§ [FOURTEENTH NIGHT.]
§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legislative Authority.
§ Clause 3 (Exceptions from powers of Irish Legislature.)
§ * MR. BUTCHER (York)
said, he desired to move, as an Amendment, the insertion in the 6th sub-section, after "treason-felony," of the words "conspiracy and combination," this referring, of course, to such conspiracy and such combination as was criminal. This question of the Law of Conspiracy was one of extreme importance, inasmuch as it affected in a very intimate manner one of the most important social discoveries of modern times—namely, the principle of combination, which had been applied to labour and trade disputes, and, in Ireland especially, to agrarian difficulties. There 335 had always been great difficulty and considerable delicacy in dealing with the subject. The object of the law ought to be to reconcile the interests of the individual on the one hand with the interests of certain classes of the public on the other. The subject should be considered by a Legislature in which all classes would be fairly and impartially represented. He did not say there should be no change in the law; but if they were to have an adequate protection of the minority in Ireland they must have that change sanctioned by the Imperial Parliament. And if the making of a law upon this subject was difficult and delicate, so was its administration. English Judges as well as Irish Judges had found that to be the case. If his Amendment were accepted the administration of the law would be placed in the hands of two Exchequer Judges, who would be appointed by the Imperial Parliament. That would be a great advantage, not only to the Irish Judges who might be called upon to administer the law, but to the public who would be concerned to see that it was properly administered. He hoped he would not receive from the Government the stereotyped answer, that they desired to leave to the Irish Legislature matters exclusively Irish. This Law of Conspiracy was not an exclusively Irish matter, and any alteration in it would affect Her Majesty's subjects, whether resident in England, in Scotland, or in Ireland; it would affect all those who had trade or other dealings with Ireland. It was essentially an Imperial matter that steps should be taken to insure that equal justice was meted out to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects, and in this particular ease it appeared to him that there were certain special grounds which made it eminently desirable that the subject should be reserved for the Imperial Legislature. Let them consider who were the men who would wield the powers given to the Irish Legislature, and how they were likely to wield them. He desired as far as possible to avoid personalities; but this was a matter on which it was impossible entirely to exclude the personal element from their consideration. The Nationalist Leaders were not ignorant of the Law of Conspiracy; the complaint was that they knew a great deal too much about it. 336 Many of them had been engaged in conspiracies which had been held to be criminal, and some of them had been convicted. He would not detain the Committee by going through a list of the conspiracies. Not very long ago several Members of the Nationalist Party were found by a competent tribunal to have been engaged in a conspiracy to obtain the independence of Ireland. That was not a purely Irish matter. A large number of them were also found to have been engaged in a conspiracy, by means of coercion and intimidation, to promote an agitation against agrarian rents with the object of expelling the "English garrison." That, again, was not a conspiracy which dealt with a purely Irish matter. Members of the Irish Party had been proved by the Law Courts in Ireland to have been guilty of conspiracy in connection with the somewhat notorious Plan of Campaign. That was an organisation which had brought great misery and disaster to Ireland, and they would undertake a serious responsibility if they allowed its authors to alter the law on so vital a subject. Then there was the conspiracy of boycotting, which had been the cause of the direst disaster and deepest misery to Ireland. It had been characterised by the most cowardly and detestable crimes; it had been accompanied by intimidation, and it had been found to be illegal, not only by Irish Judges, but by an English Judge, and men had been convicted of that charge by an English jury. If these methods had been employed in Ireland in the past, what could they reasonably look for in the future? Had the Nationalists abandoned their former methods? Had they repudiated their past? He should look with interest to see whether any Nationalist Member expressed contrition for his action in connection with conspiracies in Ireland in the past.
§ MR. BUTCHER
said, he, of course, bowed to the ruling of the Chairman, and he would simply explain that he was dealing with the probable future of Ireland. He did not mean to say the Irish Parliament would do nothing but evil; but, on the other hand, he was far from asserting they would do nothing but good. He thought he had said 337 enough to show that the minority in Ireland had some grounds for saying that an Irish Legislature, composed, as it necessarily must be, of the Representatives of the farmers and labourers, was not a proper body to be entrusted with powers to deal with matters of conspiracy. In the past conspiracies in Ireland had been almost wholly agrarian; and probably the first action of the new Irish Legislature would be to legalise the Plan of Campaign and to alter the law affecting boycotting.
MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)
Is the hon. Member now in Order, Sir?
I cannot say the hon. Member is at the present time out of Order; but he is trenching very closely upon the ruling I gave just now.
§ * MR. BUTCHER
said, he desired to urge on the Committee that he had advanced a special reason in the case of Ireland why it was not safe to entrust the proposed Irish Legislature with the powers which he sought to reserve. They were told by the Government that they desired, so far as they could, to protect the loyal minority in Ireland; that loyal minority had fears on this subject, which he submitted were not unfounded, and he trusted the Government would not fall back upon the plea generally put forward and say these fears were utterly idle and unreasonable. He would ask the Government to allay those fears by inserting in the Bill words which would prevent the Irish Legislature from dealing with the law of criminal conspiracy and combination.
In page 2, line 6, after the words "treason-felony," to insert the words "criminal conspiracy and combination."—(Mr. Butcher.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I think, Sir, a very few words from me will dispose of this Amendment. The interpretation put upon the clause by the hon. Member and his irrelevancy of argument would relieve me of any attempt to deal with his speech. He began by saying he would not indulge in charges against Irish Members, and then proceeded to indulge in them.
§ * MR. BUTCHER
I said I would endeavour to avoid personalities, but that it was impossible wholly to avoid the personal element in this matter.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
His argument was not relevant. I do not mean to say that all the hon. and learned Gentleman has said would not be relevant to the 2nd clause; but the Committee has agreed to erect a Legislature to be responsible for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, and the question raised by the Amendment is whether the power to deal with the law of criminal conspiracy and combination should be excepted. The answer is very simple and very obvious. Nobody could devise a surer means of promoting friction between England and Ireland than to throw upon the Imperial Parliament the duty of making laws upon this difficult, embarrassing, and complicated subject. It would bring the whole fabric to the ground. It would be folly to expect, the Irish Legislature or Executive to be responsible for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland if they are to be debarred from making any alterations in the laws of criminal conspiracy or combination, even if new forms of conspiracy and combination should arise. One more remark, and that is as to the ridiculous position in which the Committee would be placed if it should prohibit the Irish Parliament from doing anything to repress criminal conspiracy and combination, which is sufficient to show the absurdity of the Amendment.
§ * MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
said, it was no answer to the Amendment to say that it was absurd and ridiculous, without adducing a word of argument or giving a serious or proper reason. He would like to know what right the Government had to give such an answer, and he would put it to the right hon. Gentleman that the supporters of the Amendment were entitled to some better reply than had been given. He would like to know on what ground any reservations at all were made in the Bill? The loyal minority asserted that, if any subect ought to be reserved, it certainly was the law of conspiracy and combination. The loyal minority entertained two fears. In the first place, that the Irish Legislature might declare certain things to be lawful which were now unlawful; and, in the second ease, that certain things 339 might be declared unlawful which were now perfectly lawful. Having regard to the grave history of the country, it was particularly important to deprive the Irish Legislature of this power. The smallest alteration in the Law of Conspiracy might render the obtaining of rents impossible. If the Plan of Campaign were declared to be a lawful combination, where would the payment of rent be? If that happened there would be no payment of rent over a large portion of Ireland. It was not only agrarian matters they had to deal with, however, for, as his hon. and learned Friend the Mover of the Amendment had pointed out, there were other questions that would most certainly arise. He took no imaginary case, but a case that actually occurred in the past—the case of boycotting a railway at Carrick-macross. There was a house in the town occupied by a certain Magistrate, and from that house he was evicted. The station-master took the house, and immediately the railway was placed under a boycott—cars were not allowed to attend trains, people dare not travel by them, carts could not go near the place with goods, and social order was disorganised, and the town in a state of turmoil until five or six of the ringleaders were sentenced to short terms of imprisonment, and then this system of tyranny was at an end. If the Law of Conspiracy was to be left to the Irish Legislature they might have a recurrence of all this. It was right he should remind the House of this boycotting of the railway, for this insane method of conspiracy was devised by Irish Members. The Irish Members, in an Irish Parliament, were to declare what was lawful and what unlawful. Would they declare acts of that sort unlawful? Again, let them take the Institution of Freemasonry in Ireland. Was it to be declared unlawful? As it was, it was opposed and denounced by the Roman Catholic Church; every Catholic in Ireland was enjoined not to support it, even to the extent of assisting its charities at a bazaar, for they remembered that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin (Dr. Walsh) told them that any Catholic who attended it was, ipso facto, excommunicated. By the smallest alteration of the Law of Conspiracy that great Society might be rendered unlawful. 340 It held large property in Ireland, and, of course, it would be possible to do as he suggested, and so prevent the Society from holding property. These were the reasons that induced him to come to the conclusion that, if any power was to be reserved from the cognisance of the Irish Parliament, it was that of dealing with the law of criminal conspiracy and combination. The Chief Secretary had given no answer to the argument of his hon. and learned Friend; and he (Mr. Ross) respectfully submitted that the reasons now brought forward should show the Government the necessity of accepting the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I honestly confess, Mr. Mellor, that I am surprised at the manner in which this Amendment has been received by the Government. I had not thought that the Government were likely to accept the Amendment in opposition to the wishes of their Irish allies; but I had thought they would, at all events, treat the matter seriously. The Chief Secretary has attempted to pooh-pooh the Amendment as if it were something absurd. [Cheers.] I understand from those cheers that the Chief Secretary's mode of treating the Amendment is accepted and endorsed by hon. Members opposite. Have those hon. Members any recollection of the agrarian history of Ireland during the last 10 years? Are they aware that, by means of illegal conspiracies, established under the authority of hon. Gentlemen whom the Government propose to make supreme in Ireland, the whole political and agrarian controversy has been carried on for many years? Are they aware that by means of these illegal conspiracies private individuals were despoiled of their goods, infinite suffering was caused to unoffending, helpless persons, and the whole of society was disorganised in many counties in Ireland? To hand over the government of Ireland to persons who thought these conspiracies were legitimate methods of Party warfare and to allow them to frame a new Law of Conspiracy would be nothing else than to surrender into their hands their opponents, bound and help-less. Is not that a serious matter? The Chief Secretary argued that because a clause has been passed granting to the Irish Legislature power to make laws for the peace, order, and good govern- 341 ment of Ireland, no Amendment can be accepted having reference to peace, order, and good government. But that, contention cannot prevail, for the Government have themselves already made reservations. The subject of treason and treason-felony, for example, has been deliberately excepted by the Government from the criminal subjects to be dealt with legislatively by the Irish Assembly. This question is important to the United Kingdom as well as to Ireland, because the social order of any part of the Kingdom can never be a matter of indifference to the rest of the country. The Government apparently propose to give the Nationalist Party the power of establishing New Tipperaries over the whole of Ireland. If the originators and architects of New Tipperary were gentlemen of no political weight—if they were persons whose actions were denounced by the leaders of Irish opinion, there would be some justification for the opposition of the Government to this Amendment. But to entrust the manipulation of the Law of Criminal Conspiracy to persons who have offended against that very law is not to deal honestly and fairly by the innocent subjects of Her Majesty, whose property, whose happiness, and, in some cases, whose lives will be affected by the methods in favour with hon. Gentlemen whom the Government are going to make supreme in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says that if we withdraw from the Irish Assembly the power of dealing with the Law of Criminal Conspiracy, friction will result between England and Ireland. But will not still greater friction be caused if the Amendment is not agreed to? Supposing the Irish Legislature were to make alterations in the Law of Conspiracy for the purpose of legalising the Plan of Campaign, and supposing that the Lord Lieutenant were to veto those alterations, would there not be more friction than might arise from our preventing the Irish Legislature from dealing with the subject at all? Of all the methods of controlling the Irish Legislature the veto is the method that will cause the most friction; and if it is probable that certain subjects will not be treated properly in the legislation of the Irish Assembly, it is our duty, in the interests of peace and order, to take care that 342 legislation on these subjects shall not be possible. To the people of this country nothing has seemed more shocking in this Home Rule legislation than the fact that, by it, the Government are entrusting the lives and the property of the minority in Ireland to gentlemen who, whatever their patriotic views may be, have proved to the public that their views upon land questions are not in harmony with the opinions habitually held in this country. The ordinary public, no doubt, realise acutely the injury which they believe will be done to the Empire by this Separatist measure; but perhaps what chiefly causes them to distrust the policy of the Government is the conduct of Irish politicians during the last 10 or 15 years. They cannot understand how the Government can think of entrusting to those gentlemen the formation and administration of the Criminal Law of Ireland. Yet the Government pooh-pooh an Amendment proposed with the object of withdrawing from the Irish Legislature powers which, there is every reason to believe, will, if granted, be abused. It may be that hon. Members below the Gangway, when they have obtained Home Rule, will cease to act in accordance with the principles which have hitherto ruled their policy, and will be willing to punish persons engaged in criminal agrarian conspiracies. But, supposing that they should evince such willingness, will they be allowed to change their policy? They depend for their position on the votes of the small farmers in the South and West, and they will not be able to act in opposition to the lessons which they have taught their constituents, the majority of whom will want them to carry out the views they have been advocating in the past. How will they be able to resist a Bill introduced for legalising the Plan of Campaign? They cannot do it: their speeches in this House and in Ireland will rise up in evidence against them. Whatever their wishes may be, the power of their past over their present would be so overwhelming in such circumstances that they could not by any possibility resist a change having for its object the modification of the Law of Conspiracy in a manner that would put the whole of the landed property in Ireland under the control of the Land League. I desire to say that I regard the Amendment as a 343 most important one; indeed, I doubt whether any Amendment of greater importance will be moved during the whole progress of the Bill through the Committee, and I ask the Government to treat it with seriousness.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
Mr. Mellor, if hon. Gentlemen from Ireland who sit below the Gangway possess the fascinating power over the people of this country which the right hon. Gentleman seems to ascribe to them, no one has done more to assist them to acquire that abnormal power than the right hon. Gentleman and his friends by their policy and utterances.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My argument was not that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway would have undue power over the people of Ireland, but that the people of Ireland would prove too strong for hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
What we say is, that if hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway should get dangerous, and if they have such a power over the people of Ireland that the people of Ireland will return them mechanically, so to speak, to the Irish Legislature, there would be no person who would have done so much to maintain those hon. Members in an abnormal position of power as the right hon. Gentleman himself. We do not wish to give any abnormal power to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. How many of them will be returned under this Bill I cannot undertake to say; but I am quite certain that more of them will be returned in proportion as the Irish people listen to the speeches delivered by the right hon. Gentleman. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman is really an indictment against the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has been rather complimentary to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway than otherwise, for he says that if they exert themselves in a right sense, the power will be taken out of their hands and given to worse men. Who will give the power to worse men? The people of Ireland. Archbishop Walsh cannot do it. On a recent occasion Archbishop Walsh proposed bi-metallism, but his proposal did not meet with much success. However that may be, the right hon. Gentleman thinks that there are others in Ireland who are 344 more dangerous and worse than hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. The only persons who are to have power under this Bill to substitute worse men for hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway are the masses of the Irish people; and it therefore follows that the masses of the Irish people are the victims of incurable corruption. Do not let the right hon. Gentleman conceal from himself the fact that it is the mass of the Irish people with whom he proposes to carry on a political conflict, or what may be called, not in a sanguinary sense, a civil war. The contention of the right hon. Gentleman is, that there is some plan or other which will involve judicial action under the Law of Conspiracy against the liberty of some portion of the Irish people. Well, I have not heard, either from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway or from anyone connected with Ireland, that there is any disposition to have in Ireland a Law of Conspiracy different from the Law of Conspiracy in England. The complaint of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway has always been that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) has introduced special laws for Ireland, and their demand has been that one Law of Conspiracy should prevail throughout the whole of the three Kingdoms. The right hon. Gentleman concocted another Law of Conspiracy, setting up new offences.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman will not allow it is history, I myself heard the Attorney General for Ireland declare that, besides the categorical offences dealt with in the Crimes Bill, there were other offences dealt with in the Bill; and when the question was afterwards referred to the Irish Attorney General himself he did not deny it. I feel quite convinced that Parliament will deal with the question of conspiracy itself, so as to reduce the Law of Conspiracy in Ireland to what it is in England; but, at the same time, I cannot admit that the Law of Conspiracy ought to be withheld from the Irish nation. It is absolutely and entirely an Irish question—a question of Irish domestic legislation. The purpose of this Bill is to give to 345 Ireland the control of her own domestic affairs. This, as I have said, is strictly an internal and domestic question. If the right hon. Gentleman should succeed in withholding from Ireland these internal matters he would insure the revival of a series of Irish Debates in this House after the Irish Legislature had been set up. The question is—are you going to constitute an Irish Legislature or not? If you are going to constitute an Irish Legislature, and to let it pass laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, can you adopt a more suicidal policy, even from your own point of view, than to take out of the scope of that Legislature laws which are necessarily part and parcel of the Local Government of Ireland?
§ * MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
said, the Amendment was one that vitally affected those whom he represented in Parliament. It appeared to him that some of the arguments used by the Prime Minister were the strongest possible reasons in favour of the Amendment. The Prime Minister said that if such a provision as this were inserted in the Bill, it would be certain to produce friction between the Legislature of Ireland and the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to provoke debate in the Imperial Parliament touching Irish matters. The ground of this argument was simply the supposition that the Irish Legislature were likely to make laws on the subject referred to in the Amendment which would bring them into conflict with the Imperial Parliament. That was the very reason why the Amendment was asked for. The Prime Minister in 1886 said that restrictions upon the powers of an Irish Legislature would be necessary for the protection of the minority, because the state of things in which the free play of discussion in a free Assembly is the best security for a minority had not then been reached in Ireland. Had anything happened since 1886 which led them to suppose that it was not still necessary to protect the minority by special provisions such as those proposed in this Amendment? Since then the House had witnessed the operations of the Plan of Campaign, the recurrence of boycotting, and all those other tortures and oppressions to which the minority had been subjected in Ire- 346 land. Speaking for the scattered minority in the South and West of Ireland, he was bound to point out that even with the advantage of the legislation of the Imperial Parliament and with the advantage of having an Imperial Executive, hardly had the Loyalists escaped with their properties and their lives during the last six years. As to the form of the Amendment, the minority in Ireland had a right to claim that power should not be given to the Irish Legislature so as either to exaggerate the Law of Conspiracy against a minority, or to relax it so as to give an oppressive power to a majority. He believed that if the power of dealing with the matter at all were given to the Irish Legislature it would almost certainly be abused. It was all very well for the Prime Minister to sketch a happy and prosperous future, and to speak with great indignation of the doubts that were thrown on the conduct of the proposed Irish Legislature. But those for whom he (Mr. Pluuket) was now speaking could not afford to rely on such optimistic visions. The right hon. Gentleman said it was to the Irish people that this power was to be entrusted. But it was the Irish people who had the power at present, and everybody knew who the men were that the Irish people had returned to the House of Commons. Those men were willing to organise, to support, to defend, and to take credit for those unlawful conspiracies which, by the authority of the law now in existence, had, after great difficulty, been put down, and which, had they continued to exist, would, as was admitted on all hands, have made the life of the minority in many parts of Ireland not worth having. On these grounds he heartily supported the Amendment.
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON (Armagh, Mid.)
said, the Prime Minister had stated that the Crimes Act had created a difference between the Law of Conspiracy in Ireland and that in England; but Chief Baron Palles, whose judgments commanded respect in England as well as in Ireland, had stated that the Irish law had not been altered as far as conspiracy was concerned. As a matter of fact, the only alteration that had been made was an alteration in procedure. The Prime Minister said that the Leader 347 of the Opposition was increasing the power of hon. Members below the Gangway by the way in which he spoke of them. There were other ways of increasing the power of the Nationalist Members besides bringing indictments against them. One way was to cover them with fulsome flattery, as the Prime Minister had been continually doing during these Debates. Whenever the opponents of the Government brought forward an argument founded on history and on law the right hon. Gentleman got up and asked how anyone could make such suggestions against the Irish people. He (Mr. Barton) thought there was nothing more demoralising to a sensitive people, and nothing that could have more lasting and injurious effects, than the language of unqualified praise in which the Prime Minister was continually referring to the Irish Members. The Prime Minister was mistaken in saying that this question of conspiracy only had to do with Irish affairs, for it had to do also with British affairs, and important British affairs. It was true that, in the main, conspiracies in Ireland had been against landlords; but in view of that fact it surely was not honest to leave the administration of the Land Question at the end of three years to the Irish Parliament. The effect of handing over this administration to the Irish Parliament in this way would be to cause three years of agrarian conspiracy and one year of confiscation, when there would be an end of the matter. The Land Question in Ireland had hitherto always been dealt with by conspiracy, and the Government were now deliberately inviting the Irish Nationalists to deal with it in that way for three years. But there had been other conspiracies in Ireland besides agrarian conspiracies. There had at all times been conspiracies against Great Britain in Ireland—conspiracies against British interests, and conspiracies against the British Government—and there could be no question, therefore, that this was not merely an Irish matter. If the Amendment was not adopted, they would be inviting the Irish people to enter with impunity into conspiracy against Great Britain by telling them that they might alter the law which hitherto had been uniform in the two countries. When Ireland possessed a separate Parliament, not only were there 348 conspiracies against Britain, but actually conspiracies with foreign enemies of Great Britain. In Ireland, in London, and in Paris the Irish and the French had combined in conspiracy as the common enemies of Great Britain. The Prime Minister, therefore, in asking the Committee to oppose the Amendment on the ground that the question was a purely Irish one, forgot that it was above all a British affair, the majority of Irish conspiracies having been against Great Britain, against British interests, and against the British Government. To refuse the Amendment would be to say—"We authorise you, the Irish people, to make Ireland the place of resort for all conspirators against Great Britain, seeing that for the first time in the history of the country the Law of Conspiracy in Ireland can be altered to suit your views." The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary met the Amendment by saying that it ought to have been brought forward on Section 2.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I said the speech of the Mover of the Amendment ought to have been made on Section 2.
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON
Speeches could not be made without a subject. He presumed the right hon. Gentleman had been referring to the question of conspiracy.
§ * Mr. DUNBAR BARTON
said, he was entitled to attach some reason to the right hon. Gentleman's observations, and he maintained that in his observations the right hon. Gentleman was speaking to the Amendment. It was a remarkable fact that frequently when a proposal was made for the amendment of the Bill they were told—"The amendment is premature. This is not the place for your proposal—it should be made on Clause 5 or 9 or 21 or 36." But now the right hon. Gentleman used the converse argument. He said, "Your amendment is too late—it should have been made on Clause 2." This showed how vigilant it behoved the Unionist Members to be, and how necessary it was that they should not allow a line of the Bill to pass without careful scrutiny. It had already been shown by the Chief Secretary that they had been a little too scrupulous and brief in discussing Clause 2. ["Oh!"] Yes; 349 because the right hon. Gentleman said the speech of the Mover of the Amendment ought to have been made on Clause 2. No doubt, the same argument would be used when other questions arose on this clause. Clause 2, in its language, contemplated exceptions to the legislative powers of the Irish Legislature, and Clause 3 enumerated those exceptions; and he asked were they not entitled to say that this question of conspiracy should come within the exceptions? It would be more dangerous for that law to come under the control of the Irish Legislature than the Law of Treason. It was a more difficult question to deal with in regard to the discovery of crime, giving proof of crime, and bringing it to conviction. The case of Canada was a precedent in favour of those who supported the Amendment. Power in that case had been deliberately distributed between the Central Legislature and the Local Legislatures; but in Section 91 of the Canadian Act Criminal Law and Procedure, including the Law of Conspiracy, was reserved to the Dominion Parliament. Lord Carnarvon, in introducing the British North America Act in the House of Lords, pointed out that this was a wise departure from the system pursued in the United States, where it was competent for each State to deal with the Criminal Code, and where the result was that the law on certain subjects differed in different States. The Criminal Law had been practically assimilated throughout Canada, and the same reasoning and rule should apply in regard to Ireland and Great Britain. If the law were not rendered uniform the two countries would drift apart; at any rate, the Government should give better reasons than those they had hitherto advanced why the Law of Conspiracy should not be assimilated in Ireland—a law which had had a most sombre history in connection with Irish affairs, and which, of all other subjects, should be excluded from the control of an Irish Parliament.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said, the way in which the Government had treated the Amendment showed how serious they were in the attitude they had thought fit to adopt. They were proposing now to inflict on the loyal minority in Ireland a state of things which no community in England or Scot- 350 land would tolerate for an hour. He did not know if the Government were sanguine enough to suppose that the people of Ireland were so differently constituted to the people of England or Scotland that they would put up with that which their brethren on this side would repudiate. As to what had been said by the Prime Minister, he need only repeat the ancient maxim that "fine words butter no parsnips." The right hon. Gentleman had told them what fine fellows he believed hon. Gentlemen opposite to be. He had regaled them, as he usually did, with a certain amount of prophecy. But what he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) wanted to know was, not what the Prime Minister's view was as to what the Irish Members wore likely to do, but what wore the distinct probabilities, from the facts before them, what were the Irish Members certain to do? The throe main facts of the situation in Ireland during the past 10 years had been three gigantic combinations or conspiracies, neither of which bad come under the head of treason or treason-felony. One of these had boon known as the Land League, subsequently called the National League. Another was the Plan of Campaign, and both these combinations had been carried into effect by a third method—namely, that which had made boycotting effective. The Prime Minister had said that this would not occur in Ireland in the future, or that if it did it would be a thoroughly local concern, with which the people of this country would have nothing to do. He (Mr. Arnold-Forster) did not accept the argument which lay at the bottom of that statement, for he hold that they in England had everything to do with the condition of their fellow-countrymen in Ireland. Whilst he and his Friends did not impute corruption to the Irish Parliament, they said, and were entitled to say, that what the Irish Members had believed to be right and had defended in the past they would believe to be right and would defend in the future. Speaking with regard to the particular class of combinations which hon. Gentlemen opposite had always defended as in the forefront of their political work, a judicial tribunal had said—The leaders of the Land League who combined to carry out a system of boycotting were guilty of criminal conspiracy, one of the 351 objects of which was, by a system of coercion and intimidation, to promote an agrarian agitation against the payment of rent.The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had said that was not a matter which concerned this country—For the purposes of expelling from the country the Irish landlords who are styled the Irish garrison.Well, one of the Irish Members opposite, in a speech he had delivered, had said that, as to the conspiracy of boycotting, unless they boycotted they might as well give up the struggle altogether, for they would never be able to put landlordism out of the country, or be able to fly the green flag prominently over Dublin Castle. They had there throe facts—in the first place, that the conspiracy was criminal; secondly, that it was undertaken to promote an object which did most materially concern this country; and, thirdly, that, so far from condemning or regretting the conspiracy, hon. Gentlemen opposite were foremost in urging its continuance throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. The tribunal to which he had referred had declared that the effect of the combination upon a section of the people was to induce them to endeavour to carry out the laws of the Land League even by assassination. When it was found that those combinations had been carried on for years, that the object of their promoters was to injure this country, that they were carried out by means unknown to the law, and by methods which led to assassination, he thought it was abundantly proved that they were dealing with matters that greatly concerned Great Britain. And that was not a view held by the Unionist Members only, for in the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, according to a former pronouncement of his, these conspiracies were intimately and essentially connected with a subject which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had already excluded from the purview of the Bill. He would remind the House that they had had many other examples of conspiracies of this kind. They had had the Ribbon Conspiracy and the Westmeath Conspiracy, and it was idle to suppose that what had occurred in the past would not happen again in the future. Why, in this matter, were they to accept, upon the ipse dixit of the 352 Government, that those methods of procedure which had found favour with hon. Gentlemen opposite in the past would cease to find favour with them the moment this Bill passed? If they did not they would inevitably have projects of law brought into the Irish Parliament, with the object of doing away with the penalties which fell upon those who committed actions which at the present moment were illegal. At the present moment it was illegal to conspire to boycott. Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought it was a right good thing to boycott; therefore they would take away the penalty that attached to the crime. The present law said—"You shall not combine to drive the English landlords, or any section of Her Majesty's subjects, out of Ireland." Hon. Members opposite had said over and over again that they not only favoured but desired to promote the conspiracy which had that object. It was only common sense to believe that they would do in the future what they had not only done in the past, but had declared it their intention to do in the future. It was monstrous for the Prime Minister to ask the Committee to believe that almost every statement made by the Irish Members in their speeches in the past was false. Because that was what it came to. The Prime Minister believed the Unionist Members were the most Heaven-forsaken set of people in the world. Why? Because they believed hon. Gentlemen opposite. He saw no path out of that position. They had no right to believe that hon. Members opposite had forsworn themselves; and, certainly, further reasons must be advanced by the Prime Minister before the Committee generally could hold the opinion that they had forsworn themselves. [Cries of "Divide!"] It was certain that if conspiracies such as those which had existed in Ireland prevailed in England and Scotland there would be an end to all law and civilised life in those countries.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, the Prime Minister had based the refusal of this Amendment on the alleged difference between the Laws of Conspiracy as they existed in Ireland and England. The right hon. Gentleman had urged that the Law of Conspiracy in Ireland was harsher than the Law of Conspiracy in England, and that it would be wrong to refuse to the Irish Legis- 353 lature the right to assimilate the two laws. If it could be shown that the Law of Conspiracy was the same on both sides of St. George's Channel, that argument was disposed of. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted authority to show that the Criminal Law Procedure Act had created new crimes. The field of the controversy on that matter was small. It had been alleged, when the subject was under discussion, that by making the National League a criminal conspiracy a new crime had been created; but oven that contention was denied by such a legal authority as Lord Selborne. Under that portion of the Crimes Act only two persons were imprisoned, and it had been demonstrated that the Law of Conspiracy was the same in Ireland as it was in England. Two men, named, if he remembered rightly, Bellew and Fitzgerald, adopted the practice of shadowing at fairs—a practice which in Ireland was found effectual in intimidating small farmers and bringing them to rain. These men crossed the Channel to Liverpool and pursued the same tactics there; but they were prosecuted, tried by an English jury, and found guilty.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Criminal conspiracy. They, therefore, not only had legal authority for believing that this form of combination was unlawful on both sides of the Channel, but they had the verdict given by an English jury to that effect also. In considering whether or not the law as it existed in Ireland was likely to be relaxed by an Irish Parliament it must be remembered that the Irish Members had been content to go to prison for the political faith that these combinations were ethically justifiable. And it could not be said that it would not be easier for men to make laws in support of their ethical views than to go to prison to show that they held them. It could not be doubted, therefore, that when hon. Gentlemen opposite had the power they would pass laws in support of such systems as the Plan of Campaign. Was he, in saying that, imputing corruption to the Irish people? No; but it had been shown that in the agrarian difficulty of Ireland this ethical view prevailed; and that, to his mind, was the reason why they should 354 not put it in the power of the Irish Parliament to legalise these combinations. The Irish Members did not believe these combinations unjust. The Unionist Members did believe them unjust. The former were not responsible for the lives and property of the loyal minority in Ireland; the Unionist Members were. Therefore, it would be a great dereliction of duty on their part not to press this Amendment to a Division. [Cries of "Divide!"]
§ MR. H. S. FOSTER and Mr. VICARY GIBBS rose.
§ MR. J. Morloy rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 306; Noes 274.—(Division List, No. 117.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 276; Noes 317.—(Division List, No. 118.)
§ * SIR H. JAMES
moved the following Amendment:—Clause 3, page 2, line 6, after "treason-felony," insert "sedition." He said: As I am confident the Government will be likely to give favourable consideration to this Amendment, I do not purpose occupying the time of the Committee at great length. I think the Government will be favourably disposed towards the Amendment, because they have admitted that the Irish Legislature ought not to deal with the offences of treason or treason-felony; and I presume the reason why the Government have prevented the Legislature of Ireland altering the law with respect to offences which may be committed in Ireland, and, therefore, affect the peace and good government of Ireland, is that the offences of treason and treason-felony would be offences against the Sovereign and against the Imperial Government. You could not have the offence of treason or treason-felony committed against the Legislature of Ireland or as against the Executive of Ireland as a body distinct from the representatives of the Crown and Empire. Well, Sir, sedition, I will submit to the Committee, is exactly in the same class of crime as treason and 355 treason-felony. It represents any act done, words written or spoken, that shall attack the Sovereign or the Government—that is, the Central Government and not the Government of Ireland. It is, therefore, simply a somewhat diluted form of treason; and, as I have said, treason cannot be committed as an offence directly against the Legislature or the Executive of Ireland, equally I would ask the Committee to accept the view that sedition must necessarily be committed against the same forces against which treason and treason-felony must be committed, and, of course, the Committee will be aware that sedition is a crime of a most insidious character. Out of it treason comes; it forms the first step towards treason: it fosters treason and creates and begets treason. How can it be said, under these circumstances, that the Committee will be willing to allow the Legislature of Ireland to say that sedition shall be no crime? That will be saving that a crime committed against the Sovereign shall be no crime, although it may be a crime committed with the intention of deposing the Sovereign. It will be giving a free hand to anyone who wishes to attack the Central Government and not the Executive Government of Ireland; it will be giving the Irish Legislature power over the general interests of the country, and allowing them to deal with other matters besides those affecting the peace, order, and good government of Ireland. I feel so very confident, from the point of view that it is right that treason and treason-felony should not be dealt with by the Irish Government, that the Government will see the strong force of not allowing the Irish Government to deal with the crime of sedition, and will, therefore, accept the Amendment, that I will not trespass further on the time of the Committee, but move the Amendment.
In page 2, line 6, after the words "treason-felony." to insert the word "sedition."—(Sir Henry James.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'sedition' be there inserted."
§ * THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY,) Forfar
Undoubtedly the crime of sedition does touch closely in some respects on treason or treason- 356 felony, and in so far as it does verge on treason-felony, or is identical with treason-felony, it is covered by the reservation of treason-felony. The Committee should be reminded that, although sedition may be a crime of the greatest importance, it may, on the other hand, simply mean acts against the peace, order, and good government of the country. In fact, sedition is a word of such a sweeping character that its reservation would greatly embarrass legislation about unlawful assemblies and other matters. It involves so many matters that are intimately mixed up with the preservation of law and order that it would be impossible to distinguish them in a vast number of cases; that to take away from the Irish Legislature legislation on the whole of that branch of crime which. is included under the term "sedition" would be to raise questions between the Irish Legislature and the Imperial Parliament at every point, and would almost inevitably render the law uncertain, instead of being—what it should be in regard to crime—as plain as anything can possibly be. Considering that "treason-felony" will cover a great many crimes analogous in their nature to treason and treason-felony, we think that such matters as seditious libel, seditious assemblies, seditious conspiracies, unlawful assemblies, and the whole of that class of crime included in the word "sedition," must be left to the Irish Legislature, and the other class—that is to say, treason and treason-felony—to remain with the Imperial Parliament.
§ * SIR H. JAMES
The Solicitor General has given his reasons for refusing the Amendment; but I appeal on the point to the Government, and especially I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Are we going to allow the Irish Government to say that the offences under the term "sedition," which the Solicitor General described as small offences, shall be no offences at all? The offence may be small in degree, but against whom is the offence? Seditious libel is not an offence against the person; it is an offence against the State, and not an offence against the Irish Government or against the Irish people. It would be just as proper to treat larceny as a small offence if the amount 357 stolen were small, and a grave offence if the amount stolen were great. I say the offence is the same, and I say the point is no answer to my objection against handing over to the Irish Legislature the power of dealing by legislation with offences which are against the State, against the Central Government, against the Sovereign, and not against anything in Ireland. Seditions libel cannot be confined to the Irish Government. It must be sedition against the Central Government, and are we to delegate to the Irish Legislature the power of dealing with offences against the State? We know what the Law of Sedition is now. We ask that it should remain as it is, and that if it needs alteration it is this Parliament, and not the Parliament of Ireland, that should alter it. This question affords a real test as to whether we are to give any significance to the supremacy of Parliament. I say the declaration of the supremacy of Parliament will be but a form of idle words, and would be better struck out of the Bill, if you hand over to the Irish Legislature the power of dealing by legislation with crimes which are not crimes against the Irish Government, but crimes against the Crown and State.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
I listened, I confess, with some surprise to the second speech of my right hon. Friend, by which he has considerably raised the temperature of the Debate on what is not, I venture to think, a very serious eleven important point. My right hon. Friend has argued that we are proposing to deprive the Imperial Parliament of the power of legislating and exercising its authority in Ireland in relation to seditious offences committed against what he has called the Central Government. But that is not the question before the Committee. The Imperial Parliament, if this Amendment is rejected, will have precisely the same power as they have now to deal with any case of seditious acts which affect the Central Government. The real question is whether you are going to deprive the Irish Legislature of the power of dealing in Ireland with similar acts directed against the Irish Government. I entirely traverse the proposition of my right hon. Friend that sedition in a 358 country with a Legislature such as Ireland will have is an offence committed only against the Central Government. In one sense it is, of course, true that every offence is an offence committed against the Crown. In English law it is the Crown, and the Crown alone, that takes action. Let me remind my right hon. Friend of a very celebrated case of seditious conspiracy—perhaps the most celebrated in our lawbooks—I mean the trial of O'Connell in 1844, which ultimately came before the House of Lords. O'Connell was charged with seditious conspiracy, and the indictment contained a very large number of counts. I will give the Committee the substance of two or three of these counts. O'Connell was charged with conspiring to raise discontent and disaffection amongst the liege subjects of the Queen. That is a charge of seditious conspiracy. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to contend that that offence cannot be committed in Ireland by Irishmen connected in n criminal combination against the Legislature and Constitution which are established in that country? I say it can, and I say that the Legislature—such a Legislature as Ireland will him—ought to have the power to deal with that matter. Take another count from the same indictment. O'Connell was charged with conspiring to excite jealousy, hatred, and ill-will between different classes of Her Majesty's subjects. Cannot these offences be committed in Ireland in reference to the legislation and policy of the local Government, and are we to deprive the Irish Legislature of the power to deal with them? I will mention one other count. O'Connell was charged with conspiring to diminish the confidence in the administration of the law in Ireland, and to bring the tribunals by law established into disrepute. Does my right hon. Friend argue that the Irish Legislature is to be deprived of the right of legislating so as to prevent offences directed to bring into disrepute the tribunals administering its own laws? Why, it would not be consistent with legislative autonomy even in the most restricted sense of the word. There are, moreover, offences included in the legal category of sedition which are of a very trivial description—offences connected with riots, unlawful assemblies, breach of the peace, which, by very little legal 359 ingenuity under particular circumstances, can easily be enlarged into the crime of sedition. Therefore, whatever way you look at it, it is possible, by this Amendment, to deprive the Irish Legislature of the power of dealing with matters having nothing to do with the power or supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; and I trust, therefore, that the Committee will reject it.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, that if the Amendment were useful for nothing else it was certainly most useful for this—that, by degrees, they were beginning to learn that it was absolutely impossible to distinguish between Imperial matters and local matters. In answer to an Amendment yesterday, dealing with offences on the high seas, they were told by the Chief Secretary for Ireland that they might rest perfectly content that that matter would not come within the purview of the Irish Legislature, because the Irish Legislature, under the same section, would have power only to deal with matters exclusively relating to Ireland or some part thereof. He should like to ask, did the crime of sedition relate only to Ireland or some part thereof; and if it was not a crime relating only to Ireland or some part thereof, he would like to know why the Government refused to accept the Amendment? The Home Secretary assumed to differ with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury; but, really, there was no difference whatever between them. The Home Secretary said that the crime of sedition would probably extend to such conspiracies as were formed to bring the Irish Government into contempt. He was prepared to admit that, but why was it sedition against the Irish Government? Because the Irish Government derived its functions from the Imperial Parliament, and it was in its relation to the Imperial Parliament, and not otherwise, that it became the crime of sedition. The Home Secretary used that argument for the purpose of showing that it was a local matter, and, therefore, within the purview of the Irish Legislature; and he asked, was it not an absurd thing that the Irish Legislature should not have the power to legislate in respect to matters which so directly concerned them? But they did not propose by the Amendment to take away from the Irish Government the 360 power of dealing with persons who entered into seditious conspiracies. But what they did say was that, as sedition went to the root of offences against the Crown and Imperial Government, it was a matter that should be reserved for legislation exclusively to the Imperial Parliament, and could not in any sense be looked upon as a matter local to Ireland. He was perfectly well aware that in the whole course of Criminal Law nothing could be wider in its application than sedition. He knew that in the case of the Queen against Parnell the indictment contained between 30 and 40 counts; and there was the greatest possible joy when, after the trial had proceeded about 10 days, the 19th count, which related to sedition, was struck out, as it would have enabled the traversers to go into the question of the government of England and the government of Ireland and the entire relations between the two countries. Was not a matter of such far-reaching importance—a matter which was Imperial and not local—a proper matter to reserve exclusively to the Imperial Parliament? He considered the argument of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) unanswerable. So far as sedition was a crime at all, it was a crime against the Imperial Government. The Solicitor General said that sedition might be closely allied to treason-felony. It might, and it might even be necessary in some cases to have in the indictment counts for sedition and treason-felony, or perhaps separate indictments; and he wanted to know who was to decide in Ireland that a particular crime was treason-felony or sedition? The Bill drew the greatest possible distinction as to the way in which the two crimes were to be dealt with. If the charge was treason-felony, the accused would have the right to be tried in the Imperial Courts, and he had the right of appeal to the Exchequer Judges, and even to the Privy Council. On the other hand, if it were a case of sedition, it would not be tried in that Court at all—it would be tried in another Court, and there would be no appeal. He would like to know who was to draw the distinction between the offences? They might have the Irish Attorney General saying—"I claim this man as my prisoner, as an offender against the Irish Executive, because his crime is the 361 crime of sedition"; and they might have the official, whoever he might be, responsible in Ireland to the Imperial Government saying—"I claim him as my prisoner, and that he be tried in the Imperial Court." Who was to decide between them? There had been considerable talk about friction between the two countries, but there would be no end of friction if these matters were not now made clear. He did not see any way in which matters relating to treason-felony could be placed in one category, and matters relating to sedition in another category, because his idea of sedition was that it was sedition because it was an act against the Crown and Imperial Government, even when directed against the Local Government, which derived its power from the Crown. Sedition, as an offence against the Crown, became analogous to treason-felony. He wanted to know were those matters going to be made clear, or were they going to be left in doubt, to be fought out afterwards? They would have to be determined at some time, and that, in his opinion, was the proper time for them to be determined. Of course, if the Government were determined to resist these Amendments simply because they were moved from the Opposition Benches, the Opposition would have to submit; but it was certainly their duty, on the assumption that the Bill would pass—which was, indeed, making a very large assumption—to point out that the Government were acting unwisely in leaving those matters unsettled, because it meant storing up trouble for the future.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 255: Noes 304.—(Division List, No. 119.)
§ * MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
moved, in page 2, line 6, after the words "treason-felony," to insert the words "intimidation and unlawful assembly." He said he thought that the subject to which these offences related had met so far with very little respect and less logic from right hon. Gentlemen opposite. These offences belonged to the category of crime which unhappy experience told them had of late years been habitually used for political purposes. It surprised him that in defending their own Bill hon. and 362 right hon. Gentlemen so seldom thought of saying anything which would lead to the hope that they would ever pay any respect to the public opinion of Great Britain in these matters. He believed, from unhappy and recent experience, that no decision of the Irish Parliament in regard to those matters would ever command confidence in Great Britain. He moved his Amendment for this reason also—that these offences were allied to treason and treason-felony in their nature, and, further, because they did not exclusively apply to Ireland. They had been employed and had frequently tended to drive away from Ireland that influx of English wealth and capital by which alone the prosperity of Ireland could be permanently secured. He knew that to this Amendment, as to the Amendment with regard to the Law of Conspiracy, they would have applied the argument that it involved an indictment against the Irish people. If it did involve an indictment, the indictment would be levelled not against the Irish people, nor even against the Representatives in this House of the Irish people, but ultimately and with the greatest weight against those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen now upon the Treasury Bench who had always rushed forward with excuses, palliation, patronage, and every kind of apology, for those practices dealt with in the Amendment.
In page 2, line 6, after the words "treason-felony," to insert the words "intimidation and unlawful assembly."—(Mr. Stuart-Wortley.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment seems to feel that a decision has practically been taken upon it; but he said that, notwithstanding that decision, he intended to take a Division. The hon. Gentleman admits that we are all committed to the proposal that the Irish Legislature should be empowered to make laws concerning the much graver subject of criminal conspiracy, and yet he wishes to take from them the power of dealing with the lesser offences of intimidation and unlawful assembly. I do not think that I need labour the point to any great extent. The Committee have refused to take from the Irish Legislature the power of making laws regarding seditious assem- 363 blies, and yet we are asked to take away from them the power of keeping order in the streets of Dublin and Belfast. This is really a reductio ad absurdum. I must oppose the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The only argument the right hon. Gentleman has given the Committee is that because we have already committed a great blunder it is illogical not to commit a smaller one. I think it would be very difficult to prove that intimidation and unlawful assembly are less serious matters than unlawful conspiracy. I am not sure that the blunder that the right hon. Gentleman is now asking us to commit is really the smaller of the two, because I think that intimidation is the means whereby these unlawful conspiracies which have been the cause of so much evil in Ireland have been maintained and carried into effect. I might put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. The right Gentleman has thought fit to abrogate the Crimes Act, and takes credit to himself for now governing Ireland under the ordinary law. Yet, even under the ordinary law, the right hon. Gentleman has felt himself compelled to disperse assemblies brought together for purposes of intimidation. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman would give me a plain answer to the question whether the unlawful assemblies he has to deal with are not in harmony with the public opinion of the district, and whether their action has ever been denounced by the Irish Representatives in this House? If the right hon. Gentleman's answer is in the affirmative, how can he reconcile it with his conscience to leave to the Irish Legislature and to Irish public opinion the manufacture of laws which would concern these unlawful assemblies? For my part, I am utterly unable to understand the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman in reference to this point. I perfectly recognise that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues would be glad if these points were not brought before them, because they must have many an uneasy moment in dealing with them. We all know that I could prove over and over again, if I chose to do so, that Lord Spencer, the Secretary for Scotland, the Secretary for War, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and every right hon. Gentleman who has had anything to do with the government of Ireland in the 364 past has always recognised the fact that these unlawful assemblies do meet together for the purpose of intimidation, and in so doing they are only acting in conformity with the public opinion of the districts in which they are held, and are the methods advocated by the Nationalist Members of Parliament. That cannot be denied, and I defy any right hon. Gentleman opposite to deny the fact. In such circumstances is it not monstrous, is it not outrageous neglect of the duty which we owe to the Irish minority, to hand over to the Irish Assembly the power of dealing with the laws which relate to unlawful assembly and to intimidation? Hon. Members opposite know that they cannot touch this question, which their own constituents behind them regard as the great blot upon the Bill; and naturally, therefore, they avoid discussing it. I can tell hon. Members opposite that amongst the many evils connected with this Bill—with which the country was not slowly becoming acquainted—that which is taking the greatest hold of men's minds is that, Ireland being what it is, the Government are deliberately permitting the abrogation of those laws which are necessary to protect the lives and liberties of the loyal Irish minority.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said, it was only natural that Her Majesty's Government should strenuously oppose this Amendment. The Party to whom Her Majesty's Government proposed to confide the destinies of Ireland was one whoso character had been well known for some years, and at one time was certainly well known to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. That Party had based its policy upon, and had succeeded in its policy, by criminal intimidation. No doubt, Her Majesty's Government had consulted their Colleagues below the Gangway in reference to this Amendment; and possibly those hon. Members, who would form the Government of Ireland in the future, and had been the leaders of the criminal conspiracies in the past, would object to any concession on the part of the Government in the direction of restraining those peculiar habits by means of which they had captured the Liberal Party. It was the duty of every man in that Committee to protest to the best of his ability against handing over the lives and liber- 365 ties of the people in the West and South of Ireland, a defenceless population, to their hereditary foes. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary asked them not to deprive the future Government of Ireland of the power of keeping order in the streets of Dublin and Belfast. The people of Ulster knew that the aim and object of this Bill were to place their lives and liberties in the hands of the Nationalist Members, with the natural result that those lives and liberties would be stamped out. The Nationalist Members, if they had the power to do so, would make the Orange organisation a criminal conspiracy and its meetings illegal assemblies. As far as he was concerned, and he thought as far as his Colleagues were concerned, he could express his unbounded satisfaction that the Government had refused to accede to such a reasonable Amendment as thiis, because it left the Bill stained, in the eyes of every man who cared for liberty and freedom, with a blot which all the eloquence they heard from the Treasury Bench could not wipe away.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 192; Noes 212.—(Division List, No. 120.)
§ * MR. STUART-WORTLEY
moved the following Amendment:—Clause 3, page 2, line 6, at end, add "Repeal or Amendment of; 'The Explosive Substance's Act, 1883.'The hon. Member said, this Amendment, to a certain extent, formed part of an Amendment which was discussed the other day relating to dealing with and handling arms and munitions of war and the manufacturing of explosive substances; and as regarded explosive substances the Government opposed that Amendment on the ground that it would have disabled the Irish Parliament from making itself those necessary regulations which must be prescribed in the case of the lawful manufacture, for the legimate purposes of trade, of explosive substances. That Amendment, however, did not cover many things which the present Amendment did cover, and on that occasion no substantial answer was offered to the contention that the Irish Parliament ought not to have entrusted to it the power of relaxing the law which in the year 1883 was considered so urgent 366 by this Parliament that, as the right hon. Gentleman who was the author of it would well remember, it permitted it to pass through all its stages at a single Sitting. If he was asked why he said that the Irish Parliament would relax the standard of severity prescribed by that Act, he replied that the Irish Members had given them the fullest and most express indication of their intention of so relaxing it, because they had contended that offences against this particular Act were not to be treated in the category of ordinary crimes. They said that these offences were political offences. It was true, the Home Secretary had maintained the exactly opposite contention, and he moved this Amendment, because he wished to leave the subject to statesmen of his fibre and courage, and who had the same well-regulated notions of the distinction which should prevail between the enactments of the Imperial Legislature and those of an Irish Legislature. The Amendment did not interfere with any legitimate commercial manufacture. It dealt solely with those offences which, according to the argument of the Home Secretary, were such that if in open war a man was caught committing them his captors would be justified in hanging him to the nearest tree.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Hon. Members ask that their Amendments should be treated seriously; but it is difficult to treat an Amendment of this kind seriously, and it is impossible to conceive how anyone can move an Amendment of this kind in a serious manner. What is this proposal? You say the Irish Government shall not have the power to repeal the Explosive Substances Act. What is the Explosive Substances Act? It is an Act which punishes persons who use or manufacture explosives for evil or murderous purposes. How can anybody seriously pretend that that is a thing that the Irish Parliament is likely to do? Why do you not put in that the Irish Parliament shall not repeal the Acts against murder? Or against bigamy, or 367 against forgery? Forgery would, perhaps, more apply.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
They cannot deal with the Explosives Act in England; and if it is going to be an offence in Ireland, against whom is this political offence to be? Why, against the Irish Government, against the Irish Parliament, against whom alone it can be used, and that is why I say the thing is not serious. It is, in fact, so absurd and so ridiculous on the face of it, that it is impossible to treat it seriously. If dynamite is used in Ireland for political purposes, it will be used against the Irish Parliament, and then you suggest the Amendment should be treated seriously. As far as my knowledge on this subject of dynamite goes, these dynamite attempts did not come from Ireland—they came from elsewhere. But when you suggest that when the Irish have got a Government of their own they are going to promote in Ireland, by repealing this Act, the practice of dynamite outrages, I must say it requires a great command of countenance to get up in the House of Commons and suggest it seriously.
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, when they remembered what was the historical connection of the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken with this question, what must be within his recollection, and what was the nature of the Amendment now before the Committee, he thought hon. Members would find it difficult to regard the right hon. Gentleman's speech as a serious one. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the Explosives Act of 1883 as "his offspring," and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman was the undoubted parent of that measure. He held in his hand the speech of the father of this Bill upon the occasion of its birth on April 9, 1883. In introducing the Bill on that occasion, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Harcourt) referred to the gravity of the subject, and appealed to the House to postpone all the other business to enable the Bill to be passed through all its stages. He referred to the urgency of the Bill, and asked the House to pass it through all its stages at one Sitting. That was the way in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarded this subject in April, 1883.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
So I do now. It was a serious matter, and not only do I think the Irish Parliament would not repeal it, but, if necessary, they would suspend the Standing Orders of the House in order to pass it.
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON
thanked the right hon. Gentleman for emphasizing what he was going to say. He reminded the House that Ireland was the only part of Her Majesty's Dominions in which there had recently been dynamite explosions. There had been, within recent recollection, directed against the Imperial Government, three different explosions of dynamite in that part of Her Majesty's Dominions, and yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer said this was not a serious matter. ["No, no!"] There was something which had occurred within the last three days which would tell the right hon. Gentleman what was the feeling in Ireland with reference to this matter. What did they see in the newspapers of that morning? At a meeting of the Dublin Corporation it was proposed to present an Address of congratulation to Members of the Royal Family with reference to an approaching event. [Cries of "Question!"] It was the question. It was a direct answer to the right hon. Gentleman's statement that there was no necessity or urgency for dealing with this matter now. What occurred? The Sheriff of the City of Dublin (Mr. Clancy), in the course of the debate on the matter, asked the Corporation not to present that Address, because, among other things, the men who were in prison for dynamite explosions had not been released; and he wont on to state that the Home Secretary had, in the most callous manner, declared that the Government would not amnesty those prisoners. It was no answer to say that some or all of those prisoners were not actually convicted under this Act. Whether they were charged under this Act or not, or whether they were convicted under this Act or not, they were connected with these offences. Was it not a grave circumstance that in the Corporation of the City of Dublin, an official of that body, one who presumably would hold an important position under any Irish Government, brought forward such an argument successfully, and the Corporation refused to present an Address to Members of the Royal Family because, among other things, those dynamite 369 prisoners were not amnestied? Was there no seriousness in that matter? He said that if it was a serious matter in 1883, it was also a serious matter now. Recent events and recent words of Irish Nationalists showed it was an important matter. What could be done by an Irish Legislature if they were not restrained by this Amendment? If these men were not amnestied, the Irish Parliament would consider themselves justified, no doubt, in repealing or altering the provisions of this Explosives Act. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had forgotten that he had described certain things as grave in 1883, and that he then refused to trust to the Irish Nationalist Party. He tried then to induce the House and the country to believe that this was a serious question. The Amendment was a serious one, for it was directed not merely to the protection of the Irish minority and the Imperial interest, but to the defence of every tradesman and householder.
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, yes; to the defence of every man, of every person who had property that could or might be destroyed by explosives. Why, the present law on explosives had been the defence of every householder in London and Great Britain, of every man who had property that could be destroyed by explosives. They had heard this matter argued from the point of view of trade, and it had been suggested that this Amendment would be an unreasonable restriction on Irish trade. Would it not be possible that, in the interest of the trade of Dublin, they would have a factory for the making of explosives? Could not the Act be repealed, and the factory started in the apparent interest of trade? If that were done, they would have planted in Ireland the means of destroying the homes and endangering the lives of British subjects on this side of the Channel.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, although he felt strongly on the subject, he would not have spoken but for the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, in arguing that dynamite could be used in Ireland only against the Irish Parliament, assumed that there was going to be only one Ireland in the future. Dynamite had been 370 used in the past against the English Government, who had surrendered to it; but there was a party in Ireland who had not the least intention of surrendering to it. The dynamite convicts would be released, and it was possible they might turn their attention from English to Irish people; and that was why they objected. That the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who once went about in peril of his own life, should pooh-pooh this danger to others was about the last thing he expected to hear.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not want to prolong the Debate. I only rise to point out that the answer to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's question why the exclusions were not made to include legislation on bigamy is that we have no reason to suppose that Irish sentiment on the subject of bigamy differs from English sentiment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Quite so. But can the right hon. Gentleman say that Irish sentiment on the subject of dynamite does not differ from English sentiment? Both the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues have said that Irish sentiment—not merely sporadic sentiment, but organised sentiment—entirely differs from the sentiment that prevails in England. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have urged the release of the dynamite prisoners. In doing so, they have said, with truth, they have a strong objection to enforcing political opinions by the use of dynamite; but they know the persons whose pardon they demand do not take that view. Hon. Members act as the mouthpiece of men who think that dynamite attempts are the patriotic efforts of patriotic men, and that is a widespread sentiment in Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Home Secretary, and the Prime Minister know this.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Very well; the right hon. Gentleman does not know. But his Colleagues know that that sentiment prevails. Well, now, is it not futile, if not disrespectful to the Committee, to say it would be as reasonable to propose excluding bigamy or pocket-picking? We bring forward a matter of fact importance. The Amendment is 371 undoubtedly of great importance, and, in certain not inconceivable complications, it might be of vital importance—and this is how it is received. If I advise my hon. Friend not to divide it is not because I think the matter of no importance, but because it is a question which has been raised before in connection with the manufacture of explosives; and as it has been to some extent discussed on a former occasion, it should not be necessary to put the Committee again to the trouble of dividing.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, he wished, in the absence of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Carson), to move to add at the end of Hue 6 "Procedure in criminal matters." The effect of the Amendment, if carried, would be to exclude from the powers of the Irish Legislature procedure in criminal matters. It could not be said of this Amendment that it indicated distrust of the people of Ireland, and involved a condemnation of the Irish character. All that was asked was that that which was the criminal procedure of the United Kingdom should continue to be the criminal procedure in Ireland, and that the Irish Legislature should not have power to alter it. When the Solicitor General came to deal with this question, he should be surprised to hear him say anything disparaging of the principles which governed the British Code of Criminal Procedure, and yet nothing could be more disparaging than for anyone to say that that Code was not good enough for the Irish Courts, and that it was one which the Irish Parliament should be invited to alter. The English Criminal Procedure Code was a model for all countries where the English language was spoken, including the United States and the Colonies, and there could be no suggestion that it was not a Code that might well and with advantage be preserved in Ireland. It would always be open, if any change was desired, that the change should be made here. The Committee did not know yet 372 what was to be the representation of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament, or if there was to be any at all; but it would always be open to the Imperial Parliament to alter the criminal procedure, and, therefore, there was nothing injurious or degrading in the proposal that the best Code of Criminal Procedure in the world should be continued in Ireland, and that the Irish Legislature should be restrained from interfering with it. Considering the close proximity of the two countries, it was most desirable, from the point of view of convenience, that the Code of Criminal Procedure should, as far as possible, be uniform. The Criminal Law and Procedure of Great Britain and Ireland was at present (with the exception of the Whiteboy Acts and a limited number of similar provisions) practically the same in both countries. He held that the question of criminal procedure was of the highest importance, inasmuch as it affected the liberty of the subject almost as much as the Criminal Law itself. The liberty of the subject was affected as much by a change in procedure as by a change in the law, affecting as it did the constitution of the Criminal Courts, power of arrest, examination of witnesses, committal of offenders, bail and recognisances. These were all vital questions of criminal procedure, and were regulated by the English Code in a manner highly satisfactory, and tending to preserve the liberty of the subject. In regard to the conduct of trials, the procedure included matters relating to the form of the accusation—whether by indictment, criminal information, or coroner's inquest. Those forms being known to our law, it was desirable that new ones should not be introduced, and yet new ones might be adopted by an Irish Legislature unless some such Amendment as this were introduced into the Bill. The method of quashing indictments was also connected with criminal procedure, also the method of conducting the trial and of examining witnesses. The Irish Parliament might desire to abolish cross-examination. They had had a remarkable instance of the tendency in that direction in Ireland in a Royal Commission—
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, that no doubt it was an English Judge who refused to allow cross-examination; but that legal dignitary had admitted that in an Irish atmosphere he was not bound by rules of British procedure. That was a fair illustration of what would be the natural tendency if the Bill became law without this Amendment. An Irish Legislature would have the power of following the precedent set by that English Judge. Again, criminal procedure embraced questions relating to defence, and as to whether prisoners should be compelled or permitted to be examined in their own defence. There were also questions connected with the writ of error and the Court for Crown Cases Reserved. All these things were links in the chain on which the liberties of the people depended, and unless the Bill were amended it would be possible for any one of these points to be upset or altered by the Irish Parliament in a Bill of a single clause. In the Irish Parliament of 1689 all criminal procedure was suspended by the majority against their political opponents in the celebrated Act of Attainder passed by that Parliament and afterwards quashed. It was actually provided against 2,500 Protestant landowners, nobility, and gentry, that unless they came in within a certain time and appeared before the tribunal of the Irish Parliament, they should be then and there attainted, and be liable to be convicted in their absence and condemned to the confiscation of their property and to death. That was done in the Irish Parliament of 1689—the only precedent in Irish history, Grattan's Parliament having been the Parliament of the Protestant minority, and, therefore, one not likely to infringe the liberties of the minority. The present Bill would place the Nationalist majority in power, and he would be acting falsely if he did not say that he believed there was grave danger of the liberty of the loyal minority being infringed by alterations in criminal procedure. Hon. Members below the Gangway had threatened the loyal minority with vengeance for the course they had taken throughout these controversies, and that minority would be prepared to meet the revenge of the majority in the best way they could; but there was, unquestionably, no way in which hon. Members could carry out 374 their threats more easily, dangerously, or discreditably than by altering the criminal procedure, and such alteration it behoved them to take measures to prevent. There were only two precedents which could be fairly appealed to in this matter—namely, the distribution of powers between the Dominion Parliament in Canada and the Local Legislatures, and the distribution of powers between the Federal and the State Governments in the United States. In the British North America Act, the Local Legislatures had conferred upon them power over civil procedure; but special distinction was drawn between that and criminal procedure, which was distinctly reserved to that Central Dominion Parliament. The case was still stronger in the United States; and would anyone say that there should be less security for liberty in Ireland than was to be found in one of the States of North America? This Bill was, in effect, setting up a Constitution both for Ireland and for the relations between Ireland and England, and, therefore, ought to contain in it what was contained in the State and Federal Constitutions of America. Important limitations were imposed upon the State Legislatures with reference to such matters as bail, trial by jury, indictment and grand jury, speedy and public trial, depositions of witnesses, the compelling of the attendance of witnesses, and the rule that no man should be twice put in jeopardy for the same offence. All these matters were carefully dealt with in the Constitutions. And yet Her Majesty's Government were going in this Bill, in which they were setting up a Constitution for Ireland, to give absolute power in that country to alter the criminal procedure. The Solicitor General would say that sufficient protection was given in reserving from the Irish Legislature the power of making laws.Whereby any person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.But the restrictions in the American Constitutions were in addition to this supposed safeguard, which would turn out to be a very vague and unsatisfactory protection. Criminal procedure went to the root of the liberty of the subject, were he great or humble. At present the criminal procedure of the realm 375 afforded equal protection to all the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland. In Ireland they enjoyed all the protection the people enjoyed in Great Britain; and he trusted that the Government would not place it in the power of the Irish Legislature to diminish the protection which that procedure supplied.
In page 2, line 6, after the words "treasonfelony," to insert the words "procedure in criminal matters."—(Mr. Dunbar Burton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
I cannot allow myself to be drawn into an indiscriminate eulogium of our criminal procedure as being the perfection of human wisdom. I think I should be borne out by almost the common consent of the authorities in saying that our Code of Criminal Procedure at present is singularly defective, singularly dilatory, and in many ways hardly creditable to our common sense as a nation. Having said that, no one will expect mc to pronounce an eulogy on our Code. If the right of altering in substance matters connected with the Criminal Law of the country is to be vested in the Irish Legislature, that fact almost of necessity takes with it that subsidiary matters of procedure must be settled by that Legislature also. The reference made by the hon. and learned Member opposite to the Federal Constitution of the United States suggests an altogether false analogy. I may have misunderstood the hon. and learned Gentleman; but I gathered from his remarks that he was of opinion that the Federal Government deals with the question of criminal procedure in the various States.
§ * MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, he had quoted the Constitution of California, taken from Mr. Bryce's book, to show that in the case of that State many subjects of criminal procedure were withdrawn from the cognisance of the State.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
I gathered from the hon. and learned Gentleman that he suggested that the two precedents which should guide us in this matter were those of the Canadian Government and the Government of the United States of America. In the case of the Government of Canada, the control over Criminal Law is vested in the Dominion Parliament and not in the Imperial Parliament. 376 And as a corollary to that state of things procedure in criminal matters is vested in the same Authority as the rest of the law. I think, therefore, I have disposed of Canada as a precedent. The right to deal with procedure under that Act followed the right to alter the Criminal Law, and the same principle was adopted by the Government in the present Bill. I now come to the question of the Federal Authority in the United States and the States Authorities. One would suppose, from what was said by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that this important question of procedure in criminal matters was taken away from the States and given to the Federal Government. That is not the fact, or anything like the fact. The Federal Government has no right, as far as I know, to utter one single word about procedure in criminal matters in any State.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
No; but I am endeavouring to show that, because the hon. and learned Member could not say it had, his argument was without foundation. Precedent must have something to do with the case we are arguing, and the Federal Government has nothing to do with procedure in the States. The hon. and learned Member has quoted the case of the Californian Legislature. The Sovereign State of California—for Sovereign it is in this matter—has chosen to say that certain matters of procedure shall be taken out of the ordinary course of procedure in that State. The exceptional procedure they had set up they may, however, alter at any time by Constitutional Amendments; but, at any rate, it is to the State and not to the Federal Government that the right of altering criminal procedure is reserved. I venture to say there is not a shred of resemblance between the precedents the hon. and learned Member has put forward and the case under discussion. You are giving the power to the Irish Legislature dealing in substance with the Criminal Law, but by a strange inversion of ideas you assume that the form is more important than the substance. When the substance has been conceded, you treat it as a matter of vital importance that the form should be reserved.
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, the Solicitor General had admitted that the matters embodied in the Amendment were dealt with in State Constitutions. They were, however, also dealt with in the Federal Constitution; and if a State interfered with the Federal Laws respecting speedy trial, indictment by Grand Jury, and so forth, it could be brought up before the Federal Courts. If the Irish Legislature were allowed to alter procedure in criminal matters, the loyal minority in Ireland would have less protection than was possessed by the citizens of an American State.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
, who was received with cries of "Divide!" said, he did not intend to detain the Committee long, but he was certainly not going to be put down by the clamour of the supporters of the Government. He did not at all attribute to the Irish Nationalist Members immense fertility in inventing wicked schemes in regard to criminal procedure, but he fancied that the Irish Nationalist Members might take certain views with regard to criminal procedure which to the loyal minority would be very abhorrent. They would need to invent nothing, but merely to be guided by precedents existing in other countries. For instance, they would be able to find precedents for majorities on juries deciding cases. He objected to their having the power to adopt such precedents, because he regarded them as very bad ones. They might also dispense with juries altogether, and substitute trial by Judges. They might apply the system of trial by two Magistrates to Ulster, and keep it constantly in force there on the plea that they were merely adopting a system inaugurated by the Imperial Parliament. MR. Justice Stephen, in his book entitled A General View on the Laws of England, pointed out that under the English law every man was believed to be innocent until he was proved to be guilty, whilst under the French law the opposite was the case. The Irish Nationalists had great respect for the French nation, and they might say that the French criminal system was quite as good as the English criminal system. If ever there was a book after reading which a man felt inclined to say, "Thank God, I am not a Frenchman!" it was this book of Mr. Justice Stephen's. In France, as soon as a charge was made 378 against a man, he was confronted with witnesses and cross-examined in his cell again and again. In fact, he was subjected to a system of torture which Mr. Justice Stephen declared to be a disgrace to the civilised world. He was not willing to confer power on the Irish Legislature to introduce such a system into Ireland, especially as he believed that the English system of criminal procedure, on which the Irish system was largely based, was one which more effectually than any other secured the conviction of the guilty and gave a chance of escape to the innocent. Believing, then, that the criminal system of England was a very good one, and that, with some few amendments, it would be the very height of human wisdom, he desired that it should be maintained.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, he had put the Amendment on the Taper under the fullest souse of responsibility and in the belief that it would be of vast importance for the protection of Loyalists and others in Ireland. The Bill contained a declaration that no one in Ireland would be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law. That was what he ventured to style a mere paper section, which provided no safeguard unless the proper machinery were provided for giving effect to it. The Amendment was intended to carry into effect the declaration to which he alluded, and it was, therefore, of great importance as showing whether the safeguards were to be real or mere paper safeguards. The Government had excepted treason and treason felony, foreign enlistment, and coinage from the functions of the Irish Legislature, and he wished to know whether the Irish Legislature were to have full power over the procedure for giving effect to laws dealing with those matters? If not, the very safeguards that had been accepted would be rendered nugatory by the procedure of the Irish Parliament. He would take the case of foreign enlistment. Were the Irish Legislature to have the power of altering procedure in reference to the Acts dealing with foreign enlistment? Ought not the reason which caused the Government to except foreign enlistment induce them to take steps to prevent the Acts being rendered nugatory by procedure? The Foreign 379 Enlistment Act provided that if British subjects built ships for the purpose of supplying them to a foreign Power which was at peace with this country, the Secretary of State could step in and could either seize and detain them or could prosecute the builders for misdemeanour. He wanted to know whether the Irish Parliament was to have power to say that the ships might be supplied to the foreign Power for which they were built, and that the Secretary of State might prosecute for misdemeanour if he liked? He should like to know what grave complications might not ensue if the Irish Legislature were at liberty to take a course of this kind? With regard to the coinage, the Government had excepted that matter from the power of the Irish Legislature, but was that Body to have power to regulate the procedure in relation to offences against the coinage? They might as well never have excepted from the powers of the Irish Legislature at all the matters they had done unless they were going to take the further step which the Solicitor General had admitted was the natural corollary to the step already taken—namely, to withdraw the procedure, as well as the enactment of laws, from the Irish Government. He hoped, as regarded those matters which were of Imperial importance, he should have some answer. He should like to know whether the Government had considered the extent of the powers they were giving to the Irish Legislature when they said that the whole of the criminal procedure was to be within the purview of the Irish Legislature? When the Americans were enacting their Constitution they took the greatest possible pains to preserve the liberty of the subject by safeguards in criminal procedure, every one of which was taken from the English law. In the present Bill, so far as he could see, there was no safeguard in respect of any of those matters which were considered of vital importancce in the English Constitution, and which had been adopted by the American Constitution. Were they going to give to the Irish Government the power to do away with the indictment before a Grand Jury, which was one of the protections of the British Constitution, and which was one of the very first matters safeguarded in the American Constitution? If that power 380 was not to be ceded, were they going to take away the substance of that protection by altering the status of these Grand Jurors, who were looked upon, as they knew, by a certain section of the Irish people as forming part of the English garrison? They had a right to know if that was the intention of the Government. Another matter which seemed to him to be of vital importance was the question regarding searches and seizures. It was against these and many other abuses that the law of habeas corpus had been so rigidly adhered to in this country. Could anything be conceived as affording a greater opportunity for Executive tyranny than to allow the Irish Legislature to deal with these matters? In the American Constitution this was naturally one of the most vital safeguards. The American Constitution had a provision that such searches and seizures should be invalid unless made under a proper warrant. Was the Irish Legislature to have power to abolish those warrants, and so practically to do away with the writ of habeas corpus, because it was by a writ of habeas corpus that these different matters were tested? There were many other matters of a similar character which had been referred to by previous speakers. He might refer to bailable offences. One of the matters that Parliament had laid down by Statute referring to Ireland was that a certain number of offences should be bailable in all circumstances. Were they going to give power to the Irish Executive to take away that safeguard? Again, were they to have power to take away the safeguard of a man being tried only once for one offence; or of compelling a man to give evidence against himself? On the question of summary jurisdiction by negativing the Amendment which was proposed the previous night, they had left the appointment of Magistrates entirely with the Irish Executive. Were these Magistrates under the Irish Executive to be still limited by the same right of appeals to the Superior Courts that had existed hitherto, or was the Irish Legislature to have power to take away these safeguards and leave the Irish Executive with complete control over the matters which came under their purview? One of these Magistrates appointed by the Irish Executive might, say, preside at a 381 boycotting meeting, and the boycotted man might come before him for redress. Was the Irish Legislature to have power to take away the right of appeal which existed in almost every case, and to leave the boycotted man absolutely at the mercy of the Magistrate who presided at the boycotting meeting? It did strike him that these matters, and the way they were treated by the Government, were in strange contrast to the comparatively trivial matters which they themselves had thought it necessary to except. Take, for instance, the case of the coinage. He apprehended that any offence against the coinage must come within the Imperial Court provided by the 19th section. What right did that give? It gave the right of appeal to the Privy Council against any decision that might be given against a person tried for this common and ordinary offence in Ireland against the coinage. They gave all these safeguards, and imposed all these difficulties in connection with the conviction of that man, but a man tried for murder was left absolutely at the mercy of a Judge appointed by the Irish Executive and a jury, called according to Irish laws, without any appeal being given to a Criminal Court of Appeal or to the Privy Council. That occurred to him to be an absolute absurdity. Take, again, the case of the Merchandise Marks Act. For any offence under that Act a man might insist on being tried before this Imperial Court of Exchequer Judges, with an appeal to the Privy Council, whereas in a case of sedition a man would be left to the mercy of the Irish Executive and of an Irish tribunal without any appeal whatever. These were matters which showed that, while the Government were quite willing to hand over the Loyalists of Ireland in all these matters to the tender mercies of the Irish Executive, they were absolutely unwilling in comparatively trivial matters relating to Imperial affairs to entrust their own law to be administered by exactly the same tribunal. He now came to a matter which was of even graver importance than any of the matters he had been already dealing with, and a matter into which it would be necessary for him to go into some considerable detail. [Cries of "Divide!"] He could assure hon. Members that if they thought that these 382 safeguards they had now had for several hundred years were to be left to the mercy of the Irish Legislature on a few moments' debate they were greatly mistaken. Had the Government considered the condition of the procedure in relation to criminals as between Great Britain and Ireland as it at present existed, and as it would exist under the Bill in reference to the backing of warrants? How were Irish warrants in future to be enforced in England?
§ MR. CARSON
said, it was included in this Amendment, and the reason he had put it down as a separate matter was this: They were very often told that one Amendment was too wide, and if they had a more restricted Amendment the Government might assent to it. Therefore, it was in order that he might not be told he bad been guilty of negligence in drawing his Amendment, he had done his best to try and carry out the view of the Government, and specifically to draw an Amendment on a specific matter. Suppose a crime was committed in Ireland and the criminal came to England, what was to be the procedure? Having established Irish Courts solely under the control of the Irish Executive, was criminal process, issued by the Irish Courts, to have the same force in England as it had had hitherto, when these matters were under Imperial control? Let them see how the matter worked out at present. The Irish Magistrates issued their warrant; it went to the Inspector General, who backed it and sent it over to England for execution. Was that to be the procedure in future? There must be some regulation of process between the two countries. It was plain, however, that this was not to be the procedure in future, because the office of Inspector General was to be abolished; and he wanted to know what authority was going to be substituted? At present he saw nothing in the Bill. This was an important matter to people resident in England, because, of course, the Inspector General being an Imperial officer, as he had to back the warrant, there was a certain amount of protection that he would only back proper warrants, or warrants not maliciously issued. What was to be the substitution for that? As that affected people living in this country, 383 was it to be regulated by the Imperial Parliament or by the Irish Executive? If it was to be left to the Irish Legislature, all he could say was that it was a very serious matter, looking at it from the point of view of persons living in this country, that they were to have no Imperial officer intervening between processes issued by these Magistrates, who were under the control of the Irish Executive, and the arrest of the person who was to be arrested under the warrant in this country. That was a matter which ought to be determined. If English Members were quite prepared to concede, as a purely Irish matter, to the Irish Legislature and Executive the power to issue warrants which were to run and have force in England, then, of course, let them do it with their eyes open. He came to a question of equal importance—namely, how were English warrants to be enforced in Ireland? Take the case of a criminal committing an offence in England which might be no offence in Ireland. He went to Ireland, and the Irish Executive might not be too willing to give up persons to the English Executive in relation to a matter which was not an offence at all in that country. How were the Government going to deal with that question? Was it to be left to the Irish Legislature? There might, of course, be an Extradition Treaty. Was such a Treaty to be arranged? Of course, it was absurd to suppose that there would be a Treaty; but still the Committee ought to be told how the subject was to be dealt with, because the Bill contained no provision in relation to it at present. At the present moment the way the matter was done was this: the English warrant was sent over to Ireland and endorsed by the Inspector General, who forwarded it to the place where it was to be executed. But the Inspector General would be abolished; and were they going to give the Irish Parliament or Legislature power to render the procedure entirely nugatory and void, by passing an Act, that these warrants should not run in Ireland? If they were going to have no way of capturing offenders who had committed crimes in England, and who had taken refuge in Ireland, it would not add to the amenities of Irish society to have all these refugees coming over there. He had been unable to see from the Bill how 384 these warrants as between the two countries were to be executed at all, and it was important to know how these matters wore to be regulated in future. He could only hope that the points he had raised would be met by some arguments dealing with and pointing out how they were to be regulated in future if this Bill should ever, unfortunately, become law. He knew the favourite answer was that they were to trust this great Irish Parliament. But they had asked over and over again, on what was that trust to be founded? Was it to be based upon the past conduct in relation to the Criminal Law of the Leaders of the Irish Nationalists? Was it to be founded on the fact that over and over again they had stated that when they came into power they would repay them (the Unionists) for matters that had happened in the past? Was it to be founded upon declarations of right hon. Gentlemen opposite? All he could say was that he remembered very well a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, in which he said if he was to govern Ireland according to Irish ideas he would not govern it at all. If criminal procedure was to be adapted according to Irish ideas, so far as they knew them, there would be no criminal procedure at all, or it would be turned into channels which hon. Members opposite could scarcely contemplate with equanimity.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
I hope to be able to answer those points in the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman which appear to me to have reference to this Amendment, and as regards any points which do not appear to me to concern the Amendment I shall pass them by. Now, first I would say that, with regard to the general argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, it appears to me that it disregards the extent of the Amendment. The hon. and learned Member appears to think that a general Amendment, applicable, it may be, to hundreds of thousands of cases, is sufficiently supported in argument by pointing out here and there a case in which it might be reasonable enough to introduce some change. He began about procedure in criminal matters, and certain instances are taken in which it is said that it would be desirable that that procedure should be taken out of the hands of the Irish Legislature. The 385 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury introduced an Amendment into Section 3 of the clause, having reference to procedure in regard to a very wide class of offences; but when we came to the point he told us fairly and candidly that what he meant was something quite different. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not intend that the procedure in cases under the Extradition Treaty, which is a fundamental part, an essential part, of the Bill should be interfered with. The moment that was pointed out the Government endeavoured to meet it fairly; but now the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin has gone back to the point of the Extradition Treaty.
§ MR. CARSON
I did not go back to the Extradition Treaty. I referred to the Foreign Enlistment Acts.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
The Foreign Enlistments Act is equally covered by what has taken place before. Then it is said that if the whole of the criminal procedure were handed over to the Irish Legislature, some classes of offences would be covered that ought not to be covered. But, that being granted, it does not form the slightest argument for debating the particular Amendment; because the argument, if it has any value, must extend to the whole of the indictment you are presenting. The hon. and learned Gentleman suggests that difficulties will arise in eases of treason and treason-felony, which we have excepted from the jurisdiction of the Irish Legislature; that there is a want of logic in our position, because we are separating the right to deal with the substantive crime from the right to deal with procedure. I deny that there is any want of logic in the position which the Government take up in this matter, when it is laid down in the Bill that there shall be no legislation at all from the Irish Legislature with reference to treason or treason-felony. There is a special provision in the Bill that the Legislature shall not pass any law in respect of treason-felony. It is totally excluded in all its bearings. The exclusion is not limited to any particular Act. The exclusion is general, as it is intended to be; and if there is in 386 any Act about treason or treason-felony a matter of procedure which is enacted especially in reference to that particular crime, that matter of procedure can no more be dealt with by the Irish Legislature than the substantive form of the crime itself. I say that where we have given the whole dealing with the Criminal Law to a particular Legislative Body, it follows, as a logical conclusion, that we ought not to sever the jurisdiction into two parts—the one relating to substantive offences or crimes, and the other relating to the way in which the Courts of the country should carry out the Criminal Law with respect to those crimes. I do not think that there is any need for me to establish that further. I find that difficulties are suggested. I will take one case which the hon. and learned Member pressed on me a great, deal. The hon. and learned Member asked—"How are you going to deal with the important question of the manner in which warrants issued in England are to have effect in Ireland; and how, in the opposite case, are warrants issued in Ireland to have effect given to them in England?" There is not much difficulty about the matter. The execution of warrants in England or Ireland rests on the substantive enactments of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and Clause 36 of the Bill provides a remedy for any defect that may be discovered afterwards, for it says that where it appears to the Queen in Council, before the expiration of a year after the appointed day, that any existing enactment respecting matters within the powers of the Irish Legislature require adaptation to Ireland, then Her Majesty may, by Order in Council, make that adaptation. One of the possible cases indicated is the required substitution of the Lord Lieutenant in Council, or of any Department or officer of the Executive Government in Ireland, for Her Majesty in Council, or a Public Department or officer in Great Britain.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
He would be an officer of the United Kingdom. ["No!"] I do not know what the hon. and learned Gentleman means. An officer holding under the Crown in Ireland cannot be described as an Irish officer in any accurate 387 sense. He is an officer of the Crown, and if one officer disappears under this Bill you will have another in his place. I will not be drawn into an argument on the precise wording of the section. The section, according to the reading of it, provides for the particular case before the Committee; and, if it does not, it can be made to do so by two words of an Amendment put in in the proper place. As to an order made in England for execution in Ireland, that certainly does not concern Ireland exclusively, and the Irish Government will have no sort of jurisdiction. The Imperial Statute will still make it obligatory on the parties in Ireland to give effect to warrants issued here, and therefore the whole objection that has been raised falls to the ground. At any rate, a defect in this matter can be made good by an Amendment under Clause 36. Then I come to cases of seizure and inquiry. These are matters, not of mere procedure, but of substantive right. A particular proceeding is a trespass or not a trespass according to the substantive law.
§ * SIR J. RIGBY
No; but, according to substantive law, if the law says one may do a thing it is no longer a trespass. A trespass on a man's house in violation of the law is not a matter of procedure; but it is a most important matter of civil law and civil right. If a man under a general warrant invades one's house he may be treated as a criminal trespasser or an ordinary wrongdoer. But for such an offence, even though the question of procedure in criminal actions were entirely taken out of the hands of the Irish Legislature, there would be a remedy under which a jury fixing civil damages would be instructed by the Judge to give exemplary damages—not merely damages corresponding with the amount of the injury done, but with the right interfered with. I think now that I have really gone over the important parts of the matter. I have dealt with what I conceive to be the entirely irrelevant arguments as to seizures under general warrants. This is a substantive part of 388 the law, and, if it were not, the exclusion of criminal procedure from the jurisdiction of the Irish Legislature will not put the subject-matter out of their jurisdiction in other respects; because, even though Parliament were to take away the right of criminal procedure from the Irish Legislature, there will still remain the right of civil action, which in this case would be vastly more important. If a Secretary of State seizes papers improperly, it is not the criminal procedure against him that he has to dread, but the likelihood of being mulcted in damages. Again, I say, you have to inquire whether a matter is one that exclusively relates to Ireland. If it does not relate exclusively to Ireland there is no foundation for any legislation on the part of the Irish Legislature.
§ * SIR H. JAMES
I will endeavour very briefly to deal with the chief points brought forward very ably by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General. For a great many years I have known what a formidable opponent my hon. and learned Friend is, and also how reasonable he is; but I must say it is difficult to please my hon. and learned Friend tonight. When the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin brings forward a general Amendment my hon. and learned Friend says that deceit lurks in generalities. But when the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin puts down a detailed Amendment the Solicitor General says—"How can we discuss measures of general importance upon this special Amendment?" The fact is that we must strike a balance between the two considerations, and see whether the general effect of an Amendment is, on the whole, for good or for evil. I can well admit that there are matters, such as one man striking another at a fair, which should be left to the jurisdiction of an Irish Legislature; but I am now asking the Committee to look at graver matters and their consequences, and it is these graver matters and their consequences that should incline the balance. We have to deal with the prohibited cases in Clause 3; but we have to deal with a number of other cases, not only 389 of cases prohibited by Clause 3, but with the others that do not come within the general statement of the Act as being an Act to deal with the good government of Ireland; therefore my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary said that piracy could not possibly come within this Act at all. Everything that occurs outside Ireland is prohibited to be dealt with by this Act. Why is that? It is because you will not trust the Irish Legislature to deal with these matters. But you go further; you will not trust the Irish Judicature to deal with them. You say—"The Irish Judges shall not be trusted to deal with these grave and important matters." And you refuse to them the power of trying, and give this power to two English Judges. But what is the use of that if their procedure is to be controlled by the Irish Legislature; and on this Bill the whole of the argument of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Carson) is admitted. The admission that is made in this Bill exists in Clause 19. In Sub-section 3 of Clause 19 it is forbidden that anyAlteration of any Rule relating to such legal proceedings as are mentioned in this section shall not be made, except with the approval of Her Majesty the Queen in Council.Yes; you will not trust the Judges with the ordinary power of making their Rules of Procedure; you will nor, allow the Irish Executive to revise these Rules; I but you are going to give that power to the Irish Legislature. You are going to give them the power to control all the proceedings of the English Judges when trying treason and treason-felony, and, at the same time, you say you will not trust the Judges to make their own Rules in the smallest matter of procedure. Where is the consistency of that proceeding? That is not our argument; it is the argument of the framers of the Bill. You will not trust your Irish Judiciary to conduct their own procedure, but, at the same time, everything of substance is to be governed by the Irish Legislature. It will render the administration of justice not only a fiction but a farce. Now let me deal with what my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General 390 says. He admits the wisdom of the contention of the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Carson), for this reason. He says—"When you tell me the Irish Legislature ought not to interfere with criminal procedure in treason and treason-felony I think you are right; but that is provided for by the Bill." With great deference to him, I think he is wrong. If an Act says a Legislature is not to deal with treason and treason-felony, that does not prevent them dealing with criminal cases. It might be enacted that men condemned to death should be admitted to bail. That would not touch treason or treason-felony within the meaning of the Act; but it would mean that the procedure was a procedure perfectly inapplicable to the administration of justice. Again, you can legislate by saying that, after committal for trial, all such persons shall be allowed to come and go as debtors did in the olden time. That would not be legislation applying to treason or treason-felony, but the traitor would escape through it as much as if you said treason should not be an offence at all; and, as I understand the hon. and learned Solicitor General, he thinks the procedure in relation to such cases should not be within the power and cognisance of the Irish Legislature. As this Bill stands, all that safeguard is reduced to nothing, because although if says "you shall not deal with certain criminal offences," yet you allow this Legislature to deal with criminal procedure which renders the prohibition perfectly rugatory. The balance of convenience, of right, and of the necessity for maintaining the law against the criminal is in favour of the criminal procedure being vested in this Parliament.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
I have heard with respect the observations of my right hon. and learned Friend, and I entirely accept the principle with which he started—namely, that, in judging of the reasonableness of an Amendment of this kind, which proposes to exclude from the jurisdiction of the Irish Legislature the dealing with procedure in all criminal matters, we must strike a balance; we must consider upon the 391 one side the number of cases that ought naturally to be within the cognisance of the Legislature such as it is proposed to create, which this Amendment would exclude, and on the other side the cases which, according to the view of my right hon. Friend, it would be unsafe to entrust to the jurisdiction of the Irish Legislature. I venture entirely to controvert and to deny the proposition which my right hon. Friend expressly states lies at the root of his argument, that the matters in this 3rd clause withdrawn from the cognisance of the Irish Legislature are so withdrawn from any want of trust in regard to the Legislature itself. That is not the principle on which the 3rd clause proceeds. The 3rd clause is nothing more than the application and development of the principle already laid down in the preceding clauses. What is that principle? That the Irish Parliament shall have power to legislate in relation to matters which concern, and concern exclusively, the peace, the order, and the good government of Ireland; and when you find certain matters which do not exclusively concern the peace, good order, and government of Ireland, and dealing with those, and specifically enumerating them, say they shall not be within the power of the Irish Legislature, you are acting, not in a spirit of distrust, not by way of qualification or reservation of powers already granted, but by way of rendering more specific a limitation already made. That being the case, when we come to any particular Amendment on the 3rd clause, what we have to consider is not whether our confidence in the Irish Parliament would lead us to entrust this particular matter to them, but what we have to consider is whether the Irish Parliament, having a limited purpose and a purely local jurisdiction, the matter in question is one which, having regard to the scope of the activity, and jurisdiction of the Irish Parliament, ought to be excluded from it. I propose to apply that test to this particular Amendment. Here you are creating a Legislature with power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, and you seriously propose to exclude from the jurisdiction of that Legislature the whole sphere of criminal procedure. Was ever such a proposition before seriously propounded for the consideration of a Legislative 392 Assembly? I am not going to argue the question whether the Irish people are fit to be entrusted with the enactment of the Criminal Law, and I am not going to argue it, for the simple and sufficient reason this House has decided that question by passing the Second Reading of this Bill—[Cries of"No!"] Yes; and also in the 1st and 2nd clauses, as my right hon. Friend reminds me, which this Committee has already assented to, and I deny your competence to introduce an Amendment into the 3rd clause, after the 1st and 2nd have been assented to, which would render nugatory and absurd that which you have already passed. The matter becomes a very simple one: Are we, or are we not, having declared this Legislative Body fit to pass laws, to exclude from its power the whole question of criminal procedure? The proposition only needs to be stated to answer itself. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have discussed this Amendment, have mentioned a number of cases with reference to extradition, foreign enlistment, warrants issued in this country and running in Ireland, and have exercised a great deal of imaginative vivacity and vigour in regard to possible consequences ill the way of friction. The simple answer to all these arguments is that the cases to which they refer are cases excluded from the competence of the Irish Parliament, cases which depend on the legislation of this Imperial Parliament. If you give to a Legislative Body power of making substantive law, you by necessary implication give to them the power of regulating the procedure by which that law is carried out. And the converse, or rather the corollary, is equally true—if you withdraw the power of making substantive law, you withdraw from them the power of regulating the procedure. I have only one other observation to make, that if there be any doubt about the matter—which I cannot conceive any lawyer entertaining—it is specially provided for in the 19th clause of the present Bill where a special tribunal is created, consisting of the Exchequer Judges, to whose exclusive jurisdiction is entrusted the decision of all questions which touch any matter not within the powers of the Irish Legisla- 393 ture and in relation to all legal proceedings that come before the Courts so constituted—Which are instituted at the instance of or against the Treasury or Commissioners of Customs, or any of their officers, or relate to the election of Members to serve in Parliament or touch any matter not within the powers of the Irish Legislature, or touch any matter affected by a law which the Irish Legislature have not power to repeal or alter.I trust I have sufficiently disposed of that question. I can only say, in regard to the substance of this Amendment, that the Government, so far as they are concerned, would regard it as absolutely and completely defeating and frustrating the enactments to which this Committee has already assented.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
When the Solicitor General was speaking, if the veracious chronicler of The Daily News was in the House, he would have stated the hon. and learned Member the Solicitor General was received with cries of "Divide." There was no desire to hear his answer—[Cries of"Divide!"] If I am received with cries of "Divide," I am merely sharing the fate of the hon. and learned Solicitor General; they had no desire to hear him, and even when the Home Secretary rose there was a cry of "Divide"—[Cries of"Divide!"] Yes, you prefer—Cries of"Divide!" and "Question!"] Hon. Members in all parts of the House must have seen the deep attention with which we listened to the hon. and learned Solicitor General and to the Home Secretary, and surely they will not think it necessary to refuse the same courtesy to me. But I wish to point the attention of the Committee to the fact that hon. Members opposite prefer silence and voting to the arguments even of their own Solicitor General—even to the best arguments that can be produced by their own side. I do not think the hon. and learned Solicitor General added much to the knowledge of the Committee upon this—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"] No; and it is proved it was not so, because, eager as hon. Members are for a Division, it was thought necessary the Home Secretary should follow the hon. 394 and learned Gentleman in order to put the matter right. Well, did the Government feel that their case had been inadequately stated? [Cries of"Divide!"] I hope I shall receive the same courtesy that has been extended to right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. I wish to make good my point why I say hon. Members opposite were not satisfied with the answer of the hon. and learned Solicitor General—[Cries of"Oh, oh!"] What is the good of saying "Oh, oh"? they were not satisfied, because, instead of dealing with the merits of the case, he used an argument which has been continually used in this Debate—and which by this time, I hope, is thoroughly discredited—saying, "Your Amendment not only deals with the particular point you raised, but it goes too far."
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes; he used the argument that has been used over and over again in our Debates—namely, that they go too far, and the hon. and learned Gentleman said they admitted there was a certain force in the arguments that had been urged, and when they came to a certain point possibly they would deal with that particular point. On every Amendment moved from this side of the House we have a confession from the other side of the House. [Cries of "No, no!"] Yes; it is generally said, "You go rather too far; but if you confined your Amendment to a particular form, we would have dealt with it in the Bill." [Cries of "No, no!"] I state that as an absolute fact; time after time the Government say, "There is a point in the Amendment, and possibly we will deal with it by-and-bye."
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The First Lord of the Treasury says, "No," but I wish to ask whether he heard the hon. and learned Solicitor General admit there was one point—that there were certain cases contemplated by this Amendment that was serious, but the Amendment went so far—[Cries of "Question!"] Am I misrepre- 395 senting the hon. and learned Gentleman? I say, let the Government put on the Notice Paper of the House the Amendments, which they are prepared to admit as the necessary result of the debates, and which have been discussed. The First Lord of the Treasury said he never remembered a case where Amendments had been submitted to the House in a manner as on this occasion—Amendments which require amendment in the course of a Debate. We amend the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. He admits, or his Colleagues admit, it requires amendment in many cases—["No!"] Yes; you have admitted arguments, and you would have admitted more but for your fear of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. A change has come over the spirit of the dream since we saw those expressions of dissatisfaction, and we have not seen the same disposition to admit most reasonable Amendments which have been moved to-night since the warning which right hon. Gentlemen received. Now, it is admitted that there are certain points that have been urged on this side of the House that require the attention of the Government; but, says the Home Secretary, "we have to look to a balance in these matters"—I think that was the phrase used—"that you will take away so much from the Irish Parliament if you accept this; that it would outweigh the advantage that would ensue if you deal with particular points, to which we, on this side of the House, attach particular importance." Now, I wish to know why is the balance always to be decided in favour of the Irish people as against the English? Why, at all events, do right hon. Gentlemen not admit it, and meet us by saying, "We see there is a certain point in your arguments; we will admit so much of your Amendment, but we cannot admit the rest"? That would be a fair way of dealing with the Amendments proposed. But, instead of that, on every occasion right hon. Gentlemen opposite take advantage of what they call the width of the Amendment, in order to frustrate the legitimate object of the Amendments. I think that the British public will see through the attitude of the Government. They will see that when there is a balance, and the argument is in favour of some limitation, and there is a portion 396 of the argument that might be in favour of more freedom of the Irish Parliament, the decision is always given in the direction of the Irish people, and contrary to what may be considered the legitimate demands of the British public. It has been shown in this Amendment, as it has been shown in many others, that there are distinct dangers in the direction of confiding to an Irish Parliament the whole legislation with regard to criminal procedure. It is scarcely denied by the right hon. Gentleman opposite—their antecedents prevent them giving a denial to that general proposition—and far from attempting to meet that portion of the case they themselves consider legitimate, they say, "We must give entire freedom to the Irish Parliament to deal with criminal procedure." The hon. Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Carson) has shown conclusively the danger of confiding these powers to an Irish Parliament, and what answer has been made? No answer except that answer of the balance always to be given in favour of the Irish Parliament. I do not consider that by one single argument hon. or right hon. Gentlemen opposite have even attempted to minimise the dangers we have put forward; they have not attempted to show there are not certain dangers, but have had recourse to that device which they have followed on every occasion of saying that if we carry this Amendment we shall, forsooth, be limiting the powers of the Irish Parliament to deal with criminal procedure, and that is because we have passed the words that the Irish Parliament are to legislate for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland. I remember when we were discussing those words it was said they were formal words, that they were the common form put into all the Statutes, and we were rather constrained from discussing them because they wore common words; but now, because those words have been passed, we are told that we must give the Irish Parliament, constituted as it will be, and under the leadership which it will have, to give them full power to deal with criminal procedure in order to promote the peace, the order, and the good government of Ireland. Well, how far the measures which will be proposed by that Parliament will be in that direction 397 is a matter of controversy and prophecy upon which I will not enter. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, if hon. Gentlemen say "hear, hear!" I say it is wise not to enter on that matter, if that is the meaning of that cheer. If they say it is wise, I would answer at once and say we must judge, and the public of Great Britain will judge, the probabilities of the future by the action and the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench. I leave that portion of the argument to the decision of the British public. "But," says the Home Secretary, "it, would be perfectly ridiculous, having given those powers for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland to the Irish people, to prevent them dealing with criminal procedure." Has the right hon. Gentleman remembered the 4th clause of the Bill, in which, after having confided all these powers to the Irish Legislature, the Government are going to curtail their action upon matters most interesting to the whole of the Irish people? The Irish Parliament is to be allowed to deal with criminal procedure, but it is not to be allowed to deal with education. I do not wish to use strong words, although strong words are sometimes used on the Government Benches, but is it not almost hypocrisy to say that it is a slight on the Irish people to prevent their dealing with criminal procedure, while you prevent their dealing with the education of their own children? No, Mr. Mellor, the Government are afraid of proposing to limit the powers of the Irish Legislature with regard to criminal procedure; and, if there was one subject in the world one would have thought they would have been asked by their own friends and the constituents of this country to be careful upon, it would be with regard to criminal procedure. One would have thought that would have been their attitude. But, no; they resist this Amendment, because they know the Irish Members would most indignantly repudiate any fetters being put upon them to prevent their dealing with criminal procedure. They have their views as regards criminal procedure; they have suffered under the present criminal procedure. As regards all these important points to which those who are interested in insisting there should 398 be safeguards in this Bill, for the minority have repeatedly called attention—all these are neglected by the Government, while they are prepared to put in safeguards on other matters. The right hon. Gentleman says that they repudiate all these Amendments, because they deal only with matters which concern the Irish people alone. But they must remember they have given pledges that there are to be safeguards for the minority in Ireland. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham pointed out yesterday, this is not only a question between Ireland and this country, but we have to be cautious for the minority in Ireland. The last three or four Amendments all had their bearing upon the safeguards for the minority in Ireland, and what we now declare is that the Government and their supporters neglect and refuse to embody in the Bill many of the most important proposals which have been put forward to defend the rights, liberties, and the property of the minority in Ireland.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 253; Noes 293.—(Division List, No. 121.)
§ MR. CARSON
moved the following Amendment:—In Clause 3, page 2, line 6, at end, add "The execution and carrying out in Ireland of warrants for arrest in criminal process issued in Great Britain, and the execution and carrying out in Great Britain of warrants for arrest in criminal process issued in Ireland.He said, that as he had already spoken at some length on the subject, he was not going to repeat what he had said before. But the Committee would recollect that the Solicitor General had admitted the great importance of this matter.
§ MR. S. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
On a point of Order, Sir, I wish to ask you whether the Amendment is in Order, having regard to the Amendment on which the Committee has just divided, and what was stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. He admitted that this Amendment was included in the Amendment on which the Committee has already divided. He said the first Amendment was a very wide one, and, 399 therefore, he had put down a narrower one, which was included in the first Amendment. That being so, I ask you whether the wide Amendment does not cover this Amendment?
§ MR. CARSON
said, he only wanted the matter settled one way or the other. The Home Secretary said this was not a matter which would be in the power of the Irish Legislature, as not being exclusively an Irish matter. The Solicitor General rather took another view, and stated that it would be regulated under a subsequent action of the Act. He failed to see how this was to be excluded unless they put in express words removing it from the power of the Irish Legislature; and if there was any doubt upon the matter at all, it was only reasonable that they should have it made clear on the face of the Bill. The Solicitor General said there was no necessity for the Amendment, because the question of the execution of English warrants in Ireland and of Irish warrants in England was not a question relating exclusively to Ireland, and, therefore, it could not come within the jurisdiction of the Irish Parliament.
In page 2, line 6, after the words "treason-felony," to insert the words "The execution and carrying out in Ireland of warrants for arrest in criminal process issued in Great Britain, and the execution and carrying out in Great Britain of warrants for arrest in criminal process issued in Ireland."—(Mr. Carson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
, who was interrupted by cries of "Divide!" contended that they had a right to know what would be the exact position of an Englishman desiring to execute a warrant in Ireland for a crime committed in England, and also what would be the position of an Irishman desiring to execute a warrant in England for a crime committed in Ireland. This was a very important question; but, so far as he knew, the Government had left it 400 as a matter of uncertainty, which it was desirable should be cleared up.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 246; Noes 282.—(Division List, No. 122.)
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
rose to move the following Amendment:—In page 2, line 6, after "alienage," to insert "the immigration and expulsion of aliens, the rights of aliens resident in Ireland.He said the Committee would recognise that the subject-matter of this Amendment was of considerable importance. He assumed that the last thing an Irish Parliament would do would be to adopt any system likely to irritate Foreign Powers; but then the Irish Parliament would not be aware of the Imperial position with regard to Foreign Powers, and he assumed that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would regard this as of first importance in regard to their relations with those Powers. If matters were left as they were great jealousy and suspicion would be created. It was absolutely impossible to let the Bill remain as it was. In the course of last year there was a very serious feeling aroused because the United States Government refused to admit immigrants on the ground that they were paupers; and they actually turned back men who had money in their pockets, and who had money to receive in America. They were sent back to Ireland, the action of the States causing great loss to those people. Supposing that occurred in the future, was the Irish Legislature to have the Foreign Office to fall back upon? He thought it would not, and, that being so, it might make laws prohibiting the admission of American immigrants. The Irish Legislature would, in fact, have power to pass measures which would give offence to every nation in Europe. If that might be the case as to immigration, what were they to say as to the expulsion of aliens? He wondered what those who were qualified to instruct them in history would say on this point? Were they to leave it in the power of an Irish Parliament to expel all aliens at the same time 401 that they allowed it to, possibly, complicate all their relations with foreign countries? It was absolutely necessary that the intention of the Bill and its provisions should give cohesion to one another. They could not allow the Irish Government to affect their relations with other countries. All the questions as to domicile, which they had been discussing to-night, would arise on this clause. [Interruption.] He regretted that the hon. Member for Mid-Cork (Dr. Tanner) was reduced to inarticulate efforts on this Bill. [Cries of "Order!"] But the hon. Member must know that the Amendment raised many points worthy of discussion, and that they could not hope to deal with them all in the course of the few minutes left before midnight. [Cries of "Order!"] It was his duty to enter at length—[interruption]—into the various questions. He had, however, no intention of prolonging the discussions in Committee. He had to point out that aliens resident in—
Dr. Tanner rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but the Chairman declined then to put that Question.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, he was anxious to point out to the Committee that legislation affecting aliens might be interfered with by the application of the veto, or by the machinery of one of the later clauses.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.