clause with which they were dealing.
* MK. J. G. LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
said, the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant would disappear with the subject of it, for no new members of the Force might be enrolled.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, if the word "Shall" was allowed to remain the Lord Lieutenant would have a discretion in one sense, but he must proceed immediately to reduce the Constabulary Force. They would see that this was the case if they would look at the schedule. When it was certified that the local force had been established, then the Lord Lieutenant must proceed to the withdrawal of the Constabulary, and within six months—
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J.MOELEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
said, he would direct attention that the hon. and learned Member should read the words commencing "by reason."
§ MR. CARSON
said, he was aware of that—having regard to the withdrawal from a particular locality. If, then, the whole of Ireland insisted upon the retention of the Constabulary the Lord Lieutenant would have no discretion whatever. But if there was withdrawal, then he would be bound to proceed to the withdrawal of the Force so withdrawn, which would be an Imperial Force. He would not, therefore, have the discretion which the right hon. Gentleman opposite suggested, and which, apparently, everyone would say that he should have. The scheme here was to reduce an Imperial Force; but the new Government was given no power to create a Civil Force; and so, during all the six years, there would be no power, in the event of disturbances in Ireland calling for Imperial intervention. Even if the full force of the Constabulary were necessary for dealing with such disturbances, the Lord Lieutenant would have no power to say that the Force should be maintained at its present strength. The result was obvious to anyone who studied the question. He did not see what great 120 harm could be done by the substitution of "may" for "shall." On the contrary, he saw that the word "may" would give an absolute discretion to the Imperial officer in Ireland. He would, no doubt, be bound to act from time to time in accordance with the section; but he would have a much better and more satisfactory, because a wider, discretion under the term of the Amendment than if he were bound by the strict discretion which would otherwise be imposed upon him.
said, he would refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to the paragraph which he had indicated, commencing "by reason."
said, it was not an Amendment. He was quoting from a paragraph which had been already mentioned. The construction of the words, as the Committee would see, was that, so far as the reduction of the local force went, the Lord Lieutenant would be bound to make it; but there might be a reason in the mind of the Lord Lieutenant, acting upon which he would not reduce it. He was not now speaking of withdrawal. There might be cases of waste, and it might be that circumstances would require him to keep a certain number of men at headquarters if, to his judgment, it seemed that they might be wanted.
§ MR. CARSON
said, the instances to which the right hon. Gentleman referred were such instances as they wished to provide for by inserting the word "may" instead of "shall." The right hon. Gentleman said the Lord Lieutenant might, on the withdrawal, proceed to disband the members of the Constabulary Force, if he saw no reason to the contrary. But he read in those words in the section. They wished to give the Lord Lieutenant a discretion if he saw no reason to the contrary. The right hon. Gentleman based his case on a consideration of what he called waste—that was, of men dying off. If he was, in such a case, to exercise his discretion according to the meaning of the word "shall" he would proceed to act in the teeth of this very section, which said that no vacancies were to be filled up. The very argument of the right hon. Gentleman himself showed the propriety of the Amendment. He had not pointed out any difficulty that could arise from the insertion of the 121 word "may." With this word the Lord Lieutenant would have a discretion, and would be bound to exercise it according to the terms of the section. The very instances stated by the right hon. Gentleman would be in the teeth of the section.
MR. JESSE COLLLNGS
said, they had it provided that when a certificate was given that a force had been established throughout Ireland, and when that certificate was forwarded to the Lord Lieutenant, he should be compelled to disband the whole of the Constabulary Force. Suppose be received certificates from all the districts that they were supplied within, say, one year of the passing of the Bill, then he was immediately—
MR. JESSE COLLLNGS
said, if that were not so, as he read the section, the Lord Lieutenant was to have six years for the purpose. If a portion of the local police force was filled up, they found that the Lord Lieutenant was to have power in relation to a portion of the other force; but if certificates were furnished that all districts were supplied with local police, then he was compelled to disband the whole of the Constabulary.
§ MR.SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
said, the proper time for this argument was when the proviso of the clause came to be discussed. He would refer the Committee to sub-section 24 of the schedule, by which it would be seen that the Lord Lieutenant would have a discretion, not as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jesse Collings) stated, but after six years, on the formation of the new police. It would therefore be seen that the supposition of the right hon. Gentleman was not well founded. The Lord Lieutenant could not do as he had suggested, but would have this discretionary power after six years—
§ MR. SEXTON
asked the right hon. Gentleman to read the section. After one Police Force was established, the discretion came in, and the other would be disbanded, so that, even if a local police force were established all over Ireland, the Lord Lieutenant might wait until the end of the six years. This was absolutely clear—so clear that he hoped no hon. Gentleman would return to the 122 subject. It was suggested that the Lord Lieutenant had not sufficient discretion given him in the schedule. He (Mr. Sexton) submitted he bad ample discretion. They had the words "appears to him." He was not to make any reduction unless be thought it necessary; but if he thought it a necessity with regard to the whole of Ireland, the maintenance of the old force was for six years simply and solely in his hands. He thought the word "shall" should be maintained. His reason was that there were financial interests, affecting both Great Britain and Ireland, bound up in this clause. Upon the establishment of the local force there should be a systematic course of reduction of the expenditure on the Constabulary. Great Britain and Ireland both contributed to that expenditure; and surely they in England would not wish for a continuance of the special charge, while as to Ireland, if they had a local police force, there would be no reason for keeping another force in existence. The reduction should go on as steadily as possible; and, in his opinion, nothing but harm could follow upon any alteration in the wording of the clause.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, as he understood the matter, the object of the Amendment was to give the Lord Lieutenant discretion after the six years had passed. Hon. Members had interpreted the clause to mean that no such discretion would be given if the word "shall" remained. He confessed that he was unable to follow or to understand the explanation given by the Prime Minister. There was an imperative command on the Lord Lieutenant given in the word "shall." The Constabulary must die out—it must cease by the act of the Lord Lieutenant. But the difficulty was as to his discretion when the six years after the appointed day had expired; and it seemed to him that, if the Amendment were not agreed to, the Proviso would be in contradiction of the policy declared in the clause, and they would then have it that the Lord Lieutenant should do nothing unless the Act should require him to do it. What was he to be required to do? The Proviso was part of the section, and they should read together. The only way of dealing with the question was, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had suggested, to 123 leave it open for some hon. Member to move to substitute for the term now named some other period of time—999 years, if they liked—but that would make the clause look ludicrous. The Prime Minister had thrown no light on the subject at all. What they desired was that the Lord Lieutenant should have it in his discretion for all time to come to retain the Constabulary if he was not satisfied with the composition or reliability of the local force. The Lord Lieutenant, for instance, might be of opinion that, as the local force would be composed of those who were in favour of the Nationalist interest, they would not be reliable for Imperial purposes. The Lord Lieutenant would be an Imperial officer, and he might feel himself called upon to retain the Constabulary in the Imperial interest.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
said, in order to carry out the intention of the Chief Secretary to have a number of Men as a force at headquarters, it would be necessary to insert the word mentioned in the Amendment.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, when he referred to headquarters, he did not mean Dublin. He meant headquarters in different parts of Ireland.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
said, he quite understood the right hon. Gentleman to mean that. It was clear, however, that there would be no power, as the matter stood, to retain men who had been withdrawn from the stations, say, in the North of Ireland. They could not keep such men elsewhere—in the south of Ireland, for instance. But they would be able to do that if they inserted the word "may."
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, the difficulty in which the Committee were placed was duo entirely to the change of front on the part of the Government. Within only the last few days a practically new schedule had been substituted for the one first presented with the Bill, and he thought it was alike unfair and inconvenient that, with a measure of this magnitude and complexity of detail, the Government should at the last minute introduce important changes in the schedule relating to the Irish Police. In the circumstances, the Committee hardly knew where they were, and there was not sufficient time 124 for adequate discussion to make the matter clear. He wished to ask the Chairman whether the Committee could act on the suggestion made by the PrimeMinister—that if the word "shall" was left in it would be competent to move to leave out the words "until the expiration of six years from the appointed day?" It seemed to him that if the one word was retained the others must be retained also, otherwise the clause would be rendered contradictory.
If the word "Shall" be left in, I see no reason why it should not be competent to move to leave out the words referred to.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, in that case they could provide that, notwithstanding anything in this Act, it would be in the Lord Lieutenant's power to retain the Constabulary Force. That being so, he should reserve the remarks he had to make until the opportunity offered for moving in that direction.
§ * MR.MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)
I think the hon. Member who has just spoken has shown how the word "shall" came into the clause. As the Government originally drew the schedule the Lord Lieutenant was bound to reduce the numbers of the Royal Irish Constabulary on local police forces being established. The Government have now altered their schedule, and intend to leave the Lord Lieutenant a discretionary power. That being so, the word "shall" becomes totally inapplicable to the clause. The clause contains two provisions—one for a gradual reduction, and the other for the ultimate cessation of the existence of the Police Force. The clause gives discretion as to the ultimate cessation, but gives no discretion as to the gradual reduction. This construction of the clause is emphasised and made inevitable if you keep in the word "shall."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman quite mis-states the case. The clause provides that as the gradual organisation of the local police forces goes on the Lord Lieutenant, with the qualification of the Proviso respecting the cessation of the Constabulary, Shall order the reduction of the Force.
§ * MR.MATTHEWS
The Chief Secretary has Stated the intention of the Government to be that the gradual reduction shall not be compulsory on the Lord Lieutenant.
What I said was that you are not to suppose that each particular withdrawal is to be necessarily within six months accompanied by a corresponding reduction.
§ * MR.MATTHEWS
I quite agree. That is what the Chief Secretary said. The reduction is not to be compulsory on the Lord Lieutenant in consequence of the withdrawal, but the Lord Lieutenant is to act as the requirements of the Force in other parts of Ireland Make it proper for him to act. The sixth schedule more or less roughly indicates that view on the part of the Government. Under these circumstances, the word "shall" becomes totally inappropriate.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 278; Noes 246.—(Division List, No. 229.)
GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith) moved to leave out from "shall," to the end of the Clause, and to insert—
Cease to exist three months from the day when this Act comes into force, and every officer and constable shall be entitled to receive such sum as he would have earned as gratuity or pension if ten years had been added to his actual service, and such further sum as may be considered equitable for loss of pay and allowances, and prospects of promotion and higher pension.
All pensions of, and gratuities to, persons retired under this section shall be paid by the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, but the extra compensation granted for compulsory retirement and loss of prospects shall be recovered from the Irish Exchequer. In the event of any difference of opinion as to the compensation awarded, it shall be settled by a Judge of the High Court of Justice in England.
He said it was well-known that the Royal Irish Constabulary had been engaged on many occasions in trying to put a stop to a state of disorder due to the operations of the National League and the Plan of Campaign. It had been said that Unionists acted as though they thought the Irish Legislature would be composed of lunatics. He had not gone on that assumption at all, but he thought it very likely that a large number of the
Members of the Executive would be men who were members of the National League, or who had had to do with illegal combinations in Ireland. That being so, the Constabulary would be under the orders of those with whom it had been brought into collision in the past. The officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary had asked the Government to be allowed to resign in the event of the Bill becoming law, and they were willing to sacrifice something in order to have the option of retiring. All he desired was that both officers and constables should have the option of leaving the Force. It was well-known that the Irish Constabulary was one of the finest bodies in the whole world. No doubt some of them might be willing to serve under an Irish Government, and the Irish Government might he willing to retain their services. The Chief secretary for Ireland, who, whilst he treated his opponents in the House very fairly, naturally looked al the question from a different point of view, thought that as soon as the Bill came into force Ireland would be a heaven. He (General Goldsworthy) did not think that would be the case. The members of the Constabulary did not think so either; and as many of them would not feel themselves in a position to serve under the Irish Government, he contended that they ought to be liberally dealt with. He did not suppose that the Irish Legislature would be above the average of human nature; and, that being so, some of the members of the Force Might undoubtedly find their lives unbearable if they remained in it after the Irish Government was constituted. They ought, therefore, to be able to retire on terms which would be sufficient to compensate them for having their whole prospects in life destroyed.
Page 16, line 24, leave out from "shall," to end of Clause, and insert "cease to exist three months from the day when this Act comes into force, and every officer and constable shall be entitled to receive such sum as he would have earned as gratuity or pension if ten years had been added to his actual service, and such further sum as may be considered equitable for loss of pay and allowances, and prospects of promotion and higher pension,
All pensions of, and gratuities to, persons retired under this section shall be paid by the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, but the extra compensation granted for compulsory
retirement and loss of prospects shall be recovered from the Irish Exchequer. In the event of any difference of opinion as to the compensation awarded, it shall be settled by a Judge of the High Court of Justice in England."—(General Goldsworthy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'when and as' stand part of the Clause."
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made a very straightforward Speech, as he always does, and I think he always acts in good faith in these matters. I think, however, his Amendment is one which he can hardly expect the Committee to accept. Its effect, if it were adopted, would be that at the end of three months the whole of Ireland might be left completely without police. I have a very good opinion of the Irish Police, and a very hopeful opinion of Ireland. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says I have stated that if the Bill passes Ireland will become a perfect heaven. I have never taken such a hopeful view as that, and still less should I say that Ireland should be the first country in the world which should try to do entirely without police. The scale which the hon. and gallant Gentleman proposes is too vague for us to act upon; and if we were to take so large and liberal a view of the claims of the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, we should land the Irish Government in a most formidable financial difficulty. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says we ought at least to give the officers and men of the Constabulary a right to resign. That is all very well. No doubt we have given such a right to the Civil servants; but surely everybody must see the enormous difference between a semi-military Force of this kind, to which the state looks for the performance of important duties indispensable to the maintenance of order, and the members of the Civil service. I have not heard that there is likely to be any serious desire in the minds of the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary to retire. Certain representations have been made, and I have had the advantage of hearing representatives of the officers and men, and, from the information which has been put before me, I do not think that in any large numbers they would use the right to retire. No doubt a constable may resign, but that would affect his right to a pension. The hon. 128 and gallant Gentleman's proposal is that he should have all rights to a pension even if he retired, and, by so doing, placed the Government in a most serious position. He says that apparently we want to get rid of the Royal Irish Constabulary, but that is not our desire.
What we hope and expect—what I, for my part, confidently expect—is that by far the greater number of this splendid Force will be perfectly ready to serve in the local forces. I have heard a great deal, directly and indirectly, of the tone that has prevailed amongst the Constabulary during this very trying time; but, so far as I can gather, there is no general disposition on the part of the men to leave Ireland or the Public Service. No doubt some of them will not choose to be transferred, and they will probably come over to England or Scotland and be absorbed into the English or Scotch Forces. It would be a hardship to them if there was no pension; but it cannot be said that their services would not be availed of, and would not be at a premium, in any English-speaking country. As to all that has been said about the splendid services of these men—their loyalty and steadiness—any compliment of that sort from me would be common-place. I do not think the Committee will expect me to say more than that I cordially agree with every word the hon. and gallant Member has said as to the character of these men.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It would be impossible to listen to my hon. and gallant Friend without sympathising with the motive which has animated him in moving his Amendment. I go further, and say that if this Amendment were in the proper or most convenient place, I should feel disposed to vote for his proposal, or some modification of it. It appears to me that the arrangement proposed by the Government is a very one-sided one. Though, no doubt, some precautions should be taken against the catastrophe to society which would be involved in what the right hon. Gentleman called "a general strike" of the police, but which I should prefer to call a general resignation, still I think that the schedule which leaves it in the 129 power of the Government, and the Government alone, to determine whether these men should be required to continue service under totally new masters is a very one-sided arrangement. It ought to be discussed, but I think the proper place to discuss it is on the schedule.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am looking at the matter from the point of view of general order, and not of the peculiar circumstances under which we endeavour to carry on our Debates. But the reason I would press my hon. and gallant Friend not to press his Amendment is drawn from the duty we owe not merely to Irishmen and Irish society, but principally to the loyal minority. If on a given day all the loyal minority in the whole South West of Ireland are left without any form of protection I do not think the hon. and gallant Member would contemplate with equanimity what the results would be.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said, he should like to support the Amendment, though it was possible that his hon. and gallant Friend would, in deference to the Leader of the Opposition, see fit to withdraw it. He had great experience of the Royal Irish Constabulary—extending over a number of years—and he was, therefore, acquainted with the physique, morale, and discipline of the men. As to the Dublin Metropolitan Police, they were some of the finest men in the United Kingdom, and any one of them would cut up into two Guardsmen such as they saw about the streets of London. His object in supporting the Amendment was to protest against the disastrous policy of keeping the Force in a state of suspended animation for six years. If the Government wanted to disband them, why did they not do it at once by a guillotining process such as they had applied to the clauses of the Bill? The men would then know what was before them.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY
appealed to the Prime Minister to see whether some means could not be found to provide for special cases, both of officers and men.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
was understood to say that special cases would 130 be favourably considered by the Viceroy when they arose.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
thought that unless pensions were made for the men who might wish to retire great hardship would be inflicted.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. SEXTON
I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name—namely, in line 24, after "as," to leave out "local," and I have to submit in connection with it some considerations which, I think, will be found closely pertinent to the practical working of the scheme. I say I propose to leave the word "local" out of the second line of the clause. May I ask the Committee to attend to the first Sentence of the clause? It runs—(1.) The forces of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police shall, when and as local police forces are from time to time established in Ireland in accordance with the sixth schedule to this Act, be gradually reduced and ultimately cease to exist as mentioned in that schedule.In those few words we are twice referred to the schedule, and when we turn to the schedule we find in the first article—such local police forces shall be established under such Local Authorities and for such counties, municipal boroughs, or other larger areas as may be provided by Irish Act.Now, although this clause refers only incidentally to the establishment of new police forces—because the real object of this part of the clause is to provide for the reduction and disbandment of the present forces—yet I apprehend that the clause and the article in the schedule taken together may be considered to exhaust the authority on this subject, and to provide that there shall be no police forces established in Ireland under any circumstances, except the local police forces referred to in the clause and described in the Schedule—that there shall, in the first place, be no police force, except a local police force; and that, in the second place, that local police force shall be under local authority. I shall submit to the Committee that it is doubtful whether such a provision, properly construed, would be adequate to the effectual government of the country; and, first, we have to consider that the language of this Act will hereafter have to be borne in mind by the Lord Lieu- 131 tenant when an Irish Bill comes before him in connection with the question of veto. The language will have to be considered afterwards by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the question of ultra vires,and it is essential that there shall be no dispute as to the meaning of the language used, or, at any rate, as far as provision can secure it, that there shall be no language in the Act which will cause confusion hereafter. The Committee is aware of the general outline of the scheme for bringing about the change in the police in Ireland. It consists, firstly, in the establishment of police in Ireland by the Executive Government there, and then on the withdrawal and reduction of the Constabulary Force in a proportionate degree, and it is hoped, no doubt, that the transfer of men to the local Civil police will help to smooth the accomplishment of this new and very important proposition. I may remind the Committee that the provision in the Bill in 1886 was not quite identical with this Bill, because whilst the Bill of 1886 provided that the Constabulary as it existed should be an Imperial Force, there was a provision that the Dublin Metropolitan Police, after two years, should be taken over by Irish Act; and there was also a provision not only for the establishment of police forces in counties and boroughs under Local Authorities, but also for the establishment and maintenance of police reserves. For the establishment and maintenance of police reserves there is no direct and explicit provision in the present Bill. The occurrence of these words in the Bill of 1886 with regard to the establishment of local police forces led to considerable discussion, and the idea used to be that it might be practicable to transfer the Constabulary with some modification of their character to the new authority. A couple of years ago we inquired of the Prime Minister whether he intended to insert a provision in the Home Rule Bill providing for a Constabulary Force, and with certain modifications in its character and numbers as might be deemed necessary to be transferred to the new Executive, and the right hon. Gentleman replied that be had no desire to exempt the police of Ireland in its final form from the ultimate control of an Irish Legislative Body; and, further, that the com- 132 plete organisation of a Civil police to take the place of the present Force ought not to take place before a period of five years. The reference there was to the Civil Force. Now, if we come to consider the language of the Bill, I say that the language might be held to be open to the construction that under Clause 30 the only power which the Irish Parliament will have will be the power to establish local police forces and to place them under Local Authorities. The new police forces in Ireland will have to be, at least to some extent, embodied before the existing forces can be reduced. And upon the question of transfer, which is one of great importance, I have to ask whether it will not be necessary that the transfer of men from the Constabulary Force to the Force which is to succeed it must not be effected between the Imperial Government on the one hand and the Irish Executive on the other? I apprehend that unless there is one authority to act for all Ireland on the question of the transfer, if the Imperial Government were to be obliged to deal with Local Bodies, either in the counties or boroughs of Ireland, that the economy and efficiency under which the arrangement might otherwise be conducted would be lost. May I impress upon the Committee the fact that there are at present in Ireland no Local Authorities to take over these important functions? There are, indeed, Corporations in the boroughs. But with regard to Dublin, I suppose it would not be urged that the police should not be otherwise than under the Executive Government of the country, and I apprehend that for some years the police in Dublin would remain under the control of the Executive Government, and I have no reason to know that the citizens of Dublin are disposed to take upon themselves the burden of maintaining a local police force in the city. With regard to Belfast, the Committee has not forgotten that there was a local police force there up to 30 years ago; and in consequence of the action of the local police force in the riots, and in consequence of the action of the Corporation in the control of that force, upon a Report of a Royal Commission, the local force was disbanded and dissolved, and a force under the control of the Executive Government substituted. That having happened in the present generation 133 and under circumstances of comparative political tranquillity, it will not now be suggested that the police of Belfast should be placed under the control of a Local Authority there, because, looking at the part taken by the Local Authority in connection with recent political proceedings, I should suppose that if they had the control of such a body it would be used against them instead of in support of them. In the City of Derry, where there is a restricted franchise, owing partly to religious reasons, more than half of the people are shut out from representation on the Council. The force cannot be placed under the control of the Corporation. Then, with regard to the counties, there are no Local Authorities in existence. I suppose it is not suggested that the Grand Juries should have control of the police. I suppose no one would say that it would tend to the peace of Ireland to give the control of the police into the hands of the landlords. Grand Juries are not continuing Bodies. They meet for the discharge of fiscal and criminal functions twice a year, and are then discharged. It is obvious, then, that you cannot establish local police forces under Local Authorities until the Local Authorities are established. A Bill to establish Local Authorities upon a democratic basis, passed by the Irish Assembly, would probably be vetoed by the second Chamber elected on a £20 franchise, or hung up under the suspensory arrangement for four years. After that time we might proceed with the Bill, but it might take four more years to pass, so that it might not be until eight years after the passing of the Act that we would be able to begin the process of placing the police under the Local Authorities. The intention is that this process should continue during the next six years. The proposal of the Government is that once the Irish Government gets into office it should begin to form local police forces; and that, as that force is established, the Constabulary should be withdrawn and reduced. I have shown you, I think conclusively, that there are no means of entering upon this process; that there is no Local Body to take up these functions, and that half a dozen or eight years may elapse before Local Authorities can be established and arrangements made to put the 134 local police forces under their control. Therefore, you will subject yourselves and Ireland to heavy pecuniary liability, because if you do not dissolve the Constabulary within six years you will have to pay one-third of the cost; and, on the other hand, if you refuse to allow us a working scheme by which we can proceed to establish a Civil Force, Ireland will be forced into the liability of paying two-thirds of the cost of the Constabulary Force as long as it remains in existence, which will be a heavy burden to us. I say, therefore, that what you give with one baud you take away with the other. It is no use to say you give to Ireland the power of establishing local police forces if you attach to it the condition that it is to be governed by Local Authority, for certainly a number of years must elapse before the machinery of Local Government in Ireland can be perfected. Now, what about the question of pay and control? The Civil Forces in Ireland are to be paid from the Public Revenue by money provided for the purpose. Is it really intended that the Government of Ireland shall pay the police and shall not control the police, and that the Local Authorities in Ireland shall control them though they do not pay them? Pay and control must go together. The Irish Police, since they were established 60 years ago, have always been paid out of Public Revenue, and not out of any local, rate, and I think it will take some considerable time to reconcile the people of Ireland to paying the police out of local rates, especially whilst there is a National Revenue for the purpose. You intend to oblige the Irish Government putting the police under Local Authorities from the first. I have shown that that is impossible. You intend that the Irish Government should pay and not control the police, and that the Local Bodies should control and not pay. I ask any hon. Member whether any such system of division between paymaster and controller would be likely to produce economy or efficiency in the service? I submit that it ought to be clearly expressed in the Act that the Irish Government should have, in the first instance, power to establish a police force without laying upon them the necessity of putting them under Local Authorities. But even if the machinery were perfect; if there were no National Revenue for the 135 payment of the police the day after the passing of the Act, I say that as the Act confides to the Irish Legislature the power of making laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, the Irish Executive will be responsible for that peace, order, and good government. I think it would be forgetting the facts of history and ignoring the facts of the present time if we were to take out of the hands of the Irish Executive the function of preserving peace, order, and good government, and place it in the hands of Local Authorities who may be either unwilling or incompetent to discharge it. Do you know what has happened in Ulster? The Local Authorities there, constituted as they have been for some time, will not be well-affected towards the Government. Political tranquility may not follow from the adoption of Home Rule.
Yes; there May be times of disturbance, and I say that the power to keep order in Ireland should be given to those upon whom the responsibility is placed. If you give them the power I think they will acquit themselves of the responsibility. Pending the final settlement of the Land Question there may be disorder in Ireland; there may be agrarian trouble in one county or another, and it may not be expedient for some years to place upon the Local Authorities the responsibility of preserving order. The Irish Legislature, which will be composed of representative men, will be the place where the functions of preserving order will be exercised, and I should hope that all questions of that kind will be dealt with in an unprejudiced manner. For these reasons I hope it will be made clear that, whilst the local forces should be established eventually, the Irish Government will not be debarred from having a local police force, like any Government in the world, for preserving order, and that the question when and to what extent the local force should be placed under the Local Authorities is a question proper for the discussion of the Irish Legislature—indeed, a question which only the discretion of the Irish Legislature could adequately and with due knowledge deal.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 16, line 24, to leave out the word "local."—(Mr. Sexton)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'local' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, that the hon. Member for North Kerry, with characteristic lucidity and knowledge, had blown the scheme of the Government out of the water. The hon. Member had proved, in the first place, that there were no Local Authorities to institute local police, and that, therefore, the machinery provided by the Bill was unworkable. The hon. Member had proved, in the second place, that where there were Local Authorities, they were absolutely un-suited for the functions the Government proposed to give them to discharge; or, as the hon. Member had put it, there were places in Ireland where the Local Authorities might be unwilling or incompetent to preserve order. He wished to point out that the policy of the hon. Member for North Kerry was diametrically opposed to the principles which the Government had all along laid down as those which should guide them in the institution of a Police Force in Ireland. The hon. Member proposed to leave out the word "local" before "police force" in the sub-section. But he found that when this question was discussed on the 1st of June the President of the Local Government Board said—By using the words 'local police force' it is made impossible to create an armed force.Therefore, on that word "local," the Government had relied to obviate a danger which was feared by the minority in Ireland.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, the hon. Member wished the Irish Legislature to have the power to create any force they might think necessary in order to preserve peace and order in Ireland. The Prime Minister had an Amendment on the Paper that no Police Force organised and armed as the Constabulary was to be instituted in Ireland; and the hon. Member for North Kerry, dissatisfied with that proposal, had given notice to move as an Amendment that power should be left to the Irish Government to establish such police arrangements as they thought necessary.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, that emergencies might arise in any country, but there was no country in which they were more likely to arise than Ireland. The plan of the hon. Member in having a force which could be so disposed as to perform the functions of a Central Force was in opposition to the principle of the Government policy. The result was that there were two distinct policies before the Committee The policy of the Government, though it showed some scruples and provided some safeguards, was, as the hon. Member for North Kerry had shown, wholly unworkable, and was not calculated to meet the exigencies of the social position in Ireland. The Amendment of the hon. Member for North Kerry, on the other hand, though it provided a workable and practical policy, contained the seeds of great injustice and oppression. The Prime Minister on the First Reading of the Bill, on February 13, said—We propose and contemplate that upon the gradual establishment by the Irish Authority in local areas of a new police force, the Constabulary will be withdrawn piecemeal from those local areas one after another.The Government had set up a plan for policing Ireland embodying theoretical injustice towards the loyal minority, and, finding at the last moment that it would not work, they would probably catch at any straw Hung to them by hon. Gentlemen from Ireland. The Bill proposed to extinguish the two forces which—the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police—between them discharged the functions of a Central Force which could be removed from one part of Ireland to another in cases of emergency, or during those agrarian difficulties which frequently prevailed in the wilder parts of the country, and it was proposed to substitute for them local police forces. The Prime Minister, speaking on June 1, said—Take the case of Belfast, which furnishes the best example that I think the whole case of Ireland, as far as recent experience goes, presents. Should we force the Irish Legislature to fix the police force at Belfast at its maximum wants? No; certainly not surely it would be much better that, instead of having in every police district arrangements adequate to meet exigencies, which occur once in 15, or 20, or 50 138 years, you should have a Central Force, which would be adequate to meet the whole of such exigencies.So that on that occasion the Prime Minister went a little way to meet the hon. Member for North Kerry in this matter of the police. The fact was that the policy of the Government had been wavering and inconsistent, for in the very same Speech the Prime Minister also said—…. I am for localising to the utmost degree. Even if the Irish Legislature chose to avoid having any Central Police Force, which I rather hope it would, they would be obliged to have somewhere an available and disposable extra police force over and above the wants of some special locality.Therefore, the Committee approached the consideration of the question, within a few hours of the Closure being moved, with no definite knowledge of the policy of the Government regarding it. It was a policy which wavered between the institution of a purely local force and some Central Force not specified, between a vague transference of powers on the one hand, and a definite policy announced by the hon. Member for North Kerry on the other. He thought he knew the solution of the difficulty which the Government would arrive at. They would say, as they had said in other difficulties, that their plan could not work, and that their only chance was to accept the proposal of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. The policy of the Government was vague and indecisive, and did not meet the necessities of the case in Ireland. They laid it down that the forces at present existing should "be gradually reduced and ultimately cease to exist as mentioned in the schedule." According to his reading of the schedule, it was obligatory on the Lord Lieutenant to withdraw the Constabulary from any area in which a local force was raised by the Local Authority, the only qualification on that obligation being that there should be "nothing to cause either of those forces to cease to exist." The option would, therefore, lay on hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, as Members of the Irish Government, to say where the Constabulary should continue to exist and where it should not continue to exist. In fact, the whole of the Constabulary might be withdrawn from Ulster and left in the South of Ireland; or withdrawn from 139 the South of Ireland and left in Ulster; or it might be withdrawn from Clare and other disturbed areas where there were eviction campaigns. That was an interesting and most important fact, which had not hitherto come out in the Debates. The objection to this policy was that the Lord Lieutenant had no local discretion. He could not keep the Constabulary in Belfast, even if there was the danger of a religious social war there, or keep them in the disturbed areas in the West of Ireland. And while the Lord Lieutenant had not this local discretion, neither had the Irish Legislature any discretion to create a Central Force. The hon. Member for North Kerry had said that the Bill pointed to that conclusion, and he thought the hon. Gentleman had read the Bill rightly. In the Debate on the 1st June, the Chief Secretary said, in reply to the Leader of the Opposition—The right hon. Gentleman has overlooked a couple of facts. The first is that the Government do not contemplate the placing of this Police Force under the Central Authority.Therefore, it was plain that the central authority would have no discretion in the matter of forming a Central Police Force. He thought he had shown that the policy of the Government was an imperfect policy, and that it could not cope with the difficulties in Ireland. It provided for the extinction of the present Central Force, which was adapted to meet emergencies, but did not provide any substitute in its place. There were, therefore, only two courses open to the Government, except they wished the Bill, in the matter of the police, to be as ridiculous and unworkable as it had proved to be in several other instances. They could either accept the solution offered to them by the hon. Member for North Kerry, which, though a logical one, would run counter to everything that they had said; would be a breach of the pledges given to the House of Commons, and would rouse the fears of the loyal minority in Ireland; or, instead of adopting that course, the Government should alter their Bill, accepting the principle of gradual reduction of the Constabulary to 2,000 men instead of total extinction, and enlarge the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant, so that he might maintain, if necessary, an adequate force in disturbed localities. The Government, during the 140 discussions on this subject, had laid down three propositions. First, that the local forces should be unarmed and civil forces; secondly, that the Irish Legislature should not create any force analogous to the Royal Irish Constabulary, and while making these two declarations, they had admitted, in the third place, that the necessity for a Central Force would occasionally arise. If, in obedience to the third admission, the Government accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Kerry, they would reject their two other propositions, that the forces must be local and must be civil. Admitting the necessity for a Central Force, would it not, he asked, be better, while persevering with the first and second propositions, to effect the third by leaving to the Lord Lieutenant the organisation and manipulation of a small force adequate to meet those special emergencies arising out of agrarian troubles and political and religious conflicts in Ireland?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
We are now on the question whether under this Bill the police in Ireland should be locally organised or not. That is the only question before us, and therefore I do not discuss the question whether any Central Police Force is likely to be necessary or is permissible in Ireland. But on that point I Make these two observations. In the first place, under the Bill as it actually stands, I do not, believe there is anything, and I am advised that there is nothing to prevent the Irish Government from creating, if it thinks fit, police reserves, or some Central Body available for local action. On the other hand, I say that in this country, with its dense population, no necessity has been found for any Central Police Force, the arrangements between the Local Authorities being quite equal to meet all special exigencies. But that is not the question before us. The question before us is simply whether we are to lay down the principle that Ireland is to be divided into areas, and that these areas are to have allotted to them a police force which shall be local. No one can go further on the merits than I do in urging the principle of local police. I consider that no local government approaches to perfection unless it has the control of the police, and that attribute must be recognised as belonging 141 to the very nature of local government, if it is to perform its main purpose of creating an habitual feeling of responsibility in the people of a country for the preservation of life and property. It is truly unfortunate that, owing to the unhappy history of Ireland, when we talk of police, we seem to be incapable of recognising that police has anything to do with the ordinary maintenance of life and property. We assume that it is an engine intended for dealing with political exigencies, such as it is in some countries on the Continent, like Italy, and we overlook the fact that the ordinary maintenance of life and property is the main business of the police. For myself, I am a strong advocate of a local police. I believe that the police system which we have in this country is fundamentally the best system. But I am not going to say that that is a reason why we should import it into this Bill. On the contrary, I think there is great force in the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry, who says—"Leave it to the Irish Legislature to determine how far the police shall be local, or how far it may be necessary to keep it central." But the principle on which we have proceeded in this Bill is that we have apprehended that old and present jealousies may reach a height, as they have in many points reached a height, which threatens to enfeeble and discourage the action of a new and popular Government in Ireland. On that account we have inserted limitations in the Bill on various subjects—limitations which we ourselves do not believe to be of absolute necessity, and which in many cases we should be prepared to leave entirely to the discretion of the Irish Legislature. We have thus come under engagements to the Committee which it is our duty to redeem, and we intend to keep our pledges in this matter. What are our pledges? Of the jealousies to which I have referred, a large part are specially concentrated upon the subject of the police. The idea of giving the police without restraint into the hands of the new Legislature especially terrifies many minds. First, there is the fear of a centralised police, and, secondly, the fear of an armed police. We do not think there is any ground for these apprehensions, but we do not think them altogether so unreasonable as several 142 other fears which we have heard expressed in the course of the Debate. We have endeavoured to meet the apprehensions of an armed police by providing that no police shall be created in Ireland after the present Constabulary ceases to exist, nor shall any police be armed except in the manner and within the limits of the ordinary Civil police. In the same way we believe the Committee may be wisely called upon to provide, as I intend to propose by a subsequent Amendment, that the basis of the police shall be local. I admit that this course involves a narrowing of privileges which, under happier circumstances, might probably be left unimpaired. But I cannot admit that the principle of a local police will cause any practical inconvenience; and I do not see why, for general purposes, a police system which has been found quite sufficient for England and Scotland should not meet the wants of Ireland. That system has worked admirably in England and Scotland, and there are few things on which we have greater reason to consider that the functions of Government have been satisfactorily discharged than the manner in which both each separate locality, and also the different localities considered as an assemblage of localities, have provided for the general exigencies of the country in respect to the police. Those are the grounds on which we are of opinion that the Committee will do well to accept the word "local." It is a provision which, in the circumstances, it is prudent to adopt, and one which will not entail any inconvenient interference either with the just necessities or with the proper responsibilities of the Irish Legislature.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford)
I have listened most attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and he must allow me to say with regret that I do not think he has overthrown the case that was made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Kerry. The case the hon. Member made was shortly this—that, the first sub-section of this clause and the Schedule read together, as they must necessarily be read together, provide that at the end of six years the Royal Irish Constabulary shall cease to exist, and that their place shall be taken by local police forces under Local Authorities. The hon. Member for North 143 Kerry pointed out conclusively that for a considerable time after the passing of this Act there would be no Local Body in Ireland to whom the control of this local police force could be given, and it is quite possible that at the end of six years it would be out of the power of the Irish Legislature to replace the Royal Irish Constabulary by a system of local force under local control. That is a position which has not been upset by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. As I read the section and the Schedule, and as they were read by the hon. Member for North Kerry, there will be no power whatever to create or to continue in existence any Central Police Force whatever. We have heard of police reserves. For my part, I do not exactly understand what the functions, and powers, and duties of police reserves would be; but it is clear, so far as I read the Bill, that the proper construction of it would be that it would be out of the power of the Irish Legislature to create a Central Police Force. I desire most emphatically to express my opinion, at any rate, that some such Central Police Force is absolutely essential. I regret very much that when on the 1st of June this matter was under discussion, owing to unforeseen circumstances, it was impossible for me to be in my place and to take part in the discussion; and the hon. Member for North Kerry reminds me that he was prevented by other reasons from taking part in that discussion.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND
I think it was a most unfortunate thing that the hon. Member was not allowed to speak in that Debate, and, for my part, I regret that it was not in my power to take part in the discussion. But I have read the discussion most carefully, and the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) will forgive me when I say that he did not give a perfectly fair representation of the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister and the Government; and I would respectfully say to the Prime Minister, when he speaks of the invitation held out to him by the hon. Member for North Kerry to break his pledges and to go back from the position he then took up, that he can accept the Amendment of the hon. Member with perfect consistency 144 with the pledges he gave in the Debate on the 1st of June. On the 1st of June an Amendment was under discussion providing that the Irish Parliament should be deprived of any power of having any police force other than a police force required for local purposes. That Amendment was objected to by the Government and was defeated, and in the course of the discussion on it the Prime Minister spoke as follows:—Even if the Irish Legislature chose to avoid having any Central Police Force, which I rather hope it would,thereby contemplating the retention of power by the Irish Legislature under the Bill to have a Central Force—they would be obliged to make provision for having some where an available and disposable extra police force over and above the wants of some special locality—say Dublin—which extra force might upon occasion be made use of for the different parts of the country, just as in England, now detachments of police are sent from one district to another to meet local wants. I cannot conceive how this can be disputed. It seems to me that under this Bill it might be necessary to get the Municipality of Dublin to send a purely Dublin force to Belfast to stop disturbances in Belfast.The right hon. Gentleman points out that it would be a monstrous thing to have an order of Belfast dependent upon the will of another locality in the country. It surely is obvious not that you should necessarily introduce a Central Authority, but that it would be absurd to say that the power of provision for the special wants of any particular district should depend on the will of the Local Authority of some other district. What is the meaning of that argument? The meaning of that argument is that on the 1st of June the right hon. Gentleman contemplated a power remaining under this Bill to the Irish Legislature to have in existence a Central Police Force of some kind or another. The right hon. Gentleman to-day points to the example of England, and says in England there is no Central Police Force; but he took a different line on the 1st of June, because, when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, he used that argument about England, and said—The Prime Minister, in his speech, appears to contemplate the necessity for Ireland and some kind of Central Police Force, and he seems to think that some such Central Police Force exists at the present time in this country. That is a mistake.145 The Prime Minister intervened and said—There is a large force in the Metropolis under the control of the Executive Government which supplies all the needful purposes of a Central Force.So that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, it seems to me, took the proper view of the position in England, and I am sorry he has now adopted the argument which, on the 1st of Jane, was used by the Leader of the Opposition. I do not desire to prolong this matter, but I desire to say that, in my opinion—and I do not see why I should not speak perfectly candidly in this matter—while I most earnestly desire to see the establishment of local police under local authority in Ireland as soon as practicable, and while I believe that the time necessary for bringing that consummation about will not be very long, the Government of Ireland under an Irish Parliament and an Irish Executive will necessitate for a considerable time the existence of some Central Police Force which will be quite apart from the local forces that will be created in the different localities. I take the strongest possible view on this question, and when it comes up in another form on an Amendment by the Prime Minister I will express my opinion on the other branch of this subject as to whether this force should not be armed and drilled within certain limits. These are questions which it was impossible, for reasons I have mentioned, to discuss on the 1st of June; but I hope that the opportunity will be afforded to us to-night to discuss them. The speech of the hon. Member for North Kerry was clear as crystal and conclusive, and was not upset by the Prime Minister. I do trust the Government will accept the proposal, and will then—I was going to say make a concession, but really in view of the statement I have quoted from the right hon. Gentleman it is not a concession, but that they will take the course which will be strictly consistent with the spirit of the attitude they took up on the 1st of June, and will enable the Government of Ireland to start on its now and difficult career with some hope of preserving law and order in the proper and best sense of the words in Ireland, and enable them to look forward to the future with some sense of security.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I stated that the Metropolitan Police answers, in a considerable degree, to the designation of a Central Police Force. It is a large force; its margin is considerable, and so it is able to do more in the way of lending temporary assistance than an ordinary local force. In lending, however, it is exactly the same as any other local police force in the country.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No doubt it is a matter of considerable anxiety to Irish Members what course the Opposition will take, because if we vote for the Amendment hon. Members below the Gangway will have to find some means of abstaining from supporting their own proposal. [Nationalist cries of "No!"] I, therefore, desire to relieve any undue anxiety on the subject by saying that we intend to vote with the Government Hon. Members below the Gangway can, therefore, go to a Division with the absolute certainty that the Government will not be defeated. I do not desire to dispute with the right hon. Gentleman as to what are the fundamental principles upon which police forces should be constituted; but it must be, I think, admitted that the country which is not fit to have a local police force is not fit to have local government, and is not fit for Home Rule.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am coming to that point. My argument is that if the social condition of Ireland is what it is represented to be, then Ireland is not fit to have the privilege which is being claimed for it. That is what we have always contended, and in favour of that argument I will claim henceforth among its strongest supporters the two Leaders of the Nationalist Parties, who have addressed the Committee this evening. The next important point to be noticed is the interesting statement of the hon. Member for Waterford. His claim is not merely that Ireland shall be blessed with a Central Police Force, but that that force shall be drilled and armed. Does such a statement as that point to Ireland being pacified by a Home Rule Bill? The Member for Waterford knows something about Ireland—he knows more than the Prime Minister—and he is perfectly well aware that the conditions of society in that country are such as to cause the 147 gravest anxiety, unless there is placed at the hands of the Government responsible for the preservation of law and order, not merely a Central Police Force, but a force equipped in a manner which is happily not necessary in this more fortunate country. The hon. Member for North Kerry has also laid it down that one reason why it is not an unfair demand to make on behalf of the Irish Parliament that it should have a Central Police Force, is that Local Authorities in Ireland cannot be constituted within eight years. It is to take eight years for the Irish Legislature to pass a Local Government Act for Ireland, and yet we are expected to pass a Home Rule Bill for Ireland in a single Session. I do not know that the anticipation of those who are to take so leading a part in the management of the Irish Legislature is that the arts of obstruction will flourish unchecked in that Legislative Assembly. In conclusion, I will only say that I deeply regret that the Committee have not been favoured with more speeches on Homo Rule from the two Leaders of the Irish Party, because those to which we have listened to-night have been most instructive as to those hon. Members' views of the methods they intend to adopt in the Irish Legislature for preserving law and order. We should before now have learned the admirable lesson which they have taught us tonight, and which we should not easily forget.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, that no more important speech on the Home Rule Bill had been delivered than that which the hon. Member for North Kerry had made to-night. That speech went directly to the root of the whole question whether Ireland ought to have Home Rule or not. The hon. Member had said that, although he had risen five or six times on the 1st of June, he had not been called upon; but the hon. Member was mistaken, because he had not only been called upon, but he had made a speech that was reported in Hansard, in which he said—The whole question of police was dealt with in Clause 30 of the Bill, and the Schedule dependent upon it, and it would be extremely inconvenient to have anything bearing upon that subject elsewhere than in that clause.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that what the hon. Member called a speech was an 148 observation on a point of Order made by him before the Debate began; and during the course of the Debate, although he rose several times, he was not called on.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, it was no declaration on a point of Order, because the hon. Member had risen in the Debate upon the Amendment, and had declined to discuss the question of the Irish Police until the clause now before the Committee came on for discussion. To pass from that matter, he wished to say that he had been found fault with for expressing distrust of the Irish Legislature, and yet the hon. Member for North Kerry was now showing his distrust of the people of Ulster by demanding that the Irish Executive should have a Central Police under their control for the purpose of coercing the people of Ulster. The hon. Member for North Kerry could not trust the quarter of a million inhabitants of Belfast, nor the Corporation who were elected by them, to manage their own police. The hon. Member distrusted the people of the North of Ireland, who had not half as bad a record as that of the people of the South and West. The only object that the hon. Member for North Kerry had in view in demanding this Central Police Force was to enable him and his Colleagues to coerce the Province of Ulster. The hon. Member knew perfectly well that if ever this Bill became law the Ulster people would not submit easily to the new form of Government that was being forced upon them against the votes of the freely-chosen Representatives of that Province. [Cries of "Oh!"] He knew that hon. Members opposite did not like to hear the fact stated, but the fact that they did not like to hear it was all the greater reason why he should say it. He hoped the Government would stand firm to the end. They had no proof of that, but he had thought it well at all events, as a Member for that Province, to let the Committee know what was meant by a Central Police Force.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said, he desired to say, before they proceeded to a Division, that he was opposed to the principle of a Central Police Force, and he believed that, in saying that, he spoke the sentiments of all his Colleagues, and also the Colleagues of the hon. Member 149 for Waterford. The hon. Members for North Kerry and Waterford had made this claim, not because they liked the principle of a Central Police Force, but because they recognised, with perfect truth, that it was not possible to pass instantly, and by a jump, from the evil system which England had forced upon Ireland, to the better system which it had been the happiness of the inhabitants of Great Britain to live under. In England and Scotland they were in the enjoyment of free institutions, and he believed that Ireland would arrive with perfect success after a few years of Home Rule Government at the same position. An argument had been used by the Leader of the Opposition which was one of the most unfair and cruel he had ever heard. The right hon. Gentleman said the claim by the hon. Members for North Kerry and Waterford for the right on the part of the Irish Executive to retain a much smaller Central Police Force than that now deemed to be reasonable in Ireland was a proof that Ireland was not qualified for Home Rule. If that be true, what about the present condition of the country? They required 14,000 armed and drilled men to govern Ireland, and he asked was not that a condemnation of the present system of Government? He and his friends held that after a few years no Central Police Force would be necessary, but they thought that during that period it must be necessary for the Executive to have control over the local police, until the proper Local Authorities were constituted in that country, and until the new Government had got into proper working order. The Leader of the Opposition had said that that proved that they were not fit for self-government; whereas it seemed to him that the only thing it proved was that the right hon. Gentleman's Government, and that of his predecessors in Office, had been exceedingly bad Governments. It was that bad Government which they were now seeking to remove, and which had created the necessity for this Central Police Force in Ireland, a necessity which, he was convinced, would rapidly disappear under Home Rule.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he only wished to say that the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and of the hon. Member for South Tyrone had been extremely andacious, seeing that they were Mem- 150 bers of the Party which had occupied itself, from the late Prime Minister downwards, in exciting disaffection and disorder in Ulster. They now claimed that the vindication of the law against future disaffection should be deft to the government of the counties. For several years to come, after the adoption of Home Rule, there would be none of those Local Authorities in existence. It was sought to place upon the Irish Executive responsibility for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, and, at the same time, the disposal of a single constable or policeman was denied to them.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
wished simply to say that he owed no allegiance to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and would pay them none.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said, the Prime Minister appeared to imagine that the Ulster Members would be perfectly satisfied with a local police. They would be satisfied with no such thing. They believed that a local police force under the influence of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway would be absolutely destructive to the liberties of Irishmen outside Ulster. What would the Prime Minister say if an English, Scotch, or Welsh Member got up in the House and said it was his intention when opportunity served to disorganise the British Police? Yet these were the very words used by the hon. Member for Mayo in America in 1880 with regard to the Irish Constabulary. [Ministerial laughter.] He knew he would bring a smile to the face of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who objected so much to ancient history. But the hon. Member had thought deeply over the subject for 11 years. In 1891 he used the very same words during examination in a trial at Cork. He was asked—Did you say in a speech it will be our duty to disorganise and break up the Royal Irish Constabulary? Mr. Dillon: Yes, and I trust to do it yet.—You would break up and disorganise the Royal Irish Constabulary? No. I have not the power yet, but when I have the power I trust to do it.Hon. Members below the Gangway did not object to the Constabulary because they were unworthy of trust, but because they had always fearlessly and courageously maintained the law and done their duty. The only police they would ever approve were the police who acted in conformity with the will of the people. 151 He maintained that the action of the police ought not to depend upon what the people wanted. They ought to do their duty whether the people liked it or not, and an Irish police at the beck and call of the Irish Government, paid by them, acting in conformity to their will, and carrying out legislation founded upon the principles of the Land League, might be a police in which hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway had confidence, but it would be a police Ulstermen would absolutely despise and refuse to obey for a moment.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman closed his speech by saying that under certain circumstances he and the Party with whom he acted would disregard the law and set at defiance the police. He asked hon. Gentlemen to take notice of that declaration, because it was a declaration which was perfectly characteristic of the general attitude and particularly of the loyalty of the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his friends. They were quite prepared to support law and order and the Police Force in Ireland, but only on condition that the Police Force did its work. The hon. and gallant Gentleman and the hon. Member for South Tyrone were continually going about the country making speeches and saying that when this Bill became law they would undergo some terrible suffering and terrible persecution. The fact of the matter was, nobody would be bothered with persecuting them; and he undertook to say that when this Bill had become law, the hon. and gallant Gentleman would, if he liked to come to the Irish Parliament, be at perfect liberty to make the class of speech which he made in that House, and they would be very glad and amused to hear him. As for the hon. Member for South Tyrone, he would be quite at liberty to speak in their Parliament until he was black in the face, and nobody would ever attempt, for a single moment, to interfere with him. The fact of the matter was that some people having practised coercion themselves for a long time appeared to be of opinion that coercion must be practised against themselves. But there was not the slightest intention of interfering with them. Hon. Members objected to a responsible Irish Government having a force at its dis- 152 posal to enforce law and order, but they had not the slightest objection in the world to try to organise armed forces in the Province of Ulster. He did not believe there would be the slightest necessity for any armed forces to cope with them. All this talk about civil war in Ulster was an absurdity.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 237; Noes 110.—(Division List, No. 230.)
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
rose to move to leave out from the word "reduced" to the end of the 1st sub-section. He did not understand the Prime Minister to object to this and other Amendments standing in his name. The right hon. Gentleman did not adopt an attitude of entire approval, but he did not discourage him in respect of them. The 1st sub-section provided for the extinction of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the cessation, after the passing of the Act, of all admission to that corps. The object of his Amendment was merely to provide for the reduction of the Force. He had put down an Amendment to the Sixth Schedule to the effect that the Force should be reduced to 2,000; but if the Chief Secretary thought it more convenient, he would add these words to the Amendment now.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, very well; he would add that to the terms of his Amendment in order to raise the question. Well, now, his object was clear. The Government might claim that the policy embodied in this Bill was that the Irish Legislature should have power to create local forces such as those to which they were accustomed in this country. But from all quarters of the House there had been a more or less emphatic declaration that some Central Force was necessary in Ireland on account of the peculiar conditions and difficulties of that country. There was a general opinion that without a Central Force it would be impossible for any Government to be responsible for the security of the life, liberty, and property of the inhabitants of that country. He was sure that the present Chief Secretary would feel embarrassed without some body, analogous to the Royal Irish Constabulary, which could be used on special emergencies. That was an opinion that 153 was also entertained, he was sure, by right hon. Gentlemen on his own (the Opposition) side of the House. From below the Gangway they had heard the opinion as to the necessity of some such force put forward by no fewer than three of the most eminent of the Irish Members. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) gave his adhesion to the proposition by saying that the government of Ireland under an Irish Parliament would necessitate a Central Force, and that that force would have to be armed, organised, and drilled within certain limits. Therefore, in view of possible political disturbances in the North, and of agrarian disturbances in the wilder districts of Ireland, the Member for Waterford thought that government in Ireland would be impossible in the absence of a Central Force. The Bill, which provided for the extinction of the Royal Irish Constabulary, which met all the requirements of the case, did not provide any substitute. He indicated that afternoon that one way out of the difficulty was to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton); but there was another alternative—namely, that, while the Royal Irish Constabulary should be reduced, a nucleus of the Force should be preserved under the control of the Lord Lieutenant to meet emergencies, on the possibility of which be need not enlarge. He did not see any other way out of the difficulty but this—substituting for total extinction the gradual reduction of the Force. A Central Force of that kind would give the Lord Lieutenant a freer hand and more discretion. The hon. Member for Kerry would give the Irish Legislature a freer band and more discretion. They must have either one or the other, and he thought they would see that they would be acting properly if agreeing to the establishment of this Force under the Lord Lieutenant. Hon. Members below the Gangway on the Opposition side said—"We cannot govern Ireland unless you allow us to organise a Force with which to meet emergencies." The Government declined to do that because of the fears of the loyal minority. Then the alternative was to allow the Lord Lieutenant a freer hand than they had given him in the Bill. They proposed to force him to extinguish the whole of the Royal Irish Constabulary 154 at the end of six years; but he (Mr. Wyndham) asked that the Royal Irish Constabulary, instead of being extinguished, should be reduced to a small Central Force, and that the Lord Lieutenant should be able to employ them in any particular locality in which their services might be required. Finally, he would say this—the Lord Lieutenant had duties quite as difficult as those which would be involved by this Amendment cast upon him by the Bill, and he was an officer eminently suited to control such a small Central Force, being the intermediary of two Cabinets, each of which would be interested in keeping down the expenses of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
In page 16, line 26, after the word "reduced," to leave out to "provided," in line 29, in order to insert "to 2,000." —(Mr. Wyndham.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'and' stand part of the Clause."
MR. J. MORLEY
said, that if he understood the proposal of the hon. Member for Dover it was that after all that had been said against the Irish Government or the Lord Lieutenant having an indefinite control over an armed Force, and in spite of all that had been said against the existence of an armed Force, the hon. Member proposed to maintain what he called "a nucleus" of 2,000 armed men under the Lord Lieutenant. He presumed that was what the hon. Member meant, though he had not said whether the "nucleus" was to retain its armed character or not.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, be had presumed that that was what the hon. Member meant. As for the reference to the hon. Member for Waterford, it certainly looked suspicious when they found the hon. Member for Dover accepting a doctrine from such a quarter. The whole contention of the hon. Member for Dover and his Party and their allies on the Ministerial side of the House had been that there should be no armed police in Ireland, and it was in order to meet the view of those gentlemen that the Prime Minister hail taken up the view he had. He (Mr. J. Morley) 155 regarded the Amendment as an extraordinary departure from the position which the combined Opposition had hitherto taken up on this subject. If the Government had proposed in the Bill that there should be a "nucleus" left of 2,000 armed men of the Royal Irish Constabulary, it was perfectly certain the Opposition would have protested that it would be the nucleus of a future Irish Army. They remembered quite well the arguments which had been used against there being an armed Force in Ireland.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, he saw all the difference in the world between such a Force under the Irish Legislature and the maintenance of a portion of the Royal Irish Constabulary controlled by the Lord Lieutenant as the Representative of Her Majesty. That was what he had to say, and what he had argued on the 1st of June.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, the hon. Member had suggested that 2,000 armed men should remain under the control of the Lord Lieutenant, but he had not told them on what terms and conditions the Lord Lieutenant was to move about and direct and control this so-called nucleus. He could imagine circumstances in which it might be desirable to have a Central Force; but if on any occasion the Lord Lieutenant thought such a Force should be used or not used in a particular district and the Irish Government thought it ought not to be so used or not used, friction would at once arise which it was most important to avoid. He wondered whether the hon. Member, in taking the line he was adopting to-night, was aware of the provision made in England for dealing with emergencies such as the hon. Member contemplated? Was the hon. Member aware of the 25th section of the Police Act of 1890 passed by a Government with which he had had some connection? This section said that where the police authorities thought it expedient in any special emergency or under any special circumstances to strengthen its Police Force by constables belonging to another Police Force such number of constables belonging to the latter Force might be added under such superiors as might be agreed on by the authorities. Such agreement might be made for a particular occasion or as a standing agreement and 156 in reference to unforeseen events. The important thing was that those who were responsible for order in Ireland should be able to have under their control and at their orders a sufficient Force. The Force in a locality—after the extinction of the Royal Irish Constabulary—might not be sufficient to deal with an ebullition of popular excitement. But why should not the Irish Government be able to send into a disturbed city, whether in the North or in the South, police from a tranquil quarter from which men could be spared? That was the course adopted in this country.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, the lunatic theory then came in. In England they assumed that the authorities were men of common sense, and would make sensible arrangements. And so they would in Ireland. That being so, there was no necessity for a nucleus of 2,000 armed men. Whatever strengthening the police force of a particular district might require could be secured by fusing with it the police of some other district which was in a state of peace and quietude. Moreover, the transitional period of six years would afford plenty of time for Local Authorities, the Lord Lieutenant, and the Irish Executive to see how things were going. Meanwhile, there was no compulsion on either the Irish Government or the Lord Lieutenant to deprive the Irish Executive of such armed Force as they might think necessary to meet any particular emergency. The hon. Member assumed, like the hon. Member for Hammersmith, that the Royal Irish Constabulary was to be disbanded at once—on the appointed day; but that was not the case. The six years' interval would afford ample time for considering what arrangements should be made for meeting emergencies. The experience of six years which the Irish Government, the Lord Lieutenant, and the Irish Local Authorities would have before the extinction of the Royal Irish Constabulary would probably lead to the adoption in Ireland of arrangements similar to those which worked well in England, and if that hope were realised it would not be necessary to maintain 157 that nucleus of a Central Force which some hon. Members desired to have.
§ * VISCOUNT WOLMER
said, he had put down another Amendment not differing very much from the present Amendment, but he would prefer to take the opinion of the Committee on this proposal. His proposal differed from that of the hon. Member in that, while it would provide for the total extinction of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, it would allow the Royal Irish Constabulary to be reduced to some point that might seem desirable to the Lord Lieutenant. He thought that the Lord Lieutenant, in his Imperial capacity, ought to have some force at his disposal. Many hon. Members sitting in different parts of the House were of opinion that a Central Police Force or a police reserve of some kind was required in Ireland. He would only add to what they had said that, whereas they had declared that this Central Force would be required for Irish purposes, he considered such a force to be also necessary to enable the Lord Lieutenant to fulfil those important functions which were committed to his safeguarding, quite independently of the Irish Executive. The right hon. Gentleman indicated that in framing the Bill the Government had relied on the same course of procedure being followed in Ireland to that which had been adopted in England.
§ * VISCOUNT WOLMER
That was to say, they relied upon one district in Ireland borrowing police from another district when an emergency arose. Doubt less that was a useful arrangement in England; but he did not think that even in England the system went far enough. It would be better here if there were some Central Force available for local emergencies. There was no country on the Continent in which such a Central Force did not exist in some form or other; and the absence of such a force in the United States had led to the scandal involved in the employment of Pinkerton's detectives.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had begun by saying that, after all that had been said against an armed force in Ireland, it was now proposed that such a force should be created. But the position of the hon. Member for Dover was perfectly logical. The Unionist Members objected in the strongest manner to 158 an armed Police Force under the control of the Irish Executive. But the 2,000 men proposed by the hon. Member for Dover would be under the control of the Lord Lieutenant in his capacity as Representative of the Imperial Government. The Lord Lieutenant was to have two capacities: In one he was to be advised by the Irish Government—and in that case he would do many things which the Unionists would consider very wrong—but, on the other hand, he was to be advised by the Imperial Government, and in that ease the Unionists were perfectly willing to trust him. They had an intimation from the Chief Secretary that this part of the Bill was an experiment. The right hon. Gentleman, in fact, said, "You can come back to this Parliament for further legislation if this arrangement does not work—you have six years to try it in."
§ MR. RENTOUL
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say they had six years in which to try this experiment.
MR. J. MORLEY
I did not say experiment. I said the Irish Executive and the Lord Lieutenant and the Irish Local Authorities would have six years' experience before the extinction of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, that, supposing these authorities found that they could not do without a Central Police Force, where would they get authority to secure it? Would it not involve an appeal to the Imperial Parliament? The Unionists would rather have the proposals of the Government all at once—they would rather see the end of the whole story and know how the thing was to be carried out. The Chief Secretary evidently did not want them to know the whole story. He had put his Bill before them in piecemeal, but they wanted to see how they stood. The way the right hon. Gentleman disregarded Irish opinion was truly horrifying. Three prominent Members of the Irish Party had spoken—the Nationalist Leaders themselves declared a Central Police Force to be absolutely necessary. If it were, it must be wanted to coerce somebody. Was it required to coerce the loyal minority? The Nationalists said no; so it must be wanted to coerce Nationalists in the South and West of 159 Ireland. But according to the Amendment the police would not be under the control of the Irish Executive. They would be under the control of the Lord Lieutenant, and if a representation were made to him that on a certain emergency the local police were not sufficient to preserve order they could be strengthened according to his judgment out of the force under his control. The Chief Secretary said that the Police Act of 1890 worked perfectly well in England. Well, that Act might work well enough here where all the Local Authorities worked harmoniously together; but Local Authorities in Ireland were not likely to be in harmony one with another. If there were riots in Belfast, for instance, the authorities of other towns in the South and West might refuse to lend their police and might be likely to say, "Let the riots go on—so much the better." The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in his most sanguine moments, could hardly imagine that the Local Authorities in the South and West of Ireland would be likely to cooperate with Local Authorities in the North to help them out of a difficulty. Therefore, the analogy of the English Act did not hold at all. The Amendment was one which ought to be accepted by the Government, because it was the first he had seen on the Paper which seemed to possess the sympathies of all sections from Ireland. It would give a Central Police Force—which was a thing the Nationalists demanded—although it would not be under their own control, and the loyal minority would not fear it because it would be directed by the Lord Lieutenant, under the advice of the Imperial Government. Under the circumstances, he heartily supported the Amendment.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, it seemed to him that the speech of the hon. Member who had just spoken was not very relevant to the Amendment. He had asked, for instance, what the Irish Members wanted a Central Police Force for and whom they were going to coerce. If the hon. Member wanted an answer they would tell him that this Central Police Force was required to coerce law-breakers in Ireland and disturbers of the peace, whether they belonged to the Unionist or the Nationalist Party. That was a plain and sufficient answer to the hon. and learned Gentle- 160 man. The hon. Member for Dover had spoken of the doctrine of the hon. Member for Waterford. But what was the meaning of the Amendment? It was to retain 2,000 armed policemen under the control of what would be regarded in Ireland under Home Rule as a foreign authority. During the controversies of the last few years, the Nationalists had contended for nothing so much as a purely Irish force under Irish control; and, for his part, he had no hesitation in saying that he would not condescend to sit in an Irish Parliament the doors of which were kept by a foreign policeman. The hon. Member for Dover said it was the only alternative to the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Kerry; but he (Mr. Clancy) was afraid that the hon. Member's remedy would be worse than the disease. If it were difficult or impossible to maintain law in Ireland without a Central Police Force, he was afraid that keeping in Dublin a body of Janissaries, 2,000 strong, to be controlled by what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham once called "a foreign authority," would act, not as a peace-preserving, but as a disturbing element in Irish life; and for that reason, if for no other, he did not see how the Irish Nationalists could support the proposal.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, the Chief Secretary had not converted him by his observations to his way of thinking. He begged leave, however, to withdraw the Amendment, in order to make way for one standing on the Paper of great importance.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, that in the absence of the Prime Minister he begged to move the Amendment standing in the right hon. Gentleman's name. It was to the effect that the Acts relating to Police Forces in Ireland should be repealed, and no forces organised and armed as the present Police Force, or otherwise than according to the accustomed manner of a Civil police, should be created under any Irish Act. This was an Amendment which the Prime Minister had promised, and it was to fulfil that pledge that he (Mr. J. Morley) moved it.
In page 16, line 27, after the word "Schedule," to insert the words "and thereupon the Acts relating to such forces shall be repealed, and no
forces organised and armed in like manner, or otherwise than according to the accustomed manner of a Civil police, shall be created under any Irish Act."—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, if he had been present, would not have thought it desirable to offer to the Committee some words explanatory of the Amendment. He understood the words—No forces organised and armed in like manner,because he knew what were the organisation and the arming of the Constabulary; but when he came to the words—Or otherwise than according to the accustomed manner of a Civil police,he confessed he felt no certainty as to the meaning. They had had experience of the ordinary aspect and functions of a Civil Force. The men carried truncheons; they did not carry sidearms; they might, on occasions, he believed, have revolvers, but they never carried rifles. So they were to understand, he presumed, that under no circumstances was there to be a force in Ireland carrying anything but, the truncheon. They had accepted the principle that the force in Ireland was to be a Civil Force. They had no desire that after the establishment of Home Rule there should be any Military or semi-Military Force in the service of the Irish Government. But now came the question of a contingency or emergency. Supposing men rose in arms in any part of Ireland against the laws or against the collection of taxes; supposing the incitements of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh and his less gallant but equally earnest confederates appeared to be of some avail in Ireland after the Royal Irish Constabulary ceased to exist, or supposing agrarian trouble took place and armed men went about for the purpose of committing outrage, what were the Irish Government to do? Were the police who had to deal with these law-breakers to bear only truncheons, or, at most, revolvers? It might be said that they could summon the military, buthedid not think that the military should be made use of except in the case of an actual insurrection. The power of maintaining order and vindi- 162 cating the law should be exercised by a Civil Force, and, in certain emergencies, it might be necessary that that force should be armed. As he understood the Prime Minister, he would exclude the use of arms. Power should be reserved to the Irish Government to make such police arrangements as might be requisite for the preservation of the law. He, therefore, moved an Amendment to the Amendment to that effect.
Amendment proposed, at the end of the proposed Amendment, to add the words—
But nothing in this Act shall prevent the Irish Government from making such police arrangements as they may deem requisite for the maintenance or restoration of order or the execution of the law."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be added to the proposed Amendment."
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, there was one point upon which both sections of the Irish Nationalist Party were agreed, and that was the necessity of having a Central Police Force. He did not altogether agree with his hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) that the Nationalist Members had altogether in view the coercion of Ulster. He thought they were actuated by a more personal reason. At the present moment there were very few Nationalist Leaders who could visit their own constituencies without the assistance of the Irish Constabulary. There was the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien). When he visited the city he represented he was surrounded and guarded by the Irish Constabulary.
§ A NATIONALIST MEMBER: That is not a fact.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, it was absolutely a fact that, without the protection of the force which, on occasions, the Nationalist Members were, so fond of traducing, the hon. Member's shape would be entirely altered. Then there was the hon. and learned Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy). There was no town in Ireland that hon. and learned Member could visit without being protected by the Irish Constabulary.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, the truth of what he said could be tested by a visit of the hon. and learned Member to any town in Ireland without police protection. If the hon. and learned Member never returned to the House after such a visit, it would be a great and sad loss; but if he did come back it would be with a very much changed appearance. In the happy family that existed in Ireland at the present moment, they loved one another so much that it was entirely owing to the vigorous action of the Irish Constabulary that these gentlemen were restrained from political manifestations which would end in their mutual destruction. The hon. Member who had just sat down desired to have a Central Force. Without drilling with arms, it was quite possible to have a body of men who would be capable of military action on very short notice. The Metropolitan Police of London were drilled as soldiers, although they did not have rifles, and it would be perfectly possible to transform them into a powerful military force in a very short time. As far as he was concerned, he opposed, in the best interests of Ireland, the existence of a Central Police Force in Ireland. Such a force would be under the direct control of a Government the politics of whose Members the Committee was perfectly acquainted with. For once in his life he agreed with the Government. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) had asked what would happen if there was agrarian trouble. The ordinary idea of agrarian trouble was trouble arising out of the difficulty of making a certain set of men fulfil their legal obligations. Agrarian trouble in Ireland had invariably arisen from the fact that a certain set of men called landlords, who required a certain amount of rent from their tenants, enforced claims which the law admitted to be just. It was when those claims were disallowed that there arose what were called agrarian troubles. He wondered what an agrarian trouble would mean under a Government of which the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) and his friends would be the principal component parts? Would it mean an effort on the part of landlords to secure rent? If it did, he would like to know what chance there would ever be of getting a farthing? Would it mean a general rising of the tenants of various counties against the payment of any of 164 the rent they owed to their landlords? How, he wondered, would the hon. Member for Kerry employ his Central Police Force in that case? He wondered what form the agrarian question would assume in Clare, Kerry, and Limerick. What would be the position of an Irish landlord in Clare, if there were a local police force? The component parts of that force would be drawn from the sympathisers with the cause of the hon. Member for North Kerry and his friends. There would be in that police men who carried out the decrees and will of the Land League. He should say the force would be mainly composed of moonlighters, and he wondered how the Central Police Force would act in case of agrarian trouble between the owners of property in Clare, Kerry, and Limerick, and the local police, who would naturally sympathise with the cause of the tenants against the landlords? He hoped the Committee would decide that the Government was right in refusing to place in the hands of the Irish Government the power of having a body of men who would be ready to go on their behalf to any part of Ireland, to crush out the very name of freedom, justice, and fair play.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's,) Hanover Square
A few precious minutes still remain to us before the application of the shameful instrument which the Government have adopted. A large portion of the precious minutes allowed us this evening have been utilised by hon. Members below the Gangway in discussing what armed force shall be placed at their disposal after the passing of the Home Rule Bill, and now we are about to witness the comical spectacle of the closuring of the Prime Minister's own Amendment, and, what is still more tragic, the closuring of the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) to the Prime Minister's Amendment. I hesitated for a moment before rising, because I thought that the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. J. Morley), in the absence of the Prime Minister, would deal with the arguments of the hon. Member for North Kerry. But he sat still.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman moved the Amendment, but in such a manner that the hon. Member 165 for North Kerry said that if the Prime Minister had been here he thought he would have made a longer explanation. Sheltering themselves behind the Closure, the Government have not replied to the hon. Member for North Kerry. Being anxious that the hon. Member should continue to be treated with that deference which is usually accorded to him by the Government, and seeing that the Prime Minister has now arrived in his place, I will give him an opportunity of replying.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, it seemed to him to be a most remarks able thing that the Prime Minister could not even condescend to reply to the remarks of his own Leader. When the hon. Member for North Kerry moved an Amendment absolutely complaining that the Irish Government when it was formed would not be able to establish a Police Force able to maintain order, and when the late Chancellor of the Exchequer absolutely made way for the Prime Minister to reply, it seemed a most extraordinary thing that the right hon. Gentleman, the nominal Leader of the House, should not attempt to do so. The Schedule dealing with the police was quite different in many serious respects from that which appeared in the Bill on the Second Reading.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, this was another of those Parliamentary shuffles which were not creditable. He was perfectly aware that when the Bill was read a second time it was in such a discreditable condition that half the Schedules were in blank. Since the Second Reading most of the Schedules, the whole of the Financial Clauses, and the whole of the system by which Ireland was to be represented in the House of Commons had been altered; in fact, the Bill had been so changed that its own father hardly knew it. The Opposition had been trying to bring out the fact that this country was to pay for the Constabulary in Ireland, but owing to the Closure they had been stopped. He thought the country would be astonished to hear that the Government were sheltering themselves behind the miserable Closure they had created in order to 166 save themselves from explaining to the public the details of their iniquitous measure. The fact was that the Government wore afraid of the public knowing. The Prime Minister was as dumb as an extinct volcano. There never was, and never would be again, a Government in power that was so absolutely lost to all sense of the interests and traditions of the House. Ministers thought that anything would do for the House of Commons if they could simply force it through with the gag they had invented. He represented an English constituency, and he said—
It being Ten of the clock, the Chairman, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 30th June, interrupted the Debate and put the Questions already proposed from the Chair forthwith: —
§ Question, "That those words be added to the proposed Amendment," put, and negatived.
That the words 'and thereupon the Acts relating to such forces shall be repealed, and no forces organised and armed in like manner, or otherwise than according to the accustomed manner of a civil police, shall be created under any Iriah Act,'
be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 537; Noes 49.—(Division List, No. 231.)
§ Whereupon, in pursuance of the said Order, the Chairman proceeded to put successively the Questions on Clauses 30 to 40, forthwith, as followeth:—
§ Question put, "That Clause 30, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Aves 315; Noes 289.—(Division List, No. 232.)
§ Question put, "That Clause 31 stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 321; Noes 287.—(Division List, No. 233.)
§ Question put, "That Clause 32 stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 315; Noes 281.—(Division List, No. 234.)
§ Question put, "That Clause 33 stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 314; Noes 279.—(Division List, No. 235.)
§ Question, "That Clause 34 stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.167
§ Question put, "That Clause 35 stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 327; Noes 39.—(Division List, No. 236.)
§ Question put, "That Clause 36 stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 302; Noes 268.—(Division List, No. 237.)
§ Question, "That Clause 37 stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put, "That Clause 38 stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 295; Noes 261.—(Division List, No. 238.)
§ Question, "That Clause 39 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Question, "That Clause 40 stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ And, the Order of the House of the 30th June having been complied with, and, it being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.