§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely, "the unchecked growth of serious crime in Ireland, and especially in the Counties of Clare, Kerry, and Limerick, and the failure of the Irish Executive to take any adequate steps for its abatement."
MR. T. M. HEALY
On a point of Order, may I ask whether on Tuesday last on the Vote on Account hon. Gentlemen had not then a full opportunity ["No, no!"]—had an opportunity— of which they had given notice before Whitsuntide of raising this question? The notice was given before Whitsuntide that after the Recess, on the Vote on Account, they would draw attention to this question, and that not having been done on the Vote on Account, I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, if this can be considered to be a matter of urgent public importance?
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
On the point of Order, inasmuch as I had given notice of the Motion to deal with this question on the Vote on Account, perhaps you will allow me to explain that I was unable to do so because of the discussions which came on before the Vote for the Chief Secretary's Department, and because the Vote was closured.
MR. JOHN MORLEY
As to what the hon. Member has just said, it is true enough; but then progress was reported with the Government of Ireland Bill at 11 o'clock on the night before last expressly with the view to this topic being discussed.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Of course, as this subject was not discussed it is competent to bring it forward. As to the circumstances stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman, it will be for the House to judge when I ask the House to give leave to bring on the matter.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
then called on those Members who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and not less than 40 having accordingly risen,
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER, in moving the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, said, he did not feel he owed any apology to the House for introducing the subject, though he owed some apology for the fact that the treatment of the subject had not been put into the hands of someone more competent to deal with it than himself. The only qualifications he could claim were that he knew well that portion of the United Kingdom about which he wished to-speak; he was most deeply concerned in its welfare, and he felt very deeply the importance of the matter he should bring before the House. An hon. Member who sat near him took a different view, and in reference to this Motion had stated that he and his friends were bored by the reiteration of these facts regarding the commission of crime and outrage in the South and West of Ireland. But the matter he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) should bring forward was a matter which, in his judgment, constituted the very primary duty of the House of Commons, and was infinitely more important than the dead-alive discussion which was taking place upon the already-defunct Home Rule Bill. It related to the protection of the lives and happiness of Her Majesty's subjects. These things were very real, and there was a special reason why some hon. Member from Ireland should bring them forward. There were very few districts represented in the House of Commons whose Members would not be ready in a moment to bring forward what he had to bring forward if it related to any district in England, Scotland, or the North of Ireland. If such horrors occurred in any of the districts he had indicated they would find the Members who represented them would be the first to bring them forward in that House;. but not on one single occasion had any hon. Member representing any one of the districts concerned in the Motion and which had been steeped with this persecution to which he should have to refer come forward and spoken in that House in the interests of those of Her Majesty's subjects who were subjected to this detestable persecution. If it were the fact that the Constitutional 1773 Representatives of these persons did not consider it their duty to bring this matter before the House, it was a reasonable, fair, and just thing that some other Member connected with Ireland, who was not immediately responsible for these districts, but who was connected with them by ties and associations and know ledge, should do what he could from time to time to give voice to these dumb persons who were unable, by their Constitutional Representatives, to speak to that House and remind it and the people of Great Britain what was the suffering that was continuously being inflicted upon these unhappy persons. The hon. Member for North Kerry the other night stated that it was not the business of a Member of that House to act as a private detective; and, as far as he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) could understand, he was to take no active or practical part in the diminution or discouragement of crime.
§ MR. SEXTON
That is an addition made by the hon. Member to what I said. I would ask him to be good enough to confine himself to what I stated.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, he had given the practical upshot of what he understood the hon. Member to say; and, as a matter of fact, there had been no executive step taken in that House, or—with a few brief exceptions, he could name on the fingers of one hand—out of that House by hon. Members representing these districts to put a stop to the abominations against which he protested. It was not an unknown thing that hon. Members representing constituencies in which there had been serious and prolonged outbursts of crime should think it their duty to go into their own constituencies and use all their influence and talent, and the great position conferred upon them, to abate and put a stop to such occurrences. In the case of the saw-grinding outrages in Sheffield, there was no person more prompt, in his endeavours to bring an end to that unhappy state of affairs than the right hon. Gentleman, Mr. Roebuck, who then represented Sheffield. Again, it would be in the recollection of hon. Gentlemen that it had been attempted by hon. Members of that House on a very recent occasion by their own writing, influence, speeches, and presence, to try and allay passion and diminish violence in the constituency 1774 he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) had the honour to represent. The precedent was not, therefore, a new one, and when he said it was part of the duty of an hon. Member to take some share in trying to allay disturbance in a district he represented in that House he was not asking for an extreme or unusual display of vigilance, or the exercise of a duty unknown to that House, In asking that hon. Members who represented those counties should take steps to try and allay disorder there, he was not asking them to do anything unknown in the annals of that House. If hon. Members did not consider it their duty to do so, it became incumbent upon those who were acquainted with the facts to lay them before the House. When right hon. Gentlemen on the Front-Government Bench made the great change in their policy with regard to Ireland, some hon. Members hoped that there would be compensation in the shape of a Treaty, like that of Kilmainham, under which hon. Members would undertake, at the instance of the Government, to go down and see that outrages in the South and West of Ireland were controlled and put a stop to. For a time it seemed as though there would be a temporary lull in the commission of outrages in those parts of the country, which would have been some reward, though an altogether inadequate reward, for the action of the Government. There had been a brief cessation of crime, but that cessation had ended. He did not want to put the matter too high or too strongly; but he desired to make it clear to hon. Members who differed from the Party to which he belonged that there was a definite and substantial reason for bringing up this subject again. He would ask those hon. Members to give a friendly ear to the pleadings of those who spoke through him, and to whom the fact that this crime and persecution wont on from day to day, and was neither new nor strange, did not make life more tolerable in these counties. Since the last Debate in the House crime had increased, was still increasing, and would, in all probability, continue to increase. A time came when the point of saturation was reached, when crime had done its work, and when the gang who committed it had got what they wanted, and the law of the land was superseded by the law of the gang who 1775 had obtained supremacy in those counties. When that, time came the necessity for outrage ceased, and outrage became stationary. He believed they were within measurable distance of that point of saturation when there would be a diminution or cessation of crime for which the Chief Secretary for Ireland would claim the credit. That would mean that thousands of things would occur in these counties which would never get into the Police Returns or come to the cognisance of hon. Members in this House. Men and women would gravely say they could not do this or that because So-and-so, the head of this or that dissociation, would object. He wanted the House to interfere before the point of saturation was reached, to say that they would now take cognisance of the fact that, crime was increasing and would seize this opportunity of putting a stop to its increase. The Chief Secretary had, he was sure unwittingly, somewhat misled the House, for he had continued in the present Parliament to make a distinction which was real and definite at one time—namely, the distinction between agrarian and non-agrarian outrages in Ireland. It was formerly said that these agrarian outrages were the result of a definite policy in regard to land in Ireland, and that, therefore, they could not be put in the ordinary category of offences against the law.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I bog the hon. Member's pardon. I said the practice had been to classify outrages in that way. I made no change in the classification, although I agree with the hon. Member that it is not a perfect classification.
said, of course, he entirely and absolutely accepted the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. What he desired to make clear was that there was a time when that classification carried weight; but. that that time had passed, and nearly all crimes in common had now obtained the protection of the organisation which had formerly protected agrarian crime alone, so that it was at present as impossible to get convictions in the case of non-agrarian crimes as it was previously in the case of agrarian crimes. It was, therefore, his intention to deal with all crime in these particular counties on the same 1776 footing, because he would submit that punishment for all crime whatever was in those counties absolutely dead and unenforceable. There was one distinction as between the régime in the past and that of the present, and that was that for the first time, with one brief interval, in the history of the last 20 years, the persons against whom these outrages wore committed now felt and believed that they were deserted by the authorities in this country, and that those who were responsible for the administration of the Executive in Ireland were under the control of those persons whom, rightly or wrongly, they identified from their past experience with the authority that had inflicted these outrages upon them he was far from suggesting that there was any fundamental ground for that belief. What was the justification in the minds of the persons concerned for this belief? A justification did exist, for they saw that in this House the Government depended from day to day for its political existence upon a Party which had been at the bottom of these crimes for years past. This was not a matter in dispute, but a mere common statement in plain English of a plain fact, and when the people in Limerick, Tipperary, and Clare——
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I rise to Order. I wish to know whether the hon. Gentleman is to be allowed to say that a Party in this House has been at the bottom of these crimes for years past?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
If I had put that interpretation on what I heard I would certainly have called the hon. Member to Order. He did not, however, say, "A Party in this House." [Cries of"He did."] I would certainly have called the hon. Member to Order if he had said anything of that kind.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I beg to say that I distinctly heard the hon. Member say, "A Party in this House." [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. W. REDMOND
On a point of Order I beg to say most respectfully that I distinctly heard the hon. Member say those words. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The words that reached my ears were, "A Party that was at the bottom of these crimes." If 1777 the hon. Member had said a Party in this House I should certainly have called him to Order, and the House would have taken a very severe course.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Most respectfully, Sir, with reference to what you have stated—namely, that you would have called the hon. Member to Order if he had asserted that any hon. Member of this House was cognisant of crime, I beg to say that the hon. Member has stated that of me in The Times newspaper.
said, what he intended to convey was an expression of the feeling in the minds of the persecuted people in Ireland who saw that the Chief Secretary was now under the Parliamentary control of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Those hon. Gentlemen were associated in their minds with the organisation which was first the Land League and afterwards the National League; and they remembered the statement of the Prime Minister that crime dogged the footsteps of that Association. Whether the belief of these people were correct or not, it existed; and it was natural that they should feel that there was a sinister bearing in the facts as they saw them. This differentiated the case of these counties before the right hon. Gentleman took office from the case of these counties now. He was sure the Chief Secretary was anxious that there should be a diminution of crime in these counties; but he must be aware that he had not taken those steps which would be most, calculated to reassure the persons who felt themselves in danger by his action in the House or out of it. Since the beginning of the Session the attitude of the Chief Secretary had been consistently such as to discourage and dishearten every loyal man in Ireland. There had been many occasions on which this fact had been brought under the notice of the House. The first incident in the Session was the statement by the Chief Secretary that there had been over 700 illegal seizures by the officers of the law in Ireland. If that statement had been proved it would have set the whole country-side on fire, and it would have made the administration of the law in the affected counties absolutely impossible. The Chief Secretary made the statement on his official responsibility, but it turned out to be a mere cock-and- 1778 bull story. From beginning to end it had never been substantiated; but it did its work. It discouraged everyone who thought that the law had been justly and adequately administered by the right hon. Gentleman. There was, next, the case of the unhappy man Mr. Blood, who had committed no crime against God or man, but who had simply done what was not only his right, but his duty. He had refused to harbour in a house belonging to him a man whom he and the bulk of the community regarded as an assassin. He said to the father of the man that if he continued to allow his son to live with him he should no longer continue the bounty which he gave him. What was the answer of the Chief Secretary in that case? Everybody knew the odium which had been most unjustly attached to the carrying out of the process of eviction in Ireland; and when the Chief Secretary was asked what was the cause of Mr. Blood's persecution, he said it was because Blood had taken part in an eviction. There was nothing like an eviction in the case, and there was no justification for that cruel thrust. There was another example, on which a series of questions had been asked in the House. To all the questions one stereotyped answer had been given—"The facts as stated in the question are correct." When the House realised what that answer meant they would realise his feeling in the matter. The case of Thomas Barry was an example of the animus which dictated the answers, and of the way in which the good intentions of the Chief Secretary were conveyed to those who were persecuted in Ireland. Thomas Barry was a Poor Law Guardian. In a speech he denounced two persons for signing a Petition against the Home Rule Bill. The Chief Secretary was asked whether this was the fact, and whether, in his opinion, the denunciation did not constitute a threat? The right hon. Gentleman soon found an ally. The hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton) jumped up to ask whether it was not the fact that the speech in question was made at a meeting for the promotion of a Poor Law Election. Even if that had been the case it did not matter two straws.
§ MR. WILSON NOBLE (Hastings)
I rise to ask whether the hon. Member is in Order in saying that another hon. Member misrepresents the facts "as usual"?
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that the words he had used on the occasion referred to were that Mr. Barry did what he had a perfect right to do, and that at the public meeting, the two persons in question being candidates for the office of Poor Law Guardian, he stated that they had signed a Petition against the Home Rule Bill, and, therefore, ought not to be trusted by the electors.
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, the statement he had just made was absolutely correct, but that whether the meeting were a meeting of the Federation, or a meeting to elect Guardians, his point was unaffected—it did not matter two straws whether the speech was made at a meeting of the Federation or not. The Chief Secretary at once said that he had no doubt that the statement of the hon. Member was correct. The next question he asked was whether, as a matter of fact, the houses of two persons had not been burnt; and whether these two persons were not those who had been denounced by Thomas Barry? Then, again, two of the right hon. Gentleman's allies sprang to their feet to ask how the right hon. Gentleman could know anything about it, seeing that no names were mentioned. The right hon. Gentleman, however, knew perfectly well who the men were, and he frankly told the House that he was informed that the persons whose houses were burnt were the persons who had been denounced by Barry for signing a Petition against the Home Rule Bill
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, he did not know who the right hon. Gentleman's informant was; but the information was precisely the same as his own; and he did not doubt one informant more than the other. Then he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, pending the proceedings taken to reimburse the two men for the loss of their burnt premises, Barry was not going about and telling the people of the district to resist inch by inch and to the end the claim for com- 1780 pensation which was to be brought before a competent tribunal?
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, the right hon. Gentleman replied that he could not answer the question because the matter was sub judice. His point was that the defending party was making use of public meetings to compel the competent Court to withhold compensation from the injured persons. There was one more question asked—whether it was not the fact that Thomas Barry had been previously convicted? The right hon. Gentleman would not answer. He said it was hard to go back upon the bad, unhappy past of this man, if there had been a bad, unhappy past. He then asked whether it was not the fact that one of the convictions of Barry in the past had been for precisely the same offence of boycotting? The right hon. Gentleman could not deny it. If the right hon. Gentleman felt bound to answer questions in this way, and to give the cover of his protection to the persons who were concerned in these outrages, then he must not be surprised if the victims lost the full value of the protection which he was certain the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to give them. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman hated crime; but the Parliamentary position in which he found himself was a very difficult one. It would be said by some hon. Members that he had no right to bring forward this question unless he was able to show that there had been a serious increase of outrage since the time when the House last considered the matter. He could positively prove that that was the case. The last Debate in the House on the subject was in March. He had details, unfortunately most incomplete, of the occurrences which had taken place since that date. Many cases were not reported, either through the newspapers or through the police. In Clare alone there had been no less than 17 serious outrages committed since March 2. And to that catalogue he had to add another case that had occurred since the matter was brought before the House. These were not matters which could be regarded lightly, and, for his own part, he had never looked upon threatening letters lightly. Not every threatening letter was followed by crime, but there were very few crimes which were not 1781 preceded by threatening letters. The class of crime in County Clare to which he referred included the shooting at men at night, the burning of hay, the burning of houses, firing into houses, attacks on houses by moonlighters, and horse-stabbing—and that reminded them of a very melancholy case in regard to which they had had a very unsatisfactory answer from the Chief Secretary—a case in which a woman's husband was brutally murdered in County Clare. A horse was stabbed, and the right hon. Gentleman stated that it was because this unhappy lady had dismissed a man in her employ. But the real reason was that her husband had been murdered, and for that reason alone she was persecuted. He now came to Kerry, and the catalogue was very black and serious there. It included two tons of hay burnt, a moonlighting attack on a farmhouse, a horse poisoned, a house fired into in daylight, a cow killed, damage done to farm railings, a moonlighting attack, a heifer killed, a cow killed, a bullock killed, a cow killed, a moonlighting attack on a house by masked men, two large hayricks burnt, a house fired into at night, one bullet lodging in the wall near the place where two women were sleeping. He now came to Limerick, and in some respects the state of the case there was the most serious of all. The list of crimes included the following:—A house burnt down, nine tons of hay burnt, four tons of hay burnt, a house fired into, a house fired into by moonlighters, a house burnt, house attacked, and so on. He did not pretend that this catalogue was exhaustive of the outrages that had boon committed during the time referred to, but it was simply a list of such crimes as had reached him. And what he desired to point out was that though there was nothing new in the black catalogue relating to the Counties of Kerry and Clare, the increase of crime in the County of Limerick was new. Clare had always been what might be called an abnormal county; the same statement in a different way could be made in reference to Kerry, but Limerick had for a long time been free from crime; and when he said that between the date when the present Chief Secretary took office and the present time there had been 17 serious cases of moonlighting in this County of Limerick alone against one in the corresponding period of the preceding 12 months, hon. Members 1782 would realise the sort of thing that was in his mind when he brought this matter before them. In the County of Limerick the number of cases of crime had increased during the period he had specified from 1 to 17; in Kerry it had increased from 5 to 12, and in Clare from 10 to 19. Weil, what was it the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was doing to meet this increase of crime? The right hon. Gentleman had over and over again thrown up his hands, and said—"What can we do? We are doing everything you can suggest." The House had been frequently told that there was no efficacy in the measures adopted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. A. J. Balfour) when Secretary for Ireland. He (Mr. Arnold-Forster) denied that statement. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had prepared three efficacious weapons, and of those the present Chief Secretary had deliberately deprived himself. He had said—I will not use secret inquiries and change of venue and special juries; and the reason," he said, "I will not use them is, not because I am less opposed to crime than you are, but because these instruments have failed in the hands of those who used them before, and because I believe that they would fail if used now and in the future.He (Mr. Arnold-Forster) contended that these instruments had not failed in the past, and would not fail in the future. Secret inquiry had not failed. In the County of Kerry, in four cases of murder, the principals had been brought to the gallows, and the participators had been brought to justice and sentenced to periods of imprisonment by means of secret inquiry. He admitted that in the County of Clare it had not resulted in securing convictions, but it had produced an effect quite as important. The Chief Secretary ought to have told the House of this result. He could go down to-morrow to the Chief Constables of Ennis or Tralee, who could give him the names of at least 300 men, known to be concerned in crime, who had been compelled to leave their counties because these secret inquiries had been set on foot and were having their effect in making these men known to the police. It was unfortunate that in his comparisons between the past and the present, which he had indulged in ad nauseam, the right hon. Gentleman had not given the House 1783 one single allusion to this very cardinal fact in the situation, the result of which was that the crime in those counties came down by leaps and bounds. True it was that crime had oscillated up and down slightly; and it was not fair to compare crime of one year with crime of the preceding year. It was necessary to compare the crime which took place before the measures of the late Chief Secretary were taken with the crime which took place afterwards. It would then be found that those measures had been largely efficacious in freeing the country from crime. In Clare crimes went down from 141 in 1886 to 58 in 1890 and 94 in 1891. In Kerry crimes went down from 209 in 1886 to 56 in 1890 and 68 in 1891. In Limerick crimes went down from 80 in 1886 to 30 in 1890 and 17 in 1891. These were important figures, but he did not mean to say that this result was brought about solely by the power of holding secret inquiries. The other powers contained in the Crimes Act, which were concurrent with it, also had effect. There was, for instance, the power of change of venue. The Chief Secretary passed the matter over, but it had been eminently successful. In Clare alone, in 30 cases affecting 69 persons, 32 persons were convicted. In 44 cases in Kerry, affecting 87 persons, 46 convictions were obtained. In 41 cases in Limerick, affecting 65 persons, 28 convictions wore obtained. It could not be said that these people were unfairly tried or that anything but justice was meted out to them; and, therefore, what had been done in the past could be done now and in the future. When the right hon. Gentleman deliberately deprived himself of these instruments, he was, pro tanto, contributing to the lawlessness in these three counties. He (Mr. Arnold-Forster) had before him the figures showing the results of the Courts held in these counties, which showed that they had been most successful. In Kerry, in 1887, there were 19 Courts held and 32 convictions obtained; in 1888, 41 Courts and 96 convictions; in 1889, 24 Courts, and 23 convictions; and in 1891, three Courts — all that were required — and four convictions. In Clare, in 1887, there were 19 Courts held and 37 convictions obtained; in 1888, 46 Courts and 134 convictions; in 1889, 10 Courts and 50 convictions; 1784 and in 1891, nine Courts and eight convictions. He was not blind to the fact that a large number of persons who ought to have been convicted were not convicted, and to that extent he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) was prepared for the exposure and censure of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. But that was a calamity he deplored as much as the right hon. Gentleman could, and he maintained that, to a large extent, these Courts were successful. In a few days or weeks the Assizes in Clare, Limerick, and Kerry would be coming on. What would be the use of trying prisoners at those Assizes? Everybody knew, and no one better than the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, that it would be an absolute waste of time to try them there; for two reasons: In the first place, past experience showed that convictions were not likely to be the result of such trials, whether the cases were agrarian or non-agrarian. There was also the additional fact that the persons who were called on to serve on the juries and to act as witnesses in these counties had been continually and deliberately commanded by persons belonging to that Party in Ireland supporting the present Chief Secretary to commit perjury in the jury and witness-boxes. Jurors and witnesses were exposed to terrible outrage, and were threatened for performing their duty according to their oaths. Cases of this kind had been published in the papers, and it was not to be expected that men in these counties, with the slack hand of the Secretary for Ireland affording them no protection, would come forward and take all the risks of doing their duty when they knew very well the fate that would wait upon them as a result. He should be told that all this was the natural outcome of the system that prevailed in the country. But was that the fact? It was not beside the mark to remind hon. Members that this was not the outcome of the system of law under which the Irish people as a whole lived. He found that last year the number of agrarian crimes committed in Clare was 57, in Limerick 56, and in Kerry 61; while in Antrim, including the City of Belfast, it was one, in Down it was five, in Londonderry none, and in Armagh two, although these districts were under exactly the same system of government as the others. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, could not con- 1785 tend that there was anything in the existing condition of things in Ireland that naturally produced those outbreaks of crime. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he had done all in his power to put down what was practically becoming a reign of terror in those districts, and he had taunted the Members of the late Government with having themselves reduced the police force of County Clare. But at that very time the right hon. Gentleman held in his hands the actual words of the Grand Jury, in which they asked for an increase of the police force of the county. The late Government had tilled up many vacancies, and had brought up the police force to within 15 of its former strength. The right hon. Gentleman, however, was perfectly aware that he might increase the police force of the district as much as he pleased, and that any steps he might take in that direction would be utterly ineffectual, unless he supplemented them with further action. He suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that he should take that farther action. He asked the right Gentleman whether he would not make use of some of those weapons that still remained in his hand in order to put an end to the deplorable state of things which he himself admitted existed in these districts. The right hon. Gentleman had said that crime was confined to a very small area in Ire-laud. He ventured very respectfully to differ from the right hon. Gentleman. He had gone over the localities in which these crimes and outrages had been committed, and he had found that, so far from their being confined to one locality or centred round one spot, they were distributed over an area of 40, 50, or 60 miles, and over the length and breadth of the three Counties of Kerry, Limerick, and Clare. Even if the crimes centred round one place, it would be all the more desirable to make some effort to put an end to the plague spot and to crush out the crime of which the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged the existence. He (Mr. Arnold-Forster) acknowledged the difficulties under which the right hon. Gentleman laboured, and he hoped he had not spoken lightly or disrespectfully of the work the right hon. Gentleman had undertaken, but he know there must be times when the Chief Secretary was as sick of this state of things as anyone else, 1786 and it was to be hoped he would determine that, however bad this state of things had been in the past, it was, at any rate, his duty now to adopt whatever measures were necessary to protect the lives and liberties of Her Majesty's subjects.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That this House do now adjourn."— (Mr. Arnold-Forster.)
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I do not complain of the action of the hon. Member in calling the attention of the House to the condition of certain parts of Ireland, but I do think that both the House and the Government have a right to take exception to the conduct of the hon. Member in not having availed himself of the opportunity that was offered to him, and deliberately offered to him, for bringing this subject —which is not an unimportant one— forward on Tuesday night. Up to 11 o'clock that night we were engaged in discussing a variety of matters of third-rate importance.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I am glad the hon. Member for South Tyrone assents to that statement. At 11 o'clock that night we adjourned the Debate to enable an hon. Member to bring forward a subject of which he had given notice before the Whitsuntide Recess. There is one other thing I must complain of—namely, that the hon. Member has been guilty of a want of good faith and sincerity in describing these as matters of urgent public interest, when really one-half of his speech was directed to old matters which wore discussed and disposed of in the course of the five or six Votes of Censure brought forward against the Irish administration of the Government before the Easter Recess. My defence or reply to the hon. Member will be shorter but not of a less substantial character than the hon. Member's attack. What was the hon. Member's point? It was that, because there has been a change of Government and a change of policy, the moonlighters of Clare and Kerry ought to have at once become the supporters of law and order. The hon. Member says he had hoped that our accession to the Irish Government would have led to a cessation of crime and outrage. He gave a reason for it exactly 1787 opposite to what Members of the late Government gave for expecting a, decline of crime in Ireland. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite stated their belief that crime would decrease in Ireland, because those who were in working alliance with the Government now, and who had hitherto taken no part in the repression of crime, would have every motive to restrain the disorder and crime that prevailed. Her Majesty's Government are not at all ashamed to avow that a working alliance has been formed between themselves and hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. But the hon. Member who brought this subject forward said that that alliance is the reason for the prevalence of disorder an Ireland. The hon. Member said that the comparisons which the present Government made ad nauseam between the amount of agrarian crime in Ireland that prevailed after their accession to Office and that which existed under the administration of the late Government was unsound, because there were many kinds of non-agrarian crime which might have an agrarian significance. Well, I admit that there are many kinds of non-agrarian crime which are almost as significant of a had state of social order as the prevalence of agrarian crime. I go with the hon. Member to some extent on that matter. I do not undervalue the figures which show an increase of non-agrarian crime, but the Committee must not lose sight of the fact that it is the figures of agrarian crime which, after all, are of the first order of importance. What are the facts as to these Counties of Clare, Limerick, and Kerry? I should like the House to know that the quantity and volume of agrarian crime in Ireland, which began to decline under the late Government, has continued to decrease under the present Administration.. The number of agrarian outrages since I came into the office of Chief Secretary, excluding threatening letters — which have been excluded from all my categories—compared with the number in the corresponding period of 1891–2, shows a decrease of 31, and that decrease has not been attended by any increase in virulence of type, for there has not been a single agrarian murder in the whole of Ireland since the accession of the present Government.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What is the comparison between the first six mouths of this year and the first six months of last year?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I have not arranged the figures in that way. I have taken the figures from August 27, 1892, when the present Government came into Office, and have compared them with the figures for the similar period of 1891–2. During the earlier of those periods there was, I believe, one agrarian murder as compared with none in our period. The hon. Member referred to the maiming of cattle in Clare—a peculiarly foul and cowardly form of outrage. What has happened in respect to that? In this class of crime there has been a fall from 38 to 19, showing that these outrages have been only one-half as frequent under the present Administration as they were in the time of the late Government. So much for the general case all over Ireland. I now pass to the particular counties which the hon. Member has referred to. It is quite true that in Clare, Kerry, Limerick, and North Cork there has been an increase in the number of offences, which are unscientifically classified as moonlighting offences.
§ An hon. MEMBER: Whiteboy offences.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Yes; Whiteboy offences committed at night. I suppose they are called "moonlighting," because when the offences are committed at night that name strikes the imagination more, but I should be glad if the more correct classification were recognised. I feel it would be difficult to get people interested in crime in Ireland to adopt it. There are two plague spots in which these White boy offences have shown that which I trust is but a passing and temporary recrudescence. One of those areas is in Clare, within about 10 miles of Ennis; the other is included in the wild districts of Kerry, Limerick, and North Cork, where night raids have been of recurring prevalence at any time during the last 10 years. But it would be a great mistake to suppose that even in those parts the figures mean a general rise of disorderly spirit. There has, in fact, been a decline of agrarian crime in the Counties of Cork, Kerry, and Clare. We will take the County of Clare. It is 1789 not my fault that I am obliged to go through some of the figures which I have already given upon former occasions. In County Clare, upon which the hon. Member lays most stress, there has been seven years' steady decline in agrarian crime. The figures are 52, 48, 32, 30, 33, 33, and, in our own period, 27; so that the figure is now six below that at which it stood when the late Government thought they were quite safe in removing from County Clare some of the most operative portions of the Crimes Act. The agrarian crime in the County of Clare is now 20 per cent. lower than it has been at any time since 1886. It is true that there has been a rise of non-agrarian crime in that county from 46 in 1891–2 to 64 in 1892–3. That, I admit, is an important fluctuation, but exactly similar fluctuations took place in 1889–90 and the following year, when the number of these crimes in Clare rose from 41 to exactly the figure it is now—namely, 64. The offences which the police authorities with some reluctance have classified as moonlighting rose from 10 in 1891–2 to 20 in 1892–3; but it should be noted that these are local in character, the area being some 10 miles from Ennis, and 18 of the 20 occurred in three places —Corofin, Ennis, and Tulla. There has been a considerable decline in agrarian Crime and certain fluctuations in non-agrarian crime in Kerry. In Kerry the cases of agrarian crime had gone down from 22 to 20, whilst cases of non-agrarian crime had increased from 55 to 61. Therefore, putting the two together, there has been a total increase of 4 in the cases of crime. I think that those who are conversant with Irish affairs will agree with me that 'this is not a very serious change. Moonlighting offences show a rise of from 7 to 13, but they all took place in one district. Agrarian crime in the troublesome County of Kerry has never been so low since 1876. Taking both the East and the West Ridding, and com-billing the agrarian and the non-agrarian cases, the figures are 111 in 1891–2, and 102 in 1892–3. I come now to the County of Limerick, which I admit is, in some parts of it, in a state very far from satisfactory, as there has been an increase under every head. But, after all, except under one head, there has been no cause for anything like great 1790 anxiety. There has been an increase in agrarian offences from 11 to 15, and in non-agrarian offences from 25 to 51, whilst the cases of moonlighting have increased from 1 to 19. Here, again, the increase is confined almost exclusively to a not very large district adjoining the district I have already referred to. But let the House mark this—that, out of these moonlighting cases, 7 occurred in a single week in last April, and since the 23rd of April there has not been a single moonlighting outrage in the county. From the 23rd of April to the 28th of May Limerick, as far as moonlighting goes, shows a completely clean sheet. Does not this show that these rushes of crime are not to be ascribed to the failure of any method of government?
§ *MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, he thought there had been several cases of moonlighting in the County of Limerick since the date mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. On the 17th of last month some hay was burnt, and on the same date a horse was attacked by moonlighters, and shots were fired.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Our figures are, at least, as much to be relied upon as those of the hon. Member; and, therefore, until the hon. Member can prove his cases, I shall insist that my figures are correct.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
Perhaps I may give my authority. It is The Limerick Leader, a paper which, I think, represents hon. Members opposite.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I did not know that the hon. Member thought that a paper representing hon. Members opposite was a good authority. At all events, I prefer to rely upon my own figures.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Well, there is this extraordinary fact—that you had seven or eight moonlighting rases in the County of Limerick in a week, followed by a complete cessation of that class of offences. Does not that show that this was merely one of those rushes of crime which did occur in Ireland, have occurred 1791 there, and which for some time, whatever form of government you have, are not likely to come to an end? If the House is going to judge the Government by fluctuations in offences, it must realise how these fluctuations have occurred in the past. In 1892, there were 15 moonlighting offences in Limerick in July, in August there were 3, in September 16, in December 14; in January, 1893, there were 3, in February 13, in March 9, and in April 22. Well, the state of things is undoubtedly unsatisfactory in Limerick, and I have admitted on several occasions that in Clare the condition is not satisfactory, whilst in North Kerry it is not what we desire to see it. But when the hon. Member says that all this has been brought about by a change of Government and by a feeling on the part of the people in these counties that they have got a Government in power which does not care whether crime is committed or not, I must point out that there is no foundation for such an assertion. With all due respect to the hon. Member, I cannot but think he knows that the disorganisation, as far as it prevails in Clare, is an old matter, whilst I have shown that in Limerick it is one of those temporary rushes which have occurred before, and which we may hope, under vigorous, firm, and proper measures, will disappear. He Says that we cannot resort to firm and vigorous measures, because we have no Crimes Act. Let us look at that point for a moment. The hon. Member read a great number of figures as to the convictions obtained in the Summary Jurisdiction Courts; but he forgot to tell the House that the late Government dropped the clause by which the Summary Jurisdiction Court was constituted. As I pointed out in the former Debate on this subject, when the late Government revoked the Proclamation which placed Clare tinder that provision of the Crimes Act, they drew the teeth of the Act. At all events, it was the late Government and not us that was responsible for the dropping of that power. Then with regard to change of venue there may be circumstances in which change of venue may secure the doing of justice which otherwise could not be done. We have change of venue in England, and there are provisions in the Irish law for change of venue.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Well, we will see about that. The object of change of venue is to secure the conviction of the prisoner. Yes; but the weakness of the Government and of the police in the County of Clare is not that they cannot get prisoners convicted; the great difficulty is to get your prisoner. The reason they cannot arrest men is that people are afraid of giving evidence. That is not affected by change of venue applied to a prisoner when you have got him. I quite admit that people will not give evidence because they are afraid of the intimidatory public opinion around them. Before you can send a prisoner for trial you must have him brought before local Magistrates, and committed by such Magistrates after the hearing of evidence. I should like any lawyer to explain how change of venue would decrease this difficulty.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I will just add this. If I thought a change of venue would have the effect which the hon. Member, contrary to the experience of the last 10 years, says it would have, and would clear Clare and Kerry of these ruffians, does he suppose that because I have said again and again that either change of venue or exceptional legislation is undesirable in Ireland, I should refrain from pressing on my Colleagues in the House the advisability of making a change? Well, as I have said, there are some unsatisfactory conditions in these counties; but there is reason to believe that they are of a temporary and passing character. All the authorities concerned are doing their duty to the full, and I am glad to hear the expression of the hon. Member's opinion that the police are working just as energetically and as faithfully under the present Government as they worked under the Government of the right hon. Gentleman. Every step is being taken in reference to personnel and method that experience, judgment, or sense of responsibility can induce us to take, and the hon. Member has shown no justification for the serious step he has thought fit to take in moving the Adjournment of the House.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he thought he could convince the House that it had not been misspending its time that afternoon, for since the Debate commenced he had received a telegram from Ennis which probably the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had heard nothing about. At all events, the right hon. Gentleman had told the House nothing about it, and had stated that there had been no murder in Clare. The telegram he had received read as follows:—About noon, to-day, Weldon Moloney, solicitor, of Dublin, agent to Moloney trustees in this county, was fired at and wounded near Tulla, close to where Perry was shot.Therefore, if there had been no murder, there had been an attempt to murder that very day, and it was no fault of the criminals that their hands had not been stained with murder. Why had not the right hon. Gentleman stated in his speech what had taken place within seven miles of Ennis that afternoon? The right hon. Gentleman had said that this question ought to have been raised on Report of Supply. Well, hon. Members were prevented from raising the question on the Vote on Account, in the first place, because they were shut out by other Members who had precedence; and, in the second place, because the Debate was closured. With regard to Report of Supply, the hon. Member for Kingston (Sir R. Temple) had asked the Prime Minister whether he would adjourn the Debate on the Government of Ireland Bill a little before midnight, so as to allow time for a brief discussion on education on the Vote on Account, and the time was occupied with this subject. He was not going over the weary catalogue of crimes further than this. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had declared that, from his information, there had been no case of moonlighting or agrarian crime in County Limerick since April 23rd. He would give four cases, with the names of the people and the nature of the outrages, which had occurred in the county since that date, and would ask the right hon. Gentleman to inquire into them. On May 2nd the house of John Walsh was fired into, and on May 17th hay belonging to Mary English was burned and a cowhouse belong to Mary Richard- 1794 son was destroyed, and the house of Owen Hegarty was fired into.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
said, he had already explained that the police classified as moonlighting offences only offences that occurred at night. Those which the hon. Member had given occurred in the daytime.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman gave the House the impression that the County of Limerick had been free from crime since the date he named. These crimes were simple ruffian ism, and the official classification had no bearing upon the point. Leaving the crime itself, he asked, What had the right hon. Gentleman done since Mr. Justice O'Brien declared that property and life had no protection in the County of Clare? Since he came into Office the right hon. Gentleman had removed the County Inspector, a tried and efficient officer, who had the whole of the strings in his hands. He had removed the Head Constable, a man who knew every rascal in the County of Clare. The right hon. Gentleman had dealt with crime in Clare by removing the police officials who knew all its ramifications and putting in their place men who knew nothing about it—he meant that they had no local knowledge. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the change of venue was of no use, that the difficulty was to catch the criminal. That was only half the truth. The right hon. Gentleman knew that change of venue had been of great use. He knew that in Kerry three murderers had been tracked down by means of the secret inquiry and convicted by means of a change of venue. There were criminals at the last Assizes in Clare and Limerick, but they wore not convicted because the jurors were afraid to do their duty. He would read a few sentences of the teaching that jurors had received in the past—We look to the Irish jurors this winter to teach this cowardly, cut-throat Gin-eminent of ours a lesson never to be forgotten. The Irish jurors can do it. and we dare swear they will. Our Irish jurors are the one barrier that stands between us and absolute and undiluted despotism. What a paradise of tyrants the island would be if it were not for juries. … The jury system is on its trial this winter. Every juror that is sworn or challenged is on his trial. Let him show what of manhood he has in him. We are not of those who hide our meanings under metaphors, transparent or opaque. The Govern- 1795 ment means to try a number of innocent men this winter, and it dares hope for a Verdict of guilty, The hope is an insult to Irish jurors. Let there be no beating about the bush. We don't want and we won't wait to hear the unintelligible jargon of an indictment, the long, reckless rigmarole of constabulary evidence, the solemn platitudes of prosecuting counsel and prosecuting Judge. We know the whole story by heart, and so does the country. Hurley, Saunders—fortsmen, and Tully have already appeared before the bar of Irish public opinion, and already in every honest Irishman's heart the verdict of 'Not Guilty' has been pronounced. The Judge has no hold on him (the juror); the whole power of the British Constitution has no hold on him. He is responsible only to his own conscience and to his country for his verdict. He tries and is tried, and as he judges others he shall himself be judged.That language was written in a paper edited by a man who sat on the opposite side of the House at that moment. And if jurors dared to do their duty, and brought in verdicts the justice of which had never been questioned, the panel was published and sent all over Ireland, in order that the jurors should he marked and their businesses destroyed. What right had they to wonder that these poor Clare farmers, with cattle to maim, hay to burn, and houses to be fired into, had not the courage which the Chief Secretary himself had not got? He would ask the right hon. Gentleman this question. The Assizes were coming on. There were men in custody for serious crimes in Clare, Limerick, and Kerry. Was the right hon. Gentleman going through the old farce of sending those people to he tried by Kerry, Clare, and Limerick jurors? If so, he was practically an accessory to these crimes. The Chief Secretary had often said that secret inquiry had failed. He could not take up that position now. A Return had been issued that morning giving the result of every secret inquiry that had taken place tinder the Act of 1887. It was quite true that in the three cases in which a secret inquiry was held in County Clare it failed, but that did not mean that it produced no good result, because he had it on good authority that contemporaneously with the sitting of those secret inquiries many men of bad character left County Clare and left Ireland. What were the facts as to the operation of the secret inquiry in the Counties of Kerry and Limerick? In the County of Kerry seven inquiries were held, four cases being murder cases, and 1796 in only one did the inquiry fail. In three-out of the four murder cases conviction and execution followed the inquiry. What, then, was the use of the right hon. Gentleman's getting up and saying that the power of holding a secret inquiry was a failure? In the only case in which it was put into operation in the County of Limerick it was successful in producing evidence sufficient to bring the criminals to justice. Then there was the question of special jurors. He could quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman had no affection for them. What had been the result of trials by special jurors? In almost every case from Kerry in which the venue was changed and the trial took place before special jurors conviction took place. When the right hon. Gentleman had such powers at command, he had no right to stand up at the Table and say that the Government were doing all that they could to put an end to these crimes. The method of the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with crime was curiously illustrated by an answer he gave that day when he brought under the right hon. Gentleman's notice the case of the Sarsfield Branch of the National League. In that case a man entered into possession of what was called an evicted farm. The National League and the National Federation met in the City of Limerick and passed resolutions denouncing the man by name, by which they declared that unless he gave up the farm and conformed to popular opinion his name would be sent by circular all through the county and the South of Ireland, and a newspaper article declared that if the man did not take that "quiet warning" he must take the consequences. What did that mean? It meant that that man was marked out for popular displeasure, that he was to be ruined in his business. All the right hon. Gentleman said was that he did not think from the information he had that the case was likely to turn out serious, but that the police were keeping an eye on it. If that man was shot, what would be the good of the policeman's eye? Had any body of citizens the right to meet in that public and unabashed way and denounce a man and hold him up to this punishment? If they had not that right, why did the Chief Secretary sit there and allow it to goon? In this part of Ireland life was practically intolerable to a large number 1797 of people. A man went to a fair and quarrelled with some one over the price of some beasts; he was probably shot on his way home. [Cries of "Oh!"] Oh! There was nothing more probable. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for West Islington had no right to be disorderly.
§ *MR. LOUGH
I have no intention of being disorderly. The hon. Member made a statement about the probability of a man, who had disputed about the price of a beast in a fair in Ireland, being shot on his way home. An hon. Member behind me said it was perfectly true, and I turned round and said that it was not true, as I had bought and sold more cattle at fairs in Ireland than the whole of the Members on the Bench on which he was sitting had ever bought or sold there.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The hon. Member evidently did not find it a very profitable business, because he left Ireland long ago.
§ *MR. LOUGH
That statement, like many which come from the same quarter, is perfectly untrue. I have not left Ireland; I spend part of every year in Ireland. I have a house in Ulster, and I question if the hon. Member who has challenged me, and who represents an Ulster constituency, has got as good means of knowing the facts as that gives me.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he would resume his argument. He asserted that the state of the counties under discussion was a disgrace to the Government of the country. The Government could, if they chose to exercise the powers they possessed, make an end, in a mouth, of the present state of things, and everyone of these rascals could be hunted out of Ireland, if they were not brought to justice. This was not agrarian crime not non-agrarian crime. It was sheer ruffianism, and for the Chief Secretary to have any scruple about applying the Crimes Act, or any other Act, to put down that ruffianism was unworthy of an English Minister.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E)
said, he did not propose to stand between the House and the Division, which he supposed must come, for more than a moment, because it appeared to him quite evident that, although the interest of hon. Gentlemen opposite in the condition of those counties might be great, their 1798 interest in postponing the Bill for the better government of Ireland was even greater. ["Oh!" and cheers.] He made that; statement advisedly, for this reason. The condition of Clare, as could be discovered by a study of the statistics of crime committed in that county, was to-day undoubtedly better than it had been for the last few years of the late Administration. When the late Government were in power, they had no Debate about the condition of Clare, although it was undoubtedly worse than at the present time. However, he would only say a few words, for the reason that he had been referred to in connection with the condition of the county which he represented by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Adjournment. He differed from the hon. Member for West Belfast and those who sat round him. They were opposed to him on the broad political issues of the day. They believed in the present system of governing Ireland, while he had all his life been a strong believer in the necessity of Home Rule. But he asked whether it was not possible for hon. Members representing Ireland, Unionists as well as Nationalists, to discuss the great questions of the day with reference to Ireland without descending so low as to accuse some of them, in so many words, that they wore in direct sympathy with crime and outrage in Ireland? He had attacked Unionist Members bitterly for the past 10 years for their political opinions; but he had never charged any one of them with either sympathy with, or the responsibility for, outrages and murder. When outrages had been committed in Ulster, and when these outrages had been denounced by hon. Members from Ulster, he had accepted their denunciations, because he thought it would be a most unworthy thing to charge a fellow-countryman with a thing so base as sympathy with crime. The most irritating circumstance in a matter of this kind was the tone adopted by Unionist Members. The hon. Member who had last spoken referred sneeringly to what was called "the Union of Hearts." He did not know whether or not it was desirable, in the opinion of those hon. Members, that the old feeling of bitterness between Englishmen and Irishmen should cease; but he could assure Englishmen in all parts of the House who 1799 were anxious by Home Rule or some other means to establish a better state of feeling between England and Ireland in the future than had existed in the past, that it could not be brought about by adopting the course of stating, almost in so many words, that a large section of Irishmen were in sympathy, direct or indirect, with outrages which had been condemned by all Parties in the country. If the Irish Members or any of them were responsible, by word or action, in the slightest degree, for any crime committed in Ireland, why had they not been made amenable? Many of them had been imprisoned under the Coercion Act, but not one of them had ever been made amenable to the law, simply because it could not be done, for there were no Members of the House more free from crime and outrage than the Nationalist Members. He was not going to justify any crime which had been committed in his constituency. He had stated repeatedly that these outrages were of an infamous character, and ought to be put down by every person who had the means of doing so, for those crimes were injuring the Irish people, and every man he knew in his constituency agreed with him in the matter. But though they might sneer at the statement, he would repeat that with evictions and notices of evictions outrages increased in Ireland; and he would say, further, that were it not for the Nationalist Representatives who came there year after year and voiced on the floor of the House the grievances of the Irish people, and forced from the Legislature Land Act after Land Act which had brought peace and contentment to the Irish people, there would have been 20 outrages for every one which had unfortunately occurred during the last 10 years in Ireland. He declared that, so far from the Nationalist Members encouraging outrage in Ireland, their actions in the House of Commons had restored the country to a condition of peace and tranquillity greater than it had ever enjoyed for many years. He wished hon. Gentlemen who pinned their faith to the present policy of the Government with regard to Ireland to note the fact that with all the anxiety of Unionist Members to display the condition of Ireland as black as possible, they had only been able to find something to complain of in three counties 1800 out of the whole of Ireland. That proved that the general condition of Ireland was thoroughly satisfactory. With regard to the three counties in question, it should be mentioned that other figures besides figures of crime could be quoted. He found, for instance, that in Clare for the quarter ending March, 1893, no less than 209 notices of eviction had been served under the 7th section of the Land Act of 1887. He did not say that these notices of eviction were a justification for the outrages in Clare, but they were a reason for these outrages; and he would like to know what would be the effect on even the most peaceable county in England or Scotland if the people were served right, left, and centre with these eviction notices as his people had been served in the County of Clare? The fact was that eviction and crime had always gone hand in hand in Ireland, and eviction and crime would continue to go hand in hand in Ireland, and the best way to put down crime in Ireland was by going to the root of the grievance, and put down evictions, for when the Irish counties were as free from evictions as the English counties they would be as free from crime as the English counties. Then, again, Clare was in a 20 per cent. better condition than it was in 1886; and he wished to know how, in face of that statement, it could be said that Clare was in an alarming condition? He would only say, in conclusion, that he was just as much opposed to crime and outrage as the hon. Member for West Belfast; but while he denounced the moonlighter, he would also condemn the landlords who showered eviction notices on the people and levelled their comes. It had been said by the hon. Member for West Belfast that if he only took the trouble he could have brought the malefactors in Clare to justice. That was a most unworthy assertion, and an assertion which he believed the hon. Member would feel in calmer moments that he had no right to make. He knew no more of these outrages and crime than the hon. Member for West Belfast himself. But he knew that the people of Clare had suffered harsh treatment— that they were now threatened with eviction; and he appealed to the Government, when they turned their attention to Clare, not to ignore the fact that the condition of the county was due to the 1801 serving of these notices, which had been so well described as "sentences of death."
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
I only desire to intervene in the Debate for a few moments in consequence of some matters more or less personal to me introduced by the Chief Secretary. I think the right hon. Gentleman has entirely misapprehended the scope and the nature of this Debate, and I think, also, that he has given no answer whatever to the charges that have been brought forward against the Government by the hon. Member who moved this Motion. The matter in reference to which this Debate is conversant is the increase of agrarian crime that has taken place in these three counties in Ireland since the last discussion upon the subject in March last. The right hon. Gentleman is amply prepared with the statistics of Irish crime in 1892: but he has none to give the House in relation to that crime between March last and the present time, although he has been warned by us in this House, and by the Judges of Assizes in March last that there would be fresh outbursts of crime, unless steps were taken to prevent them in these particular counties. The right hon. Gentleman admits that since the present Government came into Office there has been an increase of moonlighting in Kerry from 10 to 20 cases, in Clare of from 7 to of 15 cases, and in Limerick of from 1 to 17 cases. That is a most alarming condition of affairs to anyone who knows the condition of the country, and the manner in which these crimes extend from one county to another. But the right hon. Gentleman says that, after all, these moonlighting cases have nothing to do with agrarian crime. Then, what kind of crimes are they? The right hon. Gentleman says they are not classed as agrarian crimes. But how is the classification made? The truth is that unless the police are able to obtain information that au outrage committed by moonlighters arose out of an agrarian dispute they return, it as being non-agrarian. Therefore these moonlighting outrages may or may not be agrarian cases, as the police have no information on the subject. Indeed, the probability is that nearly all these moonlighting outrages are agrarian crimes, although they are classified as being non-agrarian. In these circum- 1802 stances it cannot be successfully contended that the amount of agrarian crime has been reduced since the present Government came into power. In view of this state of things, surely we have aright to ask the Government what steps they are taking to put an end to moonlighting in Ireland? The light hon. Gentleman says—"We will not take your advice!" We then ask, "What are you doing?" and he is unable to give us any answer. There still stands upon the Statute Book an Act of Parliament giving the Government the power to change the venue of a trial which under the Constitution the right hon. Gentleman is bound to use if the necessity for it arises. The right hon. Gentleman says that a change of venue would be absolutely useless in these cases: but I think that the statistics adduced by the hon. Member for South Tyrone entirely disproves the right hon. Gentleman's assertion. I ask the right hon. Gentleman—and it is a serious question—can by find a single instance of a conviction in a serious agrarian outrage case in a local venue since the passing of Lord O'Hagan's Act in 1872? I assert that since that Act, relating to juries, was unfortunately passed for Ireland, there has not been, in a serious agrarian case, a conviction obtained in a local venue and before an ordinary local jury. What is the remedy against that state of affairs? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to assert in this House that there is no remedy in the case of agrarian crime? There are in the Cabinet, besides the right hon. Gentleman himself, two right hon. Gentlemen who have been Chief Secretaries for Ireland, one being the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, and the other being the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland, and both of them immediately after their return to this country from Ireland stated as the result of their experience that ordinary juries could not be trusted to give just verdicts in cases of agrarian crimes. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for War said—and his words are exactly applicable to the present condition of affairs in Ireland—The key of the whole question was this; that in many parts of Ireland, for certain classes of offence, especially offences of an agrarian character, they could not trust the ordinary class of jurymen to do their duty partly from ignorance, partly from prejudice, but greatly 1803 owing to the system of terrorism under the National League.The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—They could not be sure, even with the clearest evidence, of being able to obtain a verdict.And he added—The provisions for change of venue and special juries might very well he made the law of the land.I could quote also in exactly the same terms from speeches by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland. I might even quote from a speech on the subject made by that right hon. Gentleman after the introduction of the Home Rule Bill of 1886. No doubt both of those right hon. Gentlemen have changed their opinions with regard to Home Rule; but their change of opinion cannot change their experiences while they held the high Office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. In addition to this, I might quote the words of the Prime Minister himself. In introducing the Home Rule Bill of 1886, the right hon. Gentleman said that it was impossible if a trial took place in a local venue to obtain a conviction, because the people who formed the local juries took a different view from other people as regards the criminality of agrarian crimes. Now, if these right hon. Gentlemen and the Judges of Assize take this view of the point, it is utterly ridiculous and futile for the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to assert that changing the venue in such cases would be absolutely useless. I say that you may have your police; you may have your detectives; you may have your Resident Magistrates; but the whole machinery of the Irish Government will totter to its foundation unless criminal trials in Ireland are fairly conducted by a change of venue. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is a right to change the venue at Common Law. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to try it. My experience of these applications is that if you go before the Court and rely on the general condition of a county as reason why it would be impossible to obtain a fair trial the Court will say—"You must go to Parliament. Parliament has given the local venue for the trial of those cases." But even if the Court could be induced to change the venue at 1804 Common Law in certain particular cases of intimidation, the result, as you will find recorded in the Irish law cases, would be that the jury panel would be reduced to 24; and, inasmuch as the prisoner would have a right to challenge 20 out of that number, there would only be four jurymen left to try him. I hope, therefore, that we shall hear no more of this right to change the venue at Common Law. The right hon. Gentleman says you must catch your prisoner before you can try him; but if there is anything which more than another is the cause of the reluctance of the people to give evidence it is the fact that though they may give evidence the prisoner will not be convicted. Unless a prisoner is convicted the last state of the witnesses against him will be worse than the first; and, therefore, unless witnesses believe that the trial will be a fair one, they will decline to give evidence against a prisoner. On the other hand, you will have no difficulty in getting evidence if you show that your laws will not be paralysed, and that the evidence will not go for nothing. Therefore I do in all earnestness press on the right hon. Gentleman the great necessity there is for putting this power of changing the venue into operation. I certainly believe that the right hon. Gentleman was entirely sincere when he stated to the House that if there were a necessity for it he would be the first to take that course. Is there any necessity or not? And I want to know, if there is no necessity, what is the alternative the right hon. Gentleman proposes for the purpose of restoring law and order in this part of Ireland? I only wish to refer to one other matter. The right hon. Gentleman said it was hard to got evidence for the purpose of leading to conviction. But has the right hon. Gentleman or those who assist him been reading the newspapers in these districts for the past month? If he had he would read day after day, in Clare, Limerick, and Kerry, and other parts of Ireland, of these Land League Courts being set up again for the purpose of summoning farmers before them. I myself, within the past few days, have read accounts of such meetings in Clare. In United Ireland of the 19th May the right hon. Gentleman will find that parties had been summoned before these Land League 1805 tribunals, for the purpose of explaining their conduct and being held up to public odium. These are matters in the daily routine of the journals that represent certain opinions in the South and West of Ireland. They are not matters hidden away in the dead of night as moonlighting cases are. What has the right hon. Gentleman done in these cases? One case has been mentioned—that of Barry. What are the facts in that case? Barry denounced certain persons for signing Petitions against the Home Rule Bill, and the result of that was that their houses were burned. What steps did the right hon. Gentleman take in that case? The only matter the right hon. Gentleman stated in this House was that it was not fair to he going back upon the character of Mr. Barry. Is the meaning of that defence this—that because Mr. Barry has a bad character and has been convicted before, therefore when he commits a crime now he is to be let off? I think the right hon. Gentleman could lay his finger upon many cases reported in those papers which, as he has himself stated in reply to questions, very frequently led to crime in which, if the right hon. Gentleman consulted his Legal Advisors, the authors of these paragraphs and those responsible for their publication could readily he brought within the Criminal Law. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not allow this recrudescence of crime to go on and spread in Ireland until he finds it much more difficult to cope with than now.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, the Government need no suggestion from me as to what the real object of this Motion is. Its object is, of course, two-fold. In the first place, it has wasted four hours of valuable time, on which I must congratulate the Mover of the Motion; and, in the second place, the object appears to be that the Conservative Party want to get the Liberal Party, who have denounced coercion at all times since 1886, to utilise the Bill which the Conservative Party passed in 1887 in order that thereby the Conservative Party might justify their action for the last seven years. In vain is the net spread in sight of any bird, and certainly I think the Government would be extremely wanting in ordinary sagacity if they did not see this. The object of this Motion 1806 is not so much concerned with outrages in the County Clare as with Party tactics in the House of Commons. From the way the stories are attempted to be palmed off on this House, my belief is that the Tory Party seem to think that any yarn is good enough for the House of Commons. We have just heard the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, with all the calmness of a lawyer, declare that in Ireland if you have a change of venue at Common Law you have a panel of 24, and that the prisoner has a right of 20 challenges. I would like to ask the hon. and learned Member, is there one word of foundation for the statement? How was Phelan tried for the murder of Boyd in the year 1880? Why did not Phelan challenge 20 jurors?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Well, he did. And strange to say, there were the ordinary number of Common Law jurors left in the box. The reason is plain, because it is not true that the panel consists of 24 jurors, though it is true that the prisoner has the right of 20 challenges. I do not intend to go into the technicalities of the mutter now, but if any hon. Member looks it up he will find it in the books. I wish simply to expose and demolish as absurd——
§ MR. CARSON
As a matter of personal explanation, I wish to say I was referring to a change of venue from one county to another, and not to a restricted trial in the Queen's Bench in Dublin.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The hon. and learned Gentleman is referring to something I never heard of. If the hon. and learned Gentleman feels disposed to imagine a certain state of things, all I can say is that in my present position I am unable to deal with them. I should like to say one word as to the condition of Clare. I believe that the person most responsible for the condition of Clare at this moment is Mr. Justice O'Brien. There is no use in this House in trying to blink the facts. What is the position? You have in Ireland a set of political Judges. I go into the Queen's Bench in Dublin, and whom do I find confronting me? Mr. Justice Holmes, who sat upon that (the Treasury Bench) and proposed the Coercion Act; Mr. Justice Gibson, who 1807 is second in command; and Mr. Justice Madden, who also acted under the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour), and the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench in Ireland——[Cries of"Order!"]
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. and learned Member is now perilously near the infringement of the Rule which says that you must not comment, except upon Motion in due course, upon the conduct of the Judges of the land, or impute to them, arising out of political circumstances, any bias in their conduct.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I shall carefully abstain from any infringement of the Rule. All I say is this, that here you have four gentlemen who have been Attorney Generals under this Coercion Act. And when they go down through the length and breadth of Ireland to declare at the Summer Assizes, or at the Winter Assizes, or at the Spring Assizes, that a particular state of things exists in the country, of course I cannot forget that I have seen these gentlemen at that Table. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask you, Sir, whether the hon. and learned Member is not now doing the very thing you told him not to do?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member, as I said before, is going very near an infringement of the Rule, and I must ask him to faithfully observe the spirit of it.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I shall simply say this, that I admire the character of the English Judges, who never do anything of the kind. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I must call the hon. and learned Gentleman to Order. I have appealed to him already, not in a very direct way he will admit; but I think he should observe the ruling I have made.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I am very sorry, Sir, if I have infringed the ruling you have made. As this, therefore, appears to be so delicate a subject I think I had better pass from it altogether, reserving to myself when I pass beyond the doors of this House complete liberty of appreciation. I will therefore depart from this subject, which cannot very well be treated in this House except by hon. Gentlemen opposite who utilise the Charges of these Judges. So much upon that head. I would now like to give the House two or three grounds for the pre- 1808 sent condition of things in Clare. I believe that the present state of Clare is largely owing to the distribution of Secret Service money under recent Administrations. I will say this to Her Majesty's Government, that I believe no worse system could exist than the system by which you perpetually keep in your pay in a particular county or district a standing hired informer. If a man is to be rewarded for giving information—if you must reward a scoundrel who has taken part in crime for peaching upon his colleagues—then I say, having rewarded him, the use the Government have been making of him should then and there cease. What happens under successive Administrations 't You have kept in your pay in the County of Clare a series of ruffians so disgraceful that they were not even defended in this House by the right hon. Gentleman who then was at the head of the Government —men so disgraceful that their conduct when exposed in this House brought the blush of shame to the cheeks of even coercionist Members of Parliament. You have kept this class of men in your pay, and I say they have stimulated outrage, provoked outrage, and even committed outrage. A notorious case was the case of the murder of Head Constable Whelehan. It is well known and was proved in this House, under the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, that Cullinane, the informer, had been put up for this job. It was not denied, it was known to the police that this outrage was going to take place, but unfortunately the person who suffered by this put up plan was not anybody but the unfortunate Whelehan himself, and the informer was compelled to tell the whole story upon the table. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has been attacked by the hon. Member for South Tyrone for having transferred a constable from County Clare to another county. What was proved about this Constable O'Halloran in this House? That he himself distributed ten pound notes to various people, with a view of getting information. The ten pound note that O'Halloran gave to one man was produced in this House by the then Member for the Division, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition saw nothing to blush at in it. I say that Her Majesty's Government 1809 should put an end to this system of using State informers in the County of Clare, and if they did so the encouragement of crime by informers would, to that extent, be ended. There is another suggestion that I would make to Her Majesty's Government. At the present moment, in the police force, it is only a particular sergeant, or a particular officer, who has any interest in the detection of crime. The general body of the Police Force at largo has no interest in the detection of crime. A particular sergeant is entrusted with the distribution of special rewards. He has the whole matter under his hand. The other members of the force are well-acquainted with these facts. They say, "It is no business of ours to bring criminals to justice." To that extent there is indifference amongst the police force as to bringing the proper means to bear upon the detection of crime. Above all, I think the state of Clare was brought about by an ineffective County Inspector. The removal of the County Inspector from Clare will largely tend to the improvement of the district if he is replaced by an efficient officer. I do not know who has replaced him, but I think the inefficiency of the County Inspector of Clare was the third great cause of the state of the county; and I am sure, if he is replaced by a better man, it will greatly tend to improve that district. There is another reason for the state of Clare, and that is the conviction of innocent men. Take the conviction of the brothers Delahunty, one of whom was notoriously an innocent man. The two brothers were convicted together. One of them went down on his knees to the Judge, and swore that his brother was innocent, and that he alone was guilty. I believe that from these convictions of innocent men the idea has spread among these moonlighters that, in all probability, it is the innocent men and not the guilty men who will be convicted, and I believe that fact has largely led to demoralisation. I would be glad that Her Majesty's Government would look into the case of the younger brother Delahunty, and investigate the circumstances connected with his arrest. The only other observation I shall make is as regards the question of the change of venue. Great stress has been laid by the Opposition upon this question of the change of venue. I will not at all say that 1810 there is not something to be said for change of venue when a county is in a demoralised state; but I do not regard this Motion as having been brought forward with any bonâ fide object whatever. I do not believe it is brought forward in order to put an end to the state of things in Clare. I believe you are delighted with the state of things in Clare. The hon. Member for South Tyrone crowed with jubilation when the Chief Secretary was obliged to admit that there were 15 more outrages now than 12 months ago. All these outrages are nuts to the hon. Member for South Tyrone. The telegram that he read out that a man was just shot at in the County of Clare reminded me of a man who has been out shooting, and who has taken a big bag. He flourished the telegram before the House—"Another outrage in Clare— good for the Unionist." You are delighted with the state of things in Clare because you can use it as a weapon against Her Majesty's Government. This question of the change of venue, no doubt, is one of considerable difficulty. The moment the Government avail themselves of any section of the Crimes Act, that moment the Conservative Party will shout out with one voice—"Oh, we are justified, our justification is complete now. What did you say in 1887? At last, so barbarous are those Irish that you have been obliged to resort to coercion yourself." That is what you want. You hardly disguise it, because your papers are not as wise as your statesmen. They blurt out. things in the most inconvenient fashion; and therefore I simple and absolutely decline to believe that this Motion is brought forward for any bonâ fide object. Four hundred Amendments were getting a little tedious, and this is a "maiden over." You have changed the bowling. Your 400 Amendments have been put on the shelf for a few hours, and now you are taking a turn at the County of Clare. The thing is perfectly apparent. It deceives nobody, and I am really astonished that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not do the thing a little more scientifically. When we were obstructing was this the way we did it? Did we ever miss a Vote on Account? Did any one of us go out speaking for a noble Duke when be ought to be in this House to move his Motion? Did we go to garden parties or anything of that kind? No; 1811 we stayed on these Benches and moved our Motion, and did not bring forward irrelevant Motions two days afterwards, without even the pretence that they were Brought forward for a bonâ fide object. The Unionist Party up to the present have not made at all as good a fist of this business as had been supposed. You were told they wore the strongest Opposition of modern times. [Cries of "Question!"] I am very glad to hear that cry. It is a reminder, no doubt, of great value, and having received the smallest reminder that I am out of Order, thankful as they will be that I have occupied 10 minutes of this evening, I will obey the slightest hint from the hon. Gentlemen who are so admirably able to decide upon points of order, and I will resume my seat.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 203; Noes 241.—(Division List, No. 107.)