§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legislative Authority.
§ Clause 3 (Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.)
§ * MR. BYRNE (Essex, Walthamstow)
said, that in proposing his Amendment to insert, in Sub-section 3, the words—Carrying and using arms, armed associations, and associations for drill and practice in the use of arms, or,he had on the preceding evening pointed out that the necessity for putting down Amendments to Clauses 3 and 4 had been thrust upon the Members of the Opposition by reason of the mode in which the Bill had been framed; for whereas the enumeration of Imperial subjects was most difficult, it would have been perfectly easy for the Government to have put down, one by one, in the Bill, the particular powers which they desired to delegate to the Irish Parliament. It would then have been the duty of the Opposition merely to move to strike out such of those delegated powers as they thought improper to be included. But the Bill being framed as it was, it became necessary for the Committee to consider, line by line, whether there had not been essential omissions. As the Prime Minister himself said the other night, no doubt many important things might have been omitted, and he thought it would be generally admitted that a very large number of exceedingly important Imperial questions had, in fact, been omitted from the list of exceptions named in the Bill. He did not pretend to have done more than to select from the many subjects which had presented themselves to his mind a few of the more essential ones; and in asking the Committee to discuss them, he desired to say, that though the Government might think that some of the propositions made by the opponents of the Bill were frivolous, he and other hon. Members of the Opposition had too 55 much at heart the vital importance of the Bill before them to indulge in frivolity of any kind. He trusted that they would accept his assurance that he neither meant to be frivolous nor to obstruct the Business of the Committee. This was the first time he had spoken in the House on this Bill, and he had only done so on this occasion because he felt that he might usefully intervene in the Debate. There were two branches of the question dealt with by his Amendment—first, the carrying of arms; and, secondly, what he might call illegitimate armed associations. With reference to both of these branches they had, first of all, the general law applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom; and, secondly, special law, owing to the general law having been unfortunately found insufficient in one portion of Her Majesty's dominions. He would, as briefly as he could, describe what he conceived to be the state of the law generally applicable to the United Kingdom, and of the special law as applied to Ireland. With reference to the carrying of arms, an Act of Parliament applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom had been in force ever since the reign of Edward III. It was known as the Statute of Northampton, and the Committee would, perhaps, pardon him for quoting from it, because in that and another Statute with which he had to deal were contained a large portion of his arguments. What was it that the Statute of Northampton provided? He would read what was contained in 2 Edward III., cap. 3—III Item, it is enacted that no man, great nor small, of what condition soever he be, except the King's servants in his presence, and his Ministers in executing the King's precepts, or of their office, and such as he in their company assisting them, and also upon a cry made for arms to keep the peace, and the same in such places where such acts happen he so hardy to come before the King's Justices or other of the King's Ministers doing their office with force and arms, nor bring no force in affray of the peace nor to go nor ride armed by night nor by day in fairs, markets, nor in the presence of the Justices or other Ministers, nor in no part elsewhere, upon pain to forfeit their armour to the King, and their bodies to prison at the King's pleasure.Thus had stood the law from the time of the passing of the Statute of Northampton down to the present day. On the previous evening he quoted from Black-stone, his view of what the general law was upon this matter, and the view was con- 56 tained in the following words taken from Blackstone's Commentaries:—The offence of riding or going armed with dangerous or unusual weapons is a crime against the public peace, by terrifying the good people of the land, and is particularly prohibited by the Statute of Northampton, 2 Ed. III., cap. 3.With regard to the second part of his Amendment, he wished to cite 60 Geo. III., and 1 Geo. IV., cap. 1, which was intituled—An Act to prevent the training of persons to the use of arms, and to the practice of military evolutions and exercise.The words were—Whereas in some parts of the United Kingdom men clandestinely and unlawfully assembled have practised military training and exercise, to the great terror and alarm of His Majesty's peaceable and loyal subjects, and the imminent danger of the public peace. Be it therefore enacted …that all meetings and assemblies of persons for the purpose of training or drilling themselves, or of being trained or drilled to the use of arms, or for the purpose of practising military exercise, movements, or evolutions without any lawful authority from His Majesty, or the Lieutenant, or two Justices of the Peace of any county, or Riding, or of any stewartry by commission or otherwise, for so doing shall be, and the same are hereby prohibited as dangerous to the peace and security of His Majesty's liege subjects, and of his Government, and every person who shall be present at or attend any such meeting or assembly for the purpose of drilling any other person or person to the use of arms, or the practice of military exercise, movements, or evolutions, or who shall train or drill any other person or persons to the use of arms, or the practice of military exercise, movements, or evolutions, or who shall aid or assist therein being legally convicted thereof, shall be liable to be transported for any term not exceeding seven years, or to be punished by imprisonment not exceeding two years at the discretion of the court in which such conviction shall be had; and every person who shall attend or be present at any such meeting or assembly, as aforesaid, for the purpose of being, or who shall at any such meeting or assembly be trained or drilled to the use of arms, or the practice of military exercise, movements, or evolutions, being legally convicted thereof, shall be liable to be punished by fine and imprisonment not exceeding two years, at the discretion of the court in which such conviction shall be had.He did not think he need apologise for the length of his quotations, for they practically embodied the arguments he wished to lay before the Committee. The general law which had been applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom had not been found sufficient to meet the case of Ireland, and it had in late years been found necessary to pass 57 the Peace Preservation Act and the Crimes Act, with the provisions of which most hon. Members were, no doubt, familiar. It was essential, then, they should consider what powers were to be conferred on the new Legislature. He protested against the argument put forward in some quarters that they must trust that Legislature not to repeal any of these Acts. They were trying diligently to find out the real and true meaning and effect of the Bill before them. He saw nothing to prevent the Irish Legislature, the very day after it came into existence, passing an Act to this effect—From and after the passing of this Act all the laws hitherto prevailing in Ireland, whether statutory or unwritten, shall be, and the same are hereby, repealed.He contended that such an Act would be valid, except to the extent that the powers were expressly reserved in the present Bill. He put it to the Solicitor General whether the Bill as it now stood would not confer the full power that be had indicated? Then bow essential it was that they should ascertain exactly what powers were being reserved. If he understood what was meant by Imperial powers in the minds of the framers of the Bill, it was that there were some subjects which were so bound up with the welfare of the whole State that no law could be passed as to those subjects in regard to one portion of the State, without interfering with the whole well-being of the United Kingdom. If that was not their meaning, he did not know what was. Now, he put it to the Government, did not his Amendment embody a subject which was essentially Imperial? The subject of "armed forces" was, undoubtedly, an Imperial matter, and ought to be excepted in the Bill. That subject was dealt with last night. Then what about illegitimately-drilled and armed forces? Had the Government never heard of "athletic clubs" or of illegitimate drilling, and if the laws he had alluded to were abolished, would there be anything to prevent illegitimate associations meeting throughout the whole of Ireland, drilled, possibly, by skilled men from America, and requiring only arms to make them a permanent hostile force in the country? He hoped that the Government would accept his Amend- 58 ment, and, in moving it, he would only say, in conclusion, that if the Committee did not accept it, then much of what passed yesterday with reference to armed forces did not bear the full meaning that he thought it was meant to bear.
In page 2, after the word "or," in line 1, to insert the words "carrying and using arms, armed associations, and associations for drill or practice in the use of arms, or."—(Mr. Byrne.)
§ Question proposed," That those words be there inserted."
§ * THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY, Forfar)
said, he had listened to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend with great attention, and he had noticed that the arguments adduced in support of the Amendment had failed to show the relevancy of the words which the Amendment proposed. The first words, which related to the carrying and using of arms, must cover a vast field, and those matters must necessarily be left to any Local Government. If they were limited to carrying and using arms for military purposes, that would be a very different matter. Similarly, with regard to armed associations, it would not be a very difficult matter to make a limitation. But associations for drilling and use of arms did not necessarily point to military forces at all. That was far too wide a matter, and it was useless to put on the Paper an Amendment couched in such vague and general language. The hon. and learned Member had referred to the Statute of Northampton, to 60 Geo. III., and 1 Geo. IV. But let them take the last Statute. Could anyone doubt from its title that it dealt specifically with cases of drilling for purely military purposes? But he was authorised to tell his hon. and learned Friend that the Government would consider carefully, certainly not these words, but words which would remove the doubt the hon. Member and others might entertain as to whether there was a gap, which, however, the Government did not consider there was. It would be impossible to take away from the Local Government the right or duty to control the use of arms, as, for instance, under as porting licence; but even that would be covered by the vague and general words of the Amendment. It would obviously be mischievous to 59 impose such a function upon the Imperial Parliament when it was the proper duty of the Local Government, and ought, therefore, to be entrusted to the Irish Legislature. One of the main objects of the Bill was to prevent the constant and unnecessary interference of the Imperial Parliament in purely Irish affairs, and to put an end to the perpetual complaints from Ireland that such-and-such legislation was necessary, and surely this question of the carrying of arms was one which might properly be entrusted to an Irish Legislature. The hon. Member's object would be, to a great extent, nullified if the words of his Amendment were accepted. It might be necessary, in an emergency, to make laws at once prohibiting the use of arms, and yet the powers of the Irish Legislature in this matter would be entirely cut off, and they would have to come to the Imperial Parliament. All that could be reasonably asked for would be the insertion of appropriate words for the purpose of preventing the establishment of armed associations, and associations for drill or practice in the use of arms for military purposes.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, he was Tory reluctant to interfere in this Debate, because, in common with other Irish Members, he was aware that if they abstained from talking the Opposition would take three months to deal with the Bill, while if they did talk the period might be extended to six months. The Government had already made large concessions with regard to the Militia and to the Volunteers, and they were now asked to make concessions in relation to the Royal Irish Constabulary. Indeed, there was a danger that if some of these concessions were made every county in Ireland would be placed at the mercy of half-a-dozen armed burglars. And what had been the result of the concessions made? Had they been thanked for them? No; the Leader of the Opposition had said that they had been extorted. He wished that a stop could be put to the everlasting flood of wishy-washy talk from hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches and from hon. Members on Benches below the Gangway opposite. He did not make this a general charge; he knew that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen could speak very well when they liked; but it was impossible that right 60 hon. and hon. Gentlemen could speak 10 times on the same subject without coming under this criticism. The Solicitor General had spoken very sensibly, as he always did on legal subjects, but he had not gone far enough. Did the Government wish altogether to forbid the use of rifles and the existence of rifle clubs in Ireland? Were they going to draft such an Amendment as would emasculate the Irish people and make them an absolutely unwarlike people? What the Amendment proposed was not done in France, in Spain, in the United States, in Germany, or in any country in the world where the population was practised in the use of arms, and why was Ireland to be picked out in this way? It did not make people rowdy, troublesome, or dangerous if they learned the use of the rifle; on the contrary, it made them peaceable, and in the Middle Ages people were punished if they did not practise with arms. They were obliged to have the appliances of archery in their houses, and to practise on so many days in the year. That was what had built up England. The Amendment, if carried, would put the Irish people in a very unfair position; it was absolutely and totally unnecessary, as the Lord Lieutenant under the Bill, as it stood, would be able to veto any Arms Act. Let them not, in giving Home Rule, accompany it with an insult to the Irish people.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman commenced his speech by referring to what he was pleased to call "wishy-washy speeches" made on the opposite side and from this Bench. With all respect to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I think the Committee will feel that wishy-washy speeches are not exclusively confined to the Benches which we occupy. Although I do not attach very much importance to the actual words of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I do attach a great deal of importance to his attitude on the present occasion, which I think the House would do well to note, because it will be recollected that on the previous night, for the first time in the history of the Bill, the Government made some concessions to the Opposition. They were not very important concessions, but I, for one, highly appreciated the spirit in which they were made, and I am convinced that if the same spirit 61 continues it will materially assist the quicker progress of the Bill. But thereupon, although these concessions were very slight in themselves, and were the very least that might be expected by an Opposition so numerous, the very moment the Government showed the slightest sign of meeting the arguments of the Opposition up gets one of the Irish Representatives, and his speech contains a distinct menace. For what does the hon. and gallant Gentleman say to the Government? In effect this—"If you will continue to discuss this Bill, and make no concession to the Opposition, you will got your Bill in three months; but if you are going to make any concession, however slight, we Irish Members, who have hitherto remained silent, will have to take up your time for six months."
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I said nothing of the kind. I held out no threat of any kind. What, I did say was that the Bill would take throe months if the Irish Members did not talk, and that it might take six months if they did talk.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I will admit that what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said was not a menace, but merely an indication of the possibility that, if it becomes necessary for the Irish Members to talk, the Debate, which may otherwise take throe months, will occupy six months. In any case the fact remains that the Irish Members, who have remained consistently silent during 12 or more nights of this Debate, are now beginning to talk at the very first sign of the slightest concession on the part of the Government to the arguments advanced by the Opposition. I will, however, leave the speech of the hon. and gallant Member, and come to the Amendment. The Solicitor General does not approve of the Amendment, and I think myself that possibly the wording of the Amendment goes a little further than would be necessary for the purpose. I am justified in inferring from the speech of the Solicitor General that the Government do not mean to allow the Irish Parliament to legislate on the subject of associations for drill or practice in the use of arms. If they did, it is as much as to give them a free opportunity to form a force which may not be in name a Volunteer force, but it would be to all intents and purposes an armed force which might be improperly used. I 62 understand the Solicitor General is inclined to admit there is a gap in the Bill; the Government do not think there is. But if there is, what is necessary in order that the discussion may be brought to close would be an assurance from some Member of the Government that they would at a future date introduce words to fill up the gap which we believe exists, and which would enable the Irish Legislature to pass laws which would permit and authorise associations for the purpose of drilling or practice in the use of arms.
MR. J. MORLEY
The interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman has put upon the words of the Solicitor General is a perfectly correct interpretation. It is quite clear that as the Amendment is drawn it is impracticably wide. There is not a gentleman on either side of the House, whatever his views may be, who will, for a moment, think that it would be possible to prohibit the Irish Legislature from making provisions such as are incorporated in the Arms Acts. These are provisions which are really police regulations, and it would be absolutely impracticable to debar the Irish Government from making regulations and laws in relation to matters of that kind. But the limitation to which the right hon. Gentleman pointed was that indicated by the Solicitor General where he said the Government were prepared—though we think that object is already gained by the words of the Bill—to debar the Irish Legislature from making laws with reference to the carrying or using of arms for military purposes, or for forming or authorising or legalising the formation of associations for drill or practice, in the use of arms, not in the way indicated by my hon. and gallant Friend, but for military purposes. That, I believe, is what is contended for, and that is what we intended in the use of the words "military force" in this clause as it, stands, and we offer either to bring up words of our own for attaining that object, or to accept the limitation upon the words in the hon. Member for Essex's Amendment limiting their prohibition exclusively to armed associations and to the using of arms for military purposes.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am sure we are grateful for the concessions which the Government make to us. I may say, 63 however, for the consolation of hon. Members below the Gangway representing Nationalist constituencies, that the Government have themselves carefully explained, both last night and to-night, that every concession they made was merely in the matter of drafting, and that, in their view, the Bill, as originally framed, carried out all the Amendments which they had since accepted. But there is more to be said with regard to the present Amendment than perhaps the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down recognises. He is anxious to limit the Amendment on the words he is going to bring up in substitution of the Amendment to purely military matters. It has never been thought possible to regard the carrying of arms in Ireland as a purely local matter. In 1881 an Act was passed under the Government of the Prime Minister amending the law relating to the carrying or possession of arms in Ireland. That Act provided that in proclaimed districts persons should not carry or own arms or ammunition save as authorised in the conditions set forth in the Proclamation. That Act expired in 1886, and was renewed without protest.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, the protest was of the very mildest character. It was again renewed in the Expiring Laws Continuance Act of last year. Therefore, I may take it that ever since 1881 it has been recognised on both sides of the House—by an Anti-Coercionist Government, as Ministers call themselves, as well as by a Coercionist Government, as they call us—that there should be a special Arms Act, by which the Irish Administration should be empowered to say that in certain districts arms should not be carried. It has been recognised by all Parties in the State that such an Act was necessary.
MR. J. MORLEY
remarked that the Irish Members divided against the Arms Bill of 1886.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes; but when hon. Members below the Gangway object to anything in the nature of coercion they do something more than take Divisions. It is, therefore, evident that their protest was of the very mildest character. I ask whether, under these circumstances, that being the view of Her Majesty's Government and 64 of those who support them, it is not evident that the question of the carrying of arms in Ireland is not one that may safely be left in the hands of the Imperial Parliament, especially as in the Imperial Parliament the Irish Members will be represented? This question affects some of the great controversies which divides the population of Ireland. One of the reasons why the Arms Act—in effect a Coercion Act, so far as it went—was permitted to pass in 1886 was that Nationalist Members conceived it to be directed against Ulster, and I believe the Chief Secretary will not deny that in the legislative course which he then pursued he was as much influenced by considerations connected with Ulster as by considerations connected with the South and West of Ireland. If I am right in saying that the question of carrying arms is much more than a mere police regulation, if it affects the great divisions in the religion and politics of the population in Ireland, is it not legitimate, and politic, and fair that it should be decided by the Imperial Parliament, where Ireland will be adequately represented, rather than that it should be handed over to the decision of the Irish Legislature where the minority, whether in the South or in Ulster, might feel themselves oppressed by the action of a purely partisan Nationalist majority? For these reasons I would earnestly urge the Government to add to the concession they have alrealy previously made another retaining for the Imperial Parliament powers which the Imperial Parliament by their own practical avowal has used, and used wisely, during the last 11 years under both Governments and both Parties.
§ MR. SEXTON
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) has taunted us with consistent silence. For sufficient reasons we desire to be silent unless when it is necessary to speak. We are aware of the unconstitutional nature of the enterprise in which the right hon. Member for West Birmingham and his confederates are engaged in reference to this Bill. They have avowed that their object is to destroy the Bill. [Opposition cheers. That avowal is cheered. They endeavour to destroy the Bill under the hypocritical cover of moving Amendments to improve it. They are not ashamed to declare that their object 65 is, under cover of the Forms of Parliament devised for the progress of Business, to defeat the solemn judgment of the electors of this Kingdom, and to reduce this House itself to helplessness, impotence, and contempt. Sir, for this reason we do not speak upon the Bill, because we do not desire to abet a Revolutionary Party. Certainly the Unionist Party, so far as my reading goes, is the first Party in the Parliamentary history of England which endeavours to use the Forms of Parliament for revolutionary purposes, and it is in the most unmistakable sense a revolutionary purpose to use the Forms of this House for the purpose of preventing the House from carrying out the will of the electors of the country. These are our reasons for economising speeches. We do not desire to abet unconstitutional obstruction. I must say for myself that our consistent silence; does not appear to give us any advantage in regard to facility for speech when we desire to speak. I rose three times last night on the Police Amendment, and I should have thought that when an Amendment of that importance was being considered a Member rising to speak on behalf of the Representatives of Ireland would have been heard before the Government delivered a reply in which they bound themselves by pledges. I was not allowed to intervene in the Debate, and the Police Amendment was agreed to without any Irish Member being heard. To-day I have risen twice on this Amendment, and I had to sit down, and I did think that an Irish Member speaking on behalf of the country concerned in the Bill would have been heard before the Minister replied. I rose; again after the Minister, and I was not called upon, and I venture to submit to the Committee that it is inconvenient, and perhaps useless, for me now to speak after the case for the Amendment has been heard and after the reply of the Minister has been delivered, a reply which I take to be in the nature of a pledge. I ask the Committee and all reasonable men whether it is a convenient or useful method of debate to allow the Representatives of Ireland the liberty to intervene only after the Debate has been brought to a conclusion? Although, perhaps, it is rather late, it may not be quite useless for me to say that, in my judgment, this is one of the numerous Amendments 66 designed to destroy the Bill. I should not have thought, Mr. Mellor, that after the Committee had determined in Clause 2 the general groundwork of the Irish Legislature and to give it the power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, and thereby vesting the Government of Ireland under this scheme with responsibility for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, that it would have been proposed to withdraw from the Government so responsible all power with regard to legislation with respect to the carrying of arms. I leave out of view altogether the carrying of arms for necessary purposes—for instance, the carrying of arms by farmers. The Amendment proposes to take away the power of dealing with armed associations or associations for drill or practice in the use of arms, and yet the Irish. Government will be responsible for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland; and now, under the clause by which you purpose to deliver to them that power, you are considering an Amendment by which that Parliament and Government will have no power to deal with the carrying of arms. Surely, power to deal with the carrying of arms is a primary power, and necessarily a primary and fundamental power, with regard to the conservation of the peace, order, and good government of the country. I say the Amendment is incompatible with the main and fundamental principle of the Bill, and no rational person would let us accept responsibility for the peace, order, or good government of Ireland and yet have no control over the carrying of arms in Ulster or elsewhere. But this Amendment has a sinister aspect. This Amendment is the complement of the cowardly Ulster Plan of Campaign. The Leaders of the Unionist Party busied themselves, and are busying themselves at this present moment, in inciting the population of Ulster to disaffection and armed revolt in the event of the passing of this Bill. The late Prime Minister before he went to Ulster spoke of beating down the police, and since he went to Ulster he has witnessed military marches. Every day, in Unionist speeches and in the Unionist Press, we have boastings of the fact that the Orange and Unionist clubs in Ulster are armed and are engaged in arming themselves. These are the only 67 bodies, so far as I know in Ireland, which answer to the description of armed associations contained in the Amendment. Armed associations and associations for drill or practice in the use of arms are only to be found in the pet Province of the Party above the Gangway, in the Province which would be peaceful enough if let alone; a Province which, if let alone, would be willing enough to throw in its lot with the rest of Ireland, but which, by the interested and reckless incitements of active politicians, has been driven into a state of disaffection against the law. ["No, no!" and "What law?"] In regard to the spirit of loyalty to the Constitution, the question is just the same whether the incitement to resist the law which now exists, or one which Parliament is engaged in passing. In Ulster there are armed associations, in Ulster there are associations for drill or practice in the use of arms, and the Leaders of the Unionist Party go to Ulster to make speeches there, inciting men to arm, and stating in no cryptic language that these associations and arms are to be employed for revolt against the laws of the Queen in Ireland. The followers of the Unionist Party hero complete the Plan of Campaign, and rise in the House and propose Amendments by which, when the Bill is passed and the Government of Ireland comes into existence, there shall be no power in the bauds of the Government of Ireland to deal with the armed associations. The plan is half bluster and half cowardice—bluster in public places in Ulster, and cowardice in the House of Commons. I shall only express the hope, which I think is not a too sanguine one, addressed at least to the Government and the friends of this Pill in the House of Commons and outside, whether or not Members of the Unionist Party, from the ex-Prime Minister down, are within their right in inciting the population of Ulster to armed revolt, that, at any rate, it is not too sanguine to hope to expect that a majority of this House will not be found to give any countenance to any Amendment which, when the Government of Ireland comes into existence, and when those armed associations endeavour to revolt, shall render that Government impotent to reduce them to submission.
said, he wished to explain to the hon. Member for North Kerry that he did not see him rise. Had he done so, he certainly should have called upon him. He hoped the hon. Member would understand that.
§ MR. BARTLEY
On a point of Order, Sir, is it in Order for an hon. Member to complain that he has not been called on by the Chairman?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry has just heard the explanation given by the Chairman of Committees; and on the part of the Government I desire certainly to say that, on all occasions when the Irish Members wish to comment on an Amendment to this Bill, it is right we should hear anything they have to state before any statement is made on behalf of the Government, and the intervention of the Solicitor General was not intended in any way to restrict the Debate. Now, Sir, it is clearly understood that as regards the question before us—namely, the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, we cannot accept that Amendment as it stands; and the only useful purpose the prolongation of the discussion can have is that the Committee may consider whether there is anything further that can or ought to be done to give effect to the words adopted with regard to military forces, and whether it would be desirable to remove from the cognisance of the Irish Parliament all powers of dealing in any manner with the use of arms by associations of the kind contemplated, which would be dangerous to the public peace. I understand the substance of the point raised on the opposite side of the House to be this—You are prohibiting the Irish Government from dealing with military forces of whatsoever kind; but there are associations which are not ex professo military, but which at the same time might have in view military purposes, and it would not be right that the Irish Legislature should have power to set up under another name what would be virtually a military force. That I understand to be the contention of the Opposition. But the Leader of the Opposition has gone even further than that, and contended that not only the establishment and regulation and development of these quasi-military institutions, so-called, but also the whole 69 regulation of the subjects connected with the use of arms, should be left to the Imperial Parliament. Against that my hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry made an argument in which there appears to me to be great force—namely, that, having authorised the Irish Legislature to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, we have imposed upon it a great responsibility. Elements of disturbance will crop up from time to time in almost any society, locally or accidentally, and there ought to be the means of dealing with them. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said, "Leave that entirely to the Imperial Parliament." I am not able to adopt that view. First of all, I have no answer to make to the hon. Member for North Kerry. If Parliament imposed on the Irish Legislature the responsibility of making laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, it is unreasonable to absolutely disable and cripple it in its powers of dealing with this source of disorder. That seems to me a reasonable and strong argument. These dangers sometimes arise at very short notice. If I remember rightly, we had in a former Government with which I was connected a rather sudden emergency of an extremely dangerous movement of this kind in the county of Westmeath. There appeared a certain tendency, difficult to account for, a pestilential movement threatening human life and producing a crop of murders suddenly in Westmeath. That was met by an enactment of the Imperial Parliament. Suppose a similar occasion should arise in some county of Ireland not connected with a party association, but connected with the general interests of public order. It might arise very suddenly; it might arise when the Imperial Parliament would not be sitting, and it might arise when the Irish Legislature would not be sitting. The Viceroy could call together the Irish Legislature at a moment's notice to deal with the occasion that might have arisen. He would have no power to bring the Imperial Parliament into action. I do not think it safe to refer the whole of these repressive means with reference to movements dangerous to public order to the exclusive responsibility of the Imperial Parliament. I do not believe that this House will, after Home Rule has been established, have 70 any great desire, except upon very strong necessity, to intermeddle in the internal affairs of Ireland. The Government are perfectly willing to join in restricting the Irish Legislature from creating and authorising action with respect to these semi-military or quasi-military institutions—that; is, institutions of that kind formed for military purposes. But, with regard to these repressive enactments which the immediate necessities of public order may suddenly require, we cannot impose the duty of making laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland upon the Irish Legislature, and at the same time deprive it entirely of all repressive powers. What the Government are willing to do is this—they cannot accept this Amendment at a moment's notice. It will be necessary, as has been suggested by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, to consider some form of words which will consistently apply the principle of reserving the creation and the regulation of the military forces and of these quasi-military institutions to the Imperial Parliament. That might be met, I think, by the insertion of words in the Bill declaring that what the Government have in view is not any question connected with the use of arms for sporting, and, perhaps, not even for exercise—for it would be a very serious thing to stop proceedings of that kind—but for cases in which they might be addressed to military purposes. The general contention of the Government is that, while we think this is an appropriate matter for us to contemplate and deal with by some Amendment, that Amendment ought to be limited by showing, first of all, that we are dealing with these institutions when they are quasi military, or when they are contemplated or used for military purposes; and, further, that it should be so framed as in no way to interfere with the legitimate powers of the Irish Legislature for maintaining public order, and putting down the action of disturbing powers which may appear under exceptional circumstances in any quarter of the country.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said, that the slight difference that appeared to have arisen between the Prime Minister and the majority which retained him in Office below the Gangway was entirely owing to the fact that 71 hon. Members below the Gangway had refused to sit behind the right hon. Gentleman. If they had been nearer to the right hon. Gentleman they might have taken sweet counsel together. The right hon. Gentleman's main objection to this Amendment was that it would place the Government of Ireland at a disadvantage if a sudden emergency should arise by reason of the time it would take to summon the Irish Parliament.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, that up to the present time at any rate, the British Parliament had had considerable success in dealing with Ireland, as was proved by the peaceful condition in which the Unionist Government left that country; and if any sudden necessity should arise he did not see that there would be any difficulty in the future in summoning the British Parliament in the same way as had been done on former occasions. So far as he could make out, the right hon. Gentleman had pledged the Government to introduce certain words at some future stage of the Bill dealing with the power of the Irish Parliament to create an armed police force; and he apparently considered that if some clause, or some addition to a clause, were inserted which would prevent the future Irish Government from creating a force of a similar character to the Irish Parliament, that would be sufficient to prevent them from creating in Ireland a military force.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I did not say so. I said we were willing to insert words to prevent them from creating quasi-military associations such as are enumerated in this Amendment.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, he did not quite understand what the right hon. Gentleman intended to do; but if the right hon. Gentleman consented to accept the Amendment he had no more to say. The principal point of this Amendment was that it proposed to prevent the Irish Parliament from creating armed associations. Armed associations and associations of a quasi-military character appeared to him to be exactly the same thing; and, therefore, he did not think that the arrangement entered into by the right hon. Gentleman with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham would be of very much value. The hon. Member 72 for North Kerry had accused the Ulstermen of being cowards. He did not know why they should be regarded as cowards in Ulster. Ulster differed from those Provinces with which the hon. Member was closely connected, for there they did not shoot people from behind hedges, or carry out the laws of the League by houghing cattle, firing into dwellings, or burning hayricks. Therefore, it was probable that the ideas of courage entertained by the hon. Member for Kerry and by the men of Ulster were diametrically opposed to one another. They in Ulster had not the courage to perform the acts to which he had alluded.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, the hon. Member has also said that the Ulster Party were a Revolutionary Party. The usual idea of a revolutionist was that he was a man who proposed, by violence if necessary, to pull down the institutions of the country.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, they (the Ulster Party), on the contrary, desired, and intended, to maintain intact the institutions of this country under which they had thriven. The hon. Member also said that they were rebelling against Parliament; but he was going a little too quick, for this Bill had not passed yet. The hon. Member also said that they were standing opposed to the will of the people. What people? The Prime Minister himself appeared to forget that the British people were on the side of the Irish Unionists, and that be was maintained in Office and had only the opportunity of bringing forward this Bill by the support of the Irish Party. [Cries of "Order!"]
I hope the hon. and gallant Member, having replied to the hon. Member for Kerry, will confine himself to the Amendment.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said he had quite finished with the hon. Member for Kerry. Turning to the Amendment, and looking to what the character of the future Irish Government would be, and to the Acts that it would be likely to pass—for it would be a Land League Government, and they knew how the Land League had dealt with arms in past time—the Irish Unionists considered this Amendment would be a fair one, and 73 would curb the action of the Irish Parliament, to which they objected. The first Act that the Irish Parliament would pass would be a disarmament Act. Most eloquent speeches would be made in the Irish Parliament declaring that the union of hearts had dispelled all old antagonisms, and that it would be a blessing for Ireland if all arms were taken away, and the people were left with their spades and shovels—and possibly their blackthorns. The Prime Minister would point to this as a proof of the success of his legislation; but what would be the result in Ireland? They had a taste of a disarmament Act 200 years ago in the time of Tyrconnel, when the arms where all taken from the Loyalists and left to the other side. What would inevitably happen, from the constitution of this Irish Parliament, in which the Loyalists would have no voice, and of this Government in which they would take no part, would be that in Ulster there would be no arms—if Ulster allowed it. The Parliament would take a dispensing power to deal with the various parts of Ireland; and the inspection for aims in Ulster would be most microscopic. The law-abiding population, which had all along opposed this infamous Land League conspiracy, would be at the mercy of their enemies. Knowing, as the Prime Minister did, the history of the Party opposite, and of the Land League which he so long confronted, he asked him whether it would be safe to hand over the law-abiding population in Ireland to men who had declared over and over again on public platforms that in the days of their power they would remember those who bad opposed them. If anything like fair play was intended by the Government—and he did not believe it was—they would reserve this question of arms to the Imperial Parliament, where the question could be fairly debated by British and Irish Members. The Amendment would allow every opportunity to the Irish Government, if they acted rightly, of carrying on the good government of the country, without placing in their hands a weapon which they would inevitably use for the destruction of their political opponents.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, it might be inconvenient to Members below the Gangway that the Government should 74 make a series of concessions without embodying one under any definite promise. It was difficult to estimate what the concessions of the Government really meant. The Prime Minister was perfectly lucid in explaining his intentions; but his explanations wore quite distinct from those made by the hon. Member for Kerry. Did the Government, like the hon. Member for Kerry, contemplate the possibility of a Legislature, composed of men of only one of the two opposite races and creeds in Ireland, being not only allowed, but called upon to make an armed interposition in the event of a grave social difficulty, such as the occurrences in West Meath, to which reference had been made? The hon. Member for Kerry said there were armed associations at present in the North of Ireland, and that men were now drilling there—
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, the hon. Member had told the House that there were men armed and drilling in Ulster. These men belonged to one race and one religion. In the West of Ireland they had another race and another religion, which would be allowed by this Legislature to deal with arms. Were they to understand that they would be able to interpose with arms in Ulster?
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he would like to see how the decision of last night bore upon the present discussion. The discussion last night ran in the direction of preventing any resurrection of the Constabulary as an armed force. The Government plainly said that there should be only a local police force in Ireland, and that no quasi-military force should be called into existence under the control of the Irish Parliament. What, then, was their position? Unless the present Amendment were accepted, it was admitted that the Irish Government would be able to arm certain associations and drill them. Everyone knew that the Gaelic Athletic Clubs in Ireland were political associations in everything but in name; and in it month they could be armed and would become an effective force.
§ * MR. T.W. RUSSELL
said, nominally football clubs, these associations were the successors of the Fenians. What was intended by the Irish Party? It was plain that what was intended was the coercion of Ulster. The Government feared the odium of moving British troops against Ulster; and therefore they wished to give the Irish Parliament power to have an armed force of their own. The hon. Member for Kerry had charged the Opposition with acting un-Constitutionally in obstructing a Pill which had been decided upon by the House and the will of the people. The hon. Member's own Leader, the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), in his Life of Sir Robert Peel, published last year in the "Prime Minister" series, absolutely defended the obstruction of that time, on the ground that no Government ought to be able to rush a Pill through the House of Commons about which the country was not certain. There had been no obstruction of the Home Rule Bill, and the best proof of it was that the Government had accepted four or five Amendments only yesterday. If the Prime Minister's argument was good for anything, it was good for the Irish Parliament having an Army under its control.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman drew a distinction between an armed and a military force. That was a distinction he (Mr. T. W. Russell) declined to draw.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
All that I have said has been directly contrary to the Irish Legislature being allowed to establish any armed forces. Not a word of the hon. Member's speech which has referred to me has had the smallest approach to correctness.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, if that were so, how was it that the Prime Minister did not consent to accept the Amendment?
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, he desired to take up the discussion at the point at which it was left by the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman went a long way towards meeting the principle of the Amendment. If he went a step further he would put an end to the discussion. Of course, there was great ground for hesitating to accept any 76 proposition made on the spur of the moment; but both the Prime Minister and the Solicitor General had expressed in very clear language what they were ready to assent to. He would submit to them a very short form of words which would be found not to go beyond their declarations, and which they might accept. By accepting these words they would—at all events, for the present—settle the question in principle, and leave to a later stage any necessary revision or modification of phraseology. What he proposed instead of the Amendment, which he admitted went too far, was that the Government should accept these words—The forming, organising, or authorising of any armed associations or associations for drill or practice in the use of arms.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he emphatically objected to the introduction into the Bill on a subject of such importance of any words hurriedly framed, and he respectfully submitted to the Prime Minister that all words proposed to be put into the Bill should be placed on the Paper.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
pointed out that the Amendment had been weeks on the Paper, and said the Committee had a right to complain that the amending words of the Government had not been put down some time ago.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I think there is a great deal in what my hon. and learned Friend has just said, but I do not propose to go into that. I understand the position to be this: The Amendment deals with two entirely different questions, that of raising a military force and that dealt with under the Whiteboy Acts and the Act of 1881. The Government are prepared to put words down on the Paper dealing with the first of these subjects, but they are not prepared to make any concession on the second. As far as we are concerned, while we are grateful to the Government for the concession they have made, we attach the greatest importance to the second portion of the Amendment. But I think we have, perhaps, threshed out the question adequately; the division of opinion is now quite clear, and I would suggest to my hon. and learned Friend that he should go to a Division on his Amendment on the ground that the first part of it ought to be inserted in the Bill.
§ MR. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
suggested that it might be possible to meet the difficulty by fixing a very small number of men and allowing them to be drilled for dealing with local disturbances.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 245; Noes 283.—(Division List, No. 108.)
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
moved the addition of the words, "The manufacture or sale or purchase of arms and munitions of war, or of explosive substances." He said he confessed he was suspicious of the intentions of the Nationalist Members, and be thought his suspicions had been fully brought out by the Debate which took place on the previous day. If his suspicious were ill-founded no one would more gladly recognise than he would that he bad been wrong. He made no pretence that he was not bringing forward the Amendment in a Party sense. He introduced it as a Party man; and because he feared that if no such Amendment were adopted there would be danger in the future to the Loyalists of Ireland. There would, he thought, be an equal danger to the followers of the Nationalist Members. Unfortunately, for some time past, the Irish nation had been addicted to the illegal use of firearms, and, for the purpose of preventing this, the Act of 1881, which did not expire until December next, contained strong provisions for preventing the purchase of arms. He thought that if crimes were committed whilst the present prohibition was in force they would be much more numerous if the prohibition were withdrawn. If no such Amendment as he proposed were adopted, the Irish Parliament would be able to prohibit altogether the importation into the North of Ireland of arms manufactured in the South. There would be nothing to prevent them from manufacturing arms in the South and prohibiting their importation into the North. And if words like these were not inserted there would be nothing to prevent arms manufactured in the South of Ireland being exported to countries on the brink of war with England, and animated by hostile feelings to her. It was not too wild a statement to say that 78 the feelings that existed between the North and the South of Ireland were not very friendly, and if rifles could be distributed from manufactories situated in Ireland there would be not only a danger, but almost the certainty that what were now street brawls would become scenes of bloodshed. The riots which frequently attended Irish elections would become much more serious in their character. The principal object for which arms were required was that of repelling an enemy. The Imperial Government undertook to repel with its own Army any foreign enemy who might land in Ireland. Her Majesty's Government had said that they did not contemplate the establishment of a Volunteer Force in Ireland, so that the manufacture of arms for a force of that kind would be out of the question. But arms were also manufactured for export purposes. He did not think Her Majesty's Government would view with complacency the establishment of a factory in Ireland for that purpose. Then, again, arms might be required for illegal purposes, and it was principally to prevent that requirement being met that he had drafted this Amendment. As regarded the manufacture of explosive substances, they knew with what dire effect such power of manufacture might be used. They bad seen crimes committed in Ireland with these substances, and it was to prevent the easy sale and purchase of explosives in that country that he wished to press the Amendment. It might be said that explosives were necessary for mining purposes. That was true, and to cover the use of explosives for that purpose he should be ready to accept Amendments requiring licences to be issued by the Home Secretary. But he believed that an unrestricted power of manufacturing or selling explosive substances in Ireland under the rule of the contemplated Irish Parliament would be disastrous in the extreme. If the Amendment were negatived, if the Irish Parliament were allowed to have this unrestricted power over arms, he did not think it would be difficult to answer the question as to where the manufacture of arms in Ireland would be situated. He thought that the manufactures, sale, or purchase of arms and munitions of war, or of explosive substances, might fairly be prohibited, at all events for some time after 79 the passing of the Act. They were frequently told by Her Majesty's Government that in the new Parliament matters would be very different to what they were now, and that a better spirit would animate the Irish nation. That might be the ease in time to come; but he believed that for some years, at all events, it was very unlikely that the Irish character would go through such an extraordinary transformation as to allow the Imperial Parliament to safely entrust Ireland with the manufacture of such munitions of war as he had indicated in the Amendment.
In page 2, after the word "or, "in line 1, to insert the words "the manufacture or sale or purchase of arms and munitions of war, or of explosive substances."—(Colonel Lockwood.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has proposed the Amendment has been a little misled through the form in which Clause 3 of the Bill appears. He proposes that the Irish Legislature should have no authority to pass a law with regard to the class of subjects mentioned in the Amendment. What would be the result of adopting that? Not that the sale and manufacture would be impossible, but that it would be absolutely free from all restrictions—unless, indeed, the Imperial Parliament were called on to pass restrictions; and, if it did so, it would be a piece of meddlesome interference which must, of necessity, give rise to difficulties whore difficulties need not exist at all. The class of subjects dealt with—I mean, first of all, the arms and munitions of war—will come under the general designation of contraband of war. I do not know that there are any countries on the face of the earth in which the manufacture of contraband of war in time of peace—meaning, thereby, the peace of the nation where the manufacture takes place—is or ever has been prohibited. It is practically an insulting suggestion—
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
It is an insulting suggestion to say that there should be an interference with the commerce and trade of Ireland which could only be 80 prompted by some of the old feelings of jealousy with regard to Irish trade which unfortunately prevailed in the past for so long. I venture to think that the Irish Government should be allowed to control and restrict its business. It ought to control the trade in arms and munitions of war, because it is a sort of trade that may require control. But to say that it should be prevented from making any regulations or passing any laws with reference to it would be equivalent to saying that on an important branch of their own exclusive trade the Irish Parliament, if they wished for legislation, must apply to the Imperial Parliament to pass an Act at a time, probably, when the Imperial Parliament would have its own work to do, and would pay no attention to the appeal made to it. I venture to think that the Amendment is not well conceived, and I am authorised to say that Her Majesty's Government must oppose it. As to explosives, we have had legislation with reference to them—legislation which, I believe, was extended to Ireland. What is the nature of that legislation? I have had some experience of these Acts, and I think I. may say, without danger of being far wrong, that the sole object has been the prevention of accidents, and the passing of regulations, whether in regard to gunpowder manufacture, nitroglycerine manufacture, or the manufacture of similarexplosives—the legislation has been to regulate these manufactures for the benefit of the workpeople and the benefit of the neighbourhood in which the work is carried on. Why should not this matter be within the purview of the Irish Parliament? Why should that Parliament not, if it thinks it necessary, pass measures for the security of life and property in connection with the manufacture of explosives? This proposal seems a reductio ad absurdum, and a desire to breakthrough the rule on which the Bill is founded, which rule is that Ireland should have control of matters affecting Ireland exclusively, and that the Imperial Parliament should interfere only in Imperial matters. That power of the Imperial Parliament cannot be given or taken away; but, at any rate, we should close the gate as far as possible to its interference by making a rational 81 distribution of the powers of the two Legislatures. I venture to think that the Amendment is radically wrong, and cannot be accepted.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, he could not help thinking that the Solicitor General was under a misapprehension as regarded the meaning of the Amendment. He had spoken as if he had never heard of the Peace Preservation Act of 1881. Probably, being an Irish Act, he had not thought it worth his while to read it.
§ Mr. CARSON
Then the hon. and learned Gentleman bad made an extraordinary use of it, for he had said that if this Amendment were accepted and the Home Rule Bill became law, the manufacture, sale, or purchase of arms and munitions of war and explosive substances would be free and unrestricted in Ireland. The Act of 1881 prevented such manufacture, sale, or purchase.
§ MR. CARSON
said, he was talking of the law as it existed at present. Was the Solicitor General prepared to announce that the Government were not going to re-enact the Peace Preservation Act? All he (Mr. Carson) knew was that in 1886, when they apprehended troubles in Ulster, they re-enacted it, and that last year they allowed it to be continued without a single word of debate.[Cries of "Question!"] This was in Order. The matter was important as regarded the particular question before the Committee, because if the Act was not to remain law they must place on the Paper Amendments to the Bill in order that effect might be given to it. As to the existing law, he could not accept the Solicitor General's observations as showing that he had authority to declare that the Act of 1881 was not to be re-enacted. In his (Mr. Carson's) opinion, so far from the matter being free, a Home Rule Government, if the Amendments were accepted, would be absolutely prevented, save under the terms of the Act of 1881, from manufacturing, importing, selling, or purchasing arms or munitions of war. Therefore, the first argument of the Solicitor 82 General fell to the ground. The hon and learned Gentleman spoke of the proposal as putting a restriction on the ordinary trade and commerce of Ireland. But they had always had that restriction. They had it before the Act of 1881 was passed, and the question was now whether the House, with its eyes open, was going to allow the Irish Legislature to repeal what had always been the law. The hon. and learned Gentleman thought this Amendment would militate against the manufacture and sale of arms if carried on properly and injure the trade of Ireland; but the Amendment merely sought to continue existing restrictions. There was no interference with legitimate trade at the present moment, and the object of the Amendment was only to prevent the improper manufacture, sale, and purchase of arms and explosives. The hon. and learned Gentleman had, therefore, argued against the first part of the Amendment under an entire mistake as to the Peace Preservation Act. In relation to the question of explosive substances the Solicitor General had made a still more extraordinary proposition. One of the most amusing contentions he had ever beard put forward was that the Act passed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby when Home Secretary in reference to explosive substances was an Act to prevent accidents.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
That Act did not deal with the manufacture of these things; but it made it criminal, under certain circumstances, to be in possession of them, and it involved additional penalties for their criminal user.
§ MR. CARSON
Just so, and such possession and such "criminal user" were not accidents. He remembered once being engaged in a criminal trial in Ireland which had reference to the shooting of a lady, and the prisoner always spoke of "the day when Mrs. So-and-so met with an accident." This very Act was passed by the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer at a time when he, no doubt, was very much afraid of "accidents" as the result of the manufacture of explosive substances. The object of the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment was to provide that the provisions of the Explosives Act should remain on the Statute Book, and to prevent the Irish Legislature from 83 repealing them. It seemed to him that this was a matter of considerable importance. The Explosives Act dealt with both England and Ireland, differing in that respect from the Peace Preservation Act, which only dealt with Ireland. Was that House going to give the Irish Parliament power to make a state of law in Ireland under which people could make dynamite in that country, and have it in possession? In the Debates on the release of the so-called political prisoners the Irish Members had shown that they took a different view of the dynamite offences to that taken by the public of this country. Were the Government, then, going to enable these gentlemen to grant permission for the manufacture of dynamite? If so, let them declare it. The Opposition did not want in any way to restrict the powers of the Irish Government as they at present existed, either as to the manufacture or sale of arms or explosives; but they wanted, at any rate, as regarded these things for the people of Ireland, the same protection as that which had been given to the English people, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so anxious formerly to obtain for himself.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I cannot refrain from the observation that, to my mind, the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down seem more titled for the atmosphere of a Central Criminal Court than that of the House of Commons. No doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman finds indulgence in personalities very useful; but I will endeavour to find out something in the nature of argument in what he said. But I am afraid there is really nothing in what he has said. Of course, any Imperial Statute which the Imperial Government thinks fit to make after the Home Rule Bill is passed will apply Ireland, and the Irish Parliament will have no power to set it aside. Everybody knows this, and I wonder that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have so small an opinion of the intelligence of the audience he was addressing as to make use of the arguments he put before us. What the hon. Member wants is that we should incorporate into the Home Rule Bill everything that is found in a Coercion Act. But the two things are not the same. The substance of his argument is 84 that this measure should take the form of a Coercion Bill. But it is not a Coercion Bill; it is not an Arms Bill, or a Crimes Bill, or an Explosives Bill. It is a Home Rule Bill. That all the provisions of the Home Rule Bill are not identical with the provisions of a Coercion Act is a thing which should surprise nobody. If there is any danger with reference to the dealing with arms or explosives in Ireland or elsewhere, the Imperial Parliament will always apply the legislation it considers expedient.
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON (Armagh, Mid)
thought that no one who heard the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin could admit that the observations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were justified. The right hon. Gentleman held that this Amendment should not be accepted because this was not an Explosives Bill. But were the words "treason felony" not to be inserted because this was not a Treason Felony Bill? Were they not to include anything about naval and military forces because this was not a Naval or Military Bill? When the right hon. Gentleman imputed to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin the use of arguments which were answerable on the face of them, he should have been careful of his own arguments. The right hon. Gentleman, when he said that explosives were not to be inserted in the Bill because the measure was not an Explosives Bill, forgot that there were many special provisions in the measure, none of which were a whit more necessary than the provision contained in this Amendment. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that this was not a Coercion Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have been present a few hours since, when he would have heard it stated directly and candidly by the hon. Member for North Kerry that there must b a central force in Ireland of some sort for the purpose of coercing Ulster.
§ MR. SEXTON
I did not say that. I never touched the question of an armed force. I said that the Government, being established for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, must have power to suppress illegal and armed organisations.
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, that was his point. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been present he would have learnt that the hon. Member only wanted to substitute coercion on a largo scale for coercion on a small scale. He was surprised that the Chancellor of the Exchequer sat still when he heard the Act he himself passed so, he would not say misrepresented, but misdeseribed by the Solicitor General.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
This Amendment deals with the manufacture of explosive substances. The Bill I introduced had to do with the improper use of explosives, not with their manufacture.
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, that, unfortunately, he held that Act in his hand. He would read a portion of it, and from this quotation hon. Members would see the necessity there was for carefully watching the exposition of laws they received from the Treasury Bench. They had heard supremacy described in such vague language that the feeble intellects of hon. Members of the Opposition were unable to grasp its meaning. But at last they had a statement they could grapple with—namely, that the Explosives Act did not deal with the manufacture of explosives. Well, Clause 3 of that Act spokeof any person who within Her Majesty's Dominions unlawfully makes or has in his possession any explosive substance with intent by means thereof to endanger life or property.These words disposed of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement that the Explosives Act did not deal with the manufacture of explosives. It also disposed of the Solicitor General's suggestion that the Act aimed at preventing accidents.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
I did not refer to that Act as dealing with accidents at all. I said plainly enough for those who would understand that in England, which I understood to include Ireland, with regard to the manufacture of explosives, the solo object was to preserve life and prevent risk to property. I did not refer to this Act at all, because I knew it was a Criminal Act and had nothing to do with the main subject of the Amendment—the sale and manufacture of explosive substances.
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, he wished to speak with the greatest respect 86 of the Solicitor General, who was one of the first British jurists, and therefore one of the first jurists, probably, in the world; but he could not accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement. He (Mr. Barton) was in the recollection of the House. His (the Solicitor General's) attention was called to the Act passed by the hon. and learned Gentleman's Colleague in 1883. The hon. and learned Gentleman first referred to the Irish Acts and then to the English Explosives Act, which he rightly thought extended to Ireland. What Act did the hon. and learned Gentleman refer to if not to that Act? The hon. and learned Gentleman defended the rejection of the Amendment on the ground that that Act dealt with accidents, and then he said it dealt with having possession only and not with manufacture. Clause 4 declared thatany person who makes or knowingly has in his possession or under his control any explosive substance,and so on. Both the Solicitor General and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were wrong when they opposed the Amendment on the ground that the law, which the Opposition held the Irish Parliament should not have power to repeal, did not deal with the manufacture of explosives. The Irish Legislature, if this Amendment were not accepted, would have power to repeal the Explosives Act so far as it affected Ireland. He asked the Committee to remember that the Explosives Act was passed with special reference to Irish politics; and would it not, therefore, be most unwise and most unsafe to enable that one part of the Kingdom for which the Act was specially designed to repeal the Act? for it was certain that the Irish Parliament would repeal it, on the first opportunity. It was an enactment which, above all others, the Nationalist Party abhorred. The Committee knew that the Nationalist Members had in that very Session of Parliament voted for the release of the dynamitards; and he asked, was it safe for the Kingdom? Was it safe for the people of London that the Irish Parliament should be given power to set up the manufacture of dynamite and explosives in Ireland if they wished to do so?
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said, the Committee welcomed back the Chancellor of the Exchequer from Epsom 87 now that the Oaks was run. He was bound to say that two of the arguments of the Solicitor General in opposing the Amendment were very extravagant. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman objected to the Amendment as an instance of trade jealousy. Was the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say that the Explosives Act of 1881 was passed by the House from motives of trade jealousy? It was absurd to suppose such a thing. The Act was passed to protect the lives of Her Majesty's subjects; it was passed for the purpose which the Prime Minister had said the Bill before the Committee was being passed—for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland. The Solicitor General also said that he could not accept the Amendment, because it was undue interference with the liberty of the Irish Parliament, and he referred to the objects covered by the Amendment as contraband of war. But that question was one of Imperial interest, which ought most undoubtedly to come under the cognisance of the Imperial Parliament. He could not conceive anything over which the Imperial Parliament should exercise supreme authority in Ireland than articles contraband of war. The argument of the Solicitor General showed how indistinct and confused the views of the Government were upon the limitations that were to be placed upon the prerogative of the Imperial Parliament in its relation to the future Irish Government. The Explosives Act could only come into operation in the case of an unlawful use of explosives and munitions of war, and it was because they apprehended that there would be such an unlawful use of them in Ireland that they desired to see this question reserved for the authority of the Imperial Parliament, and they could not accept the view of the Solicitor General that it was a question for the local administration in Ireland.
Mr. T. M. Healy
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put; "but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's,) Hanover Square
I am not going to detain the Committee for any length of time. I should like to be clear as to the views of the Government on this matter. I hold that 88 if this Amendment be not accepted, it will be within the power of the Irish Parliament, under the 33rd clause, to repeal, so far as Ireland is concerned, the Explosives Act which has been passed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. The 33rd clause is clear, I think, on that point. It says—The Irish Legislature may repeal or alter any provision of this Act which is by this Act expressly made alterable by the Legislature.If we do not intend that the Irish Parliament should legislate with regard to explosives, why should not the subject be treated as being in the same category as the other subjects which are not to be dealt with by the Irish Government? The Amendment refers to the manufacture or sale of explosive substances. I think the Government may have recognised that it is especially directed against the criminal use of dynamite, and I maintain that, unless this matter is included in the excepted subjects, the Irish Parliament may set free the manufactures of dynamite in Ireland.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
As to the power of the veto, I remember the subject of the Solicitor General. Here again is an instance of the troublesome interference of the Imperial Parliament. What objection, I ask, can the Government have to include the Explosives Act in the exceptions? With regard to the importation of arms and ammunition, which is not only a question of legislation, but also of administration, the Executive Government in Ireland will, under the Peace Preservation Act, retain the powers to make internal regulations as to the use and sale of these materials which at present are vested in the Lord Lieutenant under that Act. The Amendment will only prevent new legislation with regard to those matters. Why should the Government object to put this general Explosives Act—considering that it is an Imperial matter, and bearing in mind the extent to which this country is interested in the manufacture of dynamite in any part of Her Majesty's dominions—among the matters excluded from the purview of the Irish Parliament by the Bill? I hope we will get an answer to that question.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The Amendment goes to a totally different point to that which the right hon. Gentleman alluded. If you look at the Amendment you will see that if the Irish Parliament were of opinion that the provisions with reference to the use of dynamite in the arts or manufactures were not sufficiently extensive or satisfactory, this Amendment would absolutely prohibit them from passing any law to remedy those defects. It is quite plain, too, that if the Irish Parliament introduced a Hill for providing greater precautions in the use of dynamite, it would be at variance with this Amendment. That is absurd. If the Amendment were moved by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, I could understand it, because it would secure Birmingham from competition in Ireland, and from that point of view it would be a very reasonable Amendment. I will answer directly the question that has been put to me by the right hon. Gentleman. I say that if the Irish Parliament were to endeavour to deal with such an Act as the Explosives Act, which I myself introduced, or with any other Act dealing with the use of arms and ammunition in Ireland in a manner which, in the opinion of the Imperial Government was dangerous, the Imperial Government would have absolute control over any such Bill endeavouring to repeal any such Act. We would say—"We will not allow the repeal of that Act or of that clause of that Act which in our opinion is dangerous to the present condition of things in Ireland." That would be a real use of the veto. Further, the Imperial Parliament would have; power to make new legislation in the matter, which would be supreme in cases of this kind. But this Amendment would deprive the Irish Parliament of the legitimate use of a particular kind of manufacture in that country of which it ought to have the control in the same way as any other country, and I cannot, therefore, accept it.
Mr. T. M. Healy
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.90
§ MR. BUTCHER (York)
said, that amongst the many statements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which he took exception was the statement that the Bill before the Committee was not an Explosives Bill. Considering the angry discussions to which the Bill had given rise, there was no adjective more appropriate than "explosive" to apply to this Bill, for it was really an Explosives Bill. With regard to the question of arms, he understood that the present law was that the Lord Lieutenant could make an order to restrict the sale of arms. He asked the Committee to consider whether the Act was necessary at the time it was passed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said it was a necessary Act, because it was his own Act, and, if it was necessary in the past, were not cases likely to arise when such provisions would be necessary in the future? He also thought that the exercise of the provisions which now exist should be vested in some responsible officer of the Imperial Government. They were told by the Solicitor General that to put such an Amendment in the Bill preventing the Irish Parliament from dealing with the subject of explosives would be useless and insulting. It would be no more useless or insulting than to prevent the Irish Parliament from dealing with the matter of an armed central police, which the Committee last evening had properly excluded from their province. When they brought forward matters of grave importance their arguments were not answered by being told by the Solicitor General that they proposed meddlesome interference with the powers of the Irish Parliament. There was another matter which, as he saw the Prime Minister present, he would like to have cleared up. That was whether it was the intention of the Government to revise the provisions of the Peace Preservation Act of 1881?
§ MR. BUTCHER
said, he would not pursue the matter further; but before he sat down he should tell the Committee, as this question of explosives was under discussion, that a telegram had just been placed in his hands which had been received in Dublin, and which ran— 91An infernal machine has been found in the corridor of the Exchequer Court this afternoon.
MR. J. MORLEY
Before there is any further controversy on that point, it is well to say that my information, at all events, is that it is believed to be a hoax.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 254; Noes 294.—(Division List, No. 109.)
The next Amendment, which stands in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Hands worth Division, is out of Order.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
moved to amend the clause by adding at the end of line 1, page 2, the words—The privileges and liberties of such portions of Her Majesty's armed forces as may, for the time being, be stationed in Ireland, or.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to Order. I wish to submit that the Amendment is not in Order, as the 3rd section of the clause prohibits the Irish Legislature from making laws in respect of the naval and military forces or the defence of the realm. Is not this Amendment merely an expansion of that section?
I thought so at first; but, on further consideration, I find that the object of the Amendment is a totally different one. The object of the Amendment is to provide for the personal privileges and liberties of the soldier himself, and I think, therefore, it is in Order.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said, that it was quite obvious that the words already in the clause dealt with the establishment and maintenance of military forces in Ireland by the Imperial Government; but undoubtedly questions might arise seriously affecting the liberties and privileges of the military forces in Ireland, and it was to these his Amendment referred. He did not anticipate that there would be a serious difference of opinion between the Government and himself in this matter. He could not conceive that Her Majesty's Government desired that there should be any doubt as to the position of Her Majesty's forces in Ireland. He had understood, from a reply which had been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary 92 for War to a question that had been put to him, that the possibility was content plated that Her Majesty's forces in Ireland might be used in opposition to the Legislature and the Executive of Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant, in the exercise of his executive function, might use the forces, in the first place, at the instance of the Irish Legislature; in the second place, he might use them at his own instance; and, in the third place, he might use them at the instance of this House. In the last two cases the use of the forces by the Lord Lieutenant would be in direct conflict with the views and wishes of the Irish Parliament. The question then arose, would the Irish Legislature support the Viceroy in using the forces against themselves by upholding those liberties and privileges which the forces now enjoy.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to Order. Is the hon. Gentleman saying one word relevant to any new matter not already covered by the Bill?
I agree that if the object of the Amendment was to provide for the use of the military forces it would be out of Order. But I understand the hon. Member is going to explain that it is the personal privileges and liberties of the soldier he means to protect.
MR. T. M. HEALY
On a point of Order. I desire to point out on this question of the personal privilege of the soldier, that the soldier in Ireland is under the Army Act, and consequently the Irish Legislature would have no power to interfere with him. Surely his rights, as a man, are not affected by the Amendment?
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had endeavoured to do on that occasion what he had frequently done before—namely, to make a speech in anticipation of that of the Mover of an Amendment. But he would make his own without any regard to the hon. and learned Member. The hon. and learned Member said the Army Act was the only Act in which the soldier was concerned. Had he forgotten the position of the British soldier under the Riot Act? The Riot Act provided an indemnity for the 93 soldier when he was called upon to assist the Sheriff, or any legal officer, in the dispersal of a riotous assembly. That was the sole indemnity the forces would have when they were employed by order of the Viceroy. What would be the position of the British soldier in Ireland in case it pleased the Irish Legislature to declare—as they had power to declare by the Bill—that the Riot Act should only come into operation when it was put into force by the Irish Executive? The Viceroy might have to use the forces without regard to the wishes of the Executive. It was quite possible that under such circumstances the soldier would be deprived of the protection of the Riot Act in Ireland. What, then, would be the position of the soldier? He was protected in England by the British Act. Would he be protected in Ireland by the British Act? He would urge on the Government that that was a point on which they could not afford to have any doubt of the decision. There were many other matters with regard to which the Irish Legislature might interfere with the privileges and liberties of the British soldier in Ireland. For instance, they might forbid any man in uniform to enter public-houses in that country. He could conceive circumstances when the British Forces would have to be used against the Irish Government, and the Irish Government would take action against the forces. Boycotting of the British Forces was not altogether unknown in Ireland. During the last Parliament he had to reply to 100 or 200 questions relating to the discipline of the forces, the wearing of emblems, the employment of or obtaining stores from persons who were not in good odour with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Yet the Committee were asked to believe that this feeling in Ireland would be altogether wanting hereafter. The words which he proposed would have the effect of preserving the privileges and liberties of the soldier exactly in the same way that they were safeguarded in this country, and would put it out of the power of the Irish Parliament to place the Army in a different position to that which it at present occupied. They had left it in the power of the Irish Legislature to indict the forces by resolution. It was most important that the Irish Legislature 94 should not interfere with the forces in any sense while they were engaged in Ireland.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise again to Order. I beg to submit that Clause 4, Sub-section 5, which precludes the Irish Legislature from making any law, whereby any person might be denied the equal protection of the laws, covers the point raised. I ask, is the hon. Member now in Order in supposing an enormous number of peculiarities on the part of the Irish people?
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said, he would not detain the Committee further. His observations had been extended by the interruptions of the hon. and learned Member, and were capable of indefinite extension under similar provocation. He desired the Government to give their serious attention to the matter. Any question which had to do with the status of the forces exercised a most exciting effect on British Army. The duties cast upon the soldiers of assisting the Civil power were never pleasant, and would be rendered highly dangerous if the soldier were not protected in Ireland, as in other parts of the United Kingdom.
In page 2, after the word "or," in line 1, to insert the words "the privileges, and liberties of such portions of Her Majesty's armed forces as may, for the time being, be stationed in Ire-land; or." —(Mr. Brodrick.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I entirely agree with the hon. Member, that it would be extremely improper and unwise to raise any feelings of disquietude in the Army. But I do not quite understand the hon. Gentleman's remarks in reference to the Riot Act. According to my recollection of the Riot Act, the soldier only appears, as any other subject of the Crown, to preserve the peace. The hon. Member spoke of the action of the Viceroy, but putting the Riot Act into operation will not be the action of the Viceroy, but of the Magistrate on the spot, who will take measures as circumstances require. No apprehension need, therefore, arise as to that score. With regard to the second point, the hon. 95 Member fears that the Irish Legislature will do something to cripple the Army in Ireland. We assume that the Irish Parliament will be in possession of their common senses, and will, therefore, no more do this than they will do something to promote dynamite out rages. The hon. Member seems to assume that the Irish Parliament will be devoid of common sense, and will devote themselves specially to promoting dynamite outrages and to crippling the Army.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
That is not my point at all. My point is that the Secretary of State for War stated most clearly that there would be occasions upon which the Viceroy would use his own judgment as to the employment of troops, and would not be guided entirely by the Irish Executive.
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
But suppose he did. The Viceroy in that case will have in his hands the power of preventing the Irish Parliament from passing legislation which will have the effect of paralysing the British Army. I can only return the same answer as I have before given. If hon. Gentlemen opposite assume that the Irish Government will desire to do these things which are inconsistent with the safety of Ireland, it will be the duty of the Viceroy to prevent the Irish Legislature from doing acts of such folly. Hon. Gentlemen picture to themselves that the Irish Parliament is going to become a monster of folly. They want protection against this insane and criminal monster. That is the history of the whole matter. The Government do not make that assumption, and that is the difference between hon. Gentlemen and the Government. We assume that the Irish Legislature will act with common sense; hon. Gentlemen opposite assume that they will act with great folly and wickedness. But, even if the assumption of hon. Gentlemen opposite be correct, the Bill gives the Viceroy, as representing the Imperial Authority, power to prevent the acts being done. This is an answer to 99 out of every 100 questions raised, including the present Amendment.
§ Mr. E. STANHOPE (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is really conscious of the object of the Amendment. He does not seem to recognise that the soldier stands in an exceptional position. He spoke of the 96 Riot Act, and said the soldier was not in a different position from the civilian under that Act. That is so, with this important exception, that the soldier is ordered to go, in the performance of his duty, to assist the Civil Authority, and the civilian is not. The real truth is that the soldier in the performance of his duty might be placed—I do not put it higher than that—in an extremely difficult and unpleasant position. The soldier may be called upon, if this Bill becomes law, to do something directly in opposition to the views of the Irish Parliament, and we desire that to secure his rights and privileges under such circumstances. Efforts are being constantly made to raise the status of the soldier, and to make him be treated in every respect on a par with the civilian. We therefore desire to secure that no opportunity shall be given in Ireland to injure the status of the soldier.
§ SIR THOMAS LEA
said, there was one point on which he desired information. It related to the powers of the Army in Ireland—
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said, that on a matter of this kind, which immediately concerned the soldier, a soldier might be allowed to say a few words without even asking the leave of the hon. and learned Member for North Louth.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said, it was very difficult to continue the argument in consequence of the continuous and not very courteous interruptions of the hon. and learned Member. He understood that the Chairman had ruled "powers" out of Order; but he hoped an opportunity would be found at the right time for discussing the important subject of the relations between the Army and the Civil power when the Army was called out in aid of the civil power. He would confine himself to "the privileges and liberties" of the soldier, as the Amendment expressed it. He should confess that as a soldier he found it difficult to follow the Mover of the Amendment, for he was not aware what "the liberties and privileges" of the individual soldier were. But there 97 were "liberties and privileges" concerning not the individual soldier, but the Army at large. The one point on which he wished to lay stress was the important question of recruiting. Ireland had always been a great recruiting ground; and he hoped it would not cease to be such, even under Home Rule. Contingencies might arise—though he hoped they would not arise—under which objection might be raised in Ireland against the facilities for recruiting which had always been enjoyed in Ireland being continued; and he thought the matter should be safeguarded in some way under the Bill. He did not consider that he would be justified in dwelling upon such minor topics as travelling allowances and billeting, which were considered liberties and privileges of the soldiers. ["Order, order!"] He did not know from whom that cry came, but they found on the Front Bench opposite a singular liking to interrupt those who very seldom took part in Debate, but who, when they did, talked about matters they understood. He trusted nothing would be done which would at all interfere with the important work of recruiting.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 249; Noes 289. —(Division List, No. 110.)
stated that the next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Yerburgh) was out of Order. The Amendment was as follows: —Clauses, page 2, line 1, at end, insert, —"(4) Any judicial or executive officer to be appointed by the Imperial Government for the time being as hereinafter provided; or.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.